Summer adventures at the Selkirk Common Riding 2013, part 2

In the summer of 1989 I flew out to California for eight weeks, courtesy of one of my many American cousins, the late Charlotte Anderson. It was my first flight on my own, and my first visit to the United States. What an amazing experience!  I hung out mostly in Healdsburg (about 70 miles north of San Francisco) but we took a number of road trips: down south to Monterey; then on to Disneyland and Universal Studios at Los Angeles; boogie boarding at the beach at San Juan Capistrano; back north and inland to Yosemite National Park; up north as far as Crater Lake and Medford in Oregon where I witnessed the most amazing lightning storm I’ve ever seen. During the two months I went water-skiing, boogie boarding and rode my first (and last) rollercoaster (in the dark!). I also met up with family.

Boonville

About an hour’s drive north-west of Healdsburg, cradled in Anderson Valley, Mendocino County lies a small town called Boonville, population 715. It has its own folk language called Boontling. It was also home to a good few members of my extended family, also named Anderson. One weekend Charlotte drove me up and dropped me off, I was to meet and hang out with Bruce and Ling, and their two sons Zack (a little older than me) and Ben (a little younger), and another cousin, Jamie (much younger than me).

Left to right: Ben, Jamie, Zack, me.

Left to right: Ben, Jamie, Zack, me.

Bruce ran the local newspaper, The Anderson Valley Advertiser, the AVA. He is still its editor. The newspaper’s motto is “fanning the flames of discontent.” I wouldn’t say they go out of their way to invite controversy, but they don’t exactly shy away from it either.

I love this photograph of me with Bruce, taken—I think—in his office. I was a little intimidated by Bruce at the time, I have to admit. But I sat and listened to him for hours, he was incredibly well read and really interesting.

Bruce Anderson and Gareth J M Saunders, Boonville, 1989.

Bruce Anderson and Gareth J M Saunders, Boonville, 1989.

One morning over breakfast, Bruce came down from his ‘tree-house’ office with a stack of mail that had arrived for the newspaper. Amongst it was a letter from a couple who had passed through Boonville a few weeks before. It transpired that they had recently adopted a baby and when they had stopped to fill up with gas the infant had inadvertently dropped their toy rabbit out of the car. It wasn’t just any rabbit, it was the rabbit, the rabbit of comfort, the rabbit that stopped them crying while they were upset, it was I-WANT-RAAAAAABBIT! There was a letter explaining the torment that this poor family was now experiencing sans rabbit, along with a five dollar bill and a plea to make a few posters, get them photocopied and paste them up around town. Proper wild west stuff with a reward and everything. We joked about the letter over breakfast, and soon after I got packed up, Char came to collect me and I headed back to Healdsburg.

A few days later the post arrived and Char opened her subscription copy of the AVA. A few pages in there was the letter about losing a rabbit. I smiled. I’d read that letter myself. But to be honest, that’s not really what had demanded my attention on that page. It was the 4″ x 6″ photograph of a toy rabbit with a pistol to its head that had caught my eye, with a caption beneath that said something like “Send five more dollars or the rabbit gets it!” Brilliant! Why aren’t more newspapers like that?!

In 2002 and again in 2004 I travelled with Jane to California to stay with Char. We had amazing holidays, and once more Char was adamant that I should get in touch with my generation of the family, and so I did. Our cousin, the novelist, Robert Mailer Anderson very kindly put us up in his guest accommodation both times and we met up with and hung out with Robert and Zack and Jessica, and Wayne and Margaret and a whole host of others. We had such a brilliant time, with such lovely people. And we should have gone back again after that but we moved house, and then the IVF treatment started, and we had children and… well, last month they came over here.

The gathering

I love my American family: they are warm and loving and accepting and never too far from laughter. Before we travelled down to the Scottish Borders I was a little apprehensive that we might be gate-crashing their party, despite what Robert had said to reassure us in an email. I needn’t have worried. We arrived on Friday afternoon, and over the next few days there was a steady trickle of people arriving. Zack, Ben and Robert had been part of the advance party; then Nicola (Robert’s wife) arrived with the children; and shortly after Bruce and Ling arrived with their daughter Jessica, her husband Ryan and two children; and lastly Bruce’s sister Judy turned up with her husband Charlie.

Sting!

