Monday, October 03, 2005

Just been on an Arvon Writing course - Totleigh Barton with the incomparable Caroline Fitton and Justin Hill - read everyhting they write..
and had the space and time to write away, discovered a liking for writing before breakfast.. partly to get homework done, but also because I felt quite creative in the half dream like wakening state.

Here follow three pieces that I completed whilst at Totleigh...


‘What’s the difference between a hedge and a hedgerow?’ shouted Mortimer.
Hmmn, thanks for that Mortimer. My American friend has an uncanny knack of homing in on the niceties of the English thesaurus.

There are some ancient hedgerows in Devon, some that were laid by the rolling English serf alongside the rolling English byways. Mortimer and I are bowling along on a galaxy, a tandem courtesy of Devonian Cycle hire of Exeter.

‘Hedges are shorter,’ I blagged.
‘Oh, OK.’

Mortimer’s key utterances that he repeats with a near irritating regularity are the expressions of good humoured but mild scepticism, ‘oh, OK,’ and the rather more enthusiastic, ‘that is so neat.’

Neat the hedgerows are not. I explain the theory of dating hedgerows in England. Fifty years for every species of established flora along a run of fifty yards. Mortimer slams on the brakes, in an unquestionably American thirst to put the theory to the test.

OK, there’s elder, blackthorn, hawthorn, oak, bramble (with berries still worth tasting this late in September), there’s nettle, cow parsley, garlic, bindweed, buddleia, willow herb, ragwort, many other worts.

‘What’s this wort?’ asks Mortimer innocently.
‘About ten cents a bunch.’
‘Oh, OK.’

We reckon this section of hedge from Sheepwash to Totleigh is over 800 years old.

‘Wow, that is so neat,’ enthuses Mortimer, predictably.

The best bit about riding a bike, and even pedalling a tandem behind an eager American, is the silent gliding along the country roads so that wildlife in its myriad forms doesn’t hear you coming. On various rides the fauna I have snuck up on have included moose, buzzards, white tailed deer, racoon, chipmunks, armadillo and alarmingly, though harmlessly, a couple of rattlesnakes.

Here we turn a corner to surprise a Friesian munching the top leaves of the hawthorn hedge.

Riding a bike also puts you on a slightly but significantly higher plane than sitting in a car. You can see over the hedgerows, and horizons are set back beyond the foreground fields. You feel part of the landscape, and the hedgerow doesn’t divide you from the wider perspective.

Mortimer falls silent for a moment. There’s a yellowhammer, ‘a little bit of butter but no cheese.’ And further along a bunch of chaffinches, flashing pink and grey.

I attempt a little history, and explain to Mortimer the importance of hedges that were laid at the time of enclosure. Common land that was claimed by the manorial landowners and put to pasture for sheep and cattle. I venture a little poetry.

‘Enclosure came and trampled on the grave
Of workers’ rights and made the poor a slave.’

‘John Clare,’ I explain.
‘Oh, OK.’

The hedgerow has been flayed along a short section beyond an oak copse. The raw stumps of elder and thorn have been shredded rather than cut. The top surface is cropped as neat as a recruit to the US Army Corps, but we share a collective mutter of disapproval.

Mortimer’s original question about distinguishing hedges and hedgerows has hung around like the weather. The Great Hedge of India, I explain to Mortimer, was a thousand miles long north to south, planted by the British in the 18th century as an emblem of colonial control. In China the Han dynasty built the Great Wall, a feature so vast it can be seen from space; at the outposts of the Roman Empire, Hadrian built a wall to keep out the picts. What do the Brits do? They grow a hedge.

‘Oh, OK,’ adds Mortimer.

We reach the end of a hedgerow, and turn the corner. We sneak up on the good villagers of Sheepwash celebrating their award as Devon’s best kept village. The pub is open all day.

‘Fancy a pint, Mortimer?’

‘That would be so neat.’

Slippery when wet
- a confessional

I’m in love with a wrasse.

Which is a bit like saying I’ve fallen head over heels for a three-toed sloth, or, methought I was enamoured of an ass. It’s one of those, ‘what can he possibly see in her, she’s not even the same species?’ things.

My love is unrequited.

The wrasse is swimming in blissful ignorance of my doting (or should I say ‘dotage’?) over the northern arm of the Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas in Queensland.

We met through a dating agency, an outfit targeting the over forties called Reef Tours, You’ll Love It. They operate an internet site called Once I had trawled through their prospectus I was hooked. Sadly, though I didn’t know this at the time, the wrasse wasn’t.

However, nothing daunted I set out to meet the lovely on a kind of blind date; blind in the sense that I didn’t know if she would turn up, and she didn’t know what I was.

Reef Tours sail out of Port Douglas, famed for its Seven Mile Beach where I had already set out my stall with a spell of nude sunbathing, without success; apart, that is, from the lifeguard who ordered me back into my shorts.

So hopes were as high as the midday sun as we set sail. I’d already noticed that the sun was crossing the sky from right to left, and as a dedicated heliotrope took this as an omen of good cheer. Today I would see the object of my heart’s passionate longing.

We buffeted over the waves to the rendezvous, accompanied by a school of Hector’s dolphins. I’m overcome with the frisson of anticipation. Dolphins are fine, but I wouldn’t want to swim with one. It’s only the wrasse I desire.

There are a few other companions on this date; we all don our special love-gear. Despite avowing that my body was a lycra-free zone, for this liaison I am prepared to put on the figure-hugging neoprene. I tense my shoulders in a flutter of naughtiness.

I slide into the warm and wet like a sensuous… thing.

Then suddenly, as I splutter uncontrollably with a face-mask filled with water, there she is, my glorious painted lady, coquettish, fluttering flirtatious, finny, luminous marbled flank, blue lips, ah those lascivious lips.. I was transported instantly to a nirvana of ecstasy.

She shimmers in aquamarine and emerald, pink around the gills, translucent ivory tail and dorsal fins. And big, she’s a stupendous, luxurious, firm, heavy, wrasse. About my size in fact.

Oh my love, I drown in your rhythmic hypnotic curves. She nuzzles my hand, then turns back to the reef.

My mask fills with water again, and I kick, break the surface, grasping the air.
Turning, face down, snorkel erect, I return to my amorous wallowing.
The reef vibrates with the myriad life forms, but my love is gone, a haze of plankton occupies the void.

The wrasse, as they say, is history.

Road kills

One of the least attractive aspects of riding a bicycle along the highways and byways of the world is the closeness it affords you to the many and various life forms that meet their maker trying to emulate the chicken by getting to the other side of the road.

I’ve made a detailed study of road kills over many years and across three continents; and these are my findings.

1 In Britain the most common road kills are hedgehogs and rabbits; in France they are industrial gloves, and in the US bungie ropes are the most common.

2 In New Zealand road kills accounted for the rapid decline in kiwi numbers before it was noticed that they were mimicking the human tradition of pressing noses against all visitors in welcome. A similar study in Glasgow observed the head butt offered in greeting by Rangers’ supporters that led to the wrecking of numerous four-wheel-drive vehicles on the M8.

3 In the United States snakes often pretend to be dead bungie ropes – do not be fooled. Snakes are unreliable as fastenings for your tent or pannier bags. They also do not stretch thus making them useless as drying lines for your smalls.

4 The industrial gloves that constitute the majority of French road kills are almost always left-handed, and made of heavy duty red rubber. Black or brown gloves, right handers and those made of leather are rare, and highly prized, especially by the chefs and restaurateurs of the Dordoigne.

5 The bad sight of any ride is likely to be the road kill that started its crossing carrying or under its own shell; examples include tortoises, armadillos and green lipped mussels. The mussels can sometimes be retrieved and steamed with a little stock or white wine. Tortoises and armadillos are spectacular in their squashed grimness. They also go off very rapidly, so it is better to come across these road kills as fresh as possible, even to the extent of running over them yourself.

6 Don’t try and run over a tortoise or armadillo on a bicycle.

7 In Idaho you can claim road kills and trade them in, but see 3 above regarding snakes – in 2003 the going rates included $5 for a racoon, $10 for a coyote and $50 for a democrat; bears could also be traded in for $25.

8 Don’t try and run over a bear on a bicycle.

9 It is believed that rabbits in England have learned to crouch low with their ears in the non-erect position between the oncoming headlights, a position known as tharn. It is also thought that this explains the high number of rabbit road kills just outside the Reliant Robin factory in Tamworth.

10 Don’t get too upset by road kills; they are part of the rich red tapestry that is travel and have been since the dawn of civilisation, and even before that when Neanderthal man was run over by Eddie Stobart on the Preston By-pass.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Some time since I was blogging - but the feeling has returned to the blog side of the brain and here I am again...

briefly, since New Zealand, I have been to Africa twice and Lagos in particular. An amazing city that appears chaotic - is chaotic - but is home to at least 12.5m people. Life is conducted on the street from the back of cars and motor-bikes, always in floppy currency, the Naira, and always negotiated.

I wanted to try out a new picture - here is a duck

Friday, February 11, 2005

there is so much, that my guess is that Africa will always consist of first impressions - that is, it will be virtually impossibe to draw conclusions or find a definition for the 'spirit of Africa'

Lagos is teeming, chaotic, absurd - everything that Chinua Achebe shouted with such frustration passion and anger - I can see why an inhabitant might be angry with the chaos - but there is something mightily impressive with ther attempts by the mass of Lagos population (it is the second biggest city in Africa) to hold back the equally impressive forces of nature.

I think that is how I see it - after all but one evening. The heat and humidity enter every pore and eventually reach every vital internal organ of the city - the heat and humidity have entered every pore of me and today I feel slightly choleric. It could be excitement and anticipation - today I travel to Benin.. yesterday Togo declared martial law.

