Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Gower...

Parked up on the Gower last night, overlooking the sea. Had a couple of hours, early this morning, to finish off an article, then strolled 100 yards along the prom to a café for breakfast (and wifi, so I could email the finished article). Sometimes the nomadic life works very well!

I have today to explore the Gower, before ending up at Pembroke Dock after midnight, for the night sailing to Rosslare. Tomorrow, about this time, I will either feel refreshed and ready to explore, or grumpy from lack of sleep. Either way, I've saved £30 on the price for sailing in daylight...

Ely...

  

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Hartley Wintney...

Spent a couple of days with sister Kari in Hartley Wintney, and booked a night ferry for Ireland (Pembroke to Rosslare)...

A quiet corner of Farnham...

 

Friday, 18 August 2017

To see you... nice...

So Brucie’s gone (probably winning someone a windfall in the Death Raffle, at the Wilkes Head pub, Leek). Amazing to think he first appeared on our TV screens as long ago as 1939! I remember him on Saturday Night at the London Palladium, when an affable personality, and an oft-repeated catchphrase, could take you a long way in television…

Riverside conversation, Ely...

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Ely...

Spent a couple of days at the Lynn Arms in Syderstone, North Norfolk, with Mandy and Aubrey the dog. While I was there I took some photos for the pub’s new website. Then headed south, to see more old friends this evening from my days in Peterborough. It cost me £4.70 to get a shower this morning - the same price as a swim - though that’s still cheaper than a pint of lager in Poundbury.

On the way I stopped off in Ely, and took some pix. I had a pint of lager, overlooking the river, and hit a new high water mark. £5.20! I kept my composure and paid up…

A pint at the Lynn Arms...

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Coventry...

I made my way to Coventry via Leek, where I called in at the Wilkes Head pub, to see who has won the latest ‘Death Raffle’. Congratulations to ‘Jamie’, who is £252.00 to the good for predicting the demise of actor Peter Sallis, at the age of 96.

Had a fun-filled weekend with Chas and grandsons Lenzo and Max. This is Max engrossed in one of his favourite books: The Challenge of Islam. He's fascinated by theology, and talks about little else...


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Tadcaster...

Had a stroll along the Wharfe with son Casey, starting from the repaired river bridge; the damage to the bridge, caused by floodwater, had divided the town in two for many months. Drove through the Peak District, taking a few pix on the way, and have now parked up for the night in Leek…

Magpie Mine, Derbyshire...


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Socialising...

Good to see John, Dave and Martin in York last night, for an evening of pleasantly inconsequential conversation. We met up in the Golden Ball, a proper local beerhouse just inside the city wall. When the pub quiz started we repaired to the Black Swan, just around the corner: another little boozer with plenty of character, thankfully unimproved by progress. My spirits are lifted, though the back is still sore. I don’t think I’ll be break-dancing for a while…

Arkengarthdale...





Glen Campbell...

Heard this morning that Glen Campbell has died. Though never a great fan, I particularly remember two of his songs: Witchita Lineman and Galveston, both written by Jimmy Webb, which came out in 1968 and 1969 respectively, years when music meant a great deal to me. The words may not resonate too strongly, but if you can hear the music and the peerless voice of Glen Cambell they’ll leap off the page. Instead of adolescent angst, the lingua franca of most popular songs, both songs have a timeless quality.

We can imagine the lineman, on his own, repairing telephone lines in America’s rural south; he’s yearning for someone so strongly that he can ‘hear’ her over the telephone wires. We can imagine the conscripted soldier, in a lull in the fighting (Jimmy Webb was thinking about Vietnam, apparently), wondering if the woman he loves will still be there when - or if - he gets back home.

