Categories
diary

Blackbird in birdbath

Blackbird in birdbath

Very satisfying to see, as this is the whole point of supplying birds with a bath.

  1. Does anyone give a flying f*&k?

Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss. Names that will go into the history books as 4 of the worst prime ministers we’ve ever had. Think of the odds you could have had on an acca at the bookies for that. Could have made a fortune.

I think that for a laugh we should carve their four heads into a mountain. Just like on Mount Rushmore 🙂 Maybe on some craggy spot on the white cliffs of Dover.

That would put off any cross channel asylum seeking immigrants. The thought of facing that lot as they approached land… Give the useless quartet a real sense of achievement. Just what they would have wanted.

Quite fitting somehow that they would be facing the EU. It would be a memorial on how not to govern a country. Of course the faces would crumble in time as they would be carved out of chalk. 

Music in my head. One Night in Paris by 10cc. No idea why that tune specifically although we are off to Paris in November. Couple of nights. Work and play. Another day.

Started this morning by setting the sprinkle going on the lawn. Nematodes need watering in for a couple of weeks. The sprinkler turned out to be kaput. Missing a stopper at one end! So I switched to plan B. The regular hose pipe spray attachment, whatever it is called. The hose came out soaking my specs. I’ve parked it for a little later in the morning.

Had a busy couple of days at the start of the week. Catching up. Lots to do today an all. Sfine. Finished The Oregon Trail, purchaysed from the Harvard Bookshop. Now started on Mourt’s Relation. Purchaysed at the Pigrim’s Memorial Museum in Provincetown. Inneresting.

That’s not work though. Work is something else. Work, of some sort, is actually something we all want to do. Not to have anything to do is mind numbingly boring. Ok there are other projects that you can get on with. I saw a programme on YouTube about a bloke binding a book in his shed. The end result was v impressive. 

However that is something you need to dedicate a lot of time to. Not sure I would be committed enough to do that. I still need to write my hit musical and no doubt have a few books in me. These will also take time.

Been keeping an eye out for when bookings open up at a campsite we want to visit near Nice next September. We are off to France for a month at least. Rugby World Cup camp followers. 

Lawn is watered. Twenty minutes. Might nip out and buy a new sprinkler later. Would seem like a good investment. I do need at some point to nip into town to get a couple of things frames. Signed Pink Martini tour poster and a sheet of stamps from the Ukraine. The one where the soldier is giving the finger to the Russian battleship that was subsequently sunk. Yanow the one. Maybs head out to Forge Arts in Hackthorn instead. Easier to get to.

Appointment made for tomorrow ar 11.15 am at forge arts.

A blustery evening in October. Autumn is well under way. Imminent leaf fall anticipated. The weather would appear to have turned.

I’ve moved the squirrel trap back into the loft. Different spot. Found a load of squirrel (I assume) droppings and something has been chewing at some polystyrene sheets. I think I’ve got the right place now. The polystyrene, which was just rubbish and not insulation, accounts for the strange rubbing noise. A bit of a worry but as long as it was just having a go at the polystyrene that is ok.

Now in the shed watching the footy build up. Cosee.

Another useless government minister has acrimoniously gone. They will all have gone before long, if it is the will of Allah.

Categories
travel

East Coast Adventure

Eddie the Senior Breakfast Chef at the Vivre restaurant at the Sofitel is a bit of a star. It was his 30th wedding anniversary yesterday. He went to the Ivy in Maidenhead (or similar) with his wife. He has been at the Sofitel since it opened. 2006 or thereabouts. I’m sure they appreciate him. He livened up breakfast.

Now we are packed and chillin in the room. We have 5 hours before we take off. Better to be far too early and have no stress than to worry about whether the trains will run etc. Although I am on holiday and the out of office message is on I still have a bit of stuff to do but it will wait until the lounge.

I am wearing jeans but have packed some shorts in my carry on. It will be 22℃ when we land in New York City. Currently at LHR it is 10℃. I’ve also swapped a jacket for a fleece which will be more comfortable on the plane. 

Quite excited about going on our travels again. This one has been a year in the planning. I’m in two minds about long haul travel. One the one hand it takes you to parts of the world that are different to your normal experience of life. On the other hand the concept of sitting in a tin can for a day and stepping out somewhere 5,000 miles away does feel strange. Unnatural. Certainly not environmentally friendly. 

I could get used to the idea of slow travel. Not leaving the ground. The problem with this is both time and money. For example we are flying to Florence in October for a few nights away. I can’t remember exactly how much it costs but lets say £200 return each. £400 in business class. It’s a 2 hour flight.

To go overland would be at least a two day drive with a couple of hotel stays and a ferry plus a few hundred quid in fuel. Or a train I suppose but that would probably also be a couple of days. Anyway. Woteva. Next September we are planning a month-long road trip to the South of France. The beginning of our slow travels perhaps.

Back to today if you are in NYC this week we might get a chance to say hello.

The downsides of sitting in a Business Class Lounge is that you get to hear someone discussing a presentation. You can’t see the slides or hear the other person so it is slightly annoying. He is discussing the sterling crisis. Fortunately it doesn’t sound as if they have much exposure to sterling!

The upside is that the Lounges is at B Gates and is 100m or so from our own departure gate. What’s not to like?

Offline

A state that exists when you have not yet connected to the BA onboard wifi. This state will continue until that point in time when I have become bored with everything on offer offline. Currently I am listening to my fave playlist but I also have 15 BBC 4 programmes downloaded onto iPlayer.

There is absolutely nothing I want to watch on the inflight entertainment which is understandably geared to offer popular stuff favoured by the masses. Not my thang.

The new touchscreen interactive map is v good. You can zoom in and out by using your fingers. We think of this as part of our every day electronic device experience but airline technology is v slow to catch up.

My travelling companion has closed the shutter between us. You aren’t exactly close to each other in these seats anyway. Long haul airline business class travel is not a very sociable mode of transport. People climb into their cocoons. Hunker down into survival mode. I am content. A large tanqueray and slimline tonic has been ordered and my food choices already made. 

There is no hurry for the food although it would be good if the Tanqueray arrived soon. Only 12 of us in this cabin so it will be quick enough coming.

Currently we are above Milford Haven (waves to @Nat Morris) and headed for Cork and the Dingle Peninsula. Out of the port window we should be able to see Padstow but I am not sat at a window. I’ve never been to Cork or Dingle. Will have to rectify that once our days of slow travel arrive. Bed and breakfast tour of Ireland methinks. Maybe with an occasional campervan night thrown in?

