Archive for May, 2022

the art of being

Saturday, May 28th, 2022

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.

One Thursday

Friday, May 27th, 2022

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.

A love poem for Shannon and Michael

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

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.


Thursday, May 19th, 2022

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.

aShort walk

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

Ashort walk 

in Caernarfon

Isall ittakes

Bought some 

Welsh cakes

Anda book

Butno spices

Now back

Back now

In room

Room in

in Caernarfon

It’s not a rocking chair

Sunday, May 1st, 2022

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.