Thursday, July 13, 2017

Rain in Great Ayton

I love July! Especially the 10th of July. You see it's my Birthday. Over the years I have seen some wickedly alcofrolic birthdays, in fact it's a wonder I can remember them. But the sensibility of experience, not to mention a definite allergy to most alcoholic drinks (except a pint or so of cider) means birthdays are now much more sober affairs. That doesn't mean I enjoy them any less. This year's birthday was a really lovely one. Here it is in pictures. Yes, the Rainwoman strikes again!

 And where are we? Saltburn on Sea. We did a 2 hour walk to build up our appetite for fish n chips, did a quick up and down of the pier, and had a look round the shops. Saltburn is a lovely seaside town, but I have to say it was very quiet, probably due to the bad weather. But it wasn't cold, and our hostess with the most-ess  Pauline, looked after us so well. 
 We walked right to the end of the cliff, known as  Hunt Cliff, before descending to the beach for a bit of beach combing (fossil hunting). 
We walked back up to the town, but the Funicular was working, at £1 per person.
 A plethora of knitted sea creatures etc decorate the railings of the pier.

 Here she is, friend, Pauline. She made my birthday really special, and kept me out of the pub, the smugglers cottage you can see at the bottom of the cliffs.
Once a tour guide, always a tour guide! 

I wonder if this was my Face Book friend, Jay Tee? 
 So close, yet we did resist the temptation.

The rain was passing over here. But the day before it was torrential in Great Ayton. No chance of a photo of our trip there. However we enjoyed every minute, and got to see the Schoolroom Museum where Captain Cook learned to read, and I discovered The Cleveland Bard, John Wright, who in 1862 built a house in Great Ayton called The Recess. 

 Where did you get that Hat, where did you get that smile?

 Yes! I did get my cider fix. And we went to the wonderful Chocolini's chocolate shop in Saltburn, where I bought scrumptious gluten free dark chocolates. Check out their Face Book page by clicking on the link above.
And Pauline cooked the most wonderful meal for us, with a surprise birthday cake.
So, another year has passed, full of fun, thanks to friends and family.

Here's the 'rainy day' poem that came from our trip to Great Ayton:

Rain in Great Ayton

It started as summer drizzle, hardly
enough to make our hair frizz, a subtle,
soft, refreshing mist that could have been bought
at the supermarket, or the more expensive
sort, aqua-vitalis, from Debenhams.
Spray direct to face, avoiding eyes.

Then the crows disappeared, and the sky turned
grey: north-sea-grey, harbinger-of-doom-grey,
a dark, mercury-grey, a grey that gained
momentum, a mineral-laden grey,
a Chernobyl-grey, an isotopic,
acid, car corroding, window-wiping grey,
a shwishy, puddles-on-the-pavement grey,
a virtual Turner, Fishermen at Sea grey.

And by the time my friend had ripped open
the Velcro fastener, and wrestled with
the mechanics of her old umbrella
there was a deluge, substantial enough
to fill the beck with rafts, enough to drive
rats into holes, enough to raise man-hole
covers. We ran, scurried in fact, to the
nearest shop. That’s when my umbrella
(probably older than hers) refused to open.
I fought back to the point I thought it would break,
but it remained stubborn, it flapped half-mast,
my hand inside it over my head.

When I reached the door, the spokes were stuck in
an angry-duck-refusing-to-fold-its-wings,
pose. I shook it, held it out full stretch,
and prodded the rain, like some deranged fencer,
with my makeshift rapier, en guard. That’s when
a gust of wind ripped it inside out and left
me holding a giant squid on the end of a stick.

My hair frizzed beyond curls.

So, onwards and upwards in my clickety-click year. Actually the umbrella survived, you have to allow me a bit of poetic license.

July is not over yet, and I have more adventures planned, so I hope you will return to my blog to find out what happens next in this poet's life.

Talk soon,
Love and hugs,
Jane x

Thursday, June 29, 2017

How to Remove Ear Wax

When we got back from our holidays there was a poster through the door advertising a free consultation with an audiologist who was offering treatments for the removal of ear wax. I thought, God! has it come to this. But I kept the flyer, and re-reading it today, it gave me inspiration for this poem. I do suffer from a bit of tinnitus but I think I'll live with it.

