Pony morning…

A normal Saturday morning for Carol & Ely here in Chagford… up at seven to stare at the mists over daybreak Meldon, Waye Barton early to get the ponies ready, lesson in the riding arena – “relax your body, feel the horse”, then up to the field for jumping practise.
However, today is different, as there is an audience – of lovely cousins Hilary & Helen… who are enjoying sharing the moment, as am I.

I have always felt watched over.

I have always felt watched over.

Enjoy… swallows dipping and diving in the yard, the walk at the fields margins – grasses shift in response to summer breeze, the sound of unshod hooves on earth.

Leaping into the sky

Leaping into the sky

Then a proper tea in the garden, with relaxed conversation and the opportunity to thoroughly inspect each buttercup.

Plumb-tiousness..

On tour, when determined that I needed to accept the ridiculous cost of a mobile call to the UK from somewhere in Framany and simply ring home, not email, or suffer Skype… more often than not, instead of getting ‘sharing time’, i.e: pleasant conversation and family catchup, or sympathetic ear for the latest inequities suffered, I’d be ear-bashed about what the House Troll’s mischievous fingers had been up to in his latest wrecking rampage. I say ‘He’, and I think the bugger is male, such is the pleasure & effort ‘he’ takes in loosening, prying, splitting and cracking… how else could the inlet pipes in the barrel of the very expensive Franke mixer tap, have become so twisted & crushed?

Here’s a particular moment, by way of example:
I’m on the steps of The Sacre Cur, Montmarte, Paris around Valentines day, where the show was premiering the France leg of its tour.

The lead-up – Winter travelling our mad circus on the roads of Germany had proved difficult, not least because the show seemed to be teetering on that edge… the one that suggested the line might be cut at any moment… and it would be over.
But, we seemed to have come through, with recent audiences being record (yes, it is about the box-office receipts) and producers starting to smile.
Plus, the show’s musical creatives, Ella & Martin, had themselves overseen the French translation, which was much better to perform than the one we’d been suffering in German.
And, the arena of Bercy was truly amazing – in both its scale and the reception given to us by a very exuberant, massive audiences (totalling in the region of 55,000 over the weekend).

But there was one greater reason… thirty years previously Carol & I had been here, staying in a cheap hostel, coffee and croissanting each day before exploring a great capitol of the world. I’d remembered that we’d stood on these very steps overlooking Paris and held hands, in pleasure of each others company.

So I stood and dialled.
It rang (Ely picked up the phone)…
“Hi sweetie, how ‘ya doing?”
“Good.”
“Is mummy there?”
“Yep.”
“Can you get her please, I’d like a chat.”
“Hang on, I’ll see.”
Wait… and try not to think of the meter going “Ting, Ting” on my phone bill.
“Here’s mum.”
“Hi!”
“Hi Carol, guess where I am?”
“I’m glad you called… where’s the stop cock?”
!!!

As I keep saying – back only for a short while, so I’m spend my time, trying to ensure that the Trolls work is made more difficult, though this does mean that Carol and Ely keep returning to a topsy-turvy house, with even Juno, our pointer bemused, as her food dish & water bowl keeps being moved.

"When's it going to stop?", asks Juno

The pointer and the stop-cocker spanner

Alice’s breakfast…

It’s not just me who is cherishing these moments away from the ice circus… Alice Renou Bouillet – AKA Sid is watching the clock tick too and takes these moments as precious… though this might not necessarily be understood by those who inhabit the real world.

Time well taken.

Time well taken.

Pleasure in simple things, in normal things, in things mundane.

Carol’s border…

Financially, things have been getting more and more difficult for free-lancers these last years. Not, I believe, through our particular way of doing/being, but as a result of major changes to the world of work – particularly in how it affects my employment opportunities. Yes… if I’d knuckled down to a career down the mines, as my comprehensive school career advisor recommended, I could have been unemployed and without hope thirty years ago, instead – I put my entire effort into creating a career in the arts, particularly the entertainment industry.
There have been significant successes, high-points and accolades. Projects which I am proud to have been credited in, as a major contributor, but the financial rewards from even the most prestigious projects, has been getting less and less, the amount of free work in trying to get onboard more and more.
I might express it thus… my self employed time spent in planting the garden within the now corporate world, in the expectation of reaping some future harvest, is all consuming… only for me to watch with astonished disappointment the hopeful shoots die on the trusses, or be eaten by corporate pests… maybe, that is stretching the analogy somewhat, but it brings me to a moment of beauty in our garden, which makes the grinding worry go away for a moment and brings me into the now.
Despite our financial difficulties and much to my expressed annoyance, Carol had our friend Nick Allison, plant a border, to complete the front of the house… “It cost how much!” I gagged.
But today, it’s greater value was again made clear.

Blooming marvellous.

Blooming marvellous.

P1130034

Into the wild…

David has left surreal Africa and is now walking in ‘The First Place’, but let’s go back a little to explain…

After ‘A’ levels, David wanted an adventure… the possibility of such had been created by great friends & David supporters Ness & Dave, but it would require work… David was determined.

He spent his year working to save money… Chagford – decorating in the daytimes and waitering in the evenings, Nashville – working for uncle Steve as a solar system installer with full USA truck and hard-hat.
All good experiences in themselves, but undertaken so that he could take the Africa opportunity.

