Saturday, 31 May 2014
Sunday, 25 May 2014
Well, it ain't Fowey, but it'll do. Dad's tent to the left, mine to the right, Ben is sleeping in the boot of the car.
Next job, retire to the pub for supper. Then back to the lakeside to spend the rest of the night around a campfire with my guitar and Mum's last box of red wine.
Thursday, 22 May 2014
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Loves gained without a sound
Love me tender
'cross distance long
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Thoughts are with the families and crew of the Cheeki Rafiki. Hoping against hope, but others have managed a lot longer than 20 hours adrift and yet come back. For those in peril on the sea.
Thoughts are with Webb Chiles, a lovely man, as generous with his words as he is eloquent. In a very short while he casts off on the first leg of his sixth solo circumnavigation of the world aboard his 24' yacht, GANNET.
Thoughts are with Phil Kirk, a friend and an inspirational dinghy sailor who in just over a week's time launches from Thornbury Sailing Club on the Severn in an attempted circumnavigation of the UK with his friend and crewmate Jeremy Warren aboard Jeremy's Wayfarer, Hafren.
I've restrung the Spanish, it holds its tune and fits in the drybag, and though the nylon strings, thick neck and weathered polish feel quite strange and clumsy in my hands, I figure I can compenstate for that with ale when we're in Cornwall. The Tak can stay behind and remain safe and sound on her guitar stand at the office. I've not played a nylon strung guitar in quite some time, though that was what I started out with. Suprisingly enjoyed the process of restringing her.
Monday, 19 May 2014
Picked up a 110 litre dry bag for little money from Go Outdoors on Sunday morning. Delighted to have found out today that it fits a whole guitar.
Only question now is whether I take my Takemine, pictured above, or the el cheapo beat up old Spanish guitar I've been saving for trips away like this.
The Tak, though now gigged out and no longer up to the demands of the stage, is pretty, a delight to play and sounds gorgeous unamped, as of course we will be this weekend.
The old Spanish is a rough old thing, reglued back together, and may not even hold its tune.
On the other hand, if anything happened to the Tak, I'd be sad. I'd be sad to damage the Spanish, but it wouldn't be quite so hard.
Don't actually remember Friday, but Saturday morning I got to the Club early to help Dad out with Sailability; the preceding photos were posted from there, whilst we were still out on the water, lovely thing, technology.
Dad wryly noted that you can always tell when we've overloaded Ondine with crew, because the water comes in through the scuppers. But they were a lovely crew, the morning was bright sun and gentle wind, so Ondine was more than up to the load.
We also managed to get a tent to fit aboard her, so accommodation for next weekend is now sorted.
The Club had an Open Day on the Saturday, so after Sailability, I spent the rest of the day helping out in the Club boats, taking visitors out on the water and introducing them to sailing. Always fun and endlessly rewarding, but exhausting. That evening, on getting home, Nikki and I went out to play skittles. Never played skittles before in my life, or had the inclination to do so, but it was a fundraising event for a couple of friends from karate who have been selected to fight in the FEKO European Championships.
Whilst I did look forward to the evening's company, I didn't expect to enjoy the game quite as much as I did.
Sunday, of course, was racing. Glorious weather, warm sunshine and a gusty, shifty north-westerly F4. Hels had been out all morning helping with the race training mob, so managed the first race but then was struck down with a crippling headache and nausea. A touch of heat stroke and dehydration, I suspect.
She manfully managed to finish the first race with me, then I left her in the care of her husband and some of the ladies ashore and, fortunately, found a replacement crew for the remaining two races, so all was not lost.
I'm being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I'm not that heartless. Hels was okay, in good hands, and would have been mortified had I not continued to race. It hurt to go on without here, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
And now I'm being flippant, so I'll stop.
Once the sailing was done, I then had just under a couple of hours on the road, delivering a sack of dog food to some of our rescue dogs currently in kennels out towards Swindon. Spent a while with them whilst I was there, as I hadn't actually met them before.
Luna and Stan. Lovely creatures. A little worn and battered by life so far, but they're going to be fine.
Four very busy days at the office now, then I bunk off Friday to head down to Fowey with Dad for a long weekend. Vaguely anxious as to how Nik will cope with the dogs without me, though I continually underestimate her, and I'm sure she'll be fine. Vaguely anxious how Dad will cope with living outdoors for four days if the weather turns inclement. But I continually underestimate him, and we can always find a pub for shelter. I'm sure we'll be fine.
From our last trip to Fowey, back in 2011, we'll be launching from here and staying on this pontoon overnight for three nights:
Saturday, 17 May 2014
Friday, 16 May 2014
off the road running along Chalford Valley, just beyond Sixpence's
hawthorn. I love buzzards. I used to fly gliders, before I returned to
sailing. The two disciplines have much in common, and, in a purely
viscreal sense, offer similar gratification.
The photo above was from an early winter flight, November 2005, just
north of the airfield at Aston Down where the gliding club was
conveniently based (just over the side of the valley from here - I still
see the gliders from my office window during the summer when the wind is
in the south)
I remember once, quite vividly, sharing a thermal with a buzzard.
Sentimenal fool that I am, I found it an especially moving experience.
It's been years since I last strapped myself into a sailplane. I still
miss it, far more than I'll ever miss smoking, which I quit just before
I stopped flying. But whilst I never intended to quit gliding forever,
only pause a small while, I couldn't now give up sailing to return to it.
