To Farnham (via Reading)

Up early after a pretty good sleep (second night, new bed, yadda, yadda, yadda) though I could have done without the 400 pillows. Mind you, once I’d rid the bed of most of them, the two I retained were lovely and firm though they may be responsible for the crick in my shoulder I woke up with.

All thoughts of crick pain were dispelled once I was sat before my second smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast. Truly delicious and necessary given I assumed that Nicktor wouldn’t be stopping for anything as mundane as a leg stretch, toilet break, coffee or food.

And I was correct. We climbed into the car and didn’t get out for the next four or five hours.

That being the case, there isn’t a lot to write about (I’m ignoring the cars we discussed and plans we were eagerly making for further adventures to far off lands) so, without further ado, here’s the story of black pudding and Cointreau related to us by Ian yesterday.

I should start off by saying his telling was quite fractured given the constant interruptions which caused the flow to be diverted and stopped quite a few times. For that reason I may have embellished the story a bit but, essentially it’s true as told.

Many years ago, Ian and his biker mates headed up to the Island of Skye for a music festival. This was before the bridge was built so it was a whole load of motor bikes and leather reeking riders stuffed onto a ferry.

On their bikes they carried everything they would need for a weekend of music and…well, that was it really. They did have tents but it didn’t sound like they were very effective.

They turned up and claimed a bit of land then went off to listen to the music. Of course, Ian claimed, it was raining. Because, Ian said, it always rains on the Island of Skye. (I have to make a disclaimer that I have no idea what the Island of Skye is like weatherwise and all my meteorological information comes from Ian.)

When it was time to return to their tents (3am) they discovered that the ground was muddier than mud has any right to be. There was also no alcohol left. Apparently, in those days anyway, people left their doors open because Islanders trusted each other. So, when one of Ian’s biker mates said he’d sort the alcohol situation out, they doubted him not.

This mate was once a chef on an oil rig. He was also somewhat violent of nature and had served time at Her Majesty’s pleasure for reasons best not gone into. He seems the unlikeliest of chefs but, according to Ian, he was pretty handy in a kitchen. And not because of the proximity of knives. Let’s call him Lenny because I can’t remember his actual name.

Anyway, shortly after making the announcement Lenny returned carrying a crate of Newcastle Brown Ale and a bottle of Cointreau. The ale was obvious but when quizzed about the Cointreau Lenny said the bottles of whisky were behind a cage and out of reach while the neglected bottle of Cointreau was easy pickings.

A short distance from the bikers’ tents was a party of nurses from Aberdeen. The two groups looked at each other and, while the bikers were quite keen, the nurses wrinkled their noses in utter distaste. Well, until Lenny asked if they’d like some breakfast.

Having reduced a tent to a rough and largely ineffective shelter, Lenny proceeded to create something special in a fry pan. I don’t remember Ian elaborating on what food stuffs they had with them but he did say there was black pudding. When asked how he was going to make good on the breakfast front, Lenny claimed could work with black pudding.

He sliced it and diced it and popped it into the fry pan. He then poured half the bottle of Cointreau over the top of it. Naturally the Cointreau set everything alight and their inadequate shelter was reduced to no shelter at all in no time. Of course, by this stage it wasn’t important. Besides the nurses thought it was all great fun.

Ian said the resultant mess was actually delicious and served as a more than successful aphrodisiac. All the bikers and all the nurses enjoyed their breakfast that day.

After a brief rest, the local policeman came along and, noticing the Newcastle Brown Ale crate, asked where it had come from. Lenny held his hand up and admitted he’d taken it from the local pub, gaining access through the conveniently open door. The local policeman (rather bravely I thought) took Lenny away and locked him up.

At the end of the concert, Ian and his mates clubbed together their cash and, making enough to cover the cost of the crate of Newcastle Brown Ale and the bottle of Cointreau, paid the pub landlord and, with his help, convinced the local policeman to release Lenny into their custody. I’m assuming they assured the local policeman that they were going to leave the Island of Skye on the next ferry to the mainland.

I am now quite keen to try the black pudding and Cointreau breakfast but not sure how to introduce the correct amount of burnt tent. I’m also not sure what I’d do with the rest of the black pudding. Obviously I wouldn’t give any to Nicktor who didn’t even nibble his piece this morning.

So, we drove home. We stopped briefly in Reading to pick up a just woke up James but otherwise we just went with the constant southward flow. The drive was pretty smooth and in good time, I was thrown out of the car outside the house.

I surprised Mirinda (she was expecting me to arrive much later) with her lunch on her face. She had the door on the latch so I had to knock. And knock and knock. Eventually she decided I wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness and let me in.

It was the end of a lovely weekend away. Good company, good stories and great breakfasts. What more could one ask? Okay, good football would have been preferable but, you can’t have everything.

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