I cycled up the drive, through clouds of midges, from our holiday lodge to ‘the big hoose’ (it was about a ten minutes’ walk) shortly after Nicola arrived with the children. They were running around the grounds playing tig, or whatever young Americans play these days. As I pulled up outside the house I teamed up with Zack and Ben and we laughed and joked until one of the girls, Frances, ran up saying that she had touched something and her hand had come up in a rash.

“Ah, that must be a stinging nettle,” I explained.

“A what?”

I hunted the nearby border beneath the dining room and quickly found one.

“One of these,” I explained. “They sting, so stay away from them. However, if you do get stung look for a docken leaf.”

Again I hunted amongst the foliage beneath the dining room window and tore one off.

“Place this on your hand, on the sting. It will soothe it and cool it down,” I explained, suddenly feeling like some kind of mediaeval wizard or the monk Cadfael.

“Wow! That’s cool,” said Ben. “One plant that’s an antidote to another plant.”

Selkirk Common Riding

Each morning we met around the (tremendously long) breakfast table and ate together and laughed and shared stories. Each evening we did the same over dinner. Robert, who was fulfilling his duties as the 2013 Selkirk Colonial Society Standard Bearer joined us when he could—boy! that was one full schedule he had, packed with late night after late night. It was lovely to catch up with him when I could, and I was disappointed that I had to leave one morning when he and Bruce had just got their teeth into a really meaty conversation about American politics. I was back in Boonville in ’89. I wanted to hear more, but family duties were calling.

Of course, what we were all there for was to support Robert at the Common Riding. On Wednesday evening I travelled into Selkirk for the Colonial Bussin’ concert, where Nicola bussed the flag (put ribbons on it) in a very graceful way (as they kept remind us) and Robert received his standard bearer’s sash and flag for the Common Riding on Friday morning.

Selkirk Colonial Society Bussin' Concert 2013

Nicola tying ribbons onto the flag at the Selkirk Colonial Society Bussin’ Concert 2013

After the concert I got to attend the Colonial dinner, something that I’d seen my Mum and Dad go out to for years as I was growing up. Finally I was allowed to go, and I’m so glad that I did. What fun Zack and Ben and Frances and I had sitting at the top end of a table that extended about three-quarters of the way down the Lesser Victoria Hall. We sat beneath a California flag that Charlotte had donated a few years before she died. She would have been so proud of us all being together.

My Mum surprised me at one point by going forward to present a gift to Nicola, from a former Lady Busser to the current one. I leaned in to Frances and said, “That’s my Mum and your Mum!” She smiled. I was so proud of my Mum that evening, and so proud to be a part of this family. I wish my Dad could have seen it all too. He’d have been in his element.

There was a lot of singing that evening, which took me a bit by surprise. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I like singing. I was in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain for about eight years, but it was like hanging out at the Prancing Pony inn with a bunch of hobbits and dwarves! More singing! More drinking! More singing! But it was brilliant. At one point, near the end, Robert got up with Frances and they sang a fabulous, eerie, gothic American ballad, something that they sometimes sing at bedtime. It went down a storm.

Robert and Frances wow the gathering with a gothic American ballad

Robert and Frances wow the Colonial dinner with a gothic American ballad

Then on Friday morning we got up at pointlessly-early o’clock and did the Selkirk Common Riding. Reuben and Joshua were incredible. For about five hours, Reuben walked pretty much the whole way round, Joshua got carried for a bit of it, Jane about broke her back carrying Isaac in a sling the whole way. I was so proud of them all.

Robert did everyone proud casting the Colonial flag in the Selkirk Market Place at the conclusion of the festival, which you can watch on the ITV website along with a short interview with him.

Robert Mailer Anderson casting the Selkirk Colonial Society flag, June 2013

Robert Mailer Anderson casting the Selkirk Colonial Society flag, June 2013(Photo: Eddie Saunders)

The following day the wider family gathered at Hoscote House for a buffet meal. What was rather fun was that Judy and I worked on a copy of the family tree so we could all identify where we sat on it, and we could see graphically how we were all related to one another.

Buffet meal in the dining room at Hoscote House

Buffet meal in the dining room at Hoscote House

Then we gathered for the obligatory family photo on the steps of the house and then we all went our separate ways.

Almost everyone gathered on the steps at Hoscote House.

Almost everyone gathered on the steps at Hoscote House.

