August Notes

A hog roast accompanied by tasty, colourful salads kick started August. The whole hog arrived in a metal ‘coffin’ like contraption emitting mouthwatering smells. The event was a lovely anniversary party in Offwell which meant I would be likely to bump into some old familiar faces from my Honiton days. I did and it was good to catch up. Roy and I hit the dance floor for a slow, smooch number before resting once more. The anniversary cake was really pretty, topped by a tractor! The theme was daisies and Deeres…
As the evening was so warm and clear, we wrestled with the binoculars and tripod and managed to view, dimly, Jupiter and, more successfully, Albireo. It inspired us to think about how to make the patio more accessible for star gazing.
Sidmouth is chock a block with people and cars visiting the annual Folk Week Festival. As I drive past the campsite around 8am there are people already heading towards the town centre, presumably on the hunt for a proper breakfast and groups boarding a big double decker bus which is used to ferry the folk to and from the festival and the sea front. My colleague was keen for me to experience the sights along the sea front and persuaded me to accompany him on a walk one lunch time. Walk! It was like having a personal trainer as we whizzed along the sea front at 100 miles an hour and back through the Byes and through the town. However, we did see all the sights and achieved a good round trip walk in just under an hour. And in the evening, once my feet had recovered, I had enough energy to make a cake…
My poor feet sighed yet again, as I found myself standing for most of the day at the annual AstroFair. I managed to be on holiday last year. As much as I love being with the Lockyer telescope, it is physically demanding with insufficient volunteers around. The conversations with people from far and wide as ever made the experience worthwhile. I learn as much from them as they do from me and what keeps me returning to open events time and time again. The Lockyer telescope is special and I am always keen to share my enthusiasm for it. It is historic yet not in a museum. I am trained in the use of it and it is a joy to use. The view through it is stunning and sometimes better than through more modern equipment.
Work continues to be productive in all sorts of ways. I love being upstairs taking ‘screen breaks’ to gaze out to sea…and with all the physical exercise of file sorting, lifting and walking up and down all the stairs, the weight is falling off and I was delighted to be back in a pair of trousers that hadn’t been able to be done up for quite a while. And I feel more energetic.
So much more energetic that I was able to walk from Waitrose area down to the seafront to meet Mum for a wonderful display by the Red Arrows. It was cold, it was wet, but the warmth and excitement of the crowds dispelled the chill. We clapped at the amazing formations which represented various aircraft in the RAF today and in the past. Collective intakes of breath could be heard every time the tricoloured smoke trails intermingled as the jets passed within a hair’s breadth of each other.
More about that stroll…I had been intending to catch the bus but the traffic was heavy and my anxiety as to whether the bus would actually get me there on time got the better of me and I relied on the Map App on my phone to take through the back way to the seafront. It was delightful! I had long wished to take a stroll up the delightfully named Ice House Lane and I was not disappointed. First off was a really pretty cottage with equally pretty garden with the lane winding upwards for a while. I was bit disconcerted when the route took a deep turn to the right – the opposite direction to where I needed to be – but I kept faith with the phone and, sure enough, it soon took a deep turn to the left. No sign of an ice house though. A disused railway line went over the lane, with occasional evidence of life pre-Beeching along the way.
Coming out of a large bend the route dipped into a gloomy looking area, enticingly named ‘Dark Lane’. It was indeed dark. And slightly eerie. Trees loomed in on either side of the deep lane. It speeded up my progress!
Emerging into the daylight once more, the route began to go steadily downhill and merged on the main road. Recognising the road, I breathed more easily and knew I would be likely to beat the bus! This gave a tremendous feeling achievement and very soon I did see the bus arrive just 5 minutes ahead of me. I felt I had earned my fish and supper which was really nice in the sea front café.
The hordes leaving the seafront after the display were impatient in their desire to leave the rain-drenched beach.
And the August Bank Holiday rounded off the pleasures of this late summer month with a trip out to Exmoor. We packed a healthy Devon picnic of pasties and pork pies which, thus fortified, was followed by a healthy walk up Dunkery Beacon. It was so clear we could see Wales. It was glorious. Basking in the sunshine on the top of the hill was a superb reward for our uphill walk.

