Monday, August 31, 2015

From North Sea to English Channel

Hosing it down this morning. A proper English bank holiday Monday. Getting up, we all went off to do various things in town this morning, Lorraine and I drifting about, laughing at how dreary it was. But it was good to see Whitby in gritty mood. It is still a really picturesque place, and the townspeople and visitors seemed to stride around with undiminished enthusiasm. Wiry northerners in shorts and wet tops, not using their hoods in the rain.

We all met up again for a final drink together, before Lorraine, John and I walked the others off to the bus station. Betty staying with Sam for a couple of days.  Fond farewells. It had been a really fun few days.

Then Lorraine, John and I had a last inevitable plate of fish and chips in a small backstreet chippy. The fish was excellent here too. Then off to the car and Lorraine started the epic drive down to Brighton. We stopped off in the North Moors for a bit, looking down at a big hole in the ground, the Hole of Horcum, which legendarily was made by a giant called Wade picking up earth to throw at his annoying wife called Bell.

A long drive home, but we remained cheerful, listening to Classic FM's all time top thirty of classical music, then for the last hour or so listening to a Kermode and Mayo podcast. Dropped John off in Hove, and Lorraine drove us home. I'd been monitoring Lorraine carefully for the last couple of hours because she was very tired, but fortunately not sleepy. An immense drive.

Happy to be home, the place left immaculately by Matt and Reuben, and the cats in good shape.

Below whale bone arch; and the abbey in the distance; another view of Whitby; Lorraine in the rain; statue of Captain Cook; heather on the moor; views of the Hole of Horcum.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Strolling to Robin Hood's Bay

A slow start, munching toast and tea drinking. Then Sam, Jade Lorraine and I decided to go for a six or seven mile walk along the cinder path (as recommended by Matt) to Robin Hood's Bay. It followed the course of an former railway track, and began pleasantly tree-lined, then crossing a viaduct over the Esk to be out of Whitby then two or three hours walking. After the first hour or so we paused at a slightly banjo strumming pub to discuss Aristotelian ethics and a beer (S & J) and soda and limes for Lorraine and I. Enjoyed the sight of a dog lapping top from a man's pint of bitter. "He only likes the head, but it makes him sneeze," said its owner proudly, who then happily drank the rest.

We continued along the track lined by wildflowers, a caravan site and big stretches of stone walled fields sloping down to the sea. Eventually we turned a corner to see Robin Hood Bay stretched out before us at high tide.

We called a halt at The Victoria Hotel, where we found Beth and John pre-established in the beer garden. Yorkshire folk and dogs everywhere. There was a beer festival, (i.e. a few barrels and people serving good ale in a tent) on Sam's recommendation I had two pints of Guzzler, a pleasant watery beer that lived up to its promise. Nearby an area of owls and other raptors, that Beth and I enjoyed, especially an astonished looking one that gulped a lot.

Down the steep hill into the gorgeous little town of Robin Hood's Bay, a bit like a Yorkshire version of Under Milk Wood. We found a characterful old pub called Ye Dolphin, where we drank more beers, played increasingly competitive six handed euchure, Sam and Jade assimilating its rules almost faster than I could remember them. Then a large supper, where I thinned out a few of the local scampi, and followed this with a large plate of a tart-shaped Yorkshire pudding containing chicken, stuffing, chips and gravy, served with seasonal vegetables. An enormous meal I engulfed without a qualm although felt sorely laden afterwards.

Now dark, we lurked by the slipway, marvelling at how far the tide goes out here, until taxis driven by cheery drivers arrived to ferry us back to Whitby.

A snap on the walk; approaching Robin Hood's Bay; Sam, Jade and John heading down into the town; milling about on the slipway; children playing on the slipway at high tide; Beth and John.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sam in the Magpie Cafe

A heroic breakfast in our pleasant appartments, then after birthdaycard and present opening for Sam (plus a couple of late ones for Jade) whose birthday it was, and phoning Pat whose birthday it also is much showering (the water is all connected so washing a few plates or pulling a toilet chain resulted in ghastly yelpings from whoever was showering). Then we surged out into what was a surprisingly gorgeous day. Big heavy rainclouds that somehow missed us apart from the lightest sprinkle at first. There is a big beach below the West Cliff and we headed down to this after looking across at the ruined Abby. Wrong side of the Pennines, but like a Lowry picture nevertheless, due in part to the large number of dogs about. What was different was the utterly gorgeous light there. This really is a picturesque place.

