Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lost things

February 1, 2017

Some things I have lost over the past year.
Or perhaps I should say, some things whose loss I have detected

my brand new mobile phone.  In its purple case.(stolen from my house on Thursday – my own fault for being trusting) I guess it is the prompt for this post.

my (I don’t know what you call them) togs was our term as kids. Maybe it’s a Queensland word; or New South Welsh. The clothes you wear to go swimming. Some people call them swimmers, or bathers, or a swimsuit. – Mine are not really lost: I just left them behind at Southam swimming pool on Thursday afternoon (not long before finding out about the stolen phone). So when I phoned the reception desk to ask if they (it?) had been picked up, I had no words that the man there could understand. He got it finally – ‘Ah!’ he said ‘costume.’ I had lost my costume, or cossie, I now remember hearing other children say.

two dog leads (maybe three?) – I begin to lose count. Now I’m using the least desirable one, a short one made of green webbing. Then I tied a piece of rope to the end to lengthen it, and it suddenly feels super special and satisfying to use. You can get a good grip on the rope.

the ice scraper for the car (maybe it fell out? I keep it in the door, so it’s quite vulnerable to falling out). Grey plastic, and a bit broken, but it worked ok.  I haven’t replaced it: I’m finding that a credit card or the edge of a CD box works pretty well. I’m looking forward to using other random objects that happen to be in the car when I need them.

three brand new books, bought at Browsers in Porthmadog, and still in their neat paper bag. (Two late collections by Terry Pratchett and one book whose name I have forgotten). Must have left the bag somewhere; or put it somewhere . . .

ablinkofthescreen

Had to buy another copy for Will

shop21.jpg

Browsers Bookshop, Porthmadog

Nicholson’s Guides to the canal system. I had several (two to the Grand Union, one to the Oxford Canal) – now I only have the Birmingham one.

aaa-nicholson

endlessly useful and entertaining!

No idea where they went – but that leads me to . . .

a substantial list of objects damaged and stolen by burglars on my canal boat in August. I’m not going to re-visit that!!! Goddamn the scallies.

the manual for my lovely Volvo, not to mention the booklet with its service history stamps, all the way from 2005 – maybe it’s still at the garage??

the battle to stop Alumno from building a monstrous student residence on the canal path. They tore up the trees without a second thought.  They’re calling these big dormitories  ‘PBSAs’ now – Purpose Built Student Residences – not to be confused with the PDSA, the much more laudable People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which treats poor people’s pets for free.

20170131_141545

Under construction: from Court Street.  It is HUGE.  The photo doesn’t do it anything like justice.

my courage with locks. Not Yale-type locks, but canal locks. I was always wary, but now I’m terrified. You can die, falling into a lock.  I’m selling the boat, by the way.

a pair of brown leather gloves. They were lovely gloves: I had them for riding, back before I lost my courage for horses. I was mixing them up in my mind with a different pair of brown leather gloves, a bit too big for me, which I think I found in the first place. So I suppose it’s fair if they’ve gone back into the whirlpool of small items of clothing, sifting their way through the world from one owner to another. I did like them, though.

jill-bandit-1-2

brown gloves just visible – Rhyd yr Eirin – Wales

the black woolly hat with NYC on the front. Another thing I didn’t buy – it was left behind in the house years ago by some schoolfriend of Will’s, but really soft and comfortable. Most of my woolly hats would seem to be temporary residents. (You don’t need a picture of that – everybody knows what they look like.)

two cheap plastic, but very effective, vegetable peelers (vanished really recently). One yellow and one white: now I just have the green one left. How can I have had three for years and years, and now suddenly only one?

20170125_133642

green plastic peeler

20170125_133721

less adequate peelers – the red handled one is all bendy; the wooden one is quite good at coring apples.

 

This is a discouraging post – I’m going to stop and write something better.

Advertisements

a poem from 2016

January 2, 2017

In the wall

The quiet house has its small sounds –
the dog rolls over, sighs, softly
rests a paw on the skirting board;
light rain echo-tap taps on the conservatory roof;
my typing, tapping on the computer.
But mostly it’s silence.
Something scuffles in the wall.

