Sailing adventures – part 1

15062010079

 

Gigha is a beautiful little island lying about 25 miles NNE of the Mull of Kintyre. It covers an area of about 5 square miles and has a population of approximately 160 people. In 2002 it was placed on the market and with the assistance of various organisations was purchased by the small community. As with so many of the Hebridean Islands, there is abundant wildlife, peace and tranquillity. Its convenient location is ideal as a stopping point after the passage up the north Irish Sea and North Channel and is usually my first and last port of call in Scotland. (That’s where I am in my blog’s banner photo.)

Not far from the main village is Achamore House, the sale of which provided the bulk of the funds the islanders were required to pay back as part of a loan for the purchase of the island. Surrounding the house are Achamore Gardens, now owned and maintained by the community. We missed the peak flowering time of May/June to walk the 2 acre gardens but nevertheless it was worth a visit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A small lake in the gardens gave a brief glimpse of a beautiful azure blue dragonfly, unfortunately too brief to photograph!

 

A haiku – The Dragonfly

Dragonfly, kissing water, still;

silent, gossamer wings shining.

Sun-dappled leaves sparkling bright

 

But here’s the lake;

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the same vicinity we came across this lovely sculpture;

IMG_0317

Poem – The Otter

A pond, placid in summer sun

warming the earth, bringing life.

A guardian spirit standing tall.

Through unseeing eyes facing

day and night, snow, wind, rain,

scorching sun and passers-by.

Never yielding; carved in stone

in likeness of an otter.

Check back again for the next instalment 🙂

The Road Back to You

The miles roll by, never seeming to end,
grey tarmac hums and throbs beneath tyres.
White lines, mesmerising; flash, flash, flash.
The radio plays romantic songs; thinking
of you, so far away, under a different sky.
Awaiting a kiss.

How many hours gone? How many more?
Sky darkens, sun hidden, rain splatters down,
on hot road, sizzling. Wipers; swish, swash, swish.
I speed on, longing for your lips; to hold,
to caress, to rest and dwell in your arms.
Awaiting a kiss.

One more hour will see it done, the endless
highway finished. A juggernaut, must overtake,
faster, I thunder by; beep, honk, beep,
flashing lights; another lonely freeway traveller.
Does he long the same, like me, for love?
Awaiting a kiss?

Racing heart fights with tired mind, home
so near, last junction beckons. Fingers stretch
on clammy wheel. Indicators flash; tick, tick, tick.
House lights beckon, warm, inviting. Parking brake
on, engine dies. You are waiting, smiling. Ready.
A long awaited kiss.

Prompted by The Daily Post

A Sudden Downpour Surprise

Blogging again!

It’s been a long time, over three weeks, since my last blog post, but I’m back! The past month I’ve been sailing in the Scottish Hebrides with my girlfriend aboard my yacht. It was the second such trip this year, and the last big one until next year. So much I could have written about, some of which I did; the wonderful sights, wildlife and day-to-day adventure, I’ll get those stories posted over the coming days.

The biggest problem was slow or non-existent internet access out in the sticks, but wow, it was worth it; though I‘ve missed being part of the blogging community and sharing our writings back and forth. I did at least achieve a further 3000 words or so of my second novel, a very tiny effort but at least I kept it going!

Oh, and my apologies for any comments or pingbacks not responded to over the past weeks , I’ll catch up 🙂

 

What better way to get back in the swing of things than with The Daily Post prompt, so here goes!

We were blessed with fantastic weather on holiday, almost three weeks of sunshine. One day we did have torrential rain at anchor, but I’ll keep to the script of the prompt;

 

A Sudden Downpour Surprise

Attired in shorts and t-shirt the sun beat down and a gentle breeze eased the stifling temperature as I walked down Main Street of this strange, backwoods town, peering into shop windows with a hand over my eyes to reduce the glare from the sun on the glass. I passed expensive clothes shops, bookstores, cafes and bars, and a few shops that defied description; you know the kind, selling everything from toys to gardening equipment, alongside musical instruments and household paints.

The air grew even warmer, a muggy thickness that clung to my throat and lungs. A few minutes later the wind stiffened and dark, ominous clouds filled the sky; the temperature dropped suddenly. Then the heavens opened. The rain bounced off the cracked pavement and pummelled my sunhat, at such close range it sounded like hail on a tin roof. I darted for the nearest cover, a shop with a dark awning giving shade to an equally dark window; I couldn’t even see what it was displaying as I rushed into the shop.

