Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Winter falls quickly

YOU don't hear the waves until you listen to them.
Then you can't hear anything else.
It's a roar and a hiss, and it comes from far over the horizon.
It was grey and brown at Goodrington in the late afternoon, and once you had cleared your mind and started to listen, the sound of the waves was intense.
They came quickly, one after the other, stroppy grey one-foot waves with foam on the top, racing in from the east and then laying themselves out on the soft, flat red-brown sand, pushing foam like the head on a bad pint.
The sky was grey, the sea grey and the coastline grey all the way to Brixham, where streets and shops and houses were lit up for the late afternoon.

Reg and I did the South Sands down and back, turning at the closed kiosk. Then when we got back to the middle we did the North Sands up and back, turning where the grumpy sea rolled against the concrete steps.
The easterlies have pulled the sand out from the bottom of the wall and replaced it with shingle. Winter storms will make great troughs in the beach where the waves hit the wall, but next spring the sand will be back again.
Winter falls quickly on seaside towns.
One day you are out in your short sleeves and sunglasses. The next you have your collar up against the scuffing grey wind and your dog has his ears flat and his eyes squinting into the wind.
Kiosks are closing for winter.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Minutes to Movember

I have just had a shave.
I wouldn't normally share such intimate personal details. It's not that kind of blog.
But reaching midnight on Halloween with one's face clean-shaven is one of the rules of Movember.
For the next month I shall be joining many thousands of other chaps up and down the country growing a moustache.
The idea is to raise awareness and, if possible, a little cash in the name of men's health. We are becoming more aware of men's cancers in particular.
Hence I shall be attempting to grow a recognisable moustache for the next 30 days.
It is all TE's fault. TE did it last year while he was working in Korea, and this year has challenged me to join him.
I have picked up the gauntlet, and I think about half a dozen people from the office are going to join it too. The running club has yet to respond to my email, but I hope some of my fellow athletes(!) will join in.
I have posters and stickers and a brown wristband proclaiming my involvement.
There is no backing out now, and I have just removed the week's growth which, I thought, made me appear bohemian and interesting.
Who knows what the next 30 days will bring...?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


I ache tonight.
My old bones and joints are feeling the strain.
Alan's choice tonight was the hill between Roundham Head and Cliff Road.
It's only 168 metres long. We know this because Alan measured it.
It isn't even that steep, but by the time you are seven climbs into your set of ten, it feels like Kilimanjaro.
The idea was that the three quarters of a mile to the location would be the warm-up, then we would sprint up the hill 10 times, jogging back down to recover.
Then, Alan being Alan, we would do it 10 times more.
Thanks to Flyin' Ryan, who swore we had done 10 when I am sure we had only done nine of the second set, I think we got off the 20th sprint.
All the usual suspects were there, but there wasn't much time to chat.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

House guests

OUR house is normally home to two people, plus Reg, the Jack Russell.
This weekend Reg has had nine people for company, and it has been wonderful.
We have been joined by, in approximate order of height, TE, DW, KW, Younger Daughter, Older Daughter, EW and IW.
All of those with initials ending in W are members of the same family from Chard in Somerset. DW is married to KW, who is TE's sister. TE is Older Daughter's significant other.
EW is the two-year-old daughter of DW and KW, niece of TE. IW is EW's practically brand-new sister, and also a niece of TE.
It's complicated when you only know people by their initials.
A little more detail. TE is a Spurs supporter, DW is a paramedic, KW doesn't do public toilets, EW eats crackers and loves Reg, and IW makes peculiar smells and smiles a lot.
She is only a couple of months old, so that's socially acceptable. When I do it, it isn't. This isn't fair.

