I asked how he planned to get this first night's stay fee from me. He said credit card. I turned into Basil Fawlty forbidding Sybil to open the bag containing Lord Melbury's "valuables" (which turned out to be bricks). I repeated a couple of times "you do not have my permission to take that charge from my credit card". I don't really know where I stand legally. I haven't taken any services from them, and I'm fairly certain that you can't just charge someone's credit card without their permission. Even if the law says that you can, sometimes intimidation is all it takes - he seemed to back down and told me that I should definitely not use his hotel again, and, in some sort of last-ditch attempt to maintain his hotelier aspect, wished me a good evening. I thanked him and wished him the same. Weird.
Anyway, we made a last minute booking at a hotel in Boscombe, which is near Bournemouth, and went there instead.
Traveling to Boscombe
The sat-nav was behaving, but I wasn't. Somehow I kept missing its exits. This was because the sound was off. It's odd. I used to be able to navigate the country without the sat-nav. Since I've had it, I've effectively turned off any sense of direction or purpose when I'm driving. Unless I'm on familiar roads, when I use memory to guide me, I just sit and wait to be told what to do next. With a silent sat-nav, it's hard for me to think for myself.
Anyway, after a couple of false turns and recalculations, we got where we were going, and went down to the beach and for a walk along it. Ditching the shoes (leaving them in the car) we walked along the sand and seafront until we reached Bournemouth. This was hardly a major achievement, they're about 10 minutes' walk away from each other. Then, shoeless and in Bournemouth (like a retired tramp), we walked around a bit more. Then back to the car.
The idea of getting some late night sustainance came to us and so we went in search of a 24 hour shop. The big Asda in the area was soon discovered, but we had to circle it a couple of times before finding an entrance. Then, parked in the car park, we had to negotiate around an awkward series of barriers in order to gain entry to the store. It was almost like they were trying to keep the customers out. However, once in the store we found plenty of low-fat snacks to take our fancy. Some of these were bought and we were set for the evening. Then it was back to the hotel for some low-calorie snacking, some reading and then some sleeping. Not a raucous night out, but a relaxing one. A chance to unwind.
Oh, and I got the Micro Mart with the second instalment of The World's Worst 100 Websites in it. I read it and I was generally pleased with how it came across.
On Saturday we went to Weymouth. Weymouth is a picturesque small resort with a lot of fat people enjoying themselves in it. We got lunch at a sandwich shop near the sea front and the neighbouring table was soon occupied by a fat leathery smoking woman and her leathery rumplestiltskin of a husband. Both were clearly old. The woman had spent so long tanning her flabby body, that her chest area was not so much made of skin, as folds, which grouped together to make a scaly sort of evilness that almost put me off my salad. Her smoking was not attractive either. Still, either the skin or the lung cancer will get her, so she'll not be bothering people for much longer.
At the beach we hired a pedalo and set out to sea. The sea is very shallow, so we amused ourselves with our sea-faring, without actually ever reaching a point where, had the boat capsized (as it threatened to do with my excessive weight pushing down on one side of it), we would have been able to walk (not wade) back to shore. In fact, is it possible for a boat to capsize if it can't roll far enough to roll over? Who knows. The pedalo was fun and good exercise. I haven't cycled in a while and I was worried that I wouldn't have the leg power. However, I think that the recent weight loss has left me with the leg muscles required for a larger gentleman than I am, so I had some spare pedaling capacity in them.
Despite wearing crop shorts, which I'd also rolled up, I still managed to end up getting them sodden. The water splashing into the seat didn't help. It was fun. The seaside is meant to be wet.
Back to Bournemouth
Finding the crazy golf to be closed, we headed back to Bournmouth where 18 different holes of crazy golf awaited us in the wake of the bandstand. The bandstand was playing host to the Bournemouth University Big Band, who, like many amateur music groups, even had a CD on sale. Don't buy it. Their lead singer, for 3 of the songs, had clearly been given more Ella Fitzgerald CDs than singing lessons, and the rest of the playing in the band was passable at best. However, despite occasional fluffing and an overall sense of poor tuning, their tones were never quite offensive, which was something.
Golf was accompanied with popcorn and 3 hole-in-ones (two by my girlfriend).
The genuine Italian-owned restaurant provided genuine Italian food. The waiter even spoke to us partly in Italian, which I understood (partly) but was too embarrassed to respond in.
Overall, Saturday was a good day.
Sadly, Sunday was a bit of a washout. Almost literally. The morning-wake-up was coupled with the discovery that the rain was coming down with enough force to drench someone who was, say, simply moving a suitcase into a car. We cut our losses and went back to Reading.
Back in Reading there was some eating, some watching of the football, some more eating, some movie watching - Hide and Seek (very good, especially young Dakota Fanning's performance) and Shark Attack an utter stinker (a made for TV movie which sucks a big dog's cock - read the sarcastic review on IMDB, though... funny).
I think we had enough excitement to last the entire weekend. What started with a serene walk along the beach, ended in watching cheaply made entertainment where young people in padded bras contend with occasional red aquatic explosions cut in with footage shot in an aquarium.
During the weekend, I decided to go and see a play. A friend of mine has written this play, which he is taking to the Fringe in August - Falling For Grace (see it if you can). I had the pleasure of reading some early drafts of this piece and I'm really pleased for him that he's getting a production together. I wanted to support his efforts, but it's in Dundee. That's a big but. Dundee is indeed a long way away. When I lived in Newcastle, I could have almost have driven it (on a school night) but now I'm in the south, I can't. I also cannot afford to take 2 days off work to go either.
But... I don't like to be beaten. It shouldn't be "my friend has a play but it's in Dundee". It should be "my friend has a play AND it's in dundee". So, I got on the old interweb and booked a combination of plane tickets and a hire car, allowing me to get to Edinburgh, pick up the friend with whom I'll be staying (for about 3 hours) on the night of the play, take them to Dundee to see the play with me, drive us both back, get the sleep before the 5.20am car return and 6am flight back to the South. Sorted!
All of this is on the 4th (and a bit of the 5th) of July. I have a headline spot at a gig in Blackpool on the 3rd... so that's going to be a busy week (next week, in fact), especially since work is also busy at the moment.
However, I'd rather be busy that sitting on my arse gathering dust.