I was sad to leave. I miss not having so many people around the breakfast table. I miss the jokes and nonsense conversations, I miss finding out more about these amazing people with whom I’ve spent less than a month of my life in their company but who have accepted me as one of their own, and who I regard as close to me as my nuclear family. I guess I miss them because I love them. And surely that’s a good thing in a family, even one as wide and extended and scattered and… odd as this one.

Summer adventures at the Selkirk Common Riding 2013, part 1

Our Citroën Grand C4 Picasso parked at Hoscote House, ready for adventure.

Our Citroën Grand C4 Picasso parked at Hoscote House, ready for adventure.

Nearly three weeks ago we packed up our car, loaded the children into it, attached my bike to the back of it and drove south in search of fame and fortune. Or Hoscote House at least, and a group of 16 cousins of mine from California who had flown over for the Selkirk Common Riding. It was one of the best holidays we’ve ever had.

The reason for the trip was that my third cousin (my great-grandmother Georgina and his great-grandfather Robert ‘Honolulu Bob’ were brother and sister) novelist, screenwriter and philanthropist Robert Mailer Anderson had been elected Colonial Standard Bearer for the 2013 Selkirk Common Riding, exactly 100 years after Honolulu Bob had held the same office.

Hoscote house

Hoscote House

Hoscote House from the drive

About 18 months ago I emailed Robert and his wife Nicola, who live in San Francisco, and said that we were planning on coming down to the Scottish Borders to support them.

Do you have any ideas at this point where you guys might be staying? We don’t want to gate crash your party but it might be nice to be near, to meet up.

Robert replied a couple of hours later saying

we are renting a manor [Hoscote House] and you are more than welcome to join the family there. Isn’t that what this is all about?

And so we graciously and gratefully accepted Robert and Nicola’s kind offer and on Friday 7 June we rolled up outside Sycamore Lodge and moved in for the week.

Sycamore Lodge, Hoscote Estate

Remarkably the only photo we have of Sycamore Lodge was taken by Reuben as we were leaving on the last day of our holiday.

It was a fabulous wee holiday cottage: three bedrooms, one en suite; a generous family bathroom; an open-plan living room and dining room, with a galley kitchen off it. It was comfortable, and as the week wore on we appreciated the space that we had away from the “big hoose”, particularly when getting the boys down to sleep at night.

The “big hoose” was a ten minutes’ walk up the drive. And boy! was it big. The 16 Californians who flew out to this remote backwater in the Borders of Scotland were accommodated there quite comfortably.

When they could find it, that is. And they weren’t driving in a vague vicinity of the place for two hours, crossing every river they could find. Whether it was at a ford or not. I’ve never seen someone so traumatized about a car journey. And don’t rely on the GPS: it directs you to Martins Bridge (which was being rebuilt):

Martins Bridge, A711 outside Roberton

Martins Bridge, A711 outside Roberton

or across another ford!

Ford near the A7, outside Roberton. Genuinely that is an official way to cross the river.

Ford near the A7, outside Roberton. Genuinely that is an authorised place to cross the river. You can just see the road on the other side of the river.

Built in the 1850s Hoscote House sits in its own 450 acre estate about a 25 minutes’ drive from Selkirk—through umpteen open fields, across many a cattle grid, and after the obligatory stand-off on the road with the local wildlife (I’ve rarely felt as nervous in my car as when I was slowly edging forward towards a young heifer with about twelve cows to my left and a rather concerned-looking bull to my right). But it was a beautiful place to spend ten days (the midges aside), with mostly great weather, and definitely with the most wonderful company.

Our boys met their American cousins for the first time and they all seemed to just click, particularly Reuben (4) with his Californian counterpart Callum (6). It was brilliant, such a joy to witness. They just took themselves off into the trees and bushes on the estate to climb and explore, to build dens and gather sticks. Even the memory of it now brings a tear to my eye. They were in their element, and we were content that they were safe… just as long as they didn’t wander too far into the sheep field on the other side of the drive.

Sheep grazing in the field at Hoscote

Sheep grazing in the field at Hoscote.

Inside the house was generous and homely: two sitting rooms (one decorated entirely with padded tartan walls); an enormous, and always far-too-hot conservatory; a small office with a seating area outside it which became Internet Corner™ as it was the only place in the house you could get a WiFi signal; a billiards room; a huge kitchen, with a to-die-for farmhouse kitchen table; and a dining room that comfortably sat all 21 of us.

