Sunday, 9 September 2007

Ten weeks in

Another late night last night meant a late lie-in this morning, with my journey to wakefulness accelerated by Bodie the cat telling us he'd like his breakfast.

Bodie goes under a lot of different names, including Bodie, Bode, The Bodemeister, Bodalicious and Mr Bodesworthy. This morning I used one that was not on the approved list.

Falling back into a listless sleep, I was troubled by Nelly Furtado. I know I can tell you this, it's something that causes concern to most of us at one point or another. What, pray tell ,was worrying me? Not her recent shift from vaguely corporate hippy to streetwise hip-hop hanger-on with friends known only as initials. Not her nasal yet bland vocal styling, either. No, it was the fact that the woman across the street with the orange Honda Civic was playing one of Ms Furtado's latest tunes at about 1000 decibels.

Better get up, then.

Having spent most of yesterday recuperating we decided to go out. Plus, Ms Civic (how ironic) was now moving onto Justin Timberlake's extensive and rewarding back catalogue.

So, to Hatton Country World we went, a few miles from Warwick, to get some fresh air and buy a few bits and pieces. It's great to drive out there - the recent rains means the Warwickshire countryside is green and luscious. We hadn't been there for a while, and as is the nature with places like this, half the shops had changed. There's a strange mix between outlets for clothes your granny would like (acres of corduroy) cheek-by-jowl with really funky workshops making stuff you couldn't find on the high street.

We went into a new one, Exclusive Roots, which specialises in Fair Trade household goods and clothing made in small communities in Africa. Some really nice pieces in there, with the emphasis on ethically sourcing, ecological soundness and sustainability. Not entirely sure what they made of me walking in wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Yum Yum Panda Burgers" but political correctness is something you have to work at, don't you think?

I made another addition to my sometime collection of ridiculous shop names, with "The Stencil Bazaar". Now, I know that I've not travelled widely in the Middle East or Northern Africa states. I am no expert on Berber culture. But I think I know what a Bazaar would look like. The colours spices and noises assault your senses. From a minaret, somewhere, you hear the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer, an invocation going back centuries. The heat is pervasive. You decide to drop into a quiet corner of the souk out of the relentless blast of the sun and have some mint tea.

Let's face it, you're not going to be in the market for some chintzy paint effects are you? Ragrolling is going to be the last thing on your mind.

We took the pretty route back home, going through Rowington, Lapworth and Hockley Heath before turning back through Solihull and home. It's a nice, winding country road with a few straights and some fantastic little pubs tucked away. We're very lucky, despite living in a large city, to have places like this on our doorstep. Long may it continue.

In between the Furtado alarm and our trip out, I stood on the scales and saw this:

That was another pleasant surprise. Another two pounds off from last week means that I've now lost 19 since the beginning of July. Can I lose another nine in the remaining three weeks of my challenge?. I don't know, but I'm going to give it a good go.

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