The sentiments are sketched, not spelt out - making it easy to identify with the ‘I’ in the songs: the essence, I think, of good song-writing. These are the kind of songs I sing as I drive along; it’s impossible for me to approach Ulverston in Cumbria without breaking into the chorus of Galveston at the top of my voice…

Witchita lineman

I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road
Searchin' in the sun for another overload
I hear you singin' in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

I know I need a small vacation but it don't look like rain
And if it snows that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain
And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line…


Galveston

Galveston, oh Galveston,
I still hear your seawinds blowing;
I still see her dark eyes glowing.
She was twenty one, when I left Galveston.
Galveston, oh Galveston,
I still hear your seawaves crashin,
while I watch the cannons flashin'.
I clean my gun, and dream of Galveston.
I still see her standing by the water,
Standing there looking out to sea.
And is she waiting there for me,
On the beach where we used to run?
Galveston, oh Galveston,
I am so afraid of dying,
Before I dry the tears she's crying,
Before I watch your sea birds flying in the sun,
at Galveston, at Galveston


Rievaulx Abbey...


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Wet and dreary...

Oof… what a dreary day: leaden sky and heavy rain. Even the ‘pensioner’s special’, at a fish & chip café on the A64, failed to lift my gloomy mood. I’m due to meet some chums in York tonight, so I hope they can cheer me up…

Cottages in Hurst, an out-of-the-way community in Swaledale, with the heather coming into flower...


Monday, 7 August 2017

Helmsley...

Slept in Thirsk last night, though I didn’t get much sleep after 5.30am, when guys started putting up their market stalls. I wasn’t getting much sleep anyway, thanks to a sore back giving me gip. I spent the day shooting pix at Rievaulx Abbey - one set of pix in the morning, another set in the afternoon - and now I’m in Helmsley, yet another North Yorkshire town with an expansive market square. I’m self-medicating with summer ale, and the back seems to be responding to treatment…


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Bedale...

I parked up for the night in Bedale (spot the Romahome near the church). I'm parked in another cobbled market square today, in Thirsk. Parking is free on Sundays and the wifi, from a nearby coffee shop, is dependable, so I'm busy keywording a backlog of pix. Tedious but necessary...


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Crakehall...

The day improved, with plenty of pix of Swaledale. I ended up at Crakehall, and its eccentrically shaped cricket pitch, to find a game in progress. While it takes a hefty whack to reach the boundary with a straight drive, a clip off the legs only has to go about ten yards, because the churchyard intrudes on the pitch. Despite these eccentricities - or maybe because of them - Crakehall is village cricket at its best.

I see, from the Guardian website, that Burnley had to abandon today’s pre-season friendly - yes, friendly - against Hannover, because of crowd violence. After huge transfer fee and wages, I can only watch football now as a cultural phenomenon; I really can’t care who wins. The cricketers at Crakehall applauded the opposition batsman when he reached fifty; the crowd at Burnley were ripping up seats and throwing them…

Arkengarthdale...

























Cricket at Crakehall...


Parking ticket...

A good way to start my day is waking up to bird-song or, on a Sunday in a small market town, the peal of church bells. A bad way to wake up, as happened this morning, is to find a parking ticket stuck to the windscreen. The fine wasn’t for the lack of a ticket (I didn’t need one between 6pm and 8am); it was for the ‘improper use of a parking space’. This is the first ticket I’ve had, in three years, for kipping in a car park, and it was timed, improbably, at 6.37am. One blind was halfway down, which suggests that a particularly vigilant traffic warden, standing on tip-toes, might have glimpsed a somnolent figure inside the van…

Changeable weather over Woodnook campsite...


Friday, 4 August 2017

Yorkshire Dales...

I’m enjoying being back in the Yorkshire Dales. I called in at the Tan Hill Inn today, the highest pub in England, which is currently up for sale. There were lots of motorhomes parked there, some even smaller than mine, because there’s a mini music festival taking place over the weekend. My natural inclination is - and always has been - to avoid crowds, so I took lots of pix around Arkengarthdale and ended up in Richmond for the night…

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Strong and stable...

