What drinking culture…

P1010621 You know that relative or friend of the family that your parents don’t really talk about, who turned up every now and again out of the blue when you were a kid and you weren’t really allowed to go near? Possibly he looked fairly straggly and smelt a little, well, musty? He would usually sleep on the sofa and be regarded, overall, as a bad influence. Well folks, I’m proud to report that my first foray into being that slightly crazed friend of the family has now started, after I visited some friends of mine down in Sevenoaks who have a young son.

I will, however, start the tale a little bit earlier, as I went out to lunch with another friend who works on Whitehall, that bit of London between Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament, where our new Prime Ministers live. My other friend Craig, it turned out, despite living in London for countless years, had never seen Downing Street, where said leaders live, so it was a good opportunity for him to get a bit of the touristy thing done. Plus we were able to sit in the hour of sunshine that the weather gods deemed the day was going to have, quaffing a couple of fine ales in the process. Conveniently Kat’s lunch came with a free glass of wine, so we were all able to get started with the drinking just after midday.

Which brings me, conveniently to the title of my blog post. I had forgotten quite how ingrained the drinking is to the entertainment over here. Meet up with friends, naturally, the venue will be the pub. Want to sit in the park for the afternoon? No problemo, grab a few bottles of Pimms and pootle over. BBQ in the sun, you’ll find crates of Budweiser on hand. It’s certainly not a problem (well, quite the opposite, I have waxed lyrical about my love of English pubbery before), but I do suspect that when I head back to Germany I’ll be lying in a darkened room feeding my liver with herbal teas and the like to get over the week of excess.

Drinking aside, (temporarily, I assure you) I then popped out to Sevenoaks to meet up with some friends with the aforementioned small child. I am not, by any means, a child person. We usually circle each other warily before realising neither of us has anything to offer the other one, and then quietly leave each other alone. Said child pretty much ran screaming from the room when I appeared. A tremendous start to the relationship, you will no doubt agree. Having concluded that I was not da-da, and some time of suspicious peering at my dreadlocks later, I was presented with a Postman Pat puzzle to complete. I rather foolishly picked the twenty four piece option, and then spent quite some time flummoxed by it’s complexity while Jesse looked on, rather pityingly I suspect. A look of pity from someone under two years old for a puzzle of ages four and up is not something you really want in your life.

Still, the afternoon was mostly sunny, so naturally we headed out to a beer garden to sample some of the local Kentish ales, before returning back to the house for a delightful steak and roast potato dinner. I stayed over, which was even better, as I was then presented with a full on English fry up. Jesse had a whale of a time with the fry up, particularly with the ketchup. i am starting to think that there are advantages to being small and innocent looking when it comes to painting the carpet with tomato sauce. I just can’t get away with it like I used to.

Then I left Sevenoaks and returned to London. Sevenoaks, incidentally, is the home of BP’s beleaguered CEO, who has recently been reported in the press as having installed some solar panels in his property. I’m not sure how many solar panels you need to install to offset the carbon footprint of 50,000 barrels of oil a day pouring into the sea, but i’m not sure a back garden in Sevenoaks is really going to cover it.

Today, my brother, who has spent the last five years of his life chained to his Blackberry, is adjusting to his first week day of unemployment. He has bought himself a copy of the aforementioned Split/Second racing game, and is relaxing on the sofa in front of the 43inch TV, wondering I imagine, why he didn’t get round to retiring sooner. My dear old mum has worked out that she can buy things from Amazon via my site and earn me about 20p a go, much easier than actually sending me money. At this rate I may even be able to afford to keep travelling. I’ll drink a glass of water to that! Enjoy your day folks.

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