Posts Tagged ‘sun’

River life

Since I started working at Ham House, my life revolves around the river more than it ever has, despite living next to it for years. The tides, the plants, the water sports, all these things are changing with the warm weather and there is always something different and interesting to see. Here are a few things which might greet me on my walk to work.

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High tide! That there, where those swans are swimming, that’s the path where I usually walk. My options are two. Firstly, I can walk quite a long way back until I come to a path that will take me up to the road and around to meet up with the path further on where it is dry. OR I can simply roll up my trousers to my knees and wade through. I always choose this option, which means that most of my shoes are soaked and lined up to dry out in the hallway. (Check out the cows in the second photo, all gathered behind the wall to watch the silly humans squealing and trying to keep their trousers dry.)

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In the distance to the right, there is a polo match going on. I watched it yesterday after work for about ten minutes. I’m not going to pretend I knew what was going on. Or that I was even close enough to see it, even if I did know how polo works.

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I don’t know if you can see through the small gap in the foliage, there is a longboat of sorts, with about ten people rowing. It looked really old school, like they were setting off for a Viking battle.

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A lone boat just bobbing about on the water. I wanted to jump in it and row the rest of the way home. I have decided that my life would be nicer if I rowed to work. I just need a boat. Anyone got one they can give me?

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Talking of boats, a few years ago I decided that I didn’t have enough upper body strength so I would join a rowing club. I looked into joining this one until I realised that you probably need to be part of this crowd to afford the fees.

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The Star and Garter up on the hill. This place is for disabled servicemen and women and must be a lovely way to spend your days after the horrors of war.

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A half naked man showing off!

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A boat which comes around every summer and puts on puppet shows for kids.

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Anyone who’s been on even one date has to come down to the river on a sunny day. Women sitting on men’s knees on benches, tanned couples sitting under trees and talking in low voices to each other, teenagers listening to music aloud on their phones and looking nervously around. They’re all here on the river on a sunny day.

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Day out (Part 2)

Good morning all. Welcome to the eagerly-awaited follow up to last Wednesday’s post from my guest blogger….

After the climb to St Winefride’s Well and descent to our cars we drove a couple of miles to our next port of call on our day out. Abakhan Fabrics is one of those places that have everything you could ever want for knitting, sewing & craft making. We had a look round each of the shops in this little enclave before setting out on the next part of our excursion into North Wales. A brief walk along the main road brought us to the path which leads down to the sea. This was a much shorter flatter walk than the St Winefride’s bit but the path did go under a rather low bridge. Here are two ladies walking under it and you can see how low it is. Some of the gents had to dip their heads to avoid the roof.

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Just beyond the bridge was this next pic – A ship, apparently abandoned.

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It is called the Duke of Lancaster but is obviously past its sell-by date. How did it get there? Why was it there and obviously not likely to move? In fact it looks like local vandals have sprayed graffiti along the side. Our leader informed us that the council had actually employed someone to do the artwork. The intention was to convert the vessel for use as something else. For a time it became a shopping centre with traders bringing their stuff to it to sell from inside the ship. However they moved on and due to our modern health and safety regulations further plans had to be shelved. This is because any use involving the public nowadays would have to have access for emergency vehicles; and of course neither ambulances nor fire engines would get under that low bridge (probably clearance of barely 6ft/1.83m) on the path into the berth. Given that, it is unlikely permission would be granted for anything like a visitor attraction of any kind.

The ship was originally built, in 1956, as a passenger ferry and was also used for cruises. (It could carry 1,800 passengers.) That was until about 1966 when it became a car ferry doing the Belfast to Heysham run. However demand dropped and with no other apparent employment for the vessel it was moved to Mostyn in 1979 and was concreted in. If you fancy a watch of some info about it there’s a YouTube clip (5 mins) which is part of a series of programmes called “Coast” which ran in the UK a few years ago. (The BBC2 programme is in its 8th series now with a 9th planned for next year.) It shows you the guy who lives on board (or lived on board at one time). He’s got a very emotional tie to the ship which you can see in the clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2rZWtX844w

We walked a little further past the ship along what is now part of the North Wales Coast Path enjoying the sunshine.image

Then we returned and just before passing under the low bridge back to our cars we saw this little boat. Its name, as you can see on the hull, is Girl Al.

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I couldn’t find out much about it but when I checked Flickr I found this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/58735253@N03/6892776955/

Now you can see it actually looks like a completely different boat. The cabin is boarded up; the hull has a fair number of barnacles; the paint on deck is peeling; however, as you can see, it has the same name (Girl Al) and the same registration number (CH101). This means it must have either have been extensively re-built and repainted or it’s actually a new boat after the old one was scrapped. And what’s the reason for the name? I’m sure there’s a story there if only I could find out who knows about it.