Heard on the radio this morning that a three-year-old Scottish girl is getting an award for comedy. Intrigued, I went on YouTube. Hilarious. Try this clip, turn the subtitles on, sit back and enjoy. And there are plenty more clips of Isla and her dad...

The church at Downholme...


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Piece Hall...

Yesterday was Yorkshire Day, when Yorkshire folk sing the praises of God's Own County (just like every other day, then). A crowd of people turned up for the re-opening of the wonderful Piece Hall, in Halifax. The council has thrown a lot of money at the project, most of it seeming to have gone on digging up the cobbles, levelling the ground and putting down flagstones...

A band played (that's Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec on percussion)...



























Tuesday, 1 August 2017

More Krishnamurti...

"Seeing the world, seeing humanity, the “me”, and the necessity of a total, radical revolution, how is it possible to bring it about? It can only be brought about when the observer no longer makes an effort to change, because he himself is part of what he tries to change. Therefore all action on the part of the observer ceases totally, and in this total inaction there is a quite different action. There is nothing mysterious or mystical about all this. It is a simple fact. I begin not at the extreme end of the problem, which is the cessation of the observer; I begin with simple things. Can I look at a flower by the wayside or in my room without all the thoughts arising, the thought that says, “It is a rose; I like the smell of it, the perfume,” and so on and so and on? Can I just observe without the observer? If you have not done this, do it, at the lowest, most simple level. It isn’t really the lowest level; if you know how to do that, you have done everything"...

The flue at Grinton lead-smelting mill, which carried the toxic fumes to a chimney at the top of the hill...


Monday, 31 July 2017

Today's post from Krishnamurti...

"We generally start with the farthest—the supreme principle, the greatest ideal, and get lost in some hazy dream of imaginative thought. But when you start very near, with the nearest, which is you, then the whole world is open, for you are the world, and the world beyond you is only nature. Nature is not imaginary: it is actual; and what is happening to you now is actual. From the actual you must begin—with what is happening now—and the now is timeless"...

The lead-smelting mill at Grinton, in Swaledale...
























Coverdale...


Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Forbidden Corner...

I met Helen, fellow Romahomer, at my favourite campsite in the Yorkshire Dales. We took a trip to the Forbidden Corner, near Middleham. I’d heard about it, but never been… and now I have. The attraction began as a private venture, creating paths, tunnels, mazes and follies within a four-acre garden, which was opened to the public in 1994.

The Forbidden Corner is a bit like a ghost train… without the train. We spend a couple of hours getting lost, being sprayed with water, opening doors that led nowhere and being harangued by spooky voices. It was fun, but claustrophobic, and, at £12 a pop, no bargain.

Yesterday, we had a wander around the lead-mining relics on Grassington Moor, which suited me better. There was more room to move, under big skies and fast-moving clouds. Then I met up with two old chums, Howard and Kev, in Leyburn for an evening like a lost episode of Last of the Summer Wine…

This way to the Forbidden Corner...


Grassington Moor...



Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Rough sleepers...

From an article on the Guardian website I read that homeless people in Oxford are being threatened, by the city council, with fines of up to £2,500. Rough sleepers, according to legal notices pinned to their belongings, are “having a detrimental effect … on the quality of life of those in the locality”. Hmmm... not sure the homelessness problem can be solved by fines and harassment, and I wonder how money can be collected from people who don't have any. What's happened to empathy and kindness?...

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Cricket...

I watched the final of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, between England and India, taking place at a sold-out Lords. It was quite a game, going down to the penultimate over as the Indian tail-enders tried to score the last few runs they needed, and the England bowlers tried to take the last couple of wickets. Anya Shrubsole bowled the last batter (there’s no better ball to a tail-ender than a fast, straight yorker) and England won. Hooray!

In my favourite Yorkshire Dales campsite today - editing, keywording and uploading a backlog of pix. As if to reward my efforts, a total of 15 pix have been licensed so far today (a record for both number of pix... and price). With four more working days to go, July could be my best-ever month for stock sales.