Lagos is completely driven, but everyhting mechanical is liable to break down or get dented. Yellow vans run everwhere as big yellow taxis. I had a driver for the evening...

but the n\millions of Lagosian vehicles have to share the creased Lagosian roads with motorbikes, lorries, and vendors - every bike carries at least one and often three pillion passengers, every lorry carries its precarious hangers on - every line of traffic is parted by a line of street vendors selling phone cards and a range of merchandise that Woolies would envy.

It's about to rain - the umbrellas by the pool, paradoxically, have to be taken down.

Samwell, my evening driver took me to the hotel. I showered changed and settled in. I ahd asked Samwell to pick me up to take me to Pat's Bar at 8.00. At 8.10 I looked for him - he came into the foyer minutes later. He had been waiting for me in the hotel compound (guarded) and had snatched a few minutes sleep. I hadn't realised he would wait for me. He waited for me at the Bar too to bring me back to the hotel. In the Uk ministers and execs have drivers who wait - my first learning insight, a driver is available for you when you want him - don't carry your western european UK attitudinal baggage around with you... Samwell (or Abby, or Bimbo, or Marian) will carry it for you.

heat and humidity - nature rusts, nature drips, nature stains and the power and resources required to clean up afterwards, or to try and predict or prevent these inexorable processes are very considerable - that from time to time the entire structure breaks down. The AC will hold back the heat and insects from your room, but the electricity will be outed while you take a shower..

But Lagos exports energy, Lagos oozes energy..

At Pat's Bar it was live bands night - Pat is from Mansfield - I told him about the changes to the Old Libray and European money building roads and leisure facilities where the coalfields used to be.
It's a bar for ex-pats and blokes (like me) to meet up, drink Heineken (mainly)and talk rugby, oil prices or life the universe and everything Lagos.

Lagos is chaotic and huge resources are deployed, not so much to impose order (though there are plenty of signs of military authority and their approach to order) but more to keep things moving. It would be virtually impossible for example to introduce the ranhe of statutes that we compliant UK subjects of HM government now take for granted... Wearing seatbelts or crash helmets are accepted behaviours now in the UK... how Nigerian authority could dissuade 4 people from riding a moped is beyond comprehension..
Learning insight no 2.

having a wonderful time (ten hours or so)

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Tuesday 4 March
Lake tekapo

the wind howled all day yesterday and all I could fit in was a 10 kms hike around the Lake. and then it rained on my parade so I got back to the tent just a bit damp
Dired out

the night sky was as clear and bright as it is possible to imagine. Lake Tekapo is reputed to have the clearest air in the southern hemnisphere. and the sky was spectacluar last night... the milky way is a stunningly clear feature.. there is no other light polution to interfere the clear sky ao meant that the temperatre dropped to about 5 above freezing last night. there is snow down to 3000 feet on the surrounding mountains.

today Tuesday, Im heading bacj to ChCh on a bus.. and then to start working my way up the east coast. the plan is to get to some idyllic spot this weekend in the Marlborough Sound, Tasmen National Park region

Some consolation here in NZ in as much as they have qualified for the next stage of the world cricket cup.. because South Africa tied with Sri Lanka under the Duckworth Lewis method..

now apologies to all my keen readers in the states. it is hard enough explaining the idea of cricket to you... and game that can last upto five days and end in a draw is not a concept that comes naturally to you I appreciate..
however, the idea of explaining the Duckworth Lewis method of calculating the result of a rain interrupted one day game.. well it defeats most cricket commentators, so my apologies that I shan't try here

there isa continued problem with trying to upload photos - all I can say is that the images of the lakes and the mountains are fabulous, breathtaking.
the day that I cycled through to Fairlie - whatever day that was now.. I was told that it reached over 40 degrees C .. looking back and at the state of my peeling nose, I can well believe it.
Don't worry back home - I am using the sunscreen religiously.. and as ever the backs of my hands are going deep brown whilst the fingers curled under the handlebars are pale white.

Aha, the coach approaches. - next despatch hopefully in the whale watching coast north of ChCh.

to be continued..

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

10 June

A dear friend found this poem about travelling through New Zealand
happy memories for me too..
tho NZ feels a million miles and several llight years away...

From Robin Robertson's 'Slow Air'

At Kaikoura

I have driven through the mountains
in a turquoise jeep, to eat here
under these hills that come down to the sea;
a bowl of green-lipped mussels, each
exactly the size of my own mouth,
two local crayfish and a bottle
of cold South Island wine.
There are dolphins in the bay
and sperm whales out beyond the shelf,
trawling for squid. The sun is folded
into the water. I am far from home,
remembering how to live, remembering
I have no home.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Saturday 12 April
Changi Airport, Singapore

just a quickie at the free airport internet terminal..
there is something very spooky about loads of people wearing face masks..
now to date there has not been a single case of SARS transmitted via aircraft airconditioning systems or airport lounges..
but hey if it makes people feel secure..
it's just wierd that's all..

and also strange is catching the end of the Man U Newcastle game on the airport sports area..
2-6 not looking good for the magpies..
all we need now is a good result from Blundell Park against Palace..
I've a feeling it's not going to be broadcast live to Singapore Airport, sadly, and mystifyingly..

I've left NZ time behind.. it's just about 2.00 am there.. and it's nearly three in the afternoon in the UK..
here, halfway back, it's near;ly 10pm
my body clock will be wrecked.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Friday 11 April

probably the last post, as it were, from NZ - the flight home starts at midday tomorrow.. and I get back to LHR at 5.30 local time on Sunday morning.

By lunchtime on Sunday I'll be back in Nottingham, wondering why the cat doesn't recognise me.

these won't be the final reflections on NZ.. but the thoughts just now are terribly mixed.. I've had such a brilliantly fantastic time, as I almost always do on long bike rides... but this one is special as it turned much more into a holiday and relaxed break.

and now it is about to end.. and the weather is still in the late summer rather than autumnal mode.. mid 20 degrees again today.

so what early reflections shall I offer about the country and the kiwis..?

well the country is astonishing in its beauty.. the youthfulness of its geology and demographics are what makes it unique.. as I cycled through the steam of the thermal regions, or past the glacial valleys and morains, or through the earthquake torn regions, or across the volcanic landscapes, I really did get the feeling that the land is still not sure if it has settled down yet... there is still some landscaping to be done I reckon... and the smoothing out by erosion hasn't gone very far yet.. there are still a lot of edges and bumpy bits... pointy peaks and creased up craters..

and the people are still in the mix too...
Aukalnd is a huge magnet for many people.. and the distribution of the population makes little sense yet.. with 25% of the population in the south island, and 300,000 of them in ChristChurch, it doesn't leave a lot of people to spread around the rest of the South Island.. yet the people there call it the Mainland, in a raher peverse defiance.

and in the North Island, where Maori culture is much stronger, and Aukland gathers up 1 million people, and is the biggest polynesian city in the world.. and yet in places feels like a suburb of Seoul..

overall, I have a huge respect and admiration for the Kiwi outlook on life... generally in my experience, Kiwis smile a lot, they ask how's it going of total strangers a lot, they greet people and offer a kia ora readily and freely...
the simile is hiding the secrets of NZ - the scenery that they don't tell you about - the wine that they don't export to the UK supermarket shelves... they are keeping the best for themselves I reckon..

on the other hand, there is a self-consciousness about some kiwis... they recognise their limitations and it holds them back a bit.. better be careful how I put this - I don't want to sound stereotypical or make racial generalisations...
NZers are not going to set world politics alight... there isn't a lot of news emanating from NZ.. politics in NZ is a bit contrived and inconsequential... let me explain.. the PM, Helen gosh I can't remember her surname, had to apologise to the americans for a true but ill judged remark... the aftermath of this, and the debate about whether she should publish the full text of the letter she sent to Condaleezza has been the main topic of NZ political news for the past week.. one news bulletin found a way of dragging the item out to fifteen minutes.
but this is partly because there was no other news..

I go back to the fact that world events happen when New Zealand sleeps.

and then there is sport - there's always a rugby story to fill out the rest of the bulletin... the Blues second row forward grazed his knee in training yesterday... let's ask former test player Rough McTumble what impact this might have on the next round of the Super-twelve challenge cup?

but this sounds as if I'm belittling what is a great place to visit... and to belittle the friendship and hospitality I've encountered here..

If you'll still have me after those remarks, New Zealand, I'd like to come back... thanks, and kia ora...

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Thursday 10 April
last night I enjoyed the privilege of one of those occasional pieces of theatre that change your perspective..
a youth theatre production by Theatre Marae - Whakapapa Tamaki
a moving beyond words piece about survival and recovery and thriving through their art and vigour and physical exhuberance for a group of 50 Maori young people who had suffered a series of abuses and misuse of adult power.

What moved me most was their freedom of movement, gesture, song and poetry.. they performed a haka that put the hairs at the back of your neck in vertical salute.