‘Every year in the UK, an estimated 2.3 million people have problems with excessive ear wax.’

Never Stick Anything Smaller Than Your Elbow in Your Ear

If you’ve hairy canals, or you stick things
in your ears, like plugs or phones, or plastic
amplifiers, or you’ve clocked up more years
than most and you’re a bit dizzy, it’s wax.

If it itches, or aches or makes a high
pitched buzz-like radio interference
or you say ‘pardon’ when shop assistants
speak, or hairdressers ask if you want tea
and all you see are lips moving sideways
as you smile into the mirror, It’s wax.

You know what they say, never stick anything
smaller than your elbow in your ear, 
So you know the eraser on the end
of your pencil, isn’t a good idea
and you don’t want to use a cocktail stick
for fear of poking a hole in your drum
and you’ve just clipped your fingernails because
they’re too long to text, and anyway now
you’ve pushed it so far down with whatever
you’ve had plugged into your ears it’s stopping
the sound, and at worst is a bung of wax.

Then this leaflet drops through your letterbox,
Ear Wax Removal. What! Irrigation?
Microsuction? Dry procedures, dissolve
and flush out hard, dry or impacted wax.

Oh! Eugh! Disgusting, audiologist
not in my front room, you think, Google it.
You read about available products:
Smart Earwax Removal – Insert and twist,
grooved head collects more wax than cotton swabs,
Earpal Ear Wax Remover – Unisex - 
I suppose men have bigger ears, more wax - 
a loop of specially shaped surgical
steel which can never perforate the eardrum,
Cordless Vacuum, Ear Wax Syringe, Pick,
Electric Vibrating Wax Remover,
Hydrogen Peroxide Drops, with warning - 
do not use if you have tried to remove
any ear wax using your finger nail.
Multifunctional swab – for all functions
see a medical practitioner. And,
if you really want to try something new
there’s Thermo-Auricular Therapy
where they stick a foot long candle made of
linen soaked in paraffin, in your ear,
set light to one end, and claim negative
pressure sucks the wax into the candle,
it’s called The Chimney Effect, but you don’t
feel the heat because you are listening to 
Zen-music whilst staring at a Buddha.
And afterwards you’ve got warm, relaxed ears
but can’t hear a thing. You’ve read enough.

You log out of Google, scrunch the flyer
into a ball no bigger than your elbow,
and put it in the bin. You decide the 
constant music of the spheres in your head
is not at all unpleasant, and anyway, 
it won’t be long before your fingernails grow.

I think I must have a warped muse working with me at the moment, either that or I'm just not hearing right.

I had a lovely day at the Shortland's Poetry Circle Summer Celebration, at Ripley Arts Centre, Bromley, on Tuesday where the guest poets were Danielle Hope and Michael Loveday. After the reading there was a homemade afternoon tea complete with strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, yummy! It was a good antidote to the terrible sadness of the past couple of weeks in London.

If you haven't listened to Ben Okri's poem, do it now.

So sad, such a brilliant poem and what an accurate account of that terrible scene. My prayers are for both the lost and the living.

It's a sad note to end on but all those people deserve a minute of our energy to help them get through.

Talk again soon,
Jane x

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

: Bedroom Stuff

Back in Birdwell after our little sojourn in Crete, I have spent a few days reorganising the house so as to create a working space. I was all excited about getting the shed erected, the one we got from our neighbour as he was packing up and moving, only to find that he did not go after all, and with a sorry look on his face said he could really do with the shed back. So, I don't have my writing shed after all. It is a disappointment, but you know what? When I do get a shed it will be bigger and better than that one.

So, we have had a big move around of stuff, and I have set up my desk in the bedroom. It is out of the way, light and warm, and if I so wish I can lie down while I'm thinking. All I need now is a chair that fits the desk, but for the time being I am perched on the end of the bedding chest which, with a great big cushion, is not too uncomfortable.

This isn't my bedroom but the eclectic feel is very similar.

Although I am spending most of my time with my novel, I am producing the odd bit of poetry, etc.

