> We have had our Internet access removed in Devon by a passing
> tractor loaded high with hay. I didn't know about the tractor
> incident so I spent a whole morning fiddling with settings while
> frowning at my computer.
> So this is being posted by my new phone - the old one had started
> forgetting emails and so it was like using a forgetful telegram
> operator to communicate. Not ideal.
> I got a new phone and the lady in the shop informed me that in 48
> hours my old phone would be turned off and the new one would gamely
> spring into life. Fine, I thought I'll just take both with me to the
> S themed party and I will use the working one.
> Sadly it didn't work out like that and I was left, lost in Dorset
> without a phone or the handy map phone thing I had come to trust. My
> ditections were limited because I had lost the invite. Navigating by
> asking people in pubs is not advised, they can get you to roughly
> the right area but then they are no good.
> The party was okay but I just wasn't in the mood and so I left after
> only a few hours, still the drive home was excellent fun, and I now
> have silly 80s Miami Vice Stubble.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
The visit to the shop was a success. The Hitchcock Blonde had at least nine dresses to try on at one point but eventually brought a rather conservative two dresses and then regretted not buying at least one more by the time we had arrived home.
It was a fun day out, we strolled around the streets, engaged in some light but focused shopping (I tried on a range of things but sadly the god of sizes wasn't with me) and then ambled back to the car.
Today we have been playing tennis and then messing around in the pool. I've not played tennis for well over ten years, and my skills haven't suffered in the slightest in that I'm still terrible. I have an natural urge to hit the ball as hard as possible which is not terribly conductive to playing well. Perhaps I would be better suited to a variation with an entirely enclosed court, or maybe squash. Since I wasn't prepared for tennis I ended up playing in brogues and wellies before finally settling on barefoot.
Brogues are not high-performance sports shoes but even I can't use them as an excuse for my terrible playing. I was also wearing over-larges shorts co-ordinated with a lilac tie in the place of a belt (my belts have disappeared in the move) which I found rather becoming and I think will become a 'look'.
The pool was freezing so apart from a quick dip I spent most of the time trying to rescue a frog. The frog was saved after quite a lot of hunting around with nets and we retired with a rosy glow to our cheeks that comes from helping out hapless amphibians.
I've got to dash home now to find a suitable costume, I'm going to an 'S' themed party and the look is stumping me. Mostly because the party will require a sit-down meal and the only S costumes I have aren't really ideal for semi-formal dining.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Today is going to be a shopping day. I'm going to take the Hitchcock Blonde to my favourite vintage clothes shop. There will be some fairly intensive shopping, they have a whole rack of amazingly cheap vintage motorcycle jackets that I've never noticed before so I shall be examining them closely and possibly texting Piqued about how much he would like them. This isn't a terribly good plan (the shopping not the texting) as any spare cash is supposed to be saved up for a motorcycle, not spent on more motorcycle clothes.
The Hitchcock Blonde will be picking up a tweed jacket for her brother and then probably falling for the charms of one of the many 1950s dresses that bedeck the walls. This would be completely understandable as they really do have a lot of smashing dresses.
The picture was taken last week when my little brother and I visited the shop, we managed to resist buying anything but only just. This time I doubt I'll get away without buying something lovely that I don't really need.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The following blog entry is either news report from the future or a vague stab at satrical humour, only time will tell.
‘It used to be such a community’ remarked Crispin Huntington-Thorp ‘People knew each other, that’s gone now.’
Crispin lives in a very changed London, since the great recession of the late noughties people living in the cities have had their way of life slowly eroded. Things weren’t always like this, it used to be that well paid people in the towns would have second homes in the countryside but due to the financial crisis the situation has been reversed.
Now poor city bankers who just want to scrape a living and preserve their way of life are increasingly being forced to sell their houses to people from Cornwall and other rural areas to avoid bankruptcy. Humble traders and commodity brokers are being pushed out of family houses that have been in the family for perhaps up to a generation to make way for housing for cattle and land for food.
