Strange Things

What strange things some people do.
Yesterday a lady I do not know
was plucking handfuls of grass
from the roadside verge
and stuffing it into a plastic bag.

Politeness got the better of curiosity —
I did not stop to ask but walked on by
as if it was nothing out of the ordinary
while pondering what explanation
might have emerged.

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Breeze

After a grey start
Summer shows her face, blown in
on a cool, fresh breeze.

N+1 Strikes Again

Regular readers may remember that a short while ago I wrote about my ‘new’ classic road-racing bike – a locally made original hand-built ‘Henry Burton’ dating from approximately 1960 which my husband was going to rebuild, the frame being a better size for me than my French made classic road-racing Motobecane bike. You can read about the project here. Progress has been rapid and it is now reaching completion. The photograph below shows it on the bike work-stand for the brakes to be fixed. The photo isn’t very good as it is taken indoors, however once the refurbishment is finished I will take a better photo outside so you can see it in all its glory.

Henry Burton bike

You may remember I had decided to call the bike ‘Bertie’, acknowledging that it is a Burton bike. Most of my bikes have names. Now, however, with the complete change of colour scheme the bike looks far too feminine to call Bertie so I am considering a name change. The suggestion so far is ‘Henrietta’, but the jury is still out. I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, back to the N+1: We have just bought another tandem! Our original one, a French made Gitane, was bought fairly cheaply on e-bay for a bit of fun. Although we are not sure, it probably dates from the 1960’s or 70’s, has been well used prior to coming into our ownership and, it is fair to say, we have had one or two mechanical problems with it – all sorted now.  It is also a little on the big side for us.  However we have had some great fun with it and we have found it comfortable to ride, we have even done a couple of 40 mile rides on it. Interestingly we have never actually given the tandem a name.

Last week, however, we saw  a tandem advertised in ‘Cycling Weekly’ magazine. The bike was in Stoke-on-Trent, not far from where we live. It is a Longstaff, hand-built by George Longstaff in 1997 and has seen very little use so is in exceptionally good condition for its age and is built to a high specification as a touring tandem. Longstaff’s was and is a highly respected Stoke-on-Trent bike builder and they still have a shop there, although it is now (as is Henry Burton’s in Stafford) a shadow of its former self. They were especially well thought of as builders of fine tandems and my husband has always fancied one made by them. So now we have one! Photo below:

Longstaff Tandem

When we tried it before buying, it soon became apparent that the gears were not working properly. The bike had been kept in a garage and had been unused for some time. However a short period of fiddling with the tandem on the work-stand soon had the problem fixed. and after a little more fine tuning we tried it out properly today on a short ride, a 9 mile loop out from home and back. It is a little lighter in weight than the Gitane tandem and a very comfortable ride so we are well pleased.

We will eventually sell the Gitane, so if anyone is interested in buying a tandem to have some fun with you know where to find one!

 

Three Seasons

Three season’s weather
in the space of half a day.
Sun, wind, rain and hail.

Life Cycle

Whenever you go away,
however brief your stay,
on your return you’re sure to find
the houseplants are dry,
the garden’s run wild,
it’s simply amazing
how the washing has piled
and dust has settled everywhere.
You rush around until you are tired
and there is no doubt in your mind
that what you need is a holiday,
but,
you know,
however brief your stay,
on your return you’re sure to find…

Once Round the Bay…

…and back in time for tea – so goes the old saying about boat trips. Not that we went round the bay, but yesterday we did sail up the River Blackwater to Maldon and back. At least I suppose you could call it sailing; more of a drift really.

It was a lovely warm and sunny day and we barely had a breath of wind at first. We had to wait until lunchtime for a suitable tide to get us out of the marina and then simply drifted with the tide, although the sails were up. From time to time we did have to have a spot of engine in order to avoid other traffic as we had very little ability to control the boat – no thrust through the water so the tiller had minimal effect.

Radio Caroline

Radio Caroline

Actually the main vessel we needed to avoid was the Radio Caroline ship which is moored in the Blackwater and which we were drifting towards fairly rapidly! We noticed there was some sort of shenanigans going on, it was noisier than usual and there were people coming and going. We later discovered that it is 50 years since the advent of pirate radio and obviously some celebrations were going on. It is surprising that Radio Caroline is still going strong and still broadcasting (all-be-it only on-line now).

Despite being wonderfully peaceful we did eventually fire up the engine full-time as we were making such slow progress and Maldon is only accessible at high tide, even then there is a fairly tortuous narrow channel you have to stick to through the shallows, though it is well-marked with buoys. Stopping there is not an easy option if you wish to return the same day – we have it on authority that there is just enough time to moor up, have a swift half-pint in the pub and then set off again! We didn’t stop, just turned round and sailed back – this time with a little more wind to blow us along and the day rapidly cooling. Once comfortably back in the marina we celebrated with a warming  curry!

