Monkey Fingers

The Nando’s obsession is over! Well, it’s not quite over: let’s just say it’s been usurped by an equally-addictive and gruesomely-unhealthy eaterie that goes by the name of Meat Liquor.

I’m not quite sure how to describe Meat Liquor. It’s part of a rising tide of restaurants all purporting to be the ‘all-American dining experience’: vying for business with the likes of Gourmet Burger King, Byron’s and Red’s True Barbecue (a hellish place where you are basically force-fed mounds of meat and have to lie down for at least an hour after to recover).

But back to Meat Liquor. The name itself conjures up images of shot glasses being filled with the slimy, fattening juices of a plumped-up Christmas turkey. In reality, it’s a stripped down burger joint that largely serves root beer and sticky chicken wings.

Once you’re in its greasy clutches, there really is no escape.

Let’s backtrack slightly. The husband and I have recently developed this weird weekend ritual. This is how is goes. We park up in Headingley at approximately 1pm on Saturday. We visit Salvo’s Salumeria for lunch, partaking in their pasta special (no one cooks a better pasta).

From there, we set off on foot into the city, occasionally – depending on the weather and levels of greed – buying an ice-cream en-route from the excellent Ecco Pizzeria.

The two-mile urban walk down Otley Road weaves its way past a number of intriguing locations. Just past the bustle of central Headingley and the famous Original Oak beer garden, there’s a strange place set back slightly from the road called Hinsley Hall. And in its grounds – just a stone’s throw from students staggering past on the Otley Run – are grazing horses. Yep, horses in Headingley! Who knew?!

We continue past a clutch of beautiful Victorian villas, which once stood grand in their heyday but have now been carved up and populated by students. It’s quite a sad old sight (spot the dejected husband!).

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But one road in particular Ashwood Villas – home to various University dons with its cobbled entrance and blooming gardens – has managed to retain some of its original charm (spot the happy husband!).

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Ambling past various vintage shops and hippy hangouts, the route cut through Woodhouse Moor (often mistakenly called Hyde Park, much to the annoyance of locals) and the public toilets that were converted into a curry house years ago (but let’s be honest, never really lost their public toilets feel).

Eventually, after a pitstop at Friends of Ham for a class of Malbec (a brilliant little city centre bar that probably deserves a blog all of its own), we pitch up at the purple-curtained entrance our old friend Meat Liquor (I’m not sure on the thinking behind the purple curtain but it does make you feel like you’re entering a lap dancing bar).

Down the stairs we go, where we are greeted by a big-bellied, bearded hipster, who the husband and I have long called Ageing Hipster.

Ageing Hipster always asks if we’ve booked a table. We never have, so he huffs and puffs a little bit and scrolls through his computer system, while over his shoulder all we can see scores of empty tables. (I think Meat Liquor must have some kind of policy of trying to make themselves more popular than they actually are – a dangerous strategy, which I fear could ultimately spell their downfall.)

Meat Liquor is a dark basement restaurant, set to a backdrop of red lights, canteen-style wooden walls, parquet flooring and poster print wallpaper, emblazoned – ironically – with mock headlines like ‘Veggies on the rampage’ and ‘Fury of meat mentalists’.

In the corner of the room, is another stab at irony: a shimmery-curtained DJ area, which wouldn’t look out of place in Phoenix Nights.

On the formica tables, are an array of back-to-basics condiments and kitchen roll, while in the background they pump out a selection of indie rock: anything from Ocean Colour Scene, Michael Jackson, Pet Shop Boys and Guns and Roses.

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The menu itself is a stripped-back selection of burgers, American-style starters and various slaws (incidentally, when DID coleslaw get shortened to slaw?) all served up on plastic trays, with not a knife and fork in sight.

But one thing Meat Liquor have fallen victim to is the horrendous new trend of unisex toilets, also trailblazed by Everyman cinema. Restaurant and bar designers please take note: women do not want to share their toilets with smelly, drunken men, who leave the toilet seat up and basically wee everywhere but in the toilet itself.

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Disorientating decor and terribly toilets aside, there’s only one reason the husband and I have continue to frequent the dimly-lit depths of Meat Liquor. And that is for their hot wings, aka Bingo Wings on the menu.

Quite simply, they’re the best hot wings in town. They come as a starter but the husband and I are so obsessed with them, we have contemplated having a set of hot wings as our starter and then another set as our main, the burger being merely an after-thought.