‘It’s disgusting how they are changing this area,’ continues Crispin ‘someone should do something before it’s too late. Second homes are destroying the character of Kensington.’
It’s a very different Kensington these days, The Chelsea Tractor has been replaced by a real Tractor and cows can often be seen being driven down the high street on the way to their milking sheds. Even the smell is different with the horrific fumes of freshly cut hay and clovers drifting across whole areas of South West London.
Some parts of the capital have suffered more than others, typically the areas where people were likely to have a second home in the countryside – the sort of people who overreached to have that bolt hole in Dorset are the ones paying the price now.
People like Amanda Chumley-Warner. ‘Once they get into an area they ruin it. First to go are the expensive delis, Farming people don’t want them and so they can’t stay in business. It’s impossible to get Parma ham on the Fulham Road now. If I want essentials like Avocado Oil I have to go for miles to get them. There used to be a little knickknack shop on every street corner where I could spend money on little expensive things when ever I wanted and that’s gone too. Farming people just want to by wellies and animal feed, most of their food is reasonably priced and locally sourced it’s disgusting.’
It’s not just the shops that are suffering as waves of new people come into the area who don’t want to buy Mongolian Carpets or Cath Kidston Yurts. The local wine bars are suffering as well. One owner, who declined to be named, said the following.
‘It used to be that you could expect to shift a few bottles of stupidly pricey red to the regulars when they would come in, but that’s gone now. All the wine bars are suffering. The local people can’t afford to come here anymore. Restaurants are in trouble too, the influx of rural types who don’t want our sort of food is forcing some people out of business. It’s all ploughman’s lunches and disgustingly simple food with fresh ingredients now, who wants to eat that?’
The outlook for the next generation is bleak too. Local children can’t afford to get on the property ladder because of the raised prices and all the houses being used to store grain and cattle. The young adults of London now all talk of moving out to the countryside to make some money, they don’t want to leave the city but, for them the only way of getting a living is to move to a rural area.
‘Whole areas of London are now ghost towns during the week.’ Said Sebastian, a bright fifteen year old ‘It’s those second home bastards, they don’t realise that their holiday home means that proper local people can’t get homes. Not that I want to stay in the city, there is no future for it. My family have lived in Notting Hill for generations working in PR and consultancy but there is no chance of that for me.’
‘People move to the city because they have this dream of an urban life with cars and smog and things but the moment they get here they change it. They idyllic view of living in somewhere like Maida Vale doesn’t match up to the reality – cars smell, but they don’t want that so they get them banned and it’s the locals that suffer. I hate everyone who has a second home in the city.’
Sebastian’s words echo down a Sloane Street that is forever changed, gone are the exciting clothes shops and fashion boutiques to be replaced by yet more places selling animal feed and post offices. The latter makes Sebastian spit with rage
‘Post offices? Why is it that every part of London has to have a post office? It’s disgusting, it seems almost every day another of our essential upmarket delicatessens is closed down to make way for yet another bloody Post office.’
With that Sebastian marches off towards Knightsbridge. We all have to wonder what sort of future people like him will have, and if the government will realise in time that this precious urban way of life needs to be preserved. Even the Cityside Alliance’s march didn’t make a difference, so what will?
For Sebastian’s sake I hope something is done soon.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I'm back, but I'm a bit broken. It appears that four, no five days of almost no sleep and large amounts of cocktails (we may have been camping but there is no excuse for a drop in standards) can make you a little bit unwell.
I do this every year and yet I never learn. Ho-hum. Luckily I've got a few things to catch up on while I convalesce, like the latest edition of Bike magazine. Huzzah!
