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True Brit

June 5, 2019 11:55am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 28 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing you Whimsy On A Wednesday!

I’ve been told for years that I’m “special” but now I’ve got proof. 

After spitting into a test tube and sending it off to ancestry.com the results were astounding. 

I am 94% homegrown.

If you got 94% in anything else it would be considered A*  

Top of the class. Top drawer. 

Ace.

I should be queen.

Thorough ‘born and’ bred

My mother was convinced that there would be some Viking element in my DNA as it’s in the family tree, but no.

No Viking scallywag in me.  

No Roman conquerors either. 

The only possible dilution is some Norman aristocracy.  I like to call that French class. 

But on the whole, as you can see, I’m the epitome of English Rose-ness.

Individually Wrapped

Not only that, but I have no DNA matches.  I’m a one-off.

I told my mother that she has produced a miracle child and have started calling her Mary.  

She laughed. That’s typical behaviour from a mongrel Viking. I merely shrugged my shoulders, sipped on my Saint Émilion and hummed Rule Britannia. 

This also explains why I can never take to iced tea. It’s just not British.

Now, please excuse me whilst I execute my own Game of Thrones and see to it that I am recognised as the true ruler of my land. 

Tramping! You Heard It Here First!

May 29, 2019 12:13pm Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 24 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

You might think that my new vehicle is just a truck – but it’s not.  This isn’t just any kind of car, this is an experience!

After playing around with this beast of a vehicle for the last week I have found a whole new way to enjoy my outdoor pursuits. This isn’t just a nip around the block or drive from A to B, this is an outdoor orgasm on big fat wheels a brand new delight in personal adventure. 

And this is how it started…

After buying my big fat awesome pick-up truck because of a bike rack issue with my old car, I became fascinated with the truck bed and all of its room and possibilities. I went out for an ice cream and ate it in the middle of nowhere with my feet swinging under the tailgate, had a brain freeze epiphany, and realised I’d missed this kinda thing. I went back home and started looking online for truck accessories.

And I found this…

No more expensive hotels or skinny beds or dusty 4* cramped boxes on the 116th floor. No.  

FREEDOM. 

It isn’t camping.

It isn’t trucking.

It’s way too tough and rustic to be considered as glamping.

This, my friends, is what I have aptly named as “Tramping”

 

Zip And Kip

After putting this truck tent on order I went straight to the great big camping shop for ideas. 

“I’ve bought a tent for my truck,” I said. 

“What?” 

Pause. Eye roll. I showed them pictures.

“Ah.” 

“I need a bed to go underneath. Comfy. Bouncy. Jules proof.” 

“We have many. But, what size is the back of your truck – they might not fit…”

“DUH!  Well can you blow one up and go and see which one fits?! Spit-Spot, camping boy, I have adventures to have!”

I continued around the shop whilst this was being sorted out with another outdoorsy salesman and pointed things out. “Stove, yes, I need one of those.  Steps, definitely need those. And a torch. Oh look at that pretty little light! Get me two. Do you have a crossbow?”

Before it got way out of hand and me nearly buying awnings, a time share in motor homing, and a 7 tiered BBQ, I left the store with a bed, a cooker, gas bottles and accessories. 

“At least you’ll now know how to deal with this problem if someone else comes in wanting to do this,” I said as the outdoors staff waved me goodbye.

“I don’t think we’ll get much call for tents and beds in trucks,” the store manager smirked with a wink.

I dropped my purchases on the floor in disbelief.  

“You, sir, will eat your words. I am about to set a trend. TRAMPING is the new camping. You better step it up, sunshine.”  

The Tramp Test

Blessed with an exceptionally sunny weekend and not yet with truck tent, I decided to take a jaunt to a nearby country park for breakfast and practice tramping. I parked up on the field with a beautiful view of the forest. Within minutes the bed was blown up and adorned with cushions and blankets, my skillet was frying up breakfast on my new stove and I sipped on a nice cup of tea whilst staring out into the wilderness.  

Bed made.

Stove on.

Farm shop sausages burnt to perfection.

This much room for my post sausage digest…

And, an after feeding kip.

