Categories
diary

Today I ate three peas

Today I ate three peas. It was a small pod as pea pods go. The peas were as fresh as they come. Pod popped. Vine to belly in five seconds. Well within the two hours from field to freezer dictated by the white uniformed scientists of the Bird’s Eye frozen pea conglomerate.

Last night it rained. Missed it. Was asleep.

A siren races by.

I have tidied the shed.

The leaves, three inches deep around the shed, are no longer there. I opened the allotment gate and blew them through. They will be happier there. Free and amongst friends. The process will be repeated. Naturally.

My thoughts this morning are on the contrast between summer and winter. The sitting outside on the patio in shorts and tee shirt versus inside on the sofa with jeans and a warm sweater.

I like both seasons but I prefer summer natch. Actually what I have just said is not true. I don’t really like January and February and some of March. Miserable months. Unless it is a cold crisp day with rare sunshine.

This year summer has been more like summer than usual. Or more like our rose tinted view of what summer should be like which is not normally how it pans out.

Having a bit of a bbq this weekend so will amble to the butch this am to purchayse some protein. I say amble but really will drive as it is Fosters on Monks Road which although doable as an amble would be a longish amble and I am not predisposed to allocating the required amount of my time left on this planet to the activity.

I quite like the challenge of preparing for a bbq. It’s not really a challenge. There was an element of the melodramatic in that statement. It is a fun thing to do. On this occasion we are going to have spit roast boneless leg of lamb done in an apricot marinade. A universal favourite. I think boneless chicken thighs will also have a place in the menu, perhaps with a suitable rub. A few other bits and bobs will also make a fleeting appearance no doubt. Fleeting because I expect them to be eaten 🙂

Tomorrow is also the opening day of the new football season. I’ve always thought this is ridiculous and that they should wait until the end of the cricket season. It is the correct order of things. Lincoln City kick off at 3pm and the Community Shield with Liverpool and Man City at 5. Ordinarily Anne and I might have watched the Liverpool game but our guests are scheduled to arrive around then so we will forgo that pleasure.

We plan on firing up the Kadai fire bowl afterwards. This is something we could not have considered a week ago as the ground was tinder dry but we have had some rain and I think that now it will be safe enough. I might spray the hose on the ground around the fire bowl as an additional precaution.

There was a young feller called Phil

Who found sixty to be such a thrill

That he went to the pub

Where he ate too much grub

Then he went home and felt rather ill

There was a young feller called Phil

Who swallowed a dynamite pill

His masculine organ 

Ended up in Glamorgan

And his balls up a tree in Brazil

v pleasant rainfall. quite relaxing sitting here in the conservatory.

Near miss just now whilst listening to Radio 4. The Archers Omnibus was about to start. I deftly switched off the BBC Sounds app 🙂

The cathedral bell has just tolled 12. Calling the faithful to lunch.

Sat down at DC Automotive waiting for the return of campervan Jade. Dave is away picking up a car part from a far flung part of the land described by John Betjeman as being unfit for humans as long ago as 1937. Things can only have got worse since then 🙂

Tis a lovely sunny day which is good because I will have two awnings to dry off in the back garden. The good weather seemingly continues. Although the short periods of relatively light rainfall have been good and of course absolutely necessary for the garden I am not complaining about the good weather. Normally we complain about any weather on the basis that it is rarely a fine day, during the summer.  At least not the idyllic summer’s day we have pictured in our imaginations.

Quiet start to the week being kept busy with tasks various and now a fine evening for sitting out. Dinner on the patio and now sat on the deck enjoying the evening. 

Light rain is forecast tonight for between 4am and 7am. This is the way it should be 🙂

… 

for the last few days acorns have been bombarding the shed and decking from above.

Confucius filial piety – shiao

Categories
diary

late post

It is a very pleasant summer’s morning. July. Early in July. By early I mean 05.30. The temperature outside is a perfect 19℃. As we all know this is not going to last. I really don’t know how it is going to go. The shed fridge contains cold drinks and there is a primed cold water dispenser in the kitchen fridge. The freezer also has most of a bag of ice.

I’m also half thinking that putting the sprinkler on in the garden could offer some respite. Like those fountains that come up out of the pavement on a random basis that kids like to run through when it is a hot day.

Foolishly I have arranged two meetings for this afternoon. Emails have just been sent suggesting we pull these forward. Not sure how it will be in the shed which is very well insulated. The doors will have to remain wide open although this will probs be counter productive as common sense suggests that it will be hotter outside than in. Whatever.

I have just come back from a terrific weekend of motocross racing with Team Tett. This is Steve Wildthing Wildman from around the corner and his friend Dick with his son Kier. What a fantastic experience. 

Twas a long trek to Pontrilas, a stone’s throw from the Welsh border near Hereford. Steve picked me up from my Sheffield hotel at 11.30 ish and we set off at an appropriate trailer-tow pace arriving at 4pm ish. 

For an hour and a half Steve and I engaged in feverish activity setting up camp and in particular erecting the large industrial strength gazebo that was to be our HQ/garage/sleeping quarters in the paddock. The others not being due to arrive until 8pm we then set off on a ride on our ebikes. It was not long before we very conveniently found ourselves at a nearby pub called the Temple Bar whereupon Steve and I sat outside enjoying cold beers.

Sat on the deck outside the shed with a cup of tea and a glass of cold water from the fridge. A blackbird is working its way systematically through the leaves around the base of the greenhouse. It is perfect weather.

Meetings postponed to tomorrow and wednesday first thing.

The pub was opposite the village chippy which seemed to be doing a good Friday evening trade. One chap ordered his fish and chips and popped into the pub for a swift half whilst he was waiting. Steve put up the parasol over the bench outside the pub. We needed shade.

Two, or maybe more pints later we headed back to the racetrack. The others had not yet arrived so to while away a bit more time we headed to the beer truck that Steve had discovered on his recce around the pits.

