When it comes to making plans together, it takes me and my friends at least a couple of days to pick a cinema or a restaurant. We start negotiating our weekend plans early on, on Tuesday or Wednesday, we fight about it for a couple of days, and by Friday night we’re back to square one, no compromise in sight and our friendship hanging by a very thin thread. I’ve always suspected adults are nothing but big boned, balding children, but this is ridiculous.
Before I go any further, I think it’s high time I introduced you to our weekend buddies. I’ll do it Amélie style, with likes and dislikes, because I’m cool like that. And lazy. (Don’t know Amélie? Go. Watch it. It’s got Paris streets and a travelling gnome.) So here it goes.
- There’s Anda, a friend of V.’s from Uni. She likes: nature, geese, swans and complaining about how little money Dan makes. She hates: rain, cold, grass, walking and paying for anything.
- Then there’s Dan, Anda’s husband. He likes: food, beer, TV and his living room sofa. He hates: Anda and everything Anda likes.
- And then we’ve got Victor, a friend of mine from high school. He likes: food, beer, museums, castles and walking. He hates: girl talk and spending his weekends alone.
- V. and I are easier to please I think, as the only thing we really hate is hanging out with couples who fight all the time.
By now you’re probably starting to get why it’s such a pain deciding on something to do together. At times I wonder why we haven’t given up already, but I guess the prospect of spending the rest of our weekends on this planet talking to ourselves in a funny voice, surrounded by ever growing packs of meowing cats, is more daunting than spending our weeks fighting about our weekends, and our weekends fighting about everything else. It’s a sad life.
Endless hours of Facebook bickering later, we finally decided long after midnight on Friday to spend Sunday together in Oxford. V. and I hadn’t been to Oxford yet, and we’d been meaning to go for a while, but the weather forecast for Sunday predicted the now customary weekend rains from hell, so I must admit I wasn’t jumping with joy at the thought.
On Sunday morning it thankfully seemed like the weather people got it wrong, so I invested a fair amount of time and effort into straightening my hair and picking my rather summerish, super duper feminine, perfectly color coded outfit. All was fine and dandy and V. and I were about to leave the flat (on time for once, go figure!), but one last look out the window and we discovered that within less than an hour the sky had turned pitch black. Dreading all the you’re-always-such-party-poopers! fighting, we didn’t dare even suggest cancelling the trip, but we did change into more rain from hell friendly outfits. Bye bye lacquered-flats-and-pretty-leather-jacket-one-must-keep-unzipped-to-show-off-the-lacey-top-underneath, hello mud-friendly-sneakers-and-unflattering-but-warm-and-fuzzy-hooded-windbreaker!
The plan was to meet the others at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, an 18th century baroque masterpiece situated a 20 minute ride away from Oxford. It had been Victor’s suggestion, him being so much into palaces and all, and I must say I was really looking forward to it. By the time we’d parked our cars it was already cold and drizzling, so Anda was moaning about how she never wanted to come, and Dan was repeatedly telling her to shut up. Fun and games.
The Blenheim domain is absolutely beautiful. Endless green fields, beautifully maintained 18th century gardens, several lakes and ponds and a stunning waterfall, and of course the castle, one of the most imposing buildings of its kind I’ve seen in this country, intricately decorated and furnished on the inside, and absolutely stunning on the outside. We did a fair deal of strolling around, all the fighting and rain considered, and V. and I plan to go back as soon as the weather picks up and the flowers are in full bloom. (Unlike some parts of London, the daffodils in Blenheim hadn’t open yet.)
As it was getting way past lunchtime, we all agreed on something for once, and took off towards Oxford to find ourselves a nice Sunday roast friendly pub. But the guys were so hungry they decided they wouldn’t survive the 20 minute drive, so we stopped what felt like a couple of minutes later on Woodstock Road, at The Turnpike. Granted, it looked like the loveliest British pub you’ll ever come across, and the parking was super crowded, so my wet blonde brain could only assume the food was splendid too.
The place was absolutely packed but minutes later we managed to get a table for five. Hungry as we were, we would have probably been OK with eating on our feet, but the table was a nice surprise. V. and I ordered the Sunday roast and shared an Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Tower for desert (yup, it tasted as good as it sounds, and this comes from a reluctant chocolate fan!). We couldn’t help bickering as we ate, which I truly hope helps digestion, or else these weekends are going to be the end of my ideally proportioned figure!
It constantly dawns on me that some of the friends I have in this country are probably not the people I’d have picked to hang out with back home (Victor is one of the few exceptions, of course; I’m a sucker for obsessive castle enthusiasts). I know it sounds bad in so many ways, and I don’t like to think about it too much. But the thing is, I like peace and quiet. I guess that makes me boring, and oddly enough, boring is something I can live with these days. What I seem to be unable to live with is spending all my free time among people who are constantly unhappy with their lives and each other. I don’t like couples who fight in public, trying to draw us spectators into taking sides. Perhaps I’m simply not used to it, as V. and I are not the fighting kind. Perhaps I’m not used to it anymore. I grew up in a family of fighters, and it’s taken me a long, long time to put it behind me.
When I mentioned it to Anda one time, that our hanging out together seems to involve more fighting than anything else, she replied that I couldn’t understand what it was all like, V. and I not being married and stuff. Maybe, I said, and we left it at that. I didn’t feel like unwillingly starting another fight.
We finally made it to Oxford early in the evening. It was really raining by now, and V. took countless photos of me in my hooded penguin outfit, urging me into acting more miserable but ending up making me burst into laughter every time. We walked for a really short while, as everything worth visiting was already closing and the married half of our gang were having another one of their heated conversations. We need to come back, I told V. as we were getting into our car.
When we’d finally made it home, I got mad at him for leaving his dripping wet hoodie on our butter colored armchair. I was preparing my mad-breakup-time voice and was going to absolutely rip his guts out for it, but I glanced at his laptop screen and guess what, he was looking for Oxford hotels online. No fighting tonight, I thought, coughing my breakup voice away.