I've been talking quite a lot about how much I was looking forward to my weekend on the high seas. By 'high seas' I really mean the River Maidstone in Kent. After four days of boat fun and frankly ridiculous amounts of alcohol being consumed by a plethora of whacky characters, I'm currently sitting on the leather mega-sofa and watching Hannah Montana with the little cugina and cugino.
The last post I wrote about the boat was the day we took it from Chatham to Maidstone in anticipation of the Maidstone River Festival, but since that day the weather had been a bit 15yr old goth about it, swinging its mood about to the straining beats of Cradle of Filth and scratching 'I hate my parents' into arm with a penknife; sunny to monsoon and back again.
We had a big build up to the festival, enjoying the sun (my back having been burnt to a cinder a few days earlier) and relaxing as best we could, until THIS happened...
we had to wait until Friday evening until we could go down to the Holly Louise and begin drinking...and drink we did. It was quite obscene. We bought a great many cases of budweiser, cider, little dumpy beer and tonnes and tonnes of food. On the first night alone, we drank about a million bottles of suds. Highlights of night 1 include:
1) Being grabbed and kissed (tongues de rigeur for her clearly) by a 45 yr old lady who said my accent "made her want to have sex" and who asked if she could keep me.
2) Her friend telling me that it was the THIRD time she had done that to randomers.
3) Me sitting with a group of (actually) lovely people and then out of the blue being hit on the head by a 15lb chill-box of seafood. Some lady was having a domestic and tried to throw the heavy entirety of her product from a high wall onto her ex-boyfriend. It was heavier than she thought, fell short, and it bounced off my head before bursting open on the quayside. Ouch
4) Meeting some nice young hipsters who were dressed up as pirates. One of whom (who had tried, unsuccessfully, to dress like Jack Sparrow) told me it was the greatest outfit he'd worn in his life.
We all eventually passed out, excited to see what the festival day brought.
The Saturday can be summed up as follows:
That's right, it was Hammer Time on the boat, we are all phenomenal dancers, and we were having a great time.
Every face in the Aunt and Uncle's friendlist wriggled out of the wood work to come visit. They're the sort of couples who, in their FB messages to the other couples, feel obliged to refer to each other as 'good friends' or 'true mates' etc so that they can convince themselves that they don't spend the entire time bitching each other out horrendously. So when they found out that S&D had a hugely exploitable boat in the River Festival, guess where they went. I'm not saying they are bad people (for they WERE very nice) but just that their idea of friendship is ridiculously out of whack. There are a few of them who are amazing though, the sort who I see in the house most days, or who come to all the events, such as my Aunt's best friend Ola, or Leigh, the wee 18yr old guy who used to practically run their old pub. They're the sort that contrasted so much with these boatmoochers and it was really cool to hang out with them.
The day was beautiful, the sun was splitting the stones and I was ridiculously hungover and slightly sore from the head-fishbox contact. We sat out all day, with interludes where I sat below deck to read my current page-turner (which is excellent, though a bit jingoistic and overtly British for my Hibernian tendancies) and tried to catch up with my correspondences (because nothing is as nice as a handwritten letter is it?) during any lull in the festivities.
Anyway, by the time we had started to rock out to the Hammer Time shuffle, we were (again) more sauced than Mr Tabasco when he thought that his nachos needed a bit of oomph and got his ingredients out, and there were no signs of it stopping any time soon.
At one point, between the Hammer shuffle and the later drunken torpor, we painted a face onto my uncle's belly. That's what we did. It was a lot of fun. We called the little belly-lady Stella, and she became our mascot.
What was also a great deal of fun was when uncle D then went and started chatting to some of the cops who were patrolling the quayside. For about 20 minutes he had a lovely conversation about all things boaty with the bobbies on the beat when I snapped this photo, making him look like a schoolboy being scolded...
For parts of the day, all the kids (of the moochers and the nicers alike) for some reason gathered around me, and treated me like a human climbing frame. As it got dark, we watched from the deck of the boat as loads of people in their tricked-out watermobiles ambled past, it really was nice:
Soon, all the little sprouts jumped up on the fore deck with me and soon we were playing the 'let's scream really loud at all the boats' game:
It actually was a lot of fun. There also was a massive fireworks display. All the couples stood on the boat hugging each other and being all cozy and it was one of the few 'dude, you need a girlfriend' moments I've had in a while. It was very romantic, me and my budweiser.
All in all, it was a really good evening.
Sunday was pretty much a 'we're hungover and don't want to do anything' sorta day, and when we sailed back upriver to Chatham, it was pouring with rain and we were all sorta sick of the sight of everything around us. We moored at Chatham, had some dinner (a massive meal at Nando's that left me feeling positively pregnant) and the whole bunch of us squeezed onto a small berth to watch Twilight. I'm a wee bit in love with Kristen Stewart, so it was all good. The only bad thing about the evening was that the skies opened with a vengeance and at 5am this (Monday) morning, a huge drip of icy rainwater started on my head.
So, as I said, today I am exhausted, drained and (despite my bad storytelling) really happy to have such a great weekend. Life on a boat is a lot of fun, but it was important to try and get some time to myself so that we didn't all end up tearing each other's throats out. I found that a book and some writing stuff went a long way. The pros are obvious; the fun, sense of adventure and the chance to learn a new skill, but there are cons (apart from me haha) it can be a few days between getting showers, most boats are not laptop friendly, and you can get a bit cramped.
Today, we've lazed on the sofa and aunt A just made the most magnificent cottage pie. Now with a cup of tea and a strong case of shiprock (where you can feel the boat moving whilst on dry land) I'm almost ready for a lot more fun...in a few days.
ps: One of the people I met this weekend, who has known S&D for years because of the river festival is this guy below. Pete, or 'Popeye' as he likes to be called, is a bit like the male lead from a 1970's softcore porno. In the photo below he is as he was the entire time, wearing a pair of short cut-offs with no underwear...tasty. The entire festival he entertained a gaggle of women of varying ages, and his entire day seemed to consist of kissing the cheeks of young maidens and punctuating his speech with words like 'my darling', 'sweetheart', 'lovely little one' etc. Now, I use some of those endearments from time to time, but I really don't want to end up like this guy...a walking STD. Although a lovely man, he was very clearly in the 'sex pest' category of the charming spectrum. Ew. Isn't he gorgeous ladies? What say you to a slice of popeye?
(Yes that is a hoop in his ear)
Anyway, that's what I got up to this weekend. Hope y'all had fun :)