COLLEEN SMITH: Confessional stuff before orchids
THIS week's column is mostly about handbags and orchids. Where shall I start? With the handbag, I think. Best to get the embarrassing, confessional stuff out of the way before moving on to the orchid problem.
Last time we spoke I was on a train. Now I'm back at the kitchen table. Who would have thought that the ability to type with both elbows sticking out at the same time could ever be considered a bit of a treat?
Also, I'm a bit hyper on account of the pot of coffee I've already drunk this morning. I try not to drink coffee because it gives me the shakes. But I have this underactive thyroid thingy and I know I'm not right 'cos — despite getting a good eight hours last night — I've just fallen asleep in the car an hour after getting up!
So, coffee it is.
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The train took me all the way to Lake Windermere which is not a lake at all. It's actually a mere. In case you ever find yourself in a pub quiz and somebody asks you how many lakes are in the Lake District, the answer is 'Just one — Bassenthwaite Lake. The rest are all meres, waters and tarns.'
There was a lot of eating, drinking, making merry and walking up and down fells. I loved it.
It made me realise how much I miss long, long walks across Dartmoor. Walking is one of those activities that is only really satisfying if you do it to an extreme. There doesn't seem a lot of point to going out for a stroll for an hour. But when you set off into a wild place on a good, long, circular yomp that takes all day, before collapsing into a cheerful, wood-smoky old pub just as it's getting dusky... well, that leaves you with the pleasing sense that all is good with the world.
I've not done as much walking in years and felt pretty pleased that my legs were still up to it.
The car trip home from the Lake District was another matter.
We had just got really going on the long journey home when we pulled into the Lancaster services, southbound on the M6 for a bit of Moto hospitality.
We re-fuelled the car and ourselves.
I also left my handbag over the back of the chair.
We were at the opposite end of the M6 toll road near Birmingham, and about to make another stop, when I realised what I had done.
It was horrible. I felt sick. My life is in my handbag. Not a lot of cash, but everything else I own: car keys, house keys, keys I've been carrying for so long I can't even remember what they open any more, credit card, bank cash card, press card, work ID swipe card... points cards for just about every shop in the world.
And I didn't even want to think about my iPhone. It's old and cracked a little bit on the back but I love it with a passion I've never had for any other inanimate object.
I can't really explain why I love it so much, except that it makes sense in a way that most modern techie things don't. I can work it. I don't have to ask other people to show me, the way I do with computers with their upside-down, inside-out, back to front, ballsed-up logic.
This little smooth black pebble of an iPhone 3 has liberated me from technophobia. It's so much more than a phone. Losing it would have felt like a disaster, even though I've got most of the contacts, calendars, pictures and music all backed-up on my computer (I think?)
I carried on feeling sick until we found out the bag had not been stolen, as I assumed it would be. Instead it had been picked up by a member of staff at the Costa. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Losing a handbag would have landed me with weeks and weeks of costly mess. So thank you one more time. Relief was followed by the realisation that I had added almost four hours to our already-horrendous journey.
Luckily, my beloved was brilliant and very patient and treated the whole thing as a bit of a lark. Bless him. When we got back to Lancaster services, two hours later, he had to refill the car with petrol. A confused assistant looked at him and asked him 'Didn't you just fill your car up in here earlier?' He shrugged and said 'Don't ask'.
It's official. I'm an eejit. Moving on.
My orchid problem is this: orchids love me.
I have orchids that flower non-stop, year after year after year.
I know you'll all think I'm a freaky hippy as well as a bloomin' eejit, but I think the reason orchids love me is that I won't buy cut flowers any more.
Why cut flowers in their prime, killing them, when you can be surrounded by fabulous living and growing orchids?
I swear it's true. I love the smell of lilies and used to treat myself to a bunch every time I went to the supermarket.
But one day I decided I didn't like to see them dying in my kitchen, so I bought an orchid instead, to fill the space on the dresser where the lilies used to go. And I've been given a few more as presents.
Now my kitchen looks like a tropical paradise.
The problem is that I cannot get sticks tall enough to support the ever-flowering tresses. Even while they are flowering, they keep sending up more and more multiple-headed flower stems, each one carrying dozens and dozens of white, purple, pink and yellow orchids.
There are so many flowers that I need to find some new system of supports to stop the stems from breaking under the weight of all the heads.
I admit, it's not really a problem.
Ha! After the eejit handbag incident, I have just tried to read an article online called 'Memory: Six tips to master yours'. To read it, I had to log on to the New Scientist website. I had forgotten my login password.