Tuesday 28 May 2013

Steep learning curve

Picture of the launch of the Fal River Festival, last Friday - a very nautical week!

Last week we enrolled on a sailing course – as the last time I’d sailed a dinghy was 40 years ago, and Mr B 15 years ago, we felt it was time to go back to basics. Well, day one was great, if hard work.

Going back over things like safety equipment and then rigging I was rusty enough, but then actually tacking – with a tiller extension which I’ve never used – had me panicking when we did it on dry land. Had I really done all that (like a seated dance) when I was so young?

But we got out on the water and I made Mr B go first so that when it was my turn, at least he’d know what to do. Our instructor shouted directions from the safety boat nearby, then said, “Sue. Your turn.” From then on I forgot trying to remember what to do and went by instinct. And it was amazing – though I was concentrating so hard I didn’t have time to think about anything else. But when I realised we could do it – and not capsize – I felt so exhilarated I could have flown. By the time we got back that afternoon, I lay on my bed for a bit and felt like a balloon, blown up with great happiness and achievement. As well as doing it with Mr B of course – for we work well in a boat together.

Sadly that was the only day we could sail as it was too windy after that, so we ploughed through hours of metereology, aerodynamics of sail, tides and charts, to say nothing of latitude and longitude and all that stuff which frankly makes my head spin. The second day I felt just as if I was back at school, in a strange country. trying to speak a foreign language, with everyone telling me I was stupid because I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried, understand.

My brain hasn’t struggled like this since I left school, (my journalism course was hard work but pure joy) but because this was science and maths, both topics I am woefully bad at, this course brought back all kinds of feelings of inadequacy and failure. Luckily our instructor was very patient, but since then I’ve been doing half an hour per day with Mr B, trying to make sense of it all. He’s good at explaining things and says it helps him learn by telling me, so together I’m sure we can make some sense of it all. And it brings a new dimension to life – we’re always looking at the clouds now, to see what weather is coming our way.

So it just goes to show that it’s never too late for any of us to learn anything. And, more to the point, enjoy it. We’re owed 3 more sailing days from the course hopefully this weekend if the weather’s good enough, and then – watch out, sailors in Falmouth. Here we come!

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Ballet for everyone

This picutre has nothing to do with this post but was taken in Helston on the way back from a lovely hostelry called the Blue Anchor. "Look," said Mr B. "There's a good shot."

Last week I was fortunate enough to see Matthew Bourne’s production of Sleeping Beauty at the Hippodrome in Bristol. For those of you who aren’t balletomanes (and I know many aren’t), Matthew Bourne’s ballets are most un-ballet like, as reflected in his audience, which ranged from age 8 to 90, of both sexes. He is an incredible choreographer, who tells a story with great wit, tenderness and drama. I was trying to describe it but it works better as free verse. I'm nervous about this as I've never written verse before, but it doesn't work in prose, so here are a few lines:-

When the curtain goes up
Everyone’s hushed, transported
On a spellbinding, magical visual feast
That surprises and delights
Every sense.
The costumes – Gothic at first
Then Edwardian, now hoodies and jeans.

The music – haunting and lyrical
Dramatic and wrenching –
Tchaikovsky at his best.

The dancing – feather light,
Dashing, dramatic and witty
From the King, the Queen,
The Princess, the Woodman
And the Vampire

All brought to a crashing finale
Where love conquers all
In the most tender scene
Hands caress cheeks
Reach out for each other
Love stretching over 100 years

Happily weeping
At the end
Clapping shakes the building
As we shuffle out
Walking through the dark city streets
With my dancing feet
Music pounding through my head
And love in my veins.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Two days of idyllic summer

This time yesterday I was running barefoot along the beach at Trebarwith Strand, chasing Moll, who loves to roar up and down like a lunatic, ears streaming out behind her.

Deb and I spent two nights at the Port William pub at Trebarwith Strand, near Tintagel, which is the most idyllic spot – though as summer had suddenly decided to hit, even if only for two days, we timed it just right. We arrived on Sunday evening with the sky a deep Mediterranean blue, the tide coming in, and everyone sitting outside lapping up the sunshine.

However, on arrival we found we’d been allocated a double room rather than twins. Motto one – good friendships can be destroyed by sharing a bed. Particularly if one of you snores. Though they did promise to put us in a twin bedroom the following night.

The result was a sleepless night. I’m used to a king sized bed, not a small double, and having The Pyjama Clad Snorer next to me, plus Moll clamped to my right hip, made for a very hot night. At one point I got up to open the window, but Moll decided she didn’t like the noise of the waves roaring beneath, and retired to sit beside the bed, panting pathetically. I then panicked, thinking she was going to overheat and jumped out of bed to check her water bowl. She wouldn’t stop panting, so I shut the window a bit.

Next time I looked, she’d disappeared. I panicked once more. Finally found her in the bathroom, sitting behind the door on the tiled floor which was, presumably, cooler and quieter. I returned to bed, gave the Snorer another prod, which stopped the snoring for a few minutes, and on it went.

However, having got up we had a fabulous breakfast and set off over the cliffs to walk to Tintagel which was one of the best walks I’ve done recently. It was so stunningly beautiful – and so hot we got sunburnt – that I will never forget it and can’t wait to go back.

Monday evening saw us taking a picnic up the cliffs behind the pub, and we sat there with our wine and cheese, olives and other picnic fare, looking out over Port Isaac Bay, and thought how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world. We then went back to the pub and sat outside with a glass of wine watching the surfers catch the last waves as the sun set. Magic.

Now it’s back to real life…..

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Itchy Feet

(Ship moored up the river Fal)

This morning, as I write, sun shimmers on the rippling water, Flushing ferry carries giggling schoolchildren and boats toss gently, itching to be off their moorings. It’s a day for boating, and adventure. A sparkling day when anything could happen.

In one of the nationals last weekend was a piece that caught my eye about secret islands in the Med. Then I started reading A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi which is a beautifully written account of a middle aged woman’s love affair with Venice – and how she married a Venetian (and has stayed happily married, for those cynical readers).

She writes so magically, she’s connected to something in my brain so that at 3am, I was feverishly covering scraps of yellow paper with words that tumbled from my mind, insisting on making their mark.

Her descriptions of Venice have given me wanderlust. So, I want to go back to the Greek islands. I want to go to Venice. Portugal, perhaps? Turkey? Another friend’s going to Cuba in November. All these wonderful places to go and see….

I haven’t been abroad for many years. Pip wasn’t keen on any travel that didn’t involve a boat, and our last few trips further afield weren’t a success, so I started organising Cornish holidays instead which suited us well, having Moll.

“I think you should go travelling,” said my Mum, reinforcing my itchy feet. But my two problems are:- 1) finding the right person to go with and 2) if I don’t travel with Moll, finding someone to look after her.

I have four good friends that I know I can travel with enjoyably. (I have been away with good friends and for some reason it hasn’t worked on holiday. My dear husband was one.) Three of these friends are incredibly busy this year embarking on other life changing far flung experiences. The last one I know we’d have a great time but a certain amount of persuasion is needed.

Then looking after Moll – the friend who usually has her now has a place in Portugal, where they go every spring and autumn. So I’d have to go away to fit in with them.

Mind you, as I have to pay for a new roof in the next week (they’ve just finished it), a holiday might have to take backseat for the moment, unless it’s a cheapie. But I’m definitely going. It’s just a question of when and with whom. And life has a way of making things happen unexpectedly, I find. In the meantime I shall have great fun dreaming and planning.

In the meantime, I’m off to Tintagel on Sunday. Not quite Greece, but it will have to do for the moment.