The parterre at Sledmere House...


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Socialising...

I’ve done a bit of socialising with old friends, in Scarborough, York and Hebden Bridge. I’m glad I left the Fox & Goose in Hebden Bridge last night before having that “last pint” (and then maybe a couple more after that) because that’s what makes for a sore head the next morning.

Instead I woke up refreshed. I didn’t immediately know where I was… but that’s pretty normal for a nomad. It’s surprisingly unscary not to know. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, in the title of a book, Wherever you go, there you are

Burton Agnes Hall...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sledmere House...

I was photographing the gardens of Sledmere House when this horse and trap came by...




Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The BBC...

What BBC presenters are paid is one more issue that isn’t keeping me awake at night. I haven’t had a TV for 15 years or more, and don’t miss it, though that didn’t stop the BBC sending me letters demanding to know why I hadn’t paid my license fee. The idea that I didn’t watch TV seemed inconceivable.

Oh, and those ‘TV detector vans’ were just a ruse, a kind of urban myth. They weren’t actually able to detect who was watching TV without a license…

Bridlington...




Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Bridlington...

Visited two of East Yorkshire’s stately homes - Burton Agnes Hall and Sledmere Hall - and took plenty of pix. Then I parked up in a lay-by, edited pix and listened to the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup, England v South Africa.

It shouldn’t have been such an exciting game. South Africa only scored 218, and the commentators seemed to think it would be a cakewalk for England. But wickets kept falling, and the last five overs were excrutiating to listen to. One of the pundits left the commentary box, because she “felt sick”; another was dancing a jig on the balcony to calm her nerves. And the two who described those last five overs were so overcome with emotion that they could barely talk. It was getting to me as well. But not to Anya Schrubsole, coming in at number 10, who, needing two runs off three balls, wacked her first ball to the bounday.

India play Australia on Thursday, and the winner of that match will play England in the final on Sunday. Lords, I hear, is a sell-out… which suggests that women’s cricket has succeeded in capturing an audience. C’mon England!

The harbour, Bridlington. The sculpture, the Gansey Girl, by Steve Carvill, is a recent addition to the quayside. It depicts a young woman knitting a gansey, the traditional jumper worn by fishermen...


Monday, 17 July 2017

ATM...

Instead of fretting about the BBC's choice of a female Dr Who, I processed another 100 pix today, in a little campsite near Beverley, North Yorkshire. It’s my kind of campsite: informal, without too many rules and regulations (just a hand-written sign: No kite flying). There was no wifi or bar, but, to be honest, campsite bars tend to be awful in all respects: decor, ambience, beer, food, staff and clientele.

I hear talk of the ‘cashless society’; maybe it’s here already…






Sunday, 16 July 2017

Today's quote from Krishnamurti...

"Why is there, one must ask, this division—the Russian, the American, the British, the French, the German, and so on—why is there this division between man and man, between race and race, culture against culture, one series of ideologies against another? Why? Where is there this separation? Man has divided the earth as yours and mine—why? Is it that we try to find security, self-protection, in a particular group, or in a particular belief, faith? For religions also have divided man, put man against man—the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians, the Jews and so on. 

Nationalism, with its unfortunate patriotism, is really a glorified form, an ennobled form, of tribalism. In a small tribe or in a very large tribe there is a sense of being together, having the same language, the same superstitions, the same kind of political, religious system. And one feels safe, protected, happy, comforted. And for that safety, comfort, we are willing to kill others who have the same kind of desire to be safe, to feel protected, to belong to something. This terrible desire to identify oneself with a group, with a flag, with a religious ritual and so on gives us the feeling that we have roots, that we are not homeless wanderers"...

Storm clouds over Gloucester Quays...


Beverley...