I'll reflect some more and get some better language to describe the power of the piece..
for now, it is worth saying that art cannot make good the abuse, but it has the power to go to the hurt place and clean the wound...
and the theatre of these young people did that and more.
Thursday 10 April

and surely Mariners are now doomed following their defeat at home to a lack lustre Wolves...
running out of games chaps... come ON Grimsby..

here are a few more snaps of NZ

this one is where Captain Cook landed in December 1769 in the estuary of the river he called the Thames..

and this is the room at the Galsshouse where I stayed with Scott and Matt in Waiheke Island
nice eh?

and this is me at the thermal park, wearing a wry smile.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Wednesday 9 April

serendipity has smiled on me again... I'm here in Aukland and at the same time there's a festival of arts for young people, with some UK artists and practitioners courtesy of the British Council..
I atended the opening ceremony on Monday - the Powhiri.. a powerful greeting and challenge and welcome delegates and bless the proceedings.

last week I was on the Coromandel Peninsula and did a long coastal walk from Fletchers Bay to Stoney Bay... here are some of the views along the way...

this last one is an area where old gold workings are being claimed back by the native bush..

and this one is a cow...

and soon the whole adventure comes to an end... hey ho
Wednesday 9 April
after a fantastic few days on Waiheke Island

seeing Scott and Matt... in their fabulous dream palace the Glass House..
this is what it looks like

and this is the view at sunset

and here is Rachael on the Sunday we drove over to Piha.. se earlier entry..

I'll post these and check that they work... then if they do I'll load a couple more views..

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Sunday 6 April
city of rain and mists and mellow fruitfulness...
it is autumn after all

it has rained all day.. but luckily I was in the car of dear friend and former colleague Rachel who took me out for a drive over to Piha.. a surfers' beach on the west coast of the Aukland isthmus..

we lunched in Ponsonby at the Atlas deli which more than a little reminded me of my reguklar staurday mornings, orming around Nottingham and reading the dstaurday morning papers over a long latte..

ther are more Austin 1100.. what is it with these old english cars.. RAchel told me she had an Austin Allegro.. now there's an admission... and I saw a Morris Minor buzzing around the streets of tCoromandel the other day.

Mariners slump to 23rd in the First Division table following a defeat at the hands of Leicester.. bah... even with a game in hand it doesn't look good... come on guys..

It has started to feel decidedly autumnal over here.. and I'm beginning to look forward to spring in the UK..
mind you while you now have the majority of the sun in your hemisphere, the temperature here is still in the 20s.. and close and humid with it.

discovered there's a British Council festival of arts for young people over here in Aukland this coming week.. so there's something else to catch up with.. the sunset has just blasted some pink off the boiling clouds.. could be a better day tomorrow.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Saturday 5 April
city of sails

and rain
arrived here on the ferry this arvo - after a brill few days on the Coromnadel Peninsula..
add Lorokeets, kingfishers, bell birds and wild turkeys to the wildlife..

thanks to Jan Manager and colleagues at the Coromandel Info centre for suggesting where to go... Mrs Manager was especially helpful.

I'm meeting up with former colleague Rachel tomorrow.. in the rain.. and former colleague Scott on Waiheke Island on Monday.. but it's now definitely wind down mode now.. getting more photies sorted hopefully and posting stuff home in advance of the flight..
which all being well is next saturday.. as long as the health authorities let us fly in to Heathrow via Singapore.


Friday, April 04, 2003

Friday 4 April
been oin a long hike today across the top of the Peninsula.. fantastic clear day with views across the Sound to Waiheke Island and the Aukland Bay area..

and yesterday a day of exploring the area round here with a ride on the narrow guage railway up into the native bush.. replanted by the unique Barry Bricknell.

hey - they are showing 24 twice a week out here which should mean that we have caught up with the UK.. so just to check.. Jack is in trouble with Nina again?
he should never turn his back on her... and now it may be too late..
saw an old Austin A35 yesterday.. bright green, but chugging along.
and there was a Austin 1100 driving around - the car we had when I passed my test in 1967.. and which I used to knock Wilf Spence off his Vespa scooter...

you can tell that the end of the adventure is nigh.. the quality of news is decidedly dodgy..
more anon and from Aukland..

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Wednesday 2 April
Coromandel Town

This is probably the last hard day of cycling today... about 60 kms along the coast and over two terrific hill climbs to get into the Coromandel Peninsular.
Thames was named after the river that Captain Cook explored and landed further up river..

The ride along the coast was beautifiul and for the first time in an age there was a wind behind me.. I zzinged along for a couple of hours until I hit the hills... they took an hour each to get to the top of... and the gradients in NZ are much steeper than would be found in the UK or US..

I'm now bumping into lots of travellers I encountered before... met up with Crystal from Canada who went skydiving at the same time as me.. (did I mention that I tompoked myself out of a plane at 15,000 feet?)

no sign of the other members of the Lindon Puffin fan club though... they must be around here somewhere..

OK, a couple of days tramping around the north of the Coromandel, then the ferry over to Aukland on Saturdaay.. then Waiheke Island Mnday and Tuesday... I guess that's about it folks..
another update soon..

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Tuesday 1 April

and I can say pinch punch first of the month before most of you have seen off March..

so here I am at the base of the Coromandel peninsular.. and this is likely to be the last section to ride before I start to think about heading towards Aukland and the flight home.. already the end of the great kiwi adventure is looming..
and what an adventure.. today I followed in the footsteps of Captain Cook and stood where he landed just up the river from here.. He named the river the Thames... but the local Maori tribes have claimed it back... the landing was fullu occupied by cormorants, looking for all the world like the souls of dead sailors.
shortly afterwards I was stung by a bee, which is slightly odd, I haven't been bee stung for over 30 years, and I wasn't sure how I'd react.. you hear such dreadful things these days,
nothing much happened.. I got the sting out, slapped on some anti-histamene cream and peddled on.. the neck has been a bit sore.. but nothing compared to the itching of the sandfly bites.

Thames is a pretty little town, established 1867 when the gold rush started... strange to think that gold rushes were happening all over the globe and not just to California... and just as my house in Nottingham was settling into its existance as home to the doctor of the local workhouse.

yesterday the rdie was through another goldfield, and the workings are still in the hill side, although the native bush is reclaiming at a staggering rate. The steel hawsers left in the hill side are almost indistinguishable from the tree roots that srround them.

The Coromandel is a jewel and I'm heading higher tomorrow.

not much other news - Grimsby appear not to have played lately.. no doubt due to the internationals that have taken up much of our interest.. er, Lichtenstein??
and news from home and of the war sounds dreadful.. how can they get away with this?

time to go and cook... I'm cooking lemonfish tonight (a kind of shark, apparently) in a tomato salsa... with fresh pineapple to follow.. the fiejoa I ate the other day tasted like a kiwi fruit with the texture of a pear... and very nice too.
Tuesday 1 April

and I can say pinch punch first of the month before most of you have seen off March..

so here I am at the base of the Coromandel peninsular.. and this is likely to be the last section to ride before I start to think about heading towards Aukland and the flight home.. already the end of the great kiwi adventure is looming..
and what an adventure.. today I followed in the footsteps of Captain Cook and stood where he landed just up the river from here.. He named the river the Thames... but the local Maori tribes have claimed it back... the landing was fullu occupied by cormorants, looking for all the world like the souls of dead sailors.
shortly afterwards I was stung by a bee, which is slightly odd, I haven't been bee stung for over 30 years, and I wasn't sure how I'd react.. you hear such dreadful things these days,
nothing much happened.. I got the sting out, slapped on some anti-histamene cream and peddled on.. the neck has been a bit sore.. but nothing compared to the itching of the sandfly bites.

Thames is a pretty little town, established 1867 when the gold rush started... strange to think that gold rushes were happening all over the globe and not just to California... and just as my house in Nottingham was settling into its existance as home to the doctor of the local workhouse.

yesterday the rdie was through another goldfield, and the workings are still in the hill side, although the native bush is reclaiming at a staggering rate. The steel hawsers left in the hill side are almost indistinguishable from the tree roots that srround them.

The Coromandel is a jewel and I'm heading higher tomorrow.

not much other news - Grimsby appear not to have played lately.. no doubt due to the internationals that have taken up much of our interest.. er, Lichtenstein??
and news from home and of the war sounds dreadful.. how can they get away with this?

time to go and cook... I'm cooking lemonfish tonight (a kind of shark, apparently) in a tomato salsa... with fresh pineapple to follow.. the fiejoa I ate the other day tasted like a kiwi fruit with the texture of a pear... and very nice too.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Monday 31 March
home of the famous spring water that mixes with lemon to create L&P
world famous all over New Zealand..

I'm now officially a member of the Lindon Puffin fan club.. along with Janet from Dewsbury and Sheila from Hexham..
we all three watched in awe and wonderment at Lindon's Friday night gig in Barbarella's in Rotorua.. and then discovered that he was also playing in Tauranga at Krazy Jacks on Saturday night..
so Janet and I turned up again.. and bought the CD, and Lindon signed it..
a singer songwriter and guitarist of exceptional note.. and about to break through into the highest level of Kiwi fame.

Sunday, I biked over to Waihi Beach.. pitched camp down by the pacific ocean - the Bay of Plenty - and dived into the surf.. fantastic.. and they say that Skegness is bracing..

drank a couple of cheap beers at the Fire Station and fell into conversation with Barry who used to work for the Ordnance Survey and therefore knows every pub in England - so it seems, including the Trip to Jerusalem, and the Salutation in Nottingham.

Today a fairly gentle ride through the Karangahake Gorge where old gold mine workings are being eaten up by the natural bush vegetation..
and someone kindly gave me a fejoa to eat.. a dark green fruit.. taste report to come.

thanks for all the messages from home - especially those that have encouraged me to throw myself out of a plane again..

Friday, March 28, 2003

Saturday 29 March

some further thoughts on free falling sky diving...