For weeks, we’ve been heading to Meat Liquor now, gorging on piles  of hot wings, washed down with lashings of root beer.

But then the other weekend, the waitress said: ‘If you like hot wings, why don’t you try our monkey fingers; they’re basically identical to hot wings without the bones!’

A boneless version of our favourite-ever dish? The husband and I thought this sounded ideal so we ordered a set of monkey fingers along with a set of standard hot wings – for safety measures, of course.

But when the monkey wings arrived, they weren’t like hot wings at all: they were great slimy tendrils of deep-fried gloop.

Being ‘monkey fingered’ has now become some sort of euphemism for ill-fated greed and excess.

And because they had the same sweet-sour taste as the original hot wings and we felt the need to persevere in our consumption of them, we ended the meal clutching our stomachs in disgust and swearing never to darken the door of Meat Liquor again.

But of course, we found ourselves back in the greasy lair only the very next week.

Playing A Blinder

I’m always a bit late to the party when it comes to stellar TV series (Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Fall, to name a few). 

But this week I have developed an all-consuming obsession with Thomas Shelby the lead character in Peaky Blinders, played by chiselled-cheeked Irish actor Cillian Murphy.

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I’d vaguely heard about Peaky Blinders a year or two ago – something about bad Brummie accents and a brief nod to 1920s fashion in Grazia magazine.

So it was only when I finally sat down to watch Peaky Blinders (on recommendation of the sister-in-law), that I became completely and utterly hooked.

Never has a lead character fascinated me quite as much since my long-standing fixation with Don Draper from Mad Men (aka The Best TV Series In The World Ever).

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In Mad Men, Don was darkly enigmatic, brooding and inherently-flawed, but in Peaky Blinders, Thomas Shelby is all piercing blue eyes, porcelain skin and sharper than the razor blades concealed in his cap.

I shared my Cillian Murphy/ Thomas Shelby crush with friend Sally-Ann over a mid-week glass of Malbec.

Helpfully, I was carrying the season 2 DVD in my bag, having hastily ordered it the previous evening to feed the fixation (thank God for Amazon Prime).

I whipped it out of my bag and placed it on the table. Murphy’s cerulean eyes started back enchantingly.

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Take a look. He may even be carved out of pure marble.

‘I completely understand,’ said Sally-Ann, sagely. ‘This is what happens when you’re old and married like us.

‘We basically start developing these ridiculous crushes. We’re only one step away from turning into cougars.’

The husband has also developed his own mini obsession – with Sam Neill who plays the bad-ass Victorian cop, hellbent on hunting Shelby down. He has a very strong Irish accent, which the husband likes to get his tongue around.

In the shower the other morning, I heard him saying in his best Ulster accent: ‘Let dog fight dog… and we will be there to pick apart the carcasses.’

And when I asked if he was going to put petrol in the car in Sunday he replied: ‘That I’m not. I’m going to hunt those BEASTS down.’

In the pub on Friday, I began bleating on about Cillian Murphy to anyone who’d listen.

One friend said she’d helped design an extension on his London home, although she never actually met him in person.

‘Yep, he does live in North-West London,’ I said, knowledgeably (I’ve done my Wikipedia research, natch). ‘He’s 38 and married with two sons. He used to be in a rock band. However, he shuns the limelight for a quiet life.

‘I’m probably going to travel down to London and become his full-time stalker.’

‘What is Peaky Blinders?’ another friend asked.

‘It’s about a gang of hoodlums in 1920s Birmingham, who basically go round attacking people with razor blades sewn into the peaks of their caps,’ I said, whilst thinking ‘this actually doesn’t sound very appealing at all’.

She looked on in barely-concealed bemusement.

‘I’m so obsessed that it’s a wonder I’ve even been able to leave the house,’ I continued.

‘I’ll be going straight home from here to feast on another episode.’

I’m now faced with a new dilemma. With only five episodes of season 2 left and season 3 still in production, do I restrict my intake to one episode a week, in order to prolong my love affair with the aforementioned?

Or do I watch them all at once in one gloriously gluttonous boxset binge?

After all, there’s always Broadchurch.

Space Rage

Just when I thought things had settled down at our apartment block, I’ve found myself in a Cold War over parking with Slovenly Sonia, the lazy new tenant at Apartment 8.

There’s an unofficial parking space by the side of our apartment and while it’s always been offered up on a ‘first come, first served basis’ the husband and I have been getting first dibs on it for the last few years (bar the occasional wrangle with Belligerent Bill from Apt 2).