The place was grand but not over-the-top, and not uncomfortably posh. It was certainly quirky with an old rifle and two bugles at the front door (perfect for announcing your arrival), and various stuffed-and-mounted animals around the place. A little odd, but rather in keeping with the place.

Bike – bridge and hill

The decision to bring my bike was a last minute one, having only discovered a couple of days before we left that our bike rack did actually fit our car (it was bought many years ago to fit to a rather smaller Vauxhall Astra hatchback). But I’m so glad I did. Each morning, sometime between 05:00 AM and 07:15 AM (depending on when I woke up) I would get up, change into my cycling gear and pedal out into the countryside.

On our first morning there I tucked the Orndance Survey map into my fluorescent yellow jacket and headed off into the mist to recce the area. I’ll cycle down to Martins Bridge, I thought to myself, just to see how it looks. It looked about two to three miles away on the map.

It wasn’t. It was nearer seven.

I could just turn around and head back, but where’s the fun in that? So out came the map and I discovered a ford (yes, that ford) with a narrow bridge to the left of it, which was only just wide enough for me to shuffle across.

Rather than riding through the ford, I decided to take the narrow bridge instead.

Rather than riding through the ford, I decided to take the narrow bridge instead.

On the other side was a hill. On the other side of that hill was Hoscote House. The contours of the map promised a climb and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Having left the house just after 05:00 AM, having had no breakfast, thinking that I’d just have a quick cycle around and be back in time for the boys waking up at 6:00 AM, I was still climbing the hill as it was approaching 07:15 AM. I remember thinking to myself, “should I be panicking now?” My main concern was that I couldn’t get in touch with Jane to let her know that I was okay. Although I had my mobile phone there was no signal.

As I climbed, and I have to admit that I got off at one point to push the bike up a particularly steep 200 meters or so, I rose above the mist and emerged into the most beautifully rolling countryside beneath a deep blue sky, scratched at here and there with wispy clouds. In the distance I could see the top of the fog that I’d ridden through and into which I would soon descend.

In the distance, the tops of clouds beneath the hill.

In the distance, the tops of clouds beneath the hill.

The eight mile climb, including through two get-off-and-open-and-close gates, led to a one mile descent. That was fun! Honking at sheep to get off the road, and racing past with a cheery “Thank you”. I rounded a corner having just passed a sign that read “cattle grid” I wondered to myself, “I wonder how far before I get to the…” BRRRRRRRR! as the cattle grid rumbling beneath my wheels provided the answer.

I rolled into the small car park outside our lodge, I dismounted, propped the bike against the wall and wobbled in through the open door. I’d clocked up about 14 miles, the longest cycle I’d enjoyed since before my various back injuries of the last two years. It was great to be back on my bike. And what a return. Over the week, and since, I’ve discovered that it has given me so much confidence in my ability on the bike. I just have to think back to that mammoth, breakfast-less climb and it assures me that I will reach the top of this hill, that I do have the energy to keep going.

Bike – Craik

Over the next few days I went out a further three times. The next trip was out to Craik, a small village in the middle of the Craik Forest and at the end of a dead-end.

After that I turned right into Craik Forest itself. I thought I’d put my mountain bike to the use that it was intended for and for 45 minutes I cycled steadily up a forest track, surrounded by thick woodland, on another glorious morning. It was hard going, but satisfying: ducking beneath overhanging branches, bunny-hopping over fallen trunks, and simply admiring the view. My plan had been to climb the track to a crossroads that I’d seen on the map then turn right and roll down the hill to approach Hoscote from the opposite direction that I’d set off from.

Conscious of the time, and my energy levels, I made a final push towards a clearing that was a few hundred metres ahead. Success! I’d reached the crossroads. Jubilant I turned the corner and … was stopped in my tracks. The path was littered with coniferous trees. Some had grown right on the edges of the track, so that when I started to cycle down it they whipped my legs and made me feel as though I was trying to cycle through a wardrobe or a car wash. And to add to the problem there were very small saplings growing down the middle of the track, between the ruts. The way ahead was impossible.

I turned round and went back down the path I’d come. It took me 45 minutes to climb up, and less than 10 minutes to descend. Mostly screaming like a little girl. “I DON’T LIKE THIS!” I heard myself shout. “I DON’T HAVE MY SPARE GLASSES WITH ME!” But actually, I really did quite enjoy it.