Later that evening we cooked pizzas and shortly after the sun had set on Pontrilas we hit our various sacks of hay. Mine included a newly purchased camp bed, £34 from GoOutdoors, a sheet and a blanket. Also I forgot a pillow but my bag served the purpose. Our supply of sleeping bags had been depleted, nay eradicated by festival bound offspring but I figured the weather was going to be so warm that a sheet would probably be enough. 

How wrong can you be? I ended up fully clothed with an extra tshirt, a fleece and a raincoat under the sheet, blanket and my towel. The towel proved otherwise redundant as the only wash facilities on site were the hand sanitising dispensers in the portable toilets. Aaah the great outdoors. Many of the other teams in the paddock rocked up in motorhomes and caravans which would have had their own facilities. Not us. We’re ‘ard core.

I had a not particularly satisfactory bacon roll from the food truck and a few cups of tea ably brewed up by Kier and discovered that Dick had a spare sleeping bag which made a huge difference to the quality of sleep on the Saturday night.

Just put water in the bird bath. Gotta look after our feathered friends. I did this once on another hot day and saw a blackbird having a good old splash around. They must appreciate it. Most of them will probably have more sense than to be out and about today. They already sound less vocal this morning than is often the case.

It is at 9am uncomfortably warm out of the shade.

The weekend’s sport started early on the first day with practice at 9am. The paddock really came alive with the sounds of dozens of bikes being started up and engines revved. Great atmosphere. We applied copious quantities of sunscreen in anticipation of a hot day ahead.

The conditions in fact were very tough for the riders. Very hot and very dusty, to the point where it was sometimes difficult for them to see the bike ahead of them. To keep the dust down the track was watered several times over the two day event. 

This had the knock on effect of completely changing the characteristics of the course as parts of it became very slippery. It is said that a motocross circuit changes completely during the course of a race as the dirt gets moved about. Different approaches to bends on different laps.

Today we plan to harvest our apricots. This will be our first good crop and the fruit is looking in great condition. We had a handful of apricots last year which was our first season with harvest but that didn’t really feel like a “crop”. Anne’s cousin John, who is a gardener, happened to swing by at some point in the season and pruned the tree for us. Seems to have made the difference.

This year we also have a good looking plum crop which I have protected from the cursed pigeons by covering the tree with netting. The plums look on the small side but at least they are still there.

It was a very hard day of racing. The gearbox on Kier’s bike packed in during the first race. He made it home in second gear and at least managed to score some points. A steady accumulation of points are what it is all about in a long motocross season.

Kier rides in the “expert” class and at this stage of the season is lying fifth in the championship. It was good to be with them experiencing the life of the team.

Fortunately Steve had brought a spare bike. Constant maintenance is a feature of motocross. The bikes take extreme hammering. The most important part of the bike is the suspension. The bikes are also mostly old. The participants are hobbyists and Husqvarna’s are a particular favourite. These bikes stopped production decades ago.

Dick’s race, the over 60s, followed the experts. There were three races a day in each class and after each race we retired to the relative haven of the tent. The lads would remove their racing tops in between each race and chill out in a tshirt. Lots of fluids were consumed.

Steve and I consumed a burger and several pints of lager shandy before the third race but the two combatants stayed off the food. After the last race of the day everyone sighed with relief, removed their gear and just sat there recovering a while. During the course of the day our camping chairs had followed the shade around the tent and by early evening were well and truly inside the canvas. It was uncomfortably hot to sit outside.

Kier borrowed my ebike and cycled with Steve to the pub. The chippy was discovered to be also selling ice creams which was a result for them. Dick and I dozed until the heat of the day abated, the camp bed coming up trumps in the corner of the tent.

After the lads came back Dick and I, suitably revived, strolled off for a pint of lager and were joined by the biker from the Netherlands from the next pitch to us and also a farmer called Dom who was known to the lads.

Now there is one thing you need to know about the motocross fraternity and that is they all talk incomprehensible gibberish. It isn’t just about pistons and camshafts. It’s about specific makes of pistons and camshafts and their relative usefulness under certain conditions. 

I didn’t really mind and sat there taking in the scene. It’s unfair to call it gibberish. It’s just another language that you have to learn if you want to understand it and one that is spoken for the duration of the meet. ie all weekend.

Heventually we strolled back to the tent whereupon Kier had the cooking facilities ready to go. On the menu that evening were sausages, chicken and steak accompanied by coleslaw and potato salad.

My night was far more comfortable in the spare sleeping bag and the next morning we were refreshed and ready for the day ahead. The temperature was forecast to be even warmer on the Sunday than Saturday.

Breakfast was bacon and sausages cooked on the camping stove. Just right with lots of tea. At 9am the racing started again. Practice for the Sunday only crowd followed by a sighting lap for the weekenders. There is a sighting lap after every watering.

Quite a few of the vans that were there on Saturday had left that evening. Either they had never planned to come for two days or were always only there for the day. A fresh batch came on the Sunday and these were the ones allowed practice session.

The day warmed up as it progressed and was essentially a repeat of Saturday with the exception that it took until two laps from the end for Kier’s bike to pack in. The extreme conditions had taken their toll. The lad was disappointed but managed to come in 5th overall. Had he completed the race he would have been 4th. Dick very sensibly called it a day before the last race.

We packed up the camp and set off for our various homes, a long way away.

I have lots of good memories of this weekend. A great bunch of people. Everyone was very friendly. They all put a huge amount of effort into their sport. It is an all consuming pastime. I doubt many of them have time for anything else with the amount of work that has to to go into these bikes.

I will remember the noise, the dust, the adventurous element of sleeping in the big tent used to keep the bikes, the heat, the rudimentary but totally adequate catering arrangements, the being around the bikes, the ten or so stickers I bought with a motorcycle theme and I guess seeing all the brown dirt wash off when I had a shower after arriving home.

Thanks to Steve, Dick and Kier for being such great hosts and I will be back again, next season – no free time left until the end of the year!!!

Also I note that the cooking apple tree is looking like producing a bountiful harvest this year and the onions are nearly read to pick 🙂 Have a nice day y’all.

