Much of the weekend just gone was spent indoors on the seemingly interminable task of insulating the loft (still not finished). Actually, TBH did the bulk of the work, I was on hand to cut pieces down to size, pass things into the very tight spaces which TBH was negotiating and generally to offer tea and sympathy. Between times I got quite a lot of reading done – Radio 4’s Open Book has had a ‘neglected classics’ feature, mostly, as might be expected, about books I’ve never heard of. By coincidence the book group I used to belong to has recently restarted and during a lengthy discussion about books of various kinds we talked about short stories. A friend recommended Tolstoy’s stories, I confessed that I’ve never read any Chekhov and it then occurred to me that I probably have stories by both on my bookshelves. I have a collection – The Thousand Best Short Stories – in 20 volumes, picked up years ago, second hand naturally. I dug out the Russian volume and found stories by both Tolstoy and Chekhov, but also by Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Turgeniev and ‘A Fair Smuggler’ by Michail Lermontoff which I think is the opening chapter of his novel ‘A Hero of Our Time’ which is one of the recommendations from Open Book, and which after reading this chapter I shall be on the look out for. Listening to the authors make their cases also made me look out the two I was already familiar with – ‘The Snow Goose’ and ‘Rasselas’ – and reread them.
I also managed to fit in a visit to our local second-hand book emporium. I was hoping to find ‘Our Mutual Friend’ and/or ‘Uncle Fred In The Springtime’ the first two books which our book group have decided to read. No luck – but of course I did turn up a couple of other gems – old (1930s ish) hardback copies of ‘Babbit’ by Sinclair Lewis, ‘Scrambles Amongst the Alps’ by Edward Whymper a ‘A Tramp’s Sketches’ by Stephen Graham – all for about the price of a new paperback. I was particularly chuffed about ‘A Tramp’s Sketches’: I’ve recently finished reading the same authors ‘The Gentle Art of Tramping’, in a ‘print on demand’ edition, and enjoyed it enormously.
Anyway, by Sunday afternoon TBH was stiff and bruised and ready for a break. We took a direct route to the Wolfhouse gallery for tea and cake and a child-free turn around the gallery. Marvelous. After some prolonged wet weather the afternoon had turned unexpectedly fine. When we left the cafe the low sun was lighting the late autumn woods to great effect (not done any justice above).
TBH and I parted our ways – she to relieve her parents and I to head around the coast to the Cove.
This isn’t black and white – in the low light the colour just seemed to bleed away leaving this monotone scene. The birds were mostly oystercatchers I think, along with The Inevitable Heron mid-channel.
Walking round the coast here I overtook my friend R and his son. (Actually it’s more accurate to say my son’s friend C and his dad R – this is one of the features of parenthood: to be defined as _____’s Dad and to have friend’s who are parent’s of one’s children’s peers).
‘We forget that we have this is on our doorstep’ R opined, and I agreed, but actually I was thinking. ‘No – I never forget. Sometimes I don’t get out to see it as often as I would like – but I never forget that it’s here.’ In fact, as regular readers may have gathered, it’s never far from my thoughts.
This is the largest of several posts which at one time were completely buried by the foreshore, but which have been revealed by the erosion over recent years. The posts are metal and this one is tall, perhaps twice my height. I have no idea why they were put here. Here are the others, about 4 – 5 feet in height:
You can also see here, beneath a natural iron-rich red blush on the cliff, an area which some nincompoop has splattered with red paint.
It was a short walk, but as ever – a privilege to be out and about. I leave the last word to Stephen Graham…
I listen with pained reluctance to those who claim to have walked forty or fifty miles a day. But it is a pleasure to meet the man who has learned the art of going slowly, the man who disdained not to linger in the happy morning hours, to listen, to watch, to exist. Life is like a road; you hurry and the end of it is grave. There is no grand crescendo from hour to hour, day to day, year to year; life’s quality is in moments, not in distance run.
If your curiosity is at all piqued, ‘The Gentle Art of Tramping’ can be extensively viewed on Google Books. Just reading the chapter titles would have me searching out a copy….for example…
The Art of Idleness
Drying After Rain