Circus Bewitchery

It’s always enjoyable when, on occasion, reading a book can recall other books and times since past.  This afternoon I’ve been getting close to the finale of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I stopped my race to the conclusion specially to write this.

The sun is shining here, and this together with the carnival setting, took me back to a time in 2016, when I spent some time, with Tom and fellow blogger Morgan, in which we wandered around Boston and stared at things.

This particular time we headed out to Salem by boat, appreciating the planes coming into land as they passed over, the island where Shutter Island was filmed, and then passed into the sometimes creepy, sometimes tacky Salem.

At one point, we three sat on the park for a bit of a rest.  The sun – coincidentally the same one as today –  was shining down on us, Tom had fallen asleep in the faintly sinister way that some people have of sleeping with their eyes partially open, and I was engaged in The Book of Speculation, picked up, speculatively enough from the Barnes & Noble near the hostel. Continue reading “Circus Bewitchery”

In Which Gods, Hairy Feet, Mortality, The Art of Queueing, and Vampires Are Alluded

We love mountains and hiking in our house,   and in the days when we can’t do much more than potter around the local field, we miss those adventures the most. It was this yearning which drove us to discover new perspectives and stunning scenery via YouTube.

Whilst searching YT, I began reminiscing about the wonderful book, Mountains of the Mind, which dealt with so many facets of mountains from art, geology, and exploration. I also remembered the mountain scenes from books such as, The Hobbit, Dracula, and James Hilton’s Lost Horizon.

Somewhat disconcertingly Crissy was telling me how she would love to end her days on Everest, which given the queues for the top in recent years is a distinct possibility. Slightly more worryingly was her insistence that I join her in this endeavour of finality were her dream of going there ever to become a reality.

This short documentary that we found, shared below, is beautifully filmed, perfectly capturing the epic panoramas, whilst delving onto the lives of the Sherpas, porters, and their families, those so often forgotten but who are the real climbers, teachers and pack carriers.

The harshness of their way of life, and that of their families left at home makes for powerful viewing, the appalling risk of the work done through necessity –  and the whims of foreign climbers – as well as their need to survive and make a better life for their children, is extremely impactful.

The mountains of the Himalayas may overshadow its inhabitants, but it is important to be reminded how much is given by those whose relationship with the mountain is more akin to that of deity and worshipper, than the I’ll climb it ‘because its there’ attitude of so many abroad. This is well worth its fifteen minute runtime.

Less Thrilla, More Manila

This is not the post I had in mind for today, but it is timely and as many of you have asked after our little family and about keeping safe (as there is some virus hanging about or something), so I thought I would just let you know that we are all fine and still planning on heading back to the Philippines in April.

I took this at a posh do, last year, happy to clock the football stadium for a future visit.

However, yesterday it was announced by the Filipino government that Manila will be locked down from 15th March to the 14th April, severely restricting travel in and out of the capital by land, sea and air.

Thankfully a friend of ours has kindly offered to put us up when we land, so although we will miss the Easter family get together, we will be able to avoid what I expect will be sky rocketing hotel prices. Continue reading “Less Thrilla, More Manila”

Changing Places

On Sunday, we took the last-minute decision to put off our imminent return to the Philippines. The news from South East Asia was all about the Corona virus being rife nearby, and a baby with little immune system made it easy to delay until the beginning of April.

A death in the Philippines coupled with a government that had, until then, refused to shut the border to mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong, due to ‘diplomacy’ issues was also deeply concerning.  Since we changed the tickets this has thankfully been rectified but it remains a worrying time for all over there.

We still took our planned trip to London to do a bit of exploring.  It was good to visit a new place, although London doesn’t interest me particularly, it is Instagram heaven for Filipinos.  It was enjoyable seeing new scenery and and eye opening to compare Londoners to dwellers from other cities. Continue reading “Changing Places”

Taal Volcano

With yesterday’s eruption, now seems as good a time as any to dust off the volcanic ash on the Taal volcano draft and finish writing it.

Located in Tagaytay, and in view of many fine eating establishments, this is usually a go to area for us, both for the beautiful view and the constant need to feed, inherent in all Filipinos.

With the Filipino branch of my family situated about 18 miles from the volcano its been a worrying time, what with power and water outages, as well as the ash cloud which has reached as far north as Baguio which is 145 miles away.  On top of all this, one of our dogs recently gave birth to seven puppies so we are excited to see them when we return, although worried for their little lungs in the meantime.

Taal is the second most active volcano in the Philippines and the world’s smallest active volcano, the photo I took, below, is from  a typical day, a view from, unsurprisingly, a restaurant in calmer times. Continue reading “Taal Volcano”

chuffa chuffa choo choo – Emma Garcia

Jump on board the little red train as it chugs along the seaside and through the forest. Can you count the noisy birds along the way?

When I think of widening my reading, this isn’t the first book that comes to mind but with a flair for the dramatic actions and voices – and a baby – this can be an incredibly fun book to engage with.

