Thought we had it sussed I did. Convinced of it I was. These little photo jaunts that mate and I periodically enjoy… though I’m not sure “enjoy” is quite the right word.
Change of scene, that’s what we’d agreed on. Hop on a bus and get out of town somewhere. Different places. Different things to capture our imagination.
Great idea. And it almost worked out with our first little adventure. Apart from the very minor detail of our not actually achieving the purpose of the whole exercise; to grab a load of at least halfway-decent pics. Oh well.
However, when shaping this plan we’d sort of overlooked something. What about those times (and there are quite a few of them) when for whatever reason one or t’other of us can’t make the required early start? Ah yes. We didn’t get as far as thinking about that. Really must try to get to grips with all that “thinking ahead” malarkey one day.
Well, second week into it and that’s what happened. Yesterday. To me. It was for that all-encompassing “whatever reason” that I didn’t manage to get into town until past midday.
“Past midday” in fact saw me ambling casually over the bridge toward the town centre and our usual meeting place. Ambling casually along when, from the corner of my eye, I become aware of someone loitering to one side and ever so slightly behind me. Quick glance over my shoulder and… bloody hell it’s him! Y’know. “Mate”. Quite a horrible experience it was, what with me not yet expecting to see him. Gave me a fair old shock.
Why he should have been following me is another matter entirely, that I never did quite get to the bottom of.
Head for our usual noshery and whilst stuffing our faces speculate upon what we can do in just the few hours available to us.
Having finally conceded, after all these years, that mate’s totally useless at making decisions, I agree that henceforth I’ll attempt to be the planner of our little jaunts. Him, sharp as a tack, instantly picks up on the main advantage (to himself) of this… an angle I’d sort of overlooked.
“So does this mean”, asks he, “that when it all goes wrong you’re the one responsible?”
Said so innocently too. Knowing full well that though I’m ok with making decisions, most of them generally turn out to be the wrong ones, or rubbish or something. I smell a trap. Alway have to be on my guard around him… cos he’s forever trying to trick me into something or other (usually ditches as it happens). And this suggestion of me being responsible doesn’t sit well with me at all. Me? Responsible? You’ve gotta be having a laugh.
Thence follows a lengthy discussion that rapidly descends into the realms of utter stupidity, the various twists and turns of which I’ll not bore you with. Mainly cos I can’t seem to remember most of them. Fairly typical of most of our conversations really.
Though it runs something along the lines of concluding that he’s actually the one with all the ideas, whereas I just act as the mouthpiece for ’em. That rather neatly puts the blame for all the bad ideas right back where it truly belongs… with him!
Nevertheless, out of this farcical “conversation” (for want of a better word) finally emerges something that looks a bit like a plan.
This something that nearly resembles a plan centres upon four key things… a) that it’s really nice weather… sunny, hot (like very hot), although with some really neat clouds floating around; b) that, apart from any pic-taking motives, both of us actually do like being by the river… which probably accounts for why we seem to end up there so often; c) that we’re both slobs and will just slob around anywhere at the slightest opportunity; and finally c) that we both have this tremendous weakness for ice cream. As may possibly have been mentioned once or twice in previous posts.
“Instead of going somewhere with the intention of taking some pics”, sez I, “what say we just go down by the river, grab ourselves an ice cream and plonk ourselves down somewhere? Keep the cameras out but not go looking for stuff, sort of thing. And if something happens to catch our eye, well, we’ll take a few pics. And just generally slob around”.
Yep. We’re both agreed this is a good plan. So that’s what we do.
First major hurdle to overcome is the crucial question of which side of the river to walk along. Well, as ice cream is our objective this will have to be determined by the side most likely to have an ice cream van lurking somewhere. Ah, time for a decision. (And I’m sure we’ve had this conversation before; but no matter.)
The Embankment side then. So off we traipse. And just as we were beginning to think that once again we’d managed to get it wrong there, through the trees, we spy the sought-after vendor of this wonderful food of the gods.
Er… not quite. Ice cream, yes. And, let’s face it, all ice cream is good. Well, it would be, wouldn’t it? Cos its ice cream. But some is, shall we say, gooder than others.
