Saturday, March 29, 2014

Around Swanage

DSC04420 (1300x975)We took the Chain Ferry over to the Isle of Purbeck today, the southern side of Poole Harbour and gateway to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.  It was a gorgeous day, sun sparkling off the water and warmer, but still well ahead of the summer crowds.

At the southwest tip of the island lies the small town of Swanage, a seaside community with impressive bluffs, a deep blue harbour, abundant sailing, and a zig-zag pier.  The area is best known for it’s quarrying of decorative Purbeck marble, then became a tourist destination in the 1800’s with the arrival of the first luxury hotel, the Royal Victoria.  Today the village plays off of Thomas the Tank Engine themes and various summer music events.

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DSC04405 (1300x972) - CopyThe beaches and cliffs define the area, along with locals like artist and vagabond Augustus John and colourist Alfred Palmer.  Today the streets seemed filled with matriarchal ‘earth mothers’, purposeful in checked shirts or smocks with long flowing grey hair.

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DSC04393 (1300x973) - CopyThe local sailing club was having a regatta in stiff breeze, and the angle of the wind made it tough to get past the derelict pier and out to open water.  One pair lost control and wrapped their sails around the pilings, totally stuck by wind and waves until a rescue boat could pull them off of the posts.  They attracted a seasoned crowd along the pier, full of suggestions.

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The beaches north of  town offered some good wading and rock-hunting; the pier south of town fronts hills that rise to sheer south-facing cliffs and spectacular sea views.

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It really made for a nice day’s outing, lots of different things to see and do, with further explorations along the Southwest Coast Path once the weather improves a bit more (and exploring the offerings of the Piddle Brewery until then).

Friday, March 28, 2014

Beach people

DSC04320 (1300x949)I’m experimenting with adding people to the landscape photos that I take in my travels.  Back when I took some drawing classes, I much preferred the expressive arcs and shading of life drawing to the static geometry of still life scenes.  Similarly with photography, people can give scale and warmth to a scene that otherwise might only have contrast and color.

Along the beaches of the Peveril Point cliffs and the SW Coast path, then, I explored the interplay of light and people amidst the landscapes.

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And one that reminded me of Gigli’s famous “Models in Windows”Gigli - Models in the Window DSC04354 (1300x635)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A life more ordinary

DSC04305 (1300x963)I slept in this morning.  I watched a House of Cards episode.  I read the (Dutch) paper.  I got a call wondering whether there was anything wrong.

  ‘just an ordinary morning, thanks.

Yesterday was a typical morning.

I finished writing a journal manuscript to meet a noon deadline, then drove to Reading for a 1:30 pm business development meeting. 

Then a 3:30 pm quality systems meeting.  Then a 4:30 manufacturing partners meeting. 

At 5:30 I was idling in a massive queue to get out of the car park and back into town, finally enjoying a relaxed Indian dinner at 6;30.  ‘back on the road south at 9 and, two missed exits later, arrived home triedaround 11.

I can tell: I was ‘doing it wrong.

So, today would be different.  Ordinary, perhaps.

Even though the diary and to-do list looked full this morning, but I took the bold step of saying it wasn’t anything that couldn’t wait for a day.  I set business work and expat explorations aside and only looked at the left side of my notebook, where I keep the shopping lists, notes to write, and chores.

And so it came to pass that I…

  • DSC04307 (1300x964)Washed the car
  • Did the shopping
  • Consulted with the landlord
  • Bought kitchen utensils and pans
  • ‘Hoovered up
  • Moved boxes from the lilac room into garage storage
  • Scrubbed the hobs
  • Wrote to a few friends
  • Made a cooked breakfast.  A proper lunch.  A salmon dinner.
  • Got a haircut
  • Sorted the bins and put them out to the curb in the proper time, place, and manner
  • Changed the beds; did the wash and air dry

ordinary life 2It takes a surprising amount of time to do Ordinary: tools to find, stores to browse, bank payments to arrange.  Nothing too taxing or risky, just a nice day doing all of the things that I never seem to have enough time for otherwise.

Tomorrow will be back to the phones, emails, and planning meetings.  Someone will Ask For More; another will Make Do With Less.  The to-do list will end longer than it began.

But, by late afternoon, we’ll be further along that we thought we could be when the day started.  It’s not a bad thing.

Life (2)Still, ‘Ordinary felt pretty good.  I’ve already got more-dinary planned for the weekend, when the clocks jump ahead and the temperatures hit a sunny 17C.

No backsliding into 2013.  But, among the things I love (right), at least some perspectief, balans and grenzen on how to do them.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Highcliffe beach walk

DSC04231 (1300x974)‘back on the south coast this weekend after a couple of Cambridge / Nottingham days. It’s a few degrees warmer and a lot sunnier than the Midlands, just a few stormclouds drifting  over the Isle of Wight to give texture to the scene.

I discovered that one pair of roommates had departed in my absence.  The gay couple living with me (happy in-love lesbians vs. the gender-obsessed unkind sort) have been trying to sort shared cleaning and cooking rotations and that was apparently too much for the physicians, DSC04251 (1300x973)who moved out in the middle of the night with no warning.

The local maritime publications are cataloguing the winter storm damage, a list of sunken ships and missing navigational aids that should keep things interesting in the months to come.  The big buoy on Sandbanks Beach turns out to be the East Looe No4 marker at the entrance to Poole Harbour.  Its companion, Swash Channel No5, was blown a hundred meters out of position.

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But at the first day of spring, it’s a gorgeous day to spend a few hours walking the High Cliffs and pebbled beaches east of Christchurch.  The weather was cool and windy, waves crashing along the shore, but the light was perfect for seeing the western  cliffs and the Needles marking the entrance to the Solent.

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Inland, the trees along the footpaths were still gaunt and twisted against the chill blue skies.

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The sailing dinghy's were still in winter cloaks, the crab sandwiches were not yet being served at Mudeford Quay along Christchurch Harbour.  But the fishing pots are stacked and ready, the Highcliffe Sailing Club was repainting, and a few of the beach huts were already open and stocked.

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I’m looking forward to warmer weather, but the ambience today couldn’t have been better.

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