Monday, 29 June 2009

Motorway miles

THE last shower of shale has settled in the rafters of the Millennium Stadium, the last blast on an air horn died away.
The confused pigeon that spent the last hour of Saturday night's British Speedway Grand Prix meeting flapping frantically around looking for somewhere safe and quiet to roost has hopefully found that place.
And the man who walked across the roof gantry, silhouetted high above the fireworks, has hopefully come down for some fresh underwear.
All in all it was a weekend of about 500 motorway miles, with some horrible traffic on Saturday, a crazy detour around unpronounceable Welsh villages, and then a trip to and from Bristol to collect Older Daughter on Sunday.
We have a house full now, as she is home for the summer. She has an end-of-term chest infection, though, and is busy coughing downstairs.
Mrs H is still struggling with a bad knee, so it's not the healthiest of households right now.
Space Beacon Earth were on fine form again tonight. Next week they go into the studio to record three songs for an EP. Will it be good enough to topple Michael Jackson off the number one slot?
Only time will tell.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Elliot takes one for the team

A great family meal to celebrate nephew Leigh's 21st birthday.
Good food and rather a lot of it, and Mrs H and I decide to pass on dessert, wisely as it turns out.
The rest of the party pair off to share giant chocolate/ice cream/cake desserts. For the most part they are evenly split but Younger Daughter decides her sugars are high enough and dips out after a few spoonfuls.
Elliot is sharing with her, and they decide not to let good food go to waste. Take one for the team, urges Younger Daughter, and 12-year-old Elliot manfully digs in until his spoon strikes glass at the bottom.
Then, within moments, he goes pale like Caspar the Friendly Ghost, begins sweating profusely and retires to the gentleman's cloakroom to be rather ill.
Younger Daughter is racked with guilt, but that doesn't stop her laughing.

Farrah Fawcett died tonight, and the BBC has just confirmed Michael Jackson's departure, too. What a strange night...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Proper rules of golf?

IT all came down to the final putt on the final green after 18 epic holes.
The match ebbed and flowed between me and the Caerphilly Kid, with the prestigious Reg Skoda Trophy at stake. I moved into a slender lead and held it at the turn, at which point we downed clubs and strolled up through the woods to the Churston Court for a pint and a bag of crisps.
On our return, Jail Ale took its toll immediately and I fell behind, the Welshman chipping in from the fringe on the 10th. But I wore him down and tittered unsportingly when he thrashed about like Eric Sykes sending up little showers of sand in the bunker beside the 16th.
Finally, I needed to hole a four-foot putt on the last to square the match and thus retain the trophy.
I started the putt left, it ambled up to the hole, dithered on the edge, wobbled a bit and eventually dropped in.
Cue scenes of wild hysteria.
It was, it has to be said, a hell of a way to spend a day off in the sunshine.

05:29 21/06/2009 Berry Head

Thursday, 18 June 2009

A hundred sparrows, one buzzard, one skylark, one and a half Otters and two Avocets

SOON I may write about something other than running, but when it's as good as this, I just can't help it.
From Marldon out through Compton tonight on a course devised by Alan, then sharp left and away through a network of green lanes, bridle paths and footpaths. Over one brow the whole of South Devon opened up in front of us, with views over Ogwell Fort to Ashburton and Dartmoor beyond.
Lynda, wife of Alan, led our group and the pace was just right. We ran with no distance markers and no real grip on time, just following the muddy paths. It was running as it should be.
Eventually we joined another bit of Johnny B Musgrave's trail, climbed a bit, twisted a bit, went over a couple of stiles and dropped back down the steep hill into Marldon for a towel down, a fresh T-shirt and a rendezvous with Mrs H in the Church House.
Alan said it was seven and a half miles, and we finished in around an hour and a half, so no speed recoprds were set.
Tonight's nature notes included hedgerows alive with chattering sparrows, a buzzard wheeling around languidly over Compton woods and a tiny skylark barely visible against a heavy grey cloud but singing as loud as he could.
At the pub Mr Fangio, who had been hand-picked to accompany Jamie The Legs over the longer route for faster people, had a pint and a half of Otter while I took advantage of Mrs H's kind offer to drive and acquainted myself with a light, hoppy beer called Avocet. It arrived as a stranger but was soon a firm friend.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Johnny B Musgrave...