From here the fillings in the teeth vibrate,
Or maybe it's fear that makes them chatter,
Certainly nothing else seems to matter,
Save the lack of common sense, once innate,
But now left standing, transfixed, on the floor,
Wond'ring why its erstwhile owner, absent
Without leave at fifteen thousand hell-bent
Feet, now sits at the aircraft open door.
Also looking up, self-preservation
Asks, poignantly, why he's been left behind,
As tumbling into space, two bodies twinned
In a single earthbound destination,
Fall... two miles in a screaming minute, then,
In silence drifting back to earth again.

that's about what it felt like...
just received a couple of extra photos from Karen and Simon in Wellington..

Simon and me and the bike and a NESTA t-shirt..

setting out from Wellington

Friday 28 March

catching up on a few more photos...

washing day in Golden Bay about three weeks ago..

Marlborough Sound on a long walk to a high place..

another tree...

early morning on the Beach at Napier.

thermal pool near Rotorua.

a green pool...

a wry smile yesterday in the rain..
there have been a few more wry smiles today.. not least because the person booking me a bus ticket this morning automatically gave me a 'golden' discount.. I'll leave you to work out how you qualify for a golden discount..
and also saw a t-shirt with Woodford's brewery Norfolk on it.. and as with the ride across the States, I suddenly became very nostalgic for a pint of 'Wherry'

hey ho..

Thursday, March 27, 2003

and the view from the backpackers hostel in Collingwood in Golden Bay

and the beach at Abel Tasman national Park

and this was the whale at Kaikoura...

Friday 28 March

and these are some horses in Golden Bay.. about three weeks ago

Friday 28 March
still experimenting

this feels better... this is a tree
Friday 28 March
and it is tipping it down with rain..
and there is little movement on the horizon
so a day for looking at Museums and trying yet again to load photographs onto the site..
here goes nothing, as we said as we dropped out of the aeroplane on Monday.. (did I mention that I had skydived? from 15,000 feet?)


this should be a tree... but it may appear as html code..

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Wednesady 26 March
90 kms tofday folks and it rained for the first time in five weeks..
I'm going top try and load up a photo of me in Welleington - courtesy of Karen and Simon..

nope.. no good..

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Tuesday 25 March

cowabunga dudes... I don't know how this really happened but at 4pm yesterday 24 March I threw or rather fell myself out of a plane at 15000 feet.. yes folks.. I went sky diving.

It was all a bit of a blur.. I arrived at Taupo at 2pm and enquired in a gentle uncertain and relaxed way about skydiving.. one of the things to do in Taupo..
an hour later I had signed my life away.. and was on my way to the air field..
there I met my new very best friend Adrian.. who was my tandem partner..
we got kitted out with an appropriately named jump suit.. a quick change iof underwear and we crammed ourselves into a small plane..heading for the stratosphere..
the flight was a bit short on comforts and the hospitaslity trolley did not appear.. instead I buckled even closer to Adrian who explained that when we reached 15000 feet the door of the plane would open.. we shuffled forward .. I was to look back at the camera, rest my head back on his shoulder and away we would go..
all went according to plan... once Adrian had prised my grip of the edge of the door, I leaned back as he tipped us both forward and out into oblivion..
I was momentarily disorneintated
and seemed to be upside down..
it wasn't much better the right way up... the ground seemed an alarming distance away.

we travelled two miles in free fall - in the space of a minute or so... then we resumed a vertical position as the canopy opened..
deep joy.. but still a wierd sensation dangling so high above the ground.. the descent from 4000 feet took a further four minutes..

we landed and I started breathing normally again..

the most exhilarating and bizzare experience.. but look dudes - I'm only going to do this once in my life.. and it may as well be now and in NZ.

I'll tell you what I think about it all again later.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Monday 24 March
Taupo after Napier

for those of you still wondering - I am taking buses from time to time.. I was advised that the Napie Taupo road was not one to cycle on... and I've long decided to do NZ by bike in sections.. skipping the hard or boring bits... I have to say there are not many boring bits.. but there are some hard bits.

The sun continues to bake.
Monday 24 March
Napier then Taupo

of course the wine tasting around Hawkes Bay - was not to ignore the events happening elsewhere..
it's just that NZ sleeps when the world turns..

I just wonder if George and Tony know what victory will look like - how will they define it when they have created more enemies as a result of their illegal unmandated actions than they had before?

Come on George, do you really think that the Arab and moslem world will thank you?
and do you really think that you can protect US self interest with a wall around your country and its citizens?

and now we hear of casualties in the media and the allies under 'friendly fire'

Sunday 23 March
Napier, Hawkes Bay..

How was your Sunday? Have a good day, relaxed, taking it easy?

me? I cycled 75 kms arounf Hawkes Bay wineries... an almost perfect day.. the weather topped 23c again with a fair wind in the morning..
and Rick's top wine tip for the bon viveur and vinophile? Get as much NZ wine down yer neck as you can..

Now I don't want to give the impression that I was in any way irresponsible tasting the 20 or so wines from the seven wineries I was able to take in in the day...
another tip.. the NZ reds are fantastic.. and usually get snaffled by wine merchants as soon as they are released.. The Merlots and Shiraz/Sirahs are woundrous.. in the warmth of the autumn sunshine out here.

Napier is art deco all over.. every sign advertising Joe's tyres or Sam's Haridressers are all in fancy deco script..
as a result of the earthquake that destrroyed the town in 1930..

and thanks again to Karen and Simon in Wellington for their warm hospitality.. especially the fluffy towel - luxury..
Grimsby drew away to Burnley but dropped back into the relagation zone because Stoke won..
ity's a dog fight down there.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Friday 21 March

yes this is Wellington - and I've had a fantastic couple of days thanks to the warm and generous hospitality of Simon and Karen.. who live in Wadestown - which like most places in Wellington is - UP THE HILL..

Wellington is a gentle cafe based capital city with a wonderful museum of NZ life - Te Papa.. down on the waterfront.

the buses are run by StageCoach which is depressingly familiar..

Simon and Karen have only just moved into their new home.. the sofa's arrived on Thursday morning.. the container from England hasn't arrived yet.. the visitors from Dunedin arrived Thursday evening to sit on the new sofas.. life in Wellington is that close to the japanese theory of just in time delivery.

The war seems to have started - but NZ is firmly anti.. and there is a vigil and concert tonight in the civic centre square.. another sign of the respoinsible neutrality adopted by a small country feeling a bit out of it all... and very much to their credit.

Tomorrow - Saturday - I'll leave the cosmopolitan life behind.. and head off to Napier - art deco capital of the world.

Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 - hence the rebuilding in art deco style..
Wellington houses have to have emergency supplies in a secure place.. so far Simon has placed a bucket of water in the garden shed... their house is built almost on the vertical plane... one good earth tremor and the house would shake itself free of the hillside and head off down towards the harbour.

still warm - and dry... the nights are getting chillier... and I've an annoying head cold... but NOT the life threatening respitory disease that has paralysed parts of asia and the antipodes... has the news permeated to the UK?

the good news for Mariners fans - obviously growing by the dozen following this website - is that Grimsby are out of the bottom three after a stunning late victory over Rotherham.. pah where is your Magma Centre now?

and hello and thanks to Ann and David who live across the bay in Eastbourne and were from Lincolnshire and are closely related to my godmother..
slightly complicated I know... but hello anyway - and sorry not to get over to the other side of the harbour...
dragon boat racing championships start tomorrow...
should demand a mention in the national press - should feature just below the Croquet results..

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Tuesday 18 March
named after a general who fell at the battle of Waterloo... as far as I know there are no odd statues of Sir Thomas..

yes - Grimsby 1 - Watford 0
so the Mariners move off the bottom of the division.. sadly I think it is only a matter of time before the trapdoor opens.

Marlborough Sound - what an amazing coastline, all isthmuses and peninsulars and bays and inlets.. caused by the 'drowning' by the sea of the valleys and estuaries as the land dropped. Slarty Bardfast, designer of coastlines for the planet builders of Magarothea, would have been proud of this one (following his award for the fiords)..

yesterday I climbed up to 1400' on the Queen Charlotte Track (named after Queen of George 111) - it was a steep and hard climb and I'm glad to have made the decision not to try it on the bike.. even tho I have some suspension on the front forks it would have been beyond my capacity.. but the views from the top of the bays and inlets with the mountains guarding them were amazing.
I'm planning to cross over to Wellington tomorrow, Wednesday, and I'll try Simon's computer to see if we can do anything with these here photographs..
all this deathless prose is meaningless without the images..

stayed at Anakiwa last night.. the dutch backpacker in the bunk above me snorkled even louder than I do, hurrah..
and Helen, the owner, bakes her own bread and two slices of toast with blackberry jam this morning were delightful.
ahh the joys of domesticity when you are travelling and tenting..

actually having stayed at the Rutherford School in Havelock, on the yacht in Portage, at the backpackers last and this night and then with thanks at Simon and Karen's in Wellington.. I'll have forgotten what the tent is like as a shelter..

new topical sonnet in the thought for the day section..

more from Wellington, (and hoopefully some photos)..

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Sunday 16 March
Portage in the Marlborough Sounds

having cycled 40 Kms today from Havelock.. named incidentally after Sir Henry Havelock (Bart) who is one of the three odd statues in trafalgar Square..

Portage is on an inlet.. the ride today illustrated in several places why I do this.. turn a corner rise over the crest of a hill and there is a vista of wonderment in front of you..
Arrived in Prtage with time on my hands - early start because of the end of daylight saving - the clocks went back - we are now just 12 hours ahead of UK time..
so decided to try sea kayaking around the inlets of the Marlborough Sound.. what a delight.. the silence of the kayak and viewing the scenery from water level.
Some hundreds of whitebait sparng from the sea in front of me.. though i didn't see what was chasing them just as well.

more anon - just need to check the Grimsby watford result.. fish fingers crossed..

Friday, March 14, 2003

Saturday 15 March
Takaka - just before setting off to Havelock in the Marlborough Sound..

So the librarian I hugged then said - it's nice when someone can express their feelings..
so thanks Nancy, and my apologies again for making some disturbance in the library.

Another fine day in the micro-climate that is Golden Bay..
the astonishing thing last night - after an excellent meal at the wholemeal cafe - was finding Mark Helyer at the backpackers.. Mark is Artisitic Director of Proteus Theatre Company Basingstoke, where I was a Board member for a while...
after the 'you are Lobby Ludd, and I claim my five pounds' moment, we enjoyed a good old catch up in the world of touring theatre.

Wierd or what?

The North Island has been experiencing continuous rain for days running into weeks apparently, and Wellington was closed for fog some days ago... hopefully I'll be that little ray of sunshine it needs.

Golden Bay is a brilliant laid back almost horizontally hippy area.. where few people wander in from the outside, the barrier of Takaka Hill being too much for most casual travellers. and the hills around protect the Bay and the area from the excesses of stormy weather.

Highs of 24 degrees still, and this morning is another clear sky.. could stay longer, but I have other rides to do.

the tally is over 500 miles so far.. albeit in sections.

legs good, constitution still fine, bum recovered... generally feeling fit as a butcher's dog, and as cheery as it is possible to be without being obnoxious.
Friday 14 March
the news has come through and it is GOOD...
and I'm sitting in a public library speechless with delight..
actually I'm embarrassed to declare that I have just hugged the librarian.

It has been such a good day.. I followed my intuition and a sign that said Pupu Springs.. just because it sounded a bit different.
the springs are pure clear water filtered tyhrough marble aquifers, bubbling up in clear pools and surrounded by recovering semi tropical forest.
the sand in the pools bubbles and dances.
it was woundrous, magical..

things bubble up, eh?

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Thursday 13 March
Cape Farewell

I'm anticpating bad news about the job I applied for and wanted.. but anticipation is alweays worse than the reality..
I'm sitting ion a rock looking out to sea in the most solitary place in NZ.. there is a strand of five miles in either direction and there is me and a seagull contemplating the universe.
the seagull probably has a better view of it than me.

this is solitude - delicious, sensuous, palpable solitude..
and how much do I care about the decisions taken in London or New York?
well a bit when I remember..
but in the sun with only the sound of the sea surging up the sand - well there is a unique and distant perspective to all things... sometimes created by history, sometimes by distance.. and the feeling of remoteness.

Cape Farewelll is the end of the south island.. tomorrow I head back along ythe Golden Bay coast to the Marlborough Sound area.

but for today - the memory of blissful solace in isolation is all sustaining.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Tuesday 11 March
I don't know how to pronounce it either..

Forest 2 - Grimsby 2

and again Mariners throw away a lead in a crucial match..
The game was on Sky apparently - though notover this side of the world.. there was some rugby super 12 challenge game instead.. can't think why, there must be oooh at least a couple of Mariner or Forest fans over here..

so we are still firmly rooted to the bottom of the table..

must get out more...

Tuesday 11 March
just time to say that I'm in an idyllic spot on the northern end of south island.. near the Abel Tasman Park.. which has a coastal path that takes you to even more secluded beaches..
and I'm feeling strangely low today.. it hits me after about a fortnight.. not sure why..

maybe it's because I've whimped out of a long hill climb over 2000' to get to the other bay - Golden Bay.. and opted for the bus instead?
maybe it's a mixture of general anxiety and nostalgia.. either way it will pass.

heading off for a walk over to the next inlet.. Stillwell Bay..


Sunday, March 09, 2003

Sunday 9 March

today I celebrate my 53 birthday... I've opened some cards that I brought out from home overlooking the Tasman Bay
it's brilliantly hot out here today.. and I'm heading into the Abel Tasman Park tomorrow...

the ride from Nelson, was surprisingly hilly.. I wish the landscape could be a bit more forgiving.. I'm beginning to ache in the knees and as we say in Sheffield..
thirty years in the saddle by Major Bumsore..
sure does.

I'm plannng to stay around the Tasman area and the Marlborough Sound for about a week or so.. and then investigate the ferry over to Wellington..
but enough for now.. I'm about to open a bottle of sparkling NZ wine that is chilling in the fridge.

cheers everyone

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Saturday 8 March
the coast road to Blenheim is ok but not worth cycling - I'm pleased to confirm... and the next bus from Blenheim to Nelson even more confirmed the good idea not to take up time cycling all the way..
so far at the end of the second week - I'ce cycled 8 out of 14 days and copvered over 300 miles so I'm building up gradually... the road to Nelson contained two of the worst inclines I have ever dreamed of... long hauls over 10 kms... and I'm sure as ever not gpoing to bike them back the other way either.

Tomorrow - ride on to Motueka - and start to look for a place to mark the turning of another year.
Saturday 8 March
this has turned out to be a very pleasant day..
not too much sleep due to the earth tremors.. or Sam waking me up because I was snorkling again..

let me go backj to the whale watching for a moment.. it was such an exceptional expoerience yesterday..
we all collect at the Whaeway station for check in and the safety video.. and then embus to south bay fopr the catamaran out to sea... it promisies to be choppy.. the sick bags are on display.

Stacey is on Whale watch duty.. the engines engage and we are away.. bouncing and surging acrossd the troughs and crests..
soon the dusky dolphins are catchiung up with us and putting on a circus performance, criss- crossing in front of the boat, doing back flip[s..l as if they were the premiershipos leading scorers..
further out - seeking sperm whales.. young(ish) males.. a longer process, not least because their feeding habits take them down for 40 minutes minimum on a deep dive..
Some time spent scouring the horizon for spouts.
One is spotted, a mile or so away and we off on the modern equivalent of the Nantucket Sleighride in rapid puirsuit.

but we arrive just as the flukes up end go vertical and disappear.. the camera is just not quick enough.

They dive down over 1km into the Kaikpura canyon.. one fo the significant deeps of the Pacuific caused by the creasing of the tectonic plates at this point..

Another is spotted, feeding on the surface and collecting oxygen... we race to get there and approqach from the rear and side... Up on deck, shutters clicking furiously... the blowhole rhythm reveals his intentions... He's ready to dive, ready, here he goes, there go flukes and there he goes...
Exhilarating.. one of the great natural spectacles - the vertical tail slap of a diving whale..

another is sighted.. again the boat race - but agin we just catch the tail end of the dive..

We're almost exhausted with adrenalin and excitement..
Heading back.. albatross float or sopar on or just above the surface... stormy petrels and Molly mawks..
then just after the dolphins have put on another circus performance we encounter 5 killer whales on patrol.. five orcas just 1 km from the shore among the cray fish pots and the fur seals..
They rsie and scythe the surface in gently arching undulating rhythms.

We arrive back - 25 or so happy people completely satisfied with our encounter with nature in its rich size and majesty.

Who cares how routine, how easy it is for the crew and company to take our L30 and know where to take us... we were entralled.. the sea and its creatures - our land masses, and our very occasional intrusions are tiny interruptions in their much grander world.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Saturday 8 March
getting the days and dates mixed up..
hard to contemplate that I've been here a fortnight already.. considering the variety I've seen so far..

heading north today.. just as well as it's raining this morning as the cloud has dropped to sea level.

As if the riding isn't hard enough, New Zealand South Island is rising at the rate of about 10cms per year.. as the tectonic plates grind up against each other.. the resulting tensions in the earth surface produce tremors and earthquakes as well as the volcanic activity that creates the hot springs and typical cones of the mountains..

and there was a tremor last night...
Thursday 7 March
on the coast.. Kaikoura is the bit that sticks out above ChCh.. and it is a world famous whale watching centre.. so what did I do today? went out to watch whales... and there they were.. three sperm whales, a large pod of Dusky Dolphins.. putting on a show it has to be said.. and five Orcas on the way back..
of and guess what.. the centre is called the Whaleway Station.. soz but true.

And the photo of the month award goes to me just catching the flukes of a sperm whale as it hit the big dive...
Now sadly, of course I've still not found a way of getting these blessed and fantastic photies on to the web yet.. I am working at it, but first I have to get a computer to recognise that it has a camera attached to it.

And I'm in Kaikoura public library doing this update, and libraries do not like you to plug anything in...

I've just received the terrible news that Grimsby have gone bottom.. Stafford's email was just entitled 'bottom' and I knew he was not enquiring after my health.
fine by the way..
and just as I brought up the email, a Coventry supporter at the next terminal looked across and gloomily noted that Coventry had lost to Wednesday....

eeeh, I don't know, you go half way round the world and sit next to a footy fan from the midlands.. (if that is a fair way of describing a Coventry supporter.. feels like a contradiction in terms to me.)
however, I feel that Mariners are doomed.

I never ceased to be amazed at the amount of gear carried around by backpackers.. have I mentioned this.. there was one guy I met.. he could only have been 5' nothing in his bare feet... and he was carrying a sack two thirds his height.. if he fell over he would never get up again... like a far welted sheep.

Other news - Singapore Airlines have confirmed a flight home on 12 April... for a while it looked uncertain if I would get a flight in April at all.. they reported that they were fully booked in April.. all those NZers and Aussies getting to Europe for the summer... and it was possible that I would get home till May.. the waiting list came through..
so with seven weeks (and five weeks to go) this is definitley turning into a cycling holiday and not a ride of achievement..

Tomorrow I'm heading north to the Marlborough Sound..

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Wednesday 6 March
Cheviot to Kaikoura
75 kms and not so hard today although there were three steep and long climbs over the coastal range..
but now I'm overlooking the Pacific Ocean and setting off tomorrow to watch some Whales
I'm pretty tired after two and a half days long riding.. yesterday I did over 100 Kms into a strong head wind... cycled for nine hours and only managed an average of 12 KPS.. which is under 8 mph in ready money.

the ocean is brilliant.. add albatross, penguins and porpoise to the list of wild life..
and the albatross reminds me that Grimsby continue in the gloom.. and as we all know the team are called the Mariners... and the goalie is called the Ancient Mariner (because he stoppeth one in three).

taking a rest day tomorrow and then the bus.. yes another bus, but NZ is too varied and hilly to cycle everywhere.. so I'm heading up to Nelson for the birthday weekend.. looks like Singapore airlines may have a flight back on 12 April.. tho it's looking touch and go if I will get back before May if this one doesn't confirm.. suddenly all europe want to see where Lord of the Rings was filmed... and all NZers want to get to europe and leave the tourists to it.

there seems to be little news to report from this end of the world.. the boat havoc has died down.. the cricket world cup causes some merriment that the Black Caps got thru but England didn't..

oh well.. let's go and watch whales.. (and that is not a rugby pun)

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Monday 3 March
Lake Tekapo

the news is that NZ lost to the Swiss in the fifth race of the America's Cup and is deep mourning.. the post mortems dominate the news and media
And grimsby crash at home 2-0 to Coventry.. fortunately all the other teams in the bottom four lost as well.. but it is now a three from four situation fr the drop..

OK Lake Tekapo is right in the geographical centre of south islandf.. it is a clear blue lake.. there is rock dust suspended in the water and it refracts a clear tourquoise blue.. but wow, it has been howling a gale all night.. in fact the ride up here yesterday was ok until I got over Burkes Pass (2,200 feet) legs going well to that point... then a gentle decline on the other side.... and then the headwind. terrible, the last 10 kms took me two hours buffeting into the headwind.
I'm pitched sideways into the wind off the lake and the tent performed magnificently as ever.
So I'm now looking at some options before heading.. today is a rest day until the weather subsides. then I may take a bus back to ChCh to start heading up the east coast...
I've also the little matter of where to be on Sunday - where and when I celebrate the birthday.. ifeally I'd like to overlooking a secluded bay with a bottle of something light white and possibly sparkling.

I'm going to try posting a couple of phots.. so please bear with me for a while.. we may not have technoilogy here at the cyber cafe..
Oh, and a big hello and good luck to Melissa from Massachussetts as she sets off to Mount Cook. well someone has to do it.

I'm starting to form a clear impression of the south island and the people.. it is a fabtastic country and the land is everything.. that annd the wind. There is a clear sense though that the isolation from the rest of the world brings benefits and disadvantages. there is an odd felling that the rest of the world is making decisions while NZ sleeps. which is kind of true... so although NZ is ahead in terms of time of most of the rest of the world.. they wake up to decisions having been taken elsewhere.

more anon.. let's try these photies.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Saturday 1 March 2003

I'm actually in the cafe called the Old Library..
and lo and behold it is another Carnegie Library.. endowed around 1911..
So from Mansfield to the Midwest of Nebraska to the south island of NZ I've come across the fruits of the endowment of Andrew Carnegie... what a great legacy arounf the world
Now what will you leave as your legacy Uncle Bill, Dear old Elton, Sir Paul?

It's been a hot hard day today, toiling up the hills from Geraldine to Fairlie on route to Lake Tekapo.. which I should reach tomorrow.. the temperature has been in the high 80s.. and the heart has been blasting away.. and the lungs.. so I guess the recovery rate will improve .. and I'm not in danger of peffing out from exertion just yet..

The highlight of the day - meeting four guys from Montana in a lunchtime bar/cafe.. so the story of meeting the pres of Bud at the top of the Rockies in Montana and the subsequent meeting again at the Chubby Checker convcert in Missoula.. well it had to be told.

Fairlie is fairly dead of a saturday night and I've decided that because I've been here a week.. I'm eating out tonighht.

Friday, February 28, 2003

Friday 28 Feb
just to finish February with another topical sonnet

The America Cup

All is not well in Aroatorea,
There's a deathly hush in the bay tonight,
While we rockall, fisher and german bight,
Aukland Harbour trepidates ghastly fear.

A rolling sea and the last boat of the fleet
Just five to win in a nine race series,
Sadly it's standing four nil to the Swiss
NZers contemplate yachting defeat.

The tale of today, fish and chip Friday,
The black boat suffered a catastrophe,
As helpless crewmen watched the high sea
Claim a shattered mast midst cries of mayday...

It's hard to tell what thought is more galling -
Defeat to the land locked Swiss - apalling.

Friday 28 February 2003
Friday evening - still in Geraldine
but time for a quick update on the new so far today..
NZ is in deep shock following the latest race in the America's Cup.. the black boat lost its mast in the course of the race and now stands 4 to nil down in the nine race series... and who are they competing against?
this does not go down well with your typical NZder..
Well friday evening being friday evening I've treated myself to some local fish and chips out of the papaer.. and very tasty too.. the fish (please tell capatin cod and mister chips) was blue cod..
the whole packet cost $4.. about L1.30...
but hey the idea is not to be constantly comparing proces..
but by the way a three bedroom villa style art deco 1930s house in Geraldine on the toursit route and close to the lakes.. $120,000 or L40,000 to you...
it won't last long guys.

there are a lot of europeans on the bike trail.. a couple of netherlanders, two swiss (not interested in yachting so they claim) and a french couple all on the camp site this evening..

sadly the amenities at Geraldine campsite also include a couple of folk with an accordian and a guitar.. playing some classics.. VRY BADLY... oh no they have just brought out an amplifier.. this is too much to bear.

The ride this morning from Mt Smers was sweet.. the air was cool to start with the road flat andf the wind still..
it later turned into what your mother would call a good drying day.. the clouds lifted and the windf picked up and I reckon we touched high 70's maybe low 80's..
and the land as fully stocked with sweet faced cows and white faced sheep...

the other high point of Gerladine (pop 2,500) is that the wool shop features the world's largest jumper as verified by the Guiness book of records.. yes there is a certificate to prove it... it's big (but not THAT big, mind you I've not seen a bigger one.. so that also confirms its record breaking bigness)..
the owners of the wool shop also have created a mosaic of the bayeux tapestry... there clearly isn't a lot to do of an evening in Gerladine..
went to the pub - they had the day's racing.. wel I say racing.. it was trotting... horses pulling jockeys in little buggies.. looked a bit tame to me.. I mean what is the point of getting horses to trot when we all know that they can gallop?

Friday 28 Feb
in the foothills
and it's fabulous out here..

now this will be a short update - soz chums - this is a very expensive cyber cafe by NZ standards..
but the foothills of the mountains.. wonderful - so far I've cycled about 200 Kms.. and the first day it was like cyclking through Lincolnshire with the Lake Distrcit in the background.. the second day (from Glen Tunnel to Mt Somers) was like cycling through the Lake District with the Alps in the background...
I'm building up thr stamina slowly but surely.. had to puch the bike out of the Rakaia Gorge yesterday.. me who cycled to 6,700 feet in the Rockies.. hey ho..
and tomorroe I plan to turn inland to Lake Tekapo.. up in the central mountain plains..
I should just clear up the ysterious reference to bed bugs in the last update..
yep, fraid the critters were sharing the bed in the back packers hotel.. and they have had a feast.

er, the updates will be a little intermittent as I try and find access.. there are some place names on the maps that are just that.. names of places... there is nothing else there..

but it is a fantastic country.. and only 25% of NZers live on South Island and there is fierce rivalry about which island is the better.

I'm not in any hurry to explore the north just yet.. and I remind myself frequently as the rythm of the pedals jigs along with my thoughts.. I'm touring not racing..
Distances are finite - time is relative.. therefore, speed is relative also.

cheers from Geraldine.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Tuesday 25 February 03

and courtesy of Steve and Michelle Abley and Steve's mum Betty.. and with huge thanks for making me feel so welcome.
Well the first attempt to load some home thoughts from abroad failed on sunday evening which was a shame because it was fresh from the flights.. and first impressions are always the freshest..
as it were..
so I've now discoivered ChCh as the locals call Christchurch.. and a charming city it is too.. about the size of Nottingham I would guess. and few buildings older than the start of the last century.
The flights were fine... cramming 36 hours into 24... a slight technical hitch at Heathrow.. while they tried to close the door and get the temperature down from sauna level.. good preparation for the late summer to come on arrival.
Amiable company on the flights.. and thankfully not the guy whose neck was wider than any part of his head... on the flight from singapore I was next to a student of horse.. she was aiming to do an MSc in Horse studies.. aparent;ly she started with a GCSE in fetlocks and moved up from there...
and the next thing you quickly remember is that in the southern hemoisphere the sun moves across the sky from right to left.
A cool wind blows in the land of the long white cloud.. gert to be here and welcome to paradise, and good on you seem to be the regular phrases in the vernacular.The Garden Festival has just ended and there is still the scent of petunia in the air..
The big news this morning - apart from a good result away to Ipswich (a 2-2 all draw - thanks Stafford for the update) is the purchase of the bike... had a test ride on it this morning and all the reasons why I doo this kind of madness came flooding back... now can't wait to set out on the road... despite some apprehension aboput the level of my fitness.. and the stiff brezze that seems to follow, or head into you at every hour..