‘Tis veritably Mediterranean out here on the deck this evening. We have eaten, late for us but late enough at around 7.15. Early for a Mediterranean dweller. The light is a long way from going but we are much further north. During our limited jaunts to the the Med the experience is that it has been dark when eating. 

We are not heat seekers. I stayed in the shade all day. The shed was mostly a v pleasant temperature but did warm up towards the middle of the afternoon. 

Today flies became a problem. I expect that leaving the doors open let them all in. I’ve been in there with a spray and closed the doors behind me. Will pop back in twenty mins or so to check out the insect sitch.

Lots of black headed gulls circling overhead. This is unusual.

Sbeanahotsticky1. Innit. The shed has mostly been at a comfortable enough temperature but as afternoon moves into evening the stuffiness seems to have grown. Sat here now listening to a bit of CHIC. Waiting for food time. I’m hungry but bringing it forward would not be appropriate for the weather. Off to London again tomorrow. Just for the day. Will need to keep well hydrated – actually hydration is partly/mostly why I’m going to London  😉 Shorts, silk shirt and shades will be the order of the day. As usual. Because I am off to town, tonight I will need to pack for the trip thereafter. This involves some touristy bits in Bakewell followed by two posh dinners. On Friday I am off for the weekend to a Motocross meet in Pontrilas. For that I will need my IoM TT tshirts. Nojeans though. Sgonnabetoohot. Just need to be able to discuss pistons. Kipping in the awning Steve Wildthing uses as a competition HQ/maintenance shed. The kids have nicked all our sleeping bags so will have to improvise! A thin cotton sheet probs. Draw on my bivouac skills.

Categories
chinks

Tory Leadership Candidates

The list of worthy candidates for leadership of the Conservative Party. Presumably Mary Elizabeth Truss has not yet declared.

John Baron

Robert Buckland,

Rehman Chishti,

Nadine Dorries

Jeremy Hunt

Sajid Javid

Penny Mordaunt

Bill Wiggin

Kemi Badenoch

Suella Braverman

Grant Shapps

Rishi Sunak

Tom Tugendhat

Nadhim Zahawi

All 14 of them are fine individuals and worthy of our support. Hopefully they will all get the same number of votes. None of them deserve to lose. We are blessed to have so many great candidates for the job of Prime Minister. I am so glad that the future of our country is in good hands.

Categories
poems poetry

The gladness of a summer’s day – Cardiff morning

It is indeed the summer’s day that makes a living being glad. 

before the heat has hit and forced all mortal men into the shade.

a floral filtered gentle breeze informs the fragrance of the morn

and coffee permeates the open windowed terraces of town.

Categories
diary early one morning

twirly

Knackered this morning. Had to get up at 4.50 to take John and his mates to East Midlands Airport. I’m often naturally awake at 5.30 but knowing I had an alarm kept me awake for much of the night which made for bad kip.

Yesterday evening I firmed up on the itinerary of our East Coast USA trip in September/October. The problem is there is too much to see. We start off with five nights in the Big Apple, a couple of nights in Rockport, Cape Ann, then two nights in Provincetown, Cape Cod followed by four in Boston before heading back to NYC for the last night before flying home. Couldn’t get decent flight times for flying back from Boston. Can’t remember now. We had to change the schedule recently.

The last time I flew back from New York I had the day to kill so went for a stroll around Central Park. Ended up in the Boathouse for a couple of beers where I met a chap called Les Haber who is now a pal on Facebook. It was his regular lunchtime spot. Some time ago now.

These flights back from the USA are always a bit of a dilemma especially from the East Coast where the flight time is quite short really. Part of me wants to enjoy (enjoy?) the hospitality and dinner service and the other part wants to just go to sleep.

We also have tix to see Pink Martini at the Albert Hall on the night we get back so will be spending a further night in a hotel in town before getting home. We will, I’m sure, be knackered.

It is unlikely that we will be able to check into the London hotel when we get there so we may have breakfast and a shower in the T5 arrivals lounge before heading into town. Will be better than eating breakfast on the plane which is normally pretty pants whichever class of travel you are in.

Still, life is short. Ya gotta do this stuff. Notice I slipped into the American vernacular there? Just practising.

Specifically what we do whilst in the US of A is still in the mix. One event we are working on is the Yankees versus Orioles baseball game (rounders) on Sunday 1st October. This should add something quintessentially Americun to the mix even though the sport is fundamentally boring. This is somewhat at odds with the view of most of the area’s (latterly) indigenous peoples but there again they think cricket is boring so they know noothing.

Lunchtime I picked up a couple who had arrived from Canada to hire one of our vans. I don’t normally pick folk up from the station but there again they normally drive and leave their car with us. That’s two of the vans out at the mo. 

We are taking Bertie on a photoshoot to Woodhall Spa tomorrow. Content is king. If you’ve never been to Woodhall Spa it is like winding the clock back seventy years. Bertie, who is a slip of a 44 year old, will fit in well there. We have booked outdoor swimming at Jubilee Park and have a picnic to consume. The weather looks like warming up as we go through the week so a nice picnic sat outside the van will be just right.

We are planning to go back and stay in Woodhall in a campervan the weekend before we head off to the States. A regular camping destination for us at that time of year.

Have moved operations to the deck in front of the shed leaving the doors wide open for cricket watching. Living the dream. The lovely Anne has delivered a pot of tea. All is well. 

Lunch was misu soup. Part of the keto dfast 800 diet I have been periodically observing. I say periodically as I had a good stretch at it after Christmas but May and June were interrupted by numerous trips that made the regime impractical. Am off to London on Wednesday, back Saturday. However July and August are more not going somewhere than going and I am confident that progress will be continued.

For some unexplainable reason I woke up this morning at the same time as yesterday. Fortunately after some cajoling my body went back to sleep until nearly 7am whereupon it was woken by Anne expressing surprise at the time! Tea making was avoided. It is rare.