I stood on a bare wooden floor, unceremoniously dripping water from my hat, the clothes that were sticking to me, and from my entire body. At least it wasn’t a quality carpet I thought. Gathering my senses I gazed around at my new surroundings. The lighting was dim, and after being used to the blinding sun of a few short minutes ago, my eyes took a moment to become accustomed. Slowly I began to see images, rows of books, grandfather clocks, old-looking cabinets, quaint ornaments and ancient oil lamps, some actually burning with a dim, flickering flame.

Feeling a little out of synch in my brightly coloured clothes I moved to browse the stock of books. At that moment an old gentleman appeared, shuffling his way from the rear of the shop in tattered carpet slippers, a frayed shirt and with a cigarette hanging from his lips.

Without removing his smoke, he uttered, “good morning sir.” His voice was hoarse but quiet.

I replied, “hello, just thought I‘d have a little look around until the rain stops.”

“Feel free, “he said, leaning against a table, watching me.

I glanced outside, keen to leave this dark, dank place, but the rain continued unabated. Still he watched me. As I removed a book he moved towards me and placed a withered, liver spotted hand on my wrist.

Breathing stale tobacco breath over me he said, “I have other goods sir might be interested in.”

Still holding the book I had selected, he ushered, almost pushed me, to the back of the shop. His whole manner I found disquieting as I took another desperate glance at the weather outside. He led me to a doorway covered with a curtain, drew it aside and switched on the light. For a moment I was blinded by neon strip lights.

He spoke again in a voice which felt like treacle, “is this what sir wants?”

As my vision cleared I saw racks of magazines; pornographic magazines. On another wall was a vast range of sex toys and bondage equipment. Alongside those items were racks of clothes, leather and lace, not the sort of clothes one would wear to a party; perhaps some kinds of party, I found myself thinking!

There was nothing inherently wrong with what I was seeing, except for the context; the contrast with the front end of the shop, it’s tawdry layout and the range of antique books and relics. And then there was him, this unkempt, dishevelled man. What went on in this town; I wondered.

“You like?” he said, his voice now had an edge of excitement.

I didn’t answer. I hurriedly placed the book I was carrying onto the nearest shelf, pushed past him and made my way to the front door, trying not to run; out into the pouring rain and breathed in the fresh clean smell of the sweet, wet air.

The Cat, the Soup, and the Towel

Sheena and I are up to our usual tricks this morning. We didn’t like our breakfast. Looking up at our servant we gave her the most pitiful look we could devise.
“What’s the matter with you two, don’t you like it? It’s a new flavour.”
“Meeow.” If only we could talk. Actually, the new food wasn’t that bad, but we weren’t going to be messed about; she could have asked us first.
“Come on, taste it, I’m sure you’ll like it.”
“Meeow.” We stood resolute, no way, we want our usual. So we cocked our heads to one side in the cutest way possible.
“OK,” she said, “I get the message.” She scraped the food into the bin and opened one of our regular tins.
It was working, cat power! When will they learn, these humans, we don’t ask much but we want it right. Every time.
“We’ll teach her, Sheena.” I gave my accomplice a subtle wink.
We waited until the replacement food was presented to us, and then ambled casually to our little door leading to the garden.
“Oh, really!” Our human said. “There’s no pleasing some! Well, it’s here when you want it.”
We passed the morning frolicking together, laying in the sun and chasing birds. What fun! People have no idea how to live; they think they’re so intelligent, going out to work and getting stressed. Who is cleverest then? Them, or us, who spend our days having fun and having a nap between sleeps?
By now we were getting hungry having foregone breakfast. Something was in the air, we sniffed together. Chicken! Yum, our favourite, well, after fish; we do love it when we get tuna now and again. We slunk back to the kitchen to find Barbara, that’s the name of our human, cooking at the stove. We sat on the window ledge and watched while she passed us glances and waves between spells of stirring the contents of her pan. Then the telephone rang.
We moved fast, leaping off the ledge and running for our door. A quick look around, all clear! We jumped onto the kitchen worktop to inspect the dish. Ah, yes, chicken soup! We each stuck our paws in the broth, ouch! It was hot but we got used to it and the pleasure of the taste overcame the concern for the temperature. Oooh, how good it was as we repeatedly dipped our paws and licked them.
In our gastronomic pleasure we had dropped our guard, we didn’t hear Barbara finishing her talk on the telephone. And then she came in, catching us red handed.
“This really is the last straw!” She shouted, rushing towards us swinging a towel at our tails. We scarpered back to the garden as fast as possible trying to find a place to hide. The sun lounger!
“Quick, Sheena! Hide under the beach towel that’s on the sun bed!”
We lay still and quiet, but Barbara hadn’t followed us out. Still, it was a pleasant place to stay, sheltered from the midday sun, so we curled up and fell asleep.
Sometime later I was awoken by a soft voice and gentle touch to my head. It was Barbara, caressing me and whispering words of adoration. That’s more like it! She had brought our food out to us too; we chuckled together at her folly.
Barbara picked me up and stroked me. This is nice I thought, but then I’m Leroy the cat, how can anyone not love me!

