Monday, 22 October 2007

Time Out

Thanks for taking the time to read 'Home Thoughts Weekly'. With a book to finish and my mum needing help to move house next week I've decided that something's got to give. I want to deliver a 'What's Next?' book not a 'So What?' book so I'm taking some time out for the next few weeks to give 'Fighting the Tide' my best shot.

Best wishes,
Chris

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Farewell Veryan, Bonjour La Reve!


Some of you may recall a certain froideur descended on Hotel H earlier this year when Tom decided it was time to buy a new boat. After weeks of being constantly worn down I finally agreed – on certain conditions – one of which was to sell Veryan, our old wooden boat. Well, the photo on the left shows her leaving Cardigan with Norman, her new and delighted owner who, with the intention of restoring her to her former glory, has entered her for the Milford Seafair 2008 classic boats craft event. I have to say after years of having a love/hate relationship with Veryan I waved the old girl off with fond memories of the good times aboard; being so sick I wet my knickers, nearly getting us mown down in the shipping lanes crossing the Channel, strip washing in a bucket, that sort of thing.

Despite her age Veryan always turned a few heads being a very pretty boat but her deep keel and her inability to take the ground – ie stand on her own two feet without water – make her difficult to sail in this part of the world where there are fewer opportunities to stay afloat in harbour. Now, once upon a time I would probably have given up sailing without a second thought but I’ve slowly been indoctrinated. Being the only yacht in a secluded bay under a starry sky is totally beguiling, being the sole witness to a rosy dawn is breathtaking and yes, I have to say that being together on the boat has given us the space and time to come up with some of our best ideas. We’ve had traumas and scares but proper adventures too, the sort that everyday life rarely offers.

So, as of last week we became the joint owners of La Reve, a fat old plastic tub, like a bigger version of something you’d stick in your bath. Pretty she ain’t, but her redeeming features are that she has proper engine, unlike Veryan which seemed to have something which would barely power a strimmer, she can take the ground and – this is the winner for me – the last owner fitted her with a gizmo which produces hot water! I can actually have a shower aboard now!

At the weekend we went for our inaugural voyage in her, which was supposed to be a trip to Fishguard. Unfortunately we didn’t make it over the Cardigan bar because some giant Atlantic rollers were breaking there so it was back for a quick jaunt round the estuary, an afternoon watching the tide go out and the wading birds dabble around in the mud (the stars of the show being a pair of egrets). We then cracked open the fizz and were rocked gently to sleep as the tide crept up again. Not bad at all.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Clocks Again!


Ah, bless! They're all grown up now. Stepson two is second from right.




Wednesday, 10 October 2007

A Week in the Life of Mrs Hyde


Thursday 4 October
Ten grisly prunes, black and syrupy, glower at me across the breakfast table, where they nestle threateningly on a bed of All Bran. Mil’s Inherited Digestive Condition, which relies heavily on dairy and chocolate has come back to bite her with an eye-wateringly high cholesterol reading and something that Mil refers to as a ‘sore tum’, so poor Mil has been forced to swap all things creamy and chocolaty for a low-fat, high fibre diet. Alas, Mil’s Inherited Digestive Condition stubbornly rejects our healthy puds, such as stewed apple, but she has taken to tinned and dried fruits in a big way. A very big way. Tom and I both recognise that she’s trying but it’s not quite going in the right direction. ‘Where will it all end?’ says Tom, shaking his head. One thing is certain: and the answer, as Bob Dylan would say, is blowin’ in the wind.

It’s my Rose’s birthday today. She’s out in the big wide world enjoying her first ‘proper’ job but on this day, I miss her. I make a tentative reference to the events of twenty-two years ago when I left for hospital in the wee small hours with my Dad telling me how much he was looking to hearing about his next granddaughter’s arrival before breakfast (yeah, fat chance, Dad – seventeen and a half hours later, eh?). I don’t get any further because Mil counters with, ‘Oh, well I remember when Tom was born…’ alas, this a story I have heard so many times I could tell it myself.
You weren’t allowed to go home for Christmas
‘We weren’t allowed to go home for Christmas.’
And all the girls cried.
‘And all the girls cried.’
And so it goes. More fool me for firing up another game of ‘The Good Old Days’ – a variation on the theme of ‘Life Before Chris’.

Friday 5 October
It’s a glorious, west Wales day. I stand on the long sandy beach at St David’s where the waves sparkle under a clear blue sky scored only by the jet stream of a passing plane.
‘Next stop New York’ says Tom and I think of Frances and the busy, city life she describes with such serenity and composure. We head for the refectory at St David’s cathedral for lunch, which is complete chaos. By the time we have found something we can all eat and then queued to pay (surely there must be a better way than standing in line with plates of rapidly cooling food?) I have completely lost the will to protest when a plate of salad turns up instead of the salmon sandwich I ordered.

Sunday 7 October
‘Hello? Hello? Does my voice still work?’ Just it’s so hard to find a topic of conversation that refers to anything post 1994 that I’m beginning to wonder. At least there’s plenty of rugby on the telly, thank goodness.

Monday 8 October
Mil and Dil’s train departs and I can see that Tom has a lump in his throat. I’m torn between feeling guilty that I can’t be a bigger person and rise above all the references to the past and feeling mad at being isolated and hurt. Biting my tongue all week hasn’t done me any good. You know those interviews when folks are asked to say what their most unpleasant trait is, well mine is sarcasm. My ability to come out with something deeply cutting surprises even me; after the initial rush of ‘There! Take that!’ I almost instantly regret what I’ve said but of course it’s too late then so we drive back in silence the air almost solid with unspoken thoughts. Back home we go our separate ways, Tom to the boatyard and me to play loud nasty music by rude bad boys. Our trial separation doesn’t work; we have an almighty row and slink off to bed.

Tuesday 9 October
We make up. Tom cooks a wonderful meal for me. Peace – for now!

And finally…
I have been delighted to receive an award from Little Brown Dog which will sit here until next week – thank you so much LBD! However, having begun to feel very uneasy about the whole awards thing and after reading a wise comment from Kittyb, I’ve decided to remove them from my blog thereafter. No offence to anyone, it’s just that there are so many good writers out there who deserve recognition in different ways.

Hwyl fawr
The painting is 'The Fox' by Tom Tomos (you have to look very carefully to see how it got its title!).



Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Clocks News


No Escape In the Country

Ah, the benefits of a university education! No, not the UEA degree nor the language course at Heidelberg but the summer job working as a chambermaid in a posh hotel in Norwich which has enabled me to make beds in a flash and clean bathrooms like a demon.

We had a great time with our friends Jan and Roger. If you are looking for professional guests I heartily recommend this lovely couple who come laden with goodies, are very easy-going and leave whilst everyone’s still laughing. (Members of the Ace Gang if you are reading this, no, I’m not going to recommend you as professional guests because someone might decide to keep you and then where would I be?).

We are now deep into Mil and Dil mode. In the interests of marital harmony I have had to keep Mrs Hyde well away from the keyboard. Suffice it to say that two days into an eight-day visit and my smile is already wearing a little thin as the panel assembles for another rousing game of Life Before Chris.

Anyway, there is really only one important event to share this week: Rose is twenty-two tomorrow. How did that happen? Best wishes, my lovely girl, be happy, fly high and keep safe. With love, as ever, Ta Mere XX

The painting is 'Wittgenstein's Ladder' by Tom Tomos