The Chalybeate

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Party! Party?

We held a party last Saturday night, the first for three or four years.  Since we've been giving them at odd intervals since we moved into this house ( a third of a century ago) we're used to the process, but it's interesting to look at what has changed and what has remained the same.

Our friends have changed, for one. Many of the people we knew while the kids were at school have dropped out of our circles, and replaced by people we see more often such as my cyclists and Moonface's book-group members.  We still had a good turn-out, around fifty or so.  Where was the dancing? Our age has crept up on us so that this year, no-one took the initiative to clear the furniture and crank up the volume. I wasn't expecting much anyway, so didn't take much care with the selection of danceable music. I think that in the event we left the Concretes on repeat for most of the night.  There was too much talking going on anyway.

What has stayed much the same is the procedure.  At heart, we're still running a student party for the cohort of forty years ago.  Buy a couple of cases of beer or lager, a few bottles of wine & non-alcoholic drinks, nibbles and dips, then away you go. It took us a few hours to prepare including a shopping run to Lidl and moving the furniture around - and Voila - entertainment for many.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Ridgeway

23rd April, St George's Day.

Today was my longest off-road cycle ride for at least 8 years.  Moonface dropped me at Streatley, then I rode unsteadily back towards Chippenham along the Ridgeway and other tracks, passing the Uffington White Horse, Waylands Smithy, Barbury Castle, Avebury, Silbury Hill, Cherhill old airfield,  a canal path and a disused railway line.Five thousand years of history and wide-ranging views of an idealised England.

The kites were flying on the Eastern section, dozens wheeling and soaring above and below me.


Is it my age or a reading error?
Yesterday I went for my annual check-up for my high blood pressure, so as usual I had my weight & height checked.  The former was as expected but my height was 2cm less than I've ever had recorded before.
Perhaps age is catching up. Time to start hanging from bars and swimming more,

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

is this the real life ?

or is this fantasy?

Holidays have long been thought of as an escape from "real life", a temporary respite from the world of work and the humdrum.

But that's changed.

On return from a foreign holiday I realised that it's normal life that is the fantasy.  Away in Jamaica, we talked to strangers, felt the sun above and stones below, swam, crammed into sweaty route buses and  used all our senses. Coming home, the virtual world took over. I'm on the computer now, writing into the ether. Facebook, email, mobile phones. They're all unreal, with cyphers on the other end of the signal. I'm isolated by communication technology, not linked.

The idea of an internet cold turkey is becoming attractive.

Friday, 10 April 2015


It's been nearly three years since I wrote anything in this blog.
Since then I've been fired from one job and resigned from another, jetted around Europe, visited India & Jamaica, and semi-retired.

It's time to start writing again.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

It doesn't happen here

It doesn't happen in England.

Except it does. 

Early in July, a man walked into our friend Jim's office and fired a sawn-off shotgun at him.  Three weeks later, Jim died in hospital, never having regained consciousness. 

He was possibly the man I admired most of all our friends, being both an engineer and a lawyer.  He was scoiable, intelligent, and fun to be with. He had a good mind and was skilled with his hands, enjoying practical work as much as paperwork. Jim had renovated much of his home by himself, taking years to get things exactly right where many would have bodged and rushed.

He leaves a widow, three young adult children, and a gaping hole in many people's lives.



Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Port Eliot

I don't do festivals these days.

Yes, when I was younger I went to Glastonbury a couple of times, Reading when I lived there, and of course Ashton Court for a couple of hours at a time. But these days, I don't do festivals. The last few times I have tried, like Green Man in 2010 and Trowbridge before that, I've just not enjoyed. I don't know whether it's the oppresion of the crowds or the relentlessness of the activities, but they've made me miserable.

But Port Eliot was very different, so I relaxed and had a good time. The music was not supplied by big names, but was varied. I danced to electronica and bhangra. I listened to rock and folk and country and mixtures of them all. And there were the solo artists, the string quartet and the brass band. 

It was the other stuff that made it more stimulating, the talks on science & the media, Anglo-Indian history, Greek philosophy, foraging for wild food, pornographic comics and the evils of maize. And talks by poets and authors, and swimming in the muddy brackish waters of the river. We ate well on curry, scallops and tagine. (Not simultaneously).

The sun shone.

It was a great weekend. 



Sunday, 19 February 2012

Yer Tiz

Over the last couple of years, the Forestry Commission, Bristol council and the SW Cycling Project have been negotiating, designing & building a series of mountain bike trails in Ashton Court and Leigh Woods. The Ashton Court trail was opened last June, Leigh Woods last month.

They are fun! One aspect of offroad cycling in winter that I've not liked is the gloopy sticky mud with we get around here, which means that old biffers like myself slide around and have trouble staying upright. Plus it's hard to keep up a reasonable pace in the muddy woodland trails, which become cut up and full of water.

These packed gravel routes are relatively fast & swoopy, knackering on the old single-speed and FUN. I've been out most weekends the last month or so, and have returned filthy and happy and exhausted.

With luck I'll persuade myself into some early morning rides once the day length increases a little more as at present sunrise is a little late for a decent ride before nice.