After this we all wandered onto the pier, where Lorraine and I walked to the end, over quite widely spaced boards with the sea below at one point that had Lorraine slightly unnerved, then to the end to watch people catching mackerel. Lots of anglers there, and I couldn't help but be reminded of myself as a young lad fishing endlessly in St Peter Port harbour (when it was half the size it is today).

From here back inland a little, where Lorraine, Beth and Sam ate cockles and whelks and so on, before we boarded a small boat (which had its own slogan: 'making family fun affordable'). This, once it was full, set off for its brief 20 minute slip out to sea, barely leaving harbour before it turned back again, a different view of Whitby though, but I privately thought it was money for old rope. We did enjoy the carved pirate figure on board though.

From here, we crossed the bridge to the other side of town, where we mooched about in the little lanes, then found a table in a busy pub for beer and sandwiches, and a couple of platefuls of the ubiquitous chips.

This before we all climbed the 199 steps up to the ruined Abby. (Ruined I believe by Henry VIII) A rather lovely place, apparently built on the site of a saxon settlement. When we arrived a performance based (very loosely judging by the raucous applause and laughter) on the Dracula story was taking place.

Ice creams outside, then we returned home to find Beth and John who had melted away earlier.  I took a ten minute nap and changed before we surged off to the Magpie Cafe, where our landlady, a southerner called Noomi, had booked a table for us. Hideous snaking queues outside, but John surged ahead and beckoned us in. Here, reputedly, (confirmed by text by Jo, who Lorraine was texting) were the best fish and chips in Whitby (which is saying something as there seemed to be dozens of places to by fish and chips there, and they were all busy). The chippies there smell lardy instead of oily as they are cooked in the traditional Yorkshire way. Anyway, Lorraine and I ate fried haddock and chips, and I have to say the batter (non greasy, tasty and expertly seasoned, and delicious fish contributed to what must be the best plate of fish and chips I have had the pleasure of munching through. Fantastic. Meanwhile Sam and Beth opted for small mountains of local fish and seafood. Jade and John on the fried fish too.

The suave Sam pleasingly mortified by suddenly surrounded by staff, one armed with a cupcake and a candle, and the whole room of the restaurant lustily singing him a happy birthday.Very nice staff at the Magpie.

Groaning after loads of food (cheesecake afters for me) we sat out in the beer garden of The Little Angel, near where we were staying before repairing home.

Below some people snaps: Sam and Jade, Beth and the wooden pirate, me and Lorraine, Sam cringing as the restaurant sang to him, Jade by the sea, Lorraine, Sam and Beth, John and Beth.

Beach scenes under the west cliff at Whitby, a man landing mackerel at the pier, views of the harbour and the ruined Abbey.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Northward bound

Up and a big breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon and toast with Mum and Mas, who was in BC mode (before coffee). Nice to catch up with them albeit briefly before heading off early to Whitby. Journey took most of the day, with a three motorway stops. One place somewhere north of Grantham appeared to be the scene of a nasty conflict between Northerners and Wasps.

Once we were deep into Yorkshire and on the smaller roads, the journey became very beautiful, despite driving near places with Gothic names such as Drax and Goole. In the last half an hour we were up driving beside the North Yorkshire moors. Breathtaking scenes of heather purpled moorland. Then down to Whitby, which looked sunlit and lovely with the Abbey. Almost there and Lorraine drove us down a street which the satnav called 'backstreet Hilda's passage', rather graphic images came into my head at this point, until we saw the road sign for Back St. Hilda's Passage.

Our rooms are on Skinner Street and are quite funky and large, with three big bedrooms a large kitchen, two bathrooms and a general sitting room. Some windows have glimpses of the north sea too.

Had a doze then a shower in a curious shower stable affair, and up and off out wandering about looking at the harbour which was bathed in a rich golden light and was extremely picturesque, before heading to the bus station to collect Sam and Jade. Lorraine so happy to have everyone together, and see Sam again, that she cried.