A break from working on the roof of Music City, Nashville.

A break from working on the roof of Music City, Nashville.

People were saying… ‘this doesn’t happen’, ‘he’ll never make it’, ‘no-one gets to go there’. But it did happen, he made it, he’s there.

Last seen heading through security at Heathrow, wearing bush hat and carrying his desert pack, in which was stowed, head torch, camera and solar chargers.

Off to adventure.

Off to adventure.

Twenty one hours later, conveyed by increasingly smaller and less sophisticated means, he’s there… full of expectation, at the adventure that is finally about to unfold. A nights rest, then it shall begin!

But the world is surprising and you should be careful what you ask for. David had asked that he be made proper use of… “he was”, after all, “going for a reason, not a jolly”. And so, 8am, Day One, in the Namibian Rhino Trust’s office, a task was laid before him.

Spreadsheets!

Years of dreaming, months of endeavour, days of travel and here he was – formatting templates in Microsoft Office. A very useful and necessary job, that will significantly help the running of this charity, committed absolutely to supporting the tiny population of desert rhino.

That was two weeks ago and the job has been well done.

And today, David left Swakupmund on the coast, and is heading for the Ugab camp in remote Damaraland… the first place – where the few people living there just subsist, living in mud huts, without amenities.

Heading for the camp

Heading for the camp

There, he’ll be sleeping on a mat under the stars, carrying his water, cooking his own food (pasta with a bit of canned tuna), tracking rhino and teaching a girl from the local tribe, how to insert the collected data into his Excel spreadsheets.

The shower.

The shower.

Info on SRT

Info on SRT

More info.

More info.

Chagford chums…

Brunch with Roger, Clare & Lark at Millpond.
The first time I’ve properly stopped since home in Devon… fixing, cleaning, organising is mostly done, house made a home again, and it seems that it’s taken till now for me to put into appropriate words what happened and what might happen next.

They give me lots of time to tell my story.

It’s a beautiful day, when it’s easy to forgive Dartmoor for the long winter it punished the community with… memory of the many layers worn to keep away the damp cold, the black mould growing, the four-o-clock dark is banished… and clouds in front of the sun are a welcome relief.

Lark in the sky.

Lark in the sky.

Assembling…

I’ve passed the point on the dial… now the days will tick by, as departure gets closer… getting myself into the mood to deal with my next sentence takes precedent: Flights are scheduled (Exeter-Amsterdam-Guatamala), Central American plugs for electrical accessories sought, jabs against local disease stuck in my arm.

It may be weeks away, but I sense the approach and need to be far better prepared than I was last time.

A little of what I'll need.

A little of what I’ll need.

If it’s not in my bag, in the hotel room, then I simply won’t have it, so I’d better take care when assembling and a thing to carefully pack, so that I have time appropriate access – are triggers to memory…

Helpful item.

Helpful item.

My herd.

Some of my herd.

Day of rest…

Sunday was not a day of measured thought and relaxation: We’d been scurrying around the house for days, culminating in a final push on the seventh, preparing for the influx of Americans, who might not consider our Bohemian debris as quaint… but at the last minute, we discover the wave to have broken in another direction… and, we’d achieved a semblance of order!
Argh well, we can enjoy the temporary phenomena of an orderly house, though I do have to take the floors back up to complete the plumbing and wiring repairs I’ve been attempting since returned (the house troll’s fingers were very busy during my absence), but that won’t be today – we are all bushed from my determined attack on dust… apparent, when following unwelcome alarm, I go into ELy’s room to try to jolly her into getting up, but see in eyes peeping from within covers – all the information I need.
So, a quick word with Carol and it’s agreed… curtains are re-drawn, morning wakeup music turned off, confused dog told she’ll have to wait and we return to the double pleasure of bed regained against the rules.
See you at lunchtime.

Father’s Day…

Hooray for dads.
I’m fortunate to have known one… who for me defined the role. Society has need of fathers, but I remain staggered that I’m allowed to wear the mantle.

Ely rocking.

Ely rocking.

Here’s a piece my father and his namesake, my son.

David Jones… father, son,
Separated by time and opportunity.
Easily enthused by the smallest things…
The petals of a rose,
The feathers of a goose.
Loves the smell of the garden,
Particularly rosemary.
Sees beauty where others might see none.
Laughs and listens.

I have known one at his end and one at his beginning.
I sit in the middle.

David Jones… son, father,
Hard then, better to come?
The world in madness, boiled…
Order was made foolish,
And truth hidden.
Uphold the standards of others…
Not setting the bar,
Accept the measure by which judged
Without complaint.

I have not been asked to face the darknesss looming.
I am blessed.

David Jones… Past, present,
No binding hold, but offered hand
Patience without disapproval,
Loved by children,
Who know to trust
Not judging as a failure, an attempt made…
Instead, a step taken.
Looking at each new moon as a chance
To live and breathe.

I find myself in awe, the more I understand…
Having been taught by both.

Distant…

Nobody’s awake in Beverley… I can’t tempt anyone with tea at this unseemly hour, so I look again at the shots that David’s sent from Namibia and try to draw together my thoughts on the enormity of what he’s doing, seeing, feeling. Too big.

'tain't Dartmoor

’tain’t Dartmoor