This is the future, my friends. I can’t even be made homeless anymore  because wherever I drive my truck, that’s my home. 

#Tramping – You Heard It Here First

Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

May 22, 2019 12:38pm Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 21 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

When I first arrived in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen salty old queen of the sea, I bloody hated it. 

Maybe it was the fact that I arrived on the dreariest of days that tainted my mood. Wet, cold, blustery, and greyer than the worst of English days. Ugh. 

I had travelled light with just a rucksack to my name because I thought this would be a novel experience. Only two pairs of shoes and two outfits. I forgot to pack waterproofs, wellies, scarves, hats and furs.

I caught the metro from the airport to the centre of Copenhagen because I’d heard that Denmark was expensive. My hotel was a 25 minute walk from the centre, so I relented and got a cab from the central station because the rain fell relentlessly. That short ride cost just over £20.

Dearest mother, dearest father, here I am at bed bonanza

I arrived at the 4* hotel in the middle of nowhere and proceeded to the twin room. I dropped my sodden backpack on the floor and stared at my bed in disbelief. 

Surely this was a joke?

I had not a bed but a bench. Not even a skinny child could sleep on such a thing. I sat on it and found it was also a trampoline. After I’d stopped wobbling,  I lay down carefully on the bouncy shelf.  The pillow, which was even smaller than the bed, was square in size and so deep that you could lick your own chest when your head was placed upon it. I wondered if this, in fact, was the Danish idea of the brace position for when you fell out of the thinnest bed known to mankind.

“I can’t bloody do this,” I said to my travelling companion. “Just watch this…” 

I rolled over and fell straight to the floor. 

As I lay, cold, damp, bruised and desperately upset on the floor, I noticed a little card placed just under the bed. I picked it up, intrigued at such a peculiar find. 

“Well, can you believe this,” I said. “Here’s a nice little passive-aggressive note from the maids, who obviously know you’re going to fall out of your cot. It reads, ‘Yes! We even clean here!’

I tried to lift my spirits by drinking some.

Off I went to one of the in-house restaurants. It’s amazing how acidic a £15 small glass of wine can taste. Especially when you know you can buy a bottle of something far superior for under a tenner at Tesco. 

I nearly had a breakdown. 

Coma-hagen

In total despair, I went to have a chat with the front desk keepers.

“I can’t stay here,” I wailed. “Your beds are ridiculous. I might die in the night from a serious head injury.  I’m surprised I didn’t find body pieces of past guests on the floor. Ah!  This is why your maids clean under the bed, right? They’re not maids -they’re crime scene cleaners!”

“This is Danish way,” said the receptionist.

“This is supposed to be the happiest place on earth… I’m wet, cold, and miles from anything. I’ve spent a fortune on mediocre wine and can’t even afford to get pissed enough on that to render myself unconscious enough to stay still in my shelf bed. So, guess what? I’m really not a big fan of the Danish way.”

“Americans always have problem with bed.”

“The population of Lilliput would have a problem with your beds! And, I’m English! Where I live, single beds are at least 3ft wide!”

After a very awkward and tense conversation where burning down the hotel actually crossed my mind, I was offered a free upgrade the following day. In the meantime, I lay on my bench watching Danish TV and thinking like they sounded just like The Sims.  My depression was so great that I fell into a stress induced coma.

I can Cope – en hagen again!

I awoke to the sun streaming through the windows and wondered if it had all been a nasty dream. 

Downstairs I rushed to find people jumping on pretty little bikes with baskets out into the sunny day.  I found that the hop-on-hop-off bus stopped right outside my hotel and for a mere £22 you could ride it for two days  thus cutting out all expenses and being dropped at every possible tourist attraction you could want to see.  

All of a sudden, Copenhagen didn’t seem so bad.

This is Nyhavn, meaning new harbour, even though it’s very old. How pretty is this place?

I adored it here.

At the end of the canal there was a fabulous street-food market! Here I sampled the famous open sandwich known as Smørrebrød. Well, yeah, why would you put a lid on that?!

And here is where Hans Christian Anderson lived when he had his first fairytale published.

