Try the New Forest. Its new!

So I was in England last weekend, eventually, visiting with Jamie and Hilary and generally eating and drinking far more than was good for me, or indeed any of us.

I arrived in London only five and a half hours late. All but one of them stuck on an Aer Lingus jet in the middle of nowhere in Shannon. This after a bright and cheery (yeah, right!) 5:45 start to get breakfast, packed and a 7am bus. It was “technical difficulties” which is airline speak for “fucked if we know, and we wouldn’t tell you if we did”. The last time I was on a plane with “technical difficulties” was 3 days after the Concorde crash in Paris, when the backup of the backup of the backup engine monitor failed and it took an extra 2 hrs to fly from Dublin to New York as we had to stay within 2oo miles of land. Nothing like that this time, they just kept us onboard for just over 2hrs and then gave us 10 euros for breakfast and then reboarded us after an hour and took off 90 minutes later. Everyone could have handled the situation better, Aer Lingus weren’t very good at telling us was happening and they should have left us off at 10am rather than just pull away from the gate and park somewhere in the airport.

Likewise, some of the passengers could have complained less, most of them were going to be accommodated somehow with overnight stays as necessary and unless you live more than 8hrs than your destination airport its unlikely that you won’t be able to contact loved ones or whoever to warn them you may be 24 hrs late arriving. Only one couple made a lot of noise they were on a 12pm flight from Gatwick and Aer Lingus couldn’t do anything at all for them. Eventually they disembarked to try to buy their way on to a Ryanair flight or something. I had a book and free food (not good food, just free, unfortunately not a particularly good book either); I didn’t care much.

Getting through London from Heathrow is standard stuff, Heathrow Express to Paddington, Bakerloo Line to Waterloo Station. I only missed my train by 30 mins, and I was able to get the 17:05 train to Southampton. All in all I arrived only an hour late, although a bit annoyed I didn’t get to do anything or go anywhere in London. Hilary and Jamie had champange because of Hilary’s recent accomplishments.

The weekend proper began with Rose Wine and the adding of spices to meat. We ordered take-away from a newish Indian Restaurant, and not only did the manager deliver the food personally they called us after about 2 hrs to see if we liked it!!! The food was quite good and after a little persuasion I was allowed to order Lamb Jhal Frezee

Lamb Jhal Frezee is a hot stir-fry. This is a delicious way to cook any meat or vegetables. In colonial times it was introduced to the memsahibs (lady of the house) by the bobajee (cook) as a way to use up any leftovers. Stir fried with massala gravy, cumin, garlic, ginger, onion, tomato, fresh coriander and not forgetting the hot fresh green chillies. Please say if you like it HOT or HOT

Others may complain about weight gain after all the Indian food we had, but I don’t think mine hung around enough to cause any long term worries. Maybe colon cancer!

Saturday we woke early, and some of us smelled like garlic and went to collect our hire car. About 60 pounds got us the use of a 2.2L Vauxhall Vectra with Jamie and myself as drivers and Hilary as navigator/”I just passed my test so you had better drive proper” girl. Not bad for ordering a polo. So off to the New Forest we jaunted to go hunting ponies. Unfortunately the New Forest is neither new, nor a forest nor a place one can hunt ponies. You aren’t even allowed ride the ponies. Maybe you need to buy them dinner and a movie first. We stopped near Lyndhurst a typical touristy town (if it was Irish it would be twee) except that amidst all the glitter and prettiness it had a maserati dealership, which just added to the glitter and prettiness. And Lyndhurst has one of those cafes where if you order main courses and dessert from two different people, or from the same person but who uses two dockets then they aren’t able to work out what happened at the till and you get dessert free.

After Lyndhurst we drove around the New Forest a bit, occasionally getting out to shoot ponies and chop their legs off (otherwise we couldn’t get the carcasses into the back seat). After a while we were tired and covered in blood so we had to stop for a beer. Then we went to Tescos to frighten the children with our pony express mock up! Except it wasn’t that express as the ponies were dead and had no legs. Afterwards we headed back home and Hilary cooked dinner while Jamie and I watched and drank beer.

Sunday was another early start and back again to the New Forest. This time our destination was Castle Hurst, part of the coastal defenses built by Henry VIII in the 1530s and subsequently expanded and refurbished by the Victorians. Hilary had a brain dead piece of GPS equipment that we tried to use to navigate from their apartment to Milford on Sea, but the blasted thing couldn’t find its own arse with a map so we had to give up on that and navigate by following the car in front of us or by repeatedly making left hand turns. Against all the odds we eventually got to Milford and a 40 min walk along an artificial sandbar to the castle, which was well worth the visit, and the sunburn. Back to Southampton for all you can eat chinese. No prizes for guessing how that ended up!

Monday was uneventful. 10am train back to London where the weather was lousy and I just mooched around and did a bit of shopping. On my way through Heathrow I picked up a bottle of Talisker for the flat and some chocolate for the ravenous hordes. Back to normal on Tuesday, except no exercise for this week as everything is closed. Maybe I should complain

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