Categories
thoughts

A good time to dilute

That moment when you realise you need to cull your t shirt collection. There are, I’m sure, many at the bottom of the pile that never get worn. It is time. Time they saw the light, momentarily. Fleetingly.

This is not a high priority job and should be reserved for a rainy day when I’ve run out of other things to do and feel sufficiently motivated to get on and do it. It ranks below spraying the shed with its annual coat of preservative and certainly behind the tidying up of the garage bench, which naturally happens when you realise that you can’t find anything anymore.

Today is a lovely sunny day. It has that fresh smell of early summer and the sense that the birds have full bellies after their early worms and are now sitting contentedly on the branches adjacent to their nests chatting to their neighbours.

Cleared some of the jobs off my list although not told Anne I’ve sorted the ebike insurance – she might read this and find out 🙂 Sbeen a v chilled afternoon. A perfect summer’s day really. Shed doors wide open. Shorts t shirt (one of many as you know) and flip flops.

Cleared more ivy from the border near the shed and was followed around by a robin who basically filled his boots behind me. Lots of tasty looking grubs, if you’re a robin. Seems to be a theme today. Avian eating.

Robins don’t wear boots obvs but it felt like a suitable expression for the moment.

As I sit now, in the shed, watching Tombstone on DisneyPlus without the sound, the birds are hitting evensong. I assume that’s what they call it. It is evening and they are in song. Nothing religious about it. Snature.

It is approaching 8pm. The shed doors are still wide open. The tall grasses growing in front of the deck, heavy with seed, are moving gently. Not swaying, just moving. Gently. Fluttering. That’s a better way of putting it. Perceptibly.

Cleared the deck. Layered with detritus but no more. It was. Dead leaves, seed cases, duty discharged. New hope. Stiff brush the job.

Outside, the swoosh of the hosepipe prevails. Thirsty plants draw deep. A good time to dilute.

Categories
early one morning

The gentility of drizzle.

Stillness in the valley. Last night’s torrential rain has eased to a gentle drizzle. Really just a few drops on my glasses. Latecomers after the river filling storm of the night when we sat looking through the doors of the cottage at the flashes of lightning illuminating the flood plain below. 

This morning nothing moves. The occasional brave bird, perhaps, out looking for breakfast. Gotta feed the kids.

I’ve been out to check the campervan. Started first time. A deeply satisfying experience. Today we are off on the next leg of our adventure. The Isle of Man TT races beckon. 

On the boat we have a cabin. We are experienced travellers to the Isle of Man and this particular boat is going to be rammed full of bikers all looking for somewhere to sit. The sailing is at 3.15pm but we plan to get there early. Better safe than sorry.

This is the launch trip of our “new” campervan Jade. We are using the opportunity to find out what needs doing. Where do we put curtains? What bit needs fixing? That kind of thing. It’s a cool thing to do and I’m hoping for some great photos for the website. Jade surrounded by bikes. Hundreds of bikes.

Turned up early for check in and sat in the queue for over two hours. They loaded the bikes on first, all 450 of them and when we got on the passenger decks were rammed as forecast with people wandering around looking for somewhere to sit and staff actively managing the sitch. At the Passenger Information Desk we picked up our cabin key and fell into it with an air that combined relief with superiority. 

The free sandwiches in the cabin have been scoffed and we are sipping at a brew. All is well.

Categories
poems

panorama

The farm panorama. Bird talks to bird. Milking noises off. River ripples, slides past stone beach. Beetle sized cars scurry along hedge-hidden road. Cardboard cut hills provide backdrop. Woodland and fields.

for Chris Conder

Categories
ideas

the art of being

05.45. Couple of vapour trails cross the clear blue sky, destination unknown.  London probs. 

At this time of the morning I assume they are at the end of a long flight. Cabin crew will be clearing away after what claims to have been breakfast and the skipper will have nudged the passengers into last minute preparations before they all have to belt up for landing. A queue appears outside the toilets.

On terra firma pesky woodpigeons whoop and a fearless robin lands on the bench outside the conservatory.

I am awake.

It was light well before 5am this morning. I recall not the specific time of the observation but I was momentarily awake before drifting back for perhaps another half hour’s nod. A fine day in prospect. A good day to shut out the wider world and enjoy being.

The art of being. The act of being. Wonderful being. Sipping a cup of tea. Sitting in a chair listening to birdsong. Smelling the morning. The closed piano, waiting for the right moment. The clock on the wall, two minutes fast. Never noticed that before. It isn’t really there to tell the time anyway. It looks nice in a useful space above the piano. Beating time. Metronome for life.

Now that I’ve noticed the clock I can hear it tick. Never heard that before.Traffic on the road in front of the house. Where are people off to at this time of day? I specifically want to know. Early voices coming from next door’s garden. I assume. Early, like I said, but what is early?

I may never again not notice the clock ticking. Interesting that. I may never again stay at the hotel on the beach in Venice. What’s that all about? Straying to the philosophical here.

Our lemon tree has many flowers. This is the first time I have noticed. It’s a small bush not a tree. It will never be a tree, trapped as it is in its terracotta pot devoid of any nutrition and only occasionally watered.

The glass panelled door to the living room is half open. The way I left it. There is a lot to take in. There are millions of blades of grass in our back garden alone, let alone on the whole planet.

Six neatly ordered chairs around a table cloth of green. The flowers outside the conservatory are motionless but a light breeze shakes the leaves at the top of the sycamore tree. When did the leaves appear?

The art of being.

Categories
diary

One Thursday

It’s a Thursday, or so I’m told. We need to invent a new system. Time was we needed to understand the time. Now I’m not so sure. It shouldn’t matter that it is Thursday or 09.49 (BST).

Maybe elapsed time, since we were born, or conceived. Everyone would have a different starting point but the system would be such that your own database could be looked at to see whether you were amenable to doing something at a given point in your timeline.

We wouldn’t need to look forward to the weekend. Would just block off some me time.