We parked there so often, in fact, that we had begun to think of it as our own private parking spot.

This was before Sonia and her cream Mini arrived. She descended on our apartments a couple of months ago and now hogs the space ALL of the time. This is largely because a. she doesn’t appear to ever be at work and b. she never seems to leave her apartment.

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Another resident apparently asked Sonia if she could please park in her allocated spot down the hill and leave the spare spaces for those who had two cars. Slovenly Son refused, muttering something about the car park ‘being a mess’.

After a few weeks of seeing her cream Mini parked there, I began to get rather resentful. Sometimes, when I walked past, I had an irrational urge to kick the car – or in wilder moments I imagined beating it with a tree branch (a la mad Basil Fawlty in the opening episode of Fawlty Towers).

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Then one evening, on sighting the cream Mini smugly nestled in its usual spot, I decided enough was enough.

I grabbed a Post-it note, scribbled, ‘Why can’t you just park in your own space and stop hogging this one?’, hared back out and slapped it on her windscreen.

The next day there was an ‘all residents’ email from Sonia herself.

‘Hi, whoever put the post it note on my car … Could you have the decency to contact me direct …. Tenant or owner we all have the same rights ….the space is directly at the side of my apartment and it is an unallocated space and I was informed it is whoever gets there first? If I am in that spot and my space is empty I don’t have a problem with anyone parking in my spot… But I have plantar fascititus so find it easier on my foot to park at the top.

Thank you and kind regard.’

Plantar fascitius?? I hastily Googled this condition and discovered that it’s basically a sore foot usually suffered by people who wear poorly-fitting shoes or lead a sedentary lifestyle.

‘Sounds about right,’ I huffed to the husband.

Plantar fascitius is quite similar to Policeman’s Heel, which I rather like the sound of (the name, not the condition).

Later that week, I actually saw slipshod Sonia heading out on foot. I gave her a cheery wave: the kind of cheery neighbourly wave that I hoped said, ‘Hello friendly neighbour; it wasn’t me that put a passive aggressive Post-It note on your window!’.

It didn’t escape my notice that she was wearing a pair of high heels and appeared to be clopping along at ease. Surely a true plantar fascititus sufferer should be in a sensible pair of Clarks brogues? Policeman’s Heel, my ass!

The next day, I returned home to find the much-maligned space vacant and cream Mini nowhere to be seen.

I was then caught in a dilemma. Do I make the most of Slovenly Sonia’s absence and snap the space up while I can? Or, in taking the space, am I effectively advertising, ‘I’m the person who put the Post-It note on your car. I’m the friendly neighbour who’s not so friendly after all!’

I spent so long dilly-dallying that wranglesome Sonia arrived home and zoomed straight in. I’d lost out again!

A week has now passed since the Post-It note and I’m determined to reclaim the space. It’s simply a matter of lying in wait for her next trip out.

Once I’ve secured the spot, it’s going to be difficult to give it up again. I might have to leave my car in situ and take public transport for a few days.

‘You can spout all the fancy foot conditions you like at me, Sonia,’ I thought, grimly.

But one thing’s for sure, I’m going to reclaim that space. I’m in this for the long run.

My Mother… and The British Gas Debacle Part II

It seems that my mother has become an unwitting video star after waxing lyrical about her fiasco with her British Gas bill (here) and chewing the fat with my uncle Stephen over his pyromaniac neighbour (here).

So here’s an update on my mother’s British Gas saga (amongst other trivialities!):

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/109387621″>My Mother… And The British Gas Debacle Part II</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user33278695″>Palmersan</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

Floored By Indecision

I realised this week that there’s been no update on The House-that-we-bought-but-then-couldn’t-get-planning-permission-for for some time.

That’s probably because I became so fed up with the house, I have been largely pretending it doesn’t exist and going about normal life in our apartment quite contentedly. 

I occasionally drive past our woebegotten domicile, just to check it hasn’t accidentally burnt to the ground (which, thinking about it, might not be such a bad thing, as I’m sure building a house from scratch would be easier than the complex to-ing and fro-ing with the planning department over building a rear extension that NOBODY CAN EVEN SEE).
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To cut a long and convoluted story short, I didn’t end up having an affair with planning officer Peter Grant in order to get our plans passed (as I was contemplating in previous blogs). This wouldn’t have been possible anyway, given that after a while he stopped taking my phone calls.

