Sunday, September 30, 2012

swimming spree waving

Gone for a  swim.

One lunch time we see a party of 10 oldish men emerge from two taxis. They are balding, red faced and jovial.  They are clearly on a spree. They have already begun their merrymaking. They take each other's arms,  clap each other on the shoulder, and stagger towards one of the bars facing the sea. There  they occupy  three tables  which have been pushed together. Their boisterous talk rises above the sound of the waves and every now and then they break  into song. We cannot decide on their nationality or what language they are speaking. On closer inspection we see that a pale girl is sitting at the end of the trio of tables. In her hand is a clip board. We assume that she is some sort  of travel guide and commend her privately for her equanimity. She is like a teacher in charge of an unruly mob of school children.

A middle aged couple are walking up and down by the sea, as people in every age group invariably do on our beach,  a feature of  constant interest. This couple is intent on practising one of those new exercises designed the keep the blood circulating and the brain ticking over. They walk normally for a while and then suddenly fling their arms up in the air and swing them around like orators who have taken leave of their senses in mid-speech.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

visitor fireworks silver

This is the second time while on holiday  that we have been visited  on our balcony by one of these pretty birds, so much more elegant than their wood pigeon cousins. In previous years there have been relatively scarce, but 2012 must go down as the year of the collared dove.  Several pairs are always around fluttering down from the palm trees and running over the paving stones beneath chair and table legs and human feet in search of scraps. Like human they frequently live and hunt in pairs. But as in London scarcely a sparrow is to be seen this year.

The fiesta of Santa Tecla as usual comes on the middle weekend of our holiday. And with it fireworks. Twenty glorious minutes of them starting at 11pm. Our balcony is a good place to view them. Tonight they shoot up, explode and scatter their brilliant drooping fronds against a gibbous moon which hangs persistently in the dark sky when the lights have faded. Meanwhile observing the display from an adjacent piece of sky is a radio controlled flying machine, a sort of model helicopter, which hovers above the sea, transmitting photographs I suppose to a monitor on the beach where  a shadowy group of people are bringing a new dimension to Santa Tecla. It zooms up, its red and yellow navigation lights unblinking in the sky well to the left of the fireworks. After a while it glides down to the dark beach and lands in a designated spot on the sand.

This windy morning a silvery sun gives the waves an oily sheen as they gather and break on the beach.

The latest story in One Fine Day is called The Centurion. See

Friday, September 28, 2012

holiday stories lightening

After the storm. The normally calm Saint Sebastian beach in Sitges is over run by high waves which this morning leave lakes and lagoons in the sand.  This was in fact several mornings ago.  One of several  holiday memories which will follow in the days ahead. Home yesterday my head  full of stories. While this blog was suspended for a few days, I set out and more or less succeeded in writing a story a day for my new blog One Fine Day. More to come.

 While we are having breakfast outside the hotel the sky darkens. A thunderstorm performs out at sea and lightening dances over the horizon. People stand by the railings above the beach their cameras held above their heads  to catch the lightening on screen.

The smooth paving above the sea is ideal for skate boarding.  In the busy lunch hour skate boarders weave among strolling pedestrians and dogs.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yorkshire pudding beard change

I met this Yorkshire Terrier in a bar. It looks less cute cropped and in close up. I find myself preferring the photograph to the doggy itself which was to my way of thinking a bit of a tart, sucking up to every human in sight. I think there may be a post about it a few days ago.

When stop I to examine a mass of Travellers Joy scrambling over shrubs on a bank behind the station a man comes up behind me: "What's that you're looking at?" he says. I indicate the flowers. "Oh those blooms, what ever they are," he says walking off with a shrug. "I thought you had seen something interesting." As I produce my camera  a minute later a woman approaches from the other direction. "Lovely aren't they, " she says.

For the next two weeks, after 2566 posts, I am going to give this blog a rest. It will be back on or about September 30, so see you then. In the meantime I will be launching my new blog to run in harness with Now's the Time. It is called One Fine Day. Here's the link
but wait until tomorrow because there is nothing there yet.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

runners junk story

 Yesterday the flower. Today the bean. The last of the runners.

After a while even a hoarder like me takes pleasure in disposing of the unused and the unnecessary. The worst sort of stuff that you don't really need is electronic stuff. Lying idle hi-fi equipment is particularly upsetting seeming to reproach you for ignoring it. So it is with some pleasure that I dismantle redundant tape deck, CD player, amplifier and  radio and make it ready for collection by The British Heart Foundation who will find a good home for them.