Saturday night in Beverley, North Yorkshire; unwisely I parked up in the town square for the night. I should have seen the bouncers outside the pubs and drawn the obvious conclusion that Saturdays nights in Beverley might get a bit rowdy.

The noise seemed to have died down by midnight, and I dozed off… only to be awoken by the van being rocked from side to side by unseen hands. I shouted… and the rocking stopped. I thought I might have difficulty getting to sleep after that… but I didn’t.

Sunday morning in Beverley is quieter and more to my liking. This is one Yorkshire town which reminds me of all the market towns I’ve seen down south. I took a stroll, took some pix of the North Bar - the only bar left standing - and now I’m enjoying a mug of tea in a café adjoining the square…

Tewkesbury Abbey...




Saturday, 15 July 2017

Alexander Burn...

Drove through Lincolnshire, and over the Humber Bridge. I had notes ready to pay... but it only cost £1.50. I crossed the Severn Bridge a few days ago. It cost £7 and, once across, you're in Wales. Cross the Humber for thirty bob... and you're in Yorkshire. A bargain!

Funeral Director in Tewkesbury, who always recommends cremation rather than burial. Don't know why...


Friday, 14 July 2017

Lower Lode...

I had a very pleasant day and a half in Tewkesbury. I photographed the town in the morning - when the light strikes the buildings in a particular away - and in the afternoon, when the light has moved around and lit up the buildings that were in shadow earlier in the day. I got out the tripod to shoot pix in the abbey, and for night shots around the town. With nearly 2,000 pix to edit, from the past few days, I headed to a campsite.

The satnav lady led me down a long cul de sac, which emerged at a little campsite on the banks of the River Severn, next to a pub, the Lower Lode Inn. Perfect. No wifi, but I got a cheap hook-up. Stopping only for a meal and a couple of beers, later in the day, I processed 112 pix: some kind of record, I think…

The Bell, Tewkesbury...


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Tewkesbury Abbey...

In Tewkesbury this morning. It’s raining but, of course, that didn’t stop me taking pix in the Abbey. I went at 8am when I thought the place would be empty. There was just a guy moving chairs, and tidying up, after a concert last night. He was fed up. “Look at the shit that people left”, he said. Even as an atheist I wouldn’t say “shit” in church. It sounded like a slap in the face. I always take my hat off too, and try not to break wind on consecrated ground. God knows why…

The abbey...

Monday, 10 July 2017

England v Australia...

I spent yesterday at the County Ground in Bristol, to watch another game in the Women’s World Cup: England v Australia. Since the ground is tucked away in the backstreets, with nowhere to park, I left the van in Thornbury and took the bus.

There are photographs around the ground, featuring some of the notable players who have played for Gloucestershire. Perhaps the most notable of them all is W G Grace, who, over a long career, attracted crowds wherever he played. Though notionally an amateur, he knew his worth and made sure he got paid. Once, when given out LBW, he said "They came to see me bat, not you umpire," and carried on batting!

England women batted first, but, losing wickets, weren’t able to put together a big partnership. It was left to the lower order batters to get the score up to 258 for 8, which I thought was about forty runs short of a decent score. Australia looked favourites to win throughout most of their innings, though they lost regular wickets too. When there were just five overs left, Australia still needed about 55 runs; despite some big hitting and frenzied running between the wickets, they fell three runs short. The crowd - large and by now well-lubricated - went wild...

Every cloud...


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Gloucester Quays...

The moment I turned the corner into the car-park, I was itching to photograph the renovated warehouses overlooking Gloucester Quays. I had a wander in the afternoon, another tour, with the tripod, at dusk, and this morning I was up early for more pix… while the quays were quiet.

Gloucester Quays remind me of Salford Quays, though it’s much more compact; the upmarket apartments, shops and restaurants promote a familiar, aspirational, “you’re worth it” lifestyle. There are bars and restaurants (mostly ersatz versions of international cuisine), but nothing as common as a pub. I had the place to myself when I had a cheapish early evening meal at an Indian eatery. Without any prompting from me (I have a rule never to antagonise anyone who has the opportunity to gob in my food), the proprietor tried to convince me of the superior nature of Islam. He decried the drinking of alcohol even as he brought me a beer!