Next summer I have a week in one of the vans at the National Eisteddfod planned. Pwllheli. Will be like being back in my student days. I watched the highlights of this year’s Eisteddfod and was amazed at how many people I actually knew. Lots of folk I was at University with. 

The Eisteddfod weeks are very boozy affairs. Nothing seems to have changed there. As a student we would go out to the pub every night. If you weren’t in by 7pm you probably wouldn’t get a seat. Times have changed. Kids don’t go out until much later these days. We would occasionally have a Sunday or Monday night in just as a firebreak. Not often mind.

Sunday night was typically a trip to the cinema to watch a movie and then a visit to theTaj Mahal in Upper Bangor for a curry. It was a laddish thing to do. The pubs weren’t open on a Sunday in Bangor in those days. If you wanted a beer it was either a private club (students union, British Legion etc) or a restaurant. Or you could head a few miles up the coast to Llanfairfech which had a different council and wickedly allowed the consumption of alcohol on the Sabbath. 

I’ve downed the G&T and am now onto champagne. The T was flat and the ratio of G to T was inadequate. I moved on rather than trying to get the mix right. Pouring a large, fair play, glass of champagne is easy to get right.

I’m having some sort of avocado and edamame salad. Not totes sure what edamame is but I will find out soon enough. I think I’ve had it before. I didn’t bother to ask. My main is chicken Tikka Masala. I read a review on headforpoints or the pointsguy that it was the best CTM they had tasted on an aeroplane. I’ll soon find out. It will be my last curry for a few weeks. Not worth having one in the USA. Mexican yes, lobster in New England yes, burgers and steaks even. Curry no.

The attendant said she would keep an eye on the level of the champagne in my glass. Makesalorrasense. I assume I will have a kip on this flight even though it is only 7 ½ hours or so. A few sherberts, a bit of scram and then nod off. ‘Tis the way of things. 

Food is on its way. It has made it to seat 5A which is the front left of the J cabin. That is only three rows in front of me. The smell of lunch has begun to permeate the aircraft. Looks to me like they are delivering all courses at the same time on the same tray. As long as my CTM doesn’t go cold. 

Papa was a rollin’ stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home. Not talking about my own dad. It’s in my headphones. My dad did have a cap or two but no hat. He was a good dad. I am proud to be his son. He died a year and a bit ago. Just thinking about this makes me a tad melancholy. It is as it should be.

Dad was a victim of covid. Covid didn’t kill him but the isolation he had to suffer in his care home did. His death certificate mentioned a few causes of death that included “old age”. This was true. He needed to be in a care home because we couldn’t cater for his needs which were 24 x 7 availability of someone to help.

It didn’t feel great seeing him go into the home, especially as it was something he had fought against but we had no choice really.  When he was there, on the rare occasions we were able to visit, I understood his reticence. Mam and dad both said that old age was a terrible thing. 

It is. I’m not sure it informs our own life decisions but we certainly try cramming in as much as we can. Witness this trip to the East coast of the USA. following that we have Florence and Paris in rapid succession. Gottabedone. I’m not available for Thursday evening golf for a few weeks by which time the season will be over.

I have finished dinner and am now onto the last dregs of the white wine. The tray is sitting on  top of the compartment that has the gadget in that allows you to call the attendant for a refill. I see someone patrolling the other aisle offering refills. I daresay she will make it around to this side. I also feel a cognac would be appropriate. See what they got.

We should hopefully arrive at the hotel in New York by 8pm. 9 at the latest. We then need to head out into the city to avoid going to bed too early., I get really bad jet lag regardless of the direction of travel. Staying up late on the first night is just one of those things you have to do. Maybs have a beer or a cocktail. 

I recall one trip when I ended up at an airport hotel in Phoenix Az. Hilton Garden Inn or simlar. I decided to head to the bar and after some deliberation to order a cheeseburger. I was too tired to speak Americun so my interaction with the waitress was somewhat limited. She asked me what sort of cheese I wanted. The choices were Swiass, chuddur or Americun. Not really recognising any of the cheeses on offer I asked her to recommend one and her response was that if I wanted real cheese she would go for chuddur. I realised some time later that she was talking about cheddar.

There is a definite knack to speaking Amuricun. I’ve travelled a lot in the States and am fairly fluent. It includes using phrases such as “could I get a” with the relevant lilt in accent instead of “I’d like”. It isn’t worth fighting it. There will be many other phrases in use that do not presently spring to mind but into which I will lapse at the appropriate times. It is the way of things.

A cognac has arrived. It is good. The stewardess went forward to first class to source it and it has been served in a nice piece of cut glass. I have a champagne from Club to chase it down. This is not in the same league as the Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle dished out up front but still acceptable.

John and I flew to St Lucia British Airways First class a few years ago. The destination choice was influenced by the fact that at 19 years old he would not have been allowed alcohol in California which had been the first mooted port of call. On the plane John observed that he wasn’t sure whether he liked champagne. Upon being informed that this stuff retailed at £140 a bottle he didn’t object whenever the attendant passed by and topped up his glass. He knocked back at least a bottle. The attendant was complicit in the plan. She had been informed of the dad and lad nature of the trip.

The next dad and lad trip is with Joe to NOLA and Havana in January. BA First Class. Seems fair. We finish off with two nights in Miami where hopefully Joe will have his Global Entry interview. Just like Irish passports and passing their driving test it is one of the things you do for your kids.

Anne doesn’t have Global Entry. This does create a dilemma when traversing US immigration. It just doesn’t make sense for both of us to stand in line unnecessarily when I could be in the baggage reclaim area picking up the suitcases. Two years ago when we landed in SFO I waited two hours for Anne to get through passport control. Apparently the weekend before it had taken 6 hours. We were fortunate that we didn’t have several flights arrive from China at the same time. Our friend Jackie, from Middlesbrough, who was picking us up from the airport had to wait patiently outside arrivals.

I’m hoping it won’t be the same at JFK (it wasn’t – we both breezed through). We arrive at Terminal 7 which is predominantly BA and I don’t think there will be the same congestion (fingers crossed). Also we are in Club Class so will be off first. First Class passengers have to walk through our cabin to get off. We were in first in SFO and that didn’t seem to make any difference but we shall see this time.

Once I flew to Istanbul as a guest of Hewlett Packard to participate in their CIO Council. V high end shindig. I was in economy but HP had paid 50 Euros or simlar for fast track through immigration. It was the best 50 Euros ever spent. A bloke met me off the plane with my name on a piece of card and I hopped on a golf cart that took me past several hundred queueing worthies to the front of passport control where someone stamped my passport and I was through.

