... has been a combination of busy, frantic, organised, successful, confusing, nerve-wracking, indulgent, quirky and chilled out. Let me explain ...
1) On Thursday evening, I went home for a thrilling night of ... counting. Open House is now only a fortnight away (eek!) and I had 10,000 leaflets delivered last week for distribution. They were to go to 77 artists exhibiting in 29 houses, plus 48 cafes, bars and shops around the area, plus some spares. Nothing for it but to count them. All of them. All 10,000. **sigh** So I had a rock and roll night with cardboard boxes, rubber bands, post it notes and the ability to count to 100. Yawnarama!
2) Friday morning saw the end to the counting (I went to bed on Thursday night at 2am, when I’d lost the ability to remember what came after 79). Then I set out to start trying to smooth talk the local businesses into putting some out on display for us. It’s interesting to see which businesses want to support local events and which don’t. One cafe – a regular hang out for us arty sorts, point blank refused. I think it’s possible that they’ve just lost 77 regulars ...!
3) Friday evening then was the organised bit. One person came to a meeting from each of the 29 houses, to collect their leaflets. They’d to give me £4 for each artist exhibiting in their house, collect 100 leaflets per artist, collect instructions for the competition (slightly different for each house), know where they’re delivering leaflets, and collect a bunch of pink balloons. Sound simple? You clearly have never tried to herd artists. They are all, to a man, deliciously lovely people, but my word, are they hard to direct! But we did it! Only two no-shows, which I think is pretty good going. Even if it did leave me with a pocket full of pound coins, and a surfeit of pink balloons ...
4) Then I set out to drive to Mother and Father Tooting's place in Kent. All going well, until roadworks forced me off the motorway one junction early, then an accident wouldn’t let me back on, so at beddie-byes time, I was still bowling around the greater Maidstone area (never good ...) hoping for a familiar looking road sign. I made it out in the end, tired, hungry, emotional, and in desperate need of a wee.
5) Saturday morning. This was the nerve wracking bit. As regular readers will know, I own, but rarely drive, a Nissan Figaro. Style-wise, they are, to my simple mind, the most beautiful cars on the road. They reek of 1950’s style, Japanese quirkiness, and urban nippiness. But mine was a money pit. I’m not going to tell you what it’s cost me in repairs in the last eighteen months, but it comfortably runs to four figures, and is enough to make me well up a bit. On Saturday I took it to a used car lot near my parents, haggled with a nice man / foolish soul, and agreed a price to trade the old girl in for a five year old Polo. It’s not glamorous. It’s not sexy. But it was the right move, and it was a good deal. So why did it feel like such a massive decision to make? Sitting in the car deciding that I'd do it felt like a big moment. And the second I walked out of the garage, having signed the papers, it felt like the most obvious thing in the world. I pick up the new motor on Friday. It's a boy, I'm sure, and he will be needing a name. Any ideas?
6) The rest of the day was lost to sighs of relief, and pottering jobs. Nice. It’s been such a long time since I had time to just mooch about that it was nice to enjoy a bit of not-very-much with Mother Tooting for a while.
7) On Saturday night, they took me for dinner to a pub that is new to them, but clearly not a new place. Kent is peppered with these places. Clap-board pubs that look tiny on the outside, but extend to three or four cosy, fire-warmed rooms on the inside; all low beams and mis-matched furniture. This one is on the bank of a tributary of the River Swale in a teeny village called Oare, and it's called The Three Mariners. If you're in the East Kent area, go there. You'll need to book - it was rammed last night. Prosciutto and figs, slow roasted pork, and a cheeseboard to finish. Are you drooling? You really should be. It was deeeeeeeelicious!
8) This morning we went to a car boot sale. We Tootings like a car book sale. Father likes books and old vinyl long players, Mother likes old china, and I like all of this, and anything else that looks bargainous. But this is a car boot sale with a difference. Every two years, the Stately Homes of Kent are invited to come together to sell the family silver, and it's great. They all turn up with their detritus in a horsebox, and spend the day in their Barbour jackets and Hunter wellies saying things like, "darling, would you mind awfully if I asked five pahnds?" There's none of your usual car boot rubbish - not a cafetiere or a foot spa in sight - but you can't move for ski-boots, golf clubs, and tureens. Just marvellous. The parents bought a couple of casseroles and I bought a present for a some-time reader of this blog, so Mum's the word!
9) This afternoon was chilled out Sunday afternoon stuff. Speaks on the phone with family, films on Channel 4, jewellery making, tea drinking, and breezy conversation, then dinner and a lift to the station, with cries of, "see you next week!". I decided that I'd leave the Fig in Kent for the week, rather than drive it home and back again. Knowing my luck I'd crash or breakdown now, and have some big explaining to do at the garage. Not worth the risk so the train home for me. Quite nice to know that I've an excuse to pop back next weekend when I pick up the motor, albeit that it'll be a flying visit.
10) What a journey home though! Works on the line, so a replacement bus through the narrow streets of Medway, then a slow train the rest of the way, which meant I just missed my connection, so in total my journey from the family seat to Tooting Towers took a whopping three hours. Craziness. Then I came upon TWO fire-engines at the end of my road on my way from the station. Eeeek! Fortunately nothing to do with me or my neighbours, but something that looked a lot like a false alarm at an office around the corner. What a shame that firemen in Tooting aren't any too reminiscent of Backdraft ...!
end-of-year staff party for 1(000)
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