Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sam arrives

Saturday and we had a last house viewing before we take L's place off the market necessitating cleaning up on a grand scale this morning. In truth this was mostly done by Lorraine, but I feel I was there in spirit. L and I had slugged in bed till 11 and by the time the cleaning was over, and I had let in the viewer (about 12) and estate agent (about 13) and gone to the gym it was time to storm out into town.

Sam down in Brighton for the evening with Beth and they were standing outside The Basketmakers when L and I arrived. Good to see Sam for the first time in many months. He is looking exceptionally handsome, and was there with his old friend John, who I'd not met before, and is in the RAF. Ate food in the Basketmakers and were soon joined by Matt and John and we drank a good deal. Sam assured everyone that The Basketmakers was the best pub in the world, and he got no arguments on that one. Even had a star spot of the bloke that played Zammo in Grange Hill who was drinking some noisy beers with his pals.

Home late, and Lorraine and Sam deep in conversation. Betty and I stopped off at Ace pizza and fell into conversation with two men who were down with a bunch of lads all staying at a hotel. All the twin bedrooms they had asked for had turned into doubles. This giving rise to a certain amount of jocular banter. I advised the last one to keep his boxers on.

All late to bed.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cool for cats

Had a vivid dream about Calliope. In it an expert on cat intelligence was assuring me that Calliope was off the scale in terms of her IQ and also that she had highly developed empathy. Lorraine laughed when I told her about this.

Working on the sex in advertising section of the book, and it is getting increasingly complicated. One of those bits that the more you work at it the further away from finishing it you become. Grew slightly infuriated with this as the hours rolled on. Gave up. If in doubt: tidy up. Tidied up, sorting through endless pieces of drivel which made me swear. Lorraine, working at home, zoomed off on her bicycle.

L and I off to Lewes this evening with Rosie. Stopped to consume Spanish tapas in a bistro packed with ladies of a certain age. Sat next to a fatter man than me slurping down oysters with evident enjoyment, and chatted to Rosie who was looking all sunny and relaxed.

Then off to The Dorset, which serves Harveys Bitter a stone's throw away from Harvey's Brewery, for a few libations and to watch part of The Shakespeare Heptet do their thing. Good to see Richard, Steve playing banjo and Claudius. Maria Grazia was there too, and Sam who is a new vocalist helping out on vocals and sounding good. A cheery little place to play, and the band they were supporting were called The Skulking Loafers, who were pretty good and had an excellent song about a cat sung partially in schoolboy French with a guitar making meowing chat noises. The small audience forced them to play twice, and it sounded like an out take from Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Zoomed back to Lewes station and was home in no time. It is a ten minute journey from London Road station opposite The Signalman to Lewes. A Frasier episode and then bed with Calliope coming to sit on me as usual.

Below Steve and Richard, and Skulking Loafers plying their feline trade.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A popinjay interlude

Finished Jean-Francois Lyotard's essay What is Postmodernism? first thing this morning. Apparently post modern art or literature etc. annexes new kinds of artistic territory which previously have not been described. This means new kinds of rules are needed for aesthetic judgment to must be made, and these have to be formulated in response to it. I think this can be said of any art movement worth its salt, Cubism for example. I have an impulse to simplify, so this is probably a reductio ad absurdum.

Lorraine working at home, giving Calliope the option of who to plague. I wrote about sex in advertising and looked at dolly birds online all day, while Lorraine did an honest day's work. I broke off to go to the gym, and then at the end of the afternoon we stole away from our desks and I went to try on some wedding garb. I think I look like Mr Darcy after a few pies. But the regular exercise has at least resulted in looser trousers, and there is definitely a few kilos less Peter Kenny than there was a couple of months ago. This popinjay interlude heralding the fact that much of the organising is done now, and the bulk of what remains is simply fun.

Then to unsuccessfully to look for shoes. Tried on a pair of thin pointy boots that were like something from Medieval times and gripped my feet abominably. No wonder the peasantry looked so sullen. Then to the beach to sit at a table in the sunshine, and sip a bottle of cold lager and made some final wedding ring decisions.

Home, Lorraine cooked one of her exemplary curries and we watched more Frasiers, all of which I am watching again.

Have decided to go with Romy and Toby to Japan at Christmas. Incredibly exciting, and went to bed looking at a map of Japan on Lorraine's iPad.

Below, the look I am aiming for.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back on the book

Back at last on the book after some weeks. Took me all morning to pick up the threads again. Vaguely disappointed that a poltergeist has not been hard at work at it, while I've been doing other things.