Sat in the British Library. Not been here since the great pandemic of 2020 descended and forced us into the surreal existence of a virtual world. A lightning bolt that smashed into our tree and forced us to shelter. Cowering in our bunkers we pretended it was ok but secretly looked forward to sitting under the tree again.

Now I sit amongst books and feel normal. I brought my own volume to read. Unusual perhaps to do this is at a venue that exists to house books for borrowing. I should have looked up the catalogue and found something I wanted to dip into. Perhaps I will do this the next time. They have lots to choose from.

I nurse a green tea that has almost gone cold. A cold green tea is still potable unlike the lukewarm milky job that was served up on the train.

In the heat of the moment

the green tea went cold, I tell you

without prejudice 

or fear of consequence.

A cold green tea refreshes the parts 

inaccessible to other cold teas.

Someone has just woken up. Somewhere. This is a big city where someone always sleeps. Big sleep. Restless sleep. A sleep broken by sounds from the street below. Footsteps, sirens, voices, unseen. Never seen. 

Lying there, awake, my mind drifts out of control. I go where it takes me. My room is faintly lit by the street lights but I am somewhere else. I stare blankly through my eyelids. 

Looking through the window someone makes room for another in the waiting room on the platform. The Age of Steven is upon us. Why wouldn’t it be? The train moves on. We race past boxes where the people dwell. The countryside is green.

Categories
poems poetry

A love poem for Shannon and Michael

On a sunny May day, a big day

the knot splicers rock up and, 

in front of a gallery, friends and relations,

admirers, demonstrate their commitment

to unity.

Corks pop and glasses ring out,

excited faces beam happy cheers,

a thrilled and timeless love dance  

forever in tune.

Categories
diary poems

eurostar

sat in the eurostar departure lounge. the checkin process was easy as being nearly two hours early there was nobody else there. debated whether to upgrade to business premier so that I could use the lounge but they don’t do that any more apaz. the decision was always going to depend on how much they wanted to charge me anyway but they took that problem away. 

I found a table to sit at so it isn’t a massive biggie but the main issue now is that as the departure lounge fills up every bugger is on their phone and the internet bandwidth has dwindled from v low to non existent.

I’m in two minds about eurostar. The actual on train experience itself is fine apart from the fact that you are mostly offline. it’s the flexibility of tickets that is constraining plus the horrendous queues and taking an hour to get through security at St Pancras.

Enough of this negativity. I’m treating meself to a few glasses of wine on the train, unless they have cold beer.

On the train and settling in. Somehow found myself in the window seat on a table for four. How did that happen?

jeremy from yara

there are only 3 of us in this carriage. My laptop is picking up 3 wifi networks. LNER, Charlotte’s iPhone and one called Bollocks to Brexit. I now know the name of the woman sat at the table in front of me although I can’t see an iPhone.

The LNER one is too difficult to log onto and I always just use my own phone’s hotspot. Bollocks to Brexit it is then 🙂

Charlotte’s phone has disappeared. I suspect she was one of the crew changing at Grantham. Someone needs to tell her not to broadcast her hotspot. In fact why leave it on?

Relaxed start to the weekend. They ain’t always like this. Last weekend we were deep in preparation for a big birthday party. This weekend it is Shannon and Michael’s wedding but no rushing around doing last minute things for that and more specifically no rearranging the PA spec for the conference in Antwerp during the week.

Tomorrow we head to the south west for a balloon flight. The gentlest of flights is not a racing certainty. This morning’s departure from Victoria Park in Bath has been cancelled due to winds fractionally over the limit. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks no different to me. The slight nuisance is that we won’t get the go/no go decision until 3pm for a 6pm takeoff by which time we will be practically there. Hey…

Not written much over the past week due to a full on time in Belgium. The out of office sign went up on Thursday and will be taken down on Wednesday. I had toyed with the idea of a night in London on Wednesday night as it straddled two meetings but I’ve kicked the first into touch, influenced by the fact that I just realised there is a scouts committee meeting on the wednesday night.

We haven’t had a committee meeting since pre pandemic times. Remember those days? Mary Hopkin will be getting her geetar out and start strumming again. You need to be a certain age to get that one. Google her.

Waking up from the deep hibernation that has been the last two years the world seems totally different. Flares are no longer in fashion! A tank of fuel costs more than a mortgage payment. Baby you can drive my house. The world is at war. I shudder to think what a pint of beer costs. I rarely look 🙂

Life has been very hectic and will continue to be so until the end of June at which point the calendar suggests we throttle back and enjoy some lazy afternoons in the back garden. I know it won’t be like that but we can but dream. It’s all about striking a balance innit.

The back garden in the spring of 2022

On an idyllic morning the birds sing

Songs that have not changed 

Since tunes began.

A careless, plentiful age, masked

By the long shadows of our troubled times.

Categories
poems poetry

aShort walk

Ashort walk 

in Caernarfon

Isall ittakes

Bought some 

Welsh cakes

Anda book

Butno spices

Now back

Back now

In room

Room in

in Caernarfon

Categories
diary

It’s not a rocking chair

It isn’t a rocking chair per se. It’s one of those with moulded one piece c shaped (ish) arm and legs that let you rock gently back and forth. This, at 5.30am this morning,  I find myself doing, inadvertently. Gently soothing. It’s an Ikea job I think. I’m not doing a good job of describing the chair to you. If I knew its name you would instantly recognise it. Will be Crapchair or something similar.

Outside on the patio my friend the robin is foraging. Robins are fearless. If we dig the vegetable plot they hang around waiting for the unveiling of juicy morsels. Not my thing, worms and insects, obvs but I’m not a robin.

Also on the patio is our new garden table. This was procured from Anne’s friend Julie before she moved house and has been covered by a tarpaulin over the winter pending some fixing up which I mostly did yesterday. Still needs a few bits sorting but it is solid enough and once sanded down and painted will do a job for us.

Today I am off to London for a few days. Bit of a break, again. I quite like going to London, for a bit of a break. All four kids now live there and tomorrow night we are all off out for a Chinese in Soho. The New Loon Fung restaurant in Gerrard Street. Know it? 