We all repaired to a pub to discuss our options and have a pint. Beth and John then went to buy food, and the rest of us went back to our rooms to prepare for a really nice evening chatting, drinking wine and eating the cheese and pizzas that Beth and John had bought, and playing games.

Below two quick snaps in Whitby on the way down to meeting Sam and Jade.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Heading north

Rain dodged to the Marwood Cafe this morning for a long chat with Sarah Barnsley and Robin about matters poetical and non-poetical, such as the future of Telltale and so on. I'd told them it was a hipster cafe, and Robin liked it, while Sarah amusingly began her Marwood encounter with a lengthy description of a better cafe nearby. 

Back home and a general scampering about getting this ready for our trip to Whitby. I'n my case this involved having a sleep, as I this chest infection persists in making me feel drained. 

Heard from Matty boy that the probably destination for my October trip is Chad. I will get a fuller brief at the end of next week. Beginning to look forward to it, as well as feel challenged by it. If things go to plan I will be there on my birthday.

After Lorraine got home from work, and John came around and Betty cooked for us all, we packed the car and drove off to Edgware, as the first morsel of our journey up to Vampiric Whitby. 

M25 as usual still a tad vile but we weren't too late. Arriving at Mum and Mason's place we had a hobbit's second supper of nuts and biscuits and cheese and drank some wine with Mum, before sloping off to bed late. Mum telling me about her old friend Chick, who I vaguely remember from my earliest days. He worked at Ronnie Scott's in the ticket office when mum worked there and simply pulled a shooter from someone's hand, who was using it instead of payment to get in. 

Mason talking about moving houses in LA, where a cousin had bought old houses that were due to be cleared, transported the entire houses on wheels and repositioned them by the side of newly constructed freeways. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wild rain and golden apples

Nothing but the wild rain again. Feeling damp spirited first thing and conscious of my chesty cold which seems to be trying to stage a palace coup (croup?) and returning. Lorraine and I walked to the post office in the few minutes it wasn't raining.

I took the bus to see Janet and Ken this afternoon in the rain, and being fed delicious little pistachio balls and hearing some excellent news: Janet's oncologist told her to go away and come back in a year for a checkup. Ken seeming brighter too, and they'd enjoyed a visit yesterday from their previously tumultuous granddaughter, who is now a model of thoughtfulness. What a difference a year makes.

Listening to The Golden Apples of the Sun as an audiobook on the day's travels. I've not read these Ray Bradbury short stories for decades. He is a master of the craft.

Home to the cheering news that I have a poem accepted for a magazine called Under the Radar. What is good about this is that it is a new poem. It's called 'Relic', and I think of it as reasonably enigmatic.

Lorraine, pre-preparing food before skipping off in her striped leggings to her pilates class.

Matt and his new boyfriend Reuben came around for supper. I got to know Reuben better and Lorraine met him for the first time. We really like him, and he and Matt seem to make each other happy. Reuben is highly musical, and shares Matt's unlikely new passion which is allotment gardening. They are going to catsit at the weekend for us too. I don't trust Calliope with Matt. She seems to love him.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The troubled skies of Monday

An English Monday morning in August. Torrential rain. Woke up tired as I'd slept poorly. Began filling in three forms to do with an application Telltale are making for an award. My deep love of forms coming to the fore as usual.

Despite the rain, compelled to get out, had to renew a prescription at my doctor's, then went to Lewes via the nearby Brighton station for a nice chat with Robin and Nick, and to collect a few pamphlets. They'd been to Croatia for their hols, and were getting ready to move to Eastbourne next month. Shuddered in sympathy as I heard some of the house move stuff.

Home via London Road, and up the Hill from there, the sky really quite extraordinary, as the not particularly good snap below, and the one from my study a few minutes later show. I hope Toby's plane journey was not too fairgroundish.

A nap on the sofa, as I am still feeling a bit drained by my chest infection. Then spoke to Mum on Facetime who was a bit sad to have said goodbye to Toby today. Arranged to see Janet tomorrow.

Beth back this evening, and gave me a few handy tips on how to triumph at Hungry Shark Evolution, the game she introduced me to that I am now playing obsessively on my iPhone. To bed, and I read to Lorraine a bit more of Dracula.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Toby leaves, Rosie returns

The Pathetic Fallacy of protracted rain this morning. Toby getting ready to zoom back up to Edgware. Lorraine up early and making muffins, which she took off to Jo, whose house we stayed at in Haywards Heath, and who is now in a hospice.

