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Blog: Slimbridge

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On Friday night The Water In My Wetland Centre and i headed off to picturesque SLIMBRIDGE to spend the weekend at a friend's 40th Birthday celebrations. The train journey was surprisingly JOLLY - as anyone who utilises the rail network will know, some companies try to "manage congestion" by charging UTTERLY LUDICROUS amounts of CA$H to travel during "peak times" which has to effect of a) allowing them to reap OBSCENE piles of money from people who have no choice when they can travel and b) causing the first few trains AFTER the "peak time" to be UTTERLY RAMMED with people trying to get on them. Another example of our MARVELLOUS Privatised Rail Network - HOORAH! (NB sarcasm).

THUS the train to Bristol was as full as the Central Line at 8am (i.e. VERY) but we placated ourselves with the idea that LOADS of people would get off at Reading and we should be able to get a seat. We were standing in First Class, so our PLAN was to leap off at Reading, dash down to standard (as the corridors were all RAMMED and impossible to get down with baggage) and HOP back on again. However hardly ANYBODY got off and so we had to RUN back to first class (as the train staff we slamming doors in standard saying "Train Full!) and FITE our way back on again. We ended up standing ALL THE WAY to Bristol Parkway, but it was actually quite nice as i BATTLED to the buffet car to get some glasses, so we drank a bottle of wine between us in CONCERT with most other people standing around and got Quite Boozy. We also say The Actor Rhys Ifans go by. It was all quite exciting.

The train was late so we missed our connection, had an OK but less than enthralling hour and a bit at Bristol Parkway, and got to Cam & Dursley station rather LATE. HAPPILY our taxi turned up quite soon, and I had to GRIT MY TEETH to resist the temptation to JOIN IN with the taxi driver's ACCENT. Ooh, it was hard - LIKE people in Glasgow and Birmingham (for instance), just HEARING the way he talked made me want to do the SAME accent as it was so GRATE, but UNLIKE those places it is very similar to MINE OWN. The For Hire Light On Top Of My Taxi commented that the accents were so similar he seemed to be able to understand everything i was saying. I BAIN'T NO MIND WHAT SHE MEAN, SIR.

So yes, we arrived at Slimbridge YHA to find it UNCHANGED from the Youth Hostels we had known when YOUNG including, for me, the many ABROAD I had stayed in whilst Inter-railing OH so many moons ago. SIDEBAR: it doesn't help with Feelings Of Age when I realise that SEVERAL of the countries i visited aged 18 and 19 don't actually EXIST anymore.

It was like a trip to a MORE INNOCENT TIME - we had our own room (with BUNK BED!) but most people were in a dorm. It was all very FRUGAL but CLEAN and TIDY, there was a games room (ping pong, snooker, and video games from 1985), you were locked out of your room from noon to 5pm (when you ought to be HIKING and TWITCHING) MEALS were served very strictly from 8am-8.30am and AT 7pm, and they were SCHOOL DINNERS (and very nice too). One felt the URGE to get some bicycle clips, some ginger ale and a few HEART CHUMS - the only odd thing about it was that, apart from our group, everybody ELSE staying in the Youth Hostel was a LONG WAY from being YOUTHS. It appeared to be a MISNOMER.

Anyway, we had a lovely time - we went to the Wetlands Centre and saw LOADS of DUCKS, which was BRILLIANT. For most of my life I have thought that all ducks had yellow beaks, with occasional outbreaks of red and white by KRAZY REBELS, so when I saw a photograph of a duck with a blue beak earlier this year i was astounded. Turns out there are LOADS of them with blue beaks, the wetlands were PACKED with them. I also learnt that there are three types of pattern on a swans's beak (yellow neb, penny face and darky, FACT FANS) and that there are few things that smell LESS PLEASANT than a building full of FLAMINGOES. We had a FAB time and celebrated with a Well Earned Pint afterwards.

After all THAT The Crop In My Field and I got even MORE wholesome and headed off for a HIKE into the nearby village. We visited the local church and discovered that it had been the Parish Church of William Tyndale, which was DEAD EXCITING for me as i got to REEL OFF all my KNOWLEDGE of same on the way back, ENCORING with my imperfect recollections of Scott Of The Antarctic, as it was his SON who had set up the Wildfowl Trust we had visited. Yes indeed, The Sole On My Walking Boots, she is ONE LUCKY LADY!

That evening there was an ENTERTAINER booked, and when she was arrived i fell into AUTO PILOT and found myself UNLOADING GEAR - it was all i could do NOT to set up the entire PA system, and had to FORCE myself to go elsewhere and drink BEER. When she started it was a bit difficult for her, as she was doing COMEDY, and it was a) a bit BLUE and b) more for a large crowd in a CLUB than a small gathering of PALS, as she sort of needed people to be INVOLVED, whereas everyone was COWERING, not wanting to say ANYTHING and get PICKED ON. I was thus IMPRESSED when she fairly quickly CHANGED TACK and moved on to the SINGING bit. "It's OK" she said "I'll not pick anyone out anymore - just have a dance and a singalong!" and OH BOY that is what happened next - it was like a DISCOTHEQUE, but with live singing. Of dancing, there was MUCH.

Next day there was a much LESS ram packed train journey home (featuring BIRTHDAY CAKE!) and then one of those lovely BONUS AFTERNOONS you get when you arrive home a bit early from a weekend away, and suddenly have unallocated FREE TIME which I personally filled by watching TELLY. It was a WHOLESOME end to a WHOLESOME weekend!

posted 19/3/2007 by MJ Hibbett

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I'm confused by this word "SIR". Isn't it spelled "ZORRR"? Do use proper English.
posted 20/3/2007 by Dan

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