Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Home or Away?

Ten reasons why holidaying at home is better than going abroad.

1. No need to change up your money.
2. Ditto buying insurance.
3. No two hours to kill at the airport (without
4. Days are not spent avoiding timeshare touts
and evenings dodging over-eager adolescents
whose sole purpose is to lure you into dodgy
bars for fluorescent shots and over-priced beer.
5. Thermos flask and sandwiches in a layby as
trucks hurtle past at 70mph vs airline meal at
a few hundred feet? No competition.

Only in England do you get:

6. 'I (heart) whippets' stickers on the back of ancient campervans.
7. places called Compton Pauncefoot and Ugborough.
8. people whiter than me.

And only in Cornwall:

9. genuine, tasty pasties.
10. St Austell beer.


I've had my brown leather, wooden-soled flip-flops for about a year. For the past six weeks I have worn them almost continuously. Day in. Day out. No matter what the occasion or the weather. They are just so comfortable.

Sat in the brilliant sunshine of my mum's garden yesterday morning I pointed out that just maybe the soles were about to start peeling apart. Given they clearly were not created with the pounding they've been treated to in mind, I also commented that they'd lasted surprisingly well.

Woe is me! After a delicious Thai meal (Siam, Roman Road - never seems to be very busy which is a shame) and a couple of very pleasant drinks next to the canal (Pub in the Park - not it's name but people know where you mean), we started the walk back to Mile End tube.

That is when it happened. The sole of the left flip-flop crumbled away leaving me unable to continue. Sadly I removed it and continued. Thinking it may look odder wearing just one shoe I soon took the other one off too and popped them both into my bag. The end of my belov├Ęd flip-flops.

Now, I firmly believe my feet should have come fitted with a thermostat. They freeze in the winter and rise to unbelievable temperatures in the summer. It isn't unknown for me to say that unless I take my shoes off my head will blow off. So in my younger days I quite regularly went around with no shoes on. Being slightly older and more respectable I felt very uncomfortable at first (memories of trips to A&E to have foreign objects removed; the fear of meeting a pupil) but once I was on the tube and the likelihood of standing on glass had receded I felt quite liberated. I stood tall and beamed beautiful smiles at the people nudging each other and pointing.

Of course I had Colin's moral support: "Are you sure you've enough money to get on the tube, pikey?" and "I'd love it if you stood in a turd!".

Dear flip-flops, may you rest in peace. With all the smelly rubbish in the chute.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Simple Pleasures

People do wonder why on earth I choose to work through part of my summer holidays. Apart from the fact I earn money for the four weeks rather than spend it (win win situation), I actually enjoy it.

The vast majority of the kids are little ones. I quite readily admit I wouldn't be able to teach them; I don't have the patience. The bigger and uglier the better as far as school is concerned. They are all considered 'in need' by social services - they may have a disability or need respite care. The only objective is to have fun. And trust me we do.

It has struck me that the simplest things are by far the most enjoyable.

Digging the biggest hole in the sand.

Building the tallest sandcastle.

Presenting me with a live crab for an extra 100 points. (My idea: little critter found on the edge of the beach. Their idea: massive thing blagged from the fishmonger).

Running through the woods.

Eating lunch together and chatting nicely.

Feeding farm animals.

Laughing out loud.


Learning to juggle.

What's so refreshing about all of this? Children being children. Aaahh.

Scan and Pack

Popping into Tesco for a few bits on the way to the playscheme, I have been really rather impressed by the new scan and pack tills:
Novelty. It's fun scanning the items yourself.
No need for small talk first thing in the morning.
No queues. Other people seem to eye these lanes suspiciously thus there is never anyone in front of you.
You're in control.
I have only experienced one problem. The till calls out the price of each item. I was ever so slightly alarmed when the pack of 4 bouncy rubber balls marked up at 32p came up at £199. The computer thought they were a diamond ring...
There is something of the Luddite about me though. I was in rather a quandry earlier; arguing the morality of scanning my own shopping. Am I doing someone out of a job? I know that next time I drop by for a pint of milk I'm going to end up arguing with myself – queue or no queue? Keep someone in a job or rush through without a care?
If only life were simple.