Monday 30 March 2020

Quite a tricky couple of days at base camp

Hi all,

My apologies for not updating yesterday. It’s been a little hard at base camp recently - food was running quite low, and there’s only so many times you can consume a chickpea curry with any enthusiasm. 

The vegetable and food markets have not been operating due to the food trucks being stopped at the borders. It took a few days for them to filter through, but for the first time in about three days we had a curry with some actual vegetables in. I didn’t even complain when I saw the peas floating in my breakfast. I was actually overjoyed at the sight of the little green bastards. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. 

We were told on Saturday night that we were basically all out of food at basecamp. Bertie and I were not too worried, we have pasta and a couple of jars of pesto stored in our room to fall back on, and to be perfectly honest I was quite prepared to eat dry weetabix minis. But still, the morale was low, and I didn’t really feel like blogging. Chickpea curry twice a day for the last three days will do that to you. 

That being said, we have continued to be witness to some wonderful (if a little baffling) local delicacies, including being taught how to eat the cashew fruit I talked about in an earlier blog. 

Monaj bought some from his very own garden, sliced away the poisonous bits, and then mixed the flesh with masala powder and salt. You then put the chunk in your mouth whole.

And wait for your entire mouth to violently react. 

The first thing I should say is that you aren’t allowed to eat too many cashew fruits. They are so juicy, and the liquid ferments so quickly that if you eat around 4, you are completely shit faced. That being said, I have no idea why on earth you would want to eat four of them, because they tasted a bit like dried apple, mixed with a pillow, doused in neat ethanol and then sprinkled with chilli powder. 

I was not a fan. Which was heartbreaking, because I have no idea how something that smells so good can taste so absolutely awful. 

Also, if I am entirely honest, I had a bit of a teary day yesterday, where I felt very vulnerable and was struggling to find the humour in this situation. It wasn’t very nice, but in a bizarrely wonderful way, all the men in the camp seemed to remember I was a female, and perhaps a little more sensitive, and throughout the day they all came one by one bearing little gifts. 

If I’m perfectly honest the kindness made me even more emotional, that these people with so little are sparing what tiny amount they have to try and cheer me up. It’s honestly both heart breaking and heart warming. I was given little individual single squares of chewing gum, a mini packet of Oreos, and even a small bottle of sprite. Such kindness just completely blew me away. 

The police were on the beach, so we were unable to go fishing, and the whole restaurant was completely dismantled before they arrived. All tables and chairs were removed, minus the balcony ones, and although we had to share food last night (due to the limited supply) we all had to sit around a sunbed as a makeshift table. 

But, the vegetable shop has been allowed to reopen, and there are whispers in the camp of aubergines and even green peppers. I am crossing all my fingers that tonight’s dinner will have some proper vegetables in. My lack of fibre is causing some most distressingly symptoms that I won’t go into, but I’m sure a quick google will give you the down low!   

In other news we found out one of the chefs looks a lot like Prince, so that caused a lot of merriment for an hour. I’ll try and grab a sneaky picture for you. 

The boys have cast the nets out today, so here’s hoping we can have fish curry for dinner tomorrow :) Also, milk has finally been delivered, so we are able to have coffee again, which is a treat for sure. 

They have also started repatriation flights for many many countries. France, Germany, Sweden, Austria... everyone but the Brits at the moment. But we are keeping positive that soon, hopefully, it will be our turn. 

Love and miss you all loads. Ensure there are some crumpets left for me on my return! Xx

Saturday 28 March 2020

Bertie caught a crab with his bare hands. I don’t know what the hell is going on anymore.

It’s been quite a hive of activity at base camp over the last 24 hours. 

It’s amazing how a community pulls together in times of crisis. We are very fortunate that we have been coming to this town for many years- the locals know and like us, and we have built some great friendships, plus supported quite a few families by utilising their services every year. 

For example we always use the same man for our taxi ride to and from the airport, and we also rent our scooter from him. It turns out that all these years of loyalty were totally repaid when we received this text yesterday: 

8 beers! 8 freezing cold beers were suddenly in our possession. Admittedly, I had to make the risky decision to send Bertie out to get them, as they met at a middle ground between our shack and his house, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. 