As usual I spent ages researching restaurants before opting for this one. It isn’t as straightforward finding the right Chinese as you might think. The highest rated ones on the advisor of trips that I use are all posh Michelin starred types, or specialists such as dim sung or Szechuan. I don’t want Michelin, dim sung or Szechuan. I want good quality bog standard with a recognisable menu and banquet options suitable for eight of us.

I quite like the kick that a Szechuan can offer but this is not for everyone. Typically my menu choice at a Chinese varies little. Crispy duck followed by beef curry with fried rice. I also like hot and sour soup. 

Man can live on crispy duck alone. I recall once taking some customers out to a Chinese restaurant in Swindon, I think. Down South somewhere anyway. We all started with crispy duck and kept ordering more portions. By the time the main courses arrived we were already stuffed.

Don’t get me wrong I like other Chinese dishes, chicken satay springing to mind, but particularly like the aforementioned. When you are an aficionado of certain foodstuffs you very much compare the offering of any given restaurant with those that have gone before. It can be very disappointing if a beef curry doesn’t come up to scratch and conversely a delight when you find a gem. The beef should be tender and the sauce just the right level of spices. It rarely is but it doesn’t stop me ordering.

When ordering a banquet for 8 I quite often stick an extra beef curry “in the middle” as such menus rarely have this included. I should add that we don’t go out for Chinese meals that often nor have a table of eight. If there were only two of us I wouldn’t add an extra dish. I might try swapping a dish on the menu or just not order a banquet. 

Doubt I’d order a banquet for two anyway. A banquet is only doable when there are lots of you. Otherwise it would probs be too much food.

You don’t seem to be able to book the New Loon Fung online so I rang them. They don’t even have a website. Just a Facebook page with a photo of their menu. I guess Gerrard Street has such a high footfall they don’t need to bother. You do need to be able to check out the reviews though. Actually I’d say that ordinarily but when it comes to a Chinese restaurant in a tourist spot you can’t necessarily trust online reviews. You just need  to check that the reviews aren’t universally bad.

Haven’t packed yet but the train isn’t until 13.24 so plenty of time. All I have this morning is “Stretch and Flex” at the gym at 10.30. My Out Of Office is switched on. This is increasingly the case although I am always available to take calls. It’s really so that people don’t put stuff in my calendar without me vetting it first. I’m only supposed to be working 6 days a month, not including any Anne’s Vans stuff.

We are entering the busy season for Anne’s Vans. I’ve just got going on the social media again although not totally up to speed. I employed a social media professional (one of the kids) to give me direction and have a comprehensive plan. Been planning on sticking the salient bits on the wall to the right of the desk in the shed. Just need to nick some blu tack from the drawer in the kitchen. Might do that before heading for the trane.

Time to pour the tea…

Back home for a couple of days. Campervan Ruby is going back down to the depot and has been booked in for some maintenance.

Thursday am off to Laandan for a few more days R&R so a couple of days chained to my desk in prospect. Not really. Got a few work type bits to do and might do some Anne’s Vans stuff. 

The news, full of war reporting, is on the wireless. It is distracting although not as distracting as for the Ukranians affected. I have a cup of tea at my side. In my Coast to Coast mug.

It’s funny really that before this war Ukraine had steadfastly stayed out of the news. Other than as a side show in the distracted dream world of Donald Trump.

The 07.30 from Lincoln is the first direct service of the day to the capital. Aside from the fact that it means I have to get up and out of the house by 7am it is a convenient train that gets you to London at 09.26 or simlar and allows for a fullish day in town.

The only real negative is that the Lincoln train doesn’t benefit from the full food service so the full English available on some trains is not available. I’ve ordered the bacon roll with brown sauce. “I’m sorry we don’t have butter on this service”. This is not a deal breaker but a bit of a shame innit. Mildly annoying.

Today is a non diet day and I am going to London for a spot of lunch. Doing some other bits and bobs whilst down there. Will spend the morning drinking tea in the lobby of the St Pancras Renaissance hotel and thence to trendy Shoreditch for 12.30.

“We are now at Newark Northgate”. Three blokes get on bringing the population of Coach E up to six. Blokes.

Another campervan booking appeared on the system overnight. I used to do all these manually using a spreadsheet but since the end of 2020 we have used a booking system which has proved to be a godsend, especially seeing as the business is growing. It’s nice to see things like this work.

Irritating woman talking about kids trying to get into oxford. Fortunately going into a tunnel. Conversation stopped. Hopefully she will forget to rejoin when out of kings cross tunnelzone. Gotta put my earphones in. Can’t cope with the woman. Her phone has just rung during a brief gap in tunnels. It’s Nicola Horton. Hello Nicola??. Sorry Nicola but can you shut the %^$% up.

She has a movie on her ipad but is playing a card game on phone, I stuck my earphones in and she got off at Peterborough, not much imagination there.

I wish I knew birdsong. Not the whooping variety of the wood pigeon. The tuneful tweets that emanate from the beech hedge. It is almost certainly a blackbird. The hedge has a nesting pair.

‘tis a leisurely start. I do  have some jobs to do today. They have been on the list for some time so need to crack on. This is counterintuitive as I sense that this, being a bank holiday, should be a day where we do something holidayey.

Categories
diary

two weeks in april

A frisson of relaxation ran down between my shoulderblades as rain started to fall on the roof of the shed. Outside it is a typical British spring day. Wet, windy and not particularly warm. Inside I’ve just nudged the heating up.

Today my work day finished around 3.30 when the other person said he had been double booked. I may yet take the call tonight but no dramas, as they say. John and I went for a stroll to the Adam and Eve in the now sunny yet still cold and windy afternoon. We consumed a soft drink and returned home via Lindum Terrace.

I am sat in what we call our front room. We have more than one front room but this one gets the name. It is quiet in the house. Just John and I here. The lad moves to London on  Monday. It is going to get quieter.

