Friday, February 05, 2016

Wet and windy or just plain watery...

"Today was one of those days when I realised the full measure of my dislike for being cold and wet. It was totally undiluted (or rather overly diluted) yuk. And then the crunch came when my umbrella blew inside out on the zebra crossing where the rain and wind were competing with the cars in a race up the road. I clutched onto what remained of its frame, huddling under the flapping, soggy fabric and fought my way against the tempest to the safety of Buttons, my little Daihatsu, which I'd parked some distance from work to save money on parking (I also have this insane idea that it's better for my health, but it really isn't, not in weather like today's it isn't).

Anyhow, once ensconced in my personal haven, I got to thinking about other times when I've been wetter, but not half as miserable. And yes, there have been a few...

The first one I really remember well was when my girls were small and we were spending some time with my father in London. It was a very hot summer (remember when we had those?) and in Essex the temperature was up in the high thirties. Anyway, being that hot cooked up some good old cumulo nimbus clouds and we had a humdinger of a thunderstorm. The three of us were walking down a road between my father's flat and where we were staying when the heavens opened. Now we were used to tropical South African storms and this equalled those and some. Within seconds we were totally drenched...but I mean so drenched that even our knickers were wet through. And so we laughed and danced in the puddles and enjoyed it to the full. There wasn't really much else to do, and I don't think I've ever had such fun in the rain since.

Early days in the harbour

The second occasion was in my early barge days in Rotterdam. We were having a barbecue on board and friends came round to join us in their rowing boat. I wasn't very agile then...well, I'm still not, but I've learnt how to get extract myself from sticky and potentially embarrassing situations a bit better these days. Anyhow, these friends asked me if I'd like to go for a spuddle with them. With innocent enthusiasm, I literally jumped at the chance - which involved launching myself overboard and landing in their rowing boat while I was still holding on to the side of the barge. Not a clever move, that. The boat swung away leaving me stretched like  a suspension bridge between it and the barge. The more I tried to cling on, the further it floated until I just had my toes curled round the rim on the side. My self inflicted torture was greeted with no help and much hilarity by everyone around. Beasts.

Eventually gravity gained ground and I collapsed. But while the bottom half of me was in the water, I was still gripping somewhat perilously onto the barge. Luckily a friend, who happened to have an arm in plaster, grabbed me with his good arm and hauled me back on deck. I still don't know how he managed that; I was laughing too hard to ask at the time, but it was pretty heroic.

A year or so later, I took another dive off the side of a friend's barge, but this time I'd just had a lovely hot bath and in my pleasantly relaxed state, I climbed out of their hold and straight overboard. My hosts thought I'd decided to go turkish and were a bit surprised, but not half as surprised as I was when I hit the water fully dressed in leather jacket and jeans with my mobile phone in my pocket. After they hauled me out, I walked home adorned with twigs and leaving a trail of water and weed behind me. The local pub-goers had the grace to say nothing as I passed.

My first harbour home - The Hoop
Ah yes, those were memorable occasions, all of them. Soggy surprises they may have been, but much more fun than our friend Frank or George or whatever they like to call these winter gales now.

The book where some of these
soggy surprises are described


Watery Ways, my memoir, is reduced this coming week to the special price of 99p, or just over $1,00. If you'd like to give it a try. The offer starts 6 February and will run until the 20th.

And just to finish off, do you remember getting hopelessly wet like this? Unintentionally, of course.

24 comments:

  1. Oh Val, I have tears in my eyes from laughing so much. I have many similar memories. Fortunately it was Guido not me who was left holding onto the dock while the dinghy slowly slipped away. His friend who was already safely aboard and our 2 sons were too weak with laughter to help him and he took a plunge but fortunately for him it was in the clean waters of a small Greek port. His friend "helped" by shouting out that it was the ouzo that had caused this lovely mishap! I do enjoy your blogs x

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    1. It's always funnier for the onlookers, isn't it, Tonia? Meanwhile the poor victim is more than a bit nonplussed. But I have to say that in both cases, I was laughing as much if not more than everyone else once I'd reached safety ;)

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  2. The more I read about your life, the more I admire you --ugh!! I am sure life afloat is wonderful in the hot weather, but cold...wet...damp...nonono!!

