SECTION ONE: Where Andrea and Roland come to visit and I do touristy shit
Andrea is my oldest friend from California. Roland is her English (from the Isle of Wight) husband. They have a 7-year old son, Oliver, as well as two of the most well behaved teenage boys I’ve ever met in my life that they are legal guardians of. The 5 of them decided to grace us with their presence during their month long whirlwind tour of the UK. Andrea and Roland are teachers so they have the much envied summers off to do this. (!!!) We met up with them for dinner at their B and B last Thursday and on Friday I met up with them solo to do Liverpool’s famous Magical Mystery Tour. If you haven’t guessed, it’s a tour focused on the Beatles – driving past where they lived and grew up.
Find the boy that is screaming in his head, "Please don't make me get on that bus!"
Now, I’m a Beatles fan but I’m not a fanatic. I think it’s pretty cool that we live a few blocks away from Penny Lane but I honestly couldn’t tell you if the Sgt. Pepper album came out before Yellow Submarine. That said, this tour would probably be the shiznik (that’s a real word spell check!) for a die hard fan but I was pretty much bored shitless (Though I thoroughly enjoyed sitting next to Andrea for two hours shooting the shit. That’s not something I get to do very often anymore). I also felt bad for Andrea’s brood. I think as a kid if someone tells you that you’ll be going on a Magical Mystery Tour you would fully expect to see something magical or at least a bit mysterious – you wouldn’t expect to be sitting on a bus for two hours looking at houses that look just like all the other houses because some dead guy lived there, like, a BILLION years ago. We did get to see Strawberry Fields which I had always sort of questioned if it was a real place but as Andrea’s eldest said, “where are all the strawberries?” I felt a bit disappointed that there wasn’t – strawberries that is – even though I know damn well they are in season right now.
Seriously, where are the strawberries?
I turned Oliver into a SuperLambanana fan.
After the tour, we all headed back to our place where we met up with Andy, Andy’s sister, and Andy’s mum. Andy’s mum was generous (read: fucking brave) and offered to baby-sit the under 18’s while the grown ups went out for a few drinks. We went to the Penny Lane Wine Bar (note: this area doesn’t allow pubs so pubs, like the Penny Lane Wine Bar, will call itself a “wine bar” when we all fucking know it’s a pub)(just so you don’t think we are pompous types that like hanging out in “wine bars” discussing our stock portfolios). The 5 of us sat outside shooting the shit and I had a marvelous time even though it was too short of time and we were being rained upon. But we were back early – very much sober and responsible – and Andrea and family parted ways. I miss her and them very much already.
Andrea and Sal
Roland and Andy
SECTION TWO: Where we go to the Crosby Festival and I don’t puke
On Sunday Andy, Henry and I drove up to Crosby to meet Andy’s mum and sister to go to the Crosby Festival. I have probably mentioned my love of festivals and I was pretty excited to see how the English do things. Having only been to one English festival now, what I’m about to say is probably terribly inaccurate of ALL English festivals, but let’s pretend that the Crosby Festival represents ALL English festivals – just because we can.
The first difference I noticed between how the English do things and how the Americans do things is the lack of food here in England. The festival was of pretty good size (about twice the size of a church festival for comparison sake for my Wisconsin folk) but it only had one van selling ice cream and another, slightly larger van, selling hot dogs, burgers and chips. No cotton candy, no corn on the cob, no funnel cakes (!!!). They also only had a single van selling beer – but you had to stay in the roped area around the van to drink your beer, you couldn’t wander around with it. Had I realized that I wouldn’t have ordered the large pint of beer – only to slam it when the natives (read: Mum and sis) were getting restless. Anyhow, they have the same impossible to win carnival\church festival games including one where the prize was a real live coconut. A coconut! (Having no idea what I would do with a coconut, I decided not to play). I did play one game where you pull tickets out of a spin-y thing and if your number matches the number on one of the prizes, you win said prize – and managed to win 2 prizes, some lotion and an Elvis puzzle. An Elvis puzzle! What luck!
In the center of the festival, they had the live entertainment which ranged from show dogs to high school dancers wearing leopard print swimsuits to men with chainsaws making surprisingly awesome furniture in 5 minutes.
Oh! And they had elephant rides. Yes, elephant rides! At a small little English festival even!
Right before we left, Andy and I decided to go on the ‘Sizzler’. The ‘Sizzler’ is your typical spin spin spin make you sick carnival rides – the kind of ride I love the best. We paid our two quid each, put my sunglasses in my purse, and sat myself in the ‘car’ to be the one who got squished by all the g-force. Had I have known that the English, not paranoid about pesky lawsuits and the whatnot, would spin that ride faster and longer then I thought was possible for a carnival ride I would not have sat in the ‘being squished’ seat, nor would have put my purse (with sunglasses) between Andy and myself. It’s been a good long while since I’ve felt sick from being on a ride. I didn’t puke, but I did pretend to.
SECTION THREE: Where I took Henry to play group and cried
This past Wednesday I decided to take the Henbot to a play group. This wasn’t because I particularly wanted to sit in a semi-circle with 30 other women and infants singing song after song about “fishies”. I went because I got paranoid while filling out Henry’s baby book and it got to the part in which I was suppose to list Henry’s current play mates and all I was could list was the cat (which is a farce really, since the cat doesn’t “play” and more just “bites” and “scratches”). So I swallowed the last of my pride at ever being cool again and went.
It was exactly how you would think play group to be. The infants were doe eyed and smiley. There were songs and clapping and “ooohs” and “aaaaahs”. There was a little pool filled up with a half inch of water to splash in. And yes, there were puppets. Henry loved it all. I imagine that if he knew how to talk he would say something profound about it, like, “I never knew it could be like this.” *Sigh* We’re going again next week.
Oh yes, I did mention that I cried. I didn’t cry buckets. I more cried like the cry you do when you see that stupid fucking Sarah McClaughlin commercial for abused animals and it gets to the part where the wee kitten has its one eye sewn shut and all of a sudden you want to save all the animals in all the lands – even the ones that don’t need saving really – and waaaaaaah! I cried like that. I don’t know why. I seriously don’t know why. Was it my child was happy cry? Was it “I’m finally out of the house” cry? It’s hard to say. I suspect it was a tearful good-bye to my ability to ever look anyone of my childless friends in the face again cry. But that’s just a theory.