Also I have decided that it's time for a new pocket watch so I've stopped using the mechanical one and now I'm going to be seen about with only the rather minimalist number with the white face. Or at least I will be seen about with it once I've managed to stop being so unentertainingly ill.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I'm off to a strange festival for a few days with my little brother so I'm not sure if I'll be doing any updates while I'm there. It's a very silly festival, but we went last year when my dad was very unwell and it was good so I suspect it may become a bit of a tradition.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
It's my Grandmother's Birthday today so we are off to visit the venerable matriarch in Dorset. Her house is excellent fun to visit, especially because she has a forest with a stream that could be very honestly described as a tulgey wood. Thankfully the chance of Jabberwocky attack is fairly minimal, although we have seen otters and kingfishers.
Right, I need to shave because Grandmothers don't approve of beards.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Hitchcock Blonde came to stay this weekend and met the geese. She arrived very late on the Friday and rather dangerously came with Rosé. I've not been drinking much while I've been down here so I've got rather out of practice, and for some reason it seemed like a terribly good idea to buy a bit more Rosé on the way back from the train station. I came to regret this for most of Saturday as we polished off three bottles of the stuff and I awoke at 6am feeling terribly unwell.
Saturday was pretty much a write-off, even watching films proved to be a trial and when I went out to chop some wood up with an axe I had to sit down for a bit afterwards and try not to think about being sick. It was a troubled day and so the plan of taking the Hitchcock Blonde to the best vintage clothes shop in Great Britain was shelved. I should point out that The Hitchcock Blonde was also in a bit of a state so I didn't suffer alone. Rosé is now banned as every time I drink it I give myself an injury.
Even though we were both ruined from booze we still managed to affect some introductions with the the poultry, the Geese were cantankerous as usual but the larger ducklings were awfully jovial and so proved a hit. One of the cats was being very friendly and he spent the entire time hunting us around the house.
Sunday was spent doing equally restful things, including a meal that involved home grown vegetables and home-shot game. After that I dropped The Hitchcock Blonde off at her mothers house and returned home. It was nice to have such a relaxing weekend, especially after all the weeks of shovelling.
I'm back to the hard labour again today, it's 10am and I've already been out for a run and dug out some more scrap as part of the on-going cleaning efforts. So it's a good, honest start to the week so I expect I'll be drinking Gin and trying to give myself gout by Tuesday.
Friday, August 15, 2008
I went for a run this morning before breakfast, which is something I thought people only did in films. I dragged my little brother along too and it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. We ran around one of the fields, so once that becomes far too easy we will start running around the wood, and then the larger field and so on.
So now the rest of the day can be spent feeling virtuous and glowing with good health no matter what I do. The sort of good health that lets a chap really enjoy Second Breakfast. For those who don't enjoy the West Country lifestyle here is the meal plan for a normal day.
Breakfast - Hearty, savoury food.
Second Breakfast AKA 'Crib' - Pointless food, anything that you don't need to survive so chocolates and cakes.
Brunch - Something savoury to keep you going until lunch time
Lunch - Again a large meal, typically featuring fresh bread.
Two o'clock Treat - Chocolate again, possibly a cake or two.
Afternoon Tea - Surprisingly large selection of food served with tea. Mixture of savoury and sweet.
Supper - Informal meal including a pudding.
Then for the extra hungry a midnight snack is allowed based around toast and cheese.
It's a good job I'm doing so much shovelling and running.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The garage is cleared, it's now a shining example of a functioning garage full of exciting equipment for leisure activities rather than indoor rubbish dump. We finished early today because we slightly over estimated how much work was required. Huzzah!
Now that the garage is out of the way I have far fewer excuses for not sitting down and working hard. Or at least I while have once I've unpacked. The fast amounts of clothes I've brought back are still haunting me in their bags. Every day I unpack and sort out about half dozen of them and yet the pile seems never ending. I won't give up to the luggage menace, oh no.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I don't know why but I'm finding it terribly hard to write a blog entry today, so I am going to write about that. Erm, well, yes. It's not exactly thrilling is it?
I'm even caffeinated up to my eyeballs which normally puts me in a typing frenzy and yet it's not working, perhaps it just isn't good enough coffee? Instead of bashing keys away happily I'm just listlessly gazing at the blank screen. This is not good, I need to be able to whiffle away to pay for things.