Chatted to Mum this morning. And also had more correspondence from the lettings agent people. Then to the gym for a workout. Mercifully the air conditioning appears to be at least partially functional now. Had a shower there afterwards, but discovered I'd not brought boxers with me so went commando to Starbucks and worked there drinking a coffee and thinking about the use of sex in advertising while trying not to chafe myself.

Lorraine back on the 5 and 2 diet, so we had steamed veggies, fish and rice. This would have been fine but Lorraine insists on watching the Great British Bake Off which has me craving cakes and breads.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A spot of Arts and Crafts

Feeling far perkier this morning. A perfect English August Bank holiday. Warm sun a blue skies over the green Sussex countryside that Lorraine drove us through on the way to Standen House and Gardens.

This is a national trust property called The Arts and Crafts family home. It was the last one built by Philip Webb and William Morris's firm of designers. It is the last in a line that starts with the Red House in Bexleyheath that Bob used to look after, and I stayed at one fateful night many years ago. A beautiful property with breathtaking grounds, that is well worth revisiting. Made us both wish we were busy and had us indulging in fantasies of decorating a new place. The gardens extensive and mysterious. Kept imagining privileged Victorian children wandering about in the grounds having E. Nesbit style adventures.  The house lovely, but a bit airless. Full of lovely objects, and art prints, particularly Japanese ones, and Morris & Co. textiles and wall hangings.

A gorgeous place, well worth a visit. Then a cup of tea, and straight-from-the-oven scones in the converted barn of a cafe before a last mooch about in the gardens watching children rolling down the hill.

After returning home, it was soon time to visit Dawn who had cooked supper for us. A lovely evening, and Lorraine had taken over some summer pudding, which was delicious too. Dawn is going to make a wedding cake for us, as her present which is very kind of her. Lots of chatting and left her place late with the stars looking down on us from the clear sky.

Below some snaps in an around Standen House.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Off line

Sore throat and very tired. Simply did nothing.  Lorraine cooked a lovely lunch for Betty and I before she drove Betty to the station. Quietness reigned.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Into town with Lorraine most of the afternoon, dodging out of the rain into a few clothes shops, having coffee in a new cafe called Berties, buying a card for Pat's 80th next week.

Then on to look at wedding rings. Window shopped for some time then were dragged into one place and shown various rings by a very annoying woman who spoke in a false sing-song voice, and didn't listen to anything we said. I thought it was just me being critical, but Lorraine leant forward in a moment of respite and hissed she's so annoying!

We made our escape. Luckily there are many jewellery shops in the Old Lanes and we found one where a man took us through our options clearly and with some charm.  Lots of decisions to be made about wedding rings, such as their thickness and what they are made of, and what sort of cut they are. Seem to have found a very nice one for Lorraine, and I think I have chosen one for me. While so doing learned about palladium, which is a Russian metal newly classified as hallmarkable in the UK.

All good fun, and a cheerful thing to be doing.

Then back home where we found Betty and Laura. We all went to The Duke of York's picture house where we saw Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. I've always quite liked Steve Coogan. The reviews had been excellent, and I found the film to be pretty funny character driven stuff, with some good one-liners.  

Then to the Shahi with the girls to strap on a fairly restrained (for us) curry nosebag. Lorraine and I watching a couple of Frasiers before bed.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The smell of freesias

Up early and doing the bloodclaat blood clots, luckily the agency happy with what I had done. Actually found time today to tinker with some poems. L working at home next to me, which is good for many reasons including the fact that Calliope likes to plague me when I am working, and when Lorraine's here the cat picks on her too.

Wrote to the letting agents to accept the reduced terms I'd negotiated, despite this sticking in my craw. I have allowed myself to get stressed and irritated by all this. Seeing the back of it all will be a welcome treat.

Lorraine on her bicycle this evening and then we sauntered off to meet Matt, who was sitting outside The Eagle with Irish Tom and Ken The Eagle's manager.

Lots of chatting with Matt, and a nice evening. We went back to their house where Tom russled up some chicken wraps and bits of lovely food. Matt put on some Ravel and after telling Matt about the Punch and Judy in Swanage, he lent me a CD of the Punch and Judy Opera by Harrison Birtwhistle with many recommendations.

Lorraine and I sloped home. The room downstairs smelling of freesias that my lovely Lorraine had bought me in earlier in the week. Glad to reach the end of the week, and have a bank holiday weekend to look forward to.

Below Calliope helping out on Lorraine's desk.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


A poor night's sleep, worrying about the house sale. Got up at four and wrote a letter to the letting agents for an hour before returning to bed to lie awake.