Holidays

The sleepless nights
The bugs that bite
Routine in disarray
Tempers fray

Icy sea
No cream teas
Lost on the moor
Waves pound the shore

Swimming pool warm
Insects swarm
Bathers are bold
For the air is cold, cold

July Notes

July Notes
Reminiscent of 1976, the heat is scorching…and I am so glad to be working in the Subterranean Area of the local council offices…which continue to be fun and a great conversation opener with other members of staff! Although I am only a temp member (albeit a long term one) I feel valued and very much part of the team. I work with a great bunch of people and the environment has proved to be of inspiration for some eerie stories. It is an absolutely fascinating place as there are remnants of the Cold War civil defence set up very much in evidence. Each room is connected to a ventilation shaft and there are still the shelves where radios were set up; one still has the connecting electrics.
As it is only a short walk to the seafront, Roy and I have indulged in a beach picnic as well as fish and chips after work rounded off with a stroll through the lovely grounds. Free parking, a sea view from the main office…living the dream at last! And loads of bunnies in the cool of the morning sunshine.
Steam featured heavily in a very pleasant couple of days spent with my son. We started off with the railway from Corfe to Swanage riding in both steam and diesel trains. It was hot. It was sunny. It was glorious and much better than sweltering on the beach like so many other people.
The following day we continued our SteamFest with an outing to the Lakeside Steam Railway in Southampton. During the second trip we took a break at the Lake Halt to have a walk around part of the lake and enjoy some shade. The track could be used either as 7” or 10”.
And, to round off the excitement of July, Roy and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary with a Cream Tea and a day out in Dartmoor. We explored the route from the A38 towards Widecombe, taking in a few tors along the way. We even walked up one of them.

And one day I will learn how to include images…

One week later…here is a picture of the miniature railway:

and the view from my office:

June Notes

June began with the wedding of Alison and Tim and what a glorious day this was. It had everything a dream wedding should have: a smiling bride, a smiling groom, pretty colours, blue skies and sunshine, organist playing the organ for all it was worth, singers bringing tears of emotion to our eyes as their voices rang out across the quiet cathedral, bells ringing out for joy, feelings of sadness at those who were not there, feelings of gladness at those who were there, strolling in the spring-flower bedecked gardens, mouth-watering food, clotted cream and bunnies. A kaleidoscope of faces and names. Cups of tea and conversation. Garden games and much laughter. Cake admired…then cut and eaten. The day was rounded off by Jupiter rising to the East and everyone waving a sparkler as the bride and groom departed for a welcome few days’ relaxation in the countryside.

