The usual early morning view, but photographs don’t tell the whole story.
Out on the horizon and beyond there are warships taking part in Thursday Wars. A weekly Royal Navy plus others, event when war-like scenarios take place all around Plymouth Sound. What these tranquil views can’t show is the sound of rapid fire gunshots and weaponry being practiced out at sea. Conversely they also can’t show the amazing and constantly changing fragrances that were floating in the early morning air.
On mornings like this the dogs push for a longer walk than usual, if I am enchanted by the fragrances they are overblown by the smells of late Spring. Without dogs I would have been tempted to swim, but that is scheduled for this afternoon. But our extended walk did present a long anticipated treat.
A cinema is nearly ready to open close to home, no more schlepping out to a character-less box, on an entertainment park or going to the new but disorientating cinema in the city centre.Time to enjoy films and the experience of being at the cinema.
And after the dog walk, breakfast of a spinach smoothie while doing some window-box care.
Yesterday I bought myself a glossy interiors magazine. Clearly from its slightly tatty corner the Plymouth Station mice are big into interiors. And we just thought their nest building was intuitive rather than based on actual knowledge or skill.
This was not bought on a whim, one of my favourite television chefs had opened his home as an aspirational dwelling. I have long had aspirations on Nigel Slater, there are others, men who cook or love food and art.Nigel, because he has one of those television fridges with a camera at the back. Nigel stretches in and sensuously pulls out his exotic left overs and then artfully creates a midday snack and then wanders into his beautiful North London garden to nibble at nirvana while birds sing and the wind fuffles* the leaves of his elegant trees.
I have long wanted Nigel Slater as my North London BF. Seeing limited images of his home just makes that need even greater. Then this article showed me that,just once,our stars nearly aligned. Nigel is actually best friends with Edmund De Waal an artist and writer who, in my Dulwich Park years, I was on nodding terms with.
Nodding terms is admittedly no great link but on one early Summer morning Hugo took leave of his adolescent senses and took Mr de Waals lovely dog behind a tree for some experimental dogging. Mr de Waal was unmoved by this unexpected event, saying that Hugo was rather lovely. We talked awkwardly until the moment passed. I managed not to be creepy and kept off the subjects of World Wide success in book writing and pottery. We parted convivially and our future nodding acquaintance acquired a little more gravitas. If only I had known he was best friends with Nigel I could have steered the conversation away from the awkwardness of dog shagging to friends who do great snacks, so close and yet so far…
The last few days have been rather unpredictable weather wise. For the most part, very windy either with clear blue skies or with heavy rain. Trying to predict exactly when to walk the dogs has been a science that I have not mastered competently. They have no wish to be out in the rain but sometimes need has driven us all out in drenching weather. However just a bit of sunshine, on pavements that were wet moments earlier, are golden moments for dogs, even my enfeebled human nose can pick up petrichor. But for them petrichor plus the exotic fragrances carried by the winds has been life affirming this week. Noses held high they have refused my planned routes and have planted eight paws into the ground if I chose to take a corner that was not to their taste or in a direction of their choosing.
In the calm of this morning, I managed to note down the sensations of these past few days. This is both swirling seas and gusting winds. I have even added some manual typing to add flavour to this colour sketch. It may never progress to anything else but just making notes feels like a weather experience commemorated.
Bobbing has not had many mentions in March. Today was my third dip of the month and the most photogenic by a very long way. The sea temperature has risen a bit to 9.4 after last week’s 8 degrees. Just a brisk there and back in the bay this morning followed by some excellent quality chatting and a Tim Hortons coffee to warm me up. I think I have cracked swimming year-round without a wet suit. Last year I gave up my wetsuit in April and made myself feel very poorly. I then went back to wearing the wet suit and didn’t get out of it until late May. Anxious not to go down a similar path again, I have cut down on my time in the water but stayed just in a swimsuit since last May. There have been two dippings without the swimsuit and I decided a skinny dip a month is the new target for 2023. These events may not make it into the blog.
The sunshine today is gorgeous, as demonstrated by the plant convalescence corner in our dining room.
I’m not sure these plants will ever move to other places in the house. They exude happiness from every leaf and frond.
Happiness also exuded from the dogs when their afternoon adventure took them to just the other side of the water from home, for a walk, and they got Mount Wise park to themselves and could do chasing and wild running on a grassy hillside, unbothered or interrupted by any other dogs or humans.
Their human companions were not so lively. Our morning swim was fabulous but sometimes swimming in these cold temperatures produces severe lethargy a few hours later. Even caffeine in the afternoon didn’t give us the required fizz to do anything more than a circuit of the park with a few stops to admire the view. It was important to make the most of the day though, the weather forecast for the rest of the week is dire.These blue skies and blue seas are unlikely to be back until April.
At 9am this beach was too warm to wear a coat. It was a completely perfect suntrap. A coffee and two happy dogs made for a lovely early morning start. This little beach collects light weight metal detritus. A tiny aluminium accessory could be posed as a tiny piece of land art.
There was also a small verdigris square of a light metal that had washed up.
Beech combing and coffee done it was time for a walk. The sunburst lichen was a very uplifting place to stop and bask in the real sun.
While watching seabirds fishing for breakfast in a fascinating pool of water in the sea.
If we had found all this on a holiday walk we would have been thrilled but as it was only 30 minutes walk from home it was good to share it with the dogs.