– What was that again?
The dog’s tail shuffles in the hall.
– Oh. I see.
Yet – something scuffles in the wall.

Footsteps, stairsteps muffle-clump next door;
Tamil voices outside – the child laughs briefly.
Ducking under clouds, the autumn sun,
westering, strikes sideways through my room –
and something scuffles in the wall.

Inside the chimney breast, long bricked up
something is constricted. Some creature
is turning, scrabbling.
Pay attention.
It stops. Quiet as the grave.
Escaped? – – – – – the smallest of shuffles. – Rat! Rat!

A scary creature is trapped in my wall:
something that will flap, scuttle, rush in my face.

A quiet day passes – gone. Found its way out.

Evening sun rests light on my cream room
And something scuffles in the wall.
Something horrible that can’t get out
is stuck, dying and alone in the dark.

Mike comes over to unscrew the brass air vent,
opens an exit.
The creature is lying doggo.

Another day passes. Mice can live in walls
scuttle in skirting boards. Still the gentle
shuffling, on and off, fluttering, rolling.

We go by the book – chip off plaster
neatly knock out a brick or two, leave a torch
shining, go to the pub to give it some peace –
and return to see soot on the carpet.
Not a sound. Success!

And yet, come the sideways light of afternoon,
So close, next to my work table,
My creature scuffles in the wall.
Four days now, or five. How long does it take to die?
Does a pigeon die faster than a blackbird?

Take the big crowbar to it myself, and the
terrifying lump hammer.
In quiet she may find the courage to leave.
Repeat the torch, pub routine.
Return tipsy to more soot. Proper success.

Morning sun shines in the front window.
Further up and over to the side –
My creature shuffles in the wall. Poor choice!
Silly simple bird!
Crowbar. Hammer. Don’t crush her.
More debris, and now a breeze block to come out,
widen the way into that shallow concrete coffin.
Internet advice says: leave the room.
I only have one room. The phone rings.

And while I’m loudly on the phone, a soft flop –
Pigeon is sitting ruffled on the rubble, hops
up onto a chair.
Perches – long seconds. Launches a brief
battering flight around the conservatory.
Pauses again. She crouches, reassessing –

Then out, out, up, up
into the neighbour’s laburnum and then on –
in her shallow arc of rising flight, up and out,
my beautiful pigeon
skims the roof tiles, bending southwards and away.

make a bigger hole

make a bigger hole

 

brutal lump hammer and crowbar

brutal lump hammer and crowbar

 

consider the light

consider the light

 

dark cream walls and morning light

dark cream walls and morning light

 

assess the situation

assess the situation

 

conservatory door

conservatory door

 

September 21, 2016

20160920_000308

Staying at the White House

Stylish, confident: through a mizzling Melbourne rain

cool Footscray edges sideways into spring.

Sticks of the backyard grapevine show infant shoots

near a hopeful carnival of party lights.

Trees still bare stake out this rain-shiny street,

except for a petticoat froth of leaf green on the desert ash

vibrant outside Christine’s bedroom window.

Fraxinus angustifolia.

Where are the dockland gangs now? The sweaty thugs

with their seedy whiff of booze and death?

In the artfully-named corner cafe,

the Footscray Milking Station, casually trendy,

helmeted Sunday morning cyclists pause for coffee;

waitresses busy in bright green and white;

the coffee grinder whooshes white noise –

the exhilarated morning fills

with a familiar settling into relief and calm.

Outside, wide streets and old iron lace –

all coming back up in the world.

Some Things I Forgot to Bring on Holiday

August 3, 2016

– at the Barn in Central France

  • a hairbrush
  • antihistamine tablets
  • my Epi-pen
  • insect repellent
  • moisturiser and hand cream
  • stickers for the car headlights
  • my little French dictionary
  • those two DVDs from the rental company, left at home on top of the telly

Some of these matter more than others.  There was a wasp in the kitchen just now, for example, which did make me think of the epipen.  Then again, I’ve bought some remarkably expensive antihistamines at the Pharmacie – so expensive, and so strong, I hardly care to use them.  Which proves I never needed them in the first place.