Here's an odd bit which I wrote the other day:

To Be A Poet in 2017

When I wake up, I don’t draw the curtains and think:

‘Ah, most planitaried skies how bounteous beams thy morning dawn,
Whereof a Marharaja lies in golden red pre-nuptual form.

No I draw the curtains and think:

Sod it! off we go again, what’s on offer today, world?
It’s me in my pajamas, and in the street, bin men clattering about,
hauling trash like gloved zombies dragging coffins.
Who needs getteruppers when you’ve got bin men?
I might push a bit of: The dulcet tones of detritus, the stink,
but that’s as far as it goes before peppermint paste hits molars,
and I have to spit into the sink.

When I go downstairs I switch the radio on,
but I  don’t feel like fluttering and dancing to the BBC.

No, I listen to the news and depress myself to hell
with bombs, and Brexit and the buggeryshiteness
of it all.

I don’t open the Rice Crispies and think:
Hark the sound of spangled snap,
crick-crackle in my dish,
O the pop of wondrous rice,
What ecstasy, what bliss.

No, I think:

maybe once, just once I could open the cupboard and find
a full English breakfast with sausage, bacon, eggs and black pudding
all ready to take to the table, oh and beans, hash brown and fried slice,
It would be nice.

I don’t go out of the front door thinking:

Daffodils at the gate are waking
Dew upon their towering stems
Oh how glorious is their blooming,
Golden host of diadems.

No, I think:

the daffs need dead heading,
there’s another job for weekend,

I don’t walk down the street reciting odes or villanelles,
I don’t wax on about butterflies, or birdsong, or the sound of trains,
On down the line, on down the line, is it on time? Is it on time?

No, I walk along the uneven pavement watching the cracks,
keeping up a good pace so as not to look lackadaisical,
or unemployed, or dare I say it, as though my head is floating
somewhere on high, and I continue on till I reach the sanctuary
of the library and the company of other poets. It’s a place
where I can sit in the warm and learn how not to say,
I wandered lonely as a cloud.

And now I'm going to watch the Queen's speech, I hear she is not putting on the regalia this year, probably because she is hot footing it to Ascot after the parliament bit. Well, I hope she has a good day, I must say she does extremely well for her age. I bet she's got a shed or two, I wonder if she's got one going spare. 

Talk some more soon, have a good day whatever you are doing.
Love and hugs,
Jane x

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Death on The Happy Train


The weather over the past few days has been a bit grim to say the least but today the sun is shining and I would imagine the beach is full. Ah, mad Malia, sun, sea, and celibacy - well for some. Nobody every says celibacy do they, but for old timers sitting in Galaxy Bar in the middle of Malia, it has come to this, spending the afternoon watching young, scantily clad, nimphets pass by on their way to the beach.

A couple of days ago we walked down the mountain from Vrahassi to Neapolis and from there caught a bus to Malia. The day was inclement so we did our shopping and took the bus back to the Vrahassi Tunnel then legged it back up the mountain. 

This is what I wrote when I got home. (Obviously not in a serious mood)

Death on the Happy Train

 But wait, here comes the driver, give us a toot Happy Train driver. ‘Eugh?’

The soft perspex windows are down, looking like shower curtains from Bates’ Hotel, or the cover you throw over your garden table in the winter. The train has got its hat on – hip, hip, hip, hooray!

Carriages are full of people who don’t want to sit on the beach freezing their bollocks off under a cloudy sky, when you’re wet you’re wet or not. They are the sort of people who wear socks with their sandals, the sort who still read newspapers at breakfast time, carry their own cushion everywhere, and eat egg sandwiches. And in between, squashed on a bench with his doting grandparents, a 13 year old boy stares into his lonely flies, for want of a computer screen. ‘This is fun,’ says Grandma nudging him. He’s about as interested as a train spotter at a bus convention. She nudges him again, ‘Come on, you might enjoy it.’