I’m surprised I didn’t wear my brakepads down to the metal. Even with me pulling hard on them I was still reaching 25 mph, with pot holes and branches to negotiate.

I had hoped to cycle to Selkirk one day but I simply ran out of time. So my final outing, the day before the Common Riding, was simply up an enormously steep hill to Roberton, and back down the gentler brae by the Borthwick Water. By that time I’d put in the uphill miles and so when I reached the top rather unexpectedly I said out loud, “Oh! Is that it?!”

Next time: Meeting American family, and the Selkirk Common Riding.

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon

Room 106 at The Bonham, Edinburgh

Room 106 at The Bonham, Edinburgh

On Sunday afternoon Jane and I drove to The Bonham hotel in Edinburgh and enjoyed a blissfully quiet afternoon, evening and morning in the company of one another. It was our first night away together without any children since, I think, May 2010.

The Bonham is a gorgeous hotel on Drumsheugh Gardens, a stone’s throw from St Mary’s Cathedral on Palmerston Place and overlooking the Dean Bridge. It fuses traditional with modern quite effortlessly.

We got a fabulous deal through itison.com: dinner, bed and breakfast, with unlimited movies for a bargain £140 (for one night). To give you an idea of how much we might have been saving, a Scottish cooked breakfast costs £14.00.

After booking in we climbed the stairs to the first floor, unlocked the door to room 106 and were welcomed with a bottle of champagne (or whatever the Italian equivalent is) and the TV was on showing… F1 Grand Prix. Now that’s my kind of hotel room. None of this patronising “Welcome to room 106 Mr and Mrs Saunders” nonsense message on the screen.

Dinner was utterly fabulous in the critically acclaimed Restaurant at The Bonham. I would happily eat there every night!

All in all, a wonderfully relaxing 24 hours in the company of my favourite wife, reading, watching telly and enjoying the silence.

We drove back to Anstruther yesterday afternoon just in time to pick up Reuben and Joshua from nursery, having first bought the boys a present (Star Wars lightsabers for Reuben and Joshua, and an Ikea chair for Isaac) and treated ourselves to a new kingsize mattress. (Hopefully that will help my back mend.)

Daddy’s taking us to the zoo today

Reuben beside the Penguin Cow sculpture at Edinburgh Zoo

Reuben beside the Penguin Cow sculpture at Edinburgh Zoo

Joshua beside the Penguin Cow sculpture at Edinburgh Zoo

Joshua beside the Penguin Cow sculpture at Edinburgh Zoo

I had a day off today so that I could meet up with my old National Youth Choir of Great Britain friend, and former flatmate, Jonny Coore and family in Edinburgh.

Around 10:00 we set off (in the rain) to Edinburgh (in the rain) to visit Edinburgh Zoo (in the rain).  But what a great day (in the rain).

The first time I visited Edinburgh zoo I was in primary 3, so probably about 6 or 7 years old.  The last time I visited was for a funeral tea for a former member of the zoological society.  So this was my third visit.

I already knew quite a bit about zoos because I’ve listened to The Mighty Boosh on the radio.  Unfortunately, Edinburgh zoo is disappointingly not like Bob Fossil’s Funworld, so I did feel a little out of my depth as it turned out.

Animal magic

First up we saw the sea lions (not seals, those are different) which I explained to Reuben and Joshua look a bit like cats (cos they’ve got whiskers) that live in the sea.

Next up: flamingos. I explained to Reuben and Joshua that flamingos are a bit like pink cats, who stand on one leg. After an introductory talk by someone from the zoo’s education centre he invited questions from the public. Jonny had a question: what do they taste like?

Further up the hill we passed what I thought was an emu. I ignored the ‘emu’, he used to scare me with his pink windmill nonsense. Emus aren’t like cats.

The next talk we heard was about lemurs which I explained to Reuben and Joshua looked a bit like cats.

Reuben and Joshua don’t have a very wide experience of animals so I was trying to relate these new, exotic animals to something they do know about.

Before heading to the picnic area we saw a Malaysia sun bear.  My Mum used to have a bear in Malaysia.  No word of a lie.  I think she called him Joey.

Lunch

We then had lunch.

It’s nice that there’s a section of the zoo set aside for people to bring their own picnics.  It reminds me of a restaurant I visited recently that had a section set aside for diners to leave their pets.