We have also been talking a lot with Monaj, who rents our huts to us. He has been so kind, and so wonderfully reassuring, telling us that he will look after us, that we can stay in his hut as long as we need, and that he will ensure we do not go hungry or homeless. 

I can’t quite put into words what a relief it has been to hear that. I try very hard to keep my blog light hearted, but the reality is that there are British people stuck in India right now having the worst time of their whole life. We are so so fortunate, and I never let a day go by without expressing our gratitude or trying to help in some way that I can. 

So that being said, Joe and Bertie offered to help Monaj cast his fishing net out - fishing was not allowed for the past four days, so things have been a little tight. Monaj accepted and the boys set off to do the nets. I stayed at home and cleaned out the entire hut, as I can’t even begin to tell you some of places I have found sand on my body over the last week. 

(Belly buttons are just so weird, aren’t they?)

Monaj and his crew were actually so grateful for the help - Bertie is a super strong swimmer, and one of the tasks is to swim out whilst carrying a giant rock. This is to cast the net right to the bottom of the ocean. Bertie reckons he swam ten metres out, and by all accounts, the rest of the fishermen were super pleased with this. They were gone for about an hour and a half. I know this because I was on hold to Barclays, and if I’m honest, I don’t know who had the rougher experience. 

Anyway, an hour and a half passed, and this is what arrived at my door -

BEAR grylls strikes again!! 

However, as respect is of the utmost importance here, we gave it straight away to Monaj and his family. 

After four hours or so, we were invited to help them get the nets back out the sea. It was just the most amazing thing to witness and I felt so privileged to be part of it. 

Obviously when I say “part of it”, I mean “witness from the shore” because it’s definitely not acceptable for a woman to get down and dirty with the fishing nets and there have been a couple of things I’ve done in the past weeks (ie - carrying one of grocery bags) that have raised a few eyebrows. It is so important to respect the local culture, and I completely believe that, but it is also unacceptable to let Bertie carry the number of biscuit packets I’d just bought from the shop. 

I took some incredible photos of this experience, including learning how to detangle the crabs from the nets and avoid getting pinched. They’re pretty savage crabs, and the fishermen handle them like it’s no big deal, snapping the front legs off as quick as anything. Nothing goes to waste here, and everything is quickly gathered up in a net bag and whisked away for cleaning and prepping. 

Monaj also told Bertie about catching crabs at night, by hand, along the shoreline. He disappeared off for 5 minutes and came home clutching this massive crab. They’re kind of beautiful here, almost see through and full of attitude. Bertie took it upon himself to make this his mission, and after he had finished with the fishermen, then spent the next twenty minutes running like a madman after crabs along the shoreline. 

But, give respect where it’s due, he caught one! With his bare hands! 

When we told Monaj he laughed and said “yes, but only small crab.”

Poor bear. 

However this afternoon Monaj came to visit and bought with him some of yesterday’s crab that was caught in the net the boys helped cast. His wife had made a delicious curry, and we quickly got involved, cracking the shells and sucking the meat out of the claws with our bare hands. 

It was such a treat - a really simple gesture that actually meant so much. Even if I did look a bit feral when eating it, it was absolutely delicious and I’ve never tasted anything so amazing. 

And at that point when I thought life couldn’t get any better, Santa Amid (okay, his name is Amid, but he usually arrives with a treat or two) arrived with an ice lolly. AN ICE LOLLY. Remember on The Island when they discovered sweet potatoes and had a full on sugar high? Imagine that, but us, due to eating a totally neon green ice lolly full of all the good E numbers they’ve now banned in the UK. What joy. 

He also told us he knew of a person who was secretly opening their shop, (Joe laughed out loud and said Bertie and I sat up like meerkats once we heard the word “shop”) and as we desperately put in our requests we were once again smiled upon from the heavens as a delivery of crisps, cashew nut biscuits and water were delivered! The joy was overwhelming! At times like these, it is so wonderful for these small moments of kindness. 

