The Ex-Files

From time to time, I get my city fix. I jump on the train (see the picture of my rural station below where if you look carefully you can see “the path to town” on the right!!!) and spend two wonderfully quiet hours headed to the big smoke for work or to meet friends. I enjoy the fact it doesn’t matter if I get on the tube going in the wrong direction because I don’t have to lug two kiddies off and on the train, with the awful fear of leaving one stood on the platform!! It’s a nightmare of mine, and a reality to a family member who did just that in Singapore!  But that’s another story. Knowing I don’t know many people in this vast city and I bump past no familiar faces is kind of refreshing. But all of that went out the window last week when I bumped into possibly one of the worst people I could have…my ex-boyfriend.

‘The path to town’ apparently!!!

I’m not talking about a recent ex, I’ve been married 9 years and with my husband for 11. 

I’m talking about the ex boyfriend I had in Los Angeles before getting together with my husband.

I’m talking about the ex boyfriend who, the last I heard was living in New York.

I’m also talking about the ex boyfriend who apparently still calls me ‘The Poison Dwarf’ – I barely break the 5ft barrier, so he’s not completely wrong.

So when I was tucking into my Bakewell Tart in a cafe in Green Park, London, a place I’d NEVER been before I practically spat my Americano across the packed place in horror when I saw him walk in. 

At first I thought “it can’t be” then I thought “it could be” and when he turned round I saw  “it f***** was”. I could have done the adult thing and said hello, even just put my head down and hoped he didn’t see me. But I took the very childish route instead. I threw the remains of my cake into my oversized handbag – and yes for those who follow me on Facebook, it was the one I carried a jar of mayonnaise containing my son’s poop to hospital in – and tried to flee. 

My newly nicknamed ‘poo purse’

I could feel I wasn’t being subtle. I was making more of a scene as I tried to squeeze through the birthing canal that this too small exit route had become. My bag was whacking angry city workers and because I had my head down, I’m sure I bore a strikingly resemblance to a rugby prop (or perhaps an angry dwarf?). It all began to happen in slow motion, he was getting closer to the front of the line and I had to pass that point to make my escape. I couldn’t physically turn around and if I got any lower I’d have been crawling on the floor. So why, in that moment, I decided the only thing to do was to fake taking a phone call, I have no idea. As I burst into the fresh – if not slightly smoggy – air I realised that if he hadn’t seen me already,  he’d certainly heard me now!!  

I continued that fake phone call for the next few minutes as I power walked out of the joint at such speed I probably looked like a shoplifter. The thing is I think I’d have preferred to explain myself to an officer of the law, than make small talk with my ex, who the last time I saw actually growled at me and said: “urghh. What’s she doing here?”.

It put me on edge for the rest of the afternoon and very almost put me off my lunchtime ‘Langan’s‘ fishcakes as I kept looking over my shoulder for fear of who else I might come across.

Serves me right for escaping the countryside for the day! 

 – Oh and Mr. Ex-boyfriend, if you ever read this I’m really sorry I didn’t stop and say hi – but then again, you’re probably not.

Bottomless Bucks Fizz to Bottomless Chips

Gone are the days of popping out for brunch, ordering a bottomless Bucks Fizz (Mimosas in America) and ending up, in the words of Micky Flanagan, “out out”. But that’s more to do with having kids than relocating. Although our local pub still closes after lunch and doesn’t reopen for dinner until 6pm, so I can’t imagine them pushing bottomless pints of Somerset cider!

So imagine my delight when during a trip to beautiful Dartmouth, I saw the words “bottomless” shining like a beacon on a blackboard outside a restaurant. I practically broke into a sprint, abandoning my kids, hubby and food loving friend (lets call him FLF) on the other side of the road. My disappointment when I noticed the words “Bucks Fizz” had been replaced with “chips” was glaringly obvious. 

Upstairs at Rockfish, downstairs was packed!

I stopped in my tracks, hands on hips and yelled rather inappropriately, I now realise; “Bloody chips! Bloody bottomless chips! We may as well be at McDonalds. What sort of a place sells itself on bottomless chips?”

“A bloody good one” a voice from behind me muttered as he walked out of the restaurant. 

Now it was my FLF’s turn to sprint, actually he’ll be the first to admit he doesn’t do that, but regardless I’ve never seen him move as fast.

I still wasn’t convinced – the initial disappointment still stingingly fresh – but since FLF had already bowled me over to get inside, and was busy tucking a napkin into his collar despite not having anywhere to sit, I figured I had little choice.

Anyway, turns out we had stumbled upon an AMAZING fish and chips restaurant Rockfish.

The spicy salt was amazing

Fantastic food, brilliant service and they didn’t discriminate against families like ours rocking up at their cool establishment with a pair of kids (and one FLF adult) chanting “fish and chips, fish and chips”.

