Maybe I’m a Millionaire

On the way home from a good day out in the Smoke with Celia I bought a copy of the day’s Guardian and a lottery ticket. We’d walked, talked, eaten, been to the British Museum; Celia to the Scythians exhibition, me to look at the Assyrian galleries in greater detail.

The day was colder than I’d thought when I left home. I was glad of the hat I bought in Leigh on Wednesday. Lunch was in a small Korean café in Museum Street called Bimimbab. Delicious. I’ll happily go there again.

Doing the lottery routinely is a relevantly new thing for me. In the past I have bought the occasional ticket; at one place of work I was part of a consortium that never won anything; but buying a ticket every week is a recent development. It has a lot to do with Brexit and my fears for the future. The chances of winning the lottery are extraordinarily remote, but a touch less remote than if I had no ticket. Continue reading

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Day Trip to Essex

My first day trip of 2018. It was supposed to be last week, so it would have been 2017, but reconvened as the weather was awful. The day was blowy. Very blowy, but it confirmed my first impressions, made over a decade ago, that Leigh-on-Sea is a very attractive place.

First off, it’s a train from Fenchurch Street Station, so all players of the GB Monopoly board will get a quiet thrill of recognition at that one. The landscape gets wilder and more romantic as you leave London. There are ruins of what look like hall houses, or something too small to be castles and too rugged to be monasteries. Then there’s the coast. Waves sparkling in a silver sea. Admittedly the tone was to my mind lowered by two young women whose conversation indicated that clothes (as opposed to fashion) were their main interest in life. They discussed the various outfits they had worn to various parties over Christmas and New Year. As we neared Leigh-on-Sea where I alighted (to use a verb which is now almost archaic but somehow still current in public transport speak) they were almost orgasmic at the fantasy of Primark offering everything for sale for £3 per item. This was something one of them had dreamed about. I alighted to the words “Just think, I could change my wardrobe every day!”

I was wearing a NorthFace jacket bought in 1999, boots of uncertain vintage, and a roll neck jumper that is at least twenty years old. I think I looked fairly presentable until the wind whipped my hair into something channeling Ken Dodd, but there you are.

Leigh-on-Sea. Essex. Such mixed messages. Essex has a number of parliamentary constituencies, all of them represented by Conservative MPs. Essex voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. Leigh-on-Sea’s MP is David Amess, sound on fox hunting and invading Iraq, much less sound on human rights and Harvey Weinstein. For those of you this side of the pond that will almost certainly have triggered an audible hiss, or you may be staggering backwards clutching at your heart. But remember, Woodford – lovely Woodford – once the seat of Winston Churchill, has returned IDS to Westminster several times. Some things are beyond reason. Pantomime villains must have to work very hard in these places.

I read somewhere, long ago, that Helen Mirren grew up in Leigh. I think politically she’s moved on. And yet. Leigh exerts a pull. It’s a real place. For all the cutesy, quaint and self-conscious prettiness of Old Leigh, it has an authenticity that many other places lack. It is still working, still honest. If only it didn’t have Amess. If only it hadn’t voted Brexit.

Let me try to show you. As you walk from the station this is what you see. A real place, working. No Disneyesque ersatz fishing village.

En route from the station


If like me you are a sucker for sea and boats it gets better. Or worse. It depends on your perspective.

Red

Working


There are pubs. Lots of them. But for some reason I want to call them hostelries. It’s that sort of place.

Ye Olde Smack

Quaint

Lunch venue

Crooked Billet hostelry

It’s one of the most dog friendly places left in the UK.

Good behaviour

Dog friendly beach

Happy

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A Year in the Months, and a Happy 2018

I’m ending the year feeling much better than I anticipated this morning. The cold which I started on Christmas Eve was gazumped midweek by a much more aggressive version which has left me in no doubt that I am not stoic invalid material. As a headache gripped my brow in a rusty vice and left me feeling sick each time I bent down I yearned for my health to be restored so I could enjoy my cat, my home, my life.