Impressed by the  short, short stories which the mysterious Karl Sulac posts in his blog white-hyphen, I am planning to do something of the  sort with a supplementary blog to this one which will be called One fine day. Here's my first story:
  When at last they embraced she melted in his arms. He could not hide his disappointment. But he pulled himself together.  After a shower and change of clothes he went out once again in search of romance. Next time, he thought, I will find a woman made of material tougher and more enduring than wax.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

scarlet demented squirrel in Pantiles fox

One of the last of this season's runner-bean flowers. Some varieties of runner bean are now white- flowered and some purple. But scarlet is the most common and I believe the original colour hence the alternative name for this type of bean, scarlet runner.

"Never a dull moment in The Pantiles" says a regular visitor to Hall's Bookshop this afternoon. "Did you hear about the squirrel?" He tells us about a squirrel which he saw run into the furniture shop called Futons. It started leaping about  on the stock as though it was in the branches of a tree. It was quite savage. The women there were understandably scared. They called for the RSPCA who came and caught it. And what did they do? They set it loose then and there in The Pantiles instead, as you would have thought,  of taking it across the road to the Common. Sure enough a day or two later it ran into the kitchen shop where it went berserk. Eventually they shut it into an office upstairs. The  RSPCA came again and this time they shot it.

The current theme on which contributions to the literary magazine Qarrtsiluni are invited is Animals in the City. In that context the aforementioned squirrel might have been looking for attention. So too might the animal which last night attacked the pots of herbs under our hedge uprooting a rosemary plant and digging out an advanced and prolific pot of parsley scattering volumes of compost all over the place. Not a cat. Surely not a squirrel. More likely a fox.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hastings surplus garlic

Talk of Hastings and think of seagulls. In the old town where tall, black painted fisherman's huts dominate the architecture. The seagull are big, sleek and fat. Even the young in their grey-brown feathers with short necks are plump as piglets. No need to dispose tidily of a fish head. Just throw it on the pebbles and the birds fly up in a wild flurry screaming as they wheel and  dive until they come down upon it as did the Assyrian like the wolf on the fold.

It's the same every year. Too many beans for comfort. I spend more time harvesting them than I did cultivating them. Lithe French beans and  fleshier runner beans are on at the moment.  Leave the runners too long and they become coarse and stringy. Even worse are the courgettes which quickly turn into old fashioned truncheons and eventually huge vegetable marrows. To persuade people to accept the gifts of surplus produce I find myself thinking up recipes to entice them. " Scatter pieces of feta over the beans. Grate the courgettes saute them, throw in some basil  and make them into an omelet", I advise optimistically. Today a more distant neighbour says he would like beans and courgettes but looks askance at the green truncheon I offer him. My problem  is that nothing beats the sheer pleasure of making the vegetable grow in the first place. What's all that about reaping where you sow.

In the fish mongers there are strings of French garlic. None in the garden  this year. The string looks a bit cosy in the kitchen. Must be lavish with it.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

pool threads Die Lorelei

Cat at at a swimming  pool - an anomaly.

This morning single threads of the finest cobweb silk bar my way in. They catch the sun for only part of their length so that disconnected silver trails seem to shine and sway in the air .

In the bar of The Tunbridge Wells Bar and Grill I attempt to quote in my vestigial German Heinrich  Heine's poem Die Lorelei.   A woman sitting beside me attempts to fill in the missing words. And then performs  a Google search on her Blackberry whereupon the whole poem appears on the small screen. We both recall that our first acquaintance with the poem was in the school textbook Heute Abend.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

wild black old

In the wild- flower garden.

A black Labrador guide dog, lying flat on the floor of the dentist's waiting room, is so black that it is almost invisible. It looks like a shadow in three dimensions.

In the Oxfam bookshop in Sevenoaks. The assistant says when she can't find a price on the book I want: "We don't just put any price on it. Sometimes they are old and they're not worth anything."

Friday, September 07, 2012

huts gulls Hastings

Roof of fisherman's hut in Hastings Old Town.

The Old Town front at Hastings is home to fishermen and many fat and raucous seagulls. They are at  home with human beings and traffic alike and sometimes too lazy to fly,  wander across the road in front of cars, causing the cars to stop to let them pass. Fortunately the road is narrow and no one speeds.

On fine days like today - a weekday lunchtime -  the men sitting outside the pubs in Hasting are mostly middle aged. Dress code is: one earring, singlet vest, shorts and trainers. Tattoos are shown when decency allows.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

retail daft brevity

Retail contrasts past and present in St Leonards.

