Lists and lists of lists

“If it was my business, I wouldn’t talk about it. It is very vulgar to talk about one’s business. Only people like stockbroker’s do that, and then merely at dinner parties.”

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

Steel trunk check-in luggageWhen my father-in-law was at the helm, he banned a few words and phrases in the office. We weren’t allowed to say ‘cool’, ‘see ya!’, ‘mate’, ‘gotten’ and ‘it’s on my list’.

I’m afraid I just cannot do without my lists. Continue reading Lists and lists of lists

Keeping my head above water

“John kept referencing something called the ‘Downflooding Angle’. I looked up the term in the ‘Code of Federal Regulations’ – a multi-volume compilation of all US rules covering every conceivable industry from education, to energy, to agriculture, to shipping. The ‘Downflooding Angle’ refers to how far you’d have to tip a boat in calm conditions for water to penetrate the boat’s first nonweathertight opening… With a list like that, you couldn’t stop water from getting in. The vessel would never be able to right itself.”

Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade
Subtitled: Thirty-three mariners, one megastore and The Sinking of the El Faro

SS El FaroLet me introduce you to ‘Maria’, ‘Irma’, ‘Harvey’, ‘Matthew’, ‘Joaquin’ and ‘Igor’ – all category 4 and 5 tropical hurricanes of the last decade. ‘Florence’ is visiting the west coast of America as we speak.

I love extreme weather … that is, when I’m in my bed cosy and warm.

Last night an early Autumn gale came up and blew eerie groans among the trees outside our window. Reading the newly-published Into the Raging Sea about hurricane ‘Joaquin’ and the sinking of the US cargo ship SS El Faro on 1st October 2015, was about as much reality as I needed. Continue reading Keeping my head above water

Une étape à la fois

“If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, it stands to reason that I’m going to get there. I’ve begun to think we sit far more than we’re supposed to.” He smiled. “Why else would we have feet?”

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

SleeplessnessTime travel – the stuff of fantasies.

Or nightmares?

If I could go back 300 years, I’d stroll onto a beach, lay out my towel and strip down to my orange bikini. Wide-eyed people would stare, aghast. “I’ve come from 2018,” I’d ‘reassure’ them. “This is modest beachwear in 2018. In fact, on the Costa del Sol they’re not wearing anything!” Continue reading Une étape à la fois

Taking risks

Susan and Lucy ask if Aslan the lion is safe — to which Mr. Beaver answers: ‘Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Hair dyed red and black
Me, circa 2009

I’ve stood on boulders, dyed my hair purple and skinny-dipped in the sea, so I often forget how risk-averse I really am.

Last weekend Hubby and I went to Rye. We stayed in the rather atmospheric Jeakes House. Built circa 1650, it’s decorated in the style of ‘Mrs White in the library with a rope‘ and other such scenarios. Continue reading Taking risks

Torrid temperatures take their toll

“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer.”

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

dry dry dryI love a good sci-fi film, a nail-biting apocalyptic flick or an edge-of-your-seat creature-feature.

Hubby and I often make up storylines – one such tale featured a family of hikers on the run from a scourge of stealthy blood-sucking giant mosquitos, the result of nuclear testing gone wrong.

I fleetingly imagined getting a call from Steven Spielberg about this one. Continue reading Torrid temperatures take their toll

Practicing reinvention

“One thing I’ve learned in my brief career: It’s the side projects that really take off. By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.”

Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon 

Floor plans My English ancestors sailed on the HMS Weymouth from Portsmouth to Algoa Bay in 1820. They were from Burton-in-Kendal, Evlestoke and Guildford. An out of work labourer, a weaver, a wife. It took them 6 months to get there. Their hope: to reinvent themselves in a new country.

Many births, deaths and marriages later, I turned up.

I had a privileged, colonial upbringing. Good schools. Good manners. Good books. My English accent was corrected by my maternal grandmother. Summers were spent at the sea, winters in the game reserve.

Mother England I’m sure, was proud of her colonial child.

Ah, the colonial life (you might say) … wide open spaces, sun, land and opportunity!

True. But. Continue reading Practicing reinvention

Small things matter

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Dr SeussWhen my siblings and I were small, one of our favourite bedtime stories was The Teeny-Tiny Woman.

Once upon a time there was a teeny-tiny woman. She lived all alone in a teeny-tiny house. Her teeny-tiny house sat on the teeny-tiny edge of a big swamp. The teeny-tiny woman loved her teeny-tiny house. One day, the teeny-tiny woman decided to go for a teeny-tiny walk. She put on her teeny-tiny scarf and her teeny-tiny shawl…Continue reading Small things matter