172: Maidenhead

OS Explorer Map 172, Chiltern Hills East: High Wycombe, Maidenhead & Rickmansworth – I have visited this map before starting this blog, but do not own the map. Visited again for this post 24th February 2018.

I visited Maidenhead, having a day away from Cambridge, to hae an evening with Ex-Linguistician, Unicorn and No Longer Hairy, friends from my Oxford days – the plan was for us to have dinner at Unicorn’s house there. Now, the plan was for me to arrive between 4 and 5pm, and so the day before, I had decided that I would go to the library in the morning and do some work (probably translating some Latin but perhaps trying to learn some palaeography) before leaving in the early afternoon. However, in the morning, with the hour passing 10 and me not feeling particularly like going to the library (does one ever?), I decided to leave for Maidenhead several hours early, thinking, there will be a library there where I can do work.

So that is what I did. Arriving there around lunchtime, I wandered, rather chilly, through the streets in search of food, which I eventually bought from a German sausage stand in the form of currywurst. (I also, I think, bought some carrot sticks in M&S…)

I then proceeded to Maidenhead’s public library, where I planted myself for the next few hours. It was a pleasant enough library, bright and airy, although for some reason there was a sign under my feet advertising careers services. Naturally I did rather less work than intended, but I did some.

I went to Unicorn’s house as planned, and indeed we passed a very pleasant evening. Unicorn and Ex-Linguistician had made some lamb in their newly-acquired slow-cooker, of which they were justifiably very proud. It had been No Longer Hairy’s birthday a couple of weeks before, and so we had a cake – Ex-Linguistician is a wizard with cakes, and had made one in the shape of a climbing wall, a hobby that No Longer Hairy has recently taken up.

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No Longer Hairy with his birthday cake!

We later moved into the lounge for a game of that favourite of games of ours, Articulate, accompanied by Unicorn’s lovely dog, Django. (His cat was less in evidence that evening, but also exists.)

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Me, No Longer Hairy, and Django, Unicorn’s dog

In the end, I left at a little past ten, and reached Cambridge again at about half past midnight, having passed a very pleasant day.

Previous Visits

I’ve actually been to Maidenhead rather a lot of times. The family of the husband of one of my cousins is from there, and the two of them lived there for a few years after they married in 2001, which means that I have been there more times than I can count or remember. I won’t dwell on those times, mainly because they were long enough ago that I don’t remember the amusing details that I hope make my writing occasionally vaguely entertaining, so I will move on leaving you only with these pictures of the wedding in question, featuring six-year-old me.

I visited Maidenhead in 2010 for two days when I went on a weekend photography course that I think I had received my place on for my 15th birthday. I used to like doing photography rather a lot in my younger days, but my zeal for it has rather reduced recently – although I’d like to hope that any skill I had hasn’t. The Dearest Progenitors used my being on the course as an opportunity for a holiday, and booked us into a posh hotel in rural Berkshire (also in this map), from which they dropped me to the course each day.

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Mother Dearest at breakfast in the hotel

So yes, I did the photography course. There were five of us there being taught one end of the camera from the other – I was by far the youngest, and recall sitting bemusedly while the others talked about their jobs over lunch. I enjoyed it, although whether I learnt much of use I don’t really know. Here are some of the pictures that the weekend produced – I don’t think they’re anywhere near the best that I’ve ever taken, but I don’t particularly think they’re terrible either:

Now, I’ve also been to Maidenhead in more recent years for the same reason as I went this time, namely to go to Unicorn’s house. One of these visits was particularly notable as being the time that I produced the questionable masterpiece that was my cheese, spinach, mushroom and bacon cake.

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The bacon, cheese, mushroom and spinach cake

The thinking behind this was that I had been vaguely wondering why cake – as in flour, fat and water put into a tin and baked – should particularly always be a sweet thing. I suppose cheese muffins are a thing, but generally, cake is overwhelmingly a sweet thing. And so, that day, I made a cake, in the way one normally makes a cake, except that I used vegetable oil instead of butter, and put cheese and spinach and seasoning in the mix, then filled it with bacon and mushrooms – attempting to keep it looking as much like a cake as possible for the comic value of course. It was very dense – I couldn’t manage more than one slice – but I did like it, even if of the others, only No Longer Hairy was brave enough to try some, the others opting for Ex-Linguistician’s more conventional option of cheesecake.

Other activities included a session of messing around with musical instruments (Unicorn’s mother is a music teacher, so their house is well provided with such things), as well as Scrabble, film-watching, sleeping on Unicorn’s floor, and playing with dog and cat.

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