Mad Dogs and Englishmen. And Women.

On Friday evening husband asked me what I’d like to do at the weekend.

I thought for a moment and then suggested a meander across Hyde Park early on Saturday morning, followed by a deli breakfast of croissants and capuccino, a spot of window shopping, somewhere ridiculously bling-bling like Burlington Arcade since something of a dearth of bling bling (or croissants or capuccino for that matter) in Outpost. Then, I suggested, how about somewhere nice for lunch? A fabulous bottle of wine, oh! and then I know what: a movie? In Leicester Square: Michael Clayton? Elizabeth: The Golden Age?

Husband looked cresfallen.

Why don’t we just go for a walk then, I said, and  have a picnic.

Oh OK, he said, that’s a good idea.

It’s not. It’s what we do most weekends.

So we packed a picnic, Hat and the dogs into the car and drove twenty miles out of town towards a forest reserve where nobody but the charcoal burners go to cut down trees.

We parked the car and walked through the forest, coming across sad little clearings where flakes of coal bore evidence of magnificent towering indigenous trees burned to fuel. We came across the charcoal burners too who stared disbelieving. Many of them are unlikely to encounter a white man often. Not here. And certainly not one tailed by his wife and small daughter (who, fearing she might get bored has come armed with a brightly coloured shoulder bag filled with 3 books and her knitting). This extraordinary little procession, marching faster than two of its foot soldiers would like, and moving through the forest accompanied by small bleats of ”how much further, Dad?” is led by two golden labradors.

Livingstone marched through the same country 150 years ago. I don’t expect he caused any less of a stir than we did.

He was a veritable Englishman Out in the Midday Sun.

We supplemented with Mad Dogs and a marginally deranged woman.

11 Responses to “Mad Dogs and Englishmen. And Women.”

  1. nuttycow Says:

    What did you take on your picnic more importantly? I hope it was scotch eggs, sausage rolls and lashings of ginger beer…

  2. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    actually it wasn’t. it was left over steak and borewors sausage from last nights supper which i bunged into rolls, very fetching, very DG. And a flask of tea. Cos we’re English.

  3. Iota Says:

    Do you know Patisserie Valerie on Marylebone High Street? Don’t know if it’s still there, but if it is, I’ll meet you there for croissants next Saturday morning. But I prefer the Curzon Mayfair to Leicester Square any day.

    If you were doing all that stuff, though, you wouldn’t be providing yourself with all this interesting material for writing about, nor would you have the time and inclination to do the writing. I think that these Outpost years are as if you are paying into a bank, and that the account will bear interest, even if you can’t see it from here and now. Meanwhile, you brighten many a blogger’s day with your stories.

  4. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thanks Iota. OK then, Patissserie Valerie it is, ’bout 10?

    ref the interesting stuff … all relative isnt’ it? everybody else’s lives seem infinitely more fascinating than mine: yup, even the conversation in Wal-mart. But thanks for being so nice. And youre’re right: one day when I’m old and grey (oldER and greyER), I shall sit in my semi somewhere and long for the peace and space of outpost living … whilst I drink my capuccino and eat my danish …

  5. nuttycow Says:

    Hello again RM… I’ve finally done it – read through all the archives. I now feel sated 🙂

    I have a couple of questions about Tanzania which I hope you might be able to answer (we’re planning to drive Cape Town to Nairobbery next year). If you’re feeling chatty, would you be able to email me?

  6. Carrie Says:

    I am so loving reading about your daily life.

    Keep the stories coming, they are fascinating!

  7. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    oh my god nutty cow: you need a life too?! you are very patient, or very bored (?), to trawl through my musings. of course i’ll email you. we did the same trip, other way around, arusha to cpt and back eleven years ago. i was pregnant with hat, test proved positive in the caprivi strip, was suspicious having not been able to keep breakfast down through malawai or zimbabwe …

  8. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Carrie you are very kind. But really, it’s all relative: my life isn’t so fascinating (though my geography sometimes is): my kids get nits, I get spots, we worry about money, we endure our kids scrapping as you so eloquently described in your most recent post …! But thanks for reading.

  9. Potty Mummy Says:

    A flask of tea? You realise they’ll never let you in to Pat Val’s with that? And don’t worry, Iota or RM: Pat Val is springing up all over London now. Kensington Church St, the Kings Road… well, that’s all over London as far as I’m concerned, anyway.

  10. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    i have been in the bush too long: assuming its necessary to take flash of tea and packed lunch to patisserie with me … early days here taking your own food and drink to restaurant imperative: they often didn’t have any.

  11. Iota Says:

    I picture you in your semi, drinking your capuccino and eating your danish, agonising about what to wear for the next engagement on your book tour, reading the reviews in the weekend supplements, wondering which publisher’s offer to accept for the next one…

    And Potty Mummy, how very disappointing re Pat Val. I thought it was my own little exclusive find. You’re welcome to join RM and me there on Saturday anyway.

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