Gary, my kind NHS counsellor, says I put myself down too much, so here are:

Some Things I’m Glad I Remembered to Bring

  • binoculars
  • swimsuits
  • cash
  • courage
  • better command of spoken French than in previous years
  • chargers for the laptop and the mobile (yes – sometimes people forget those!)
  • enough pairs of shoes – in my case four, not counting flipflops which are already here.
  • last week’s Saturday Guardian (23rd July).  (Unbeatable articles by Hadley Freeman and Tim Thingummy)
  • my dog, Bandit (never at risk, actually, as he knows when I’m packing)

Now I’ve thought of Another Category

Things I’m Glad that Others Brought

  • last week’s New Statesman (brought by Michael).  I think I’ll start taking the NS regularly.
  • themselves – Mike, Anna, Holly and Raf
  • the game of Botticelli – haven’t played it in years, and never so well as the other evening

 

Poetry Chain 2

March 29, 2016

A feature of this chain is that you don’t get poems from friends, but from the friends of friends.  (Given that you – and they – have had to find twenty people to BCC, they won’t necessarily be really close friends-of-friends.)
Last night I received a clutch from Italy – someone has kindly chosen poems in English for me.  Or can it be that Europeans now use English so readily that this just feels normal?  She sent me one in Italian, as well, which will be a useful exercise.  Reading it aloud is wonderful, even if you don’t speak Italian.

Dear Jill,
I could not make my mind up so I am sending you a few of my favourite poems instead of just one!
All the best,
Tosca
W. Shakespeare Sonnet 23
As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart,
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s rite,
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay,
O’ercharg’d with burden of mine own love’s might.
O, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love, and look for recompense,
More than that tongue that more hath more express’d.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.
 
Sonnet 15
When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment;
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and check’d even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory:
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night,
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I ingraft you new.

 

 

Dall’immagine tesa
vigilo l’istante
con imminenza di attesa –
e non aspetto nessuno:
nell’ombra accesa
spio il campanello
che impercettibile spande
un polline di suono –
e non aspetto nessuno:
fra quattro mura
stupefatte di spazio
più che un deserto
non aspetto nessuno.
Ma deve venire,
verrà, se resisto
a sbocciare non visto,
verrà d’improvviso,
quando meno l’avverto.
Verrà quasi perdono
di quanto fa morire,
verrà a farmi certo
del suo e mio tesoro,
verrà come ristoro
delle mie e sue pene,
verrà, forse già viene
il suo bisbiglio.
C. Rebora  Dall’immagine tesa (1920)

North Cape – Day Six

December 12, 2015
Iron grey sea and sky: warm gold ship

Iron grey sea and sky: warm gold ship

In the night we stop, with the usual screeching and grinding, at Hammerfest: at 70 North, plus a bit, it is the northernmost city in the world.  I wake much later to see the wharf at Havøysund: ‘We call it Hawaii – sund,’ the Tour Guide jokes.  He’s good: he says it as if he’s never said it before, and what’s more it’s an idea that sticks, and is really helpful with the pronunciation.

Havoysund = Havaiisnd

Havoysund = Havaiisnd

 

a pale dawn is breaking

a pale dawn is breaking

 

street lights, dawn and painted houses

street lights, dawn and painted houses

 

more painted houses

more painted houses

 

- and the ship's lights -

– and the ship’s lights –

 

- by the cold pier. Damp, and slushy rather than icy, though, and not much snow here

– by the cold pier. Damp, and slushy rather than icy, though.  There’s not much snow here.

Lunch is early as we will be going to the North Cape from Honningsvåand need to be back promptly for the 2.45 departure.  Lofoten has a schedule to keep, expectations to meet.  Some people leave the ship here and take a coach connection over to Kirkenes for their flight back; others are taking a different coach to see a fishing village: Skarsvåg.

the crane comes out, and the cargo is unloaded

the crane comes out, and the cargo is unloaded

So this is where the Christmas trees were going

So this is where the Christmas trees were going

2015-11-16 10.26.52

We head off to the coaches - under a bare rocky mountain. A few trees have been cultivated up there.