Some time later I was just stepping into the shower at the Sheraton Hotel when the phone rang. It was a HP sales guy on the same flight saying he was looking around arrivals but couldn’t see me. HP hadn’t spent the same money on him. Hey…

That was a hell of a few days. We had dinner in the Topkapi Palace, notionally the best restaurant in Istanbul, and there are a lot of them. Armed guards in evidence as you walked through the gates. Only problem is it was classic Turkish fare. I decided this wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’m not complaining., It was a privilege to be there. 

The next night, after a full-on day of meetings, we went on a Bosphorus dinner cruise and were dropped off at an outdoor night club where, in the VIP area, we consumed bucketloads of chilled Grey Goose vodka and Red Bull. That club was the scenario of a terrorist bombing a couple or three years later…

I left at 1.30am and caught a cab home. I had an early start the next day. Early flight back to London to have lunch with a journalist. As I was checking out some of the party goers from the previous night were just arriving back at the hotel. One of them was on the same flight. I’ve never seen anyone looking so much like death warmed up on the plane.

When I got back to London the journalist didn’t show. When I rang him he said he was in Norfolk and had gone away for the weekend. I never bothered with him again. Unprofessional arsehole. Can’t even remember his name now.

I’m still going strong on the champagne and brandy. I’ll need a refill soon. Either you fall asleep or have to keep going. I am currently opting for the latter. We still have 5 ½ hours to go before we get there.

A refill is in hand. Same source. First class brandy is much nicer than the stuff they dish out in Club. Fair play. Result.

Another refill. Been watching a programme on sheep gathering in the Lake District. Third time I’ve watched it. Compulsive viewing.

Been a bit of a whirlwind few days in NYC. So far so good. In chronological order we’ve done the subway, Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Central Park, Broadway, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Macys, Empire State Building, MoMA and the Al Hirschfield Theatre to see Moulin Rouge. 

The show was spectacular. A real work of art. We had front row seats which took me a while to decide on but you were right in the middle of the action.

We booked plinth access at the Statue of Liberty. I had no idea what this entailed but it sounded like the right thing to do. Turns out it meant you got to climb the 176 stairs to the top of the plinth/bottom of the statue. Unexpected and knackering. Contributed to my doing 62 sets of stairs that day. Worth it for the view though. There was a good view of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth which is in town for a visit. The crown of the statue is still not open to the public. A hangover from social distancing. Reopens next month you will be glad to hear.

It’s all been great. A few things have stuck in the mind. Breakfast at the Warwick Hotel was a one day experience only. V expensivo and not worth the money. The waitress had zero personality and was just going through the motions. 

The bar at the hotel was good but also v expensivo at around $12 pint inc tip so really just for finishing off the night. Mind you I’m not sure how much beer was elsewhere. A little cheaper perhaps. 

We have tried a few venues for market research purposes, obvs: Cassidy’s Irish Pub, The Whiskey Bar, Judge Roy Bean, Benihaha, Iron Bar, Connolly’s Irish Pub. Tonight it’s PJ Clarke’s. One of the oldest saloons in NYC apaz.

We are headed up the coast on Sunday but have changed our hotel reservation for when we get back to NYC. Cancelled this current one (Warwick) and moved it to the Midtown Hilton which is directly over the road on 6th Avenue. Same cost but double points, diamond member free breakfast and a room upgrade. Makes more sense than shelling out a hundred bucks on two avocado toasts with smoked salmon and poached egg.

Nipped out this morning and bought some croissants and pain au choc from a street kiosk. Ten bucks together with some fruit. Makes a lorra sense to me 🙂

Took us a while to figure out the subway system and we were nearly late for our booked ferry. The last ones on! Wouldn’t have mattered really but I booked the first ferry as I figured it would give us a head start on the day and the perceived wisdom was that the queues (lines) would be shorter. I suspect this was the case.

The next time we rode the subway (getting into the vernacular already) we were approached by first time tourists and I was amazingly able to help them. This is different to our experience where the first three or four people we asked did not speak English.

Having bought a subway oyster type card (can’t immediately remember the name) we of course did not use it yesterday and walked everywhere. Day one was around 17,000 steps but yesterday it was North of 20,000. Not sure exactly as my fitbit is still in UK time and something reset when the date clicked over at midnight and I’ve lost around 18,000 steps somewhere. First world problems.

Walking everywhere does come with its own challenges. The lights seemed to go against us at every crossing. I also had to look down before leaving the pavement (sidewalk) as there is a big step down and I didn’t want to go arse over tit when crossing the road. The speed of traffic in Manhattan is “dead slow”. Hardly worth taking a taxi. Fortunately the roads will be reasonably clear when we leave for the airport on Sunday morning.

Lots to get through between now and then. Stay tuned.

Hurricane Ian is wringing its spongy tail and is soaking NYC this morning. The streets of Manhattan were pretty empty when I headed out in search of milk and croissants. New Yorkers don’t appear to be early weekend risers. I understand. 

The consequence of this is the absence of street vendors and the Ernst & Klein deli was still closed even though its website says it is open at 7am. I was accosted by a guy in shorts with a plastic bag over his top and sporting an umbrella. “Can I ask you a question?” No.

Yesterday I was accosted several times by young Jewish men asking me whether I was Jewish. It must have been my hat and feathers! I finally asked one of them why and got the answer “outreach”. Trying to bring more of their community into the fold. Probs.

We had another great day. Skating rink at the Rockefeller Centre and a 44 second ride to Top of the Rock. Views were spectacular and we stayed up there for at least half an hour. Figured we wouldn’t be doing it again anytime soon so we might as well take our time. It’s only 38 seconds down.

In the afternoon we met Eva, a friend of Anne’s from her time as a student in Germany and then meandered our way to PJ Clarke’s which lived up to its billing. Oysters followed by a burger with fries. Good and plentiful fries, fair play. Anne helped herself to some of mine, they were that plentiful.

All in all the trip is going well. I got 1.07 exchange rate at the ATM when I withdrew some cash which ain’t exactly great but could have been a lot worse. I’m going to tot it all up when I get home. It’s all going on the Amex which funnily enough everywhere seems to take over here. 

Next up we are going to pack for an earlyish departure for JFK tomorrow morning. Coming up we have a full-on day of baseball at the Yankee Stadium followed by dinner at Mr Chows so I figured we needed to be mostly ready to go in the morning.

We will be back in New York for one more night on 10th October before we fly home. Catch ya later.

