Saturday 26 May 2018

Dorset wanderings

Most of my wanderings tend to be London-based but on this trip back to see Mum in Wimborne I took the time to explore my teenage-years' town a little further.
Usually I stay with my lovely cousin up on the hill but as she was having work done in the house she had absurdly generously booked me a house by the river to stay in - despite my weedy protestings about finding a cheapo B and B somewhere.
A view on the river Stour - what a rare treat to wake every morning and see swans and reeds reflected in the slow-moving waters; I may have almost moved my desire of living with a sea view to a river view - either might be good.

When I was about thirteen, Mum and I used to take a rowing boat out from the Hanham's Boat Yard and disappear up the river for hours - those holiday days that seemed to always be sun-filled. I can't recall who did the rowing but I did find a photo of her in her university rowing team - so possibly, more her - it's easy to forget that one's parent of nearly ninety and mostly clamped to a wheelchair used to do such things - and we shouldn't forget . . .

A different boat-hire place operates now with rather more strict rules about time and how far you are allowed to row to, but they were affable folk and when my friend came to stay for a couple of nights we hired a vessel, and rediscovered certain arm muscles.
Messing about in boats. Everything observed and heard from a boat is very different: the scale of trees, bridges, the plop of small animals and the skid of ducks' feet as they regain their watery territory.

Even though I lived in Wimborne for about six years I never did actually explore the potential of its river-bank walking. I suppose my main walking was in the form of the daily traipses to and from school, (which were bordering on small hikes) at each end of the day, and favourite jaunts out to places like Badbury Rings, Chalbury Church and bits of the coast; the Stour wasn't really on my day-to-day walk radar.
So, in a house with view of river - where does it actually pass through and how far can you walk?
Boots on, I started near the boat place and paced a few miles discovering brand new swanky housing estates, water meadows full of early summer flowers and the most perfect little suspension bridge that leads over to Canford School - a prestigious place with a parking area full of Range Rovers and Mercedes.

The spots visible in my photograph below were actually a few of the billions of Mayflies that were enjoying their twenty-four hours (or, perhaps to them, long lifespan involving relationships, where to eat, and musings on the meaning of life).

Taking the other direction the following day took me through a fine area of 1920/30s suburbia with some surviving original houses and many renovated dwellings - or large edifices where bungalows of that era once stood. If I'd had a freer day I might have walked on to the next village signposted - Lytchett Matravers - said, I believe, to be the longest village in the UK. I'm sure I read that somewhere but can't find it now. Anyway, the word Lychett comes from the Saxon word, Litchet, meaning Grey Wood. Rather Poetic.

                   Mm, very . . . clean


                             sadly this one was up for 'renovation'


A beautiful snicket/ginnel - don't know the Dorset word for a thin path between houses. Maybe there isn't one.

Further mooching after seeing Mum in her home revealed such delights as a 2009 time capsule placed into the concrete of the new Stour Footbridge - to be opened in 2059. If one of my novels turns out to be a premonition, this momentous moment will not be recorded and put onto Facebook/Instagram, etc as the internet will have collapsed around 2038 - and this blog will be a slight and fading memory in my own head. Another reason for finding the time to make it into a REAL book.


Other noted things: the pub I used to work in - and got fired from as I couldn't add up (no auto tills in those days), and a tree that I must have gawped at for about fifteen minutes. I've never even seen one of these in Kew Gardens. Sadly the tree's owner was out so I still don't know what it is.



On one of the evenings my friend stayed, we drove to Studland via the clanking vehicular ferry at Sandbanks - a riveted metal wonderment that has been crossing the narrow stretch of water since 1994 - the original vessel started crossing in 1923. It's a magical stretch of land out towards Old Harry Rocks: grass with human tracks cut into the chalk, windblown scrubby trees and sheep - at that point with playful, bouncing lambs.
As the Pig on the Beach was fully booked we ate at the Baker's Arms where a massive chuck of tree smouldered in the fireplace and happy walkers/sightseers and locals quaffed pints of beer from, possibly, the wonderfully named, Piddle Brewing Company.
Our walk to the cliffs culminated in the most life-affirming sunset after which we took the Ferry back and interrogated two of the crew, one of whom had been doing the crossing for thirty years.


                                                                                          Pic from

The days passed with Mum in the usual round of tea shops, (think I did get scone-poisoning on my last visit) church and river perambulations - the smaller, Bourne, river. We collected leaves, shells on the trip to the beach, flowers and seeds and exclaimed over Kingfishers, swans and many more surreal sightings. Mum often sees things that I can't - small dogs sitting in trees and the like, but who's to say if they aren't there? In fact, after a lengthy discussion with afore-mentioned friend about us all being particles and time not existing, maybe small dogs sitting in trees are as normal as anything else.