This was a lovely day, simply messing about in the boat. We have been down here since the middle of last week but have been busy with maintenance work, rubbing down the wooden parts and re-varnishing and scrubbing off some of the weed that insists on sticking to the bottom (which hampers progress through the water!) so this was the first day that we had been free to actually go and do what boats are meant to do.

In some ways the day was bitter-sweet as we wonder how many more such opportunities we will have now that we have decided to sell the boat. There are a variety of reasons for this decision, we are of course getting older and living so far away from where we keep it makes maintenance something of a chore plus the many other things we do with our lives meaning we get fewer opportunities to make use of it and so on. We shall be sad to see her go but we think it will be for the best.

However, apparently the bottom has fallen out of the boat market at the moment so we may well be playing with her for a few more years yet as we wait for the market to improve. Meanwhile, if any one is interested in finding out more about Red Dawn IV and would maybe like to consider buying her we have set up a website all about her at https://reddawniv.wordpress.com. Please feel free to share this link with anyone you think may be interested.

Down At The Boat

An Elfje sequence:

Morning.
The marina
comes to life.
Calm waters belie increased
activity.

Martins
twittering, flittering
around the boats,
among the rigging, playing
catch.

Hardly
a breath
of wind, barely
a ripple disturbs the
water.

Decks
wet with
overnight dew. Drying
sun beams down, set
fair.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This Elfje Sequence has also been posted today on ‘Simply Elfje’ here.

Weather

Cold and wet weather.
What has happened to summer?
Still early August!

Random Words

One of the things I miss about my old writer’s group is the Random Words exercise. Every week we each wrote down a word then pooled all those words together – up to a dozen of them, depending on how many people were there – and we had to write a short piece using all the words for the following week. The variety of work these same words produced was amazing.

It was an interesting exercise and helped to focus the imagination so I have devised my own version of this challenge. Perhaps you would like to try it.

I picked a book at random from my bookcase, in this instance it was ‘Blue Lightning’ by Ann Cleeves, I opened it at any page and selected the first noun on the left hand page. I did this six times. Then for the last two words I opened it at random pages again and chose the first verb from right hand page. You can devise your own word selection process and decide how many words to choose. Proper names are allowed and you can use the words anyway you wish, so for example a word such as ‘Shepherd’ could be an occupation or a name and you can be quite inventive in how you use the words but they should only be used in the form selected – no changing the tense of the verbs! Here are my chosen words and the story I wrote using them:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Words:   Afternoon, Someone, Plane, Telephone, Surprise, Speak, Remained and Determined.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Pete looked up in surprise when the telephone rang and Sally jumped up quickly, rushing to the handset in the hall as if determined to answer it before anyone else could, not that there was anyone else in the house to do so. Pete found himself wondering who it could be, who uses a landline these days anyway? Why not ring her mobile?

He heard Sally speak but could not make out her words as she had shut the dividing door on her way out. It went quiet, someone on the other end must be doing all the talking. Soon she hung up and returned to the kitchen. Pete couldn’t read the expression on her face. Was that apprehension? Supressed excitement? Indecision? He was itching to ask but remained silent, she would tell him if she wanted him to know. He watched her from under his eyebrows as he sipped his coffee.

He saw the moment she made up her mind as she looked at him full in the face. “That was Alan,” she said. Pete frowned. “He caught an afternoon flight instead of the overnight one. His plane landed an hour ago and he’s on his way here by taxi. He’ll be here any minute. Don’t look like that Pete, you used to like him.”

“That was before he started messing you around.” Pete glowered.

“He’s asked me to marry him but told me to think about it and not give him an answer till he gets here.”

“Well it’s about time too! I’m guessing you’ll say yes. I hope you’ll be very happy.” Pete marched towards the door just as the bell rang. He swung it open before Sally could reach it and stood facing Alan.

“What are you doing here?” Alan asked guardedly.

“Just checking up on my little sister,” Pete grinned, holding out his hand. “Congratulations,” he said as the other man shook it, “but just remember – you cause her any grief and you’ll answer to me. I’ll be off and leave you two in peace.” He kissed Sally on the cheek and turned to go, “Oh, and if you can tear yourselves apart for long enough come and join Eve and me at The Wayfarer this evening. The champagne’s on me.”

Alan watched in amazement then turned to Sally pulling here into his arms. “I take it that’s a yes then,” he said.

Phone Message

I answer the phone;
A pre-recorded message…
press 1 for this… press 2 for that…
press 3… press 4… but
none of these apply
and there is no number to press
to speak to a real person!

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