my flatmate Claire's birthday, and some months ago she arranged a
large house in Saltdean,
near Brighton, and invited her friends down for the weekend.
I rode my motorbike there and back. It has just in the last week or so
turned cold, and the trip proved something of an education in
techniques for staying warm at 70mph (that's 112km/h for you
hipsters in New Zealand) with nothing between you and the ambient
degree or so below zero except a couple of layers of cotton and a pair
of summer riding gloves. The main, somewhat naive technique
— liberal application of polypropylene underwear and general
doubling-up of items of clothing — proved insufficient to the
challenge, and passers-by were treated to the
spectacle of a shivering, stamping, arm-flailing, hand-rubbing,
moaning, groaning, Michelin-man of a motorcyclist at regular intervals
along the M23.
The weekend was great fun — once I'd arrived and regained
feeling in my extremities through the magical restorative action of
neat whiskey — starting off with an evening trip to a local pub
in Rottingdean just over the hill, followed the next morning by a
traditional English breakfast involving all manner of fat-laden meat
products. On Saturday afternoon we visited the Lanes, shopping for
bits and pieces (very cool earrings for some; very cool hats for
others; and drinks for all, come 4pm). Brighton's brilliant: lots of
interesting shops, and lots of cool people, thanks I suppose to the
university. It reminds me of Wellington in a way.
After returning home for our meal of supermarket pizza and red wine,
we caught the bus back into Brighton where we stayed for the next
eight hours or so in a succession of increasingly loud and confusing
clubs. I particularly enjoyed this part of the weekend: it's not often
I go out dancing, and the clubs we visited were just great fun. I
think pretty much everybody had a great time. I had so much fun that
Sunday was a day of enforced quiet contemplation while waiting for the
monstrous hangover — severe enough to make even a full English
breakfast unappetizing — to pass. So it goes. What a waste of
good scrambled eggs.
Eventually I recovered enough to attempt the trip home, this time
wearing almost every piece of clothing I thought to take with me, as
well as two pairs of gloves, a balaclava, and a scarf. Lessons
learned: 1) Heated grips are not as ridiculous as they might seem on
the counter in the shop at the height of summer, although a
heated saddle still seems a little over the top. 2) The
headlight on my bike is almost unusably dim, except on full-beam, when
it is blinding. 3) It's at about this time of year that frost starts
to form on the roads in the evenings.
I arrived home safely, despite a couple of frost-related hair-raising
moments, and caught up on sleep with an early night. Overall, it was a
great weekend: good company, lovely location, perfect weather, dancing
like a mad eedjit, and plenty of bacon. Many thanks to Claire for
organizing the whole thing.