We head off to the coaches – under a bare rocky mountain – still looks like a Bund cake with its sprinkling of icing sugar snow.  A few trees have been cultivated up there- but maybe they’re just not big enough to cut yet.

Nordkapp - North Cape.

Nordkapp – North Cape  – Nope: this isn’t it.  Just the word, not the thing itself.

Nordkapp.  A wonder that defies words.  Nothing daunted, I will have a go at it in my next post.

The map can be found back at: http://wp.me/pB7BC-sn – or click on the word map.

Day 5 – Finnsnes and the Gisund Bridge; Tromsø and the unmentionable Huskies

December 7, 2015

We stopped at a couple of places in the night – I could hear strange rattling, screaming and grinding sounds from my cabin, but I decided that we were most unlikely to be sinking, and went back to sleep till breakfast.
A steadily changing readout near the upper lounge shows the bearing (the white line) and the planned route (the dotted red line). It also shows the speed in knots, as the water pounds behind us.

2015-11-15 09.20.27

Norway has so many lovely bridges across sounds, across fjords – lots of places.  This is one of the finest.

a distant view of the Gisund Bridge from the ship

A distant view of the Gisund Bridge from the ship.  I liked placing that delicate tracery next to the lumping steel in this image – a trick of perspective, of course.

 

Two large dark birds - but what are they? Cormorants abound around there.

Two large dark birds – but what are they? Cormorants abound around there.

Running across smooth sea into Finnsnes.

Running across smooth sea into Finnsnes just after eleven am: the sky is pinker, and the Lofoten is as punctual as you could possibly imagine.

A short half hour in Finnsnes gives all of us passengers the chance for a quick walk on the dock, while the loading and unloading takes place.

Cargo waiting for loading. it's raining in Finnsnes

Cargo waiting for loading. It’s raining in Finnsnes with a fine drizzle.

Those little lamps in the windows are characteristic of many Norwegian houses.  I asked one guide what it was about, and he told me that it harks back to old times, when a person out in the open in winter would freeze to death unless they saw a light, a haven.  Nobody would turn a stranger from their door.  Still, today, the custom of keeping lighted windows persists even in the cities and towns.

Huge tractor tyres line the wharves as fenders - this is what makes the screaming, dragging noise, as the ship comes alongside. Clamking occurs in those places where the anchor goes down. (I didn't see that happen.)

Huge tractor tyres line the wharves as fenders – this is what makes the screaming, dragging noise, as the ship comes alongside. Clanking occurs in those places where the anchor goes down. (I didn’t see that happen.)

 

Here follows one of my little symphonies of adoration for the Lofoten, the most beautiful and wonderful ship for a sea voyage ever.

MS Lofoten

2015-11-15 10.31.17

 

Bridge, boat, wharf.

Bridge, boat, wharf.

 

fine lines of the bow.

 

Bowline, bridge, shore

Bowline, bridge, shore

blue light, portholes, reflection

blue light, portholes, reflection

I believe my cabin is somewhere below that waterline.  I know I can hear the waves and the wash beating past in the night.

we move towards the Gisund Bridge

we move towards the Gisund Bridge

- going -

– going –

-going -

-going –

 

a strange effect of the evening light - around 2.00pm, approaching Tromsø

evening light on snow and low cloud – around 2.00pm, approaching Tromsø

We have a four hour stop in Tromsø.  (Morten the Tour Guide gives the name impeccably clear pronunciation: the ‘r’ is well rolled, almost a syllable in its own right, the final is ‘er’ as in Bodø.)  

Some of us had booked to see huskies.  It was dark, with icy slush.  Two hundred dogs were kept on short-ish chains in outdoor kennels.  And my God, how it did stink!  These dogs are kept for the sport of sled racing, in which ‘mushers’ try to cover long distances at great speed.  They are not actually Huskies, but a mixture of Alaskan Husky, greyhound, German Pointer, anything that will be both fast and enduring.  Some collie.  It’s not really a breed as it doesn’t breed true, and though I asked, I couldn’t get a proper answer about the principles of the breeding.  This was the moment when my cultural tolerances started to waver.  OK. It’s a different world, harsher climate, where survival is crucial.  OK, Huskies happily bed down in snow. But I still think that a chained up pack of two hundred is problematic.  The photos (for once) look worse than the reality, partly because my camera doesn’t cope very well with low light. We didn’t meet the owner, who is called Tove: bizarrely the same first name as Tove Jansson, the wonderful Finnish writer and creator of the gentle Moomins.