What actually happened in the end was that we had to re-apply to the council for a large single-storey extension under Permitted Development rights: another arduous process which basically involves submitting the plans to the same planning department who rejected our plans in the first place – just for them to confirm that these new plans do not, in fact, actually need any planning permission. Confused? Me too!

The final perverse twist to this planning saga is that we’ve ended up pretty much the same rear extension we wanted to begin with, yet now the council have absolutely no control over it. Take that, Laura Hogg!

In the midst of all this red tape wrangling, I was supposed to be putting together some sort of design scheme for the house. I went through all the usual motions of buying home magazines, creating boards on Pinterest, and re-igniting my old Farrow and Ball obsession.

But then I realised I was completely and utterly paralysed by my old affliction CHRONIC INDECISION.

When you suffer from chronic indecision like me, choosing just one bath tap might take two to three weeks of extensive research, followed by another week confirming the decision, followed by another two weeks worrying about whether you made the right decision or not, followed by the dawning realisation that you might have made the wrong decision and would have to live with it for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

So the thought of committing to several bathrooms, a kitchen, floorings, carpets, decking, windows, doors, fire places, door handles – basically every fixture and fitting in a whole house – was completely overwhelming.

First, I decided to tackle the flooring. I spent days visiting flooring shops, scouring the internet and perusing Pinterest. Eventually, I decided I wanted a dark wood floor in the hallway. I then couldn’t decide exactly which type of dark brown: a reddy dark brown, a browny dark brown or a dark dark brown.

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It was a first world problem on a whole new scale.

For about a week, I was gripped by flooring indecision. Jonny at the flooring shop down the road became my new best friend. I’m not sure how to describe Jonny: he was like a young Tom Cruise, with slicked down hair and a baby face. He was infinitely patient and never seemed to tire of my deliberations.

But what really stood out was his smell: he smelled really, really nice – like freshly washed laundry. Together, we poured over every dark wood flooring he had in the whole store, while I umm-ed and ahh-ed and took photos and looked at each piece in every possible light.

The following day, we went through the same process again, while I inhaled baby-faced Jonny’s summery meadowy scent.

I didn’t manage to get a shot of Jonny but you can just see his polished shoe peeking into the corner of this picture. And how nice are these carpets?!

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Later that week, I was just down at the bathroom place choosing tiles (with a man called Gary who became so exasperated with me he actually broke out into a sweat and kept clutching his chest like he was in the grip of a bad bout of angina), when I decided to pop in and see my NBF Jonny.

It might have been my imagination but when I walked in, I’m sure the guy who sits opposite Jonny muttered, ‘Oh look, she’s here again!’

‘Hi Jonny,’ I chirped. ‘Don’t worry, I’m not stalking you!’

No sooner than the words had left my mouth, I realised that perhaps I WAS stalking fragrant Jonny.

‘I just thought I’d pop back and have another look at the difference between Autumn Dawn and Cherry Oak,’ I added, trying to adopt a bright smile and an air of This Is Perfectly Normal Behaviour.

Jonny looked scared.

That weekend, I took the husband to see Jonny. This was now my fifth visit in one week.

‘I apologise for my wife being such a pest,’ said the husband. ‘She is very indecisive. I’m sorry that you have to put up with this.’

Jonny smiled at me in a way one might placate a psychiatric patient and dutifully went off to fetch two samples of the dark brown wood I was currently deliberating over.

‘Have you smelt him yet?’ I whispered to the husband.

‘Huh?!’ said the husband.

‘YOU NEED TO SMELL HIM,’ I said.

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

I never thought I’d type these words but I miss our nosy neighbours Susan and Dick. Every time I pass their apartment, I have a little pang of sadness that I won’t be able to feast on their moans and groans any more.

In a small tribute to Dick, I trotted across the road and half-heartedly picked a few blackberries off the neighbouring property. Dour Dick loved that bramble bush. He even carried his step-ladder down the road to reach the higher branches.

Although Dick’s long gone, I’m half-expecting to see him back at the blackberries in the next few weeks. He was never one to miss out on some free fruit.

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I’d like to say that SuDick’s departure was a ceremonial affair but in reality they just kind of sloped off quietly. Susan sent me a final email with her special ‘Welcome Pack’ attached (DON’T make any noise after 11pm but DO close the gate to the bin compound), should I wish to continue her tradition of passing it on to any new neighbours. (I think she saw me as a potential protege. I can’t think why!).

She gave me a final round-up of local goings on: ‘Apartment 6 is laying down new carpets as I write,’ she said. ‘Apartment 5 has a new owner; I think they might be retired.’ etc etc.