Well. New York was great. We are, however, now back to the normal unglamorous bit of travel, to whit, airline delays. I’m not too put out, yet. We had breakfast in the airport as planned and are now sitting patiently at Gate 1 JFK T5, waiting.

We have no lounge access but tbh even if we did I suspect I’d rather be at the gate to make sure we were on in a timely fashion to ensure I get my carry on in the overhead luggage compartment. I don’t like having anything under the seat in front of me as it cuts down on leg space.

We are in Row 3 Group A boarding but I don’t trust fu£$3rs with lots of carry on who stick it in the first available space up front and then proceed to their seat in row 36 or similar. Believe you me it is ridiculous how much luggage folk think is acceptable to take onboard.

I don’t even know whether airline travellers in the USA respect the boarding protocols. Does the airline even bother boarding by group

I’m using the JetBlue free wifi. Ordinarily I’d have my vpn on for a bit of security but it doesn’t work on my laptop since the certificate was changed and I’ve not got around to sorting it. Never mind. Life on the edge eh?

Next stop is Boston and thence to Rockport, Cape Ann. A different pace of life to the place we are just leaving. We have a hotel on the beach and expect to be lulled to sleep by the waves instead of the wailing sirens and horns that prevail on the streets of New York City.

We approached New York running and took to the city full on. Yesterday was the only day we registered fewer than 20,000 steps. This was partly because we spent the afternoon sat down at Yankee Stadium and partly because the rain drove us to using taxis.

Now I’m having to listen to some woman whinging to someone on her phone about her travel woes. Sorry love, I don’t care. She is telling the whole long drawn out story about how she failed to get on an earlier flight despite the fact that there were three empty seats on it.

Phew, she’s talking about something else now. Sighs with relief. Can’t stop listening to her conversation though. She has a dreary monotone voice. She’s gone now. Thank god. I note she has three carry-on bags.

Wandered over to the desk to see if there was any info on why the flight has been delayed and blow me down who’s stood in front of me? No other than our whinger. Now whinging more as the staff member has just told her the gate has changed, again. Ya gorra laugh. We have moved from Gate 1 (originally 5) to Gate 22. The plane, unsurprisingly, has not yet arrived at Gate 22 but I’m fairly confident it (probably) will as the crew looks to be hanging around the other side of the desk.

In NYC we stayed at the Warwick Hotel on West 54th. I can’t really recommend it. It’s an old hotel past its best. The three lifts were small and some people had long waits for one to arrive. Also I had to run the shower for a good ten minutes before the hot water arrived and I don’t think there was a day where we hadn’t had to call down to housekeeping because something had not been replaced: coffee cups/coffee/hair conditioner/take your pick. Also I bought a four pinter of milk to keep in the fridge without realising that the fridge didn’t work. The only real benefit of our 6th Avenue view room was that it faced the outside. I opted for this sort of room because I was under the impression we would have sweeping views of 6 avenue. In reality all you could see was the office block opposite.

We had originally booked in here for one more night on our way home but I cancelled that and booked into the Hilton Midtown, just over the road. The bar staff do merit a shoutout, especially Sammy the bartender who did a good job of looking after us whilst we were there:)

At least our plane has now arrived at the gate. Light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. Mrs whinger, who is in my line of sight but quiet, has been replaced by angry woman, bro. I can’t see here as she is directly behind me. Too much tension bro. Between Shevaun and an unnamed person.

Avadenuffornowamgone

Rockport, Cornwall, Wales.

Rocked up in Rockport. It was misty and wet when we left Manhattan. New England has a familiar Autumnal feel to it. We switched the heating on in the hotel room before heading out for the evening. The hotel is on the seafront and the balcony is not only windswept but has a magnificent backdrop of wild Atlantic rollers crashing onto the beach below. Reminds me of the Isle of Man in winter.

Rockport battens down the hatches early on a Sunday. In consequence I was tucked up in bed by 8pm. Couldn’t get into the last pub open, the Feather and Wedge. Apparently a crowd of punters just rocked up and have occupied all the bar stools. Bugger. Even that shuts at 8pm. The pursuit of filthy lucre is very much toned down here. Rockport is after all an artist’s enclave. Every other shop is an art gallery.

We found the one convenience store still open, run by some Indian folk. It’s the same the whole world over. They sold bacon, milk and bread but no beer. Breakfast is secured anyway.

Am looking forward to tomorrow. Bit of a stroll around the galleries and bookshops followed by a spin around Cape Ann. Am thinking we might cab it to Gloucester for dinner in the evening. Feels as if I’ve done the clam chowder and lobster. We made it into the Fish Shack with 15 minutes to spare. Last entry 6pm.

Quite bemusing btw to consider that the motel, Captain’s Bounty on the Beach, made a thing about the two “free” bottles of water whilst at the same time charging us over $300 a night for the room (can’t remember how much exactly). Still it is in a wonderful spot. Looks as if there are only 3 or 4 rooms taken out of around 28 or so.

Up early. Hard not to with the noise of the waves crashing onto the beach below our hotel bedroom. There is a memorial in Rockport to fishermen who lost their lives at sea. It isn’t hard to understand how that could happen here with the wild Atlantic on the doorstep.

Bacon has been cooked and eaten and to a certain extent we are now biding our time before heading out. Things don’t open particularly early in Rockport. This is our one day of “doing Cape Ann”. Tomorrow we are headed to Cape Cod stopping en route to visit Fearghas and Jezzibell.

I’m sat at the dining table looking out at the sea. Interesting to observe that this room, with a fantastic view, is cheaper than a room looking at a wall in New York 🙂 Also the shower worked straight away. There isn’t much competition for the hot water here. 

We could easily spend a few more days in Rockport but time is limited and much to cram in. I’m not sure when next we will be on the East coast although having said that I am back in Miami in January.

Good morning in Gloucester.

This morning we meandered our way around the Essex heritage coastal path or some similarly named route that took us through Cape Ann suburbia. We only really caught glimpses of the coast itself until we arrived in Gloucester, the oldest harbour in the USA apaz. I can believe it. Next year Gloucester celebrates 400 years as a township. As the USA goes, that is old. v.

Gloucester itself was v pleasant other than it was cold and windy. The windy bit meant that none of the whale watching boats were sailing which didn’t really affect us as we had already figured that four hours out of the day was outside our time budget. We can revisit when we get to Boston. The whales probably really enjoy the peace they get away from tourists when it is windy.

We parked outside the Democrats Campaign HQ. This was in a  former fish processing building down by the harbour. I’d stuck the car in the obvious carpark but there was no indication as to whether you needed to pay and all the cars sported some sort of sticker in the window that was clearly not a pay and display job.

