The day’s begun…

The bonus about being up early at home, is that I get to enjoy a relaxed breakfast. Three day old multi-seeded bread, makes terrific toast, our friend Leslie, makes marvellous marmalade and I make Todd tea.

Sitting at your own table is important.

Sitting at your own table is important.

Sleep is illusive at present, trying to do all I can before ‘not being here’… so I’ll make the best of it and go for a walk.
Who want’s to come with me?

Not these two.

Not these two.

But Juno is up for it… a quiet whistle, not to disturb anyone else and she’s immediately by my side.

This way?

This way?

No person is out yet, but the dawn chorus is in full symphonic majesty and I am treated to a wonderful performance as I enjoy the best seat… on the ground next to the spring flowers.

Paying attention.

Paying attention.

And the soloist takes the stage, deep notes connecting earth and sky, perceptibly quivering at the tips as the warmth of the air triggers growth that will send out the leaves.

Nature giving forth.

Nature giving forth.

Dinner with the Frouds…

I have been dreaming about such a moment – cheese with the best of friends, to be savoured…

The main eating of the meal is done, the dishes have been cleared. Of appetite (there remains only a few corners to fill) but hours available yet to pass – in pleasant, conversation filled company.

What better is there?

What better is there?

And to stimulate that conversation, there’s the cheese board. Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Quicks Cheddar – all of them vintage, plus some Roquefort for my French friends… with spelt crackers, oat biscuits and butter puffs.

Who needs more?

Who needs more?

And to keep us safe from interruption: The Cheese Faeries; who, with sharp little sticks – sometimes visit later in the night.

Guardians adept.

Guardians adept.

Ass-istance…

According to verified reports, a new episode in the ongoing adventure will begin for Manny in Guatemala, the land of the Maya.
1) There’s Jana, the tall and slender trainee, who can reach those bloody trunk connectors, approaches repairs with logic and has been there before.
2) The wheeled toolbox that contains most of the kit, a vice, a worktop and a light – so I won’t need to be carrying out repairs on my knees, in the dark.
3) And now Alex, enthusiastic, energetic and known – who’ll be bringing up the rear.
This completes my team.

This is where team Manny will be going.

This is where team Manny will be going.

Two Hills race…

Had I been determined to maintain my fitness, participating in this would have been an appropriate part of my diary (as it has been before), but I’m quite happy, just watching wearing a titfer – country gent that I am – and answering more questions about where and what.
I have run this race, dressed as a rhinoceros, but I think that a mammoth is best left out of it.

Outclassed.

Outclassed.

As in previous years… David and ELy storm around and at the finish get their medal and traditional pork roll with crackly.

Floating along.

Floating along.

Powering.

Powering.

Almost home.

Almost home.

Ready for my pork bap.

Ready for my pork bap.

Long awaited reward…

Sunday morning in the kitchen at home, sitting in pyjamas without shoes, feet warmed by the dog, who’s curled around them, requiring only that every now and then, I give her ear a wiggle with my toes, drinking tea and looking out at the garden, which has been held back, as if waiting for my return… of course, this has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the weather, but for now – I’ll happily delude myself into believing, that the profusion of buttercups, the bluebells, the dandelions and “Oh” the apple blossom, is all for me… my personal reward.

Amazing.

Amazing.

And now Juno is stirring, the birdsong is telling her and me… ‘It’s time for a walk.

Worth waiting for…

Nine months away is a long time and while there was much that was enjoyed on-the-road, some things were distinctly missing.
But it’s not simply about having it again/catching up, the time needs to be right… so, waiting a few days as I decompressed, as the tension was walked out, as conversation regained normality, has been an important feature of my process of returning… and today, I was ready.

Walked into the centre of Chagford, which for those who don’t know, is only a few hundred yards, but it took an age, as people who haven’t seen me yet this year, stopped their Saturday morning shopping, their busying about, their talks of local weather and heartilly welcomed me back… into the tribe. Gasping at the epic story I carry with me (visible in my drawn features) and keen to hear all the mammoth madness. “How heavy?”, “You’ve been where?”, “Skaters and Kung Fu you say?” …This repetition does get a bit wearing to Carol, who was only accompanying so she could buy milk. For me however, it’s important to tell, in order that I have a bridge between the two worlds, or else I’ll be lost from this one, when I return to the Ice.

And the circuit takes me to the temples of my desire… the butchers, where Andy knows what I want and won’t take money for it. Then the bakers, where I feel the loaf – still warm from the morning oven, it’s press; even beneath my fingers. And the dairy – locally produced, slightly salted butter.

Clutching my prizes I head home, waving but no longer stopping.