The Daily Post

Celebrating Time

Birthdays come but once a year,
53 have come my way I fear!
Too many to count for celebration,
it’s just another day I say.
Save the trees, spare the cards,
call me humbug but waste not for me.
Give me a cheer, wish me well,
I’ll thank you, and forget that
half a century and more, a number
appended to my name, like a score.
Only man marks the cycle of weeks,
months and years, as if there is
past, present and future.
There is only now, ask an animal,
if he could talk; what was yesterday?
Another today, been and gone.
What is tomorrow? Dumb stare,
it doesn’t exist yet, why ask?
It will be another today.
Only the cycle of sun and moon, and
rotation of seasons mark our time.
Every day should be a birthday,
every day should be a Christmas,
not saving it,
but love and goodwill each moment.

Manx National Day

Well, today a factual post instead of poetry or fiction. I live on the Isle of Man, for those who don’t know, it’s a small island in the middle of the Irish Sea in the British Isles. Its status is as a Crown Dependency with its own government, reputed to be the longest unbroken government in the world, instigated by the Vikings over 1000 years ago.
The date of the celebration is nominally 5th July, this year the event is held on 7th July. The venue is Tynwald Hill, the seat of the ancient Viking leadership, a small hill said to include soil from all 17 of the islands parishes, and the day is one of general celebration with a fair, market stalls, creative workshops and side shows around the venue. This year is Island of Culture 2014 and the day will play host to performers keeping alive the tradition of Manx music, along with visiting musicians from Germany and Menorca. Late in the evening the Ellan Vannin Pipe Band will bring a musical close to the proceedings.
The ceremonial side is formal, though not without its lighter moments, this year’s President’s Tynwald Day quiz will challenge people’s powers of observation and knowledge of Viking runes! The mainstay of the ceremony itself is the reading of bills that have received the Royal Assent which are promulgated on Tynwald Day; any Act of Tynwald which is not so promulgated within 18 months of passage ceases to have effect. Other proceedings include the presentation of petitions and the swearing in of certain public officials. Prior to the sitting of Tynwald a procession takes place. The individual presiding inspects the Guard of Honour and lays a wreath at the National War Memorial, which was inaugurated in 1923. A foreign head of state attending the ceremony may accompany the Lieutenant Governor, as HM The King of Norway did in 2002.
At eleven o’clock, Tynwald convenes in the Chapel of St John the Baptist for a religious service. Thereafter, they proceed to the adjacent Tynwald Hill. The path is strewn with rushes, the tradition is traceable to the Celtic custom of propitiating the sea god Manannan by offering bundles of rushes on Midsummer’s Eve. The path is lined with numerous flagpoles, which fly both the red national flag and the blue parliamentary flag.
Generally, I don’t attend the ceremony as I’m not that way inclined and this year, at that time, I will be sailing up to Scotland on my yacht for a 3 week vacation! 🙂

For more information and pictures;

Images

Information

 

 

Steps of Musical Understanding

A young boy

 loved to make a noise

he banged a drum,

though raucous

his mind heard a tune.

~

The boy grew

a piano came to hand

 some lessons he took

 a guide to the wonder

 of melody, its heavenly beauty.

~

He became a man

the gleam and timbre of brass

took his delight.

a trombone his instrument of choice

the slide, oh so sweet!

~

The man travelled, far and wide,

something different

became his need

and a guitar, for many hours

played until his fingers burned.

~

Caressing the strings and neck

discovering styles

and sounds of play

 his friend through long years

beside him all the way.

~

Still she is charming

and ready, always

but he finds the spirit

of music all around

for music is vibration, life itself.

~

He hears the song of trees and water

of wind and colour and paintings

 the thought vibration of words

the rocks and mountains

for they all have life.

~

Now he strives to blend his will

with the tune

of divine creation

and his consciousness with

the rhythm of the one life force.

~

To play the ultimate tune.