We also managed to get our hands on some black market gin. It genuinely was delivered over the fence, down the side of the alley by our beach hut. So hilarious, and a bit of gin always boosts the morale! 

I will try my hardest to keep updating you. Fingers crossed they don’t extend the lockdown, and I’ll be home moaning again before you know it :) xx

Friday 27 March 2020

“ They’ve shut the sea?” “What do you mean they’ve shut the bloody sea?”

Considering it’s only been 24 hours since my last update, quite a lot has happened. I was going to aim for one update every couple of days, just to fill everyone in on how life is going here, but it turns out life on lockdown can sometimes be pretty busy. 

So after I wrote so proudly about my washing line, I woke up the next morning to take the washing in (something I am absolutely not used to, as we live in a flat back home!) and I realised that a crow had done a gigantic shit all the way down one of Bertie’s black T-shirt’s. I was furious. I fully blame our neighbour, who is going so mad during this lockdown that he’s been training the crows to eat out his hand. 

It’s not that I don’t encourage new hobbies, it’s just really annoying when someone else’s new hobby shits all over your clothes. 

Eating here has also changed slightly - there is no more “ordering breakfast” - it is now a conversation based around:

“Today we have Chana Masala” 
“Oh. Okay. Maybe you have some eggs? Bertie could have eggs today?”
“No. Chana masala” 
“...Chana masala sounds great thanks!” 

Chickpeas are most definitely not on my list of approved breakfast items, but I am fooling my brain my ensuring I have my juice/coffee first, and then classing that as breakfast, with the curry then becoming lunch. I know that doesn’t make sense, but how does the thought of a curry for breakfast every single day make you feel? It’s tricky. And I like curry. But curry for breakfast is somewhat questionable. 

I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact everything has peas in. 

Now, I love vegetables. Seriously. Sometimes Bertie and I play a game called “top 5”, where you have to list your top five of a certain item. (This is a great game to play in the car, by the way) - I always struggle to name my top 5 vegetables, because I love them all and also my top 5 cheeses. If I’m honest, the cheese list causes me quite a lot of distress - (“If I choose soft goats cheese then I can’t really have hard goats cheese too.... and obviously you need a cheddar to put on top of pasta but that then means I have to choose between feta and halloumi and I haven’t even got started on blue cheese, or what about manchego and OKAY I DON’T WANT TO PLAY ANY MORE”) 

Anyway, the reason I mention “top 5” is because there has never, ever been a mention of peas. Peas are the only vegetable I don’t like. Why do they have a shell? Why do they go so wrinkly? Why do they taste like mash potato with a jumper on? Everything about them is wrong. 

However, when the shit hits the fan, sometimes you’ve just got to eat the bloody peas. I’m calling it personal growth. 

Anyway, last night we snuck out under the cover of darkness to go and see our friend Paul, who lives ten minutes walk away, directly up the beach. It was his birthday, and we wanted to drop off his present. Paul likes to go “full native” when he’s in India, and insists on wearing a sarong full time. With no pants. Every day. 

He also insists it is called a “longhi”, even though it’s definitely just a mini skirt and today Bertie even saw his testicle. 

Anyway, we snuck up the beach like ninjas, delivered Paul’s new skirt and devoured a bottle of gin, all whilst remaining two metres apart. It was a very responsible piss up. It was the tonic we all needed though to cheer us up, even if Paul’s bathroom doesn’t have a bin, so I’d have to walk out with my used tissue and throw it in the communal bin. 

(“Why do you even need a tissue?!” Says bear. 
“You’re a man and you’ll never understand” retorts I, deciding not to go into a detailed description of “flaps” and why I’m not using Paul’s bum towel to pat my Hoo-Ha dry) 

Anyway, the long story short is we all drank a lot and I went to sleep with my arse hanging out the duvet and now I have four bites on my bum cheeks that I’m very displeased about. 