Up early and slipping on the desk manacles, slogged for many hours on blood clots to meet my deadline. Lorraine working at home today, which is always soothing. She and Betty slipped off to the florists around the corner to discuss nosegays at one point.

Blood clots done, sent a stiff letter to the letting agents after showing it to Lorraine, then off to the gym, which allowed me to shed some of my growliness. The business of using the gym as a way of regulating murderous impulses is a boon.

Later I received a reply from the agents, who have offered to lower their fee for doing nothing, for which I suppose I must be grateful.

Home to hear from Robin Houghton (a new poet friend I met at the poetry workshops) had seen my name on the back of the latest Frogmore Papers magazine. However my actual poem appears to have been bumped. That poem seems doomed, having first been accepted by a magazine that folded, then it made it into print with Other Poetry, but was so badly mangled, with a different title and lost lines, that it might not have been published at all. And now this. Good to see my fame repellent continues at full strength.

Still, a pleasant evening. Lorraine and I had a slimming evening meal of salads and tuna, but then went to sit in the garden of The Signalman with Betty talking about acting and weddings and so on.  

I post the poem Cicada here. I wrote it a long time ago in Greece, after my friend the writer Tim Gallagher, a great lover of all things Hellenic, had died.


Another Greek island,
dignified with thyme,
dried flowers, photos.
Cicadas are everywhere.
Plato, I remember,
said they were the souls of poets.
Then I spot one:
its vivid wings retracted
into its cacophonous carapace.
A squat little Cavafis, perhaps,
a drab little Blake,
or someone unknown,
an author in a long-burnt library
shrilling on an island,
from a cypress tree.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


A disturbed night. Betty coughing like a docker. I found some cough syrup and in the middle of the night and gave it to her. I found it hard to get to sleep afterwards. Lorraine snoozing the sleep of the just as usual.

Lorraine working at home but I spent most of the day manacled to my desk writing about blood clots. Blood clots in the morning. Blood clots in the afternoon.

The only respite came for twenty minutes when Lorraine drove us off to collect the wedding invites.

Day rather spoiled by a letter from the letting agency who thanks to a clause (no. 32) in the contract I signed, can charge me for selling my house to the tenants they found for me. Had a large tantrum (Lorraine loves working at home with me at the moment) at the prospect of handing money to people for doing sweet FA especially as I've had indifferent service from them and they've had zero involvement with the sale or negotiation. Weasels.

Lorraine and Betty out at various places so I had a large Frasier fest, as I seem to be watching all the episodes over again. As always, it's like seeing old friends. Betty and Lorraine home, and we stayed up late chatting for some time.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cloud dodging in the sunlight

A beautiful day, the sun tempting through the Velux windows as I sat at the desk writing about blood thinners. Out at lunchtime to sign off the proofs of the invites, walking up the hill of Ditchling Rise talking to Mum, who had to break off after as cat war broke out. This time I am using the printers who did A Guernsey Double, One Digital and I am much happier with the results this time. Plus I know someone who works there which always makes things more human.

Back home and more blood thinning. Feeling oppressed lately by The Cloud Of Things That Must Be Done, such as dealing with lettings agencies, estate agents, property, solicitors, my own freelance business, actual work and so on.

Went to the gym, late afternoon, which is become increasingly addictive and useful. I am feeling fitter these days and my legs are stringier and stronger, and trousers fit lots better.

Lorraine and I went out for a nice walk in the park in the evening. Felt happier strolling about with her looking at giant thistles and so on, than I had done all day. Lorraine made it back to watch the The Great British Bake Off, which I half watched too. Contrived a powerful desire to eat cakes, but we have none. I don't go a bundle on cakes myself, but after watching people make them for an hour you get a mighty craving for a piece of cake. Lorraine waited up to collect Betty from the station, as she had returned home late tonight.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On the fly

A very busy day. Up and hiring a new accountant, sending a copy of A Guernsey Double off to a thoughtful buyer, reading notes from Helen in Germany who has translated Heidegger in the Forest (more on that on the Notebook site soon), popping into the doctor to arrange my yearly blood test, posting a birthday card for Mason, redesigning the wedding invite card as we are having it reprinted for several slightly infuriating reasons.

Then off to London to collect a brief at noon in Tavistock Square about blood thinners. Jotted down the draft of a poem on the train. Then rushed to the meeting with the charming Yazia, and briefly saw a greenish First Matie who has a queasy bug.