Anne and I quite like it when there are only the two of us in the house. I quickly get lonely when it is just me. I’m not used to being on my own having had 4 noisy kids filling the airwaves. The noise itself is something you have to get used to. Fortunately this was for us an iterative process whereby the decibel levels were only stepped up every two or three years.

The reduction in noise levels seemed hardly noticeable with the departure of each adult child but I guess when John goes that will be 3it. Of course we love it when they come home to visit.

Recycling out. Forgot to do it last night but at 6am whilst listening to the news I suddenly remembered. All is well. The lorry hasn’t been yet. Slipped on my chilli pattern back door shoes and a fleece over my pyjamas and out I went.

There is something about an early start to the day. Always makes me think of being at a port catching a very early ferry. The same smell is in the air. Somehow. Must be the smell of the dawn.

Now in the shed and it is blowing (another) gale. We have to remember that this is normal British spring weather. Climate change induced musings about how warm the weather is these days are still relatively few and far between. I was considering nipping back to the kitchen to stick the kettle on but the driving rain is somewhat off putting. It’s because I wear specs. I did in the end, in between flurries.

The first alarm in the guise of the milkman went off at 05.20 this morning. I hit the snooze button and the second alarm came eight minutes later in the form of the dawn chorus. This time I got up and went downstairs where the noise from the back garden was even louder.

I guess it’s a long old day hunting for insects and worms. Someone’s gotta do it. That “gotta” wasn’t the word I typed but was the google docs autocorrect suggestion for my “got to” which I accepted. The changing nature of language. Probably not helped by the fact that I sometimes ignore grammar for artistic effect 😉 Is this the Americanisation of Tref? Dear god, no. Heaven forfend. My goodness. Etc etc etc

The Easter holidays are upon us. I know this because I have started to note people’s unavailability for meetings. We are not going anywhere. We used to when the kids were smaller but life is hectic these days and we like a quiet weekend at home doing things. This year anyhow. We were probably locked down last year and the year before that.

Locked down. A new phrase in the common psyche, the vernacular. A new tool for the control of the people. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy defines lockdown as “a state of being reserved for the common man that did not seem to apply for those who made the rules”. The signal that the rule of law does not have to apply. Can life ever return to how it was?

The Second Poetical Law of Thermodynamics states

The cosmos will die

A scientific certainty

I will die

The story of humanity

The ultimate question

A constant of futility

Temperature and pressure

Energy and entropy

Poetical expressions

Of irreversibility…

Life has never been the same again. Ever. Despite the desire of humankind to make it thus. A misplaced nostalgia. I don’t suppose you can misplace nostalgia.

I wonder whether birds get nostalgic. They have certainly gone quiet. More to do with the digestion of early worms than silent contemplation of past wriggly repasts. See what I did there? I can’t say I liked it particularly. Past wriggly repasts. Doesn’t roll off the tongue. No pun intended. 

A bright Saturday morning sunshine streams through the conservatory windows. I am sat in the company of John, an espresso at my side and my laptop open. In past times it would have been a newspaper which was taken at the weekends. My consumption of printed matter dwindled a long time ago but I am considering ordering the FT on a Saturday which in all fairness is a good read. Guardian aside, which I support with a small financial contribution, most of the others are just clickbait, printed or otherwise. Even quite often the BBC tbh.

I used to use the Telegraph but years ago that was reduced to little more than a comic. My only real reason for reading it was the Alex cartoon but that on its own became insufficient a motive when taking the other dross into consideration. I don’t know if Alex is still going.

This morning we have a round of golf in prospect. An 11am tee time has been booked. A final needle match with son John who on Monday moves to the smoke. He is mostly packed and last night we went to the Adam and Even for a few frames of pool. John won 3 – 2  but it went to the last ball. Always the sign of a good competition. I will be happy if the golf today goes to the last put.

Looking at the booking system there is no one booked after us. We took the first open tee time for non members so we may get lucky and not have anyone in front either. That was certainly the case when we played during the week a couple of weeks ago. All good stuff for the step count.

Golf is currently on the telly with the Masters being on in the USA. Annoys the hell out of me how good these guys are. Same goes for snooker. Augusta is clearly a tough course because even the top guys sometimes exhibit the same performance characteristics as I might do today. We shall see. Stay positive Tref.

I have an hour or so before the clubs need slinging in the boot. No point in getting there too early. None of this doing a bit of practice before you tee off stuff. The season starts now in earnest. I have a round planned for Thursday with Adie though we have left the details until later. Will need to get my stretch and flex class in first.

Curry order Castle View 9th April

4 poppadoms & dips inc Mango chutney

John

14 Vegetable samosa £3.95

Choose between a vegetable or meat filling

25 Tandoori Deluxe £13.95

A combination of Tandoori varieties, comprising chicken tikka, Tandoori chicken, lamb and kebab served on a red hot sizzler with nan

Masala chips

Tref

13 Chicken Chaat £4.95

Diced chicken served in a special butter with home made bread

31 Tandoori Mixed Shashlick £14.50

Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka served with salad

Hannah

39 Chicken Tikka Massala £10.50

Diced Tandoori roasted chicken or lamb cooked in a sauce with delicate blends of aromatic spices and herbs simmered in tomatoes, butter and cream

93 Pilau Rice £2.75

basmati rice with saffron

99 Naan £2.95

Baked bread in clay oven

Norbert Dentressangle – a lament

Oh Norbert, Norbert where have you gone

Your name was such a funky one

When we saw you on the roads

Last night I interrupted the diet to consume a curry. It is not really possible to have a Castle View curry without beer so that was also on the menu. This was a “last supper” for John who is moving to London on Monday. Clearly he will eat more food before going so technically it wasn’t his last supper but Hannah is here for the weekend and goes back this pm so we made it thus. 

Before picking up the curry had a beer in the Vic with the two of them which was v enjoyable. Other than the fact that twenty blokes on a pub crawl got there just before us so it took a while to get served.

