Tall, dark and woolly

Before you start, yes, I know. I’ve done it again. I’ve let the months slip by since my last post. There you’ve been, sat on the edges of your seats, desperate for the next instalment of my random shenanigans, patiently waiting, and I’ve not so much as uttered a hint of what I’ve been up to. Not even a tweet. Oh, what a naughty blogger! Bad, bad Cuplet…

So apologies, oh loyal few who actually read my nonsense (which, according to official stats is now 10 of you. Wow! Hold the phones! Double figures!?! The blog really is starting to snowball, huh ;). But the sheer pressure of the scale to which the blog has EXPLODED isn’t the reason for my absence from the typing-words-and-adding-pretty-pictures thingy. If only! Nope. Instead it’s been a cacophony of set backs, mishaps, visual intervention and stumbles (literally!) that have put the mockers on me getting to the laptop to commence the verbal diarrhoea that you all, apparently, kinda enjoy. Weirdos.

First it was illness that struck; one that had me so knackered I barely had the energy to brush my hair, what was left of it anyways (it was coming out by the handful). 3 months and a gazillion tablets later, I’m still not fixed, but at least I’m looking less like a walking corpse, although if the wind blows too hard, I sound like a tube of frickin’ Smarties. After that, it’s just been a blur of pill popping, sleeping, Olympic viewing (that’d be the visual intervention – seriously, I didn’t do anything else during those two weeks!), family crises, and the final straw, a spectacular fall at a train station that left me bloodied, bruised and unable to use my right hand for pretty much anything. And so we go full circle, back to not being able to brush my hair again. Good grief.

Now that we’re up to speed on the reasons why I’ve been quiet on the blog front, shall I crack on with telling you what I did manage to get up to, in amongst all this ridiculous couldn’t-make-it-up-even-for-a-soap-although-come-to-think-of-it-this-is-just-the-kinda-thing-a-really-awful-soap-would-put-out-and-label-as-great-TV stuff? Yes? Good. Straight into it then, with gusto…!

So my last ‘something’ of 2012 was rubbing oil onto naked strangers in a workspace on the outskirts of Brighton. You all remember that one, right? Yeah, of course you do, you filthy lot. Well, that was one of the big ones from the list, one of the ‘something’s I’d been wanting to try for years. And it was pretty awesome! So it was gonna take a lot to top it, especially as I was still riding high from the great time I’d had there. Now, this is where things get tricky list-wise. Jump to another incredible something on the list, and you’ll exhaust all the amazing ones way too quickly, so everything left will feel like a complete anticlimax. But go for something that’s just kinda ok, and it’ll put a complete downer on your buzz. I call this ‘The Scale of Awesome’. And what a tricky blighter it is (particularly as all the things on my list are all pretty awesome). But you get help from contributing factors, like weather (I’m not doing outside stuff in the winter, oh hells to the no!), cost (that thing that costs a couple hundred pounds, yeah that’s not gonna happen after that huge credit card bill I just got through the post) and third parties (I wanna do it, and I’m dragging you along too, but wait, you’re not free that month, DAMMIT!). So, lots of things to consider. And having taken all these things into account, drawn a flow chart and reviewed the data, there was only one thing that I was gonna do for my July ‘something’…

It was meant to be sunny. It was. I checked and re-checked the weather. Religiously. Obsessively. Admittedly, I was not happy when the beginning of July turned into being one of the wettest on record. Seriously weather, what was that about?! You knew I had plans. Outside plans. And you still bring the rain. I thought we’d talked about this. Obviously I talked and you, as always, decided not to listen. Typical response of a state of atmosphere. Idiot. Anyways, although the rain had cleared up the week before, I still got a message on my voicemail two days prior to d-day, advising me to bring my wellies. Awesome! Now, I’m not usually one for mud, but my gorgeous wellies (purchased in the wake of the snow earlier in the year, only for the white stuff to disappear as soon as my debit card hit the card reader) had yet to be properly tested, and they were aching for an airing. So bring it on! This would only serve to make the day more interesting, surely? And if the prospect of mud, and bogs, and breaking in virgin wellies wasn’t exciting enough, I wouldn’t be alone on this adventure. Oh no. Better still, the person I was taking with me had NO CLUE what we were about to embark on. Oh man, this was gonna be good!