On the last evening, I left Mum in the Royal-Wedding festooned home's dining room and walked back to the river house for the last time. Two swans moved majestically down the Stour as I packed my suitcase and attempted to leave the gite as spotless as I had found it.

Monday 21 May 2018

What we don't know about ourselves

A great deal - a vast deal . . .

If you are a doctor, you, (hopefully) will have a very clear map of your own and other peoples' internal organs, lymph system, blood vessels, skeleton and so on - the rest of us . . . a vague notion of where one's heart, lungs and liver are, and probably not much than that.

It's weird to think of all these unknown miles of gut and vessels doing their thing, keeping you going, and not really knowing how any of it actually works or where it is placed in the body. I probably, even after not living there for some years, have a better idea of London's layout than where any of my lymph glands are, or what any of them look like.

Talking of glands . . . do you know where your adrenal glands are? those such vital things that control and deal with stress, flight or fight, etc. I didn't know until I stared reading about what happens when they become depleted - vaguely thought they must be somewhere in the neck. Nope . . . they sit snugly on top of the kidneys, and are complex/vital in operation and most often overlooked.

After a boring bout of Trigeminal neuralgia, which is still wobbling on slightly, I'm still trying to figure out what IT likes and doesn't, so started researching more into diet, stress, exercise, etc, and found out some fairly amazing stuff.

Sadly IT doesn't like me sitting too long at the computer, so I'll go and clean out the shed instead, but if you are as interested as I was, here's the rather wonderful Dr Berg explaining about how these Toblerone-shaped wonderments work.

Sunday 20 May 2018

To my family, dogs, the hothouse and its garden.

So, the last blog post in this book.
There will certainly be more posts, and probably more books of them, but for now I just wanted to get all these photos, writings and memories into a tangible thing of paper and ink - just in case the internet scenario in my novel Hoxton should come to pass . . .








Wednesday 9 May 2018

Vauxhall and Waterloo

Following on from last post . . .
One and a half days in London: part nostalgic wanderings and part book-research.
As I'd not managed to get south of the river and visit my imagined underground premises of the Vaux-hauler gang the day before, I took the tube to Waterloo, stashed my case and walked to the embankment to follow the river Southwards.
All those years of London life, and there's still so many places I've never seen . . .
Ensconced mainly in my farting old Morris Traveller and zig-zagging across the city in search of props (life as a stylist) I'd rarely done what I do now - walk with a vague trajectory which inevitably shifts as I glimpse something intriguing at the end of a street.
I did the Lambeth Walk and then sat in the garden of a café attached to the Garden Museum (near Lambeth Palace) and drank the best hot milk, ever. This is a rare, peace-inducing spot with vast plane trees challenging the hight of nearby steel and glass edifices. I must have stayed there for at least half an hour imagining the changing landscape from fields to paving slabs, tarmac and concrete. Do trees recall the sounds and smells from across the years recorded within their sap and bark?


A hotel made of containers


Continuing Southwards, I encountered a tweed-housed man looking rather lost. I noticed his arm band that announced 'Tweed Marathon' and said,
'Bit hot for walking miles in such cloth?' To which he told me it was a cycle marathon and that he'd lost the rest of his party, but he looked happy enough. I forgot to ask what sort of bikes they were on, imaging a fleet of penny-farthings.
The backstreets on such a blue-sky day are sculptures of line and shadow; over-looked buildings wonderments of the city, equal in my eye to the tourist monuments.

Brick behemoth 


I meandered happily towards Vauxhall's messianic new bus station that I had only seen on Google Earth and was duly impressed, and slightly disappointed, having conjured up images of silver space-pod buses to go with the structure, not the usual red vehicles lurking about its perimeter.

shadow of the seldom seen Vauxhall egret
Boat seats on the embankment

Realising the morning had disappeared and a train had to be caught, I walked back to Waterloo with a brief stop for a cup of tea in the shadow of a semi-constructed office building that may have been inspired by a penguin - head yet to be added.


Roupell street (had to be in B and W)
Perhaps my favourite discovery of the morning was Roupell Street - again, how had I never seen this preserved road, which sadly - really sad! is possibly under threat of partial demolition due to the enlargement of a school. It cannot happen; there are so few historically perfect examples of old London. I hardly dare go back on my next trip . . .
And, someone was obviously a collector of my most-desired car - Citroën DS, and the King's Arms looked most inviting, but no time, so a quick look around, photos taken and a less meandering route back to the madness of Waterloo station.