Today this house hold is in recovery mode after yet another successful chutney festival event which spanned most of yesterday and part of the day before. In my defence, I will hold my hand up and admit that much of the red wine that I drunk was medically required to help wash down 30+ samples of pickled fruits, spiced relishes and sickly jams which it was my honour to officiate over. Having judged many livestock shows in my past, the task of judging a few jars didn’t seem too onerous but it turned out harder that I had expected, especially when 25 other after-judges got to give their opinions too. I know I didn’t please all the entrants and even Mrs Coryton who took the overall award – for the second year running – didn’t much like her own offering, preferring some of the non prize winners. Thankfully the small print on the entry form stated quite clearly that ‘the judge is always right – even when he is wrong!’
I mentioned last month that Wendy and I were ‘getting hitched’ shortly and I can now announce that I am the proud owner/custodian of a wife, for better or worse. A small band of 40 revellers descended on Scotland’s South East coast for a few days, whose presence collectively made a couple of September days into something extra special that will always be cherished. From some beautiful weather, an exceptional lamb dinner to some rather extreme bare-footed dancing, I believe everyone to a man/woman enjoyed themselves immensely. However, post event, I do have to air this little story in case anyone was wondering why I seemed a little vacant during the proceedings. Although not one of a nervous disposition, I did stand outside after breakfast at the small abode where I spent my last night of singledom considering a few carefully selected words that I was to use at the reception, highlighting certain friends, relatives and absentees. As I stood pondering, I felt a sharp pain on my leg which turned out to be me pinching myself in an attempt to wake me up, for an event just 10 metres away was unfolding that was so bizarre I had to be dreaming it. On the grass verge outside the old inn a small bearded man stepped out of his equally small car, opened the boot and produced first a giant sword, then a bow and arrow before finally tugging out a skeleton, all of which he laid neatly on the grass. As if oblivious to anyone witnessing this absurd event, let alone a mystified groom-to-be, he chatted away to the mass of bones as though he was at a picnic with his buddies. Eventually, realising I was actually awake I felt the need to speak to him, just to establish that I hadn’t gone barking mad with the pre-nuptial jitters. ‘Is that a skeleton?’ said I, with the only blatantly obvious words I could muster. ‘Oh aye,’ said little man, ‘and it’s got all the same stab-wounds as Richard the Third!’ As though justifying his actions, he then gathered up his bow and sword, slung the rattling boney colleague over his shoulder and sauntered off into the distance, leaving me to scratch my head as I re-ran the sentence again and again through my head. So to those of you who were there to witness the groom’s speech on Sept 27th, I apologise if it made little sense as I blabbered on about this and that. It. You now know you can blame it on Richard the Third!
Once all the guests had departed, after some well-earned sleep we set off north for a few days honeymoon. Except that, as you have come to expect from yours truly, it didn’t quite go to plan. For we were to stay a night in the romantic setting of St Andrews before heading further west to a country hotel in Perthshire. What I hadn’t reckoned with was a massive pro-am golf tournament being staged in the area, which tied up just about every hotel in a hundred mile radius to bursting point – and I hadn’t booked one. No problem, says I to my beloved, we can stay at our own house. I may have mentioned a while ago that we had purchased a little seaside home in Anstruther, East Fife. What I may have omitted to say was that the whole place is empty, save for a lot of spiders, and needs a complete refit. When I say empty, it did have some very nice 1975 carpets but absolutely no furniture or facilities. Remind me never to play poker with Wendy, or any woman for that matter, as her face when I emerged out of the local hardware store carrying a blow-up bed, a bottle of wine and a packet of Pringles was not easy to read. The words ‘I’ll be fun,’ were greeted with a similar withering look, possibly one of disbelief! Thankfully, after the wine kicked in, she did see the funny side of spending her honeymoon in a tumble-down cottage on a bed that farted every time one of us moved. At least, I think it was the bed!
Eventually, still managing to stay married, we found our way to a beautiful forested deluxe resort near Aberfeldy at which to unwind, and very nice it was too. Except that, over the doorway of the room, a green illuminated light kept me awake all night, as it informed me that the door was also the emergency exit. The fact that the only other way to leave this room, were it an inferno, was through the window next to it – or possibly digging a tunnel - I lay there for half the night wondering why the hell they felt the need to tell me this – in dayglo technicolour? I considered a wiley little health and safety executive – possibly the same man I had seen moonlighting as a grave-robber a few days earlier – demanding that clients be saved from themselves by having their only escape route pointed out to them. Eventually, as any half-sane man would do, I put a chair underneath the sign, nakedly climbed up and took the bulb out. Wendy unfortunately woke up while I clattered at this exercise – rubbed her eyes, and then gave me yet another of those looks that only a wife can use, and one where, no matter how plausible the excuse, no explanation will every hold water.
Anyway, enough with my recent exploits, at least it is raining here at last in France and the grass has at last started to turn from brown to green, much to delight of 19 starving sheep. As our ram, Rambo, has a number of daughters in our closed flock, this year we did a swapsie with a neighbour so Rambo could be put to extended use elsewhere. In his place, we now have the equally imaginatively name Rammy ‘seeing to’ the girls around the paddock, hopefully to bring us lambs in mid March. I have to say, he is not quite the powerful specimen of the aforementioned macho Rambo, more a sort of long-tailed version of Larry-the-lamb. He may also possibly be gay, because as yet, the only sheep he has shown any interest in is a castrated male! Oh well, it takes all sorts!