FOURTEEN miles as guests of the South Devon Ramblers Association, who invited us along to do half the Musgrave Trail in honour of us having done the full 35-mile monty last year.
Rob from running and his girlfriend Jo were leading the first stretch, along with Rob's young son who I think is called Tyler. This was a pleasant surprise as we had no idea they were ramblers. Maybe, like being a Morris dancer, it's something you only tell your closest friends.
After four miles we crossed the Dart at Greenway and got Rob into trouble by slipping into the Ferryboat for a crafty pint when the chief ramblers were waiting for us to arrive at the rendezvous a mile up the road.
No harm done, we pressed on with the second, nine mile, section to Totnes with the hot sun on our heads.
The pace was gentle and company convivial. More than 40 walkers completed the second stretch and we finished at the Steam Packet.
We missed Mrs H, though, who had to stay at home with her injured knee. And the Caerphilly Kid, who was in London indulging his passion for the musical theatre.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Ain't that a wonderment?

SURPRISINGLY, Mrs Fudd let Elmer bring her new car to training.
Surprising, because the little Cooper S is her pride and joy, and it's not silver, it's gunmetal grey.
When the Lovely Lady Group got back from nearly an hour and a half on the road and in the woods, there was a group of people gathered around the front of Mrs Fudd's car. They beckoned us over, and we found Elmer demonstrating a remarkable gadget.
At the touch of a button, a little stalk comes out alongside each headlight and squirts soapy water back onto the glass to clean it. Ain't that a wonderment, we thought, just like the cowboys in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid when they see the steam engine going by.
Every time Elmer touched the button and the soapy water stalk came out, we threw our arms in the air and shouted 'Hooray!'. You might have expected the novelty to wear off quite quickly, but it lasted for some considerable time, and by the time we did tire of it, there was quite a crowd and a sizeable pool of soapy water under Mrs Fudd's car.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Ice bath

ALAN the coach came up with one of his bright ideas to follow the speed session.
After 10 relay laps of Darren's field, dodging dog walkers and trying not to put our feet in the rabbit holes, the sting in the tail was a dip in the sea.
Most of us went for it, and after the water levels had passed the point of greatest gentlemanly distress it wasn't too bad.
If you look closely at the picture, I am at the point of greatest gentlemanly distress; Elmer is not standing in a trench (that's actually his height); Keith who went in first and has had enough is coming out again and the Caerphilly Kid is running about like a buffoon with his arms in the air. Nothing new there, then.
Nanna is in there somewhere, too, on the far left I think.
They say ice water is the best thing for the calves and hamstrings after a run anyway, and as ice baths go, this one has some decent scenery going for it.
Marina took the pictures on my phone. She said being the photographer was her excuse for not going in the water. Feeble...

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Pole dancing with Fangio

PARTY time for the Skoda household with 25 years of marriage under our belts.
For months we had been planning a garden bash under a gazebo, with long shadows, real ale and blackbirds singing in the elderflowers.
What we got was a day of torrential rain and a small house packed with people. There was plenty of real ale, though, and a feast cooked by Nanna which lasted from the official start time of 3pm to close of play almost 12 hours later. There are still onion bhajias and samosas in the fridge, along with several spare bags of Cheesy Wotsits.
When the rain finally stopped we strolled in the vegetable garden and Bazza shared a few tips for successful crops. Reg barked at everyone before retreating upstairs to lie on the bed and glare at all and sundry.
A slideshow highlighting pictures of some of my old haircuts drew cruel laughter from the guests.
Highlights were too many to list, but outstanding moments included Elmer's mighty cheesecakes, the Sun God's arrival which coincided with the rain stopping, as it always does, and Fangio making one gentleman's night complete.
We were packed into the kitchen, as always happens at parties (shouldn't someone write a song about it?) and Fangio and her husband were taking an active role in some faintly ribald conversation about pole dancing. Fangio started to demonstrate the art, using Mr Fangio as the pole, not realising that another guest - an older gentleman with a twinkling eye for the ladies - had walked through the doorway at that point.
His view of Fangio's rear quarters at close quarters put a serene smile across his face which is unlikely to fade for at least a week. Fangio was mortified and overcome with embarrassment, although Mr Fangio found it all very amusing.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The gig

Space Beacon Earth performed on stage for the first time tonight, at the Spinning Wheel in Paignton. The four songs went down really well with the 'family and friends' audience, and they even got an encore.
An excellent night all round, and all credit to Gino, Matt, James, Alex and Steve.
Next Monday the work begins on new songs and an expanded set.