Behind them there’s a Burger-mister from Germany. He takes up a whole bench ‘cos he’s probably so full of shisenhausen burgers. His tiny wife has to sit behind him. There’s a hint of lederhosen under his Bergerhause, non-iron, walking trousers. Around his neck, sitting on the ledge of his stomach, is a zoom lensed Pentax ready for those long distance wild game shots, probably of the nudist beach. The tent-flap plastic impairing his vision must frustrate him; then again it probably excites him. She is blond.

In the first carriage, two carriages in front of the boy with no I-pad, and no idea, there’s a young couple. They’re probably on honeymoon and don’t know what to do. Don’t they know they should be right at this moment, humping the bed springs out of the mattress, covering each other in trifle, or other some such sloppy cream, at least a dollop of Greek yoghurt, and singing Yo Ho and Up She Rises? What on earth are they doing on the Happy Train? Oh…

Off they go!

Nobody sees the dead man on the back seat. He’s probably died of boredom, poor old bugger, waiting for the thrill of a lifetime.


And if I don’t get a move on I might go the same way, there’s only so much lazing about you can do. And by the way, the above piece is totally fictitious; though it was freeze your dooda’s off weather in Malia the other day. Not so today, and I'm sure for the rest of the summer.

And if you are reading this, Jackie from the little bar in Malia where the bus stops for Agios Nikolaos, thank you for your kind words, and the lovely cup of tea. Hope to see you again soon.

Love and Hugs
Jane x

And no I'm not drunk, just happy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sheds Away!

After two years of dreaming about having a garden shed let me introduce to you 'Cyrus the Shed'. Cyrus, because David's grandfather was called Cyrus, and the shed reminds him of his boy days, when he visited his grandfather. Whatever, anything for a peaceful life! Even though we have painted Cyrus in a lovely light blue colour, he is still a man-shed, and I am more than happy to go along with that. O glorious day that has taken a kitchen cupboard full of weights (of the gym variety), tools, cans of paint, a chair that was in the way, old oil cans, and a wood-burning stove (not to mention David who is much happier with a screw driver in his hand than moping about the house) out of my way and into 'Cyrus the Shed.' 

I know he (Cyrus the Shed) is looking a bit naked at the moment, but it won't be long before he is labelled, and decorated with a few obligatory 'shed' accessories. For now the pink blossom frames him nicely. And look how happy my man is.

Not so, I, who have just roasted a ham joint forgetting all about soaking it overnight to de-salt it. Yuk! Another cooking failure. We'll have to eat it a little at a time. Well, is someone telling me something?

I've managed to write a couple of poems this week, one about the Industrial Revolution, I don't know where that one came from.

I also spent some time at Elsecar Parish Church searching the records for information about the Royston family. I found several references and it's just the beginning, they have a wonderful archive of Elsecar's history, thanks to the Heritage group in the village.

So, we are going to the polls again. What a shocker! Well, if it's anything like last time, the only leaflet that came through our door was from the new Chinese takeaway.  We didn't see anyone knocking on doors. I suppose this area is a given 'Labour' stronghold. I do find the amount of money that is wasted, not to mention productive working days, could be put to better use. I know, there are arguments on both sides. 

(Sounds of gentle hammering from 'Cyrus')

That reminds me, I forgot to tell you that I had a 'situation' last week. I shut the bedroom door from the outside, and would it open again? Not on your life. The handle had no purchase on the catch and I was well and truly locked out. Of course, it was pre-Cyrus, and all the tools were in our built in wardrobe, inside the bedroom. David was away for the night visiting our Jo and Jack in Kent, and I was left marooned on the landing. I did think, never mind I will sleep in the spare room, I had towels in the bathroom, it wasn't like I was locked out of the kitchen, heaven forbid! And then I remembered my pills on the drawers at the side of the bed. Right! Right! As luck would have it my wood carving chisels were downstairs. Oh dear, I hear you say. Next door must have thought I'd gone mad. Bang! Bang! Foot behind the door and focus of a Ninja, two minutes later I was in. The damage was minimal but we do need new handles for the door.

(The hammering outside has turned into drilling)

I'm going to finish here, I hope you all had a very good Easter. There were no eggs hidden in our garden, but we have got a most BEAUTIFUL shed. And methinks it now has a shelf if not two.

Bye for now,
Love and hugs,
Jane x

Tears From The Sun - The Story