It being DW's birthday, we celebrated with a ride on the steam railway down to Kingswear. DW likes railways.
Then we took a ferry over to Dartmouth for a stroll in the sunshine and a pint.
After the train ride back, we wallowed in the joys of seaside Paignton, strolling Torbay Road and the pier. EW ate ice cream and went on the trampolines. IW made peculiar smells and smiled. The other Ws took the chips proferred for tasting by the nice chap outside Scoffs.
Back at ours, they ate Mrs H's wholesome homity pie and pasta, then as suddenly as they had arrived, they were all gone again.
They all but left the door swinging on its hinges and a few displaced leaves of paper fluttering gently to the floor.
For two days the house has been full of noise and shoes and people, damp towels and still-warm cups, a toy tiger upside-down on top of a radiator, bubbles still settling in the empty bath.
And it hasn't half been fun.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Titanic Struggle

GUINNESS and Twiglets were offered at the pit stop this time, and it would have been churlish to refuse.
We were out hashing again with the Haldon H3, who don't seem to mind who shows up as long as everyone chips in for the grub and everyone eventually takes a turn at setting the run.
There was a good turn out from SDAC because the chosen starting point was the Smokey House at Marldon, which is nearby for us. People called Scoop, Bigfoot, Fixit, Teararse and Whoopsy-Daisy made us feel very welcome.
Coach Alan has been given the nickname Sicknote because he was dragged out of his sick-bed to set the last run, and Lynda is called Florence because she nursed him and did the dragging.
There was a nautical theme to this hash, although we never found out why. People were wearing life jackets and nautical hats. One runner turned up wearing a full captain's uniform.
We went through Marldon and out through the lanes and paths towards Berry Pomeroy for a bit. Sun God followed a false trail all the way across a ploughed field before he had to turn back.
Mrs H with Reg(2), DIY Dave with Baxter, JP with Half-Shaved Honey and Dodgeball joined the walkers.
At the halfway point, where the walkers turned for home and the runners ploughed on for another couple of miles up over the hill with the TV mast on it, there was a parked car with a pasting table set out in front of it and a little cardboard model of the Titanic alongside.
From it you could have Dom Perignon or Guinness, Twiglets and canapes. This is truly my kind of running.
Nanna and I pressed on in the gathering gloom as the sun dipped behind the masts, careering down narrow lanes with high hedges. We were only a mile as the crow flies from the centre of town but a world apart on a night like this. One day they will try again to build a bypass through this valley and we will have to fight to stop them.
The hedges are so high that you are insulated from the sound of traffic just a few yards away on the ring road up on the ridge above. You can hear blackbirds and pheasants, and occasionally crows giving a poor, keening buzzard a hard time.
Bonfire smoke hung in the hollow just before the big climb back up to the village.
Back in the pub as darkness fell we reunited for pints of Bombardier and handfuls of chips.
Half-Shaved Honey, with whom Reg is profoundly in love, was so tired she rolled right off the seat and hit the floor with a bang.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Slash has left the building

TO Marldon Village Hall for Mr Fangio's send-off.
In his capacity as a medical man serving Queen and country he is heading out to somewhere hot and dangerous for a few months, so the village primary school's fundraising night served a dual purpose.
A band called Eventine played songs old and new, from The Cult to Sister Sledge and all points in between.
On the way we dropped in on Mr Morrison's four-real-ales-for-£5.50 offer and equipped ourselves with various Brains SAs, Edens, Doom Bars and Spitfires.
The only epic fail on the beer front was a bottle of Cocker Hoop that smelled as if a dog had farted in it.
Dancers getting all unnecessary on the parquet floor included Mr and Mrs Skoda, Nanna, DIY Dave, Sun God, Redwine and, of course, the Fangios. Jamie the Legs is way too cool to dance, Elmer and the Caerphilly Kid are nursing injuries and Rachel was in the zone ahead of the Taunton Half the next morning. She went on to run a personal best, so the decision was clearly the right one.
I had on my shiny dancing shoes, and was in a zone of my own. Redwine was rocking out like a heavy metal chick, whatever one of those is, and the Fangios showed as usual that they are far too good at this kind of thing.
Sun God and I got our timing all wrong and were on a visit to the gentlemen's convenience to rid ourselves of some of Mr Morrison's ales when the band launched into 'Sweet Child o' Mine', as played by Mr Axl Rose and his Guns n' Roses (their abbreviations, not mine).
Fortunately we made it back out on to the dance floor in time to see Mr Fangio pick up one of Eventine's spare guitars (they didn't seem to mind) and leap up on stage to give it everything he had.
It was, we thought, a defining moment in rock music history.
I nearly celebrated by drinking the dog-fart beer, but it wasn't that defining.
Later we said our goodbyes to Mr Fangio and advised him to keep his head down and work on his sprinting.
We'll just have to do it all again when he comes back.