Friday, 11 September 2009


I got back from a week in England yesterday. I actually enjoyed this trip, mainly because I wasn't on my tod. The reason for the trip was sad - MamaDuck's mama passed away a few weeks ago and we had gone for her cremation and then scattering the ashes in 'Herriott Country' in North Yorkshire. So I had a couple of days with my dad and his girlfriend, and then carried on to MamaDuck's ancestral home in North Lincolnshire (okay, her dad's flat in Scunthorpe).

As you may or may not know, my wife comes from a large family, so her four brothers and one sister were there, plus some of their spouses and offspring. This kind of gathering doesn't happen often: two of the bros live in France, one in Holland, and one in Bristol. Added to that were my mother-in-law's three sisters, who I've never actually met before (one lives in North Wales, one in Brittany and one in Oman), plus two of daddy-in-law's brothers, who I have met many times before. And our very own Offspring came up from London too.

The night before the funeral, one of the brothers had the idea of doing something with old photos we found in MIL's albums that we could have on display during the service. So, starting at midnight, we scanned about 30 pictures, and I Photoshopped them into a collage with a border and drop-shadow round each image. We finished this at about 2.30 am. We were up early the next morning - there were flowers to collect and the collage to be printed as large as possible and mounted on something solid. I found a shop that opened at 8.30 that could have done it had their printer been working. But it was broken. I bought some mounting board and spray-mount from them, and waited for the Kodak shop they'd recommended to open at 9 am. The guy was in there, tinkering about, but resolutely ignoring the anxious punter on the doorstep. The funeral was at 10, by the way, and I had to get this done, get back to the mansion and get changed by 9.35 latest. Miraculously, it was done in time.

After the service we all retired to a pub for lunch, after which we sat in the garden and were entertained by the sight of three illegal car-washers in the pub car park being arrested by a van full of cops who appeared out of nowhere.

I'll do another post later about the scattering in North Yorkshire. But this post is entitled 'Dripping', so I should really tell you about that.

There are certain things from your home country/region that you get attached to when you are an expat. Things you just cannot get wherever it is you live. For me, this includes decent teabags, yellow split peas, pearl barley, gravy granules and Oxo stock cubes. For BIL (Brother-In-Law) Bill, pork dripping is a must-have item. If you are unfamiliar with the idea of dripping, it's the fat and juicy/jelly stuff that escapes from a chunk of beef or pork when you roast it - basically like lard, but tastier. He bought four tubs from Scunthorpe market. One we consumed on toast for our breakfasts during the visit. He took one home with him, and gave one each to me and anuvver bruvver.

I was a bit careless with packing mine: I had intended to tape the lid on, but forgot to. I was careful to keep my bag upright during the trip to Liverpool Ringo Airport, knowing that the dripping would probably be fairly liquid by then. Of course, when you stick your bag on the conveyor for the X-ray, it has to go on sideways. Oops.

Now, I don't know if there's an elevated security level in the UK at the moment, but when I arrived they actually checked every single passport - a few months earlier when I came, there was nobody personing the desks at all. But this time I had to queue for fifteen minutes to get in. And to get out from Liverpool there was a 30-minute queue. For probably the first time in my life, I managed to get through the arch without it going insane. But I still got a fairly intimate frisking. When I went to collect my stuff, I saw my bag had been held back: the X-ray operator dude said he thought I had a pot of Brylcreem or something. The bag was brought over to me and I explained it was pork dripping. This clearly meant nothing to the security guy, and I found myself hoping he wasn't a Muslim. I took the dripping out of the plastic bag it was in with my other stuff. He put on some latex gloves, and gingerly placed the offending item into a plastic bag for removal.

Anyhoo, I had an uneventful flight, and am now back in Madrid.


nzm said...

Great photo collage Keefie.

Sorry to hear about MamaDuck's mum.

Jayne said...

Sorry to hear about Mamaduck's mum & the collage was a wonderful idea :-)
One of the things I remember from my chilhood was roasting crumpets over an open fire, with a long fork fashioned from a metal coathangar - blinding! I used to like dripping & actually have no idea why I don't like it nowadays! (I'm strange, I know)

BuJ said...

May she rest in peace! She's in a much better place than us folk!

Lovely photo collage indeed.