Scars with a story

I am scarred, bruised and a little bit achy today. It’s been caused by a combination of activities on boats and bikes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Were you one of those children whose knees were always bleeding or scabbed? I was. I also remember standing by the sink on numerous occasions and that awful sting when someone tries to dab them with a paper towel. Most people grow out of this. But my legs and arms chart a tale of adventures over the years, which have included a long white scar on my arm from being caught on the anchor chain of a yacht, an angry red mark on my shin from a mini cycling accident and more recently another deep scar on the other shin from tripping on ancient stone steps in Cyprus.

There have been a lot of these kinds of incidents over the years. The most memorable or dramatic from my childhood was on a cycling expedition in Kent with my brother and some friends. We were hurtling down narrow winding lanes, screaming with excitement, when suddenly a Tjunction appeared in front of us and my breaks failed to stop me. I flew off the bike and wound up with my chin impaled on a barbed wire fence and quite a lot of blood around. After being lifted off the fence, dusted down and told to ‘man-up’, I cycled slowly home and went to find my mother at the bottom of the garden. She was doing something with vegetables and I was looking for sympathy and shock. I told her the dramatic tale. She chuckled, barely glanced at my rapidly healing chin, and said it didn’t look too bad. This must be where I get my sympathetic maternal approach.

Last weekend I tested out my sailing skills in a little dinghy, which turned out to be great fun but very slippery. After sliding around in the bottom of the boat as I tried to tack the bruises were accumulating and then on a rather unplanned speedy arrival at the shore I tried to jump out neatly and grab the boat before it hit the side. After slipping on the mud and rocks as I slid out and spectacularly failing to stop the boat, I found both my knees were bleeding when I stumbled ashore.

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Yesterday two of us cycled round the path on the edge of the island. It was bumpy and very narrow at places – there was even a section a bit like a velodrome where we had to cycle fast to stay upright on a concrete bank which sloped away to the water. I thought like an Olympian, looked straight ahead and kept peddling fast. I hadn’t fallen off for several miles until we reached a gate by a marina where we had to push the bikes for a few metres. After inspecting the boats for sale I got back on as the gravel path widened and within a few seconds the wheels skidded from beneath me and I was lying on the ground with the bike on top of me. My cycle buddy was standing a few feet away holding his bike and laughing. “I saw the gravel and decided to get off,” he said… More matching scars and scrapes on my shins to join the bruises and scabs on my knees.

Now what shall I do today to make my arms blend in… mowing the lawn or cutting trees?

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even more important than a Sunday roast…

Apparently Sunday roast dinners for the family are dying out in the UK (Mail 3rd Dec). As upsetting as this is, it also signals something even more disturbing, if it’s true. It could also mean the end of ‘eggy tea’ as we know it!

This has been a long tradition in our household, passed down now to our children, who even since leaving home, send messages to say they are just having ‘eggy tea’ with lots of smilies. ‘Eggy tea’ in case you hadn’t guessed involves soft boiled eggs – that is dippy eggs – and piles of toast. This event is usually enjoyed around the table or on special occasions in the lounge in front of the fire, when the toast tastes even better cooked over the fire with a fork. A pot of tea is also an essential and marmite and honey or jam for extra slices of toast.

Somehow this mini custom helped ease our family more gently into the semi-gloom of Sunday evening – when Monday morning loomed and homework needed to be finished, school bags packed, those forgotten ingredients found for DS lessons, gym kit unearthed from the dirty washing and general prep for the working week.

Sitting down to a Sunday roast meant that ‘eggy tea’ was on the cards and there were long faces if the main meal was put off until the evening, as there were cries of, “what about ‘eggy tea’?”. It didn’t really matter if it was a roast or a casserole just as long as it had vegetables and could be classed as ‘dinner’, to ensure ‘eggy tea’ with toast could follow on – sooner than later.

Even here in Cyprus, I have had that cheery feeling as I prepared Sunday lunch, realising there was an option for ‘eggy tea’ later. Last Sunday I left for church with the roast pork sizzling in the oven, and as I drove back home an hour or so later, I found myself looking forward to ‘eggy tea’ by the fire – a highlight of the weekend.

Unfortunately, last Sunday didn’t go quite as planned as a break in a pipe (I discovered later) left us with no mains water for more than 24 hours.

It may seem no big deal, but having no water in the taps very quickly becomes a nuisance. Buckets had to be filled from the swimming pool to flush the toilets and jugs of water left by the sinks to rinse hands. You never realise how many times you run a tap, until it doesn’t work. Washing up became a nightmare of filling kettles and pouring in the right amount of cool water from the huge container on the table. Every drop was suddenly precious, as there was a limited supply to last us. When the water eventually started flowing – a shower felt like a luxury and filling the washing up bowl with hot water from the tap was also a treat!

Domestic problems always seem to arrive as soon as one particular person disappears on a course or a deployment. Apart from the water being cut off, the next day one of the toilets stopped working properly and immediately after our friendly elf-like plumber left having fixed it…the other toilet broke. I decided it couldn’t be very hard, as Billy the plumber had made light work of the problem in just 10 minutes….an hour or so later, bubbles, rubber pipes and little bits of plastic shaped like butterflies had all been tampered with, but it still wouldn’t flush properly. So I thought I’d look for an answer on google – surely google has all the answers?

It turns out there are too many different types of toilet cisterns to be practically helpful, and a lot of the paraphernalia was under water or upside down, so Billy will have to be summoned again! In the meantime, I’ll leave the lid off the cistern and pour in buckets of water to flush the toilet… why do I feel like I’ve been here before?

Despite all this hassle, I am consoling myself that it will be the weekend soon and in this household Sunday roast and ‘eggy tea’ are staying on the menu.

photo egg