IOW: Hovercraft, Intrigue in Cowes and miles of shipwreck coastline

Ratty, the rat from Wind in the Willow’s: “There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

alternate endings
Not my pink-nail-polished finger.

Do you remember the ‘Choose your own adventure’ books? The protagonist is “you”, and you are given choices that lead to alternate outcomes. You’d get to a certain page which said something like, “If you want to investigate the noise in the attic turn to pg85. If you decide to put earplugs in your ears and hide your head under the covers, turn to pg76.”

Not great literature, but as a recovering control-freak, I understand the temptation to try and be the mistress of my own destination/life/story. Continue reading IOW: Hovercraft, Intrigue in Cowes and miles of shipwreck coastline

Days out part 2: Libraries, secret passageways and the last Whipping Boy

“It sounded like something in a book and it did not make Mary feel cheerful. A house with a hundred rooms, nearly all shut up and with their doors locked—a house on the edge of a moor—whatsoever a moor was—sounded dreary. A man with a crooked back who shut himself up also! She stared out of the window with her lips pinched together, and it seemed quite natural that the rain should have begun to pour down in gray…”

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

secret garden fulham palace
Our very own secret garden at Fulham Palace.

I looked around to see if anyone was watching. You particularly need to be careful of the room guides. Hubby had wondered off to look at another formulaic painting by Sir Peter Lely. I was safe. Between the great hall and the Duke of Lauderdale’s bed chamber I’d spotted a small door. ‘Staff only’, it stated. This, I suspected, led to a small servants’ passageway. Continue reading Days out part 2: Libraries, secret passageways and the last Whipping Boy

Be your own Activities Director

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein

spring hanging basketI had to have a photograph taken a couple of weeks ago for our company website. I’m usually the one behind the camera so this was a little daunting. Hubby did the deed because he has a fairly good eye, doesn’t mind my requests for lots of retakes and responds well to being given specific instructions. Though he took a good picture, the woman I saw staring back at me in high definition seemed considerably older than how I felt or how imagine myself to look.

Frankly, it was a bit spooky! So I made myself a cup of tea and contemplated my life. Continue reading Be your own Activities Director

A guide to days out in London and a Valentine’s Day do-over with lots of drama

“Officers, what offence have these men done?

DOGBERRY: Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have
belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.”

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare 

valentines dayI think Alfred Hitchcock once said, “What is drama, but life with all the dull bits cut out?” My life, like all of yours, is part dull bits, part drama. I rarely write about the dull bits. It’s waffle. It’s the same every day. You’d stop reading.

The dull bits can drown you, but they are inevitable. Work, commute, budgeting, filing, bad hair days, wardrobe crises, house work, meetings, paying bills … then you blink and a whole month has gone by! Continue reading A guide to days out in London and a Valentine’s Day do-over with lots of drama

Heat, dust and the ‘Big Four’: unlikely lessons from the Pilanesberg

“The Go ‘way birds do not feed on ticks and have nothing to do with the game; you find them where there is no game, and it always seemed to me that it is not concern for the game at all, but simply a combination of vulgar curiosity, disagreeableness and bad manners, that makes them interfere as they do.”

Jock of the Bushveld by Percy Fitzpatrick

dangerous animalsIn some strange supernatural way,  the ‘bush’ ‘calls’ to me. I’m not sure that this is a concept anyone but South Africans can truly understand. When I’ve been away for some time I begin to have dreams of giggling hyena and hooting owls – both by day and at night. My heart grows a little achey and a restless feeling mounts in my spirit. It beckons ruthlessly, and eventually I must answer. Continue reading Heat, dust and the ‘Big Four’: unlikely lessons from the Pilanesberg

Itchy feet: the suspense of saving, dreaming and planning

“Akaky Akakievich was taken away and buried. And St. Petersburg was left without Akaky Akakyevitch as if he had never been there. Vanished and gone was the being, protected by no one, dear to no one, interesting to no one, who had not even attracted the attention of a naturalist – who does not fail to stick a pin through a common fly and examine it under the microscope.” 

The Overcoat by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol in The Collected Tales

Planning a holidayPoor Akaky Akakievich, I thought, while reading this story. A copy clerk with nothing in life, but the excitement of skimping and saving every possible rouble he could spare in joyous anticipation of having a new overcoat made with chintz lining, small silk double seams and a cat fur collar.

Oh, the happy months spent, in an otherwise dull life,  dreaming of such an overcoat!

I am sitting in my usual coffee shop drinking tea. Continue reading Itchy feet: the suspense of saving, dreaming and planning

Rest, Respite, Repose, Reading and Running … how do you do it?

“A thousand kinds of hats, dresses, shawls – gay-coloured, ethereal, for which their owners’ affection sometimes lasts a whole two days –  will bedazzle anyone on Nevsky Prospect. It seems as if a whole sea of butterflies has suddenly arisen from the stems, their brilliant cloud undulating over the black beetles of the male sex. Here you will meet such waists as you have never seen in dreams: slender, narrow waists, no whit thicker than a bottle’s neck … And what ladies’ sleeves you meet on Nevsky Prospect! … they sometimes resemble two airborne balloons… Nowhere do people exchange bows when they meet with such nobility and nonchalance as on Nevsky Prospect.”

Nevsky Prospect by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol in The Collected Tales

Ice hokey in CanadaPeople watching on Nevsky Prospect must resemble something like trying to follow several games of ice hockey at once – pucks flying across the ice at high speed, sticks clashing and players swapping in and out every few seconds while you shiver in your furs on the sidelines trying to focus. Continue reading Rest, Respite, Repose, Reading and Running … how do you do it?