They even had a designated area for the folk who dine around toy cars and crayons. 

My FLF didn’t manage to beat the restaurant’s record of 7 re-orders of their bottomless chips, although he insisted he could easily have done it if we hadn’t all be watching him, but we still left buzzing – it was just from fine food rather than endless glasses of bubbles!

Bus Snob

I’m not a snob. I’m far from it. I currently drive a 15-year-old Volvo that has ‘C U Next Tuesday’ scrawled into the back of it. It’s very subtle and if you glanced at it, you may even think it was a cool piece of graffiti. Anyway, I’m not a snob, but I don’t like the bus and that may sound snobby. I didn’t like going to school on it in England, it always had a whiff of wee and somehow no matter where I sat, my seat felt and smelled like the crusty carpet of a dodgy nightclub. So I avoided riding it in Hollywood. In fact my sister-in-law was the only person I knew who did, and her route was to Beverly Hills, so I always felt that didn’t count.

South Petherton Trading Post Railway Cafe

If I didn’t want to sit on a bus, I definitely didn’t want to eat on one. You can imagine my horror then when a mum at my daughter’s ballet class in the country suggested I take the kids to dine on an old disconnected railway carriage. My terror only escalated when she added “they’ve got an old bus you can eat on too.”

The bus! Photos don’t do the place justice

My face may have said it all as I had visions of sitting on a pee ridden backseat tucking into a grotty old sandwich brought in from the local petrol station. But on her insistence that the Trading Post was “lovely” I braved it.

I’m glad I did. The food, no joke, was the best I’d had in a VERY long time, their menu may have been tiny, but it was incredible! The bus was decked out with cute wooden tables and chairs and the train carriage had old seats and train tables converted too. Everything, with the exception of my two kids who hardly touched their lunch because they wanted to go and see the massive fat pig wallowing in mud outside, was outstanding.

 

There wasn’t a tramp in sight and even if there had been, I almost couldn’t have cared less…

“You Did What?”

I’ll never forget the reaction from the young saleswoman working in the local River Island when I told her I’d recently moved from Hollywood, California to Somerset, England.

It was peeing with rain outside and my 4-year-old was dancing out there like it was pouring M&M’s, her mouth open catching the drops and shrieking with delight as she got completely and utterly soaked. 

Letting go of Hollywood – although this actually looks more like England

After explaining that there actually wasn’t anything wrong with her, and that she just hadn’t really seen proper rain before, we got to chatting about how I’d just relocated my life after 15-years in sunny California to a small village in South Somerset. 

She was so shocked at what she’d just heard , she put my jeans in a bag and handed them over without taking a single penny from me.

When I pointed out she’d just given me a freebie she said: “I’m in a complete state of shock.  I can’t get my head round it. Why on earth would you make that move?”

It’s a question I’ve found myself facing on an almost daily basis, since my husband and our two children (lets call them H and H, if you knew their names you may think they’d have been better staying in Hollywood) made the transatlantic move to the countryside.

Sunny day on Malibu Beach

We left the lovely life (friends, family, jobs, house) we had built in the almost always sunny state and started fresh in a small village where the only people we knew were my parents!!

Lunches on Malibu pier, followed by a stroll down Santa Monica’s sandy beach had been replaced with wobbly walks over the pebbly Jurassic coastal line. (“Much more scenic than LA you know,” my parents reminded us every time I emptied a stone out of my infuriated daughters’ shoe).

Adapting to stoney beaches

Soon the novelty of having all the things I’d craved for so long; seasons, woody walks and cozy pubs began to wear off a little and I started seeking out the luxuries and activities I’d enjoyed in LA….surely somewhere HAD to have sushi?

I almost felt like I was having an affair, cheating on Somerset as I sat late at night while my husband snored next to me, checking my friend’s Facebook pages in Los Angeles and googling the likes of “Soulcycle, South Somerset” “Yeovil, Michelin star restaurant” and at one particularly desperate time “mum’s who like wine, Martock”.

But then I realized if I was going to make a success of my new life, I couldn’t continue sneaking around behind the countryside’s back I had to embrace it instead. 

It’s true there might not be a Barry’s Bootcamp on every or any street corner. I may have to drive or taxi (we are still working on Uber down in ‘these ere parts’) half an hour to get a decent tuna sashimi and a warm saki, but I’m making it my mission to eek out the best country living  has to offer.

Whether it’s fitness, food, family fun or flirting with the idea of a new, fancy over the top and way too expensive  hotel that serves the most amazing expresso martinis and has an incredible…..urghhh, I’m digressing. Basically, I’m determined to have a laugh exploring our new surroundings as I make the transition from Hollywood wife to living this country life!