Next stop was a very ancient village inland for a drink on the way home – The Red Lion at Llanasa, a place with, at the latest count, just 240 residents. And very nice it was too. (The pub dates back to around 1600.) Despite the Bank Holiday the place was not too crowded and we got the drinks far quicker than the cup of tea episode earlier in the day (mentioned last week).

The village & church have a history dating back to about 600AD (and possibly even earlier than that). It used to be called Llanasaph because it was where the remains of St Asaph were kept; they were moved to St Asaph Cathedral in the late 13th century. The other interesting thing is that the church is the burial place of the guy who was the father of Owain Glyndwr. (You may remember my post of 13.3.13 which mentioned Owain and the Welsh Revolt he led, during the reign of Henry IV, at the start of the 15th century.) His tombstone is still there with the words here lies Gruffudd Fychan” engraved in Welsh.

If you go to this site and scroll down to the 4th image you can see an outline drawing of the tombstone with a brief and interesting explanation of the markings on it:

http://llanasaconservationsocie.homestead.com/page2.html

Just across from the pub was the local parish church so we decided to have a quick look.

On the way over I spotted this sign outside a house which clearly had had a significant former life.

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It was a real reminder of how, in all the cutbacks the The Post Office has had to make over the years, so many village post offices were closed down. It was nice to see the owners had, at least, hung on to the name so there’s a reminder for future generations of what the building used to be. I wonder how far the village folk have to travel now to get the services it used to provide.

Here’s the path leading round the back of the church.

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What you probably can’t see from the pic is that all those stones laid as edges to the path are actual gravestones. I could only assume they must have been ones that were falling over and had been laid flat. Cemetaries have to be very careful now because if a gravestone is loose or leaning and it falls and injures someone they are liable for compensation. Thus there are lots of gravestones which have been laid flat to avoid claims being made. One of my own family ancestor’s grave has had this done to it and I can’t read the inscription because it was put face down! Well done the council. I was told I could pay someone to come along and lift it so I could get a picture of the information but that it would have to be laid flat again for “health & safety” reasons.

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Next I went to find out if it was possible to see inside the church. It wasn’t. However there was a notice pinned to the door and here it is:

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Well there’s a curious one. I wonder why swallows seem to be the main culprits. Where I live it’s pigeons that get in these kinds places and cause mess & havoc.

If you don’t know what a swallow sounds like have a listen to this:

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rmhttp/radio4/science/birdsong_swallow.mp3

A local property website has a couple of places up for sale in Llanasa: one for £750,000 (approx $1,152,000) and a 7-bedroom one for £1,000,000 ($1,537,000) if you fancy splashing out!

And so it was home time. We joined the queues as everyone else thought it was a good time to go home as well but at least it kept moving. Great day!

A lovely day out

Yesterday, I took a cheeky jaunt up north to spend the day with family. The weather held up ok and didn’t rain until much later in the day, when we were safely hidden indoors, sipping cups of tea.

Mid-morning, we set out for a mini adventure to Frodsham Hill. Despite taking a wrong turn early on and coming out at the top in a different place than we expected to, it was lovely all the same and the sun shone bright, although it was cold.

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Midway up, I realised that I was really panting with all the stair climbing! Hard to believe I once trekked the Great Wall of China… True story.

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When we got to the top there was a lovely wide view of the surrounding area. With large flat areas, it’s hard to make it look good on a photo but anyway, here’s the view.

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Soon after this, we reached the WW1 memorial….

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…which is next door to a lovely hotel, positioned on the top of the hill so that, if you get a seat by the window, you can have lunch with the beautiful view. We had planned to have lunch there yesterday but they have a no-lunches-at-the-weekend rule so we wandered back down the hill via the roads and found a nice little country pub serving food (I was upset by their lack of apostrophes though).

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After waiting quite a while for the food to arrive, I got the breaded duck’s egg with pancetta…

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….and the Thai crab cakes with lime

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After this, we headed back to the car, again making a slight directional error which took us off down a different road and we came out quite far from where we needed to be but it was nice to be outside walking so we didn’t mind.

Also, we found a place called Castle Park, a National Lottery funded thing which had, amongst other things, a children’s art centre. We found some of this new ‘graffiti’ knitting stuff too. Has anyone else heard of this?

