Welcome to my new mini-series on "Things". In which I show you seven of my "Things", largely as an excuse to tell the stories behind them.
Today, my latest mascot.
My parents own a holiday bungalow. The idea was that they buy the home, rent it out, and live on the proceeds in their retirement. The reality is...it needs constant maintenence and gets booked only a few weeks a year - which pays just enough to cover the maintenence.
The rest of the time, we've got a place to relax, eat, sleep, look at the scenery, watch TV, browse the internet and bicker. Yes, we can do all these things at home, on bigger TVs, with faster net connections and more comfortable beds, but...
...but well, there's two kinds of holidays. There's the kind where you do things you'd never do at home - rock climbing, swimming with dolphins, trawling the red light district etc. And there's the kind where you do what you'd do anyway, but away from the stress of it all. Escaping to a simpler, calmer world. I think this is meant to be the second kind.
Oh, it is pretty quiet and relaxing, because the bungalow is in a large estate of identical bungalows, all equally vacant most of the year.
It was built on a part of the coast which, according to experts paid to tell business people what they want to hear, wasn't slowly crumbling into the sea. So we get to sit on the porch, watching the cliff edge get imperceptibly closer as it, um, crumbles into the sea.
Last month, we took a car full of frozen food and excitable dogs to our retreat, with the plan to get hungry by walking the dogs, get sleepy by eating the food, and get rested by sleeping off both...before driving back for more food and more sleep. This is the English version of a day out.
So, with dogs muddied from their walk, and the nice new carpet muddied from the dogs, we started to cook the hamburgers. Then all the electricity shut off. We found the junction box, confirmed that some kind of safety cutoff had engaged...and disengaged it.
We started the hamburgers again. All the electricity shut off. Yes, there was definitely something wrong about the cooker. So we microwaved the burgers and phoned the letting agent.
Who agreed that yes, the cooker with the non-working timer, non-working mysterious unmarked dials, and badly working grill...probably wasn't working properly. And needed replacing.
So yesterday we again took the two hour journey to our three-star place of escape from the cares of the world, stopping off to manhandle a "new" second-hand cooker into the back of the car, manhandled it out again and into the bungalow, manhandled the old one into the car, and drove to the site of recycleing/disposal to manhandle it into the big steel box marked "Metal Appliances".
Whoever the man was, he was well handled that day.
But there, next to the "Metal Appliances" notice, was...an adorable stuffed toy pig.
Mascot to the men who worked there, but they were happy to let me have it - and the pig (hur hur) - provided I promised to "feed him well".
Which I did...to the dogs, who have been merrily fighting over their new toy ever since.
Tomorrow, another Thing.