Friday was a particularly low day. I went out to work telling myself I’d be fine. My nose ran almost constantly and grew redder and sorer by the minute. I began to feel self-conscious and embarrassed at the number of times I had to blow my nose and find yet another bin to dump a wodge of used hankies. Yuk. I went to bed early, then up betimes yesterday for another day at work. Less nose blowing, but still gripped by the vicelike headache and prone to sudden outbreaks of sustained coughing. However by the afternoon I was convinced I was on the mend. Home via the shop to stock up on more boxes of paper hankies where I realised at least half the local population is in the same boat as I am. I nabbed two of the last three boxes of my favourite brand.

I made myself stay up until half past seven and then climbed gratefully between the sheets where I slept for twelve hours with some interruptions for coughing, nose blowing and glasses of water. I thought I’d be fully rested and on the road to health this morning, but instead I should have gladly turned over and slept some more. MasterB desperately needed time and attention from me and was keen to play. Off I went to work feeling as though my body belonged to someone else somewhere else and my feet were not truly making contact with the ground.

Then magically, mid afternoon, something shifted. I’m still coughing, still blowing my nose rather frequently, but it’s almost eight o’clock and I don’t think I’ll be in bed for at least an hour. I’ve eaten a meal with pleasure rather than out of a sense that I need the sustenance, and I have a glass of wine at hand, my first for nearly a week. Admittedly I’ve not drunk any of it yet, but just looking at it makes me feel more festive. I’ve even lit the candles and decided the Christmas decs can stay up for another day or two. Continue reading

Lasting Impressions

I came home last night and today I’ve working, so it was nice, just now, to look at the photos I took while I was away and relive the moments vicariously.

I am rubbish at photographing birds. I have about six out of focus pictures of a Great Crested Grebe swimming about the marina, and at least six more when I have clicked the shutter as it has dived under water. So although this photo of a Moorhen won’t win any prizes, I am pleased with it.

Moorhen


That’s the ever spreading Pennywort covering the water’s surface by the way. I’m not keen on photos of sunsets either, but there something magical about cooking dinner and looking at this view.

View from the galley

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A Mad World

Sadly I have to return home tomorrow as I am working on Sunday. I thought lots of people would turn up at the marina tonight, lured by the forecast of temperatures in the mid twenties and sunshine. Maybe they’ll come tomorrow. We are once again alone. One couple and their elderly Jack Russell did arrive tonight, they ran the engine, stowed their gear and disappeared into the (beautiful) sunset. Then the hunters started shooting. Close by. Not nice. Fortunately they have now stopped.

Older Nephew said something to me yesterday about the boat being part of who I am. I think he’s right, and in the aftermath of Mother’s and Aunt’s deaths I am enjoying the boat in a different way to formerly. So keeping the car, keeping the boat is my preferred option for the time being.

I caught up with the review section of last Saturday’s Guardian. There was a piece by Amy Grace about how she (and Margaret Attwood and Donna Tartt) wrote for Playboy. Maybe I need to reread it, but on first reading it made me very cross. Saying Playboy was tame in comparison with what was available elsewhere does not, to me, make Hefner’s empire acceptable. I remember in the 80s feeling despair when very young girls in the school where I taught appeared carrying pencil cases with the bunny symbol, the most charismatic boy in the Sixth Form (a Sikh, don’t think HH’s appeal was merely to middle-aged white men) wore wristbands with the same logo and looked up to Hefner as a rôle model. From Instagram I have been educated with the very unwelcome knowledge that many young women see their worth in their sexual attractiveness and availability. There are more cleavages and bare buttocks, sometimes pouting lips, out there and apparently posted by their women they belong to, than I would have believed possible in 2017.

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Yesterday

I was reading when Older Nephew arrived and didn't hear his car. The crunch of gravel near at hand made me look up and there he was. Now the day was warm, though it had been chilly first thing when I had braved the Spartan conditions of the shower block to emerge briskly clean.