Homeward glancing at material on blood thinners. To the bank, then home to re-redesign the invite for a third time before sending it back to the printers, which involved a bout of swearing and bad temper, which was not my finest hour, especially as Lorraine was working next to me. Then back on with my blood thinning work. Ended the day hiring solicitors for the Twitten house transaction.

A skinny supper of steamed veggies, fish and rice, then off to The Caxton for a Stanza Group poetry workshop session. Interesting people there this time, and some useful feedback for the poem I'd taken along. Skinniness undone by a pint of bitter.

Home at 9:30 and watched a couple of soothing episodes of Frasier and read a couple of football related texts from Anton, who is hiding his nervousness about the fortunes of Manchester United in this new season behind a kind of bravado, before Lorraine and I hoofed off to bed. Fullish moon through the velux windows.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Where the heart is

At last a day of peacefully being at home. L and I lying in bed with cats sprawling like a pride of lions this morning. The joy of simply being able to go to Sainsbury's, and have time to catch up with some admin and emails.

Sauntered off to the gym in the afternoon and had a decent session there. Returned home to Lorraine roasting pork and steaming vegetables. A lovely meal, then an indolent evening.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A second dose of Blondage

Curiously grumpy this morning. But this wore off the day progressed. Off into town after laboriously tidying up the house for a viewer who didn't show. We are taking the Old Church Hall off the market for the time being, as two out of the three neighbors are trying to sell at the same time, and it is like three fat blokes trying to leave by the same door at the same time. L and I have enough on our plate with the imminent wedding and me organising the sale of my house.

Met Anton in the Eagle for half an hour. He is off to Spain in a day or so for a couple of weeks. We were off to London. Hurried up to the station and made off to Victoria. From here caught route 24, one of the new double decker 'New Bus for London' buses, inspired by the old Routemaster buses I caught to school in the 70s.  I am a bit worried as I type this that I am turning into a train/bus spotter.

To Camden, where we met Beth and her pal Amy, then Maureen, Pat and their pal Cindy. Off then to The Lord Stanley pub. This a large and enjoyably chaotic place, with a bloke playing guitar sitting at a barstool, while a girl spent over half an hour attempting to play When the Saints Come Marching In on the piano. Soon joined here by Mum, First Matie, Malcom and Lynn, and Betty's pal Milly. And then more of Beth's college pals. Sat about drinking and eating food until it was time to go up to the theatre. Really good to see Mum out and about. Lots of chatting in all directions and good to catch up with Mum and First Matie.

When the time came, it was nice little venue for the Blondage show. L and I had gone to see the original version of this in Kingston. Some of it had been changed and altered, but it was substantially the same. Audience enjoyed themselves greatly. A real feather in the cap for Chloe to get this performed. Olivia made me laugh several times, and Beth's repertoire of facial expressions and exuberant comedy is so engaging and funny. She is visibly growing in confidence. It was an excellent stepping stone for all three girls.

Homeward, by bus and train. L and I ending up with Millie and Amy on the train. Enjoyed a shameful ace pizza once home.

Below Betty backstage applying some slap.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Goodbye to Dorset

A good day to leave Dorset, with the rain hammering down on Swanage rooftops as we consumed our immense and wonderful full English Breakfasts. The bacon and sausage sourced from a local farm was delicious, and there were bowls of a dozen or more muesli ingredients from which I built a morning muesli too. So yes, we had a muesli breakfast followed by a full English breakfast with thick pieces of brown toast. And this morning they threw in some extra fried potatoes too.

Left on friendly terms with Clive and Judie the owners, and we walked off to collect the car, parked the other side of town and drove down the little cobbled lane by the side of the Town Hall and loaded up our cases before driving off towards Studland Bay. The headland shrouded in misty rain. We drove on for twenty minutes or more then down to the beach. It was raining which blurred all the outlines of things at first. Lorraine took off her shoes and soon we were both paddling. The sand at the edge of the water felt crunchily textured underfoot, pockmarked by raindrops.

In the clear water lots of seaweed varieties at the edge of the water, we briefly watched a hermit crab scurrying about with the burden of its shell in the shallows.

Then into the car and a faster journey home, though still taking over three hours and rather tiresome. Lorraine and I shared an apple by way of lunch at two o'clock being still incredibly stuffed from breakfast.

Home at last, and after a bit of house selling admin, off to the gym leaving Lorraine who had driven all the way, snoozing on the sofa. Turns out that the air conditioning had actually been blowing out warm air during the heatwave. Now it is in neutral which is an improvement.

Home and shattered after the exercise. Spoke to Mum who had been with Diane in hospital. Diane has broken her patella, and now has a blood clot. Anton has been largely alone this week. Lorraine spoke to Beth whose show Blondage is going down well, and we are going to Camden tomorrow to see for ourselves.