Then, this morning, joy of all joys, a puppy arrived! However, although this caused much merriment at basecamp, we quickly realised it was the puppy that lived next door to Paul, who had followed us all the way home. The problem with this is that the dogs here all run in gangs, and last night we heard a huge fight break out between the dogs. We then found the puppy, looking incredibly tired, hiding in the restaurant this morning. 

We recognised him from Paul’s base, and messaged the owners to confirm. We then had to carry him back down the beach to his home, with our very own stupid Lucky not understanding that we weren’t going for a walk. Here’s a picture of Bertie Doolittle, doing God’s work and dropping the puppy home. 

Also, my final bit of news is that they have officially shut the sea. I have no idea how you “close” a body of water, but Bertie and I were duly beckoned out of the ocean, and told for the next 19 days that swimming was a no go. I can’t imagine this will be very well enforced, and there’s no way on earth they’ll stop me going for a dip, but what a bloody nightmare. 

Stay safe everyone, and please sign the petition to get us home -

Thank you xx

Thursday 26 March 2020

Groundhog Day: Goa Edition

We have come to realisation that we are living our very own Groundhog Day. 

I am under no illusion of how lucky we are. We have a very comfortable and functional beach hut, with a great bed, a shower and even aircon. We have a balcony to have our meals on, and even a small space in front of the hut. I alluded to this in my last blog, but this little space has become our whole world. 

India introduced a 21 day lockdown 2 days ago. The police have moved into Agonda, and we are trying our very best to be completely respectful, mind our own business, stay away from anyone we don’t know, and generally just try to live a quiet life. 

With that in mind I thought I’d share with you how we have been embracing lockdown life! 

At 11pm two days ago, the word went around that the corner shop was opening for half an hour. Thankfully we have become very good friends with the people here, and they thought to give us a call to let us know. We grabbed the bike, and the rucksack and rushed down there. We bought as many snacks and potential meals as we could, with the awareness that we literally didn’t know when this next chance would arrive. 

We are trying to keep everything positive here, for example I am thinking of things to do to keep myself busy - and, by proxy, to keep Bertie busy too, who has absolutely fully embraced the role of BEAR Grylls. (I appreciate not everyone will get the joke here, but I have called my husband “Bear” for many many years.)

I set him to work finding some rope to fashion me a washing line. Obviously we are no longer able to take our clothes to the lovely washing lady (who I have always called Doris, despite not knowing her actual name) and we need to have clean clothes. At the very least, I need to have clean knickers, because I only bought seven pairs with me, and that is not enough for a 21 day lockdown. 

Bertie, on the other hand, bought a thousand pairs of pants and about a million T-shirt’s. He’s fine. 

But I set up my little washing shop in the bathroom, and I must say I felt very proud of myself once I was done. Even if I was the sweatiest I have ever been. It’s hard work, manual washing, and I’m not entirely sure I’m cut out for it! The washing line was also brilliant, so I feel comforted that no matter how hard times may be, I’ll always have clean knickers.  

I’ve also taken it upon myself to teach Lucky some new tricks, but unfortunately he’s as thick as two short planks so it’s fortunate time is on my side. 

We have moved mainly into taking our meals on our balcony to try and keep our distance - not that we don’t all chat and have a great laugh together, but we’re all being very mindful of each other’s safety, which actually is really nice.

Our flights home are constantly being cancelled and rebooked, and as it stands we have one flight home currently booked from Mumbai on the 16th. That’s the only thing we currently know. Thankfully this week the British government actually decided to wake up to the fact there are thousands of people in India, and we have been asked to provide them with our passport numbers and all relevant details for them to arrange rescue planes. Hopefully this comes to fruition - I know Germany and Russia have done this - England is clearly too slow having sat on the sofa for the last week, eating biscuits from the packet and wanking too much. 

The restaurant are looking after us amazingly - it’s obviously not quite the same as it was two weeks ago - there is no bread or milk, for example, and I’ve had to entirely deviate off my set list of “breakfast items”, but I’m rolling with it. They also know I can’t eat eggs so, so far, we’ve been fed some delicious things. Hindu’s also believe cows are sacred, so there’s no beef on the menu. This works quite well in my favour! 