I nodded politely as he insisted on a Muslim’s right to have more than one wife, if he is particularly “powerful” (I presume he meant highly sexed). I told him I had read the Koran, without volunteering a review, and left without leaving a tip…

The Mariners' Church, Gloucester Quays...


























Warehouses overlooking the canal basin...


Friday, 7 July 2017

Today's Krishnamurti quote...

"You always ask what happens after death. But you have never asked what happens before death, what happens now in your life. What is your life?—working, office, money, pain, striving, climbing the ladder of success. That is your life. And death puts an end to all that. So, is it possible, while living, to end—end your attachment, end your belief? To end, the beauty of ending something voluntarily, without motive, without pleasure—can you do it? In ending there is a new beginning. If you end, there is something, the doors are opened, but you want to be sure before you end that the door will open. So you never end, never end your motive. The understanding of death is to live a life, inwardly ending"...

Man in Chepstow, trying to remember where he left his car-keys...


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Joe Root...

The day started unpromisingly. I popped into a pub to watch a bit of the summer’s first test match - England v South Africa - only to see England subside to 74 for 4. This is Joe Root’s first match as captain, even though he was appointed six months ago (the early matches this season have all been ‘white ball’ cricket). He came in when England were facing another crisis… and stayed all day. I know this because I abandoned all other plans for the day, settled back into an armchair to watch the big screen and stayed till the close of play. What a great day’s cricket! England accelerated throughout the day, with Joe Root reaching 100, then 150, and finishing on 184 not out, ready to start again tomorrow.

He looked tired after his epic innings, but, hell, for a professional sportsman, days don’t come much better than this. I hope he prospers, and not just because he’s a Yorkshireman. He’s obviously got a good sense of humour; emblazoned on the back of his shirt, for the one-day games, is his name and squad number: ‘Root 66’…

Thornbury...




Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Chepstow...

Bored by England’s long tradition of male voice choirs (there are only so many renditions of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot that a non-rugby fan can take) I ventured across the Severn Bridge this morning, to investigate the principality’s unrivalled reputation for fine cuisine. I was in luck: there’s a Greggs in Chepstow.
   
Despite taking plenty of stock pix, and working on my ‘belief’ book, I feel I’m in holiday mood. I’ve been in Wales less than an hour and already I’ve been abused by a local. Let no one suggest that a Welshman has a chip on his shoulder…

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Thornbury...

A frustrating day, despite the warm and sunny weather, as none of my plans worked out. I got lost in Bristol and ended up driving out of the city towards the little market town of Thornbury, where it was easier to negotiate the high street. I’m enjoying a cold beer, while uploading pix, and watching the tennis on the pub TV…

Selfie by the sea...


Weston-super-Mare...

Stayed in Weston-super-Mare last night. If I’d half closed my eyes, and gazed at the sweep of the bay, I could almost have been in Nice…


Monday, 3 July 2017

Cricket at Taunton...

When England women played Sri Lanka women yesterday, the County Ground was bathed in sunshine (unlike Thursday, when Indian Women played West Indies women, and it was so cold that I asked a woman knitting nearby if she could knit me a blanket). Sri Lanka batted first, and never got over a slow start and the regular loss of wickets. Chamari Athapaththu, who had got 178 a few days earlier, was out for just a single. The rest of the batters played straight, like illustrations from the coaching manual, but no one dominated the bowling… or even tried. Sri Lanka struggled to a total of 204. England bowled well, though Anya Shrubsole had to watch at least three simple catches being dropped off her bowling. The best catch of the day was by Fran Wilson, in the gully, who clung on to a fierce back-footed drive (otherwise it would have been a four).

