Cummings' Summer Nights, Gloucestershire
PUBLISHED: 13:18 31 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:04 20 February 2013
The BBC Radio Gloucestershire presenter discovers the perfect recipe for a splendid summer evening.
I'm a firm believer in the notion that the most magical times in life are often impromptu moments that just happen organically. The best "sessions" in a pub often happen by chance when you pop in for a swift pint and stay there all afternoon and evening because you bump into a few friends and you are collectively up for it. The best party often starts with a last minute invitation because the weather is good, a few friends come round for a simple barbeque, good wine and no real fuss.
I experienced the perfect summer's night recently purely by chance when I was asked to entertain the good people of the Twyning Wine Club. This delicious looking village just north of Tewkesbury is just about as far away from my home as you can get. It was going to be a late night and I calculated that by the time I'd arrived home, I would have had two hours sleep before the 3:30am alarm bell sounded for another day on the radio. At the last minute, I booked a room at the Bell Hotel just opposite Tewkesbury Abbey, booked the children into their grandparents' house and booked my wife's time for a sneaky midweek break.
The perfect summer's night started early with a couple of al fresco lunchtime pints of Speckled Hen, a dreamy hour-long refreshing snooze in the cooling shadow of Tewkesbury Abbey, early evening walk by the river with the love of my life/driver. This was followed by a lovely drive past Tewkesbury Marina with the sun glinting off the bobbing boats and into Twyning with its old red brick cottages, welcoming village green and two glorious pubs.
The wine group are a lovely down-to-earth mix of fun-loving locals who were up for a good night and as bottle after bottle of rather fine red was opened, the evening would be described by Jilly Goulden as "a cheeky little number with a hint of full-bodied ribaldry". The evening could have ended then, but after negotiating my way out of the village hall with the help of my carer/nurse/driver/wife, we opted to follow our noses to the river and contribute to the local economy at The Fleet pub.
Memories came flooding back to my wife of childhood boating holidays, mooring at the pub as the ducks pecked around our feet. Through drooping stinging eyes, I tried to work out the floodlit spire in the distance (Bredon Church), and then it was time to head back to the Bell for last orders. I slipped into bed as the Abbey bell started to strike eleven. By the third strike, I was fast asleep. The last time I counted down into sleep like that I was about to have an ankle operation!
The definition of a snollygoster: "A shrewd unprincipled person ...especially a politician." What a great word to describe the MPs' expenses row. This was reintroduced recently as a word that should be used and celebrated in the current climate. So what wonderful sounding words should we use more often? With the help of my Breakfast audience and the author of a treasury of unusual words Foyle's Philavery, Christopher Foyle, we came up with some crackers. Hope you enjoy them and if the muse takes you maybe you can slip them in to a conversation sometime?
If you tell a lie but want to down play its impact, just refer to it as a fimblefamble (a lie, a false excuse). Something that sounds like it describes my job but in fact has a different meaning is blabagog (a criminal environment). A doddymite is an infant. Clanjandering means gossip, especially of old women. Dentiloquy is the act or practice of speaking through clenched teeth, Have you got a degree in dontopedalogy? It's the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it!
Flapdoodle is foolish talk, a fopdoodle is a foolish person and have you got a gormandizer in your family? This is someone who eats greedily and excessively - a guzzler. A grinagog is someone who is always grinning, especially foolishly and without reason. To hornswoggle is to cheat, deceive or hoax, and something I do after every show is humicubation (the act or habit of lying on the ground in penitence or self abasement).
We should be using the words slubberdegullion (slovenly oaf) and flibbertigibbet (a flighty, mischievous person) far more. I'll leave you with a final thought: have you ever been involved with a Cinquasept? It's a visit to one's lover between the hours of five and seven o'clock!
My, how you've grown!
A dear friend came to visit the other day, one of those people I rarely see but when I do it's as if we'd seen each other the day before. It is seven years since he last came to our house and on the last occasion, he brought me a crab apple sapling as a gift for my embryonic wild flower garden. This time, we spent a drizzly evening sitting in my little patch of heaven discussing the magic of Mother Nature. We shared the joy of converting a car park into a playground for birds, bees, frogs, newts and occasional badger. We shared stories of sacrifice like giving up the dream of buying an electric guitar so I could splash the cash on a pond! We then succumbed to the intoxicating smells of Mrs Cumming's lasagne drifting down the garden and once inside I showed my friend another flower that had grown up a lot in seven years! See before and after photos.
A Masters Degree in dontopedalogy
When Cheltenham Town manager Martin Allen said he might ride his bike into work to raise money for new players I thought I'd join him for the morning to help the financially challenged Robins. I hadn't quite grasped the fact that he lives in Maidenhead! It could be happening this month as part of the pre-season training torture. It's nearly 80 miles and I wish I'd never opened my mouth and put my foot in it.
Nearly the perfect alarm clock
I discovered the most wonderful natural alarm clock when I spent my recent night at the Bell Hotel in Tewkesbury. It's never much fun when the beeper goes off in the middle of the night, but to wake up to the chime of the Abbey bell at 4am was rather pleasant. What a lovely way to wake up, lying in bed listening to the bells mixed with the deafening dawn chorus and waiting for the quarter past chime to act as my snooze button.
However my early morning good cheer was quickly dampened by the horrific realisation as I left the hotel that of course I would miss out on the cooked breakfast. I saw the menu as I tiptoed out onto the street with the sting in the tail that they stopped serving at 9am ... just as my radio show finishes!