I decided I needed to take advice but the first person I approached, in fact the only person in view, was an artist who had come for the day to take part in a competition. She had no idea. Neither in fact did the person in the Democrats Campaign HQ but she said we could park in their lot. Very nice of her and she was v helpful generally. I said I hoped they won 🙂

We had coffee and pastries in Sicilia’s Caff and I bought some olive oil from a specialist store over the road which offered tastings. This was good as the oil I bought was not the stuff I might have done without the tasting and I declined to buy any of the balsamic vinegar. Interestingly this shop imported oils from the northern or southern hemispheres based on the time of year. In this way they guaranteed to have the freshest oils. Currently they stock southern hemisphere product.

There was bugger all open in Rockport this morning but we are going to chance our arm there again later. There is also the Hammond Castle Museum to visit but we will assess that when the day is a little older. See how it goes.

Not that much more open this pm either but did stop in to chat at a couple of bookshops and bought some t-shirts. Popped in to the Fish Shack to discover that they are the only bar open today and they only open because the others are closed. Apparently they only allowed bars in Rockport in 2016. Wtf?! Discovered Jetty Juice. Top notch stuff. Check it out https://rockportbrewingcompany.com/

Rockport is v quaint but has a lot to learn in respect of milking the tourist buck. Many of the stores close for the winter. Picked up an end of season sale t-shirt for a tenner. Not 100% cotton but it was only ten bucks for goodness sake.

On the way back to the motel passed the nice lady from Bullseye Books-Flyboys. She recognised me from earlier and smiled nicely. People are nice innit.

Darkness has descended on Rockport. No spectacular sunset tonight. We feel robbed. In Room 32 preparations are underway for dinner. Salad is being sorted and then the decks will be cleared for me to sort the scallops with bacon and garlic butter and then the steaks. We like to eat well.

Farewell Rockport Farewell. 

We enjoyed our time as your guests. We enjoyed the Fish Shack bar and restaurant and popping into the small shops that lined your streets, when they were open. I enjoyed discovering the local beer and we enjoyed our meal in our room on our last night as a change to constantly eating out 🙂

The weather was affected by Hurricane Ian further to the south but it didn’t really affect the quality of the experience, much.

I leave you with four more t-shirts that I had when we arrived plus a woollen beanie made in Nepal, purchased in the shop I called “the old people’s shop” but still went in anyway.

In the harbour we enjoyed our chat with the lobster fisherman who was packing away his pots for the season. Although lobsters only fetched $5 to the lb this season down from $8 last year he didn’t appear to have done too badly out of it looking at the size and newness of his truck. Lobsters, we are told, have been plentiful this year. A testament to conservation work done in the area. Apaz.

Mine, consumed at the Fish Shack on our first night, was very nice.

Farewell Rockport Farewell. 

Sunrise Room, Lands End Inn, Provincetown.

We arrived at the Lands End Inn during a bit of a storm. Hurricane Ian still tail wagging. The views are terrific and we have a couple of large windows and a private balcony looking out onto the Harbour and Cape Cod Bay. Well they are normally terrific. Today the rain is lashing down and the balcony is unusable. Unfortunately the forecast for tomorrow is worse. Reminds us of Summer holidays in North Wales.

Our spirits are not dampened. For the moment we are sat in our wonderful room watching Liverpool v Rangers in the European Cup. The free wine gets dispensed at 5pm and we hopefully have a booking at The Red Inn restaurant for 6.30. I say hopefully because when Peter on reception called them to book the computer system at the other end was “down”.

The Red Inn was recommended on the basis that it was close. Walking into town is not really what we want to do on such a wild evening. We can see the inn from the balcony and it is one of the best restaurants in Provincetown. Their website says President Theodore and Mrs. Roosevelt stayed in The Inn when they travelled to Provincetown to lay the cornerstone for the Provincetown Monument. I daresay we will visit the monument tomorrow so we will be following in their footsteps in more ways than one. 

Woke up this morning with low battery on both laptop and phone. The dearth of convenient electric sockets seems to have been a feature of our trip. There is one on a lead at the side of my bed but it doesn’t work and every other one already has something plugged in. Except the one next to the sink in the bathroom! And I’ve had to prop the laptop charger up with a tube of toothpaste as otherwise the weight of the power supply pulls the plug out of the socket.

I’ve adopted a technique for this trip of charging the phone overnight with the battery pack and then leaving the battery to charge somewhere during the day. Last night I plugged it into the socket but only realised that wasn’t working when I got up. Niver mind.

I’m not really complaining. All the hotels we have stayed in have been old buildings with an element of quirkiness. This particular one, The Lands End Inn, is by far the best we will be staying in on this trip. Better even than the Sofitel in T5 which is v good but of a formula. The Lands End Inn is like a home from home. Very comfortable and very welcoming and also with great views over Cape Cod Bay.

In other news I lost a small chunk of tooth filling last night. Worra nuisance. It isn’t giving me any gyp but will need sorting when I get back. Problem is the 3 month wait time for a slot at the dentist.

Anyway today we are “doing” Provincetown. We are nobbut a short walk from the beach at which the Mayflower pilgrims waded ashore to build sandcastles. Must have been a bit of a relief after 62 days on board a cramped ship. Just picture the arguments when they discovered that Boston had an airport which would have knocked 61 ⅔ days off their travel time. Would not have offered such a dramatic backdrop to what was after all a very historic moment.

They would not, I’m sure, have wanted discussions on who got window or aisle seats or speculations on the time it takes to get through customs to have distracted from the main purpose of the visit which was to get freedom of religious expression.

After the beach we plan to stroll into town along Commercial Street and take in the monument and museum. From the tripadvisor comments it seems that the museum is all about the efforts to build the monument which seems a bit odd but maybe I’m wrong. We will find out soon enough.

Turns out the reason the pilgrims didn’t stick around Provincetown very long was the absence of water. Nowadays it is shipped in from somewhere along the coast, apaz. The waitress did tell us where but I’ve had a couple of cocktails and a bottle of red since then and can’t quite remember the details.

Will report back

The museum turned out to be v interesting fair play. Didn’t bother going up the monument. You could hardly see the top of it from the base so we would not have had any sort of view from up there which is the whole point of going up. Nice little ride in the funicular to get there though. Bought a copy of Mourt’s Relation at  the museum. Be an interesting read.

