It's January. The bleak midwinter. People are either moaning about how cold it is, or how many pounds they've put on over Christmas. And if they're not moaning about either of those things, they're up in arms over a 'toddler' being cast as the next Doctor Who, or the distinct lack of celebrities in the Celebrity Big Brother household. Not to mention the fact that the country is in the midst of an economic meltdown, with job losses sinking to new depths. It would appear that the festive cheer has evaporated faster than the snow in Bedfordshire.
Oh, happy days...
With all this in mind I'm delving into my blog archives to bring you a slice of summertime. This blog, as with a few of the blogs you'll read here, was originally published on my MySpace page a couple of years ago.
I'm back from my five day stay in the county of Suffolk, staying in a reputable B&B in Kessingland.
"Where?" I hear you cry.
It's located near Lowestoft (Britain's most easterly point) so look on the map, you'll find it.
OK, so not a lot happens in Kessingland (actually a tortoise went missing while I was there) but I've been visiting the place on and off since 1976, so you could almost say it's like my second home. I really go there for the peace and quiet, and often end up reflecting upon my life during a walk over the Benacre Nature Reserve. It's also a nice place to stay as it's cheap (without being cheap) and located directly between two towns - rough and ready Lowestoft, and quaint little Southwold - so getting around is not a problem. The spectacular Dunwich Heath is also situated nearby, which is a great place to walk, ponder, and take photographs.
The B&B is a great place to stay, but I can't say that I'm the 'number one' fan of the place, as I met the holder of that title during my stay. He REALLY loves the place and is jealous of anyone who lives in Kessingland. "I have your number on speed dial!" he told the landlady with sheer orgasmic delight.
While staying at the B&B I also met a chap called Ralph, a German fella who spoke very limited English. He was a nice chap, but it was very difficult to hold anything that resembled a conversation with him. You'd get so far, but once you asked awkward questions like "How long you stay here for?" he'd reply with "Please?" meaning 'Could you please repeat the question. I don't understand'.
So you'd repeat the question, he'd give you a vacant look, and turn up his nose as if to say 'Nah. I haven't a clue what you're talking about. Let's just forget it, this isn't going anywhere.' That's when the conversation would dissolve and we'd go our separate ways.
Although Ralph and I did have one thing in common. It appeared that Southwold was one of our favourite places to visit. I bumped into him not once, not twice, not three times... but FOUR times during my visit. Once I bumped into him in the street, and on two separate occasions at different locations I'd be sitting there having a quiet pint and I'd look up to see him standing by the doorway... looking at me. Both resulted in awkward conversations about the most random things.
Don't get me wrong, I liked Ralph, it's just that I couldn't communicate with him. He was telling me about a trip to London and I spent a fair while trying to explain what the 'London Eye' was and even tried doing a circular motion with my hands... but I was just going round in circles and the conversation wasn't going anywhere (much like the London Eye itself really). He'd just look at me as if to say 'What?! You mad, English fool!'
Then there was the old chap who crossed the street to greet me with his little dog. I didn't catch his name (the man or the dog), but he seemed under the impression that mine was 'Steven'.
"Is that you, Steven?" he said as he approached. I explained that I wasn't (Steven) and he said that he'd met this 'Steven' character on a previous occasion and that 'Steven' had told him to say hello if ever their paths crossed again. Nice chap, but it was a case of mistaken identity. I do hope he finds Steven though.
I have to say the highlight of my trip has to be Southwold. Here's a pretty picture I took there:
The locals always greet you with a smile and actually remember you when you go back (not like London, where you're lost in a sea of faces, many of them ravaged by inner pain and despair). I also revisited a cafe I first discovered in 2004. There's a young lady in there who must win the 'waitress of the year' award 2004 - present, as she always greets you with a warm smile and has such a friendly, glowing nature that it's always a pleasure to go in and order a coffee and scone (with or without jam). I know, I know - a total cynic might say that that's her job - to smile at you in order to get tips, but I'm not as much of a cynic as I used to be. Either way, I still think she's quite a star.
I didn't ask her out for a drink though. I did that on my previous visit - which I must add is something I certainly don't make a habit of. In fact I could probably count on one hand the number of girls I've asked out in my lifetime - so I'm by far a serial dater (or asker-outer). I tend to only ask a girl out if I'm 90% sure the answer will be a yes - as then I don't have to deal with rejection issues. But you don't care about that, you want to know what her answer was don't you?
It was a no.
Actually it wasn't a no - it was more a 'I'm sorry, I already have a boyfriend' which is fair enough really. It wasn't like a 'Go for a drink? With you? A ginger? You must be joking! Ha!" it was a 'no' delivered with a warm smile that almost made me feel happy inside - while at the same time feeling empty and desolate.
So I went for a walk again to reflect upon my life... Feeling a little sullen and despondent, yet ready for further punishment.
Despite this setback I hope to return to Suffolk in the not too distant future, and the chances are high that I'll pop into that cafe for another slice of coffee, scone and warm smile.
You never know I might bump into Ralph again. Or maybe even Steven...