We had a brief discussion and decided to head out. Older Nephew had limited time, so it couldn't be a long trip. I made lunch as we travelled, and we kept our eyes on the skies watching the kestrels hovering. We also had to keep our eyes on the water. There was very little traffic but a lot of weed. MasterB had inspected it from the rear cabin window earlier at the marina.

There were a surprising number of cows with young calves, then this fine fellow lost in contemplation.

Another cow seemed to watching us.

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Autumn Boating

I have been pretty good about blogging recently, but now I am afloat, so I shall probably be on gold star behaviour for the next few days. It is windy. It is wet. MasterB and I are the only ones at the marina. And as there aren't other cars, I doubt if anyone else has taken their boat out. But since I last came, my neighbours have gone. There is no boat on the starboard side of the pontoon, and tonight the wind is coming from that direction so we are missing its shelter. That may be why I am having a frustrating time watching C4 news too. The winds play havoc with the signal, and it is breaking up so much a coherent narrative is impossible.

Yet the journey was full of sunshine. Golden leaves, trees on either side of the road glinting gold, red and yellow as well as green. It was fortunate the view was good as the journey itself was slow beyond belief due to intermittent road works which meant I was travelling at the end of the school day, so parents collecting their children (what happened to walking home or taking the bus, or cycling?) clogged the roads. Compensation as I neared das Boot. A glance to the right and there were three deer happily in a brown field. I saw a kestrel too, just sitting. I left a stack of egg cartons from not only my own stock, but also Octavia and my neighbours Hugo and Jolita, at Janet Eggs, I didn't see Janet, but her husband was ther with the dogs bounding about him.

People have been shooting tonight. Gunfire has peppered my unpacking and putting away. I don't think Keats references the hunting side of autumn. A great crested grebe was swimming about the marina when we arrived, then a swan. MasterB, released from his cat basket made straight for das Boot, although I was hopeful at one point he would dig a hole and have a pee and or a poo. Doubtless the joy of clearing both awaits me before morning. Continue reading

Windows

This week’s photo challenge is Windows. I am reposting two pictures of MasterB; one sitting on the sill outside the kitchen window, remarkably insouciant – we live in the second floor (make that the third if you are in a country that counts the ground floor as the first floor); the second is of him looking out at the night at das Boot.

Not a care in the world

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Day Trip to Walton-on-the-Naze in (many many) Pictures

Well, on Thursday I went to the place mentioned in the title and posted two blogs about my journey. I know, I know, WP recommends regular blogging habits for a success it has yet to define and my irregularity has become the most notable thing about my blogging life. But hey, life is too short to obey rules for a success I don’t even begin to understand.

If you want the details, read the last two posts. If you do, you’ll learn I had an unexpected delay and so time to kill at Thorpe-le-Soken where I had anticipated a dash across the platform to get the connecting train. Admittedly I had imagined a bigger platform. Waterloo it ain’t.

Walton-on-the-Naze is by the sea, just up the coast from Frinton where, if memory serves, I spent at least one holiday as a small child with my parents, sister, great aunt, her daughter and grand daughter Alison. Under Alison’s supervision we dug man traps on the beach but I don’t think we caught anyone. Alison is now a successful (not a WP definition) artist based at Southwold. Frinton’s station platform was colourful.

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Sunday Miscellany

I am, as is often the case, still up because MasterB is enjoying some Outside Time. His Outside Time makes me feel increasingly that to move somewhere with a catflap and private garden, however small, would significantly improve the quality of his life. And  mine. Hartley and Smudge, the two black and white fur balls are also outside in our garden. Hartley is very friendly to me and would be friendly to MasterB, but the objet of his affection is playing Hard to Get. Actually, I think Hartley is looking for a new home where he would gets lots of love and attention. I don’t think it’s my home, but I wish him luck.

As I have heard nothing to the contrary, I believe Ann is still alive. Ridiculous, but I can’t help feeling if she has made it through the weekend she might still surprise everyone and rise again from her sick bed.

Octavia has been looking for talcum powder and not finding it. Since she said this I have seen talcum powder on sale everywhere. There is a mystery here I am not sure I am qualified to solve. Continue reading