I can’t imagine there will be a lot to update you on, but I will try and fill you guys in on how we are coping. It’s only day two and we’re a pack of Pringles and a pack of biscuits down already! Send love, and Oreos xx

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Life in Indian lockdown

Hello again from my sunbed. There’s been a lot of screen time from this particular sunbed, as Goa is still in lockdown. My iPhone doesn’t know what the hell is going on. 

We are very fortunate to have rented a beach front hut - it means we have the balcony, and the space in front of the huts to call our own. We have two sunbeds there, and a small table. We have been taking our daily meals here, and alternating between baking in the sun and locking ourselves in the aircon hut. 

As there are only 6 of us here most of the time (3 staff, Bertie, myself, and our neighbour, Joe) I have taken this opportunity to try and tan the bits of me that are currently brilliant white. This includes my belly and my arse. I’m alternating between front and back like a rotisserie chicken, slowly getting more brown/burnt as the days go on. I keep pulling my knickers right up my bum to get my cheeks brown, but have to keep pulling them out like a wedgie whenever anyone walks past. 10/10 class. I’m representing England well. 

We took the first lock down in our stride - in India this is called the Janata Curfew - it runs from 7am to 9pm. During this time, nothing is open. No shops. No pharmacies. No restaurants. I believe in the big cities they have some government run vegetable and fruit shops open. We have not had that luxury here in the small village we live in. 

But, as we were given warning, we went out and bought rolls, tins of tuna, mayo, crisps, Oreos and water. We were all set for our lock down day - all of this prep was completely unnecessary as our hut is based in a restaurant and we’d been assured they wouldn’t let us starve. But hey, we’re British and apparently panic buying is totally in vogue right now. 

Can’t even tell you the joy I felt when I realised that the tuna here is called BLUNA. I don’t know why. It bought me endless joy. Cabin fever perhaps. 

Also, if I’m totally honest, I ate all my Oreos in bed the night before the lockdown began. Rationing is not my forte. Although to be fair, Bertie also ate all the crisps. We are so weak. 

The day of lockdown was actually totally fine, we spent the day with our neighbour (confined to our balconies to observe the 2 metre rule) and spent the day sharing stories and songs. (This also included playing for everyone else the “top three songs of your life” - in case you were wondering mine were Train: Drops of Jupiter, Newton Faulkner: If this is it and Chainska Brassika: Summer Dubbin.)

(I introduced the Newton Faulkner song by saying “this is the most special song that has two memories attached to it, about Bertie and I” - and Bertie guessed two other songs, before I gave him the clue that it was the song I walked down the aisle to; he still didn’t know.) 

We also planned to have a bit of a party at the end of the lock in - we had planned in advance and bought some spirits and snacks, and we all gathered around a table chatting in a myriad of languages. It was lovely, if a little awkward, and best of all I got to learn “mother fucker” in Indian. Every cloud. 

However at 9pm it was announced that the lockdown was due to continue for another three days. 

Obviously, we are in India, and as a result we are governed by Indian rule. Fine. Totally fine. But I would have liked a little more notice, if I’m honest. I’d run out of Oreos and my neighbour had run out of cigarettes. Crisis was upon us. Also, on a serious note; the restaurant was not prepared for catering for 3 more days. Things felt a little more tense. 

Bertie and I took some melatonin to try and sleep most of the first day away. That was quite successful, with us not rising until 11, but we quite quickly became increasingly aware of our small space. We were very fortunate to just be opposite the sea, so as much as possible I swam back and forth to try and tire myself out. 

Around 2pm Joe had the bright idea to go and visit his friend who he knows owns a shop. Long story short, Santa Joe arrived half an hour later with his Christmas sack, bringing with him fresh bottled water, crisps, Oreos(!!!) dried crackers and a magnum! 

I’ve never been so happy to see a packet of biscuits in my life. 