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People knit colourful strips then put them around things, like here on a post or maybe a bollard, to brighten the place up! It officially counts as graffiti but as it’s quite pretty, the police are ‘overlooking’ it for now. I kind of want to get into this!

After all this, we drove back, put the kettle on and settled in for an evening of Grand Designs Australia, which was actually quite interesting, before I jumped on the train to London.

Bugs on plants

It sounds like some kind of cocktail, doesn’t it? Or a euphemism for something very exciting. In actual fact, I am just going to show you some pictures of bugs on plants. But stick with me on this one. They’re good pictures, trust me. And they’ll get me geared up for doing more walks again when the weather warms up…

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See? I told you to stick with me and it would be fun. It was fun, right?

In the garden

There’s a lot of Olympic-fever about. Even I, not a sportswoman by nature, have let myself get caught up in it all. I have downloaded the London 2012 app to my phone. Yes. That’s right. I have the app. And yesterday I did my fair share of whooping and running around to see the women’s bike ride in Richmond Park (no near-death experiences with deer this time!).

So anyway, while it is all quite exciting, I feel like I might need some time out for something different. With the latest sunny weather (yes, I’m aware there was thunder during the bike race yesterday, but in general, it’s been sunnier, honest), the garden is looking fabulous. So I thought we could have a little tour around.

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Tomato plant flowers

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Fuschia

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The lavender is finally attracting bees! Woop!

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Umm… What are these called? Pansies?

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More pansies

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Marigolds, I think….

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Pansies, again

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Not sure…..

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Pansies….

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Tomatoes

So there it is. For the long winter months, it looks like a wasteground so I am understandably excited that the sun has come out and there is something to show off.

Tomorrow I am off to do some Olympic stuff. There are loads of free exhibitions and, rumour has it, a maze made out of books! Thousands and thousands of them! How amazing would that be?! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Books that remind me of stuff

One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Reminds me of being in Laos, in a town called Vang Vieng, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I hired a bike for the day and rode out into the fields by myself and found this abandoned bamboo hut up on stilts. I climbed into it and sat down and read the last few chapters of One Hundred Years Of Solitude while listening to a cricket on the roof and the sounds of nature. It was lovely.

Lord Of The Rings
The first one. I don’t remember what it’s called. I started reading it right before I flew back to Namibia. I’d lived there for a year on my gap year and was going back 10 months later to work for some friends. I was reading it on the flight and did quite a few changes so I read that book in Scotland, England, Holland, South Africa and Namibia. I loved that it had taken such a journey with me.

Paulo Coelho, I’ve forgotten what it was called
I read this in an airport somewhere. I think on the way to Morocco. My friend and I did a lot of travelling together over the space of two years and on this flight we had a stopover in Spain, I think. I had bought this book in the airport in London. In the airport in Spain, my friend slept and I was knackered but trying to stay awake and I just tore through this book. I had finished reading it in a few hours.

Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami
I read this while travelling through the Philippines with the same friend. We stayed in this little B&B on an island called Bohol. We’d found it because a lady on the boat there had started chatting to us when we were singing Whitney to pass the time. She told us to stay there and it was such a good find. No-one else was staying there so we pretended it was our own house! We stayed up late playing card games and reading. I loved this book! I finished it and left it there for the next guests.

Hamlet
I had been reading Shakespeare in school and not really liking or disliking it. I just didn’t understand it mostly. Something clicked at some point and I wanted to read more of it. I went to the English cupboard at school and borrowed a copy of Hamlet and loved it. I just got it. I remember feeling really excited because I knew there was a whole stack of Shakespeare out there for me to discover.

Leon: Ingredients and Recipes
I was a few months post-op last year and had finally got over my fear of eating (I was terrified in case eating caused the same problem and I had to go back to hospital and by this point I was pretty scared of hospital). I was eating more and was strong enough to stand up for the time it took to cook dinner. I found this book and loved the first section, about ingredients. If any of you are into food, this book is amazingly fascinating. I went on holiday to Portugal and was still quite delicate, so instead of jumping in and out of the water and running about, I sat reading this book in the sun. It was lovely.

Famous Five
Reminds me of my childhood in general and how much I wanted to be George.

The Janice Project
This was the first romance novel I read that formulated my idea of what my potential life partner should be like!

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeta Naslund
I read this book in Namibia while I was training for a trek across the Great Wall of China. I used to go on the stair machine for an hour every morning to prepare. My body was fine with it but my mind was bored. A friend lent me this book to keep me entertained and it worked. A few years later I kept thinking about it but couldn’t remember the name. I was in an out of the way town in Texas, waiting for a bus, when I saw a little book shop in the distance. I thought I’d kill some time there and found a few books I wanted. I went to the till to pay and right there, next to the till was this same book! Same cover. I recognised it immediately and got it. It was just as good, if not better, the second time around. I’ve been daydreaming about visiting Nantucket since I read it.

