Feeling a bit crappy about the scale of my achievements at the mo, so it’s time to tart up the CV get the bike fixed fecking draw something then rest on me feckin’ laurels by revisiting last year’s achievements. My attitude, it explains a lot.
Due to an unexpected wad of cash in return for being in the tabloids windfall, I scored three days’ slaving over a hot forge down in Yorkshire, courtesy of Peat Oberon. Who is a lovely chap and was very nice over email. I have wanted to have a go at blacksmithing since I found out it was a Thing you could do. And lo, have people not always criticised complimented my unfeminine biceps, and unfeminine calves, and (if I didn’t hide them all the time) my unfeminine Abs of Steel? Therefore, with a massive hike in the martial arts regime and a lot of practice hammering a bit of wood over and over, I would be more than equal to this!
Of course, I got a workload hike and got ill lots and donated eggs again and didn’t get around to any of it, ahahaha. But still! I am quite fit, right?
Step One – Getting there is Half the Battle
First off, I should point out again that I am terrified of everything. Especially having travel plans blow up in my face and leave me looking like a moron. An out of pocket moron. And I am on a severe budget, for the windfall only went so far. So after sourcing the cheapest hotel within walking distance of the blacksmithing (a radius of several miles), and checking six times that it absolutely was the right Stockton I was heading for (there are six. SIX! Could you imagine ending up in the wrong one, after blowing a coupla hundred quid?) I packed a vast wheelie suitcase with Speedynoodles and train lager and hauled it to the office.
Where I worked very hard indeed, cleared my desk despite the recent, massive hike in my workload, and as I was putting the very last casenote in the top of the filing cabinet, it slipped and totally wrenched my wrist. Bugger, that is gonna leave a mark. Still… twelve hours to heal, right?
Four trains later, I had agonising pain all through my shoulder. See, totally too wide in the beam for train seats, I am so gonna rock blacksmithing! Erm, if all this heals in time. But first: finding the hotel. It is in an industrial estate in Stockton, well, near Stockton, well, if I head out of town in a straight line, presuming I get the right straight line, I will eventually find it about three miles later. Easy-peasy, right? And no paying for transport!
Stockton looked like it had seen better days (in keeping with much of the UK). And the paving stones were all topsy-turvy, so the wheelie-suitcase capsized roughly every three steps, much to the mirth off all the blokes enjoying the sunshine on all the pub steps. Hmm. This might take longer than I thought. But at least there was a pavement; although it looked certain that it would pack it in before the hotel and I’d have to… march along the verge of a dual carriageway? In the gloaming? And so the skies grew darker and the broken windows gave way to boarded-up windows and I started to worry this hotel didn’t exist at all, and right when I was at my most despondent this enormous black shape leapt onto the pavement and stood with its legs splayed, head sunk down between its shoulders and glaring, blocking my way.
Shit, I thought. It is the size of a horse! Even with its head down it is looking me right in the eye! Oh my god, it is the Black Shuck and I am going to die.
So I looked it in the eyes to see if they were glowing red. And I realised it actually was a horse. I think the wheelie-suitcase had scared it.
Mercifully, it went away after a while, and the hotel was just around the corner behind it. (Bad omen or what?) I was unnerved enough to babble like an idiot to the receptionist (who was Lovely and turned out to be the manager and owner and we had lots of cigarettes together over the weekend and big heart to hearts, awwww). She told me the horses, wot are tethered in the abandoned industrial estate to graze, regularly escape and have to be corralled in the carpark till the owners come and find them.
By this time, hours had somehow passed and it was bedtime. Having made it to the hotel, I could now breathe a sigh of relief and immediately start bricking it about finding the actual course. And have a shower (shared) and dinner (Speedynoodle).
Fortunately for me, I was in the sort of cheap hotel that foreign workers live in, so we were all up at the crack of dawn and going to work. Except they all had vans. I was quite jealous, but I marched the three miles to the train station with reasonable success, got on a train and nearly failed to get off it again cos I couldn’t find the door-button. However! Only another mile or so and I was there, and I wasn’t visibly hyperventilating with terror (I hoped) and I was in the right place and everything and I wasn’t last, which is very important (for some reason).
‘Ooh, Beshemoth!’ said the Man Himself, for it is on my email, ‘I wasn’t sure whether I should be expecting some enormous Amazon!’
‘Well of course you should,’ I nearly said. ‘And here I am!’
I filed all the body-shape criticisms in the part of my brain that files every criticism ever, didn’t I. So now I have decided they are in fact comments on my awesomeness, they are still there! unlike all the other comments on my awesomeness (like… um… see? These ones are writ in water). However, they are terribly inaccurate. Okay, this might be hard going.
‘Welcome over to where we are working,’ he said, taking us to the Forge Itself, which was a lovely big hooded table, covered in coals and with little fires poking out at regular intervals.
Ooh. I am totally terrified of fire. I have no idea why this did not occur to me before.
Oh, this is going to be hard going.