Slender Booby

One thing that the nature documentaries fail to cover is quite how bad the Galapagos islands smell. There’s no doubt that the Galapagos are a little slice of paradise, but they’re the slice that smells of faeces mixed with stale anchovy paste.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sarah and I honeymooned late, in fact we left it until January this year. It is with a little sadness that I write these words because I’m fairly sure that we will never again have such a wonderful holiday or see such amazing things. We were, for example, transported back in time to the 1970s as soon as we stepped onto Iberia’s rickety old Airbus. It’s been a very long time since I saw so much brown in one place (other, of course, than my wardrobe). There was no choice of film and, quite apart from the fact that the actors were all speaking Spanish, the nearest screen was too far away to be of any use to us. So we contented ourselves with the worryingly easy task of removing bits of trim from the aircraft.

By some miracle we landed safely at our destination – Quito, a picturesque town which was constructed little better than the aeroplane which conveyed us there. We didn’t let that stop us though and even Pascal scrabbled up the scaffolding to reach the highest room of the tallest tower of the basilica to be with his one true love. Let me be quite clear here. Sarah and I both have vertigo in peculiarly different ways. Pascal is quite happy with trees and cliffs, certain as he is that if nature constructed them then they can probably be trusted to stay standing. Sarah doesn’t trust nature at all and would rather put her life in the hands of an overweight chain-smoker who wears the wrong sized trousers and shouts ‘Phwoar! Bristols!’ at every girl who walks past the building site. Both, of course, trust gliders – but that’s just a matter of physics.

After a day or two of exploration we jetted off to the Amazon rain-forest to swim with piranhas, anacondas, caymans and all manner of betoothed beasties. We acquainted ourselves with insects and spiders which only seemed to come in large and enormous sizes. And we witnessed monkeys crashing through the trees, much to the annoyance of the owls and vampire bats. The lodge, of course, was beautiful and the food excellent.

The rain-forest was swiftly followed by the even-rainier-forest, a land of frogs, millipedes and humming birds. Actually, it seemed to be a paradise for twitchers – but there was only one bird that I was really interested in watching. The even-rainier-forest also provided us with our only encounter with Incan ruins.

Nearly five kilometres above sea-level the air cannot be described as rich in oxygen. We struggled up the slopes of Cotopaxi, burning nicely in the sun, whilst being guided by a mountain goat Amerindian woman. I’m afraid to say that I took advantage of Sarah’s breathlessness to hurl snowballs at her. Snowball fight on the equator! You’d think it’d be great, right? Wrong, alas. The snow was like powder. Never mind, we both made up for lost time when it snowed in London in April – and we made anatomically gifted snowmen and women. Having decided that the islands themselves were far too smelly, we toured the Galapagos in a sailing boat. We went ashore regularly for walks with iguana, sea-lions (the cause of most of the stink) and boobies. We swam with iguana, sea-lions, turtles, sharks and, of course, boobies. The boobies were most impressive and, as has been commented on in the past, I’m rather fond of them.

The first move of 2008 was from Sarah’s flat in the increasingly stabby south-east of London, but not before Pascal upset one of the neighbours by shouting at her. We moved to a little house in Hertford and immediately set about the task of trying to find somewhere to buy. It was during our stay in the noisy little house that we found the time to unpack the modelling kit and make a little Waggle. Waggle is currently baking, and we expect hir (him’n’her, alright!? Really! Mi spellin int vat bad!) to be complete in March. Ish.

Having honeymooned so extravagantly in January, we decided that our summer holiday should be spent in the U.K., in Cornwall. We camped and it rained. The tent leaked so we patched it up with old bin-bags – it was a veritable tramp palace by the time we decided to donate it to the Eden project for recycling. We will camp again, we promise, but our tent will be bigger, sturdier and more expensive next time! And, dudes, I learned to surf. I caught the waves and stayed on my feet all the way to the beach. Excellent fun, party on – I want to do that again. Any day now I’ll be peroxiding my hair, growing it long, and moving in to a VW camper van. Poor Sarah, waggled up as she is, could only watch and take photographs as she got shot blasted with hail. The holiday was a lot of fun though, and the weather was miraculously fine when we went to see War of the Worlds at the Minack theatre.

We found the house we wanted in Ware and made the necessary arrangements to be seriously inconvenienced and pissed about by the mortgage company. Which they duly did. So well done to C&G – I don’t think that you missed a single opportunity to mess us about. Thankfully, we were assisted by a supremely competent solicitor. Since then we’ve been nesting – mainly lining the nest with books, I think. Our kitchen is almost finished, although I still need to sort out the under-stairs cupboard. Our living room is almost finished, although the floor needs finishing. And our bedroom will be finished once we’ve slapped some paint on the walls and I’ve papered and painted the hoofysaurus cupboard. Then we can get to work on Waggle’s room.

It’s been a busy year. Busy and fun. We’ve been to paradise, sold a flat and bought a house, and we are expecting our first child. I have a sneaky feeling that 2009 will be even more eventful.