Our Travel blog
Wednesday 8 June
We awoke to heavy mist, or more accurately in low cloud. It was mercifully dry and we went about our daily ablutions. By now you are probably familiar with my struggles to grasp the workings of unfamiliar showers and today, although the shower cooperated, the sink had a plug of extraordinary complexity. I spent 10 minutes trying to get it to stay closed, attempting to shave as the water gurgled away until I lent on it with my full weight and it popped into the hole. I then spent 20 more precious minutes trying to empty the sink until I levered the plug out to the sound of a loud and probably expensive snap.
It was a classic case of over-engineering. If ever a sanitary fitting was fit for purpose, from pre-historic times onward, it is the humble plug. Here's a definition: "Typically plugs are made from a soft material, such as rubber, or have a soft outer rim, so that they can be fitted to holes slightly smaller than their diameter; this ensures a tight seal." See, it's not difficult is it? All I want is for the water to remain in situ until I've finished with it. Why do they have to be made to pop up, pivot, lever, spring and otherwise bugger about? If you are a Master Pluggist, or whatever the noun is for one whose job is to design plugs, give up, retrain as a ballet dancer or design a better moustache trimmer. There really is no need to tinker with something that already works without your continued bloody interference.
Of course Alison, bless her, suffers no such indignities and calmly takes all manner of sanitary ware in her stride. This morning she greeted my face, half of which was smooth and shiny and half raw stubble, with the special look of pity and resignation that she reserves for my frequent struggles with the unfamiliar. She guided me gently to the bathroom, mopped off the suds, water and last nights BBQ sauce, calmly suggested my underpants might be better suited inside my trousers and left me changing while she went back to the toilet block to mop up after me, collecting the items I'd dropped along the way and probably leaving a little note of apology for the owners.
And so, correctly attired we went into Biddulph. We were to attend a gig by Martyn Joseph, a particular favourite of ours who we first saw together at the Cambridge Junction on our very first date. We've seen him every year since and tonight we'd arranged to see him play at the Biddulph Arms as it coincided with our itinerary.
The pub was staffed by friendly folk who moved cars to allow Mavis ample room to park, fed us with extraordinarily good food at cheap prices (£5:00 for a large vegetable pie with chips and peas) and generally looked after us. We wandered into the town but after the friendliness of the pub it seemed rather run down and morose so we went back, grabbed a drink and sat in the upstairs venue chatting to charming locals who bade us join their frequent rambles in the nearby Peak District when we are next visiting.
The room was intimate, it probably held 80 - 100 people, and was sold out. Martyn excels in these small venues and from the moment he picked up his guitar to the last dying chord he held every single person in the palm of his hand. We laughed, sang along, earning Alison compliments and me frowns, fought back tears for the dispossessed, held our collective breaths in awed silence and erupted into furious and sustained applause.
Post gig we met him briefly to get a CD signed and say thank you and then tried to get away as we had an overnight drive to Cambridge ahead. Annoyingly some daft selfish sod had squeezed their car into a space behind Mavis, presumably sideways so tight was the fit. We were just preparing to barge into the pub and demand the prick of an owner move their infernal blooming car forthwith when it beeped to signal it was unlocked and Martyn appeared holding the keys. Well, we complimented him on his parking, what a clever idea it was to take up that space, no it's no trouble at all, we've all the time in the world thank you and so forth. Needless to say he was every bit the gentleman, moved it immediately and then changed his shirt in the car park, causing Alison to remark that maybe we shouldn't be too hasty leaving.
So we drove through the early morning and hit Cambridge around 3am, ready for Alison to accompany her son Dom into London on Thursday on business.
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