Monday, August 16, 2004

LA3 & Norwich

Dawn has broken and it's only 5.30am. Getting home on the bike, arriving at the Ridley Road and Capel Road Junction, the dawn was just breaking pinkly over some cloud ribbons in the sky over Aldersbrook, and with the streetlights shining underneath, it made for a beautiful scene.

Absolutely enervated. There is nothing like dancing to fully entertain both the body and the mind. I am reminded of the 30th May posting. Is it really that long since I've been for a good boogie? And then coming home feeling that all the world is well and exactly as it should be?

The state of wellbeing took a few hours at the LA3 to percolate through my every extremity. And charged with confidence, I hailed a particularly handsome young man, who showed some interest in me earlier when I whizzed from the basement dancefloor, past him, to the upstairs dance area. Rather more handsome than I would usually dare to approach in a bar situation, where I am most self-consciously uncomfortable about "scoring". I was astonished then to find myself walking all the way to Bethnal Green in his company, wheeling my bicycle along. We stopped at the Bagel Bakery for Hot Salt Beef Bagels. Utterly divinely delicious especially after a dance workout, and he paid! Then upstairs to his flat for a Nescafe Gold Blend moment, where I wisely insisted on keeping things to the Exchange of Phone Numbers, since I felt this could blossom into an enjoyable relationship.

David said he was very impressed with my choice of chat-up line: "you're so cute that I think it would be fun to just watch Telly with you.." I guess it says something about those of us who have been there, done that, and know how valuable it is to be able to enjoy the mundane things in the company of the right person.

The LA3 was not bad. The upstairs was about 80% full, but the downstairs never managed more than 25% full. The DJ's downstairs were pretty bad to start with, until the second one later brought out some ravey house tracks. Upstairs the music was consistently funky and groovy, but the mass of shirtless bodies soon made the air very hot and sticky.

But the Club Staff? What a motley bunch of foreign students with no customer appeal at all! 333 is a fully straight club most nights of the week, but in trendy Shoreditch, I am appalled that they would hire such dullards to work in the place. If it were not for the upstairs DJ, the whole club would be about as exciting as a visit to a Tesco branch in London.

The Olympics started on Saturday, and the TV coverage has been my entertainment for most of the weekend. The swimming contestants are as ever physically glorious. The bantam weight-lifters are astonishing and inspiring. The synchronized divers are like watching Couples in Perfect Love.

Maybe this was why I declared Sunday to be a caffeine-and-cigarette-free day. Then I had a 3 hour warm up culminating in a jog. You would think that cycling 85 miles means I should be fit, yet being able to jog one mile and a half without much rest stops is still a far greater aerobic challenge for me. My body is just not designed for running, so I was delighted to find that I actually managed to find my wind, with my whole self falling into a satisfying rhythm and a total sweat.

I got back from Norwich on Friday, and stopped at Audley End on the way back to London. The kitchen garden at this English Heritage site is one of the finest and best maintained I have yet seen in England. I was overwhelmed. There was also the original hothouse, with tomatoes and sweet peppers growing taller than I have ever seen them. And many, many Espalier Apples in more varieties than I have ever seen. I wouldn't be surprised if they have an important chunk of the National collection of apple varieties.

Norwich and Norfolk was a relief from London. P was a good enough host, and I saw quite a lot of things that I wouldn't have otherwise. On Sunday evening we were at Waxham with Andrew, had a swim off the beach, and went to the most flawless pub I have been in for many a moon. Was it on Monday or Tuesday that we went to Great Yarmouth in rainy weather? What an amazing place for CHAV spotting. On Monday evening I was introduced to THE downtown pub. On Tuesday we saw Spiderman. On Wednesday I swam and sunned at Holkham, where the walk from the parking lot through the pine forest is itself a treat. We stopped at Wells which unusually has a frontage that faces a river, with nothing across the river except an open marsh that apparently gets covered up at very high tides. We had tea at the gayest place I saw all week, in Blakeney, which looks like a mini-version of Wells, then enjoyed the Constable-type view from the public path on its eastern knoll. At Salthouse (or maybe it was Cley), where there is a stream (running parallel between the coast road and the sea) with a funny low bridge just big enough for the ducks and waterfowl to swim under, we had a walk around the the church.

On Thursday, having given up on the weather, the downtown shopping, and the idea of going to the gym, we headed to Wroxham and at the Tourist office the useful lady suggested we check out the Boardwalk at Barton Broad. The walk was amazing! I never realised that the Broads were England's answer to the Everglades. We stopped on the way back in Horning, which was a beautiful watery boat-lined location for our pub meal, where Dark Mild was available and easy to down.

I did go to Brighton Pride, but I was so exhausted by my bike ride to get there, that although I witnessed the day, I was scarcely alive enough to enjoy it. It was definitely more commercial this year, but Preston park was still quite a lot of fun. And the weather was unbelievably and almost unbearably hot and sunny.

Surprisingly, the pub/bar scene in Brighton on the Friday night before their Pride day, was not especially exciting.

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