We have decided to try and make the best of the situation by going around the world using the menu. We had curry on the first night (obviously,) Italian last night, and I reckon tonight might just be Chinese. We’ve got enough cuisines on the menu to last us 5 nights. Then we’ll have to start all over again. Don’t ask me about how Indians make an enchilada. I haven’t done it yet, and I’m hoping it doesn’t get to that.

We have now got two separate flights booked home, with two different airlines. Qatar finally got back to me this morning with the most generic copy and paste message (in which they’ve genuinely written “Dear customer” - CUSTOMER? Could you get any more generic as a copy and paste answer?)

Anyway, they are advising me to call them or to log on and change my flight if I so wish - every time I have called them, it hasn’t worked (and I have called the Doha centre, the Indian centre and the UK centre) and when we log online to change our flight, the only option we are given is to cancel. So, as always, Qatar are continuing to be fucking useless. 

I emailed them back to let them know that. They’ll probably reply in another two weeks or so. 

We have also booked a second flight home with BA, so fingers crossed one of those flights will get us home. Probably. It’s still over a week and a half away. 

Until then I’m just going to keep doing my rotisserie chicken impression and hope the shops open soon. I hope you’re all doing okay back home. It sounds pretty bleak where you are. 

Don’t worry, I’ll bring some loo roll back. Xx

Friday 20 March 2020

To be in India during the COVID19 outbreak

Seeing as it is everywhere right now (both verbally and literally) it doesn’t seem right to just continue my jolly little blog without addressing the large issue of COVID 19 and what it means both for us - from Bertie working in the events industry, and me working for him, whilst doing some teaching. 

Unfortunately, both Bertie’s work, and therefore my own, have been cancelled. There are no tours to be had whilst the world panics. This means we are both left without work, and may ultimately mean we have to move back in with our parents at the age of 30. It is not ideal, but we are so fortunate to have that as an option. 

As it stands, our landlord has been very kind, and has accepted 50% of the rent, with the understanding it will be repaid at a later date. 

All that aside, currently, as you know, we are in India. These whole circumstances are beyond our control, and from what we can see, us getting home is very dependant on what the airlines, and the people in charge of “airspace” deem is the right thing to do. 

Unfortunately our airline (I’m looking at you, Qatar Airways) are absolutely fucking useless, completely uncontactable and are just going full ostrich - burying their heads in the sand and refusing to take calls or be contacted in any way. 

My flight is showing as “not confirmed”, which it has been for the past few days, meaning for the time being we just have to have faith that we will get home, when we are meant to get home. 

However, from what I can see, we actually have it better here than at home. At least for this current moment. The beaches are basically empty. You get a beer a lot quicker than usual! 

Last week they stopped issuing visas - a knock on effect of this is that no more tourists arrived in Goa. The streets are becoming emptier, and the sales people slightly more desperate. People are still very friendly and respectful - as it stands we have had no ill will towards us. We are living in a small community here and everyone is talking and being very vocal about the situation. Sometimes this isn’t massively helpful, as it turns out they love a bit of gossip (like all small towns) but it means you’re always kept up to date with the latest rumours. 

On a practical note, I have ensured that all eventualities have been catered for. I have secured us accommodation (that we can move to once we need to leave our hut) with a kitchen, for just £9 a night. Also as we are living in a local area, as opposed to a tourist town, the bakers, butchers and veg man will continue to open. We will manage, and we will be looked after. 

We also know many families here, and have many friends we could call on if times were to get hard. There are many brits here - very nice brits too, thankfully! We are all keeping in contact, and sharing news as it comes. 

England appears to be struggling much more than India at the moment. It is hard to be here, with the sun and some holiday feeling, whilst knowing back home everyone is struggling and wishing that we were there. Unfortunately the decision was taken out of our hands, and in a way it has been easier to make my peace with that. 

There is a government issue lockdown tomorrow, from 7am to 9pm we are not to leave our base. We will be totally fine - we have two sunbeds, and the restaurant attached to our huts will be open. It is only a one day lockdown. Goa is then stopping all flights for a week. All we can do is have faith, keep washing our hands and ride this shitstorm out.  