Remember The Little Mermaid?  I went to have a look at her. The tour guide said, “Here is the devastatingly unremarkable Little Mermaid.”  Just when I thought the Danes had no sense of humour.  Apparently, she has been painted red twice, had her arm cut off and her head severed.

Copenhagen is expensive.  Double the cost of everything in Britain.  However, the food is organic and tasty , Nyhavn is charming, their way of life is green and sustainable. I’d recommend a visit as my trip ended up  with me getting a REAL bed and was really wonderful, wonderful, and actually, as you can see below,  quite a beautiful finish.

Journey’s End

May 8, 2019 10:51am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 18 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

They say you should pay attention to your journey because there are messages everywhere. Mine seem to be shockingly accurate. When I can be arsed to pay attention. 

On a recent junket to York, I came across The Shambles. Ah! A place I know well. Walked down that menacing lane many a time, and, as usual, it wasn’t a straight forward “from start to finish” experience. Littered with obstacles – in this case, dawdlers and tourists standing right in the middle of the narrow street to examine the wonky buildings of yore. Look pal, can you just sod off to the side to do your adoring because weaving in and out of you all is making me seasick. I have to get through this alive and without either one of us causing grievous bodily harm. 

From The Mighty To The Meek

I am fascinated with doors and York boasts a collection of the finest.  

There seems to be a lot of pushing going on of late. Tons of effort and hard work. The temptation is to heave-ho when confronted with such a magnificent entrance displaying a command.  What delights could be behind? Or not. Will the effort be worth it? 

Standing at the edge, admiring the great portal (because I have street manners) I felt tempted to go behind and explore. However, that meant ducking and diving through a gaggle of Japanese tourists moulded to the floor with craned necks, a couple of kids having an ice cream fight, a 4×4 pushchair worthy of making it to ‘Top Car’ status, and a dog so small and hyperactive it was like a live yo-yo; an unavoidable, moving tripwire that would have you face down in seconds doing gobble on a cobble. 

As everyone looked up, I looked down, and that’s when I spotted it…

The worlds smallest door.

Well. I was enchanted!  I looked around for the ‘Eat Me – Drink Me’ potion but reckon the psychopathic pug had beaten me to it.  Trust me to find the one and only door that I’m desperate to enter but can’t. Rats! Probably…

I shut my eyes and willed myself to shrink. Come on, brain!  You can do this! Despite what everyone says, I know there’s more to you than you let on. 

Careful Which Wormhole You Wish For

47 seconds later I was at the seaside. 

A gloriously hot and sunny Bank Holiday Monday, and where’s the worst place you can be? 

The East Coast. 

Full of donkeys.

And deckchairs that NOBODY sat on. 

I think they were situated too far from the chippy. Nobody wants that kind of effort at the Great British seaside.  

I had an urge to paddle which may seem surprising as the North Sea isn’t renowned for its thermals unless it’s been pissed in nearby. However, the tide was 4,687 miles out and I knew I would have lost my childlike fervour long before my toes were lapped with freezing spume and plastic wrappers. So, I opted for a cock on a stick and a meander back up the beach to the car park. 

That’s when I heard the whispering. Low-level chuntering weaving through the brisk winds. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not an unusual sound at the Great British seaside. People cursing at their windbreakers as they struggle to stay vertical, impatient mothers swiping at irritable kids who have overdosed on too much sugar and resort to violent screaming because they can’t make their sandcastle stand up – too dry because the sodding water has receded back to France. Teenagers who have had one too many rides at pleasure beach and can feel the dodgy burger making a bid for freedom, and the straining of a wiry mutt as it takes a dump on “Baz Woz ‘Ere” written in the sand.  You can’t help but feel elated. 

But this sound was different. And that’s when I saw them.

Cache Your Chips In

The many small statues of bearded wisdom in pointy hats. Randomly collected together on the dunes. 

Gnomes. Why? 

Known to be protectors of treasure. What possible bounty could they be guarding, I wondered, for about ten seconds.  One of them looked like a wizard and so I asked it if I could please go home. I’m sure I heard him say…

On Yer Bike

And that’s when I found myself back in the beautiful countryside. The bright yellow fields are stunning at this time of year. 

