Friday, 9 November 2012

The Days They Are A'Shortening

This time of year my working day gets shorter and shorter. I am back working on a wall I have been restoring intermittently since 2006. It snakes for 940m across some of the highest ground in the Cotswolds, so is always windy, but remote enough that I can safely keep working until it is too dark to do so. Sunsets like the one above can extend the day by 20 minutes or so. And apart from picking my way through the odd sheep - is there any other type? - I can usually drive secretly back across the fields without having to use headlamps.

There is something very special knowing that I will avoid the endless strings of car lights I see streaming along the A40 across the far side of the valley as I ghost my own way home.

Luckily, I am not halfway along this wall as yet, so I am hopeful of many more of these journeys home, after days spent working with only the company of sheep, horses,occasional walker and, apparently, spotted this week - an otter.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Summer of 2012 (Part Two)

Sorry - my plan didn't work. Olympics were great though !

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Cheltenham Literary Festival 2012

For one reason or another, I hadn't booked any events at this year's Festival. But today I found myself with a few hours to use up in Cheltenham, so whilst wandering about the Festival area seeing who I might bump into, realised there were still tickets to see the filming of a Sky Arts programme - namely Mariella Fostrup's Book Show. And very interesting it was too. Not only to see how an hour's worth of recording is put together, but to be close up to the guests that included the perfect gentleman that was Sir Roger Moore. A timely appearance given the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film.

Enjoyed it so much, that I then returned for a second recording an hour later, sitting on the front row to see Rupert Everett, Mary Robinson and Jack Straw be interviewed about their own books and about those that influenced them.

All this for a fiver per ticket. Shame I haven't got Sky to watch the finished output in November. Oh, and I did bump into two celebs - Kirsty Young and Where's Wally.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Stealth Stone

Had a very good day at Fairford Air Tattoo recently. Particularly enjoyed seeing the Lancaster take off and hearing the roar of the Vulcan taking to the skies. But the star of the show had to be the very sinister B2 Stealth bomber. Sadly didn't see it in the air though. A very strange machine indeed.

Almost as strange as the stone I found the very next day ...


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Summer of 2012 (Part One)

It is not clear from this picture quite how wet it is - though the horse's stance, and the fact that my customer has provided a shelter for me, do provide some clues. It is June, it is England, and it is wet. Very wet. And cold. OK, a good week in March, and a couple of so-so May weeks have been OK, but now we all remember this. Rain, floods, three days out of a five day Test match lost to rain. And we have a hose-pipe ban still in place. That's the UK for you. 

So this is my plan. Post this info now, so that later this summer, after the glorious Olympics and a winning Test series against South Africa on rock hard dry pitches, I can post the Summer of 2012 (Part Two) and reflect on a totally different climatic scenario. With a hosepipe ban, of course.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Football's Coming Home

This weekend started at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, with a second chance to see C W Stoneking performing. First seen at Womad last year, I feared my enthusiasm for his authentic 20's American bluesy sounds were perhaps fuelled by the lateness of his gig on the first night of my first ever festival. But once again I was blown away by his music on Friday - see him live if you ever get the chance. Jamie Cullum's a fan too! 
Then today Swindon celebrated their League 2 Championship with a Party on The Pitch. A great afternoon seeing all the players and listening to sets from Toploader and The Lightning Seeds, who finished their performance with 'Three Lions'. Football's coming home . . .

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Cirencester 12 Burnham 14

A rare visit for me to Cirencester RFC today - invited by a good friend to watch the game against his home town of Burnham on Sea. A rare visit these days, but the pitches and clubhouse there were as good as home for me through the 80's. A regular player on the wing - I was faster than the larger chaps in those days - I enjoyed many seasons for the Thirds and Seconds, before establishing a firm place in the Firsts. This was when the league structures were started, and we played in the the Western Counties, travelling from Gloucestershire down to Cornwall. We also travelled further afield, and my own memorable tour was to Berlin - guests of the British Army - where we were fortunate to see the divided Berlin just six months before the wall came down.

It was great to see the grounds again, and sample the hospitality of the bar after - even if it was only a black coffee. A long way from the guiness and beer that was previously consumed. And fortunately there was no sign of the 'Dick Drink' concocted from various forms of alcohol that was always presented, to be downed in one, by the nominated 'dick' of the match.

Sadly the likely recipient of the game today would have been the ref - I have never seen a player penalised for time wasting in rugby before. But even with that and other strange official decisions, Burnham spent more time than Ciren in the attacking 22, and on balance deserved the win with a converted penalty in the last minutes of a tightly fought game.

So I caught up with a few old teammates today, and reminisced about the good old days. Makes me sound old - which is odd, because given my current running fitness and now-diagnosed Coeliac condition, I actually suspect that I am a lot fitter now than I was back in my Rugby playing days. But you won't be seeing me on the the field again - the game is too quick now and too physical.

So there won't be another chance for a photo opportunity such as the one below - me crossing the line for a try back in the season 1987/89.