And this particular species wasn’t really of the gooder variety. Ice cream, yes. And yummy, yes. But not quite our favourite type. Cos we really like the stuff that comes in ridiculously vibrant colours (vaguely corresponding to the various flavours) and seems to leave a strange almost “chemical” type tang in the mouth (prob’ly on account of whatever crap they put in it to get those really vibrant colours and strong flavours… either that or mate’s secretly in cahoots with the vendors and jointly they’re trying to poison me).
Still, ice cream is ice cream, so we get a double-scoop cone apiece. Then cross over the suspension bridge and plonk ourselves down for a good old slob whilst we enjoy our trophies. That are rapidly beginning to melt in the heat.
Ice cream finished, a bit more slobbing and watching the world go by.
But this is where the plan begins to go a bit adrift.
“Y’know what”, sez I, “if we wander along by the river a bit further, we might come across that van wot sells that really nice ice cream”. Truly heavenly ice cream it is. The poisoned stuff I mean. Um. Whatever.
We mull this over for a little while, speculating on the wisdom (or absence thereof) of having two lots of ice cream. In such a short time. Could we manage it? The mulling lasts all of about ten seconds before we’re on our feet and mooching along by the river again. (So much for the slobbing part of the plan then!)
No sign of another ice cream van though. Well, there was. But not the right sort of ice cream van. Not the heavenly ice cream van. Instead, it was another of those vans (like the first we’d encountered) selling the creamy stuff… the stuff that’s probably closer to genuine original ice cream.
Hmm. No good. And that has to be a first for us… turning our noses up at an ice cream van.
But we were now embarked upon a much more serious endeavour. A Quest in fact. The Quest of the Heavenly Ice Cream; having already dubbed ourselves “The Knights of the Ice Cream Cone”. With, no doubt, many more adventures awaiting us in our Quest. See Footnote
And then, having crossed back over the river, we reach the end of The Embankment (marked by the Longholme Way bridge). Yet still no sign of the elusive Heavenly Ice Cream. Oh pooh!
Time for a review of the situation. Next likely hiding place for the object of our Quest is the Priory Country Park. Question is though, do we have sufficient time left to get there (and, if finally achieving our Quest, enjoy the fruits of our labours) and back again before mate has to be about other things?
We persuade ourselves that we do (never put off until tomorrow etc etc), so… onward with the trek!
Skirting Priory Marina, where I just have to stop to grab a shot or two…
… the trudging continues until we finally reach our journey’s end. Where horrible insidious doubts begin to assail us. For there’s no ice cream van immediately visible.
But, as Christian discovered in Pilgrim’s Progress, doubts are the worst things to have. So, brave souls that we are (wot with our being Knights of the Ice Cream Cone an’ all), we cast them aside.
Whereupon, there, before us, revealing itself in wondrously mystic magnificence, beckoning us with promise of eternal something or other (upset tums possibly, particularly as I happened to have with me a bottle of ginger beer, from which I was occasionally sipping )… the Quest attained!
So we have another double-scoop cone apiece (toying briefly with the idea of a triple-scoop cone, but deciding that’d be just plain greedy) and sit ourselves down by that weird totem pole thingie that’s been stuck in the Park for some completely unfathomable reason.
And enjoy the scenery…
That was about it really. Time to head back again. In a reasonably leisurely manner of course. Doubt if we could have rushed anyway because, strangely and unaccountably, both of us were feeling a tad, well, “not right” kinda thing. Can’t imagine why.
And then, of course, The Bear…
… where I suddenly feel totally knackered. Must be all the walking, and the heat and stuff. And being sated with ice cream. And ginger beer. Ok when mixed together beforehand, but not particularly recommended when mixed in the stomach so to speak.
It’ll be the age thing again no doubt.
Footnote: You really do need to read up on your “Le Morte D’Arthur” and “The High History of the Holy Graal” to fully appreciate how truly symbolic this entire adventure was for us. This may also help explain things a bit. Ahem.
[Edit 01.07.2010 - Mate's somewhat abridged version, cos he's very busy at the mo' and ain't got a lot of time, yet time enough to quite unfairly depict me as some irritating old fart that's always ruining his shots, is here.]