The woman who has replaced SuDick is very peculiar indeed. She’s straight out of Hollywood Housewives: heavily made-up, with big anxious eyes, hair permanently in rollers and constantly spring cleaning in a pair of marigolds. Her name is Diane. She looks like a Diane.

I had to knock on her door the other night to see if she’d taken collection of a parcel I was waiting for. Knowing that she spends most of her days dusting her apartment by the entrance gate, I told the parcel people to deliver it her flat.

I knocked on the door and waited.

There was a lot of clattering and eventually the door creaked open. Two huge doleful eyes peered back at me, marigolds donned and feather duster poised.

‘I was just wondering if you happened to take delivery of a parcel for me,’ I said, cheerfully.

‘Oh, I’m in a terrible mess here,’ she cried. ‘I did see a parcel man at the gate but I don’t think he could get in so he just drove off.’

Knowing that my parcel was only a few feet from her but she did nothing to help was very annoying indeed.

I decided ‘Marigolds’ was clinically unhinged so I left her to her dusting. On their second attempt, I asked the delivery people to try Apartment 8 instead.

Apartment 8 houses an inert tenant, who claims to be a solicitor but actually spends most of her days sitting on her balcony, chewing the fat. She seemed the perfect candidate for a daytime parcel delivery.

When I got back the following evening there was a message from the courier saying that Apartment 8 HAD taken collection of my parcel. Bingo!

I expected the woman at Apartment 8 to sign for the parcel and then leave it outside our front door. But there was no sign of it and she appeared to be out for the night.

When I got back the following evening, there was still no parcel. I found this weird.

‘Wouldn’t you sign for the parcel and then go and put it outside our flat?’ I said to the husband. ‘It’s odd that she just took it with no further communication.

‘In fact, how does SHE know that WE know that she’s even got it?

‘She’s effectively taken our parcel hostage!’

I went round and knocked on her door.

‘Do you have a parcel for me?’ I said.

She looked blankly for a moment, despite the fact my huge parcel was taking up most of her entrance hall.

‘Oh, that parcel,’ she said breezily. ‘Yes, it’s here.’

‘Thank you,’ I said.

The reason that I wanted the parcel fairly urgently is that it housed a new bathroom cabinet for my old rental flat down the road.

My latest tenant has moved out so I’ve been busy sorting the flat out. This loosely involves: the bi-annual chore of re-oiling my real wood worktops (note to anyone thinking about getting real wood worktops – DON’T DO IT), lovingly touching up my Farrow and Ball walls, ordering a new Brabantia bin (along with the aforementioned bathroom cabinet), and having all the carpets shampooed.

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I even went as far as buying a vase, a big bunch of flowers, and leaving a ‘welcome to your new home’ card for my new tenants.

They moved in last Saturday and I’ve heard nothing since.

‘Don’t you think it’s weird that they just moved in and never acknowledged the flowers and the card?’ I said to the husband.

‘Aren’t people strange?!’

A couple of days later, I drove round with the husband and sent him into the communal entrance to the flat to leave the bathroom cabinet outside the door (ready for the handyman to fix it to the wall at some point this week, the husband being unfortunately incapable of such high-level manual tasks).

While the husband was lugging the parcel up the stairs, I peered up at the window trying to work out whether my flowers were still in the cellophane in the vase, as I had left them – or not. I toyed with getting the binoculars out of the glove compartment – SuDick-style – but decided that might be a bit much.

The husband re-appeared and climbed in the passenger seat.

‘All done,’ he said.

‘Did you put your ear to the door to see if they’re actually in there?’ I said.

‘Why would I do that?’ said the husband. ‘That would be the behaviour of a mental person.’

‘To check that they’re in there!’ I said. ‘TO CHECK THEY GOT THE FLOWERS.’

Time And Tide Wait For No Man

It’s the annual family excursion to Cornwall and we are back in our rented house opposite Dawn French’s gothic mansion. But alas! After last year’s ‘Dawn Watch‘, well-placed sources inform us that Dawn is currently on a world tour of her stand-up show.

Still, this does not stop my father training his binoculars on her house every five minutes – ever hopeful that the cheery comedienne might make an appearance.

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Luckily, there’s plenty of other fixations to keep the parents happy. Namely, my father’s new boat. I say ‘boat’ but really its a souped-up dinghy – the type of inflatable that one might use to get from one’s yacht into the harbour (for my father, the dinghy IS his yacht. See previous blog here).

