Yurts, loo roll and wayward dogs

The questionable fallout of my summer holiday

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I'‘m not entirely sure I enjoyed my summer holiday.

We spent five days in a yurt on a clifftop campsite in Cornwall. The ‘campsite’ bit came as a surprise. The Air BnB description didn’t mention that we’d be surrounded by tents, parked cars, and people, the chatty, adorable kind who drive me to distraction. Everyone there was so abundantly nice and friendly that I took to hiding in the dark, hot yurt just to get some peace.

This was more or less impossible, because, of course, the loos were nowhere near the yurt. I’m going to put this out there: I pee a lot. Particularly close to bedtime, when I like to take about twenty tiny pees just to make absolutely sure I won’t have to get up two hours later, which, inevitably, I do anyway. Also, why don’t campsite loos have their own toilet paper? I would far rather pay a supplement than to keep having to walk through ranks of tents clutching my own, personal roll like some bizarre billboard for my bodily functions.

But worst of all, the dog lost her mind. I didn’t know that any being hated camping more than I do, but apparently Fraggle does. From the moment we arrived, she reverted to a state of street dog high alert, patrolling the perimeter of our pitch on her long lead, and growling over her food bowl. She developed a largely unrequited crush on the dog next door, and an intense dislike of a happy-go-lucky Hungarian water dog who did nothing to deserve it. There were dogs everywhere, and managing Fraggle’s tumultuous social life was a full time job. Every time I tried to shut her in the yurt, she found a way to escape.

What I’m trying to say is that we’re now wondering if the dog might be pregnant. She is looking a tiny bit plumper, but then lockdown has got many of us that way, hasn’t it? Plus, she’s suddenly tired and clingy, spending her days trying to insinuate her chin onto my lap, but that could well be the heat. It’s hard to say.

We could obviously take her to the vet, but I’m not convinced that we have an actual reason to do so. It could all so easily be a collective fantasy on our part, an act of magical thinking that turns a mountain dog facing warm weather into a brooding mother. I remember the same state of mind when I was trying to get pregnant myself: those early days before a test was any use, when I was consumed by trying to detect signs that, in the cold light of day, just weren’t there. There were moments when you thought that something was clearly happening, and then that reality would slide away and you would be left with your normal, unreadable body again.

I have no intention of ever going through that again (see previous comments on peeing twenty times before bed), so now, apparently, all my maternal ambitions have become focused on the dog. And, honestly, I was so exhaustingly vigilant on the campsite that I can’t imagine how she could have got the chance. But then, ‘they don’t need long,’ as my friend said when I texted her with a questionable photo of Fraggle’s belly-bulge. In my saner moments, I tend to think that she’s just really enjoying her food at the moment. But then that could be A SIGN, couldn’t it?

But then. But then.

Here she is on the sofa as I write, entirely oblivious:

N.B. No veterinary advice required in the comments!

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The Wintering Sessions

I’ve now completed the first series of The Wintering Sessions! If you haven’t listened already, now’s a good time to binge: there are interviews with (in order of appearance) Penny Wincer, Leah Hazard, Catherine Cho, Jini Reddy, Rebecca Armstrong, Huma Qureshi, Rachael Lucas, Raynor Winn and Remona Aly, and I’m so proud of every single one.

Links to various podcast platforms are here. I’ll be back in the autumn with some excellent new guests and (I hope) a producer to help make the process a bit less panic-inducing.

What I love right now

This month, I’ve been listening to two excellent audiobooks, both of which have delighted me in different ways.

Tade Thompson’s Rosewater is brilliantly-written Nigerian zombie SF, and I’ll definitely be following the rest of the series.

Samantha Irby’s Wow, No Thank You is a series of hilarious, salty essays that capture living in a female body more accurately than anything else I’ve read. Her newsletter is great too.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll also know I’ve been raving about Jenny Diski’s Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told?, a collection of her London Review of Books journalism. Four years after her death, she’s still the sharpest voice in town.

In a rare incursion into contemporary music, I’ve been listening to KIWANUKA by Michael Kiwanuka on repeat. Okay, it was released last year, so I’m still late to the table and therefore comfortingly on-brand. All is well.

I think that just about wraps it up for this month! See you next time - and if you like writing and want to hear more of me, you can always subscribe to my weekly Writing True Stories newsletter.

All good wishes,

Katherine x

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Books: Wintering | The Electricity of Every Living Thing | The Best, Most Awful Job