Easier to get a photo of the puppies

Easier to get a photo of the puppies: they were pretty cheerful and friendly – and better lit.

They are fed on fish – hence the unimaginable stink.

some border collie in this one I think

Some border collie in this one, I think.  Very cute.

 

another pup - they all have names

Another pup – they all have names.  Yes – we did try to smuggle one home.  It would never have worked out.

I don’t think the Moomins would have treated Sorry-oo quite like that, though.  Wait for a later post, where you will see a proper Husky. (Siberian?  Alaskan? – I forget.)

A Sea Voyage – Day 2/3 and a Map

November 26, 2015

Evening of Day Two

I’m looking through the window as these mountains darken under a sky still pale blue.  Clouds are mountain-coloured and drifting as we move steadily on, crossing a darkening sea, blue-grey, but still lighter than the mountains.  As the dark comes down I can see a double image – warm gold wood and glowing lights.  My own face – self portrait serious – is coming gradually clearer in the glass.  A row of trivial curtains hangs itself, petty, across the massing outlines, as they become darker, more separate, more other.

Our cosy glow thrums forward, soft, safe, civilised.  Waves of German language wash gently behind me and I can pick out the odd word. “Ratten verlassen das Schiff,” I detect, and they chuckle.  I smile too, into the window, turned away but surely visible.  Moomin hills lump back at me.  No orcas.

– and now our reflected interior is prickled over with Christmas lights, strung for us all unknowing by the mountainside’s houses.  It’s a little early for Christmas, but the shards of light look celebratory.

– Darker yet.  The German speakers emerge as four ghosts sitting behind me – something glitters from a woman’s gesturing arm: she is quiet, emphatic, “Das stimmt aber schon.”  One man draws a huge square in the air; the other speaks little but very deep-voiced.  A second woman, barely visible, says almost nothing.

I should go and Dress for Dinner – playing safe: a little bit smart but not too much.  I overdo it.

——————————————————

Day Three – Trondheim and northwards.

(No photos of Trondheim, and no memory either – maybe I was asleep?)

Dark sea, light sky, lighthouse.

Dark sea, light sky, lighthouse

 

 

moving cloud, distant rain

moving cloud, distant rain

 

Sunset, cloud and sea - half past one in the afternoon

Sunset, cloud and sea – half past two in the afternoon – Kjungskaer Fyr (Lighthouse).

I miss the mussel-tasting in the afternoon – out on deck, watching the sea and the sea birds. Perhaps.

Day 3 ends with Rorvik – by which I am fast asleep.

——————————————————–

I think you’ll be needing a map of Norway.  Here we go:

Norway Cruise Map

 

 

 

MS Lofoten – a sea voyage in pictures – day two

November 26, 2015

Day Two – 12th November.

Lofoten (the vowels are pronounced as a midway point between Lerferten and Lofoten) is an old ship, built in 1964 for the Hurtigruten (Fast Route) line.  Norwegian seems to use a slightly back version of ‘r’, so it’s very easy to say ‘Hurtigruten’ – I say it a lot.  I think it a lot too, now that I’m back home.
It’s a rough night – we are rolled about, and I sleep deeply in my black-dark cabin below the water line. Too disorganised to put my watch anywhere visible, I emerge too late for breakfast, shower queasily with some difficulty, fighting the rolling that staggers me from side to side in the cubicle.  By the time I’m dressed, though, we are in calmer waters.

 

A little after ten in the morning - stunning scenery as we run close to land.

A little after ten in the morning – stunning scenery as we run close to land.

 

- and what clouds!

– and what clouds!

 

houses line the banks, clinging to the shore line.  Those mountains are solid rock, and I think it must take blasting to create buildable ledges on them. I included a bit of the boat for verisimilitude - you'll find I do that a lot.