Flame under frying pan… get it hot first, coffee pot on the hob, slice and butter the bread, by which time the heavy pan is hot and ready… carefully lay the rashers of smoked back, overlapping just a little, so that it’s the rind and fat that is directly against the heat (that way the bacon cooks in its own juices).

Rashers not rushed

Rashers not rushed

Take a moment for a long awaited special treat – the buttered crust of the granary loaf, eaten while watching the rashers begin to sizzle.

Sliced symmetry.

Sliced symmetry.

The milk is heating in its pan, flame low underneath, so as not to burn. Starting to rise.

Coffee is percolating up, wisps of steam emerge, laden with aroma, combining with the smell of the bacon cooking.

I remember the process, am practised in the art… the important thing is that all comes together at once.

And it does.

Turn rashers once… don’t fuss.

Smell the bacon.

Smell the bacon.

Coffee burbles… it’s ready when the sound changes… pour into favourite cup (regardless that the handle was long ago broken off), then hot milk to an inch below the rim, froth the remainder and add so that the colour is white in the middle, dark around the edges.
Bacon is done, not overdone… cut off rind and place on the buttered doorsteps, so that the magic of combining can take place as the butter melts into the bread.

Nestling in fresh bread

Nestling in fresh bread

Sit and have immediately.

There is silence, as Carol and David and I enjoy.

Other interested parties look on.

While other interested parties look on.

No 3SD…

Instead of donning my armour, focussing my mind, preparing to enter the arena before tens of thousands of expectant public, each demanding a once in an Ice Age show – I’m having a cup of tea in my garden, looking at the moor, mind wandering… and very nice it is too.

An audience with clouds.

An audience with clouds.

The same but different…

In some ways, this is clearly a different time – Ely 12, needs to head for school – right now! David 19, is getting ready to go and help with a rhino project in Namibia, before starting his biology degree at Imperial, Lillian 23, is about to take over the world… you might like to check out her singer/songwriter page on FB: Lillian Todd-Jones. In other ways, not so – Carol continues to be patient as I storm around the house tidying.

Home is where the art is…

My thoughts are beginning to spread beyond the forced boundaries of the last nine months, things that I was involved with before, are coming into focus again, my attention span is longer, I’m not jumpy and simply for the pleasure of it (without conscious effort), I can enjoy a moment.

Lying under sky props on the river walk.

Lying under sky props on the river walk.

Honest Mr Jones…

Gene Genie, Captain Tom,
Were found amidst the ruins from,
The mind of one tortured previously,
By authority, most grievously.
But time has told, who is right,
As now within our new days sight.
The truth of normal does unfold,
Revealing Ziggy as the mould
For countless ones who would remain,
Sober, honest A ladd in Sane.

Seminal.

Seminal.

What there is, is what you see,
Bizarre to some, but not to me.
Odder that those seeming normal,
Maintaining appearance strict and formal,
As vile corruptors, now unmasked
Of young minds, who when asked.
Told of trust dishonoured,
Of deceits that they were fed.
By corrupt establishment,
To all our wild astonishment?

Seeming All.

Seeming All.

Dad’s birthday…

Born in 1905, he saw and experienced a great deal… now thirty years since he died, I am catching up on the news and wonder what he would have made of all this? The arguments are the same, were always the same, will ever be the same – but the way they are executed is now; always in explicit close-up, for the distractible, easily bored public to gaze at, via flat screens in their homes, workplaces, congregational spaces, supplied by a media industry who’s appetite for the most extreme is endless.

Return…

Above the weir… the sky is reflected still, the shapes seen true, to the extent that I see.
Across the stones that deflect… patterns never imagined appear and are lost in the blink of my eye.
Below… the sky into familiar shape reforms once more, and allows my mind disturbed, to regain equilibrium.

Turbulent Times.

Turbulent Times.

Train, Plane, Automobile, Boots…

I leave the hotel far earlier than I need, I do everything today – far earlier than I supposedly need… but in my mind, I’m nine months late.

We are in a time where, getting into a metal cigar that is propelled by intensely burning fossilised leaves through cloud, is considered a normality of life. And today, I don’t stop to think about it, I’m just grateful that it is normal and that in the expected one hour twenty, I get out of cigar and touch The Shire for the first time in Oh-too-long.

Celebrate by buying too many vegetables, that I intend to chop, mash, roast, boil, steam and bake over these next days… wellness is not simply about their nutritional value.

Lillian & Gordon have venison steaks already marinating in olive oil, with garlic & juniper berries… there’s a cure to be had, in just looking into the bowl. Pan fried, they’ll go wonderfully with new potatoes, ratatouille and the bottle of bordeaux.