Yawning my head off on the sofa. And so to bed.

Below Studland Bay. Perhaps not how it appears in the tourism literature.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chuffing off to Corfe

Off this morning to the ruins of Corfe Castle by steam train from Swanage. I had forgotten what a pleasure travel by steam is, hearing the great puffing engine, and its distinctive almost tarry smell drifting along the platform as we gently pulled away. Clouds of steam drifting over the trees and occasional cornfield as the train progressed. People waving from campsites and Lorraine waving back. In fact Lorraine loved the journey so much her eyes were glistening with tears.

Then we alighted at Corfe Station. The whole of this little railway seems to be run by retired railway hobbyists joyfully living out their fantasies, and I quite enjoyed the vintage advertising and the effort they had put in to keep alive the old railway spirit. I'm not one of life's train spotters but there is something lovely about these old engines that seem more than half alive.

Once in Corfe the rain began again rather dismally. We popped into the workshop that was formerly a smithy of a potter called Ian Harris. There was some lovely ceramic work there based on seed shapes. After this we wandered back out into the rain and gave up the ghost for a bit, retiring into a pub called The Fox which was built on several descending levels, and had a glassed-over, greenly lit ancient well close to where we had a glass of good lunchtime beer and some food. I mistakenly ordered homemade chicken curry and rice, which left much to be desired.

The weather brightening, we walked to the Castle and once we were lurking about on the top of the hill among its ruins it had stopped raining. Great views down on the surrounding countryside, some of it lost in low cloud, and the steam railway line below. We happily lurked up there for some times, among many other tourists and some ravens.

By the time we got back to Swanage, where the sun was shining again, had a quick snooze before heading off to the sea again. Here there were a series of small thin boats called gigs with teams from Swanage, Weymouth, Portland, Lyme Regis among others. They raced across the bay and we sat into the evening there with some fish and chips. Also enjoyed the sight of an eccentric woman who was methodically moving up and down in the busiest part of the beach with a metal detector fishing out lost coinage with a pooper-scooper, apparently oblivious to those around and going as close to people with her detector as your partner might with a hoover in your own home.

Later repairing to the Red Lion for some pints of lovely Otter beer, we ended up sitting with some of the racers, who were all older than us. One of the men was 77 (although looked much younger), and was wearing a teeshirt saying something like 'It took 77 years to row as well as this'. A pleasant evening chatting to these people before pushing off to bed.

Below Lorraine entranced on a train, plus shots on and from Corfe Castle, and on Swanage Beach. The light taking on an etherial quality at the end of the day in Swanage.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jurassic Coast

Not a good nights sleep, caused in part by the schoolboy error of becoming sunburned on Swanage beach yesterday.  Up to another immaculate breakfast, before we decided on going for a trip to Dorset's Jurassic coast at Kimmeridge Bay, which gives its name to the Kimmeridgian a division of the Jurassic.

A dour old English summer day. The Clavell Tower on the east side of the bay, which has been moved away recently from the eroding shale cliffs. Lorraine and I walked west around the edge of the bay, despite it being high tide. I picked up pieces of soft shale and opened the stones along their seams like books. I found lots of fragments of broken shells in these shale pages, but nothing of much interest. I took a walk for a 40 minutes hopping from rock to rock round the headland of the military land, then Lorraine and I then took a look on the East side of the bay. Once we rounded the headland under the tower, we found a sheer foreboding cliff, from which a tiny landslide fell while we were nearby, a handful of ominous gravel falling down towards the angular boulders below.

Mizzling persistently while we were in the bay. Many visitors nevertheless, and I learned I must have the look of a palaeontologist for every time I put on my glasses to look at a piece of rock, people would gather around me.

Lorraine and I then made it back to Swanage. Here I took myself to Joe's Gym for a cheeky 45 minutes activity. Lovely to be on the cross trainer and rowing machine next to a pair of open doors, feeling the cool breeze on me.

Wandered home in the soaking drizzle, to a cup of tea. In the evening Lorraine and I went out for a Chinese meal and went back to the Red Lion for a delicious pint or two of Otter beer.

Below the shifting tower, the eroding coastline, shale at the waterline, teasels, the shore under the tower, and Lorraine on the shoreline.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Punch and Judy

A delicious breakfast and a sorting out of the door lock problem had us feeling much happier with our bed and breakfast today. We had planned a rigorous day of fierce gym work, but in the end I felt rather wussy first thing and instead we hired two deckchairs and sat in the sun reading books. I finished Brighton Rock at last. An unpleasant novel in many ways, but very well done. Lorraine reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell on Anton's persuasion. I also did some ham fisted sketching.

