It’s been well over a week since I updated this, because I’ve been on a much-needed holiday with my friends in Essex. With the last exam on the 29th I was free to take a week off from all things dental and internet, and return to what I do best: drinking beer and slobbing around. This is how I spent the time I’ve been away.

The trip started as soon as the last Cardiff exam was over. I drove straight from there to Colchester with the roof down and a marvellous sense of relief, which somehow survived an exhausting six-hour drive in heavy traffic. As one might expect, not much happened that evening: we had a couple of beers and caught up with events in one another’s lives. My friends had been over to the Colchester beer festival, which had been going since Wednesday, and some good beers were still left. Saturday’s plans were not difficult to make.

We spent all of Saturday afternoon over at the festival, meeting up with other friends while we were there. Eschewing the usual custom of drinking half pints so as to sample more beer, I started on pints of the strong stuff and was rapidly not in a fit state to record much. I did, however, manage to get one picture before succumbing to my dissipation, and that describes the afternoon better than I ever could.

As you can see, the Colchester beer festival takes place in a deconsecrated church, and we drank sitting on someone's grave. This is probably a metaphor for something.

As you can see, the Colchester beer festival takes place in a deconsecrated church, and we drank sitting on someone's grave. This is probably a metaphor for something.

Sunday was spent doing nothing over in Silver End. I seem to remember quite a lot of Red Dwarf being watched, mainly the third series, and whatever anyone might tell you this is the best way to spend a holiday. The following day I finally got round to watching Eric Idle’s Rutles film All You Need is Cash, and Tony and I put a couple of old bicycles into working order. I was also introduced to the Meat Loaf song In the Land of the Pig the Butcher is King, which rapidly found its way onto my Facebook profile. Various jokes about my surname have led to a potential rumour that I am a serial killer, or at least a purveyor of meat produce. I make no attempt to dispel interesting stories about me.

We continued to do odd jobs on Tuesday. Tony had a supervisory meeting over at the University of Essex, so I spent half the morning there, impulse-buying in the university branch of Waterstones. After a brief look at the River Colne, we bought some concrete and went back to Silver End to put up a washing line, which killed a couple of hours. The rest of the hours had to be killed with At Last the 1948 Show and more beer. We agreed that the lovelyAimi MacDonald is indeed rather nice, and I decided that one could do worse than contribute to her ‘make the lovely Aimi MacDonald a rich lady fund’. She was ahead of her time: these days practically everyone with a blog is running the exact same charity.

Wednesday became the Day of Geekdom, and was spent watching the best Klingon episodes of Star Trek TNG and planning for an AD&D game. A whole day of releasing the nerd within is by turns delightfully self-indulgent and extremely relaxing. I made a cameo as an ancient Elven mage, but am released from charges of unoriginality by having been handed my completed character sheet five minutes before we started playing. I buried someone up to their knees in rock, then everyone else killed him at the same time: very messy and quite enjoyable. I have decided that I’m probably chaotic evil. You have been warned.

Thursday was earmarked for actually doing things, so we headed over to Sutton Hoo where Nicci met us, having got the afternoon off work. As luck would have it, they were having a second-hand book sale, and since nobody would believe such a coincidence, I collected some photographic evidence.

The Awful Truth

Proof that there really was a book sale. Other evidence included a lightening of my wallet and a car full of books. I may read them.

We found a rare clinker-built chair that fitted two people, so Tony and I declared ourselves to be sea-kings. History is unlikely to remember us as it does Leif Eiriksson, however, since we had no ship and our subjects were woodlice.

Athelings enthroned

The mighty chieftains sit in council, and demand to know where the tea is.

We rounded off this successful foray into English history with a tradition dear to a Devonshire man’s heart: a cider festival. This was a strange affair, held at the East Anglian Railway Museum, so we got to see some old trains as well. It looked something like this.

Thanks to my discovery of a timer on my phone, our whole cider festival group got into the picture.

Thanks to my discovery of a timer on my phone, our whole cider festival group got into the picture.

Friday was a day of nothing much. I got my things together and Tony and I headed over to Chappel again to spend the afternoon at the festival. In the spirit of the occasion we drank beer, while challenging one another to identify song lyrics. We don’t appear to have many songs in common. In the end we adjourned to watch a documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now, on which disturbing note my week away drew to its close.

I left early on Saturday, laden with a gift of unwanted DVDs and managed to get home without incident, arriving in a surprise monsoon. It rained heavily all night, but today there is no evidence of it at all, which is most peculiar. Even Devon seems to be subject to British weather.

Back to work tomorrow, but at least I was sensible enough to arrange one day to get the flat back in order before that. I shan’t be spending a week tripping over my suitcase like I did last time I went away, and there are worse ways than that to end a summer holiday.