I also found a lovely old bench in bright sunshine for Pondering with a capital P.
Two months late but thriving. These small narcissi used to be a New Year event. One tiny clump existed immediately behind an old military fence at Devils Point. Last year the area was landscaped and the narcissi became collateral damage as the old fence was ripped up. Huge concrete posts were torn out and there was no sign of the tiny bulbs. Several visits at New Year showed nothing much in the freshly landscaped area, just some straggly leaves that may of may not have been the bulbs. But two months on there are two larger clumps than ever existed previously.
If the bulbs had been deliberately protected the outcome would not have been so great. The one preserved clump would certainly be celebrated but by getting no protection and being woefully mistreated by a big digger with caterpillar tracks, the clump has become clumps and seemingly much healthier. I can’t get a useful shot of them both together as they really are very very small and quite a way apart now. I wonder if they will manage to make up time over the summer and autumn underground and be ready to bloom on New Year’s Day 2024. I hope so, but seeing them so healthy in February feels like a clear sign that Spring is on the way and that, as is often the case, my moments of worry were moments wasted. They were doing just fine on their own
When I was young and we took our holidays in Devon I was always thrilled to see a Dartmoor pony. Wild horses did not roam in North East Essex. Wild horses were the thing of pop lyrics and imported American dramas. At 30 I moved to the west country and took a job that required me to commute across Dartmoor for half of each year. Commuting is tedious wherever it takes place. I realise I have had some of the most picturesque commutes in Britain. 10 years along the seafront at Brighton, 20 years crossing Dartmoor and 10 on the number 3 bus, or walking across the Milleniun Bridge from Tate Modern to St Pauls in London.
Only a fool could ever be bored on such journeys but a commute is exactly that. A journey between A and B with a time constraint. The pressure to be somewhere on time and ready to perform. So when I visit these locations as a non commuting person some of the old commuting anxieties flood in. The London commute was obviously complicated by traffic, protesters and terrorism at different times in my ten years. Similarly Brighton, the IRA bombing The Grand Hotel on Brighton seafront affected an already congested seaside city for months. Dartmoor was a distinctly different sort of commuting jeopardy. Livestock grazing on common land have no respect for a busy clinic schedule up in North Devon so meandering slowly up a road is their birthright. Similarly Dartmoor farmers, slow moving tractors with rickety trailers and truculent attitudes rarely bothered to pull over. In Devon and Cornwall many people really do check to see if you have a local numberplate before they decide if they will let you pass. The summer months bring the joy and wealth of tourists. Tourists who think nothing of abandoning their cars on the side of an already small road to capture a photograph of a wild pony. Which is exactly what we did yesterday.
Every once in a while we drop some widely travelled friends at Exeter Airport in the early hours of the morning. The day always has the same shape, we drop them and then head to Topsham to walk the streets and the Goat Walk, above, before Topsham has properly woken up.
Then once the walk is completed, after 8 am we can indulge in breakfast in an old pub that is now a cafe.
Before heading into Exeter to shop in John Lewis and many other enlightened stores that allow well behaved dogs in. Today’s simple quest was a non stick roasting pan. Oh the glamour! The dogs were on a spending roll though, t-shirts, stem less champagne flutes and room fragrance joined the non-stick roasting pan in the shopping basket. Either their spending or the 15,000 human steps they accompanied us on have exhausted them. This afternoon they are dog tired.
This is the little beige dog that is the constant companion to the lighter, brighter, whiter Hugo. Lola was once a dark chocolate dog with milk chocolate brown eyes. The poodle fading gene has caused her to be a completely milk chocolate dog now, so pale we can barely distinguish her white markings. In every way she has been a fabulous companion to both us and Hugo but the determined little face of that dark brown puppy reflects her true character. Today she was determined to share my chocolate croissant. Her poodle nose poking at the brown carrier bag that held it.
Regular croissants are not her thing at all. She can easily sleep through the eating of one of those.
She firmly believes that the beautifully laminated slightly crispy doughy part of a chocolate croissant is hers and I am left with the awkward-to-eat bit that contains the chocolate.
Eating this in the car was a rare treat because we were off to have the car valeted. So the mess that is the consequence of her croissant enthusiasm was all vacuumed away while we did a long dog walk.
While we loved having a clean car inside and out, this is the face of a very disappointed dog who couldn’t find a single crumb to sustain her after her morning walk. We have not yet been forgiven. Hugo has not been forgotten today, but he prefers a plain croissant. They are, after all individuals with their own particular preferences.
Good morning Arundel. Up and out with the dogs before the coffee shops were open.
The boards being out was a tease,the shop windows just basking in the sunrise was as uplifting as things got, home coffee it will have to be.
It is the castle that brought us here. Visible for miles we had often driven past on the A27, and I had lived nearby many years ago. What we are undecided about is if this is geographically where we are meant to be. For our little escape I chose the county and Hannah the location. She suggested our location should be Arundel, but in her mind was probably thinking of somewhere closer to Brighton.Either way it is a great spot to have landed for a couple of days. Youth truly is wasted on the young. When I was young and living in West Sussex I was busy building a career and a busy life with new friends, beautiful places like this were the backdrop and not the main event. This morning my ageing, autumn loving heart is just bursting with these views. Arrowed is the local Post Office where I will post a gift for our Hong Kong granddaughter. Could there be a bigger difference between the architecture of the departure location and the destination?