Purchaysed a few souvenirs along the route there  including a couple of vintage American car number plates, an NYPD lapel badge, a bottle opener that was a surf board with a shark bite in it and the Japanese Emperor’s Imperial flag. I also wanted to buy the flag of Kazakhstan but they were out of stock and wouldn’t sell me the one on display. Huh! Finally dropped into a Hawaiian shirt shop and got a couple of bangers in the sale for $20 each.

Provincetown is a funky spot and unlike Rockport where the one bar closed at 8pm the local joints here are good until at least 1am. Not that we will be up that late. We have a cab picking us up at 6 (free drinks at the Lands End Inn from 5pm) and bringing us back at 10. Much later than that I turn into a glass slipper, or a pumpkin or similar. It is nearly Halloween after all.  

Back at the Inn now having run up 10k steps so to speak. The place is a haven after doing the touristy thing. In fact this whole holiday has settled into a pattern. We do the sightseeing in the morning until sometime after lunch and then return to chill out a bit before heading out on the razzle. Half thinking of donning one of my new shirts tonight but it ain’t exactly Hawaiian weather. 

The cab journey into town is only about a mile and you might think it’s a bit wussy to not walk. However the weather is still crap and the taxi will be used to taking people on short trips. I was chatting to the guy behind the desk at the museum and mentioned we’d walked. His response was “wow you guys have had an energetic day”.

Today btw is Yom Kippur. Some shops had closed for it. Fortunately other shops were available.

Had a great last night out in Provincetown. Bit of a pub crawl. Can’t remember all their names but one of them was called Heaven (big LGBT place is PT) and we ate at the Lobster Pot. In fact just looked at my FB timeline and I see that one was called Tin Pan Alley and Anne tells me we started off at the Governor Bradford.

Provincetown was fun despite the weather but we are unlikely to return. It isn’t exactly on the way anywhere. We got away in a reasonably timely manner at 8.15 ish and hit the road for Plimoth Patuxet, the Pilgrims settlement museum. Upon arrival the sun came out vindicating my choice of short trousers. 

We were slightly disappointed to discover that the Mayflower II is not at the same location as the Plimoth Museum and weren’t sure that we would have enough time to see the ship as we needed to get the car back to Avis by 2pm. We remedied this by not dawdling too much and bought ourselves an hour or so for the Mayflower. Was pretty amazing to see the space that 102 pilgrims crammed into, including their animals up at the bow.

It was really well worth doing. Both museums were actually interesting. The onward drive to Boston was characterised by the arrival of “fall” in the trees lining the roads. Didn’t get any pics as I was  driving but we have at least now seen some of the famed colours.

Today we are walking the Freedom Trail. The 16 historical spots that define the American casting off of the shackles of British oppression. Our hotel is smack in the middle of it all. To some extent it feels surreal coming here as a tourist. Our room is on the 8th floor. I can almost imagine looking down out of the hotel window and watching the fighting on the streets below. Redcoats v patriots. I imagine the doormen would stop any of it coming into the actual hotel. The comfort of the guests is a priority 🙂

Reminds me of the night of the Eagles concert in Hyde Park where 80,000 gig goers streamed out afterwards. We only had to stroll over the road to the Park Lane Hilton where only residents were being allowed entry. 

Just a few nights left on our East Coast odyssey. Still loads to cram in and we don’t actually get home until next Thursday but I do sense that a quiet week in front of the fire will be in order.

Knackered. Traipsed around the Freedom Trail and now back in the hotel injecting sugar in the form of an M&M Cookie and caffeine in a milky coffee. I’m not going to describe the full five and a half hours but there are a few observations worthy of note.

You start off in Boston Common. A drone’s eye view would have shown many guided tours that were able to keep apart thanks to the many wide lanes criss-crossing the former cattle grazing ground. By attraction number four, the Granary Burial Ground the guided tours began to collide and clog up the pathways. Some notable graves were impossible to view as they were surrounded by groups huddled around their respective guide. The cemetery needs a traffic management protocol.

There were times when we strode ahead of a tour thinking that once we were in the clear we would no longer be troubled by them. This worked until we got to the memorial for Benjamin Franklin where we had sat down for a breather and to check WhatsApp etc. Before we knew it a group had caught us up. This particular guide had a very irritating high pitched nasal whine. I’d have been somewhat annoyed had I elected to go on her particular tour. Couldn’t have stuck that noise the whole way around.

We took a moment or two to find the next attraction, the Old Corner Bookstore. This was because it is no longer a bookstore but a Mexican restaurant. Fair enough. Many of the attractions had a $15 admission fee. We skipped going inside these. If we’d paid $30 for the two of us for every one of these places it would not have been a cheap day out.

As it was the $15 (inc tip) I paid for some bland mexican wrap in the Quincy Market was an unmemorable experience but at least it gave us the opportunity to sit down and recharge the batteries.

Many of the tours stopped at Faneuil Hall although we did see one or two make it as far as Paul Revere’s gaff. I suspect the average tourist and one or two of the guides might have struggled to make it the whole way around. Near to Paul Revere are lots of nice looking Italian Restaurants including Mamma Maria’s which I had booked for dinner on Sunday but since decided against as it looked a bit too posh for what we will want. More lobster than lasagna. 

We did buy some nice looking Italian bread in a deli styled as the best Italian Grocery in Boston. We have picnic stuff in the fridge in our room and much prefer to make our own sandwiches rather than buy them. You can’t buy a small sandwich in the USA.

The hike across the river to Charlestown tested the dedication of the most fervent Freedom Trailer. This was especially true for the bridge which was having some work done to it and  the crossing of which involved risking life and limb across a busy junction unaided by walk/don’t walk lights.

Towards the end we decided to skip Bunkers Hill and the site of the first battle of the revolution heading instead straight for the USS Constitution. Old Ironsides as she is known. The Bunkers Hill monument was a step too far. I doubt many make it up the hill.

So there ya go. We enjoyed the day out and caught the boat back to the wharf near our hotel whereupon we indulged in the aforementioned refreshments. Now relaxing in our room before deciding which bar to hit. No rush.

Unless you have the stamina to visit all the museums it only takes two or three hours to “do” Harvard. We went to the Peabody Museum and the Natural History Museum, both of which were in the same building. Although not huge displays the displays were very high quality and I particularly noted the meteorites. Not sure I’ve seen a meteorite before. Anne had visited here with her folks in 1969 and the crystal exhibits she had distinct memories of were thrillingly still on display.

We found coffee and ice cream at J.P. Licky’s and then sat in the sun for a while watching a chinese busker set up and start to play. His quite competent guitar playing was not really matched by his singing voice but he was entertaining enough and a few people threw in a few dollars.

