Edinburgh to London was my first overnight bus journey. The coach was full and the loo paper roll was empty. I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to a lovely young scientist, who sounded like she was from the posh part of London. Whilst the sky faded, she told me about her research and her field of work with fervour, until she announced “I’m going to sleep now.”
I popped half a blue sleeping pill and napped upright, with my scarfs’ cushioning not enough for the banging of my head against the double glazing. I kept waking with a jolt when the first drop of drool hit the soft fabric. It’s hard to be lady-like when you are sleeping.
I woke up on the road into Chelsea. My one alert eye peered out for any fancy young socialites, but I think it was even too early in the morning for them to be carrying their handbag dogs to grab a coffee and gossip with friends. I was totally thinking that I could possibly be driving through Made in Chelsea, but I guess a coach through town with a slightly awkward looking New Zealander stuck to the window would scare you back inside.
Victoria Cross Station was a mishmash of people who couldn’t or wouldn’t move out of the way. There seemed to be a glare; something I didn’t know about, something slightly pissed off yet nonchalant. I found the station bathroom, which left me in a predicament of whether I could leave The Beast on its own, or if I had to Tetris wedge my way into a cubicle with it in tow. I discovered that when you try to pee quickly because you have to attend your suitcase outside, or something of the like, it just so happens that it’s timed like you need to water the entire Sahara Desert. Just like Celine sang, my bladder went on and on and on.
My next bus driver to Bournemouth was a breath of fresh air. He’d woken up on the right side of bed and filled the bus with positivity. He also shared his wifi passcode with me, until the next driver switched in his place. I liked that happy man.
I was the last person off the bus, let out into the sea breeze of a beachside town. I managed to wrestle and drag The Beast up a hill before collapsing into my friend’s bed, still under the influence of my knock-out pills. When she came home from work, English Best Friend (EBF) and I hugged, made fun of each other, and then went for a drink. I intro’d her to Long Island Iced Tea and she wanted to punch me in the face at the taste of it. This was quickly forgotten when we relished in our California Road Trip memories.
I quite like sharing a big bed with my friends. You kinda drift off to sleep in the middle of talking about nothing in particular. Apparently I snore. I know this because EBF tells me and has to get up in the middle of the night to find ear plugs, accidentally waking me up in the process. I also know this because my nana was the loudest snorer of all, and I am her descendent. I have also been known to wake myself occasionally with that one big snore. EBF also told me after I had left that she misses me and my snoring. However, I do think snoring is better than sleep farting. Or drooling…
I also sleep drool.
But I digress, upon sharing my sleep habits and not even mentioning my sleep talking. Crap. How the heck did she manage to share a bed with me?
On Saturday we took her Mini to the garage because it was embarrassingly boy racerly loud. It turns out that the muffler had pretty much broken off. This was the most enjoyable trip to a garage, because while the Mini was getting a new muff, we went out to explore the cute shops and go for a walk toward Hengistbury Head that I hoped was long enough to exorcise the excess. Theories and intention are great, until you meet a moist pineapple and beetroot cake with cream cheese frosting.
On the way back we were hit on, twice. First by a guy in a van who did vulgar tongue manoeuvres out the window and then by some older men who were gasbagging in the middle of the footpath.
“These ladies are healthy.”
“I can’t see a ring.”
The southern coast of England was shaping up to be a classy place.
Our bargain of the day was a ten pound massage, and our find of the day was between a vintage frock stop with affectionate Labradors and a creative café with an owner who reeled off an intriguing life story.
I was unofficially invited to a surprise drinks and dinner in Poole, to the fanciest of places. Wines fuelled the onset of inappropriate stories (and it actually wasn’t me who had started them!), and dinner was at the Michelin starred Guildhall Tavern, with fabulous French cuisine. I devoured my first ever soufflé; a cheese fest of awesomeness and for my mains, halibut with champagne hollandaise and probably the most amazing fries that I’ve eaten.
Our table had gained the most attention. Not because we were all gorgeous young things, but for the raucous laughter and our salt of the earth conversations. The French waiter was a little flirty until after a couple of glasses of vino, EBF announced “I don’t really like wine.” To which the restaurant seemingly ceased its operation and time lapsed at the shock of this statement.
On the way home, I saw a badger and convinced the taxi driver to take his wife to Las Vegas.
To finish the weekend off EBF drove me out to Burley, where wild horses roam freely. On the road we had great discussions about life, until we pulled into a car park and encountered our first group of lowly equines. I named the three closest to us; Nibbles, Sir Lancelot, and Greyboy. Nibbles took a shine to me and came to say neigh-lo. Then some other people muscled in for a picture with Nibbles, to which he pinned his ears back and looked longingly at me.
“What if we just took Nibbles with us? Just put him in the backseat of the Mini, his head out the window, and we went for a Sunday drive. Wouldn’t that be hilarious???”
EBF looked at me, pretending to give me a ‘wtf’ face while trying not to crack up.
The tight windy road into Burley was sheltered in bright green trees and lined with cute rustic homes. There was a ton of traffic that slowed our pace and sharpened our eyes for a parking spot. The village had an assortment of shops; from ‘wow look what you’ve given me, I’ll just hide it at the back of the bookshelf’ souvenirs, to witchcraft paraphernalia, to fresh fudge. I always give in to homemade fudge, trying out new flavours. What I shouldn’t have said ‘yes’ to, was tasting the Marmite one. I asked for a sliver to sample it, but the man gave me a chunk, probably knowing that this was the hardest one to sell. I wouldn’t wish this food experiment upon anyone… it was just too weird.
Our ploughman’s lunch with cider in the sunshine, more than made up for the bad taste left in my mouth. The randomly scattered bored looking horses on the side of the road, made you wonder what they were thinking; with their back legs crocked, nostrils flaring and bottom lips drooping low, exposing yellowing chompers and possibly a niche market for horse dentistry. And even though we were full, we found and had to have pink hot chocolates; cute in appearance, lethally divine in taste.
“I don’t even know what’s happening in my mouth right now. It’s a mouthgasm!”, savoured EBF.
We had time left on our parking ticket, so I tried to give it away. Surprisingly it wasn’t so easy, as there were several attempts made until I found a recipient. Karma was quick to return the favour, when we stopped in Christchurch and someone else had gifted us, theirs.
The English have sunny Sunday afternoons sorted. There were a lot of people lounging around at the park; families walking with kids playing, ice creams being licked, cute old couples dressed up and holding hands on park benches, sifty swans swooning past in the canal with one beady eye glowering. We left when they gathered near us, conspiring and staring.
Driving back into Bournemouth, one young guy made our day. Sitting up by the traffic lights, dressed in a bright coloured beanie, mismatched socks, and a smile that shone bright; he held up a sign reading in bold print ‘You are beautiful!’ We tooted and waved, admiring his spirit.
After a long day, we sunk into bed wanting to unwind. So we pulled out the laptop, to disengage with some online TV and then curiously started watching ‘My Granny’s an Escort’. Ten minutes in and we were cringing through the blankets, until we ended up feeling sorry for the old birds.
“I can’t believe we just watched ‘My Granny’s an Escort’… I just wanted to watch Eastenders.” EBF said.
Jeez I love her wit.
It was a full on introduction to the southern coast. I’ll continue with my English escapades, but my next blog is a special edition post. It’s about my haircut; from a length that tickled my lap to a pixie cut. Not just for a dramatic change, but for a special reason too.