Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Chopper's Up!

At last, after much fannying about, plan making and plan breaking, committing and flaking - we have Chopper to stay!

I awoke early, disturbed by a menacing nightmare where friends were not what they seemed, and lay still until my heart slowed its pounding to a steady beat. Eventually I dropped back into a restless sleep, never really shaking my sense of unease. At 8.30, Fisher rose to go and visit the foot specialist, but just as I was drifting back into sleep yet again, the telephone rang and 'Blair at the Quarry' informed me there would be blasting today. I blearily peered out of the window. It appeared as if a host of angels had raised their robes and were emptying their post-bender bladders all over the world. The sky was both iron grey and foggy, the wind blew, and it looked set to be miserably miserable all day. Fat chance they'll be blasting in this weather, I thought.

Chopper was due to arrive at around 11am, but in typically Chopperesque fashion found herself delayed. She had an interview that ran over, missed the 11.10 train and had to opt for one at noon. As Arrow would say - it was all good. Considering the filth pouring down from the sky she was hardly missing anything. Meanwhile, I mooched about the house feeling cold and slightly PTish, eventually distracting myself by curling up under a duvet and watching Elena Baltacha get humped by Vaidisova at Eastbourne.

On Fisher's return from St Andrews and the foot doctor, she informed me we'd be going nowhere in her car today, as all the roads were a-swim. Yet when it came time to pick Chops up from the station, the minute Fisher turned out of the drive in the Drover, the sun began struggling to break the cloud. Ten minutes later, the clouds dispersed and bright sunshine poured down on Fife!

Chopper is clearly some manner of weather god.

Feeling invigorated by the sudden warmth and vitimin D, the moment Chopper arrived I suggested we head out to St Andrews for lunch, a walk on the beach with the dogs, and then a swim for me and whatever Fisher and Chops wished to do while I completed my looooong overdue 700m. They declared that what they really wanted to do was go for a run.

They are crazy as loons.

Anyway, we rushed around getting ourselves ready - but as I started to put Baffie into the car I noticed she was seriously limping, whining and shaking. I sat her on my knee and checked her paw all over, then up her leg and into her armpit, but found no thorn or obvious cause of distress. It looked like it was her shoulder bothering her most, but I couldn't be entirely sure. Fisher phoned the vet, and we booked a post-lunch appointment for her. She's suffered with this leg before, so we weren't risking anything.

First stop was The Jigger Inn - part of The Old Course Hotel, and a pleasant sort of place for a quick(ish) bite, despite being ludicrously expensive and often smelling of disinfectant from the loos. It was fine, and company was good, so we departed content and took Baffs off to the vet, where she was poked, prodded, and determined to have a dodgy shoulder.

Yes. I could have told them that. In fact, I think I said "she has a dodgy shoulder" as we walked in. £35 later and we left, armed with some anti-inflammatories and a very relieved Baffie, who'd shaken and trembled all through the vet's administrations.

We went off to West Sands for a walk, where the wind was gusty and quite cold until, on the way back, the sun burst through once more and all was as glorious as West Sands can be. By this point, we'd all commented on the fact we were astonishingly knackered, and the temptation to cut our losses and go home was overwhelming. Luckily, we rallied enough to visit the North Point for some coffee and a smidge of carrot cake (only 2 slices between the 3 of us!), which was an excellet shot in the arm.

Newly resolved, we headed off to the East Sands Leisure Centre. I went and used the pool while Chops and Fisher set off on a brief jog. Fisher told me they would run up to the cathedral and back, but instead they followed the coastal path up to the caravan park and along. They did just under 3 miles in over 40 minutes, which, considering they are both much faster than me is a shockingly slow time! However, the path undulates wildly, as well as being treacherous underfoot and sometimes invisible - so on the whole they did pretty well not to die horribly. So, you know, fair play to them!

Meanwhile, I was braving the eye-stingingly minging water of the Leisure Centre pool (I really wish I hadn't read that official brochure of Spartan's regarding pool hygiene). It was fine, except that I lost count of my lengths. I think I did the requisite 28, and I think I did them in about 20 minutes. This puts me at the same swimming pace as the last 3 competitors in the Cheshire Sprint, which is fine with me considering how lax I've been, how new I am to swimming, and how alert and ready for more exercise I felt at the end of the swim. I have to concentrate on speed as well as distance! I'm far too lazy with my rhythm.

After the swim, I took Bridie out of the car, thinking to walk her on East Sands while I waited for Chopper and Fisher to return. However, as I wandered towards the strand I saw them running the last 100m from the caravan park to the car park. They looked tired, red-faced, but pleased with themselves. The sun shone joyfully, and I suggested we go down onto the beach to stretch out with a couple of sun salutations. These proved less than successful, as Fisher was too self-conscious, Chopper collapsed in wild laughter, Bridie attempted to jump on us all, and I was the only one to soldier on regardless - until the lure of the sea grew too great and I had to run into the waves for a proper paddle. Bridie swam around my ankles as I tried and failed dismally to keep my short trousers above my knees. It was fresh, but I managed to persuade both Chopper and Fisher that it wasn't really cold - so in they came as well.

We had a lovely time paddling like children, before deciding it was time to be heading home. The dogs needed to be fed, and Clova, our elderly guest dog (who would never have been up for all that exercise), needed some TLC. On the way, we discovered that Mellis was still open, so went in an bought some Gruyere for fondue, some wild boar salami, and a couple of other munching cheeses for supper.

The rest of the day passed extremely contentedly. We watched the interminable end of the England U21's European Championship hopes, which ended, naturally, on penalties. I think it finished something like 12-11 to Holland, but in my opinion it should never have got so far. England were leading 1-0 all the way, until surrendering the lead in the 90th minute because they completely failed to keep posession. Just as the senior team is wont to do, they simply hoofed the ball clear whenever it got near their penalty area, which allowed the Dutch to continue to build attack after attack. Why we never seem to be able to grasp the concept of retaining posession and building from the back, I have no idea. So we lost, and fair play to the Dutch for hanging in there.

After the footie, we ate our fondue and sundry cheeses with French bread, salami, ham and little sour gherkins. Delicious! We'd planned on treating ourselves to some chocolate and biscuits afterwards, but I was far too stuffed. Instead, we went through to the sitting room and vegged in front of Pan's Labarynth, which I thought excellent. Dark, tragic, and steeped in the painfully twisted - and all too recent - history of Spain. Goya's legacy can be seen in every frame of that film, and it tears at your heart.

So, to clear my mind before bed, I've come through and jotted down all our day's happenings. It's therapeutic, this blogging lark. But now I'm off to bed, and my fingers are firmly crossed for another day of sunshine.

In the immortal words of Julie Walters in Billy Elliot:

"Right, Mr Braithwait - The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow." Aside. "Fat chance."