We were meeting our friends Ren and Joe at Wusong Road tiki bar at 5pm and at 4pm spotted that the sun was already over a handily situated yardarm so repaired to Whitney’s for a couple before the party started. I’m a great believer that towns and cities need to be experienced through their pubs.

Nice chat with the bartender, Baptiste and purchaysed a pub t-shirt to add to my collection from this trip. Baptiste was very familiar with the IoM TT Races which was quite cool. The rest of the day is a bit of a cocktail induced blur that ended up at a packed out Mr Dooleys and watching game 2 of  the Padres v Mets in the hotel bar. Mets won 3 – 7. @Huw Rees won’t be happy. Still one game to go 😉

Thus far I’ll be leaving some good reviews of some of the places we’ve been on this trip but especially of Whitneys and our particular hotel, the Hilton Downtown Faneuil Hall. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the breakfasts here but the stand out experience has been at the concierge desk. Lead Concierge John not only remembered my name, inc spelling, but was able to get us in to the fully booked Union Oyster House tonight and sorted us out for breakfast today at the North Street Grille.

Had we not booked a table in advance the wait would have been at least an hour.

Last night in Boston and our penultimate in the US of A. An action packed trip. We are currently relaxing in the room before heading out to dine at the oldest restaurant in the USA. Predates the American Revolution. Gosh. Gottabedone. We will also no doubt be visiting Mr Dooley for one last beer or two. 

We have an easy enough start tomorrow. 11.11 Acela train from Boston to Pennsylvania Station arr 14.51. Gotta nip out and buy some nosh for the journey beforehand. There is a 711 somewhere nearby. If we get upgraded to first then they dish up food on the train. 

They have a bidding system so I’ve stuck a medium chance bid in. Tbh the reviews on the difference between “business class” and “first class” on the Acela suggest there isn’t much in it which is why I didn’t bother going for first from the get go. Just free food and drink and lounge access at Boston station. Quite like doing picnics. The food on board is probably pretty mediocre anyway. 711 is unlikely to produce anything decent though.

Cab to Hilton Midtown. Plan is to meet John Bradley for beers then head to Birdland jazz club. Although I don’t have a bucket list, Birdland is on it.

Now working my way through the last three bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in the fridge.

I stay in a lot of Hiltons. Two things made the Hilton Boston Downtown Faneuil Hall stand out.

First of all, the breakfasts were exceptionally good. It was helped by being A La Carte instead of a buffet but it was so good that we unusually had breakfast for three out of our four nights at the hotel.

Second was the outstanding service provided by Lead Concierge John. He got us tables at restaurants that were notionally fully booked including the Union Oyster House and North Street Grille. At the Oyster house people were being told that there would be at least an hour’s wait but we were straight in and at our table in a matter of seconds.

The North Street Grille had a similar waiting time – for breakfast! At the latter I mentioned that the table had been booked for us by John at the Hilton. The response was “John is great”. 

He needs to be called out for his exceptional customer service. He even remembered my name including the spelling the second time we spoke.

Nuff said.

Sung to the tune of Chattanooga Choochoo – revision of lyrics based on Tref & Anne visit to USA and ride on Amtrak Acela train between Boston Back Bay and Penn Station New York.

Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer, than to have your bacon, eggs, sausage, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast with a cup of tea in Carolina.

Train stopped because the bridge ahead was open.

So a bit of a palava getting to New York today. 1st of all, the Acela train was over an hour late. We stopped somewhere in the middle of nowhere while the mechanic or someone was called “ASAP”. Then we find we can move but we’d only allow to go a maximum of 125 miles an hour which I didn’t think it went faster than that anyway.

Interestingly when we got to Penn station it was a lot easier than I thought. We went out onto 7th Avenue and I asked someone who looked like a traffic manager or something was there a taxi line and where would it be. She just shouted taxi and a taxi stopped and in we got.

We get to the hotel and there is a massive queue. I look around for a Hilton Honors check in place. There isn’t one.  I checked in online and got a digital key except I didn’t. The room wasn’t ready. I would get the digital key when the room was ready. Then I went to see the bellman and he took a look at my room and points out “you’re on the 39 floor they’ve got their own separate check in place” there. Ahah I think. Now we’re talking. We go to floor 37. 

There was no queue at all at the check in on the 37 floor but it was also the wrong check in desk. It was for a timeshare. She sent us back down to the ground floor.

I couldn’t face the queue and then I thought hang on a minute we’ve already checked in. We might as well to sit in the bar and have a beer. So I ordered a beer and moment the bloody beer came the key for the room arrived so it was neck that and off we went.

Those last few paragraphs were written by voice dictation. Although I did some hand editing I couldn’t be bothered making it flow.

The brain is somewhat dulled this morning. We are relaxing in the relative calm of our 39th floor hotel room with a partial view of Central Park where we plan on repairing for lunch in a short while.

There is otherwise no urge to further explore the frenzy that is Manhattan. Our time in the USA is almost at an end and a gentle day is called for after the manic, full on two weeks that have just raced by.

Last night we met globe trotting rugby player John Bradley in Copper John’s on West 54th before heading over to Birdland. John didn’t have a ticket but we blagged a  spot for him – result! I did buy a t-shirt 🙂 I’m going to wear it tomorrow night at the Royal Albert Hall. Along with my red chinese jacket.

Lag of jet

Birrovadozyafternoon. Intheroom. Readyearlyforthegig. PinkMartiniattheRoyalAlbertHall. Weneedtobethereearlyishtopickupticketsfromtheboxoffice. Doorsopenforusat6pm.

The End

Categories
poems

Dazzling October sun

Dazzling October sun
Relaxed Sunday morning start
Tea and toast consumed
Conservatory corner basking
Noises in the kitchen
Radio lulls
Hedge rustling wind
Considerations of the day

A traditional Sunday lunch in prospect with a log fire blazing in the grate. Last day of the holiday finished off in an appropriate manner.

Categories
opinion poetry

Ren

Ageless, forever young, liver of life, lovely tiki loving Joe lover, disc spinning colourista, friend of many, wine drinker, foodie, traveller, Shiraz appreciator, Devotee.

Happy Birthday Ren

Categories
diary

Autumnal feel n stuff

Autumnal feel to the day. I’m wearing jeans and a sweater plus sock. Marks a change in the seasons although I suspect I’ll be back in shorts next week in NYC.