In fact, the husband and I have been known to disembark the dinghy and wave vaguely at a fancy vessel in the distance, on the pretence that we’ve just popped ashore on our tender.

So, my father finally invested in a new dinghy this summer – after spending six months meticulously checking out potential boats in a shop in Garstang. On his fifth visit, he finally decided to commit to the purchase (much to the weary shopkeeper’s relief).

Let me introduce… Chrismick III (and a rather ungainly image of the husband’s backside).

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One might think that this would mean that original Chrismick I (purchased in 1973, gnawed by mice in the garage, and covered in puncture patches) and Chrismick II (purchased circa 1985, world’s most well-travelled dinghy, and part of many a childhood adventure) might have been resigned to the scrap heap.

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But, oh no, father is now smugly driving around with not one but TWO boats folded into the boot of his car, while Chrismick I languishes in the garage at home – per chance it might be called upon to sail the seas once again (in the unlikely event that the parents should ever require the use of three dinghies simultaneously).

As we cruise down the River Fowey on board Chrismick III, my mother likes to recite a series of her favourite stories: the time her and my father got stranded in Polperro when a drunk ferryman never returned to collect them; how the trees down the river used to be covered in white China clay from the huge ships that entered the estuary; the time my father ambitiously headed out to sea in Chrismick I, where ferocious waves lapped over the dinghy and she was forced to frantically bail out water with a milk carton.

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Another of the parents’ favourite hobby horses is tide times. My father has an unhealthy pre-occupation with the tide and studies his tide times book several times a day. When the tide is coming in, it’s possible to travel all the way up the Fowey estuary to Lerryn and Lostwithiel – as long as you’re in a small boat. (No problem there!)

My mother has a series of oft-used phrases to explain tide times, such as, ‘it was like someone had pulled the plug out!’ and, ‘it was nothing but mud flats!’. The parents occasionally like to run the gauntlet with the tide, claiming it’s all part of the fun. Nothing pleases my father more than chugging up to Lerryn, having a pint in the The Ship Inn and racing the tide back to Fowey again (following the route of the channel on his special Ordnance survey map)

On one such visit to Lerryn this week, my father was delighted to find it was an extra special Spring tide, meaning the car park was flooded and water was lapping rather worryingly at the front doors of some of the pretty cottages lining the river.

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There’s also a little bridge going into the village of Golant; at high tide the gap between the bottom of the bridge and the top of the water is pretty slim. Everyone has to duck on the count of three. It’s all part of the fun.

The Fowey Hotel is a slightly down-at-heel Victorian residence teetering grandly on the cliff above the estuary. I have fond memories of enjoying cream teas on the lawn there during those endless childhood summers where there was never a cloud in the sky.

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The parents first visited the Fowey Hotel in 1973, after a friend recommended it to them. In those pre-internet days, they simply drove down to Fowey, having no idea what it would be like.

They were so taken with the Fowey Hotel and the area in general, a love affair was born. They even sent my grandparents down the following summer.

But after driving 350 miles, my grandfather arrived to find the Fowey Hotel had closed down and all the furniture was being auctioned off!

Luckily, it re-opened sometime in the late 80s/ early 90s (with a much higher-price tag) and though in latter years my parents couldn’t afford to stay there, they would check-in to strange Keith’s B&B on the road above and visit the bar each evening for their supper.

Now, the parents love nothing more than having a drink in one of the large windows, as they reminisce and watch the boats come and go from the harbour below.

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As time has gone on, I’ve grown to love the Fowey Hotel too. Not least because of its air of slightly naff old world glamour, the rattling original period lift and framed yellowing letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son (he reportedly wrote Wind in the Willows at the hotel) in the lobby, and the seemingly never-ending stream of quirky guests.

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On leaving day today, my mother pushed the button on one final obsession: the need to eat up everything in the house.

As the daughter of a post-war disciplinarian, she simply can’t bring herself to throw any food away. Last year, she was left with a tub of margarine that hadn’t been fully consumed and she actually toyed with the idea of buying some bread just to ‘use it up’.

This morning, my mother managed to empty the fridge, save for a pint of milk: first, she forced my Uncle Stephen to drink a glass. She then drowned my father’s Weetabix in twice the normal amount, and stood hovering nearby, desperate to whip the bowl and spoon off him to wash it up.

Satisfied that the milk was gone, the cupboards were bare, and the ‘boats’ were safely packed back in the car boot, it was time to bid farewell to beloved Fowey for another year.