Maybe I have some sort of unpacking sickness, yeah that would make sense. A flu like disease that is brought on by moving too many bags and shovelling things about. I've done a lot of that recently, more than enough thank you very much.
Even after all this moving my room is a mass of bags, it's not quite as forbidding as it used to be but it's still pretty awful. The Hitchcock Blonde who is going to come over for afternoon tea on Friday is not going to be impressed, and that won't do. A chap can't have Hitchcock Blondes tutting at his boudoir.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I need space, lots of space for my suit collection. It's getting rather silly now but I suppose that is it. Even a walk in wardrobe wouldn't be large enough to store it all so I am going to have to convert a garage into, what I think is probably a world first, a drive in wardrobe.
I can't imagine I'll often drive in to get a suit but the option is there should I need it. I've still got lots more unpacking to do, today I unpacked the books and put them in the bookcases around the house, there is one in every room so it was quite easy to get them to be reabsorbed into the collective.
I think that's probably the limit of the unpacking I can do for a bit, there is no-where to unpack too and so it's a bit more tricky. This isn't ideal as I'm starting to get a little bit worried about my cravats, they are going to need a lot of TLC when I finally dig the out again.
Perhaps I can revolutionise cravat storage next? I mean, I can't just stop after inventing the drive in wardrobe.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The move down to London was fine, I managed to do the whole thing without seeing the flatmate - I heard her come in a 4am (tsk curfew eh?) but that was it. Anyway, I loaded my stuff up fairly quickly with the help of van man and set off.
The journey down flew by because Van Man was a biker so we spent the whole trip talking about motorcycles and then he gave me an introduction to classic rock. It was very educational.
We didn't get back till late so I only had time to unload my stuff before falling fast asleep in a room with no visible floor space - I'm amazed how much stuff I have, too much stuff. Since there isn't storage for all my things in the house the plan is to turn one of the garages into a storage place by cleaning it up a bit. I helped build the main garage many moons ago and it's be mostly used as a storage place for bits and bobs which is silly because there is a HUGE boat shed and a proper workshop, let alone a selection of stables and things to store junk.
So this morning I started on the garage ruthlessly throwing out broken printers and shoes that rats had eaten. The first hour or so was really hard work because the shed was so full of things that we couldn't even open the door to get in properly. While cleaning the shed out, I put a couple of long bits of wood in the boat shed and something caught my eye. A motorcycle! It's been there for years but I've not been in the boat shed for years so I hadn't noticed it.
It's pretty old and clearly being in a shed for at least a decade hasn't improved it but it's a motorbike and it is now my project bike. I'm going to get it running again and use it to bimble about while I save up for something more impressive. I found it (and many other useful things) because I was cleaning.
Who knows what I will find tomorrow?
P.S. for anyone who cares about these things I'm informed by a chum who has seen blurry photos of it that it is a Suzuki 125ER, possibly.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
I've got a return journey to London today to pick up the rest of my stuff. I'm not really looking forward to it - I hate moving house at the best of times - but at least once it's done it's done so that is good.
The current plan, or at least the vague ideas masquerading as one is to stay down here for the rest of the summer (going up to London a couple of days a week when I need to) saving cash (this bit is going well) and then return to London for the winter with far, far less stuff. Realisitically I could get by with a far more stripped down selection of items - perhaps one or two novelity suits and that is it.
In other news I asked two of my dad's friends for motorcycle advice. One of them was really helpful the other one, who was for a while my dad's best friend in the world was less so. It was a bit weird really.
Well enough whiffling on about this, I have to catch a train.
Friday, August 08, 2008
I'm sure almost everyone on the planet has read Giles Coren's letter to the sub editors, for the three people who haven't here it is. Rant
For anyone who feels the need to harangue sub-editors (and I can't say I approve of such a thing) this is how it should be done. The letter was composed by Raymond Chandler to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, Edward Weeks.