The highlight of lunch had to be that Jonny ate a Club biscuit.  The lowlight was discovering that 500 ml bottles of Coca Cola cost £1.30 at the zoo.

Thundercats and a revelation

After lunch we climbed the hill to discover the giant cats: a leopard, a tiger, a jaguar, another one that I can’t remember, and another one that I couldn’t see.

I couldn’t think of an animal that Reuben and Joshua know about to compare the leopard, tiger and jaguar to.

I also learned at that point to run a zoo all you need really is a very large estate and cages with photographs of animals on them.

If the accompanying text also informs visitors that this particular animal is quite shy which explains why you might not catch sight of them then you don’t even have to go to what must be the troubling expense of actually buying the animals.

So Jonny, his son and I started to think about the kind of zoo that we could realistically open.  It contained cages with — amongst other things — plasma TVs, paperclips, a chest of drawers and sticks.

We went to look for lions but found gibbons. The rain started to pour down so the gibbons took refuge in a custom-built cave-like shelter. We took shelter under a custom-built shelter-like shelter. And then for a moment I wondered if it was us who was sheltering so that we could watch the gibbons, or whether the gibbons were sheltering so that they could watch us.

I then remembered that we had chocolate biscuits in my rucksack and forgot all about the gibbons.

Penguins and monkeys

We trotted down the hill again towards the penguins enclosure for the Penguin Parade. The parade didn’t happen, for some reason, but we did watch a few small penguins feeding. They eat fish.

The monkey house provided more shelter from the rain and plenty of entertainment.  Did you know that monkeys … actually, I didn’t learn anything new about monkeys because I spent most of my time in there trying to prevent Reuben from poking a baby in a pram. Or stealing my glasses.

And that was our visit to the zoo today. Tomorrow I go back to work.

Yesterday

Yesterday morning I accompanied Steve and Lisa to the London Social Media Café Musicians meet-up at the St George Hotel between the BBC and All Souls on Langham Place in central London.

The café on the top floor of the (an) hotel has a splendid view of the London cityscape.  Tony Hawks (comedian, not Tony Hawk, skater) was also there, but not to participate in the SMCM meet.

It was an interesting get-together with a few folks (suffering from sleep deprevation) posting stuff on Seesmic.  I didn’t really get involved deeply in many of the conversations as I didn’t really understand either the London scene or the musicians scene in London.  But it was nice to potter on my laptop and get chatting with a couple of folks about singing.

Lunch

Around noon Lisa and I headed off to Covent Garden to meet with Mike Arthur for lunch, before wandering back via Charring Cross Road, Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street to meet up with Steve.  Who then led us down Regent Street, Carnaby Street back onto Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, Coventry Street and Leicester Square … and back to Covent Garden!

Evening

In the evening we geeked out in the kitchen, I cracked on with some CSS editing and watched The IT Crowd on 4OD before turning in for the night.

Today

Today I decamp from Steve and Lisa’s in Herne Hill to East Putney to visit our good friends Dave and Bev Meldrum.

The oval office

Had a lovely day in London village.

Walked from Herne Hill to Kennington Oval (in 55 minutes), met up with Mike Jeremiah on the occasion of his 40th birthday.

Had lunch: chicken and mushroom pie and chips.

General geekery, followed by drink and dinner (curry) with lovely Rachel Foulds then walked back to Herne Hill in 40 minutes.

We had dinner at a restaurant at Kennington called Gandhi … it may or may not have had a definite article. Mike kept singing a song from Not The Nine O’Clock News off the telly. From about twenty years ago.

What a lovely, lovely day.

Street cuddle

On the way back to Herne Hill, at Brixton town I got stopped by a black guy asking for 70p for the bus. Seventy pence became two pounds became … well, he kept his palm open as I shovelled money into it.

“How much is a single fare?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Is it a bank holiday on Monday?” he asked again.

What is this Twenty Questions?!

I explained that I was from Scotland and wasn’t certain about the answers to these London-centric questions.

He then gave me a hug and his afro hairstyle brushed my face. It was really soft, and smelled quite nice.

He was going to Clapham Junction, he claimed. And then lifted his shirt to show me his belt. “Am I too thin?” he asked me.

I wasn’t sure that was an issue in the Clapham region.

Sadly I didn’t meet anyone else on the rest of my walk home.