Sunday, 27 May 2012

carry on wales

Having spent part of this weekend up Fan Y Big and looking at Lord Hereford's Knob, passing through villages with such names as Three Cocks and Sucking, you might think that I had entered some dark 1970's Carry On dreamland.  However, what we've been doing this weekend is spending our time in Wales, not in some dark 1970's dreamland.

But, I guess that it could create some frisson of hilarity imagining some hairy-arsed ancient Druids wandering the Welsh landscape singing it into existence a la Australian Aborigines only able to come up with such names as previously mentioned*.

the view from pen y fan
Anyway, there we were indeed.  And a great weekend we had of it.  I am now the proud owner of a glowing red upper forehead and bright red wrists.  Yes, of course we used sunblock.  Just not enough. The 40 mile per hour gusts of wind were not enough to protect us from the ravaging of bright Phoebus himself.  Just enough for me to spend several hours appearing somewhat "storm-tossed" as the bard had it. Along the way I was able to correct someone's mis-quoting of Shakespeare.  "Lead On, MacDuff", he said.  Er, that's, "Lay On, MacDuff" I told him. What a geek.  Me, that is.

The sun shone all weekend and the wind blasted us occasionally.  We loved it.  The first walk I have completed since the breaking of the foot back in December.  It all seems to work okay - I just need more stamina.  I woke up this morning (der derdun der duh) and my legs were fine.  Little pain there to behold.  Mind you, I was told by an acquaintance that technically I had no right to be able to multi-task** that early on Sunday morning after the amount I'd "put away last night".

Well, as I keep telling kids at school, you won't get anywhere unless you practise.

As we walked down from our three peaks walk (Pen y Fan, Fan y Big and Crybin) we saw this genuine heart of oaken glory which we reckon is a good 500 year old oak:

A summer of weather like this weekend's would make loads of us stay and holiday here in England (no, I can't stand terms like "staycation" - too management speak for your truly).

* you may need to read Bruce Chatwin's Songlines to get that
** stand up, drink tea, breathe

Friday, 11 May 2012

feel like i've been here before

It's a funny old month. With the prospect of going to London three weekends in a row, a friend exclaimed, "Blimey! That'll practically make you a Cockney". Well, hardly old chap, but it is excessive.

Last weekend we went there in a hurry because on Friday Mrs Dave and I had tickets to see Imelda May at the Royal Albert Hall. An excellent gig, Mrs Dave stayed awake all the way through unlike last time we went to see Mark Knopfler there a few years back.  That may be because of the soporific effect of some of his music (I thought I'd get in first) but Imelda was definitely in fine form. We stayed for two nights (in London not in the Albert Hall) and spent Saturday wandering around Kensington. After joining the queue to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, we walked up towards Harrods. We were rather suprised that practically every other shop was a cafe with large groups of men smoking from water pipes.  Times have certainly changed - I'm not sure what they were smoking but it all seemed very cosmopolitan. It seems I was the only person who found the Tuojiangosaurus funny (try pronouncing it) or maybe they'd all heard it before. I mean, why name a dinosaur that? Or perhaps something was gained in translation, haha.

On Sunday we went to the Whole Food Market in Kensington High Street just so we could shop like real middle-class foodies. It was rather spectacular, though. It just shows how easy it is for city dwellers to get hold of just about anything they want.  It also shows how difficult it can be for some of us to find certain foodstuffs when trying to follow flash recipes. Mind you, it's damned expensive. It's not just food miles being paid for here.

We knew that we had a lengthy journey home - East Anglia isn't well served by trains at the best of times.  We were expecting to get a bus from Liverpool Street but were a bit surprised when we were told to get on the train to Cambridge.  As it was leaving in about two minutes, we had to rush without thinking.  This is why we ended up sitting at the station at Dullingham.  I'd never heard of it before.  I don't expect to be there again. Well, we got home even later than we planned to but without too much fuss.  Just the mild panic of thinking it was going to take seven hours to get just a hundred miles down the road. A little different to Edward Thomas' experience at Adlestrop!

Tomorrow night Mrs Dave will be walking around London in her undies . . . well, wearing a decorated bra, anyway. She's doing the Moon Walk (insert own Michael Jackson joke here. I've probably heard it) for Breast Cancer.  As her sister now is unable to take part, I've volunteered to help out.  It would appear that I'll be litter picking all night (not in a pink bra, I might add), but it's all for a good cause.

Next week I'm back up to London yet again for the annual Film Studies marking conference.  Is it really that time again? Time really does fly. This year really does seem to have whizzed past - I'm finding it hard this year as the students just seem to not care about deadlines.  Or anything really.  The coursework will be a little late being sent off, though.  I'm still waiting for some of it - gone are the days like when we were young*.  If it didn't come in, you failed.  Now we just have to wait . . .

And wait . . .

* not a nostalgic point, by the way!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

deep in the heart of nowhere

Yes. I remember Dullingham -
The name, because one afternoon
Damply, the train pulled up there
Unnecessarily.  It was early May.

The rain pissed. I cleared my throat.
No one moved, on or off -
Just a bare platform. What I saw
Was Dullingham - name and nature.

And rain clouds, indescript trees,
And more bloody rain; nothing dry.
I looked up expecting nothing more
Than rain from the clouds in the sky.

And for those minutes, really, nothing sang.
Nothing. Not a thing.
Just clouds and nothing else
In Cambridgeshire or Suffolk.

 with apologies to Edward Thomas.