Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Naar Maastricht

DSC08962 (1300x974)We’ll have gale conditions for the crossing, the Captain rasped over the ferry’s loudspeakers, followed by a list of precautions.  I eyed the waves breaking over the Dover seawall and gauged the wind-driven heel of boats entering the harbour.  Not a pleasant trip, but warm enough that I could enjoy the view from the deck.

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It’s always impressive to see the crew get a boat that large spun out of dock and off into the Channel.  The British watch working sailors the way the Dutch watch river management, clustered along the upper rails,pointing and critiquing.  The ferry slid sideways, turned upwind for a boat length, then ran downwind through the gap to the open sea. 

The wind rose, the boat pitched: we were off.

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Apart from the cruise, it was a pretty easy jump to Maastricht.  And it was nice to be back among my things again, especially since the repair work on the front walls had been completed.  New paint, clean fabrics, shiny windows: Bionda and her friends did  lovely job on the clean-up.

Life was looking up – I went downstairs for a biertje (herfst bok) to celebrate.

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I was up early this morning, picked up bread and milk, stumbled across the set of Flikken Maastricht, filming behind the old city wall

‘pretty fun to see the cast putting a scene together.

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It was a warm autumn day, the light was perfect, the fall colours in full display along the river.

I lingered an hour before getting down to work.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

A dart in a map

DSC08867 (1300x944)Abbotsbury?  I frowned, running a finger down a list of bistro’s and galleries.  At least a few were open on a Sunday, and I jotted down a couple of post codes.  A bit off the path, but not that far a drive. The map showed a village straddling the winding coast road, a few clustered buildings.  The weather forecast was for increasing wind and rain all along the Heritage Coast as a warm front blew in from the southwest.

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I tossed in the walking sticks and a jumper, eased the car out of the Lilac Court and spun west.  TomTom chirped happily at being on the road again.

It’s been a nice weekend so far.   I’ve been catching up with the house and shopping, reading and cooking (plum-ginger duck from the butcher).  The Shrink and Sage are debating whether Life’s Options Should Remain Open (How can you give yourself to one life when lots of different ones are out there waiting to be explored?).   DSC08938 (1300x957)It brings back rueful thoughts: I have a lot of hard-learned ripostes to ward off that past temptation.

The Amazing Race punted through Oxford on Friday.  Closer to home, there’s steady progress in the business, better family medical and job news to celebrate.  My half-term flights and bookings are finally sorted for the first real vacation in well over a year.   A lovely seafood restaurant in old town Poole proved perfect for marking life’s waypoints.

Still, I rose too early for Sunday morning, restless and ruminating.  I drove down to  the waterfront to catch the morning light and fresh-baked croissants. 

I knew that work would take the day if I map abbotsburydidn’t leave my desk and get out of the house.

Where is there art and food west of Weymouth? 

Abbotsbury: ‘Google’s dart thrown onto the Jurassic coast.

DSC08880 (1300x1047) - CopyIt’s an interesting suggestion: the South West Coast Path meanders through literary Chesil Beach and up into the hills above Fleets Lagoon, a vast tidal inlet bordering the coast from Weymouth. Scenic, at least.

But, on arrival, those higher reaches were absolutely howling wind, hair pretty much blowing sideways off my head.  Lively and fun: the views were spectacular and there were few other early autumn walkers to disturb the ambience (and the sheep).

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Abbotsbury proved to be a small stone village, nestled in a hollow about a half-mile from the sea.  There was a charming tea cafĂ©, soups and cakes, and some good works by local artists (Joan Scott and Debbie Vietch, left and right below).

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I’ve always aspired to being able to do a watercolour landscape, or pen and wash, like these.  ‘maybe when I catch up with the Peaceful Life one of these days (cue my friends’ giggles).

Chesil Beach lies about a mile from town, again along the South West Coast Path.  More protected from the wind, it took about 45 minutes to get to the ‘beach’, which turned out to be entirely made of red gravel, flanked by a huge berm.  It’s a scramble to get to the top, but the red-orange textures against the blue sea match the artists depictions.

Thomas Hardy called it Deadman’s Bay: it’s been the site of many shipwrecks over the centuries, boats caught among the shifting pebbles.  But the novel, The Well-Beloved, is more philosophical and tender: it spins the story of Jocelyn Pierston, a sculptor obsessed with possessing the transcendent beauty he believes lie in both love and art.  He never attains his heart’s desire, unable to find perfection in stone or flesh. 

But he does stand at the same spot:

To the left of them the sky was streaked like a fan with the lighthouse rays, and under their front, at periods of a quarter of a minute, there arose a deep, hollow stroke like the single beat of a drum, the intervals being filled with a long-drawn rattling, as of bones between huge canine jaws. It came from the vast concave of Deadman's Bay, rising and falling against the pebble dyke.

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Viewed from the berm, as Hardy saw it, the cove is likely much as its always been: fishermen and walkers and the wind along the hills.  Seacoast overlaid, now, with creative art, romantic literature, historic Abbotsbury.

‘all from a dart on a map.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Morning scenes across Poole Harbor

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I didn’t think it had gotten so cold overnight: we’re just into October and most leaves are still in the trees.  But there were remnants of ice on the windshield when I went to the shop.  The skies were gun-metal blue, low mist and clouds on the horizon.  The sun was just rising orange against the hills to the north. 

I changed direction: A wander down along the peninsula might turn up some good light, or a good spot for a coffee to watch the early traffic out of the harbor.

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It was nice: the boats along Sandbanks were nicely stranded in the mud and the water was still along the docks.  The joggers rattled past me, while Channel Ferry glided through in the distance.

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Towards the chain ferry, the tide was running in  quickly, the the tide was running: Sailors and fishermen lined up to take advantage of the flow.

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‘one of those mornings that it would be really nice to be out on a sailboat again, pulling on gloves and hats, getting the rigging set, sorting through the day’s cruise details. 

I found myself looking at the clouds, gauging wind and weather. Definitely a bite to the morning, a shift in the wind, for those heading out. I’d be looking for shelter by nightfall.