Thankfully I had a week for the house and me to settle down again before starting a new job. Another new job. This time I checked whether the job was as it was purported to be and I was assured it was. It was disappointing the previous one did not work out but, I have to admit, the hours were a tad longer than I was used to.
Indeed, the new job is fun. It is in a superb location in this heatwave (nearly as hot as the famed summer of 1976!). I am based in an office overlooking the lovely tree-filled grounds of the local council with views towards and of the sparkling sea. The work involves much time spent in subterranean passages as I and a colleague catalogue files ready for archiving. I have written a ghost story inspired by the location and submitted it to a magazine…
On Roy’s weekend off, we had a change of scene in Wales. We booked a cheap Airbnb place which was delightful. It was extremely good value as we were given a delicious cooked breakfast and a pack of Welsh cakes in addition to the tea and coffee in the comfortable room. The people were teachers so we enjoyed much discussion about the education system. Judy the Dog barked when we arrived and, seeming to approve of us, ceased barking and let us stroke her.
It had been rather a journey to reach our destination as the M4 was at a standstill with cars headed towards Cardiff for multiple Ed Sheeran concerts. My feet were struggling with constant clutch changes so I turned off towards Monmouth. However, this is Roy and Me navigating. We found ourselves in the pretty location of Usk somewhat to our surprise! Thinking we would stop awhile and have a stroll around, I drove towards the village centre. Oh dear. It was full. There was some sort of garden event taking place and all the car parks were full…I drove on through and came across a village hall serving teas at the end of the village where there was one car park space remaining. It proved to be a fortuitous move as the cakes being served looked sublime. The iced one we chose was as tasty as it looked; it was positively oozing lemon and orange juice.
After a stroll around to the river, with just glimpses of the castle walls, we continued on our way.
The next day we had coffee with Kath and John before going on to collect Roy’s Mum for lunch at Llanwonno. Llanwonno is famous for being the site of a runner beating the kettle to run up and down the hill. Or some such story. It was also an old monastery. The views from the top are stupendous – 7 counties and the Severn Estuary can be seen.
The pub food is worth toiling up the hill for. Yes, we drove and the car did indeed toil up the hill. Tender local roast lamb with plenty of veg. I did not have a pudding as I had indulged in one on a previous visit and found the drive home rather difficult, feeling sleepy and full.
Sunshine has been on the news every day as it has been ‘wall-to-wall’ sunshine day after day. The temperatures have been consistently high and I have not ventured out at lunchtimes. The heat of the sun is fierce. While the evenings have been warm and sunny, we took the opportunity for an evening stroll followed by fish and chips. At 7pm, it was as hot as midday by the seaside of Sidmouth. And just as busy.
Observing on Fridays is not practical now although we were fortunate enough to look through members’ telescopes at the sun (through special filters of course!) and see some sun spots and flares. The Moon was rising and we had a look at some of the craters. It was too light and bright to really make proper observations though.

Karen Hedges
1 July 2018

Season of Hope

Easter joy and hope for the future
Oh the sweet sadness of
Springs swiftly sliding by
Thankful hearts beating to the rhythm of wings
Resting in hope in the peace of the evening
Endings and beginnings; new paths just emerging

Eostre, Easter, Season of Hope

Dementia. Demented. Dad.

Dementia, demented, slightly mad. Dad continues to be a jumble of memories and glimpses of Dad past and present. Finding pictures for him to look at is now part of daily life and is a great help to him. It is as though his memory box has been shaken up like the snow in a snow globe. We see fragments of his life and see the essence of Dad in his words and actions. We bring him the past, present and future by our visits. Our presence sparks off memories deep within him, making connections in his mind. It is heartbreaking. It is heartwarming. It is Dad.

Hope.

As the late, great Stephen Hawking said, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” Although a recent book proposal of mine has suffered initial rejection, it also received positive comments. Indeed, I am encouraged to fine tune the project and submit to other agents. Watch this space (…space…in more ways than one!).

Easter is a time for new beginnings and I see the end of one phase as I begin another. I have an exciting new appointment in the main hospital to look forward to, following a week off.

Time Marches on…

…although at the beginning of the month no one was going anywhere very fast! Rain fell onto snow during the evening, freezing to leave a layer of ice for the unwary the following morning. I braved this to take a photograph and that was enough being outside for me. It was so cold. It was so icy. It was so nice indoors.
January was a write-off (appropriate phrase) given the plethora of people with flu and other illnesses and my father being unexpectedly taken to hospital. February was taken up with trying to combine visiting Dad and trying to regain some semblance of normality. Whatever that means. For me it means trying to regain some space for writing. I have a medium-term project on the go which needs to be maintained.
March. Winding up current job and looking forward to fresh start after Easter in the NHS. It feels like a nice example of synchronicity as I was working in the secretarial/admin field full time my 20s and am now returning to that area in the run up to retirement. It serves to highlight the somewhat messy middle bit of my working life.

Feeling grateful…

Thoughts on waking: a bus! Thank goodness the heating is still working. I hope the water supply is back on. Didn’t like those odd noises in the night.

Later…yes, we have water. Now to put the kettle on for a restorative cuppa.

Snow Day!

An extra day, a bonus day, a Snow Day! Can’t get out the front door, roads slippery, no buses, no trains…so….writing and tidying and planning the next stage. One submission has been sent off re an astronomy book. With a new job to look forward to after Easter, I am getting my paperwork and house in order ready for the more limited time.  Excited!  Looking forward to the increase in funds 🙂