Houses line the banks, clinging to the shore line. Those mountains are solid rock, and I think it must take blasting to create buildable ledges on them. I included a bit of the boat for verisimilitude – you’ll find I do that a lot.  I love to put little edges of boat into my pictures – fragments of framing.

 

Clouds coming up grey from the west.

Clouds coming up grey from the west.

 

Rock, snow and cloud.

Rock, snow and cloud.

 

A little after eleven we slide into port at Alesund.  (pronounced Orlessnd - the u barely exist, almost a schwa vowel, but tending towards 'i')

A little after eleven we slide into port at Alesund. (pronounced Orlessnd – with a diacritic over the A; the u barely exists: almost a schwa vowel, but tending towards ‘i’).

 

At Ålesund we had a couple of hours to spend walking about the town and climbing the steep flight of steps up the hill in the middle of the day.

Bronze (?) statue of a fishwife at Alesund - where there are complex waterways.

Bronze (?) statue of a fishwife at Alesund – where there are complex waterways.

- and charming houses.  This slanting light was at about 12.30.  The town was rebuilt in Art Deco style after a disastrous fire in the early 1900s.  It is a marvel.

– and charming houses. This slanting light was at about 12.30. The town was rebuilt in Art Nouveau style after a disastrous fire in the early 1900s. 

 

 

To climb the hill above the town you mount 400-odd steps.  I managed quite a few - the view from there was quite stunning enough.

To climb the hill above the town you mount 400-odd steps. I managed quite a few of them – the view from there was quite stunning enough.

Not long before two - our departure time - we scuttled back to boat - and saw thia amazing piece of construction under way.  It's a replica of a turn-of-the-century fishing boat, designed to be a floating museum.  All the real ones have long disintegrated - nobody realised they might be of interest, I guess, when the newer, better designs came along.

Not long before two – our departure time – we scuttled back to boat – and saw this amazing piece of construction under way. It’s a replica of a turn-of-the-century fishing boat, designed to be a floating museum. All the real ones have long disintegrated – nobody realised they might be of interest, I guess, when the newer, better designs came along.

 

The workmanship was stunning, and the wood utterly beautiful.  Such a huge piece of timber for that massive keel.

The workmanship was stunning, and the wood utterly beautiful. Such a huge piece of timber for that massive keel.

 

 

MS Lofoten – a sea voyage

November 24, 2015

11th-22nd November.  A voyage of over 4,000 kilometres along the coast of Norway, visiting coastal towns large and small, from Bergen as far as North Cape (Nord Kap) and Kirkenes, and back again to Bergen.  I took mad quantities of photos along the way – and here they are.

Day One. 11th November.  A drizzly afternoon and a stroll in Bergen, waiting for the ship.

Bergen - waterfront buildings

Bergen – waterfront buildings

 

a figure of legend - dressed in ankle length shiny black plastic waterproof

a figure of witchy legend – dressed in ankle length shiny black plastic waterproof.  I saw them on sale nearby – a serious fashion statement.

 

One of three heraldic beasts by the harbour

One of three heraldic beasts by the harbour.  And graffiti (a rare sighting)

 

Near the wharves -

Near the wharves –

 

Kamchatka crab (King Crab) at the fish market - Bergen

Kamchatka crab (King Crab) at the fish market – Bergen

 

at the fish market

Everything looks wonderful – and there’s even a restaurant attached to the succulent fish market.

 

gently and precisely, the Lofoten approaches

Gently and precisely, the Lofoten appeared in the distance, nudging round that headland you can see behind and to the right, and becoming recognisable bit by bit, but I only remembered my camera for the last approaches.  Here she comes: 14.45 and 33 seconds

2015-11-11 13.45.5114.45 and 51 seconds

2015-11-11 13.46.06

14.46 and 06 seconds

2015-11-11 13.46.23

14.46 and 23 seconds

2015-11-11 13.49.32

14.49 and 32 seconds

Can you fall in love with a boat at first sight? – Arriving with self-effacing caution into a gradual perfection of presence, she fills me with delight.


%d bloggers like this: