Feeling Groovy

Saturday 14 June
Tom and I have now recovered from the Great Wormery Evacuation. My brain has managed to wipe out the memory of the terrible smell, so I no longer have to plug my nose with Vick to erase it, and the noxious fumes from the compost have died down sufficiently for us to be able to venture out into the garden again.

After all the excitement I find myself a bit fidgety. Whilst I am extremely happy not to be doing my previous job, I did used to enjoy walking through the town in my lunch break, watching all the faces, seeing what was new and absorbing different influences. It’s quite easy to settle in a groove here and sometimes you have to push yourself a bit to get out it. Tom has some paintings to collect from Art Matters in Tenby, which offers us the chance of an excursion, a gallery to view and a chance to catch up with the lovely Margaret and John who run it. Margaret shows me an autobiographical short story she has written which leads us into a discussion about the wrongs and rights of plundering your own life for copy. For me, it’s trying to strike a balance between aiming for emotional integrity without seriously p*ssing off those I care about.

Some of the paintings we have collected have to be delivered to another gallery. We arrive just in time for the opening of a new exhibition and my heart sinks at the invitation to ‘come in and have a glass of wine’. Tom, like me at Hay, is in his element but there are gorillas out there with better painting skills than me so I always feel a bit of a misfit with this particular group. Confronted by too many mission statements and self-conscious grooviness, I am severely tempted to numb the pain with drink but hold back for fear of expressing my full and frank opinion and being placed in the naughty corner for evermore.

Sunday 15 June
With a virtuously clear head I am off for some LSD or long, slow distance. I’ve been gradually building up my weekly mileage through shorter runs but have fallen into the habit of running like a mad eejit going faster not further. Beating my time is satisfying but only long runs will build up my stamina for a half-marathon. I dig out my heart monitor and keep everything nice and steady only once surprising myself when a freak reading from a power cable suggests that I ought to run straight to A&E.

In the afternoon I am lolling around on the sofa feeling virtuous when Tom suggests a brisk walk in the hills. Is he joking? No, he is not, but, what the heck, it’s a lovely day and I can wear one of my new hats. I’m not a hat person at all; Lily can put a dustbin lid on her head and look glamorous but not me. However, when Ma was up and we were poking round the indoor market in Cardigan I spotted some Fair Isle berets on the knitting stall, made to a secret recipe by the lady on the next-door fabric stall.

Anticipating my usual danger-to-the-community look, I was taken aback to find a hat I could actually wear so I bought it. Unfortunately Ma was also taken aback to find a hat I could actually wear and since she is a demon knitter she immediately decided I needed a few spares. Just in case I grow a few more heads, I suppose. Miffed that the lady on the fabric stall wouldn’t divulge her secret beret recipe, Ma has been back home trying to crack the code. When Rose came up recently I took delivery of the first batch of Ma’s cloned berets. And do you know what? They’re really good; beautiful autumn colours with a very vintage feel, very ‘Edge of Love’.

So Tom and I trek the hills and arrive at one of the viewing points; it’s a wonderful day, crisp and clear. We can see Snowdon to the north, the Devon hills to the south and the Wicklow Mountains across the sea and one of Ma’s berets is keeping my hair out of my eyes. How perfect is that?

Painting is 'Lobster Pots off Caldey Island' by Tom Tomos


Blossomcottage said…
The hat sounds lovely, I love berets, any chance Ma might go into production and make me one for the winter?
Perhaps we could have photograph of you in you beret, and well done for doing the marathon training I have great admiration for people who do. I can walk for miles but running is not on my agenda.
Elizabethd said…
I love the sound of the knitted beret, it took me back to my childhood, when my grandma knitted almost everything1
Pipany said…
So where are the pics of your new hat collection Chris? I want to see them please. I can't wear hats as I have a head the size of a child and hair that usually needs a cut thus meaning a hat pushes my dead-straight fringe firmly into my eyes causing severe pain. Golly, so much to say about hats I should write a blog of my own!

Have a great day out with Mags - dreadful case of envy as ould love to meet you both xx
mountainear said…
I've never had a knitted beret - my very first school hat was a felt beret in a fetching duck-egg blue though.