Lunch on the beach before watching the Punch and Judy show in the afternoon. I don't now why I love Punch and Judy so much, but I do.  I like everything about it, the little kids calling up at the puppets, the crocodile and the policeman and the sausages and the mistreated baby and more. All good fun.

Home and realised just how much we had been burned by the intermittent English Sun.  Slept for a little before a light supper in Tawny's and a trip to the White Swan, a fairly rubbish pub playing heavy metal music on the speakers in a way that had Lorraine and I snickering.

A day of doing now't much, and by thunder it did us good.

Below the Punch and Judy stall, with its hidden professor. Cloudy all day as you can see but Swanage managed to be in strong sun for most of the time. Mr Punch has a falling out with the crocodile and appeases it with sausages. The carving on the little cell in the courtyard outside our rooms.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Swanning off

L and I up early in a frenzy of organisation. Having lain on the sofa snoozing after Sunday lunch instead of packing and doing all the things we needed to do. Eventually we set off to drive to Swanage. Lots of traffic jams on the way, meant the journey took a ridiculous four hours. We stopped at one point for coffee and tea at a service station which turned out to be a Little Chef and were told that there was no food for at least half an hour. So we just had slowly delivered beverages, like going back to the 1970s.

Eventually arrived in Swanage, starving and drove around town for some time searching for a place to park. Lucked out eventually and after strolling along the rather lovely beach, with lots of red-nosed holidaymakers scarfing fish and chips to a cafe where we had to wait ages for food. The sound of the Punch and Judy man encouraging people to his tent using his swozzle drifting down the beach.  We had to wait for the right time before we could drop our stuff off. The bed and breakfast room was in a converted gaol, and the rooms are quite, um, snug with a toilet the size of that used on the lunar module.

The door lock of the room we were in did not work, and the owner spent ages fiddling with it. At one pint wondering if we could wait for a couple of hours, an offer I declined. Eventually with the application of WD40 it worked intermittently.

Our tired, slightly peeved move abated however when we at last wandered out unencumbered. Swanage seems different from how I remembered it having visited about 25 years ago. The pier, which charged 80p for a stroll was lovely and was damaged this Spring in a storm, and there is a fund for its restoration. Looking into the sea down into the sandy bottomed water. Thought we saw shoaling sandeels.

After strolling around we looked at the available restaurants (astonishingly including a highly popular Wimpy) and chose The Red Lion for some supper. Good beer and adequate pub fare, (after yet another long wait). Then out to stroll along the seafront as the light faded. Ended up on a groyne looking up at the stars to see the Perseids.  We saw one shooting star but the visibility wasn't fantastic. Home to hot chocolate and feeling very tired.

Below Lorraine and some piles, where we are staying. Top left hand cell, er, window. Another view of that window below. Other Swanage snaps.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Brighton Moose and the yin and yang of Sundays

A day of good intentions. I went manfully off to the gym, and Lorraine did some circuits around the park on her bicycle. Another incredibly hot and airless affair. I wrote a lengthy complaint note about the  air conditioning which will be fixed next week apparently. Simply not good enough, and leaves me like a limp rag afterwards.

This yang of health and determination completed, the yang was to sit in the afternoon in the garden of the Battle of Trafalgar with Anton in the sun sipping cold lager, prior to having a large and tasty lunch in the Sussex Yeoman. Anton in good spirits and telling Lorraine about his Polish family, which is rather a fascinating story involving escape from Poland and going via many countries, especially India to end up in Blighty.  The meal, and wine successfully engulfed, L and I simply floated home and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening dozing peacefully on the gold sofa.

Below I like this backstreet Brighton iPhone snap I took this week of a moose weathervane.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Black Sausages and Jive Bunnies

Lorraine up and away for a hair cut. I idled the morning happily pottering, doing laundry, changing the water in the aquariums, watching an episode of Frasier and watching YouTube of a concert by Yes at QPR football ground I went to in 1975. It was the first time I saw them, and it was fabulous. The ticket to the concert was a pass into a different world.

Then Lorraine back and we drove off to Worthing to her colleague's barbecue. I didn't know anyone there but had a few pleasant chats and consumed some of the most blackly carbonised sausages I have ever encountered. Several batches were made, all identical. Enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Then home to change into into a suit and Lorraine into a long green dress, and thence to Peacehaven Golf Course where Sonya was having her wedding reception in the clubhouse looking over the fields. Felt slightly self-conscious in my suit as it all seemed quite casual. Sonya looked chic and chatted to us lots, considering it was her wedding day, and we met Barry her husband, who when I asked if had any advice for me as a groom, he muttered that he'd tell me after.