To Edward Weeks
... Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split any infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of bar-room vernacular, that is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have. I think your proof-reader is kindly attempting to steady me on my feet, but much as I appreciate the solicitude, I am really able to steer a fairly clear course, provided I get both sidewalks and the street between.
And that ladies and gentlemen how it should be done.
I've not been blogging as much as I should - which is a bit rubbish really. I have been doing things but I've been naughty and got out of the habit of writing something on here every day. BAD LOUCHE, GO TO YOUR ROOM.
I have been doing some exciting things, I mean it's not all been breaking rocks here, oh no. On Tuesday I visited a chum for cocktails which was excellent. The trip over was exciting as I managed to get comprehensively lost in the middle of nowhere, well the upper-middle of nowhere. It was a special lost of lost as the place I was trying to get to was vaguely like where I was so some of the instructions still worked. This added to the confusion.
I made it in the end, after a couple of phone calls and a bit of time spent frowning at maps. The road was very wiggly which made me want to be on it on a motorbike. Well on a motorbike when it was nice weather - it had been raining constantly in Devon for what seems like years.
It's also been raining in Cornwall, my little brother went on a camping trip which was cut short because the weather was so bad. On the day that I went Tall Ship sailing I had to rescue him in the evening, from Cornwall so I clocked up about 500 miles. I was exhausted from sailing all day so it was even more tough than usual. Still I managed it without crashing so that is good. It has rather put me off driving for a bit.
The only other news is that an ex seemingly didn't understand when I said 'please don't contat me again' several times. I've had say I'll contact the police if she keeps badgering me. Hopefully this will finally get through to her.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Today I broke rocks with sledge hammers. This is because the rocks needed breaking and there was a handy sledge hammer around. Smashing rocks is hard work, and there is quite a lot of hitting before you get the satisfying crack that means you have broken a rock.
There might be an important life lesson in that.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
The West Country is damp, super damp. I've actually abandoned Cornwall because it was so wet. Well not entirely, I did have to come back to Devon to pick up some things before I could go and mess around on Tall Ships but I think I'll stay in Devon for the rest of the week instead of going back to Cornwall for more camping.
The surfing photo shoot went well, the photographer this time was amazing, really amazing. Photographers and their subjects should get along as you both have to do something a bit weird together. If you do get on then it's great fun and you can tell it's fun from the photos, if you don't it's awful.
We only had a few hours to get all the shots we needed and I had to borrow clothes off strangers (I'm quite proud of being able to get someone to give me their hoodie for half an hour when they had no idea who I was) and get women I'd never met before to pose in photos but we managed it and it was good. I even had time to have a light brunch with the photographer while we waited for the instructor to return.
Posing strangers was fun as they kept acting all stiff because the camera was on them. We didn't have time to give them a few drinks because we had to take photos fast so we had to resort to being silly. Also we needed some 'wine' for the photos and I suggested we use black current juice and water which looked the part and made me feel like a special effects person, albeit one in someone else's hoodie.
It was a good day, and the photos are stunning. I'm tempted to post one even though it would out me and that is not good. Instead I'll save it for something else like an official work website which I should have set up years ago.
Do they really work? Has anyone got work through their website?
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Here is a run down of the various merits of living in the countryside so far. I mean the proper countryside, not just some rubbish rural town.
Pro - Zero crime. Not only does this mean that you sleep better at night but that it costs peanuts to insure things like motorbikes and cars. It's even cheaper if you live somewhere with loads of lovely garage space and even a boat shed that could store hundreds of bikes.
Con - Night Life. Everywhere is miles away, so stumbling home from the pub is more of a hike that an pleasant amble. The nearest pub is about three miles away and is crap. Still I might give it when I get desperate. They have a dart board, or at least they used to.
Pro - Clean Air. It really is far more fresh out here, and I don't miss the thick smog of urban life. London isn't that bad really, but if you get the tube you get this weird black dust on your clothes and that can't be good.
