Bank Holiday! This means lots of different things to different people. It means that the banks don't have to go to work apart from one day last year when the big bosses made them go in, and no customers whatsoever turned up all day, because the customers knew that it was a bank holiday, I mean, Duh.
It also means that the parking restrictions on the road outside our house are in normal proper standard operation, because it only says you can park here for free after 6pm or on Sundays. Now, everybody else in the world will construe a Bank Holiday as being a Sunday, apart from those naughty Traffic Wardens who know that Monday is a Monday. So that is why when Bud went to the Co-Op to buy milk this morning, there were 9 ticketed cars parked down the road, and 9 hung-over drivers who didn't know they were really angry yet. And that doesn't count the ones who had already driven their be-ticketed vehicles away.
So Jof said while everyone's at the Victorious Festival of Musical Beers today so let's go inland, to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. And we looked it up and it said that it is the highest point in Hampshire (where 'Urricanes 'Ardly Ever 'Appen) although to be fair there were some partygoers at the Victorious Festival also trying to be the 'Ighest in 'Ampshire.
But a hill of this magnitude is a challenge that Bud was too happy to take on (on our behalf) and we found a space in the very very distant lower meadow car park and walked miles back up to the bottom of the hill.
Well, Jof and I don't particularly go in for extreme Hilling and we had to stop a few times to puff and drink, but we were treating it as a personal challenge, like Cala Romantica in Mallorca, because it was hot and dusty and difficult, but when you get to the top, there's a decent view.
But the hill kept going. I know it's part of the South Downs, but I'm thinking the South Ups would be more appropriate. That was when I started to attempt renegotiations (we'll just get to that bush, and turn back) but onwards we struggled and just when I thought I'd changed their minds, there was a concrete obelisk.
This is an Ordnance Survey trig point and national GPS survey marker, and it is the highest point, even slightly higher than the massive aerial and microwave dish tower installation just along a bit. I stood upon it and surveyed, 'cos that's what it's for. It also marked my personal victory over the hill, lucky I was wearing the shirt that says "I did it!".
Many light aircraft buzzed past us. Some kind of dirt-bike racing festival was happening in the valley below. We could see the sea, the Hayling Ferry, the Spinnaker Tower, the chimneys of Fawley oil refinery, the Isle of Wight, container ships in the Solent, Heath Lake in Petersfield (where they do very good ice cream), a whole row of South Downs (and Ups), distant sheep, and the motorway below. It was worth it.
On the way down we went through a sheep-field. But the variety and sheer amount of craps upon the ground was astonishing, and we began to suspect that some of the rabbits were the giant man-eating variety, that there were Llamas, Alpacas and Rhinos aforethought, and that some nervous Wildebeeste had passed through recently.
And hey presto, Jof kept going on the sheep route, met some sheep, who allow you to get within about 10 feet before nonchalantly crapping mightily and moving off to see that nicer looking bit of grass, their best mate Bob or a particularly interesting thistle.
Us chaps, however, explored the great rift in the hillside visible in picture #1. It is a big U-shaped dark forest full of intrigue and darkness, treacherous slopes and foxholes. I believe I saw the great man-eating March Hare with ears like cricket bats but it could have been a log. Then I disturbed an adult Doe by screaming "Bud! Look!" and it panicked and crashed into a barbed wire fence and bounded away, but we got a really good look at it and that's why all the Kings make a big fuss over hunting rights, because once you bag one of those beauties, you've got a barbecue fit for a King, er.
And we exited the rift valley and Jof didn't fall down at all and I tried using the Force on some sheep but they were too stupid to notice. We saw a sheep with a crow sitting on its back, just saying.
We gleaned several handfuls of free blackberries from the juicy hedgerows to top up our vitamin intake and walked back to the car. The Lower Meadow was quite busy so we had to sit on the ground behind our open car and eat our picnic prone like rednecks, which was quite fun until you tried to get up and all your joints had seized up from the hill-climbing.
Ye Olde Gifte Shoppe was all very well when I was 5 and liked bathtime dinosaurs. But when you're 10 it just didn't appeal. What did appeal was a giant and I mean giant caterpillar we found on the path. Removing it so it didn't get trodden on, we noticed it had those big fake eyes and it was like a sausage, I can tell you. It is the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk-Moth, or maybe a juvenile Pterodactyl. It tickled too, so we put it in the bushes.
I was very glad to regain my chosen sofa at home: then the other good thing about Bank Holidays happened: the Man from Amazon delivered 3 more books in the Minecraft series that we'd ordered yesterday. For Film Night I saw "Eye in the Sky" about a drone crew deciding whether to drop a Hellfire missile on some Somalian terrorists. Gosh, they didn't do Army like that when I flew in 'Nam, they gave you and order and you bombed the hell out of it, instead of saying I'm not happy about the legal aspect, will my hat look bad in this etc.