Brief chat with First Matie this morning too.

Toby and I had a substantial breakfast together, then we walked down to Preston Park station twice, the second time with his iPad. Still it gave us to talk about the few things we'd not already talked about. Fond farewells. Saddened to see him go as usual. When Toby and I are together it seems like no time since we last saw each other, which is a good thing.

Home and a bit of a regroup with Lorraine, who had met her pal Penny and both had a nice chat with Jo. We lurked about before deciding, as the weather spontaneously cleared up, to go for a stroll along the seafront at Hove. Vintage aircraft flying back from Shoreham, the day having been cancelled due to the horrific crash of the Hawker Hunter yesterday on the A27, a road that Lorraine regularly goes down. Still the vintage plane lover in me couldn't help but revel in seeing Spitfires, what I'm fairly certain was a Bristol Blenheim, and what looked like two ME 109s.

Beautiful bracing afternoon, the sea green and choppy. At Hove Lido we met Rosie and two of her old friends, and their twin girls. Popped in to get a cold drink from the cafe, and I noticed Fat Boy Slim lounging in there. We then sauntered back along the seafront with them we also met Rosie's sister Emily and Tim, and their twin girls, Phoebe and Lyra who ran around us all like satellites as we talked.

Rosie and Lorraine and I left the parents to it, and went to a pub called The Connaught in Hove where we heard about Rosie's holiday in Ithaca with her pal Alice, and forked down a pretty good Sunday roast. Nice staff there too.

Home by bus, and feeling pretty tired, but staying up too late as Lorraine was watching Les Miserables on TV, which we'd seen recently in the cinema. She cried at the end, obviously.

Below red flags at Hove.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Breezing on a hot day

A large breakfast this morning, with bacon and eggs, chewy brown bread and other fixin's eaten by Toby, Lorraine, Betty and John. Cheery morning, lurking about before Beth and John left. The Tobster liked the likeable John. Toby, Lorraine and I walked into town, swelteringly hot for blighty, but luckily mitigated by a sea breeze. A Thai festival in Preston Park, drummy Thai music drifting across the park, and Singha beer flags a'fluttering enticingly, and stalls groaning with tie die clothing. (OK I made that last one up.)

Into the Laines and began mooching in shops. I broke off for fifteen minutes as we passed my barbers and they were uncharacteristically empty. The guy cutting my hair began quizzing me on the Canadian economy, when I told him Toby was over, my answers were few. Caught up with Lorraine and Tobs still lurking in the sort of shops that make a chap's Y chromosome ache. Then a leisurely iced coffee where I joined the ravenous Toby in a flapjack. Nice just to sit about. This followed by a soothing mooch in Waterstones, then leaving Lorraine to the joys of Boots, Toby and walked up the Twittens, past my old house to The Battle of Trafalgar where Anton had just arrived. We settled into a happy time in the heat of the beer garden - soon joined by Lorraine - drinking beer and shooting a good deal of breeze and eating some pretty decent Batty burgers. Toby and Anton comparing notes on Chicago.

All good things have to come to an end. Toby continuing with the munchies meant we scored a pizza from the van  (complete with its own wood-fired oven) that stands in forecourt of Brighton Station. The guys that were running it were from Napoli and the pizza was damn fine, and it was soon filling a cab with pleasant aromas. Rounded a happy day off on the sofa eating pizza and watching bit of soporific football.

Below Toby and Anton drinking beers and sporting Ray Ban eyewear.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Tobster arrives

End of the week, and gradually getting on top of life again, rediscovering some motivation and feeling a bit less chesty. Sent a few emails off, and working steadily through my list of got to dos.

A gorgeous day too. In the afternoon Toby phoned already in Brighton, and heading down Trafalgar Street to the nearest cafe. I finished the noodles I was guzzling in the garden, and sauntered into town to meet him in a cafe and we walked back through Preston Park, stopping at the little walled garden, and generally catching up. It was hot, and after walking up the hill (pausing to buy some cold beer (me) and trail mix (Toby) Lorraine kissed a sweat drenched Tobster when we arrived. He was  fortified with sparkling water before we lounged in the garden the garden, with Betty before she moved indoors to help Lorraine fashioned one of her gorgeous balti curries. Cats lurking happily in the sun with us.