An argument in progress at the bottom of The High Street. Middle aged woman to husband at the top of her voice: "I don't want afternoon tea now. Don't be daft I want it later." A nervous smile glazes her sharp featured face.
A new planet has swum into my ken. Here's the link: I have fallen in love with the banner photograph, and with the idea of a blog focussed on short, short stories. Just a few words these days when there is so much to look at and to read, are much to be thankful for especially when they are packed with thought provoking images.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Every window tells a story.

On the pavement on the far side of our hedge a woman with children passes. "We've got  all our eyes and arms  and legs. We should never complain," she tells her children. It takes me a moment to realise that she must be talking about the Paralympics.

We call in a neighbour who is nibbling something out of a brown paper bag. "What are you eating?" we ask. "Bird seed." Isn't that for the birds? "Yes but I like it."

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

lamp post danger gnawing

Today's pigeon on a lamp post. When it leaves with a powerful flap of its wings  the street lamp swings to and fro.

Vale Road which bends down from the round-about opposite the station towards the London Road and The Common, is a dangerous road to cross. Unless that is you walk all  the way down  to the pedestrian crossing by the old post office. Many people can't be bothered. My sympathies are with them. and particularly with a couple of elderly ladies this morning. One of them advances into the traffic with great deliberation and with a grand gesture raises her walking stick when  half way across to allow her companion on a zimmer frame to follow with with similar dignity.

The apples have been disappearing faster than usual from the espaliered apple trees in the vegetable garden. I know why.  Twice I have seen squirrels with apples in their mouths scampering across the lawn. And I have noticed several half eaten apples lying about far away from the trees. Of the few apples remaining on the trees a number are scarred with tale little teeth marks. Scrumping apples was a favourite pass time when I was young, so I can be amused rather than angry at  the squirrels' behaviour.

Monday, September 03, 2012

On the platform at St Leonard's Warrior Square.

My brother Ken tells me how he missed an appointment with a friend and his friend with him. They were to meet  "at the pub on Highgate Green". Only it turned out that there were five pubs on the green. "We had a marvellous time visiting each of the pubs one by one but never succeeded in  visiting them at the same time. "Did you meet many other people?" I ask. "Hundreds" says Ken.

In Sutherland Road I spot a squirrel half way up a telephone pole. We look at each other each as surprised as  the other. I walk on and when I look round see the squirrel resting on one of the service struts at the top of the pole. I have the feeling that the pole is more than it has bargained for.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

message departure fish-eaters

Not sure what this says or means to say but it intrigues all the more with its circle of dots and finger prints.

Last year and the year before three pigeons were more or less permanently in evidence on the parapet of the house opposite. They was clearly a pair and a third party almost certainly a male with an eye on the female. Though the outsider was tolerated the male member of the pair would see him off if he became too familiar with his mate. In the evening we would watch a sort of pigeon soap opera as the pair enjoyed the evening sun in between episodes of love-making.  In the morning one of the pair was always in the same spot peering down into the road. Sometimes I wondered if I imagined that the pigeons I was watching were the same birds, but now that they are no longer around, their very absence tells me that that they were the same. I miss them.

Carnivores eat meat. Omnivores eat everything. But what of fish eaters? No dictionary indicates the existence of piscivores, despite the existence of piscivorous meaning fish eating.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

ash razor-clam weeder

One of the least appealing aspects of smoking is the sight of a full ashtray. This one outside a pub hides its more gruesome ingredients. Though not a smoker  I am not entirely against the practise. Smoking in old movies  helps to provide a background which if not romantic is attractively sleazy. True it damages your health and worse, but so does booze and too much food. If I were a smoker and wanted to give up I would study ashtrays.

In the fishmongers I am attracted by the sight of a bundle of  razor-clams held together by an elastic band. From one of the clams emerges something white as though tentatively in search of the sea. The creature is alive, and so am I, a seagull in man's clothing. With difficulty I restrain a wild cry such as seagulls make when excited. Instead, "I'll have a couple of those," I say to the fishmonger. They will go nicely griddled with the fresh prawns I am in the process of buying.

 Using his fingers, a man is pulling out small tufts of grass from between the bricks of the pavement outside his house and from the angle between the pavement and the wall. Such neatness I say to myself is noteworthy. I stop to pull out my notebook, and steal a look over my shoulder to see if he is really engaged such meticulous and careful work. He is. The tufts of grass are minuscule.