Updated: Mar 22, 2020
Sent: 03 November 2016 23:20 Subject: Kennet Valley Woodturners - what again!
This is a re-published blog from when I used to work for a living.....
Greetings my Kennet Valley woodturning buddies – I trust you are in good fettle. Boulter here.
This is a quick reminder – we meet next week and are lucky enough to have John Boyne-Aitken (http://www.thebowlerhattedturner.co.uk ) demonstrating for us. Don’t miss it we are in for a real treat. So – this is by way of a reminder. John has been to us before and never failed to amuse, astound and educate. If we are lucky he may even bring a hat. I am in Derby next Tuesday – but will be rushing back to make sure I don’t miss John.
Also remember we are at Axminster in Basingstoke on November 12th from 10am until 2pm – I am a little nervous as I am doing some turning that day.
Plus I am bored – stuck in a hotel a long way from home and nothing to make me laugh – believe me – nothing.
I won’t bore you with work – I like that bit and it keeps me buzzing. Suffice to say I am residing in Gateshead for 2 days in a weird hotel and looking forward to home tomorrow evening. A good 5 hour’s drive with no traffic – but tomorrow is a Friday – perhaps 5 hours is a bit optimistic.
Obviously the memsahib will be pleased to see me – goes without saying of course – I spoil that woman – I have said it before, but I fear this time the return of the hunter brings with it an image of a sad shadow of himself. I need nurturing (no – not Neutering).
Those who know me know I am a picture of health, not an ounce of uncounted fat, and the body of a god, Buddha in my own specific case (other divine beings are available).
OK – what are you babbling about this time Boulter – we wait all year for an email and then two come along at one?
It’s the place I guess, not Gateshead specifically, not even “The North”- although after leaving Hungerford yesterday at 3pm in bright sunshine, it did get darker and more foreboding as I cruised majestically up the A1 through rolling Glens and Dales and the occasional 50mph set of road works “Opening Spring 2019 – we apologise for any inconvenience” – apologise my arse.
No – perhaps it’s the Hotel – it just is not planned right. Gateshead is hilly, I think a lot of “The North” is hilly – frankly when you get as far as Scotland they really shift into top gear – but Northumberland is hilly.
They gave me a postcode for the hotel, so it started badly. My car is German, it doesn’t do postcodes – I am guessing postcodes are not efficient enough for the Teutonic brain – it’s just not in their genes. They can do beer – just look at the Octoberfest. They do lederhosen they do sausages – perhaps should not be mentioned in the same sentence as lederhosen. Their motto is “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit”. Not too sure what that means – something to do with slapping their thighs while wearing shorts I think.
I digress. The postcode got me to the right road – but the road was 3 miles long and the hotel address omitted to describe the number. What good is a road name and no number? Where do you live? Oh – I live on the Bath Road. See what I mean – that is politician’s information – accurate, attempting to answer the question but no good to man nor beast.
Sorry – I digress again.
The hotel – when I did spot it flashing past me on the opposite side of the road, was on the side of a hill. A steep hill. A very steep hill.
Most good hotels have a carpark. Immediately let’s dispense here with the erroneous and misplaced adjective “good”. I was directed to a pay and display car park at the bottom of the hill, by a traffic warden. He was not smiling, and the hotel was surrounded by a menacing set of very yellow and very double lines. He was still not smiling.
Let us cut to the chase here – I parked my car in what we will call, for the sake of argument, base-camp. I could see the hotel, rising imposingly through the trees. The sunlight glinting majestically from the rusty drainpipe in the corner. It was a long way up, and there was no ski-lift to be seen.
Laptop – suit carrier – small suitcase, large bottle of water.
Did I mention it was steep?
They had steps, I will be fair here – they were very generous with their steps. They did not skimp on the materials, the placement, the accuracy or (sadly) the sheer number of the damned things. I’ll admit – I am not in my prime. I don’t have a marathon in me, a mars bar perhaps, but not a marathon, full or half, not a 5k or even a quick dash down the shops. Up I went, I got to the road, it took an effort – but I made it. Only – as I found out – another 32 steps. It is fair to say that by the time I got to the hotel door I was breathing heavier than I would have done had I parked on the level, even if I had parked in the same street – I was trying to work out how I could actually start breathing again. It was bad.
I fell through the door into reception, bags and carriers askew and managed to hold myself upright by clinging on to the brass bar at the reception desk.