The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd
I might have got his name wrong. Found this in Laos, in Luang Prabang. Opposite our hotel there was a little cafe/bookshop. It was the first I’d seen in Asia so I was pretty excited. We sat drinking exotic teas and absorbing the book joy. I found this tucked away on a shelf and loved the cover. It’s a woman’s diary of moving to Japan just after the war. I can’t emphasise how good this book is. If I could only read a few more books ever again, this would be one I’d choose. Read it.

When not to fall asleep (and a little bit of Joan Rivers)

Back to my gap year today for some handy hints on how not to behave when in a position of importance.

We ran a newspaper, Lucy and I, which was the only town newspaper. It was important that we reported all the local events as people in the town were quite proud of their little local paper. I can’t tell you how many HIV/AIDs workshops we went to. Everything that was happening, we were at.

So the biggest and best event of the year had arrived. Independence Day! Everyone had been looking forward to it for months. Plans were under way, the kids from the local schools had fantastic little routines organised, the mayor would be there, the country’s national football team would be there. It would be AMAZING.

The day before we had been at the local Crayfish Derby, which was massive fun. But it was quite a way out of town and we had had to leave midway through to walk back into town for a meeting about youth empowerment and small businesses. After the meeting we had then walked back out of town, quite a trek, to the Crayfish Derby to finish reporting on that. Walking under the sun is quite tiring.

The next day, we woke up early to go to the Independence Day celebrations, which were just at the bottom of the hill we lived on. Easy. We arrived, found some seats in the stadium and waited. It’s quite normal to wait a while for most stuff but it takes a little bit of getting used to when you first go there. They played a bit of Celine Dion, they loved her there. Some kids did some dancing. We waited. The sun beat down on our faces. We feebly made notes in our notebooks. And kept waiting.

And then we made that fateful decision. We needed some water, we were far too hot, we were going to faint, it was urgent! We left our seats and saw a good friend arriving. He looked puzzled about why we were walking out, not in. We explained that we’d be back in a mo. We just needed some water. We were far too hot. See you soon!

We staggered up the hill, gasping. When we got home we gulped tons of water and sat down for a second to stay out of the heat until we had recovered…. And then we woke up, disorientated, and ran out of the house, and looked down the hill. And the celebration was over! Oops! We’d been asleep for the whole day!

We had to write about it for the newspaper though. Everyone would be expecting it. And it had to be front page, it was the biggest event of the year. Damn.

We had about three photos of the kids dancing before the celebrations had started. We blew them up really big so they took up loads of space, meaning we didn’t need to write as much. We worked in a few of the local schools so we knew they had been organising a special dance routine, so we mentioned that. We had a fairly good idea of what the mayor had probably said, given that we had sat in on a lot of speeches she had made. We talked about people who had been there, like the football team and a few others we had seen before we left. And summed it up by saying it was a great day and loads of fun! Then put it on the front page and hoped no-one would notice. Loads of stuff must have happened that we didn’t mention. Thankfully they didn’t notice but I still wonder how we got away with it!

The moral from today is = Don’t fall asleep when there’s something of national importance happening and you write the most popular newspaper in town.

Feedback from yesterday’s Getting Excited mission, which was to celebrate all things Filipino by wearing red and blue (two of the colours on the flag) and saying Hola to greet people (NOT how they say hello but there’s a Spanish connection and I figured people would at least know what I was talking about) and by having fish for dinner (I remember eating a lot of fish in the Philippines). So in my not-very-spectacular way, I did all of these things and, while it didn’t cause any great variation in my day, it did make me think of my friend who’s birthday it is every time I did something. And that was nice. Because she’s a nice friend. It was nice to be more conscious of reasons why the day was different to the others, instead of being all same-old-same-old.

Today I have two things to get excited about. One is that I’m going swimming when I’ve finished writing this… twice in a week after years of not even owning a swimming costume! I’m doing well. The other is that it’s Joan Rivers’ birthday today. (And the world’s smallest man, but I can’t do very much in terms of getting excited about that. I’m already quite short.) So Joan Rivers it is. On my way back from the swimming pool, I’m going to stop in the library and see if they have any of her books and I’ll spend some time this afternoon being excited about Joan Rivers’ birthday by reading a book she wrote. Maybe I’ll get plastic surgery in honour of her as well….