And even I am a realist enough to recognise there's really not room in
my life for both. At least not at the moment.
The words below were written about six months before the above picture
was taken, following that flight where I met the buzzard. The poem sits
in a dusty corner of an old, all but forgotten website I set up pretty
much at the dawn of the Internet, along with a collection of other
scribblings. A handy place to keep such things.
Part of the charm of a photograph, for me, is that I can take in hand
nearly any picture I've ever taken, and the second I look at the image,
I'm immediately returned in vivid detail to the moment of capture. My
memory can otherwise be pretty shakey in many respects, history and
sequence tends to blur if not totally fade through my obsessionwith the
present and whatever's in front of me now. But when looking at a photo
I've taken, the moment of its creation and the situation surrounding
seems to always returns in crystaline, gorgeous clarity.
Before the very recent dawn of digital photography, when film was too
prohibitively expensive for me and photographs too delicate and easy to
loose, poetry and songwriting served much the same purpose, I think, and
still have the same effect of recall.
Passing two thousand.
My palm sweats, my arm aches
The perspex filtered sun sears my brow,
Then falls shaded by the cloud once again
As my thermalling turn carries me round.
Turbulent core; breathe, remember to breathe
As I trim out the ache in my arm; my arm aches
With the strain. Then the sun breaks, again
Spilling out from the shadow of clouds.
Passing three thousand.
Keep my look out, glance up, scan around,
But the sucking sky seems alone mine. Circling still
I guide the sailplane up through the thermic rise
In an epiphany of solitude and rushing air. Ecstatic am I
Don't stir the stick, damn you! coordinate and fly;
For me the bubbling sky is alive.
Passing four thousand.
Almost there now; the heavens are kind
My wing-tip dipping the glowering clouds down reaching.
And the sun momentarily breaks through a veil of haze from behind
Framing the buzzard, outstretched and effortless, a silhouette soaring.
My palm sweats, my arm aches
The rudder pedals clumsy beneath my feet; the stick stirring.
He glances at me across our mutual circle, an indifferent avian eye
Not judging and yet in grace am I found wanting; but I do not mind.
This heaven is his kingdom, his bubbling sky;
And I, however familiar or frequent a privileged stranger
Am and shall remain but a stranger,
A flattered guest in his airy domain.
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Monday, 12 May 2014
Sunday, 11 May 2014
Saturday, 10 May 2014
First set done. Lovely, friendly folks in the crowd. It's apparently not a 60th Birthday, but an end of 50's party. The birthday girl, Anne, is 60 tomorrow, and clearly young with it.
As I kind of expected, I'm feeling better now than I have all day. The bite was only my fault, by the way. Jack and Digger are both lovely creatures, they just have a few small issues with each other. I knew that, but let my attention slip for a second.
I should know better. A slip of a second is all it takes.
I should perhaps go dose up on some more ibuprofen. But I feel fine for the moment, and never really feel the pain when I'm playing. Think I'll save it for later. I shall probably need it later.
Then again, I have three quarters of a bottle of red wine waiting for me when I get home.
Looking forward to racing tomorrow. This morning I actually thought I might have to call it. But like gigging, the pain is always muted when I'm sailing. Think it's going to be fine.
Friday, 9 May 2014
Two races planned, first starts at 2pm. Can't wait. Hels, my usual
crew, is back with me if all goes to plan. We've not sailed together in
an age; I'm out of practice with the blustery stuff and she's going to
be out of practice generally. Must be very careful not to break her, but
it should otherwise be fun.
Need to replace the burgee at the top of the mast that we lost in the
mud during the heavy weather at the beginning of this year. Probably
just as well I haven't replaced it yet. Will leave it till after the
weekend now, I think. I'm expecting a capsize or two. Though they're
becoming much more infrequent these days.
Agreed with Dad that I'd help him out with Sailability tomorrow morning,
then once we were done, we could look at fitting a tent to the
Drascombe. We're away to Fowey for four days at the end of the month,
and intend to sleep on the boat, so a boat tent is pretty critical.
Can't wait. A little apprehensive about essentially living in an open
boat for four days this early in the year. If it's a wet weekend, life
could turn pretty miserable. On the other hand, I picked up a slight
sunburn sailing last Sunday, so it could equally be quite glorious.
Sailability of course conflicts with the two hours of training at karate
I was supposed to be doing tomorrow. It's fairly important, actually I
think probably critical, if I'm to have any hope of making the grading
in July. Much as I'd really like to, it's looking less and less likely.
I've only got myself to blame, too many other commitments this time of year.
It's been two years since my last grading. I guess another year of
practice won't hurt.
And with a gig tomorrow evening, the weekend is shaping up to be
anything but dull.
Monday, 5 May 2014
Sunday, 4 May 2014
Thursday, 1 May 2014
Don't really understand how the boy could be so tired. Every Wednesday is the same.
Nik works Wednesday afternoons, so Sam has always walked to his Gran's after school on a Wednesday and I've picked him up after work
He's old enough now to just go home and let himself in, but he likes visiting his grandparents, so the tradition continues.
But clearly the conversation is lacking, because of late whenever I pick him up, he's asleep on the floor.
To be fair, I doubt it's the company. Harry is always great fun, and nobody sleeps around Lil.
I think it's just an odd teenage thing. A week of early nights are clearly needed.
Made a start tonight, and sent him to bed an hour ago.
He seemed grateful. I felt jealous.