This is mid summer - why are we wearing woolly hats in June????
Edward said…
Glad you're keeping up the training, and esp. that you're mixing endurance and speed. And, of course, lying on the sofa.
Milkmaid said…
Just catching up with you, the wormery sounds yuk, my appears very slow, think a lot of the worms have slunk off.
I got a pattern from The mission for Seafarers for a hat which i loved and did about 3 off the donate to them, but would love a beret one as a change
Milla said…
Yes, it's clear we need a picture of the hat, or we;ll imagine it and imagination can do strange things. Know just what you mean about the force needed to get about sometimes - I'm dreadfully repelled by parking so rarely bother and all the shops are the same anyway, moan moan.
Crystal Jigsaw said…
Lovely post as always, Chris.

Wearing a dust bin lid on your head might not keep the flies away though! You are awfully active and very fit aren't you.

CJ xx
Preseli Mags said…
I can confirm that the berets - at least the one I stalked down Cardigan High Street - are exactly as described. Lovely autumnal colour and very chic. I love the idea that the stallholder has a secret recipe for the berets; great that your Ma cracked the code! xx Mags
LittleBrownDog said…
Lovely, lovely writing, as ever, ChrisH - you ALWAYS seem to be able to strike a balance between emotional integrity and not p*ssing people off (unlike me - regular misses on both counts, I fear). Know just what you mean about those groovy art types - fear I would be numbing the pain in heavy measure.

Well done with the running, too - I'm very impressed with your increasing mileage, although I fear it's an activity I will never fully understand. And those power cables are worrying. I was walking under one just last week with my boy, and when I put my hand on his shoulder, I could feel him vibrating like an electric toothbrush. Very worrying.
Looks like skool berets all round at this rate.

I used to be able to wear a dustbin on my head and look good - now anything I put on my head looks like a dustbin. Meanwhile Wildchild would look gorgeous in a compost heap . . .
Frances said…
Hello Chris,
The beret is really lovely. Your mom is a super knitter!

Well done on the running, too. But even more praise for your ability to not transgress in the gallery. It can be so very tempting, but I try to behave myself if it is a gallery where someone I know is somehow connected.

Finally, I really love the Lobster Pots painting!
I can just see it ...your poor ma ..feverishly knitting purple berets ...all 108 of 'em. Impressed you can see Wicklow mts ...turn round and look this way next time ...we are just behind you......well about 75 miles just behind...
Exmoorjane said…
oh gawd love her for knitting you berets - love the one in your avatar. I'm like WW - used to look fab in hats (and had some truly outrageous ones) but now they never look quite right somehow (could be the scarecrow hair stickign out all over)....
Love that painting btw.
Red hair dye thankfully banished - though some suspicious stains remain, making the bathroom look like a murder scene. Ho hum.
Lane said…
Love the cool hat (if that's the one in the photo).

Am also impressed with all the stamina building. I think that half marathon will be a breeze after all your training.

lol at 'self conscious grooviness'. I remember trying to be groovy. It was so not worth the effort:-)
Bollinger Byrd said…
I would comment about berets but seem to have been beaten off the mark!
Know what you mean about paintings though, I come from a family of artists and although I don't paint I know good from bad... And I seriously get outraged at bad!
Thanks for stopping by.
Flowerpot said…
Sounds like a wonderful walk and I love berets too!
Debs said…
I've never owned a beret but think I quite fancy one now. Yours sounds lovely.

I wish I had your stamina, I love walking but not for too long and usually have to be pulled along by an energetic dog.
Kate.Kingsley said…
Well done on increasing your mileage ~ I appear to be retro runnign at the mo, in so much as I am decreasign my mileage (and it wasn't that impressive to start with ~ ho hum!)

You have also reminded me that i haven't checked on my wormery for a good few weeks ~ I'd better don the protective clothing and approach it cautiously this evening, i think.....

PS: Hi,
I've added you to the coffee break rota for 3/10 & 10/10 ~ I hope those dates are suitable. Can you let me know if you'd rather change them?

Love Hats, and quite fancy a knitted Beret, remember my mother knitting woolly's and hats for me when I was teeny.

Great Avatar Chris.!


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