Romy facetimed too, and we got to see her all smiley in her tidy office. John arrived and met Toby for the first time. Balti hungrily consumed, we made off to the Preston Park Tavern for a few drinks. Home, and there was an outbreak of soul and jazz music before bedtime.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cleaning windows

Up and if not actually working, certainly shifting things about on my desk, writing lists of the kind of thing I would be doing if I were in the mood for working, and sending a couple of urgent emails. Lorraine working on her application for a new role, and Dawn popped by this morning to bounce ideas off her.

I rapidly lost the will to work, so instead, I got a bit George Formbyish having noticed how unbelievably unbelievably grimy our front room windows were after removing the ghastly Venetian Blinds, I simply washed them, and the few dozen spiders who had made them their home.

In the evening Betty and I bused off to The Temple Bar where we met Anton and Anne, and were later joined by Lorraine, who had been doing pilates. Nice pub with tasty Indian street food served to your table, not much to dislike there. Nice to chat to Anne who I'd not spoken to for a while - including a discussion about The Railway Children, which had traumatised Anton as a child. Raining steadily tonight. Where has the summer gone?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Family and fine art

To the Salisbury to met Toby and Mum. Good to see Toby now entering the more relaxed section of his holiday. Judicious coffees for Toby and I as it was early. Mum had a cider as she was thirsty, and said feeling more relaxed than she had for a while. We sat in there catching up with various bits of news, while we sat near to Paul O'Grady and (I think) Brenda Blethen. I naturally ignored them and Toby and Mum hadn't known them anyway. We wandered through Covent Garden and made our way to Somerset House for we were being piloted by the hidden hand of Romy, who had suggested we go to a restaurant in Somerset House called Tom's Kitchen Restaurant. Turned out it was excellent, and we had gin and tonic and some excellent fare. I had pollock and chips, after a crab cake starter. Amazing how the humble chip can be elevated to an artform in the right hands, gorgeously fluffy inside and crunchy crisp on the outside.

From here, and a tad subdued after a large gin and tonic, we browsed in the Courtald Gallery. I think this is one of my favourite places to see art in London. There are some fantastic pieces there, but you don't get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of work as you do in some places. Lorraine and I came here a few years ago, and I was struck this time, as well as last, by Two Dancers on a Stage by Degas. Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is even better seeing it again, and you can see why these paintings are so celebrated. I also love the Reubens Moonlit Landscape too. It's thanks to Mum taking us to museums and galleries when we were kids I think that Toby and I have a keen Crane-brothers style sense of the aesthetic.

After this improving afternoon of culture we sauntered down The Strand to The Coal Hole pub and had a cheeky beer in there, before we went down into the tunnels, and Mum and Toby headed north to watch MASH, and I followed the call of the seagull south to Brighton. Stupidly, I managed not to take any photos, which is annoying. But a really interesting day, and great to spend time with Mum and Toby.

Below Reubens' Moonlit Landscape.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Lorraine and I having a happy holiday mooching about day today. My chest infection marginally better too.

Drove off, in a gorgeous afternoon, to Trading Boundaries this afternoon to buy the curtains that Lorraine had had her eye on for some time. We managed to buy the last two sets, and they fit perfectly in our front room, and are a treat to the eye. We also had  coffee there, and I looked longingly again at the Roger Dean prints. Then to a couple of garden centres where Lorraine and I mooched happily among the flowers, and also talked a good deal about the water feature we hope to have in the back garden one day, and looked at pots for waterlilies and smelled many roses.

Home, and a spot of gardening, picking more of the tomatoes that are growing well, and looking for the beans and plums that the snails are particularly liking, then the aforementioned curtain hanging, and I cooked a lively vegetable chilli.  Sitting in the living room, thanks to the curtains, I began to look forward to Christmas when curtains come into their own.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A bite with 'Anton'

A quiet day at Kenny Towers. Lorraine and Beth rebooting the diet and involved in lengthy mathematical discussions about targets, calories and weights and driving off to buy special foods. I indulged in the luxury of yet another afternoon sleep. This pesky chest infection is very draining.