So, on one slightly overcast Saturday morning in late July, myself and my unwitting ‘something’ cast member (my mum) headed for an unassuming pub in the middle of the Surrey countryside, donned our wellies (which took an inordinate amount of time. Seriously, what’s up with those boots?!) and made our way through the pub garden, to a field out the back, to meet the main players of the days adventure. The 7′ tall, robust framed, woolly (and slightly lacking in personal hygiene) main players. We were here, and we were gonna go llama trekking through the Surrey Hills. Awesome 😀

I have no idea how I heard about llama trekking in Surrey. I knew as a child that there were a few farmers that bred llamas locally, and must have stored that obviously very useful piece of information in the back of my mind since then, along with times tables and the names of all Henry VIII wives. So when I started working on my list of ‘somethings’, this was one of the first I researched, and was thrilled, quite rightly, when I found out I hadn’t in fact made it all up in a fit of childhood whimsy.  Surrey Hills Llamas was the place that was going to fulfil all my llama trekking dreams, and amazingly only 15 minutes away from where I grew up! And they had so many options for treks too; my head was spinning with all the potential llamaness. Picnic treks, champagne treks, overnight camping treks. You can even take a little wander through the woods with the furry fellas on Christmas day! How cool is that? 🙂

Having somewhat surprised my mum with how we were going to be spending the day – “You’re so weird. Where do you get that from?!” (oh mum, we all know where, so less pretending please…) – it was time to be given our llamas. Exciting! Lovely Julie, our trek leader and fountain of knowledge of all things llama, sussed everyone up at the meet and greet, and then matched us, personality wise, with our perfect llama companion. I was enjoying this part a lot, and she was nailing it on the head every single time. For the young Spanish couple, playing by their own rules by not bringing proper footwear, and thereby ruining their brand new Converse in the shin high mud bogs, Pandu, the leader of the group, who took no prisoners. For the quiet, polite mother-daughter combo, Goji, a gorgeous black/brown llama, the youngest and most subdued. And for me & mum? Mungo. Oh dear. The name says it all really. Julie described him as friendly, but not the brightest in the bunch. Not by a long stretch. Yeah. Well. Maybe we’ll just gloss over that… 🙂

Llamas assigned, it was time to get our trek on. Yays! This would be a nice leisurely amble through the gorgeous woodland of the North Downs, leading these gentle, laid back creatures on a fun little adventure. Or so I thought. They may look gentle and unassuming from afar, even from over the fence, but get in the paddock with them, up close and personal, and they’re kinda intimidating. They’re 7′ tall for a start! And even in my wedge heeled wellies (I rarely do flats, people) they were still towering over my 5′ something frame. And they are strong! And stubborn! We’d been told to make sure they didn’t eat the trees on the right hand side of the first stretch of track. Well that would have been great, if we weren’t also told to have the llamas on our right hand side as much of the time as possible, if the trail was actually wide enough to fit a person and a llama side by side, and if what remained of the path wasn’t basically a muddy trench of an assault course. And did I mention that llamas are frickin’ strong and stubborn! Just picture it. Me, all 8 stone of me, still weakened from my illness, trying frantically to pull a 21 stone llama out of a tree, whilst I sink knee-deep into a mud path. Now picture that, on loop, for 5 hours. And add the fact that Mungo was particularly keen on getting at the bits of tasty goodness in the centre of every other tree, come hell or high water, meaning yours truly soon became very familiar with half of the surrounding woodland, resulting in wearing almost as much brush in my hair as he had in his coat, and you’re almost as good as there! Sadly, I have no pictures of this to increase your side-splitting enjoyment. Such a shame. But here’s a mug shot of me with my woolly nemesis…

Mungo and me – all smiles now, but we’d just had another trip into the shrubbery!

Sarkiness and tree assault aside, mum and I had a brilliant time trekking with the llamas, and all the other weirdos who thought trudging through the muddy trails of the North Downs with these crazy, amazing animals was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon 😀 They really do all have their own personalities, which surprised me to be honest. Obviously Mungo was a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and completely run by his desire for food (um, actually, maybe Julie was on to something when she paired us up…). Louis, a rather playful member of the group, who had been assigned to a dad and his teenage daughter, liked to mill about at the back of the pack and then, without warning, would make a frantic break to the front, dragging the poor dad at speed along with him! It was bloody hilarious! Yes, the paths were muddy, and trying to plough through on your own would have been difficult enough, so add a llama to the equation and it all gets completely ridiculous. But that’s half the fun right? And by mid afternoon, the sun had finally come out, our wellies were drying up nicely, and the llamas even had time to enjoy a little roll around in a sand pit in the middle of the woods – you’ve not lived until you’ve seen something that large drop like a rock and roll about on its back like a dog with an itch. Then, when we reached the summit of our walk, wow. The views of the North Downs below us were just incredible. In fact, all the views were stunning. What a beautiful place Surrey is, when the sun is high in the sky, and you’ve got a llama behind you chewing your hair…

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Would I recommend trying your hand at llama trekking? Hells yeah! It’s brilliant fun, great cardio exercise (if you’re into that sort of thing), and totally ridiculous. So, what’s stopping you?! Get online, and book up some time with the woolly ones! But some friendly advice from a veteran; make sure you’ve eaten your Weetabix, and don’t bother brushing your hair 😉

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