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Saturday, 30 April 2016

368: Bleeding weather!

The Oxford online dictionary suggests that bleeding is an adjective used for emphasis or to express annoyance. It further suggests that it is British informal. My own interpretation is that it is also one of the lowest levels of profanity. I used it in the title firstly to express annoyance that the weather has been so bad this week - my planned sail on Rutland water was cancelled because of strong winds. (I know you need wind to go sailling but not such a strong wind in such a small boat. I took advice from the Commodore of the club, who is a lot more experienced in these matters than I am.)
I also used the bleeding word to lead on to my reason for writing today. Instead of going sailing, and inspired by my friend Gwen, I went to Cambridge to give blood. My 55th pint, or 56th, if you count the pint I donated in Scotland in a rare moment of generosity. When the bleeding weather is cold the blood flows much more slowly but yesterday was fine. I was off the reclining bed/chair and on to the tea and biscuits in very short order. 

Cambridge is one of my favourite cities and here are a few of the pictures I took trying to capture "the Britishness" of the place. 
1) St John's college, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, established by charter in 1511!
2) Bikes. There are thousands leaning against every available railing in the city. Here you can also see some of the plethora of handbills advertising what's on in  the city.
3) Some church or other, just off the market square. Too idle to do my research and find out which church it is. There are many of them in Cambridge, of many different faiths.
4)  A Salvation Army stalwart. What could be more British? Founded in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth it is a Christian church and international charitable organisation structured in a quasi-military fashion. Their members can often be seen on the streets with their collecting tins, raising money for worthwhile causes.
5)  A 'busker', or street musician. I know nothing about music, having always thought that a key was something you opened the door with and pitch was something you put on the road, but I sometimes like to stop and listen. I think he was a tenor. I put some money in his collecting box - needless to say, it wasn't a tenner - and stopped for a few minutes while I ate my hot dog for lunch, procured from a nearby street vendor.
6)  Now that Spring has sprung flowers are everywhere. These are looking a bit bedraggled from the recent heavy rain but still beautiful nevertheless. Cambridge has many parks and gardens where, when the sun shines, it is quite pleasant to perambulate. 


Saturday, 16 April 2016

367: In the mountains

I'm in the Tatra mountains, in the South of Poland. Marvellous scenery and fresh mountain air. I arrived late on Thursday evening after spending 2 hours in crawling traffic during the Krakow evening rush hour. Once we'd cleared Krakow the bus was able to make better speed and I reached the hotel at 8.40. They stopped serving dinner at 9.00 so I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze in a meal before retiring for the night and sleeping like a log.
Yesterday was spent doing touristy stuff in the towns of Zakopane and then Gubawovka, via a funicular railway. Back to the hotel to use the swimming pool, jaccuzi, and sauna. And bar, of course.
Today I was a bit more adventurous and went to a lake in the mountains called Morskoe Oko. It is about 20 km from Zakopane and once the bus drops you off there is still 9m km to walk - all of it upwards. Stunning scenery. The lake is still frozen. And then 9 km back down again. My legs are like jelly - just wait until tomorrow. Ready for a beer - or two.

Friday, 1 April 2016

366: The Rod Stewart blog

Why Rod Stewart? Because I'm going to write about "sailing" and about "Maggie's" and they are two of his songs. I'm about to finish a week in UK and a very busy week it has been too. On Tuesday  I went to London to meet my sister  for lunch. Both trains, there and back, were cancelled. Such is life. We went to Maggie's cafe in Lewisham. An Irish cafe where the portions are enormous. The picture here was taken when I'd already been eating for half an hour. Maybe I exaggerate a tiny bit. The second photo is of a picture hanging in their toilet. I promise not to make a habit of taking pictures in toilets.

The caption says "the more I think the more confused I get". I can relate to that.
(Or, sometimes, the more I  drink  the more confused I get.)
A large part of Wednesday was spent with daughter and her two sons and, as usual, after that I needed the day to recover. So Thursday was a quiet day, quiet for me that is: I made an abortive attempt to change a tap washer - the housing has been in place for in excess of 35 years so I'm not really surprised it didn't want to separate from the tap - and then had a run/walk into town.
Today, however, I went sailing. I haven't been sailing since Zavidovo (100 miles N of Mosccow on the Leningradka) in the late seventies and then  it was in small one-man laser & mirror dinghies. Today's craft was a larger affair - a 19 foot keel boat. I liked that it  was a keel boat as the keel makes it much less likely to capsize. There was me, as a passenger, and two 'proper' sailors. I was properly initiated by being invited to go for'ard (see how easily the nautical jargon rolls off the tongue), thereby catching all the spray whenever we went faster and the boat was leaning over at an alarming (for me  at any rate) angle. At least it saved the real crew from getting wet. Almost 3 hours sailing, tacking and gybing (more jargon), around Rutland water. I learnt not to have a flappy jib and to keep an eye on the tell-tales! All in all great fun. Here are a few of the pictures.
Where did you get that 'at, where did you get that 'at...

Time for prayers!

And, just to finish, 2 video clips  from Rod Stewart