Met up with Michelle from NESTA and Steve last night and enjoyed a stunning drive around Littelton and overlooking Banks Peninsular, and a fab meal at the Volacano restarant.. thanks again guys.. also getting used to the NZ beer.. a bit on the light and cool side.. but I can get used to this.
The lifestyle seems thoroughly relaxed.. and the memories are already gathering in legions..
and now the bike is set up.. I'll be heading south and west into the foothills of the Southern Alps tomorrow, Wdnesay..
oh. All NZedders are thoroughly frustrated by the lack of sailing in the Cup... no racing for over a week now.

some more soonest... and as soon as I can get the bed bugs sorted.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Wednesday 19 Feb

before the great adventure can begin, there's the great washing to be done.. the great checking of the tent to be accomplished and the great nervousness to be overcome.
this will probably be the last post for a while, until I land in NZ on Sunday.. I still can't work out the time in the air.. setting off from Heathrow at midday on Friday, but landing at midday on Sunday can't mean 48 hours in flight entertainment, food and deep vein thrombosis, can it? There's something about travelling from west to east and the ctching up of the sun, that Philleas Fogg would understand.
This is a bit inconsequential, so I apolgise if you are logging on for the first time only to read about domestic nonsense.. the cat is also noticing that something is going on... and praying that she doesn't get sent away... Nessie, no problem.

better get back to the packing.. I've noticed on previous trips how obsessive a packer I am.. a place for everything, and everything in its place...
sad really..
more on Sunday, when I'll be 13 hours ahead of most readers..

Friday, February 14, 2003

Friday 14 February
last day at work, chums...

I've had a wonderful 15 months here at NESTA - see

but not it's time to go..

and leave all this for another place and another time

cheers to all colleagues and friends....

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Wednesday 12 Feb
just two more days

I've also tried to update this site with a few links.. if it has worked there is a link alongside to

as with all things webby and me, it is trial and error..
often more error...

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Wednesday 5 February

Just a few more work days and a few more days...

then it's.....

back on the bike...

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Thursday 23 January 2003
London, Nottingham later...

the NZ trip - the adventure in the land of the long white cloud is approaching at a terrifying rate.. THERE's so much to do.
Look just calm down... here is a pic to cheer you up. (Bit of a test to see if this technology works)

this is Nessie...

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Sunday 17 November
just trying a link back to sneakinguponamerica

still not able to load an image here...

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Wednesday 13 November 02
London in the rain

So Charles believes an internal inquiry will stifle the press interest... I'm having trouble stifling the yawns.

The Royal Family

Oh come on comrades – do we really give
A monkey’s? What a right royal cock-up,
Could we send a butler to the lock-up?
And which tabloid account do we believe?
Her Maj peered through the mists of memory,
And sent out to Regina versus Paul
Burrell, Di’s rock, the guy who took it all
In silence, then took all the Mirror’s fee.
Three hundred grand to spill the crown’s affairs,
Three hours standing in the royal presence
Worth more to him than thirty silver pence
To kiss and tell what went on below stairs.
Her Maj complains to Chas – I hate to grise,
We can’t have servants buggering in hise.

13 November 2002

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Wednesday 12 November 02
London, in the rain
just to repeat the blogger entry below... the travel update is not much of a travel diary just now - more a repository for topical sonnets... there isn't much of interest up and down the northern line... except that Angel Station has the longest escalator in Western Europe with over 380 steps..

so for the details of the big bike rdie from Miami to Seattle.. scroll down, folks, scroll way on down, down among the depths of this entry..

meanwhile - here is another topical sonnet...

The First Test

See England playing cricket in Brisbane?
(A word of explanation is required
for readers in the States – cricket inspired
Baseball, OK?) The start of the campaign –
Revive the wilting flower of English pride
And overthrow the Aussies’ dominance
Requires a new belief, self confidence,
To catch the wave, or swim against the tide.
The task is all the harder; why? Because
We’re at the Gabba – home to Glen and Shane’s
Best bowling figures. So Nasser Hussain’s
Call to bat last sparks flaming joy in Oz.
Inside four days, our boys are on the rack;
All chances fade of bringing ashes back.

Tuesday 11 November 02

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Wednesday 6 November 2002
London in the rain..
just to say that the travel update is now more of a place for topical sonnets. for detail of the ride across america, Miami to Seattle, scroll down, down, down to the depths...
and look out for a new link to the ride in New Zealand - starting February.

I'll post up the new url as soon as I have one.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Tuesday 5 November 2002

I've scabbled around for days looking for a news item that grabbed the emotional headlines inside..
IDS and the Tory's woes.. ho ho.. the cricket? not yet, wait till later in the week... Posh and the kidnap threat? Midland Mainline taking five hours? but no, not until yesterday was there news that twanged the chords...

the King of Skiffle has died... I remember when Lonnie reigned supreme, and inspired us all to homemade instruments from the garage and shed.. the bass from the tea box, the drums from the pans... I can only remember one other name from that time who came close in sound - Johnny Duncan and his Blue Grass Boys and Little Footprints in the Snow..
but Lonnie - you were an inspiration...

Lonnie Donnegan

I cycled along the Rock Island Line
Last year, though not through the Cumberland Gap;
I noted the Blue Grass State on the map
And knew beyond doubt which way John was gwine.
Way back then, before rock n roll tripped us,
We strung up an old tea-chest and broom-stick;
Ran thimbles on washboards, clickety click;
We rattled and rolled, skiffle had gripped us.
Where would you get an old tea-chest these days?
Or find a washboard for love or money?
It’s all midi sound systems now, Lonnie,
Logical digital soulless replays.
You reached the top six months before Elvis
And skiffled wild joy throughout the fifties.

Tuesday 5 November 2002

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Tuesday 29 October 2002

its 40 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and 20 since the Malvinas.

have we learned nothing?

40 Years On

I went to Havana in ninety three
Air Cubana struggling in via Gander
(The Russians had withdrawn their subsidy)
The Cubans danced in isolate splendour.

In distant NY the UN debate
Saw Kruschev and Adlai Stevenson lock
Arms. Staring eyes engaged in steady state;
Who blinks first? Who throws the first nuclear rock?

I handed in my homework as ever
Diligent, quite unaware of the tease
We’d all come to singing twelfth of never
And glowing red rain drops drift on the breeze.

While JFK would be dead in the year;
How far have we learned about global fear?

29 October 2002

Monday, October 28, 2002

Monday 28 October 2002
London after Nottingham

phew what a windy one - had to tie down the laburnam tree as the roots were lifting.

and it's not been a good time for young people - again...

Being thirteen

Why, thirteen seems a wondrous age to be,
All fashion tips in Sugar; mobile phones,
Text messaging Gareth Gates, constantly
Checking the insistent rush of hormones.

She took her life, believing without doubt,
Before the doc could call her pregnancy,
Too scared to ask for help, as if caught out –
She wasn’t – there’s the teenage tragedy.

In Moscow theatres, thirteen is the age
You’re deemed a threat, an A certificate
Issued as your passport as a hostage
To the future, and gassing by the state.

Adult care’s hypocritical pretence;
How dare we rob these kids their innocence?

Monday 28 October 2002

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Tuesday 22 October 2002

in the rain - after September in the sun..
meanwhile the universe spins on. We have a new astronomical neighbour in a horseshoe orbit with the earth. The size of a football pitch, which of course I've assumed to be the size of a soccer pitch for all you readers across the pond.

And I've been concerned that the US love affair with weapons appears to be heralding another aberrant criminal.

So here is today's topical sonnet

Bad Will Hunting

What do you mean, you went out stalking prey?
With hunting rifle, hair-sights, single shots,
On petrol stations, shopping malls and lots
Where drivers fill up, shoppers shop, kids play…

In childhood, did we not all share the thrill
Of danger, of the chase across the field
Of rabbits, blind with mixey, running wild
With fear as hunters closed in on the kill?

And did we not then shun the instinct born
Of irresponsible strength and violence,
And learn the awful shame of petulance,
Till grown up, sadder, wiser, we conform?

But in the States, the games, the children’s toys
Become gun laws, and men turn into boys.

Tuesday 22 October 2002

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Wednesday 16 October 2002

It's not that I'm saying that the universe is upside down, or it's a mad world my masters... but

I got myself thoroughly depressed the other evening as reports came in of another sequence of death.. of more young people dead in the face of fundamentalism.. and yet I can see how a different spiritual way of life could think the ways of the West are demonstrably evil.

Stop killing young people.

Dancing in the Street

God I’m depressed, and weary of this hate.
What kind of moral universe is it,
Where some brave yob is pissing in the street
While nightclub dancers’ lives disintegrate?

The early evening yawl disheartened me;
No joy at the photographers’ debate.
I listened, disbelieving, to her state
Her framed pictures were value judgement free.

Then later, in the street, by the school gate,
At half past nine, a steady stream of pee.
The passer by passed on despondently
Unable to complain or remonstrate.

Is this the way of life we celebrate?
That bombs in Bali seek to desecrate?

Wednesday 16 October 2002

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Thursday 10 October 2002

It's National Poetry Day..
a day to celebrate the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility..

and not surprisingly there is a hurried topical sonnet...

National Poetry Day

Autumnal angel greets the working day,
Commuter lemmings gather by the mouth
Of warrens, tunnels draw them all away
To towers of babel glinting in the south.
From Islington to Monument the din
Of lucre clatters down the Northern Line;
The sullen silent passengers within
Shed not a smile, nor offer up a sign
Of acknowledgement. Maintain protocol;
The tinnitus of some lost drum and bass,
A chirping cricket fed on Northern soul;
Ennui exudes from every morning face.

Awake, your spirits, recognise your art,
The rhythmic lyric lurking in your heart.