It’s a bit like Christmas Day out there. V quiet. Everyone at home doing stuff before they settle down to watch the Queen’s funeral. Coops and Chris are off to the coast on their bikes. Not a bad idea except for the fact that I’ve been away for a full on 5 days and need a rest day. 

I had planned to be in London today but the gig has been cancelled which is a shame but tbh the place is going to be gridlocked so probs a good thing.

Just done a campervan handover to the next customer. They are off to Anderby Creek for a few nights. A good spot. We like going to Anderby Creek and walking along the beach.

Now watching the telly. Whatever you think of the  system of monarchy this is a huge global event. I doubt we will see its like again. The end of an era. Closure, almost, on the world as existed up until the second world war. It’s also a handy excuse to not do anything.

In other news I’ve shifted the carpet in the shed to be nearer the sofa. Now my feet rest on it when sat down. They didn’t before. Irked me a bit so that is now sorted. The carpet is a nice colourful deep pile job that feels quite nice underfoot. All is now as it should be 🙂

Sfunny innit that amid the goings on with the state funeral on the box that my thoughts should alight on the carpet. Life goes on. The mundane. Important in all our lives. 

Stood up at my standing desk. God a bid of a cowd and slouching in my chair didn’t seem to help. I don’t stand up at the desk very often. Should do more.

Sat at my sitting desk. It’s the standing desk at a sitting height. No point having two desks innit. It’s quite a good one tbf. I already had a desk made out of scaffold planks. Made it meself ably assisted by Joe. 

All I had to do was unscrew the steel legs and affix the desktop to the mechanism of the standing desk. The standing desk mechanism itself did take some assembly but we got there in the end. Also the instructions for operations were inadequate and I had to contact the support desk but once sorted twas easy enough.

I now have some spare industrial grade metal legs for use in the creation of a future desk. If ever. 

In the construction of the desktop I did consider the purchase of a nice piece of sawn oak or simlar. Would look great. However I already had the scaffold planks so just made use of them. Oak would have cost a few hundred quid which in itself was not a show stopper. Just made sense to use what I already had and it looks good anyway.

That’s all 🙂

Categories
diary

Good morning Autumn

Good morning Autumn. The news today is more of the same. To the point it isn’t worth looking at the papers, so to speak. There will hopefully be 30 minutes or so of test match cricket to watch, the completion of the summer season. Official declaration of the start of Autumn. The back lawn is bracing itself for an onslaught of leaves.

The coming month is going to be quite busy. On Wednesday this week I am off to Amsterdam for a work meeting. I’ll get home early evening on Friday. The Group Scout camp is taking place but will head there early, before breakfast, on Saturday as I’ll be too late back from Amsterdam to do the evening justice. Taking a campervan. Have even considered taking a tent instead though my supply of tents at home has dwindled to zero. I could borrow one from the scouts.

Am even considering buying a new tent although my opportunities for using one have been rare in recent years. However as I throttle back on the work front more camping opportunities might arise. Problem is I’m the only one in our house who likes doing it 🙂

I have the vehicle for adventures. Seems to make sense to me that there should be a tent in there somewhere. I also need a reason to invest in an expedition roof rack with ladder. Suggests to me there should be some sort of expedition planned into the mix. Where though? Gonna be next year sometime at the earliest.

Next week I was going to be in London for the Nile Rodgers gig but that’s cancelled because of a big state funeral in town. Had considered keeping the hotel booking and heading down early as it is an historic event however I doubt I’d be able to get within miles of being able to see anything. Also I’d be surrounded by millions of grieving “subjects” as well, I’m sure, as plenty of American and Japanese tourists caught up in the excitement of it all and thrilled at the happy coincidence of already being in town whilst it is all going on. Couldn’t have planned it better 🙂

Could still head down for the day on Tuesday as I had a couple of meetings planned but will see how I feel about it over the next couple of days. Having cancelled my room at the Curio by Hilton Westminster most Hiltons are now sold out or exorbitantly expensive.

Won’t do any of us any harm to have a quietish week in Lincoln anyway because the following week we are off on our travels. I daresay you will hear about it.

Categories
diary

The Queen died

The Queen died as we were just teeing off at Pottergate Golf Club. Of course she wasn’t physically there. This wasn’t one of those occasions where one of the spectators kicked the bucket whilst watching the golf, or even whilst hitting a driver down the first. The news filtered through on whatsapp. We wouldn’t normally mess about with whatsapp whilst playing golf but we were in communication with Ajax who was intending to join us for the back nine.

After the front nine Jezzer and I had a couple of beers waiting for the rain to move on and for Ajax to get to us. We were sorely tempted to have more beers and abandon the cars for retrieval another day but stayed strong. In any case the rain had moved on and the sun came out.

The golf isn’t really the focus of this post but the death of the monarch. I am by no means a royalist but the Queen’s death is of great historical significance and worthy of a moment of reflection.

The media is full of coverage of the death. They have been preparing for this moment for years, decades probably, so it will have been simply a matter of digging out all the pre prepared material and sticking it on. It does seem as if the world is going to stop revolving for a couple of weeks whilst the official mourning continues.

The signs have been there all year that her days were numbered. She was growing increasingly frail. I saw it with mam and dad and the indicators were the same. Shit happens.

I happen to be in London on the day of the funeral and I have switched to an earlier train which gets me in at 09.25. Thought if there was a chance I might watch some of the action It is, as I said, a very historic occasion. The likelihood is you will have had to camp out overnight to get a look in. Ain’t gonna ‘appen. If the Nile Rodgers gig is cancelled then I’ll cancel the trip.

On a personal level I have no sentiment whatsoever towards any of the Royal Family. As far as I am concerned they are a historic curiosity with little relevance to me but I do recognise this is not a feeling held by a large number of my fellow citizens. 

The Queen held the job since before I was born. It’s always been her head on the stamps and currency. Strange really but the way it is. I expect they will now be busy changing all the stamp designs. Feels as if it is a massive job to change notes and coins. A gradual process probs.

Nile gig cancelled as is pretty much everything else. Over the top methinks but it is what it is. Probably the last time the nation/world will celebrate such an event in this way. 

To avoid the back to back blanket media coverage I researched doing an Interrail trip sometime. Wouldn’t be before next summer but the act of looking at it meant not looking at the news. I got the idea from a couple of girls on the Eurostar last week who were on their way home from a 2 month trip. To make life easy you can buy prearranged route and accommodation packages. The only problem is I have already been to most of the major cities on the route. Made me realise how much we have travelled over the years. Lucky really.

So need to consider alternatives. Sailing across the Atlantic? Pacific? I dunno. Catch a wave somewhere and see where it lands.

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.