England batted well, and were always ahead of the required run rate. Heather Knight and Sarah Taylor knocked off most of the runs between them, and, towards the end, were hitting boundaries to all parts of the ground. So it wasn’t an exciting finish (which has traditionally been the rationale for the 50-over game). However, it was good to see England playing well. They’re playing South Africa mid-week and I’ll catch up with them again in Bristol, a ground I’ve never visited before, for next Sunday’s game against the unbeaten Australian women… 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Watchet...

Spent a morning taking pix in Watchet, a characterful little port, with a harbour, a quay, a statue of the ancient mariner (with his crossbow and albatross) and not much else. After a few days of overcast skies, the sun is out… and it’s supposed to stay this way for the cricket tomorrow. There’s live music playing non-stop in the West Somerset Hotel today, to raise money for famine relief, though to stay from noon to midnight you’d need to be a tone-deaf philanthropist.

Parked up in Taunton now, close to the County Ground, ready to stroll into the ground tomorrow morning… with my monocular, radio and ear-buds (not just to listen to the cricket commentary, but also to shut out the pop music: there’s only so much Katy Perry a man can take)…

The harbour at Watchet...


Co-operation...


Friday, 30 June 2017

Women's World Cup...

Stayed a couple of days with old friends, Gordon and Trish, in Taunton. Gordon and I went to watch West Indies Women v India Women at the County Ground. There are eight teams in the competition who play each other once, with the best four teams going forward to the semi-finals later this month. It was my second look at international women’s cricket ‘in the flesh’, and Gordon’s first.

The weather wasn’t conducive to exciting cricket (especially for two teams accustomed to playing in warmer climes) and seemed to get colder as the day wore on. West Indies batted first, but, after Hayley Matthews was out for 43, no one seemed willing or able to push the score along. The West Indies scored slowly and lost wickets regularly: a bad combination. Thanks to some big hitting from the lower order batters, they managed to reach a total of 183. But it was never going to be enough, and India knocked the runs off with ease.

The game was over as a contest after about ten overs of the first innings. Combine a predictable result with the cold weather, a sparse crowd and crap music belting out from tinny speakers to accompany every boundary and wicket… and the experience - for a couple of non-partisan spectators - was a bit grim. I don’t think I won Gordon over to the delights of women’s cricket. Anyway, I have a ticket for the game on Sunday - England v Sri Lanka - which, fingers crossed, should be more of a contest…


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

More Beer...

The beach at Beer was an animated scene. Guys were rigging up heavy, wooden sailing boats, known as luggers; they race every Monday evening, I was told. With the shingle beach shelving precipitously into the water, launching the boats was no easy matter. The method was to lay lengths of blackened wood on the shingle, to cut down on the friction, and manhandle the boats into the water. Though it looked laborious and labour-intensive, people have launched boats in this way for thousands of years.

Half a dozen boats were rigged, with masts raised and sails unfurled… and then the call came. “It’s off”, said the guy who took the call; there wasn’t enough wind. Down came the sails and masts, and the boats were dragged back up the beach. The guys laid down the wooden staves again, as for launching, but now they had help from motorised winches at the top of the beach, with chains attached to the boats.

It all looked like a lot of work for nothing, but the guys didn’t look too fussed (apart from one character who, having driven a long way to get here, threw down his life-jacket in disgust). As another guy sad to me, “It’s either too little wind or two much. We’ve only raced twice this summer”.

The preparations were more interesting to photograph than the races; within five minutes of launching, the boats would have been out of range of my camera…

I’m in a campsite today, to edit and upload the backlog of pix. If all campsites were so reasonable - just £15 - I’d use them more…



Monday, 26 June 2017

Beer...

Making my way along the south coast, east to west, I crossed into Devon and arrived at Seaton. I’ve taken some pix, written a thousand words, eaten an ice cream and had a three-way conversation with a couple of small motorhome owners (or maybe owners of small motorhomes). The sea is calm, with waves shush-shushing against the pebble shore, and the temperature is on the rise.