Thursday 10 October 2002

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Wednesday 9 October

So Goose Fair (Nottingham) came and went with over a million visitors in three fine days..
and the party conference highlight seemed to be the MP for Grimsby changing his name by deed poll to Austin Haddock... Austin Pillock more like.

Meanwhile, more kids are killed in Gaza.. and George Dubya seems to be doing a good job of deflecting media attention from the commercial sleaze at the heart of his administration.. what was Dick Chaney doing with all those shares in the company developing Iraqi oil fields?

and Meanwhile again.. the IRA seem to have handed the unionists an opportunity to wreck the Good Friday Agreement, and go stamping their moral outrage all over the shop..

Come on guys - wise up...

A topical sonnet - with little cheer..

Peace Process

I hesitate to venture into verse
Where angels fear to tread, where life and death
Lie in the muddied road of bad or worse;
The peace process is drawing its last breath.

The DUP – the dogs against the peace,
Recoil from the assembly they abhor,
Retreat behind the rhetoric, to seize
The moral low ground they shat on before.

And Trimble trundles off to the seaside
To have his ego stroked by Tory sleaze.
Oh moral outrage, Lord, with me abide,
And all the Orange order to appease.

Engage with rigour in devolution;
Ask, are you the problem or solution?

9 October 2002

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Tuesday 1 October 2002

and on that bombshell...

Currie and Chips

My Gran was a constituent. What would
She make of these bizarre shenanigans,
This understair work, this paddling of hands,
This back to basics, ne’er do well done good?
So Major joins the Tory Hall of Shame
Of Parkinson, and Mellor sucking toes,
And Shagger Norris, taking one big blow,
And Michael’s love that dare not speak his name.
Edwina’s Parliamentary Affair
Makes scrambled eggs of recent history,
And prompts the pundits now to speculate
Who would be PM, had it been laid bare
In ninety-two. The other mystery
Is – did he wear Y-fronts to fornicate?

Tuesday 1 October 2002

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

24 September 2002
London after Nottingham

what a momentous couple of days... the nation has been rocked - the countryside march.. the Dudley earthquake..

a couple of topical sonnets are required -

Countryside Alliance

They came from haunts of dormouse, hern and coot,
The hurray henries decked in harris tweeds,
Their hacking jackets, barbours, riding boots,
To stamp their anger on the city streets.

The hurray henriettas of the shires,
All fur and feathers, red in tooth and claw,
Like birds of prey, a chorus that decries -
Protect our blood lust; wolves are at the door.

From underhill and heath and rural ride
From plashy fen whence snouts the questing vole
From heather moor and down the mountain side
To bugger up the streets around Whitehall.

For all their numbers, few articulate
Their grievances beyond the five-barred gate.

Monday 23 September 2002


Dudley Earthquake

Four point eight on the Richter scale means what
Exactly? Did the earth move for you dear?
There was a roll of thunder, did you hear?
Was that a lightning crack? Or chimney pot?

A Midlands epicentre, boffins say,
The tremors ran like trams to Pebble Mill,
Edwina Currie broadcast live her thrill
The most exciting export from Dudley.

The seismic experts calculate the shocks –
A thousand tons or so of T N T,
From Wolverhampton down to Coventry
A rattle of the dice replayed the rocks.

In Nottingham, the rumble was for me
As orgasmic a frisson as could be.

Monday 23 September 2002

Thursday, September 19, 2002

19 September 2002

Soz for the gap.. didn't want to get into the anniversary of 9/11 directly, coming so soon after the Tony Blackburn wins Celebrity get me out of here.. so all I could do was sit back and marvel..
and George seems determined to take us all down the road to perdition..
of course Saddam says let the inspectors back in..
what else could he say? And if he means it? What would he say?
Let the inspectors come back in..

wake up George, regime change is not something in your gift to bestow on other nations..

anyway, enough ranting...
here is the latest topical sonnet..
with apologies again that I did not feel moved to write one sooner..


And looking back one year and seven days
Beyond the grief; the twisted metal shrine
To tragedy and horror. Is it time
To build the peace, and stop scanning the skies?

For those who can not wipe their answer-phones
And only have their photographs to mourn
Can justice ever signify a dawn
Without the cloud of war that hate condones?

It’s tough. The anniversary declares
Revenge should mingle with the city dust.
The towers fell; all comprehension crushed
Beneath the weight of guilt the US bears.

It’s tough. While New York nurses wounds still fresh
One thousand children drown in Bangladesh.

18 September 2002

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Tuesday 3 September 2002

We seem to have gone baby crazy..


All hail the news! A baby boy is born
Delivered by caesarian section;
Now second in line to the purple throne;
Oh, wherefore art thou, Romeo Beckham?

The day after the big match, you booked in,
(The one where Keano and the ref saw red),
So Becks was there with baby bro Brooklyn,
Their golden balls hung round your mother’s bed.

Romeo , in tabloid speculation,
Excite the leader writers punning arts.
Where were your parents at your conception,
And did you get the best of Roman starts?

The family album is out any day,
But will we only see you in OK?

2 September 2002

Thursday, August 29, 2002

thursday 29 August

hot air - topical sonnet no 43 - or so

Earth Summit
Global Warming

What you have, and what I have, aren’t as one.
I have a car, a house, a job, a cat;
You have a plastic bag, you wear a hat
To shade you from an unforgiving sun.

My drinking water, filtered, tastes so sweet
To a dry throat. My waste is flushed away.
You carry gourds a hundred miles a day,
The earth’s mosaic is patterned on your feet.

My life expectancy, now eighty five,
Presents a problem buying retirement.
You face a further thirty five years spent
In picking over aid to stay alive.

The Jo’berg delegates all need to share
The calls for action, not just more hot air.

28 August 2002

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Thursday 22 August 2002

Hate is in the air - distressing and spiralling us to madness and despair.

In Northern Ireland a footballer receives a death threat from a 'so-called' loyalist organisation and withdraws from a 'friendly' match against Cyprus. And yesterday a woman, not charged with murder, not found guilty of a crime, attracts a crowd of 600 people, including mothers with their children, to spit venom and wish her soul to rot in hell forever.

Whilst we can behave like this we should beware of claiming superior civilised values over a nation apparently prepared to stone a woman to death for having a child from an adulterous affair.

I despair.

topical sonnet no 41

A woman appears in court

A woman, twenty three, in custody
Is facing charges – trying to pervert
The course of justice. Double jeopardy;
One, her life, and two, society’s hurt.

Whatever thoughts are going through her mind,
Incomprehensible to baying crowds,
The raging mob, whose own reason resigned,
The madness of it all makes all afraid.

Another woman takes her kids to court
To hurl abuse and eggs. The metal box,
The prison van reverberates. They fought
To hammer on the sides, fear runs amok.

We deny justice in insanity,
Hate condemns us all in depravity.

22 August 2002

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Tuesday 20 August

the footy season is well and truly back.
The Mariners (Grimsby not Seattle) have slumped... three games, one point..
what is the point? eh, nil desperandum..

and a certain gripping TV series ended on Sunday..
here's the topical sonnet to celebrate...


The longest day has ended. It began
As Kim slipped out with Ricky to a rave,
While Teri donned her long sleeved cardigan
And Jack prepared, a Senator to save.

By breakfast time the plot was truly thick,
The CTU had Shredded files and guns;
The body count was rising. Death was quick,
As Jack engaged his everlasting phone.

The sun went down. The Drazens took control
Of Eastern European accents. Then
Sly Nina was uncovered as the Mole,
As Kim was captured and escaped – again.

They’ve lined them up, for series number two,
But contracts next time let them use the loo.

20 August 2002

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Wednesday 14 August 2002
still in London

the news has been dominated by another disappearance or abduction of children - two young girls in Cambridgeshire.
Last night Police searched ground in woodland, and everyone feared the worst..

and I wrote another topical sonnet while we all waited for news.

The earth is disturbed

A jogger near the racecourse says he’s found
Two patches of disturbed earth, rumpled ground.
The ripples of imagination spread
In waves of nausea. Are ten year olds dead?
The clamour of despair enthrals, appals;
We hunger for the detail; darkness falls.
Perseid stars like tears, shoot; silence descends
To shroud, like fog, the shallow graves of friends.

The evil that among us all resides,
Within us and without us rarely hides
The deeper passions; the ugliness that breeds
Obsession that drives all our darkest deeds;
These acts are part of our society
Our collective responsibility.

14 August 2002
Wednesday 14 August 2002

long time no hear... soz all you sneaking fans - well both of you..

here is a topical sonnet that has been lying around for a couple of days


So what’s the plan, George? What d’you have in mind?
To wait till Labor Day or till the Fall
To cancel out the threat to humankind?

Is there a plan, George? Is there a fall back
Position? Are the targets plotted in?
The military bases of Iraq?

This plan, George, tell us, what’s the fucking plan?
To save the world from terrorism’s shadow.
You sure you mean Iraq and not Iran?

The view of history reveals the threat
To sanity and peace – you George? You bet.

12 August 2002

Friday, July 26, 2002

Friday 26 July 2002

Topical sonnet for the end of the week

Silly Season

The dog days of summer, thought in recess;
The nation’s intellect drops down a gear;
It’s always silly at this time of year –
Nonsensical tales take over the press.

A streaker opens in the test at Lords;
Three hundred sheep in France jump – mutton stew;
Cute baby pandas escape London Zoo;
And shy coypu invade the Norfolk Broads.

Phew what a scorcher raves the current bun;
Her Maj vacates, leaving a plague of mice;
‘They’re fraffly beastly all over the hice;
New Aesop fables provide media fun.

And finally, the phone lines humming hot
Big Brother ends, and will Jade scoop the pot?

26 July 2002