Friday 17 June 2022

Hoggy vs Haggis


Greetings from the road, somewhere overlooking the sea. This, I think, is day 22 of a 68 day journey around UK. Our first stop, which seems like an age ago now, was at a wonderfully orchestrated wedding, on a small farm near Lincoln. There is probably no prouder moment in a father’s life than seeing his son marry a beautiful woman, and that he did. There was a slight wobble on our route over from France since I had surreptitiously stashed away quite a lot more that my allocated allowance of wine in the camper. Thankfully, a seductive smile from my wife dissuaded the genderless customs officer from pulling us over for a strip search, or the wedding could have been a much drier affair.  As we are essentially on the road to a sheep show we are also carrying a box of suspicious looking instruments required to pretty the animals up, when the time comes. These too thankfully remained undetected by Les Gendarmes. I mention the word ‘box’, better known as a Kist in Scotland, as I have proudly resurrected my father’s old one, complete with padded seat, aside which has been the location of many parties over his reign in the show-rings of old. As a further gesture, the box took pride of place in the wedding marquee displaying the words HS Frazier and Son, topped with beautiful flowers. A fitting tribute to the old bugger, I thought. Hopefully some more parties can be enjoyed on it soon. I would like to take this space to publicly congratulate Jack and Emma Frazier on their marriage.

We then moved on south and included a couple of nights in the New Forest where I caught up with my old pal Mark Turner, who used to live next door to the Rock Cross Inn. I say caught up, there was a lot of ground to cover through the forty years since we last spoke. We filled this in with a game of golf and then managed to get parked in the middle of a National Park in the village of Burley, where we were surrounded by deer, so friendly they would just about poke their head in through the camper door. I am not sure they were too impressed with the venison burgers we had for dinner, though.

A short hop saw us to the Isle of Wight in time to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and celebrate we did. Four days of partying included a whole day on a large motor boat, along with eight other even larger ones parked in a circle, where we could precariously step from one to another, drink in hand. Miraculously, none of us went in the drink, with our drink! Craig and Emma, our wonderful hosts, plied us with so much lobster and fizz that I am sure Her Majesty would have been suitably impressed.

From there our journey has taken us to South Wales, initially on to the fabulous Gower peninsula at Oxwich bay and then on to Amroth, a sleepy little village that I last visited when I was four years old. Somewhere there is a photo of a fat little me sitting on a beach eating an ice-cream in the rain. Nothing has changed apart from me being five feet taller now! Continuing along the coast we happened on an even more picturesque village called Little Haven and what a haven it was. Parked on a vantage point overlooking the St Bride’s Bay, we spent a pair of glorious days admiring the view from our window until one evening we were joined by a couple of strangers named Fred and Sheila, her hailing from Kidderminster and coincidentally being at school with my sister. It was an entertaining night to be sure, each of us regaling stories about our nomadic lives. As a competent badminton player, and Wendy and I both keen on table tennis, he introduced me to a new game called ‘Pickle Ball’. No, not something on a canapĂ© menu but a cross between the two above sports, sort of table tennis without the table, which sounds so much fun I think we might indulge when we get home. I had for the previous few months been ploughing through a crime novel by Peter May, a writer I usually enjoy. However this, one of his more recent ones, had got more and more bogged down with fine detail on just about every situation until it became unnecessarily tedious as he described each flower, bush, hill, car and person in more flowery detail that Rembrandt could have added. I can only guess that in his older age he has discovered the sauce. Couple that with a plot about as thin as Naomi Campbell and it ended up consuming a month of my life I will never get back. Having dragged myself to the end of it, thankfully I palmed it off on Fred who, after I had admitted I was an author, and despite me giving him my real name, was convinced I had written the thing under a pen name! I can just about hear him snoring still! Somehow or other, during the escapade we have managed to snap the door handle off on the inside of the camper, only to wake up and be unable to get out of the thing! I have fashioned a work-around for now but the new part has to be flown in from somewhere in Europe at great expense, which we might see by Autumn. Staff shortages, apparently!

      In the next day or so we will depart for the North, the apprehension rising as we approach our first sheep event with our three beasts. Although I have spent more time on my knees in the ring than Frank Bruno, it will be at least twenty years ago since I showed a sheep in anger. I will report on our progress in due course. Also, in due course, when we return south we will have gained an extra passenger in the shape of a small puppy. Yes, after talking about it for nearly two years we have finally gone and bought a Border Terrorist. Look out Pooper, your life is about to change when wee Haggis arrives! And you too, Hoggy!