Categories
diary

Sbeenagloriousdayyanow

Sbeenagloriousdayyanow. Sat on the deck in the shade doing stuff. Paying bills and organising trips. Stuff. Had a chat with Julie from Brussels. Nipped to Waitrose with John. etc etc. Mostly just enjoyed this Mediterranean climate we now have. Read a bit, stayed hydrated and in half an hour or so will prep some salad in anticipation of sticking some steaks on the barbie. Gentle stuff. No reason to over do it. Conservation of energy. Crazy hazy lazy days. The deck is always in the shade. It has come into its own this summer. If I want sun I only have to move ten feet onto  the lawn. Shade is good. The cooking apple tree is growing heavy with fruit. The eaters also and are dropping off but those apples are a bit on the small side. The cookers will be whoppers. Nowt like apple and blackberry pie. It is blackberry season too. The lawn is in a bit of a state but we accept this. It would be a sad consequence of our move to a Mediterranean climate if this was ever going to be thus. We shall have to wait and see.

Lots of traffic on the road in front of the house. Everyone setting off early for Skegness? Not for me. Pondering the optimum temperature to hit the seaside. Too hot and you spend your time looking for shade. Certainly too hot for fish and chips today. Might head to Cleethorpes one day next week seeing as jury service has been cancelled. Still not made the trip even though I’ve been talking about it for ages. Maybe it is just not to be 🙂

I do have to make progress on the jobs front today. Yesterday was an unashamed day of rest and we are off out this evening for some scrumptious Caribbean fare at Shannon’s so this pm needs to be productive.

This hot weather has certainly simplified my daily choice of clothing. I have a range of options but on our visit to Thailand a few years ago I had some shirts made from cloth that I bought at the local silk factory in Chiang Mai. These shirts are particularly colourful but also, importantly, made up of a very lightweight silk. They are ideal for this hot weather. My Tommy Bahama shirts are made up of heavier silk and are not as good for extreme heat. I also have some cotton shirts of the same design but these are not as practical in the heat as silk. Normal cotton tee shirts are relegated to the drawer for the duration.

As I write, up above, EasyJet EZY38HC is making its way purposefully from Manchester to Kos. Kos today should be a very pleasant 26℃. Here it is forecast to climb to 31℃. I’ve mostly avoided the Mediterranean in Summer as I think it is too hot but I can see the day where we will be holidaying there because it is cooler!

I’ve more or less managed to stop watching any political news. Apart from the Donald Trump stuff that is which continues as a real life soap opera. He probably does it for the advertising revenues.

Some jobs done. Won’t bore you with the details. Anne will read this and she knows 🙂 😉 

I seem to have mislaid my Leatherman. It’s around somewhere but gawd knows where. I need its sharp edge to do some delicate photo frame insert cutting. Could use the Stanley knife but my Leatherman would be better. 

Another fine start to the day in which I am considering a walk to the Bail and perhaps a stroll through the castle to the scene of my recent jury service. The walk needs to happen this morning before the extreme heat of the day  kicks in and even mad dogs retreat into the protective shade of their kennels.

A refreshing cup of tea would perhaps be appropriate. I could find small cafe nestled in a side street near the castle walls and sit outside watching the world go by. I might see you there…

05.45. Sat outside on the patio. Sounds of seagulls somewhere nearer the cathedral. Makes me feel as if I was  at home in the Isle of Man. The noise of the gulls is ever present in Peel. It is a good time of day.

In Peel if I was up early I would sometimes head down to Fenella Beach, a special place. There might be a walker or two bound for the breakwater or up Peel Hill. A daily walk up the hill would get you fit. Later in the morning there is a group of retirees who do a few lengths of the promenade and end up at the Harbour Lights Cafe.

Our family holidays in the Isle of Man were legendary. We would return there every year to visit the folks. At one stage in the cycle the kids would complain “oh we’re not going to the Isle of Man again are we? We always do the same old things there”. 

In time their tune would change: “When are we going to the Isle of Man”. Those same old things would become essential components of a visit. Drinks outside the Creek Inn, pre dinner gatherings in the snug at the Whitehouse, visits to Davisons Ice Cream Parlour on the prom, the electric trams between Douglas and Laxey, The Cosy Nook cafe in Port Erin and many more. Back at the Grove Mamgu’s (my mam) catering was famous.

We still go back, sometimes as a family or as individuals although the folks are no longer there.

Back in Lincoln the back garden is very still although the noises of the waking city are all around. It is another hot day in prospect, allegedly the last of this current heatwave. I have enjoyed the summer weather even though this country is not used to it and it brings all sorts of problems.

The tomatoes have started to come through. Anne has picked two so far but others are on the way. A time of plenty 🙂

It’s the last of the hot days in this spell. Mornings and evenings are great on these days and I have moved to the deck to enjoy a cuppa. Being a Monday I have a few bits and bobs to sort out. I’ve taken the Out of Office status off my “work” email but not particularly going to look at it. A few bills to pay. Stuff like that. Also going to stick up a couple of Anne’s Vans posts up reporting on trips with pics provided by customers.

At 10.00 this morning it’s my first Body Pump class. I have no idea what to expect really but it is another step in the ongoing initiative to get fitter and lose weight. Feeling pretty good right now. Will let you know how I feel after body pump 🙂

I survived body pump and am now “enjoying” the shade on the deck outside the shed. The “” are because there’s a lot of chainsaw action two doors down which is somewhat disturbing the peace. Nevertheless it is a v pleasant morning.

Hour to chill before heading to the gym for the body pump class. We are back to nice weather so I’m out on the deck but there is a distinct sense of an impending autumn. The last heady days of summer. Giddy almost.

Today is our wedding anniversary. We were married on a Friday 34 years ago. It rained in the morning but cleared up just in time for the celebrations. The intervening decades have been action packed but we are now in the lucky position of being able to sit back and reflect on it all. We are happy with what we see.

Today is also fairly action packed with 3 meetings arranged. Blimey O’Reilly. Also need to nip to Waitrose on the bike to get a few bits of salad for tonight’s celebration dinner. A simple slab of rib eye steak, marinaded, then cooked medium rare on the barbecue. It’s a good inch thick so maybe 3 or 4 minutes each side on a very hot grill. I daresay I’ll find a suitable bottle of wine to go with it.

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.