Back. After an activity-crammed few days, too.
What have I been doing? Well, glad you asked...
Ok, Sunday I went to Mum's place in gorgeous West Sussex, and spent the majority of the day chatting, drinking tea and reading. Very indulgent. Nobody makes a roast dinner like my Mum.
Monday was another quiet day, lots of chatting, a bit of errand running, visited Youngest Sis and family, went to the Quiz with Mum and her friend and Eldest Nephew. We came third, winning £9.50 to share between the four of us.
Hah haaaaa. Take that University Challenge!
You don't see any of them winning a quarter share in £9.50, do you?
Tuesday was slightly marred by an annoying trip to the hospital, for an appointment which had happened the day before. We went and got the makings of a picnic from Sainsbury's on the way home, then chilled out all afternoon, preparing for our visit to The Theatre.
It warrants capital letters, the Festival Theatre. We saw Hobson's Choice, which was excellent.
I think the average age of the audience was in the high 70s. I felt like a giddy young thing by comparison. Marvellous.
Wednesday was changeover day, when Mum and her lovely Spanish lodger came back to mine for a little holiday in Wiltshire. He is heading back to Spain next week and was keen to see Stonehenge, Bath and the animals at Longleat. He's been watching Animal Park on TV it seems.
So, on the way home, we called in at Stonehenge for the full Stand Near* the Stones Experience.
And you know what? It was pretty good.
I took some A1 top banana photos which I will share just as soon I get off my lazy backside and follow the instructions. It helped that the weather was glorious for almost the entire week. Gor blimey but it makes a difference.
To the village pub for lunch, then ho, to Longleat, to see the animals. We were all far more excited than was seemly, and thoroughly enjoyed the drive through the "not likely to kill you" bit, with giraffes, camels, zebra and some other big cattle type things. All very educational.
But what we really wanted to see were the MONKEYS! There are huge signs up all through the park warning that they will damage your car.
There are even pictures** of monkeys with spanners in hand, trashing vehicles.
There are big warnings up telling people not to enter the monkey arena if they have a soft-topped car.
It's pretty clear that you go in there at your own risk, and that the Longleat Estate takes no responsibility for any damage.
So what do we all do, all we happy £20 a ticket punters? We all go "Nah, it won't happen to me," and drive into the monkey arena, laughing merrily.
And guess what? Those hairy little fuckers trash car after car after car. They're really good at it.
It was UNBELIEVABLE.
They seemed to prefer LandRovers, especially the ones with roof bars and ladders, probably because they afford lots of handholds. Several such vehicles did the complete circuit with several monkeys on their roof, looking like a South American market bus, passengers shrieking out of the windows in fright, trying to see what their hitchers are up to.
But they also like new cars with plenty of nice black rubber trim, so they can pick one end out of the car body panels and then RIIIIIIIIIIP the whole lot off, flinging it onto the side of the road.
Longleat have a lost property office full of bits of car, apparently.
We watched in horror (mixed with glee, obviously) as a tiny baby monkey jumped onto the car in front of us, grabbed the aerial and bit the rubberised end off it, before carefully bending it double. Little bastard.
By the end of the circuit, my white-knuckled hands were ready to swerve the car out of the way of (and quite possibly straight over) any monkey who looked like he was planning to hop aboard.
We made it through unscathed, and cheered ourselves up by buying a cup of deer food and hand feeding the fallow deer in the next enclosure. Again, photos were taken.
I'm still in two minds as to whether it's a good thing to go straight into the lion enclosure when you're covered in deer lick, though. Still, the lions were all half asleep, as is traditional, and we enjoyed watching them yawn and roll about like lazy cats. Which I suppose they are, when you think about it.
The house is being renovated so we only got a truncated tour, but can go back later in the season for another look if we want, on the same ticket, which is fair enough.
Then back home for a little siesta (civilised habit), then my guitar lesson, then a fab tapas-themed dinner. And a dvd.
This is a hugely long post. I'll stop and continue later on.
Heh. Don't want anyone getting bored now...
*Not too near, obviously.
** drawings, sadly, rather than CCTV footage like on Crimewatch