Con - Public Transport. You have to have a car or a bike in the countryside to get about. The nearest bus stop is miles away and runs a daily bus. Yes one a day. It used to be one a week, so I suppose that is a sort of improvement.
Pro - Food. We have a garden here, full of vegetables. I just dug up some potatoes and picked some beans. We are talking food yards rather than food miles. It is excellent.
Con - Food. You can't get Dim-sum in the West Country. Not at all. I'm not sure if it is part of some ancient by-law or just the crapness of being West of Bristol. Even if you don't agree with Starbucks the only opened recently in Exeter, about a decade after the rest of the country.
Pro - Geese. Everywhere you go on the farm you are watched by geese. Watching them back is one of life's great pleasures. They are quite tame, which isn't to say they won't bite you but if you hold out a bit of bread they will at least bite that first.
Con - Social Scene. I've never been one for young farmers after having worked at some of their events in my youth. The countryside is a lovely place to live if you are settled down but as a young chap about town it's not so great. Maybe I could start a sideline in importing lovely girls into the countryside, there is definitely a gap in the market.
Pro - Shops. The clothes shops down here are awful, apart from country wear of course but since I've got a full set of shooting gear I don't have much of a reason to by any more. The lack of good shops is excellent because it means I won't pop out and buy a suit in a moment of weakness.
Con - Cocktails. Supplies are limited, and the quality is very low, very very low. Louche's law of cocktails states that anywhere that offers cocktails by the jug will serve awful cocktails. You can only get them by the jug around here.
Pro - It's New. After having lived in London for so long the countryside is refreshing change. Admittedly I've only been here for a few days so it currently feels like holiday.
Con - The countryside can't be that great, or I would have stayed here rather than bolting for London the moment I could.
There has been a bit of a to-do, a piece was dropped from a paper and so they needed to run the surfing piece I wrote ages ago instead. This presents additional problems because the previous photos weren't up to it and so they needed new photos, taken this weekend.
Due to some sort of minor miracle I happen to be only a short hop away from the surf school this weekend so by calling in favours and thanks to an extremely helpful PR we are going to be able to stage the photos and get the piece ready in time. I just hope this miracle pays off, I mean surely an editor is going to throw you more work after you have saved her bacon when no-one else could, right?
On Monday I'm off Tall Ship racing so it's quite an activity filled weekend. I'm really looking forward to dancing about on a ship but I'm not looking forward to the drive so much - it will be about four hours there and four hours back, maybe more. The post sailing drive is going to be the killer I reckon.
After the ship racing I'd really like to spend some time resting, possibly entertaining visiting Hitchcock Blondes but instead I'll be back to Cornwall to resume the camping holiday. I don't think I've ever been camping in a restful way but then I normally only go in tents at festivals or other sorts of parties involving lots of gin so perhaps this will be just what I need post nautical adventure.
Friday, August 01, 2008
The last few days have involved a lot of earth moving, earth moving, gardening and general shovelling. The countryside offers a whole new range of ways to procrastinate when you should be working. There is always something to feed, prune or stab with a pitchfork when you should be squeezing out more words.
I say working because I'm busy, for some reason work is pouring in and so is the cash (the final part of my advance from the first book arrived today) so I can start looking at motorbikes, actually I can jolly well go to a dealership now and see if something suitable is about. Hurrah. Also a national newspaper have finally decided to cough up the money they owe me after six months and that lovely cheque is also waiting for me in London when I go and pick up my stuff.
I think it's down to the shovel, a chap who is handy with a stout blade on the end of a stick isn't the sort of chap you should owe money, that's what I say.
To increase the bike fund even further I'm off tall ship racing on Monday so that will be another payment for the ol' two-wheeled fund.
Right, time to get back to shovelling I suppose. Those huge clumps of earth won't move themselves. Oh and for any mentalists out there who are thinking of murdering someone and then putting them in a grave that they dig themselves, allow a lot of time and take a pick. It's amazing how long it takes to dig a hole, even if you are fuelled with a murderous rage.