In the evening however I rallied magnificently and sauntered down to the nearby Preston Park Tavern where, eventually, I met Anton, both of us in the pub for ten minutes without actually seeing each other. Excellent to see Anton of course after his trips to the US and Bulgaria and ours to Greece. He bore dispiriting news, however. He has taken up running. He takes every opportunity he can to run everywhere now. He goes down to the seafront to run every morning, he runs to the bakers and the shops. He was looking fit and springy and tanned, from a enjoyable holiday among friendly, hospitable Bulgarians on the Black Sea coast. All the silent sullen ones must have convened at the Hotel Kamelia.

From there we sauntered down to The Joker, where we dined on woof woof wings and curly fries. Anton scavenging the fries I'd left, because, as he pointed out, running gives you such an appetite. The person I was out with certainly looked like Anton, and said Anton-like things about smoking cigarettes while running etc. but I'm not entirely convinced.

After a last drink in the Hare and Hounds, 'Anton' sprang across the road like a young gazelle to grab a taxi, leaving me to wheeze thoughtfully up the hill.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A happy home

Lacking motivation today, feeling tired and chesty and sleeping a good deal. In contrast Lorraine up early taking the car to the garage, where it was mended without breaking the bank thank goodness. Lorraine and I spending lots of time discussing what needs to be done with our living room, and also the replacement of our front door, which despite the giant snake Lorraine made, still has a keen draft blowing under it. We are going to have shelves made at one point, the walls redone, new lights, the bobbly biscuit-coloured carpet removed.

Dawn around this evening, and lots of chatting to be done with her on many and various subjects. It's really nice to sit about in the kitchen as Lorraine put the finishing touches to a delicious chicken stew and shoot the breeze about all kinds of things from radical Islam in schools to underfloorboard insulation. Dawn is full of good ideas. A cheery evening. I feel so lucky to have a happy home.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A visit from the Basingstoke posse

The chest infection I brought home still making me feel a bit rough. Still a lucky day as I had nowhere to go and nothing arduous to do.

Instead Glenice, Heather and Maria came to visit down from Baskingstoke. Glenice is Beth's grandmother, Heather Beth's aunt and Lorraine's former sister in law, and Maria is Lorraine's niece. Lorraine and Beth happily cooking chickens and delicious potato spinach and goats cheese flans. I enjoyed hanging out chatting to Glenice again and to Heather, who I'd only met once before and really liked.

Glenice is a stalwart at her church, and I told her about working with the religious charity and was interested to hear her opinions on them.

Maria, who particularly adores Beth, is living an increasingly independent life away from home which she seems to be enjoying a great deal. Maria has a extravert and funny personality and talked to me several times too. Occasionally when things get hard to express Maria will look into a reflecting surface to gather herself, such as the back of a spoon or when she was talking to me, into the shiny metal of the fridge.

She and Beth cooked some excellent shortbread, which Maria was very proud about.

Once our guests had left, Lorraine and I flaked out listening to music. Beth off out with John. A quiet night. Couldn't help noticing how grey the world was compared to Greece. Still very happy to be home though, and conscious of how lucky we are.

A Beth selfie of herself and Maria making shortcake.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


A night full of thunder and lightning. Up early and catching up with various bits of work that had accumulated since I was away.  More violent skies and an absolute deluge that had Osborne Road running like a brisk river while I did so. Luckily we are high up, and it all flowed downhill where there were floods.

In the afternoon, off in the car with Lorraine and Betty to go to Trading Boundaries and look at new curtains. However we made it a few hundred yards when the car broke down, and we had to push it onto the pavement by Fiveways. The AA came and sorted the car out, eventually. The car needs to go to a garage however.

Betty and I walked back home after half an hour or so. Trying to catch up on my blogs, but feeling rather tired and sorting out the photos taking ages. I will update tomorrow and fill in some of the blank days. The chest infection I came home with is still making me feel a little drained.

Lorraine's car good enough to be driven home, and the AA man spent further time outside the house on it too.

We had a much-needed quiet evening in, eating salmon and a stir-fry with udon noodles. No boozes, and a focus on losing the holiday weight.