This came into my possession from a free reading pack given by the NHS, and so naturally I grabbed it for myself, curled up in a corner and took my time to savour the feel of the thick card pages and bright drawings.  It’s still my go to book for Amelia purely for selfish reasons.

There is plenty of colour and things to point out and talk about, as well as the number and type of birds, there is variety in the settings from city to farmyard, and Amelia and I often find ourselves going off on tangents such as which farmyard animal smells worse. Continue reading “chuffa chuffa choo choo – Emma Garcia”

Life Goals

This time of year makes me feel old, first my birthday, two days ago means I gain a year, then the new year happens, and another year goes by (or so I am told) so I double in age. In order to get a head start on things I will have a stab – but most likely fail – at, I decided to make some resolutions now to complete by the end of 2020.

In no particular order:

  • Become passably fluent in Tagalog as its high time I was, even though I am a poor language learner.
  • Have two articles minimum published somewhere, whether that be something to do with books, or to do with football.
  • At least have a working draft of the novel finished, or start with a completely new and workable idea.
  • Volunteer somewhere, probably somewhere bookish, a library or bookshop.
  • Visit a new country. Japan, Vietnam, and India top my list now, but we are always open to suggestions. Also do some more hikes too.
  • Do something else that involves books that I don’t do now, what that would be yet, I have no idea. Any suggestions?
  • Keep up with the blogging, being more focused and writing/editing posts quicker. Visit my fellow bloggers more regularly too.
  • Master some new cookery dishes, especially Filipino food but anything new will be good. This means trying more food which makes me even happier.
  • Delve deeply into culture, so aside from travel, watch more documentaries, read different authors, discover new music, different voices, and generally be more involved.
  • Be better at keeping in touch with people, which means finding time, and there are certainly things I can cut out to free some time up.
  • Make time to read every day, at least an hour, and a regular time would help too.

Friday Night at the Royal Station Hotel

Inspiration failing me of late, instead of writing anything vaguely original here is a poem from Philip Larkin, which I recently came across in his collection, High Windows.

Friday Night At The Royal Station Hotel

Light spreads darkly downwards from the high
Clusters of lights over empty chairs
That face each other, coloured differently.
Through open doors, the dining-room declares
A larger loneliness of knives and glass
And silence laid like carpet. A porter reads
An unsold evening paper. Hours pass,
And all the salesmen have gone back to Leeds,
Leaving full ashtrays in the Conference Room.

 

In shoeless corridors, the lights burn. How
Isolated, like a fort, it is –
The headed paper, made for writing home
(If home existed) letters of exile: Now
Night comes on. Waves fold behind villages.

* Image found on Pixabay

Nightscapism

Stood at the bus stop one Monday evening at 7:05pm, the traffic rushing by, and the fine spray of rain hitting my face, misting my glasses, I realised how much I had missed this weather. After the relentless sun in Asia, it was lovely to feel the cold wind blowing through my bones, and seeing a leaf lazily drop to the wet pavement, reminding me of the pending closure of another chapter of life, a handy metaphor, in many ways.

On the bus with a work colleague, small talk done,  she, lost in music, earphones blocking out the natural roar of the bus. And I gaze through the window and my own reflection, and take in belit pubs, the chairs and tables outside abandoned after the brief use of summer.  Melancholy car parks, empty save for a lonely vehicle, flash by, yet remain imprinted on the memory. I wonder what the owner is doing at that moment.

And then the pitch black as we leave the city behind.  Careening along at what feels like a dangerous pace in the rain, even the well worn bus route seems strange and mysterious.  Glimpses of trees and houses captured for a second in the lone street lights before the darkness consumes everything back into itself. We speed along yet never progress further than I expect us to be.

My mind wanders back to the time I spent working in a cinema,  on occasion I would get the job where I would be alone, but able to gaze out past the gaudy neon lights of the ‘Funstation’ that shimmer on the portals of glass, my one link to the outside world.  The falseness of human endeavour at odds with nature.

Branches slap the front window of the double decker as we pull up to a cheap looking bus shelter, drawing me out of my revelry.  As I ready myself to brave the full blown rain storm that now rages outside, I just have time to reflect on the onset of another season, and the underrated  bus travel  – which I for the most part enjoy – which helps me fully appreciate life.  Sometimes its good to close the book and just gaze outwards, and inwards.

 

*Image found on Pixabay

Demarcated Days

Demarcated Days

Change in the air is finally tangible, as I wind my way to work.

Discerning one season, interlacing into the next, a mixture of benign restraint and brooding power.

The crispness of the air has taken over from the heat that so recently sat on my skin,

an unlooked for blanket in the early morning. 

A creeping feeling of the days soon to be closing in, chasing away the hazy summer mornings.

The onset of this turning is one of dissipation and delight amalgamated,

entwined in a melancholy delirium, held fast for only a short spell.

in isolation.

Before the onset of the enchanting Autumnal elements converge.