“Wow. Rape is so beautiful”, might sound a very dodgy thing to hear coming from a British mouth should you ever visit, but please note we are referring to the rapeseed plant that grows abundantly in our farmer’s fields.  We’re not weird or inappropriate. If you go to the seaside you’ll see for yourself. 

And I got to thinking about the joys of riding a bicycle. I decided I should buy one so I could pedal around for the forthcoming summer season.  

I’ve always wanted an old fashioned bike with a basket on. The kind you see in a subtitled movie, set in in a French village.  Where the heroine rides through the village with a straw hat and flowing, floral skirt, filling the basket on her bicycle with pain de jour and local wine. 

So, that’s what I bought. 

In yellow. 

However, I don’t have a long flowing skirt yet and have had to buy a helmet because the bloke who sold me the bike put the fear of death into me about brain damage. It doesn’t look quite as elegant when I’m sitting on it looking like an overgrown child having a crisis. 

I decided I would take it to pretty places, like by the river or national parks. However, it won’t fit in my car.  Not without extreme hassle, blood, sweat, tears and an incredible amount of cursing. 

Solution? I went to buy a bike rack. 

They don’t do them for my car unless you have a tow bar. To have that fitted and buy a bike rack from my car dealer is a mere  £1200. Even at a local car place called Halfords, it’s £800. 

Range Rover has done this on purpose. Now I can’t take my bike anywhere pretty unless I change my bloody car.  Which I’m now going to do as a matter of principle. 

My advice? NEVER, pay attention to your journey and never follow the yellow brick road!

Home On The Range

April 17, 2019 1:00am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 17 Comments

Belvoir Castle on the hill

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

Behold the country

Where wild beasts in pastures roam

And freedom still breathes

In support of National Haiku Day and today’s blog post, which incidentally, is right on time. 

The English countryside is beautiful. I love getting out and about in the thick of it all. Especially in spring. Such a wonderful, delicate season where hope hangs within reach. Renewal, naivety, fragility, and softness. This season reminds me of a woman getting dressed for a wonderful day. Here she is, fresh and new. Slowly revealing her grace. Lingerie lacing patterns across her body; her scent only just evident. Unsullied by extravagance. 

In a nutshell, a bit like a bird before she gets her blooming summer frock on to go proper out-out!

Further Afield

The other day I decided to go out and about into the Vale of Belvoir which is just down the road from me. Apparently, it has been voted the best place to live in the UK and has usurped the Cotswolds. Even though my mother lives there and the Duchess of Belvoir, who is said to be a bit of a lush nightmare, this somehow didn’t cast a murky shadow on the result. Belvoir is the new dog’s bollocks. 

I sometimes see evidence of what I like about Texas in the English countryside but obviously on a much smaller scale: lots of land, curious little buildings, rusting farm machinery, horses, and sometimes, even the distant sound of a shotgun being fired. 

The only real difference is that Texas has raging heat, poisonous critters, and buffalo ranches.

Err, but, hold on a minute…

Bearded Beasts in Belvoir

Bisons in the vale of BelvoirOh yes. There is bison in the Vale of Belvoir. 

 Buffalo? Bison? what’s the difference? As far as I can tell, those with bearded wisdom live here.

The BouverieWelcome to ‘The Bouverie’. This is French for cowshed. Bouverie sounds better than cowshed just like Belvoir sounds better than beautiful view. There’s a lot of pomposity in areas voted up by The Sunday Times. 

I didn’t know if Ruth was the chief bison or the owner, so I put my Vale of Behaviour in place and entered the classy cowshed.

Deal of the day for under a tenner! And with a proper fire going. You can’t knock that for an A -list area.  They could have doubled that since being in Blighty’s best tabloid. Total respect.

Still maintaining rustic charm, the porcelain was outside in a decorated shipping container. With a piano.  As my mother sat on the throne tinkling, I tinkled “God Save The Queen” on the old ivories. There aren’t many places you can do that.  But you can in the Vale of Belvoir.