I’m parked up in Beer for the night. What a great spot!


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Stonehill Down...

I just renewed the insurance on my Romahome, which means I’ve now been ‘on the road’ for three years. In the summer of 2014 I imagined living the nomadic life for maybe five years, but that was never a firm commitment or an immovable date in my diary. I can see me and the Romahome growing old together. There may come a time when my general health - or eyesight - may decline to the point where I won’t be able to drive… though I hope that’s still a few years down the line.

The weather is overcast and cool today: not very photogenic, but a welcome relief from the recent heatwave. I’m parked up on Stonehill Down, a local nature reserve, where walkers, cyclists and horse-riders are tackling a broad track along a ridge of the Purbeck Hills. It looks like the sort of path that people have walked for millennia. I’ve written 1,500 words of my book, which might be enough for today. It seems to be going well. I’ll be happy to get to the point where I have the first, full-length draft… when the book is a ‘thing’, not just a collection of unrelated ideas. That’s the beginning of phase two: checking my facts, knocking the chapters into shape, substituting finely-honed prose for the ‘placeholder’ material, etc…

The Old Customs House in Poole, Dorset...


Friday, 23 June 2017

Glastonbury...

Glastonbury starts today. I’m not far away, but I have neither a ticket… nor the inclination. I really enjoyed my three Glastonbury weekends, but they were a long time ago; I’m not sure I’d want to pay good money to be strip-searched by unsmiling security men. And I doubt if I could cope with the crowds.

My Glasto memories are all small-scale. I never much cared who was performing on the pyramid stage. I’d seek out, instead, more esoteric delights. I’d go into some little tent, where a shy poet would be reading his doggerel from a school exercise book to an audience of three people and a dog. I saw unpopular musical acts and baffling street theatre. I saw Jerry Sadowitz deal with a heckler in the comedy tent by going into the audience and punching him in the face. I remember being smitten by John Prine, then Jonathan Richman, in the acoustic tent; I’ve been a fan of both ever since. 

The ‘act’ I enjoyed the most was Jonathan Kay - the Fool - who was marshalling a large audience in yet another tent. He got people to do things they didn’t know they wanted to do… until he gave them permission. I was mesmerised. I wanted to know some of what this man knew… and I’ve done workshops with him since (all fun… even though I show no aptitude for ‘fooling’).

One guy, hoping to make his fortune, had brought about a thousand Pot Noodles and a kettle. By Sunday afternoon about 975 of them remained unsold; no one wanted to buy a plastic container full of brick-dust and e-numbers, topped up with boiling water, when there was so much good food on offer. I recall the street-cries of Old Glastonbury: “Dope acid, speed”, “Get your psychedelic acid”. But most of my memories of the festival have gone to a fine white ash…

Faith...

I’ve been reading - consuming - books by religious apologists. The literature is broad… but not very deep (writing more and more about less and less). At some point in every book there comes a moment where the author throws up his hands and says “You just have to believe!” Mark Twain was blessed with the ability to get to the heart of the matter, and express it with insight, brevity and wit. “Faith”, he wrote, “is believing what you know ain’t so”.

So I’ve picked up a book (Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo, by Michael McCarthy) about the birds that arrive in spring and leave at the end of summer. I’m enjoying his writing style… “It is not simply the fact of their arrival… that so affects us; it is the recurring nature of it. In coming back year after year after year, against all the odds that they face, the spring migrants are testaments to the earth’s great cycle. They remind us that, although death is certain, renewal is eternal, that although all life ends, new life comes as well”…

17th century almshouses in the village of East Coker...


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Dorset...

Back in Dorset, as the weather relaxes into something more typically English. A temperature in the mid-twenties is fine by me, while I have stuff to write and pix to take…

Manor house, dated 1625, in the village of Norton, near Malmesbury...