Then left to our own devices buffet grazing. We knew nobody there except for Sonya. I managed to embarrass Lorraine with an over-exuberant mime-influenced dance. DJ played tripe until the last couple of records. If I ever invented a time machine one of the first things I would do would be to go back in time and exterminate the people who invented the execrable Jive Bunny.

Left the party loaded up with various pieces of cakes that Sonya had made. Drove back along the seafront, Brighton pier looking pretty and curiously comforting.

Below Barry and Sonya dancing their dance.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Whizzing about

Whizzing about today. Lorraine having a girly shopping day with Dawn. I kicked off with a bit of writing, then to the gym where it was incredibly hot and airless. I felt for the poor guy recovering from a stroke, his wife helping him to clamber onto various machines in the humid heat. I sweated more than I have sweated in my entire life. I spoke to the people in LA fitness about it, but they said the a/c is not working.

Home, a much needed shower, then off to see Janet and Ken, and drink tea and snaffle biscuits. Ken has lost some weight and is looking quite trim. Janet fine too, and still managing to press on with her artistic pursuits in fabrics, and collaborations with Huss.

Then to the printers to pick up our wedding invites, then home to have a meeting with the estate agent who is selling The Old Church Hall. Weasel. This done, a quick supper before going to the Battle of Trafalgar to meet the charming young couple who are buying the place in the Twitten.  All fine there.

Then to the Basketmakers for a glass of refreshing lager, with my Lorraine. Met Mark Rodericks outside, with his wife Jane, before walking home and watching a few Frasiers on TV before bed.

Below an amazing portrait of Carl, posted by Carl to his Facebook page, drawn by his daughter Ellie. Just excellent technique, and reminds me of some pencil pictures by Lucian Freud. On this evidence Ellie is full of promise as an artist.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Reverse burglars

Now in semi-holiday mode, L and I slept in till nineish. I sprang out of bed to work on the book for a few hours, managing some good progress before being swept up by the day. Sonia here this morning, and we are going to her wedding at the weekend.

Then off to the garden centre with Lorraine where she selected lots of plants for Anton's garden having been given a budget. The garden centre just the other side of the Downs really nice, with good plants and bees and butterflies dancing among them. Crammed into the car with them and then off to Anton's place, stealing into his house like reverse burglars, carrying things into the back of the garden. A fun time with Lorraine directing the moving of plants, the planting of plants, shouting at Trotsky the cat for biting plants, and so on. I thought it looked really nice, and Anton, texting later seemed pleased. I wonder how much of it will survive the onslaught of snails and cats, not to mention my lively Godchildren.

Home and a quiet night, eating a rather splendid spaghetti sauce of my own invention, and watching the very funny Phone Shop, as well as the repeat of the first series of Star Trek. Last night was the first show with Klingons. Epic stuff.

Email from Jane in Guernsey, who had just learned to swim sans waterwings. Richard off to buy bubbly to celebrate. Not every day you achieve something like that.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Toby heads home

All up early this morning. A house viewing mid morning, and Toby packed and wanting to be at the airport to fend off any booking complications or general travel horrors. Lorraine drove Toby off to the station as there is no point stretching out goodbyes. Sad to see my brother go, but it was great to have spent time hanging out together. Lorraine off up to London to spend a day at the zoo with Betty after we readied the house.

After dealing with a few bits of admin, I went to Starbucks and drank a coffee and worked for a couple of hours, before going to the gym just up the road from there. A reasonably good workout and then home for Miso soup and noodles.

Left to my own devices, I felt unusually demotivated and in a sort of limbo between being on holiday, and wanting to press on with things. The result was that I did little till Lorraine got home in the evening, showing me pictures of penguins, giraffes etc. and a happy Beth. Watched one of the original, but digitally restored, Star Trek episodes. So much better than any of the subsequent series.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Dancers in the fading light

Second day of Lorraine's holiday, and lots of business to be done. I got up early and worked for a couple of hours quite productively on the book before we zoomed into town.

The most important business of the day was to go to Brighton Town Hall to talk to the registrars and officially book our wedding, show birth certificates, passports, divorce papers and so on. Also had a separate interview to make sure it was not going to be a fake marriage. We also went to the venue for the reception and booked that sucker, then stopped in at the printers to get the wee invite printed. Also managed to look at a few hotels to get an idea of prices for potential guests. In The Ship Hotel we let a lady go before us at reception, a lovely older Welsh lady who was asking for a Bible in her room, as she had left her one at home.