There was a lady at the desk, at least I thought it was a lady – (I was short of Oxygen)
Marian faced me, (it was written on her badge). I will admit to having a quick thought about whether the name Marian was invented when she was born, but I reminded myself that Robin Hood had a bird called Maid Marion so I kept quiet. Safe to say if she needed her parents to get her into the pictures she would be out of luck, she was 90 if she was a day. Not that that matters of course – I am not ageist – nor sexist. I know harass is one word not two. That said – she had seen a few summers!
“Mr Boulter” – I wheezed – “two nights!”
I slowly and painfully drew another deep breath - “Mr Boulter” – I tried to say – “just arrived – I parked down the hill and I’m a bit out of puff”
I should have run. I should have legged it and slept rough – I know that now – but I gave it another go. “Mr Boulter, I am booked to stay here” - I waved a crumpled booking form. It seemed to work. After much shuffling and rattling of the keyboard and some drawers she gave me a key.
“Where is the room?” I enquired, still breathing a little heavily. “Upstairs!” she responded – looking at me like I was some sort of fool, where did I expect the bedrooms to be? Eventually she added – “Second floor.”
She looked at me. T
hen she looked at the stairs.
Then she looked at me, then she looked at the bag, then she looked at the stairs.
She looked at me a last time. “Do you need a hand?”
I am a proud man, and considered it an insult that Methuselah’s mother was offering to carry my bags.
“Of course not” I proffered, “Do you have a lift”
“Yes” she replied.
Not given to lengthy conversations obviously.
It was like trying to ask a Scottish conservative to tell you all the good things about Nicola Sturgeon. “Good” I offered, leaving a pregnant pause and lifting a thoughtful eyebrow as if expecting a follow-up…
At this point I refused to admit defeat – I was British after all, I had a stiff upper lip (I will admit it was dripping with sweat and stiffer than either of my legs which were starting to shake) “No problem” I smiled and started to pick up my accoutrements.
“We do have a service lift” said Marian, finally trying to be helpful now she recognised I was far too knackered to be any threat to an old lady.
“No problem” I said and I swept disdainfully out of the double doors to the base of the stairs. Everest had nothing on this.
I will skip past the stairs. Just assume it was painful.
When I finally got to the top I entered the corridor, my room was 207 – I was faced with 208 – thank god for that I thought – I must be next door. No, the next room was 209, than 210 etc. I turned 180 degrees to find room 182.
It only requires me to say that all the fire doors opened towards me. 26 rooms I had to walk past. I counted them all.
I think my room had a different postcode to the reception desk.
I collapsed on the bed took a moment to catch my breath. “Catch my breath” – bloody thing was very evasive – but I managed it after a hard fought 20 minutes. I decided I should to the E.T. thing and phone home.
It was at this point I discovered my phone was in the car – which was in base camp, I feared a nose bleed and the immediate bends should I take this too quickly. I wished I was in space, they can’t hear you scream in space.
Did I mention the service lift was outside my room?
I did need a shower. It is fair to say the bathroom put the rest of the hotel to shame, spotless, very white – very very white – my eyes actually hurt and I had to shield them from the glare. It was certainly clean, totally uncontaminated by anything, including soap…
WTF – luckily I had some in my washbag. It had accidentally fallen in there from the hotel last week.
So I got into the shower and turned on the water.
Then I turned it on a bit more – and then some more again.
Did I mention I was on the top of a hill?
The hot water was positively apologetic as it trickled out of the shower – it too was knackered after having made it this high and frankly I think it should be commended for its effort. It tried very hard – I found myself willing it to find the energy to go that extra mile and actually get me wet – but I think the journey got the better of it and it collapsed breathlessly onto the floor of the bath and made a run for the plug hole with a glint in its watery eye, obviously excited at the thought of the long and very exciting journey back down the hill – all of it unsullied by soapy suds as I was only staring blankly at it as it made its escape and was not quick enough with the soap.
I feel I should stop now, there is another story of the shy steak I had in the bar last night, I say shy – it was hiding behind the peas. I would have complained – but I don’t speak the language up here you see – (plus the blonde behind the bar looked like she was taking no crap from anyone) – so I did the British thing and apologised as I left.
Anyhow, I had better send this before the laptop gives up, I haven’t found the plug yet – I can see one behind the wardrobe – but I have not given up hope of finding another one.
It’s OK – I am checking out tomorrow, home awaits me.
One last thing – they have left some PG tips in the room next to the kettle, all I have to do is find where to plug it in.
Kennet Valley Woodturning Club