Before It Gets Too Cheesy

What do you need on your bison burger? Cheese. A few miles down the road and there we were at the Long Clawson Dairy, the home of specialty Stilton. Inside they had endless cheeses in waxed coats at half the price of Sainsbury’s.  I think I bought one for every day of the week.

And to go with the famous pork pie from Melton Mowbray, in the very heart of the Vale of Belvoir.

And, if you want to live in the Vale of Belvoir, where bison run free and there’s cheese aplenty, you can reside in this rather lovely Georgian house. Don’t mind if I do.

Then, after a day full of wonder, it was time to tootle back to the village.

Where on the roadside, outside another rather spectacular house, stood a little trolley full of homegrown plants. Each with a colorfully printed out description sheet.

“How do you pay for these?’ I asked my mother, what with it being her village and all. “Do I go and knock them up?”

“Goodness, no! There’s an honesty box!

That’d last about 3.2 minutes in a town. On a good day.

“Oh, that’s nice. Do you always do that here?’

“Yes. Except I owe the last place I took plants from about £7.50… for the tulips, that I had a year and a half ago.”

*Gasp*

There’s trash in the Vale. I’m calling the Sunday Times.

 

 

Genghis Khan And So Can I

April 12, 2019 8:52am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 17 Comments

“Time Waits For No One”

It all started with Mongolia. And I don’t mean Genghis Khan.  

After watching “The Grand Tour”, which is one of my favourite programmes, the finalé had the trio building their own car and driving across the Gobi desert. I was awestruck by the stunning scenery in Mongolia: vast open skies, rugged beauty, more wild horses than people, and when there were people, they were living a simple life and seemingly unaffected by the modern world and all its vices. 

The itch was frantic.

I’ve sat still and not been anywhere for 6 whole months.  No wonder I’m fretting about losing my feet!  The answer to all my problems is to travel. I just can’t be in the same place for this long without insanity setting in. Mongolia cured my madness.

Unfortunately, holidays to Mongolia are fairly expensive and if you’re going to go there then you have to pull in China and then maybe a bit of a rest in Thailand before heading home. This makes it a lot more expensive. This is a trip that needs attention, time, and a bit of a lot of saving up. 

But you can’t have an idea like that and not sate it with something else. That’s just not fair. 

Fortuitously, Ryanair sent me an email about reduced plane prices and I took this as a sign to make a bold move out of Blighty and into unknown territory!  Time to conquer!

I sat myself down and decided I would not move until I had found some little place that had yet to make my acquaintance!

And here’s what happened:

Scandinavian Scandal

In May I am going to Copenhagen, Denmark. #CopenMAYgen

All great storytellers go here and maybe I will come back with renewed imagination and be able to reel off my own version of a Hans Christian Anderson fable.  Inspired by a Smørrebrød (basically a Ploughmans lunch) washed down with the local Carlsberg, how can I possibly fail?  They say it’s the happiest place on earth, which is a little bit presumptuous because they haven’t met me yet. 

Spaghetti Western

In June I am going to Genoa – Liguria, Italy. #Juneoa

The birthplace of the great explorer and colonist, Christopher Columbus. Inspired by this traveller I will be able to navigate the wonders of my future whilst nibbling on the famous focaccia and pesto, washed down with a glass of Cinque Terre whilst watching a sunset resting on the harbour waters. Ligurious!

Musical Mayhem

In July I am going to Vienna, Austria. #TheLastWaltz

Apparently, the Austrians are very precious about their sausages. But surprisingly, I’m after their cake and coffee.  It’s also the worlds number one city to live in and steeped in class and culture.  This will be the rounding off I need; the finishing school of trips before I return to the Motherland, renewed, refreshed and raring to go!

But now I’ve talked the talk, can I…

Walk The Walk

I went out for a celebration with a few of my friends t’other night and told them that I felt the need to book all these trips in case my feet dropped off. One of the posse is a GP and there’s no point having a doctor as a friend without abusing the situation.  After checking my bare feet at the dinner table (total class) he informed me that my pulse is exceptionally strong and I might just be OK. 

Time to get the ole bewwwts on! 

 

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