It's half term here and Rose (who will be 11 tomorrow. Gulp) is at hockey camp for three days. Camp implies some lovely bosky New-England site, all Abercrombie-type counsellors and perfect-smile kids with rosy cheeks and the promise of toasted marshmallows later on in the cabin. In fact, she just goes between 10 and 4 every day, and it happens in a sports place. (I'm not sure what the exact term is for this since I think sports is bollocks and am in daily terror of being found out by my sporty bots.) It has a sports hall and an outside bit with astroturf and several big fields with lines all over them. Everyone wears a tracksuit of some man-made stuff and you have to check in at a window where I suspect they also dispense steroids and new passports for Chinese table tennis players. Anyway, Rose loves it and has a new mouth guard and a special T-shirt and several new bruises.
After we dropped her off, Freddie and I drove to the beach to walk the dog and buy dreadful coffee in the sort of plastic cup that pops off its own lid before depositing the boiling hot contents all over you. I was dabbing elegantly at my crotch with some napkins when he asked if we could have a go on the Crazy Golf course by the esplanade. I have long been enchanted by this place - it is exactly the sort of thing I imagine rockabillies and mods taking their sweethearts to before banging hell out of each other with chains. It is slightly seedy, very run down and, compared to anything else we've done this week, cheap as chips.
It was also knock-your-socks-off good fun. On a sunny windy day, knowing we should be doing nothing else until 4 o'clock, we decided to do every single hole. Some were easy, some fiendishly hard, involving tunnels, water features, hills. I reckon it was built in the forties, with the primary paint on each hole redone every winter when it's closed. It was pretty packed, all things considered, with players of all ages and degrees of sobriety. We had an absolute blast, laughed our heads off and argued the score with passion and increasing competitiveness. I let him win.
I have come home to a kitchen full of a neighbour's rhubarb (crumble, compote), grapes (a handful with a sharp old cheddar) and quinces (arrange winsomely in a cracked old bowl til they go brown then throw them away - seriously, have you ever read a recipe for quince jam? You need a PhD). Rose has asked for an Indian takeaway and thinks that she might like have done crazy golf for her birthday. I have already paid a king's ransome for a party in which ten little girls