We are together, we are safe, and we have lots of paneer. Priorities. 

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Jungles, waterfalls, rivers and vagina rocks

Over the last week we realised we were spending a lot of time at “base camp” - that is to say we realised all our immediate needs were met by the place we are staying. We have a hut literally on the beach, with two sun beds in front (one in the sun for me, one under a canopy for Bertie) and the restaurant here does the most incredible food. It’s like paradise, only one where you slowly get fatter and fatter because you’re just waddling between the sea, the sunbed and the samosa you just ordered. 

So after four days of this, I insisted on Going Out (capitalised to make it official,) and we headed on out to the Netravali Waterfall. It’s about an hour and a half from Agonda, and requires a drive through the most amazing wildlife park, as well as a good chance to see all the local towns. 

Whilst driving through the wildlife park we saw loads of monkeys! I am a bit scared of monkeys, I won’t lie, but they were so cute and sat watching us with their funny tilted heads. I have an unacceptable number of money pictures in my camera roll, all increasing in blurriness as the bike speeds up. 

The waterfall itself sounds like a dream - it’s a totally secluded small waterfall with a “pool” at the bottom to swim in. There’s some gorgeous rock pools and they even have those fish in the bottom that eat your toes - less piranha, more foot spa like in Boscombe arcade - so you can cool down and remove dead skin at the same time, if you’re that way inclined. (I am not.)

However; the catch with this waterfall is that it is down 270 steps. 270. In 36 degree heat. With my lack of balance and my lack of love for physical exercise. But we still did it - and as any wise adventurer will know, it’s not actually getting somewhere that’s the hard bit - it’s the getting back up. 

270 steps up in that heat nearly killed me. But I did it. I looked awful at the end, but Bertie’s locked in for better or worse, so I didn’t care. 

We then took a day to recover (read: lie very still, drink mango martinis and eat a ton of paneer) and then joined our friends Paul and Tracey on an adventure to find “some ancient stone carvings and a sweet salt lake for swimming in, made in a quarry.” 

Sounds exciting, right? 

We set off at 9:30, armed with a bunch of bananas and 8 samosas. The journey was roughly an hour, and we’d been given the rough instructions: “where you normally turn left, take a right, and keep going.” ......well, okay, I’ve got google maps, my bumbag, and I’m an independent woman, let’s do this. 

My lovely readers we travelled for fucking ages looking for this mystical lake. It wasn’t until three hours into the trip I thought I ask Paul of the validity of the person who gave directions and told us of this place to which he casually said:

“Oh yeah, she’s totally mad. A proper drug smoking hippie. But she was really certain about this.”

We didn’t find it. 

We did accidentally find an ancient rock with a symbol for a vulva on it. I’ll include a picture of me looking suitably disappointed with the vulvarock. 

We then kept our faith high, and thankfully accidentally stumbled upon “Green Island” - this huge expense of the most wonderful lush green land, with the most picturesque lake you’ve ever seen. It was so inviting after three hours on the bike that we immediately changed into our swimming stuff and headed to the edge. 

The boys were taking a while trying to find the best rock to jump from, so I took myself off to a lower edge to just step into the cool water. Well, readers, with one step I was completely absorbed by an undercurrent of mud that was so thick and consuming I literally couldn’t move. With every step I was plunging deeper and deeper, and I was already up to my arse in the most horrendous feeling squelchy riverbed I’ve ever known. 

I panicked (obviously - I’m great in a crisis) and shouted to everyone to get me. It took both boys two hands each to haul me out, and the mud completely ripped my (very functional, but completely hideous) walking sandals clean off my feet. They were Velcro-ed on around my ankles. The mud did not care. 

So I was left covered in mud, with no shoes, and absolutely stinking. We used some of the bottled water to wash my hands, but the rest of my muddy ass had to clamber on the bike and hope the warm wind dried the mud as quickly as possible. 

On the whole, the entire event was terribly traumatic, and if you need me in the next couple of days I’ll be lying on a sunbed, eating samosas, and only moving to get into the sea.