Friday 26 July 2013

Goodbye, Porpoise Spit!

And we're in the bottom of the 39th, to use a slight bastardisation of a silly baseball metaphor (possibly the world's most boring game, after cricket).  I've been trying to decide if I'm going to have any sort of minor freakout about turning 40 tomorrow.  Probably not.  Still though, I remember Dad turning 40 and thinking OMG that is so old.  And I distinctly remember Grammie got away with telling me she was 39 for a number of years in a row before I cottoned on that she might be telling a slight fib.  And a moth just kamikazed onto my keyboard from the light above.  It's kind of a pretty moth - wings sort of the colour and pattern of granite.  And I digress.  Anyway, I feel like I should somehow be more "grownup" than I think I am, though, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why.  My youngest team member - all of 27 - to whom I had to explain the intricacies of a library card catalogue the other day - said I was "cool".  No one has ever called me cool at work before.  Maybe there is possible life after 40?

Ten years ago, I was just about to set out on this big silly adventure that's ended up with David and me in a small terraced house in a quite south London street next to a park where the hospital lands its helicopters for lack of a landing pad (soon to be remedied, apparently).  Ten years ago, Katherine made me an ice cream cake for my 30th and David and I set off to drive up the north coast to Seattle, stopping off along the way to see people and to briefly hold in our possession a seemingly cursed bone we picked up in a dry riverbed on a reservation on the north coast of California.  I was off to London to embark on some poorly thought out PhD course, in part because I didn't know what else to do at that point besides be a student, in part because it felt like an opportune time to leave America and because I had wanted to come back to London ever since I first set foot in this ridiculous little island held together with duct tape and string.  David, ever the good sport, uprooted himself from his comfortable New York existence and followed me on my not always grand adventure.  To his huge and everlasting credit, he stuck with me through the throe-y-est throes of me trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up.  Beauty school drop out.  Too much partying.  Too much drama.  A series of increasingly less crap jobs.  And we're here.  I'm tapping away on the computer.  David is watching Scrubs.  I finally managed a "real job", just squeaking it in before 40 (that was my goal).  Life has (touch wood) at least a modicum of stability.  And my youngest team member says I'm "cool".  Baby's still got it. ;-)

So, no, I think I'm not that hugely worked up over 40.  I made it through the drama of the 30s.  Definitely older, potentially wiser, still in possession of the majority of my own brain cells (and teeth) and with a highly developed appreciation for the ironic and absurd.  My favourite quote, of late, not surprisingly, comes from Germain Greer - "You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever".  I do most certainly intend that to be the case. :-)

Saturday 6 July 2013

First class and stinky

I love travelling back on the train first class from a long bike ride, slathered with sunblock and plastered with dead bugs. It feels somehow decadent. Anyway, I'm on a rather leisurely train back from Taunton to London. It's quite empty, which is nice, and my bike is stored, unlocked, in the bike car, on the other end of the train, which always worries me slightly. I spent two days cycling from Plymouth to Barnstaple to Taunton, through Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks. I do think that the southwest is my favourite part of the country. It's hilly, green and seems to be generally full of friendly and often a bit unusual people. Did I mention it's hilly? Omg I learned an important lesson about cycling in Devon, namely don't take the superdink roads as the have lots of traffic and seem to consist mostly of 25% grades. I almost gave up hope yesterday, the first ride I've ever taken that was actually too hard. Narrow, bumpy, exceedingly steep roads with nettles hanging menacingly over the sides and cars whipping around blind corners. I was very happy, after 40 miles of this, to get back onto slightly more sensible roads. And the hills. Rural Devon is more than enough practice for the Alps, because unlike Switzerland, where they have sensible things like switchbacks, in England the roads go straight up the sides of the hills, only to smash your hardgotten gains with a plunge into some random and completely unnecessary valley, only to do it again, and again. At least they warn you. Around London, any road that goes over a lump bigger than an overpass is called Something Hill. In rural England, it means that God is going to laugh at your puny legs. I stayed the night at a slightly peculiar and very artistic b&b, way back in the woods, surrounded by a sculpture garden. It was run by Dutch people. Go figure. Today was the north coast of Devon. The roads were better but no less hilly. It reminded me of Point Reyes, but greener. Lots of hill farms, lots of sheep, and several hippy dippy towns on the coast. I had clotted cream with fresh scones, which may well be better than sex. Oh, I have also come to the conclusion that the official, el cheapo Devon way of repaving a road is just to dump miles of oil and gravel on it and let the traffic mush it down. Great if you're in a 4x4, not so great on a bike with skinny tyres. At least 1/3 of the 140 miles was like that. Anyway, just like that the ride was done. I'm now heading back east. It's getting warmer, drier and smoggier. Yay, London summer. I already can't wait for the next ride... :-)