This morning I am sat in the front room and can hear the lad preparing his penultimate breakfast in the kitch. Mine will be more of a brunch methinks as I am still full from last night. Gives me time to ponder my menu selection. We are out of eggs. Maybe I will pop to the market and buy some from a local farmer who has brought them into town to sell. Assuming that farmers do this sort of thing on the Sabbath. Who will buy my beautiful roses?

The house is alive to the beat of an unknown musician. I say unknown. Really I mean unknown to me. The aficionado selecting the music must know. It was ok to start with but is to a degree getting a bit repetitive. I’m sure my dad thought the same the day I bought a boxed set of Beatles singles.

I contacted the meteorological office for a weather report and they told me it would be a little warmer than yesterday. It was cold on the golf course, especially when the sun went behind a cloud which was on a frequent basis. I didn’t play particularly well. Two fantastic drives and I hit the green on three par threes but we had a good time and John and I made two new friends called Phil and Mandy. 

It was nice to see my name on the honours board as having won the 36 hole medal in 1985. That was thirty seven years ago! How is that possible?

In other news Google have just sent me this:

“Your access to the G Suite legacy free edition will end soon. As a valued customer, you’re eligible to switch now to a new Google Workspace subscription and enjoy a special discount. Or, in the coming weeks, you’ll be able to join a waiting list for a no-cost option. If you take no action by June 1, 2022, we’ll automatically transition you to the recommended Google Workspace subscription.”

I was an early adopter with G Suite and as such had it for free since T0. Google is letting me have it for three bucks a month which is ok I guess. If I could sort out the upgrade. There are complications. I doesn’t seem to want me to tell it I am not in the USA but in the oasis paradise set in a rural sea that is Lincoln. Sgonnahavetowait.

Last night in Halifax. <an edgy new play by a one day to be famous writer.

Taxi picked me up at 11.45 to catch the 12.15 stopping train to Leeds. One of the stops is Sheffield where I change trains and catch an express to Manchester. The taxi driver gave us his life story including the ongoing divorce proceedings. I won’t bore you with the details but other people’s complicated lives make you grateful for and appreciate the relative simplicity of your own.

Last night I booked 3 nights in the Negresco in Nice for September 2023. It’s a long way away but I looked at one of the Hiltons I had planned to stay at and it was already sold out for all of September and half October. I thought I’d better get something sorted for the Negresco as I’ve fancied staying there for a while. All the time we’ve been planning this trip actually. When in Nice…

We will be mostly staying in one of the campervans. It’s the Rugby World Cup. I figured there would be poetry in turning up at one of the top hotels in the world in a  50 year old campervan. Good photo opportunity. I will need to check on the parking. Life is short. Fill it with good stuff.

Will need to make sure we pack some number ones as well as shorts and tshirts which will mostly be the trip dress code. The Negresco has a classy bar. Too expensive to spend the whole night there though 🙂

On the train a couple of students have bumped into each other. They are on their way home for Easter. One student to the other. “What’s your attendance this year?” “ 40%, it’s rubbish.” Now I don’t care how many lectures they miss but it is interesting that the University feels the need to record whether they attend or not. A certain lack of trust there.

The students’ conversation is getting a bit tedious. All about relationships. First of all the taxi driver and now on the train. In Sheffield I will be discussing telecommunications software which will feel like a bit of light relief. He has opened a bottle of lager and says he can’t drink like he used to. He is around 21 I’d guess.

The train is just pulling out of Gainsborough and on our left there is a travellers’ campsite and a power station, fwiw. On the right some cows are lying down in a field. Wossthatallabout. I’d check the weather forecast for Manchester, my ultimate destination today, but there is no signal in this middle of nowhere stretch of train track snaking through the Lincolnshire badlands. Soon we will be in Yorkshire.

Out to the shed by 08.15. Goodness gracious me. It is nice and fresh spring day. This is in fact the best time of year. When it isn’t blowing a gale, chucking it down and bloody freezing that is because it can also be like that. So when the weather is benevolent this is very much the best time of year. Innit

Today I do have some things in the plan. At 10.30 we have the stretch and flex class and I am already in my stretch and flex gear ready to have some of my extremely tight muscles loosened a bit.

At 13.30 I have a conference call with folks from California, Chicago, Antwerp and Bedford. A truly mixed geographic bag. After that the Easter vacation beckons. Not that we are going anywhere. Some quality time in the garden perhaps. I also need to research pillows and laptop bags. I donated my laptop bag to a migrating son who also included his pillows in the list of items being transported to his new abode. Figured we may as well get some nice ones as his room is now the main guest bedroom. Might as well have some ourselves as well.

Back at my desk and noticed a load of missed calls. The most recent were from the BT text service that allows me to receive sms on my landline. The other was from a recognised untrustworthy sms scammer number !

New lift concept. Buttons in the wrong order or in the right order but send you to the wrong floors & you have to memorise which button goes to which floor over a period of time.

I am sat on the 14.18 from Manchester Piccadilly to Cleethorpes calling at the Field of Sheff whereupon I change trains for an onward connection to Lincoln. The train has not yet departed. I am however pleased to inform you that whilst the “at seat service” is only available in the front three carriages I am indeed sat in one of these and thus intend to avail myself of some light refreshments during the journey.

Manchester looks very dull in the rain. It rains a lot in Manchester. It must be a struggle for the place to not look dull.  

Last night @Mark Fordyce and I upon returning from dinner decided we would like a pina colada before hitting our respective hay filled mattresses. Bizarrely the security person told us that we needed a booking and the bar was full. I asked the receptionist whether there was anything she could do about it. Of course Tref she said and personally escorted us up in the elevator to the 23rd floor.

There were plenty of free tables so I’m not really sure what the game was. We must have not looked hip enough. This was despite the fact that I was wearing my hand made tweed pea jacket, green with some purple running through it and a matching purple lining. All’s well that ends well. We consumed three pina coladas each as they were excellent. No ice. A step up in fact from the last time we had them in this bar. Obvs had the senior mixologist on duty.

The train route between Manchester and Sheffield is blessed with beautiful countryside.

2 rabbits in a field