We are on our jolly holidays – so this blog may be in bits and not all of them in a logical sequence – but that kind of sums up our families – so fairly apt really.
This week we are mostly in Hamble (or Hamble-le-Rice according to the signposts – nothing to do with risotto or pudding with a claggy skin – the rice is olde Englishe for Rise – so Hamble on the Hill really). This area forms a link for Lovely Hub and I – we both spent (or misspent in my case) some of our formative years stomping around Hamble. Lovely Hub went to senior school here, and I wasted a couple of summers chasing (and sometimes catching) charming , suntanned grotty yachties with tumbled blonde curls and names like Giles, Piers and Jonty – usually coupled with at least two barrels of a surname. Set on the Solent, for us it is a very special place.
We are just up the road from Hub’s parents and within easy visiting distance of the rest of the family. Should you be interested, the house we are renting is on the market for £630,000 and is described as a ‘crewhouse’. Ideal for housing international yachties and powerboat racers when they come here for Cowes week and all the other wet things that go on in this part of the world. On a small and very select private estate of Art Deco bungalows built in the 1930s – so posh that Hub and I didn’t even know it existed until we decided to rent it for a week.
As I know from said misspent youth, Hamble is a village designed for the the athletic pub crawler; you start at Ye Olde Whyte Harte, via the King and Queen and fetch up at The Bugle – there are others but this is a logical line for the inebriated sailor.
Before we even got here we had a mission to accomplish however. A friend from way back moved to a village outside Oxford quite a few years ago and on another trip down South we had popped in to see her and her family – our two boys and her two boys were of a similar age and naturally hostile. Hub and I had a nice time though. We keep in touch and send birthday and Christmas cards and as she is one of our favourite people, we decided that the boys had matured sufficiently for another visit en route.
Lovely Hub brought cold meat and stuff to nibble; the boys and I decided to trust our luck to the motorway services. Fools. We pulled up at the M6 Toll services and were greeted with a burger place that didn’t bear either of the fast food names we were used to. College Boy declined – he distrusts the unknown, but Uni Boy and I tested it out. Overdone burgers, flaccid fries and totally charmless serving staff. We won’t get fooled again.
The traffic was horrendous and so was the weather; torrential rain and forked lightning – very, very frightening (well, not really as Hub and I both like thunderstorms). It slowed us down a fair bit though and we were already running rather late. We were supposed to leave at 0900 hrs when I finished work but it was 1215 before we finally really hit the motorway.
Once we got to our friend’s house it was a great visit. All four boys were bigger and more sociable. If you listened to College Boy you would be under the impression that the planned hour-long visit (which stretched to two with no effort at all) was spent picking on him but he took most of it in good part – I thought. He patted me on the head at one point and I flicked my hand out to brush him away and accidentally (no, honestly) caught his lip – so silly to put his face so close to my hand! No blood – just a bit of localised swelling and a guilty Mum.
By the time we hit the road again College Boy was beyond reason he was so hungry. I found him a BK in Newbury and once he had the food in his hands he let us have it – with both barrels – apparently we had conspired to starve and humiliate him and he hated all three of us. He gets like that when he’s hungry. We bailed and hit Sainburys, giving us a chance to stock up on some essentials and him the opportunity to demolish his burger (no bun or fries – he’s off carbs this week – another reason for being so grumpy).
The nice lady that owns this house was actually staying in the one-bedroom annexe attached to it; so she didn’t have far to go to let us in – just as well as I had arranged for us to be here late afternoon/early evening and we rattled in around 2030 hrs. The house was as big, airy and well-equipped as we’d been led to believe from the photographs, and once all the bedrooms were allotted and luggage lugged in, Hub and CB went off to kill some kebabs.
Back twenty-five years when Lovely Hub and I first got together we used to get our kebabs from a shop in town called Zorbas. It was (and still is) owned by a chap called John who came from Iran and who I knew by sight from my ‘A’ level sojourn at the local Tech. Whenever we come home we have to make at least one pilgrimage to Zorbas; they have the best chilli sauce and all four of us will very happily bunch through a couple of trays of their green chillies. Sometimes John is there and he greets us like long-lost family. So good to be back home again.
By the time my hunter-gatherers had returned with their kill, Uni Boy and I had unpacked (a little) and set up the laptops (yay for wifi). After stopping to feed and drink (hard, cloudy cider – we really are home), we finally managed to stow everything away before midnight. It was dark when we arrived so we didn’t get to see much of the outside of the building but decided to save that as a nice surprise for the next morning. The TVs worked, the wifi worked (slow but constant at least) and the boys had stopped bickering. Even the bed wasn’t too squashy.