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    1. I do sometimes wonder why I stay here, Carol. My life would be much more comfortable in warmer climes, I know! X

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  3. Before I even got to the story I was thinking of your bath in a friend's barge and then you falling in the water fully dressed, it made me laugh all over again. When I'm on holiday I'm very wary of getting into boats, my worst fear is falling in. We were on a canoe trip in Turkey ( terrible decision) two in each canoe. We spent ages going around in circles. Eventually a few canoes capsized and everyone had such a laugh. If it had been me I wouldn't have been laughing. The rain in this country is cold and wet and usually accompanied by wind,not nice.

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    1. Ah Anne, when it happens, the only thing you can do is laugh...with a bit of hysteria, I admit. And yes, the wind here is awful too! X

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  4. I'll never forget walking with my girls along the beach in Pembrokeshire at sunset. First we paddled, then ... Well, it doesn't matter if trousers get a bit wet ... And then, somehow, it was fine to be in the sea with all our clothes on! It was such fun - probsbly because it was completely spontaneous!

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    1. A lovely memory of fun with your girls too, Jo. Wonderful!

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  5. Love these watery memories! Especially the one of you and the girls splashing in puddles and dancing in the rain. And especially going from hot shower comfort to cold plunge and adornment with weeds and twigs. Then the zebra crossing...nope! They are all brilliant, Val! Great memories and your usual sparkling and flawless style of writing. Thanks for smiles and laughs!

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    1. Thank you, dear Stephanie. Your comments are like a ray of sunshine on this horrible rainy day! xx

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  6. Oh dear, I am laughing so much at your watery misfortunes 😂 I once had some idiot throw me in to the water fully clothed for a joke. I had my grandmother's watch on, which has never worked since, I was not amused! Xxxx

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    1. I can imagine you were very disgruntled about that, Fran. What a shame! xxx

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  7. Love this. I fell off a boat on the Norfolk Broads when I was little. I had told my sister that I could swim - I was lying. She just laughed but I was drowning.... Eventually I was rescued by another boat....

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    1. Goodness, Stephanie! How dreadful! We are lucky you are still with us then. I'll bet your sister was sorry after that...

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  8. Hi Val - those are great stories - I'm somewhat surprised I don't have anything similar in my repertoire ... but I'm obviously a landlubber - yes I've been wet ... but not soaked through - I'm glad to say ... making me laugh - and you provided much amusement to many .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks so much, Hilary! I'm glad it gave you a laugh too :) xx

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  9. A few years ago I was dashing across the school car park after a hard day's supply teaching. It was raining like there was no tomorrow. Suddenly I felt myself being propelled forwards as I tripped over my own feet, face planting into a deep puddle. OUCH! I was face down in a two inch pool of water and I couldn't get up! Sixth formers to the rescue - broken foot, sodden clothes and decided loss of dignity! Jude Burt

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    1. Oh Jude, poor you!! I've never hurt myself with my clumsiness, thank heavens. That must have been so painful! As for the loss of dignity..oh dear! Thanks so much for dropping in and telling your story. It's really lovely to see you hear too xx

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  10. Some graphic imagery here. :) Reminded me of our first narrowboat when the OH was standing with one foot on our boat and one on another boat, planning to breast up. Yup... seemed to take ages for the inevitable but a laugh every second of the way.

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    1. That must have been hilarious, Sandra. I can just imagine it. And there's nowhere to go but down, is there? :)

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  11. I have been severely drenched on many an occasion. The worst was driving through a heavy summer storm on my motorcycle; then arriving home to find bright sunshine with people looking oddly at my wet behind !

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    1. Well, Mel, I'm not surprised :) But then you could just have retorted that you'd been to Soggy Bottom Hollow to visit Hazel...

      Do you still have a motorcyle? I rather think it would suit you.

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  12. I really don't think that the majority Irish roads other than motorways are suitable for motorcycling. Also my now better half is a lady of comfort :) !

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