Below rainwater pouring past the cars parked outside.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A happy homecoming

Last morning in the Kamelia Hotel, tucking into a final breakfast of olives, tomatoes, triangles of cheese, and toast and other scraps of Greek nice-ish stuff. Lorraine and I dragged our cases and assembled at the back of the hotel looking up at Mt Ipsarion with our fellow holidaymakers Penny, Dave and Jeanette. To Thassos town, where we caught the ferry, and all sat together at the front.

A toothless but tuneful accordion player played as we made the short crossing to Keramoti. Lorraine and I sat in a little Taverna by the harbour for half an hour drinking iced coffee with Dave, Jeanette and Penny before we all got back into the minivan which took us to the airport. We were first to arrive for our flight, two hours early. After surveying the shop and resisting bottles of ouzo and fridge magnets with donkeys on, Lorraine and I ate a final spanakopita from the cafe.

The flight home pleasant, but cramped. England grey but I was pleased to be back. Cheery farewells to Dave and Jeanette - Penny having grabbed her case and left early - and we were home fairly quickly, and cabbing back from Brighton station. Happy to be there and sit in the sunshine drinking a restoring cup of tea in the garden with the cats who seemed pleased to see us.

In the evening, after speaking briefly with Mum, Lorraine and I went to the Shahi where we met Betty and John for a cheery curry and a catch up. Astonishingly good not to be eating Greek food after two weeks, and to hear all the news from Betty. It's a lovely holiday, when you feel pleased to be home too.

Below Alexander the Great, by Warlamis, at the airport. A handy dispenser full of feta cheese at the airport and a snap somewhere over Austria or Switzerland.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Winding down

Last three days, after Saturday's excitements were spent close to our hotel on Skala Potamia. The resort seemed less busy in the last week.  Annoyingly I developed a summer cold, which became a chest infection.  However as our days were spent underneath beach umbrellas reading and going for the occasional snorkel it didn't spoil anything and we were winding down very well by now, dreaming on our sunbeds and with the wooded arms of the land stretching out either side of the bay, and the mountains behind. Reprehensibly, we managed to put on several kilos. Not a great place for keeping to a diet.

We also got to know some of the new guests, a likeable couple called Dave and Jeanette knew my old school friend Mike Longman. Dave and Mike had been in the police together. Another was a recently-widowed woman in her 40s who worked in education called Penny. Fell in with these a bit and sat in the hotel bar with them from time to time, being served by a pleasant Englishwoman called Sue. We all went out for a meal one night sitting by the sea being snacked on by mosquitos, and listening to Dave describe what our faces said about our characters, and hearing his pitch for a movie about 1066.

The seabed was shallow and stony for the first few metres immediately in front of the hotel, which meant it kept free of all but a few folks at the hotel. Nearby a group of gulls gathered every day, and sat about with their mouths open in the heat, which gave them an amusingly affronted look.

Once beyond the stony bit and just thigh high, the bay was completely sandy. Quite good snorkelling on some days, with enough rocky bits to provide interest, and the lovely sight of lines of condensed sunlight rippling over the sandy ripples of the seabed. On the last evening, Lorraine and I saw a longnose (garfish) and I saw a cuttlefish, as well as all the of the usual suspects, urchins like stars reversed, blennies guarding their little territories, various mullet and other Aegean fish I know by sight. Best was drifting over shoals of little bait-sized fishes. Once when I swam across the bay to the little harbour, I floated above a shoal a couple of metres deep, and perhaps ten metres long. A beautiful sight with the fish moving as one sinuous whole and gleaming in the sun.

Over the holiday I read a new (to me) translation of Cavafy's poems which was wonderful, the Axion Esti by Odysseus Elytis, I finished The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, an excellent book in many ways, although the end slightly disappointing.  Also read most of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, which I had started ages ago. Lorraine reading inspiring books on Education in between holiday novels.

Bolstered by having The Remembering Cliffs (one of my oldest poems, and always one of my personal favourites) accepted by The Island Review. I tried to write, but to no avail.

A few snaps in the pearly light of evening (we were on the east coast) cleverly omitting the hordes. A little road train that clanged along the seafront, often full of children that Lorraine would wave at. The bar of The Kamelia, some beach scenes omitting the beach throngs.