Also looked at wedding bands in windows, but by then I was getting a nosebleed and as there is so much choice in the Old Lanes it made me feel like my head was exploding. We also sat in the sun outside Giggling Squid and had a quick Thai lunch, looked at some wedding clobber for me, wedding related candle holders and beads and so on.  Actually really lovely to be getting on with stuff with Lorraine.

All this took several hours, and we had just arrived home when the Tobster arrived with his case.

Lurked about for some time, Lorraine going out for a short bike ride and having a long phone chat with Sam, while Toby and I watched one of the original Star Treks before heading up the road to The Signalman for a couple of cheeky last beers, and some pub grub. As we were talking lots of people wearing bells and jackets of rags, and carrying their own tankards came in and gradually colonised the outside space.

Drawn by the clack of sticks, accordions, shambolic hoofing drifted up from the garden, we went out into the garden to watch. Various types of country dancing, men and women, and mostly with sticks, but sometimes with white handkerchiefs, providing Toby with a suitably eclectic last thing on his holiday. Lorraine enjoyed it too, and went and thanked them afterwards, because she is a lovely outgoing thing.

Home and a fairly early night, but not before we had watched a few episodes of Frasier.

Below some dancing ladies in the fading light.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Veg out

Not a good night. Calliope was trying to drink my water in the night, and so I held it away from her. However I fell asleep holding the glass and drenched my privates in cold water. Got up with a yelp to towel off and had to sleep in a damp bed. Pesky cats.

Up early and made tea for Lorraine and Dawn, before doing a small amount of work. Dawn off early, leaving us a present of green beans. Lorraine now on a holiday, and booked a few days away for us on her iPad in bed. We made off to Sainsbury's, then I went to the gym while Lorraine had a doctor's appointment. A much-needed quiet day and evening. Spoke to Toby, Mum and First Matie on the phone and pleasantly vegged out, drinking water and eating fresh peas and beans and rice and fish. All very healthy.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Hungover gardening

Felt harrowed by booze and the late night, as did Lorraine and Max and the FB. Max perhaps the best of us as she went out into the garden to stab murderously, and unsuccessfully, at the mole which has been digging up her lawn. Slow cups of tea and some toast before Lorraine in the right shape for getting us home. Feeling like death warmed over.

Both L and I hungover all day. However after a sleep on the gold sofa, we walked up to Anton's place and worked in his garden for a couple of hours, weeding and digging up the flower beds. Sweaty, back stiffening work which I enjoyed doing. Anton has sensibly outsourced all the flower species decisions to Lorraine, which of course Lorraine is really happy about. Actually very therapeutic to be tidying the garden and Lorraine poring over books of flowers and gardening.

To thank us Anton made some of his fabulous pizzas, on which I gorged in the evening. Anton had invited Dawn too and we had a fun night playing Anton's eclectic collection of records, and eating pizza.

Very tired though, and eventually we drifted downhill to back home. Dawn said I looked good in shorts which is reassuring.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

An evening with Max and the FB

Up early as we had a house viewing today. Lorraine and I took ourselves off to the park for a cup of coffee. Nice to smell the roses. The park being prepared for the big Pride Party later in the day. The parade walked past the end of our road, so we went to watch with everyone else. It always makes me feel quite moved and proud of being in Brighton for some reason, full of colourful characters, music and fun.

We bumped into Ash on the way back home for breakfast. He had run the restaurant that Lorraine and I first used to eat curries in. Stopped and chatted for a good ten minutes. Home and we had a long chat with Nicki and Mark next door about selling the houses and so on. They are good people.

Felt quite inert today, and slept like a baby in the afternoon. Then Lorraine drove us to Chertsey Meads for an evening with Max and the FB. A bit of a mission to try to find somewhere to buy some beer and wine in the town. Really good to see them both, and their brood of young Elijah, Zemirah and Tahlia, all extraordinary and charming children. Elijah's reading ability for a four year old is absolutely astonishing. He made a quick friend in Lorraine and she pushed him on the tire on a rope in the garden for some time.

Max and Michel have a lovely house, to which they've had a second floor added. After watching the FB wage a bitter single-handed war on wasps, we had a barbecue and plenty of boozes culminated in me and the FB playing two of his guitars till late in the night. The ladies indulging us, and talking about weddings and education and other things, and Lorraine occasionally playing us tunes on her iPhone in the hope that we could spontaneously play them. We couldn't.

Below some snaps of the Parade.