Sunday, November 30, 2008


Mist in the valley in the early morning

Mist over the valley at night

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I know I may have mentioned it before but North Wales is one of the corners that the great Moo Moo has favoured.
No large carnivores, nothing very poisonous in the flora or the fauna ( with the possible exception of a couple of mushrooms). A climate that is beneficially regulated by the thermal inertia of the sea. And spectacular scenery.
I forced the Hallett butt down to a cold kitchen early this morning and sorted out some sandwiches, coffee and some mountain gear. Asbo and I set of half an hour later and by nine o’clock we had parked up, tooled up and were off on the path to Marchlyn Mawr and then onwards to an old mountain favourite. Elidir Fawr is in a slightly less fashionable corner of the national park but the views from the top are spectacular. In fact I think it is the only summit from which you can see all the other mountains in Snowdonia, well all the ones over 3000 ft (I apologise for not using metres but somehow the figure holds less appeal).
Anyway when I got to the top the views were second to none.
Have a look here
Tomorrow I shall go and sunbathe on the beach.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


There is always a sense of trepidation when you see one of your heroes.
In the same way that going back to places you used to live irons out some of the gold from the memory. I remember seeing The Who perform live many years ago and being incredibly let down by how I felt at their performance.
From the moment Leonard Cohen bounded on to the stage ( I don’t exaggerate) I knew that I needn’t have worried at all. From the opening chord, to the long goodbye he blew me away. Old standards were invested with new meanings. Notes and phrases that were learned years ago were folded and painted into something both familiar yet fresh for the first time.
He held our hearts and fears in his word and drew tears of love from deep within.
Incredibly self aware and adjusted he spared us nothing. I have never seen such a spellbinding performance.
If you ever get the chance…ah but you know all that I am sure.

“The last time I stood on this stage was fourteen years ago. I was sixty years old, just a kid with a crazy dream”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In My Secret Life

I have but a moment, the policy that isn’t going to write itself is glaring,full of bale, from the sofa. Well its guidleines are anyway.
But you see, this weekend I have a ticket to see Leonard Cohen in concert at the NEC.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Greek Gift

I only nipped in to get a postcard I swear. I guess that from then on a number of circumstances, circumstances which I am sure dear reader, you will agree leave me entirely exonerated of any possible complicity ( that’s a posh version of ‘its not my fault’, did you like it?).
You see it’s partly about the end of the tourist season. There I was, on the last stage out of Dodge visiting a shop in a little village high up in the Cretan mountains. Several scuttling black clad ladies had reported my progress in towards the town square. By the time I parked my pushbike beside the shop, Alexandros had the hopes and fears of at least three living generations and a goat resting upon his shoulders, as well as Zeus knows how many that had crossed the Styx. And here I was threatening to part with a mere thirty cents. Quite a lot of national pride was involved.
After a negotiation the nature of which I still feel slightly confused about I departed with two bottles. One containing something that his grandfather put together from a secret recipe involving herbs and lots of alcohol. This I vaguely understand to be unobtainable outside the village, there may even have been false versions circulating in inferior shops and bars lower down the street. A sure winner to go with the Christmas dinner. A snip at merely 15 Euros.
The second bottle was thrown, no it wasn’t actually, was lowered gently to my basket as a gift to say thank you for handing over such a ridiculous sum for something unlabelled, unlikely to go through customs scrutiny, and probably poisonous. The second bottle, filled with a strange clea liquid that moved like a viscous oil, was complicitly described as lion’s milk. A form of mountain Raki.
“Very good for the …..”, and here he made a forearm gesture. The shocked look on the face of a passing nun left little doubt as what he felt it might be good for, as events panned out I am sure she need have had no worries.
Well I completed my ride to the Lasithi Plateau and after that it was all downhill ( theres a joke there which I am sure you will all struggle to winkle out…).
The next morning a demon slipped the bottle of Raki in to my daysack and I took the boat to Spinalonga. I had no intention of drinking it you see but…… If the guy serving the orange juice hadn’t had so much spare ice I might have got away with it. If She Of The Townhouse hadn’t been such a wimp and drunk her fair share I might have got away with it. If the day hadn’t been so hot and the shade so inviting I might not have been tempted.
It was everyone else’s fault. I am sure you can see.
I came round several hours later with a raging thirst beside a clear empty bottle, completely unable to explain how I had managed to lose a large chunk of the day and my shorts.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Customary Practice

“And did you pack the bag yourself sir?”

Suddenly I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights. While the expression on my face betrays not a flicker of the inner turmoil; I suddenly see my fall from grace flashing before my inner eye. What to say.
Would it be foolish to say that on spotting that my toothbrush and surplus undercrackers were well below the weight limit, She Of The Town House had decided to redistribute. Using me as the mule to carry her spare hair straighteners and various packages whose content still eludes me even though we are now back a day.
“You have to be joking mate I haven’t a clue what she put in there.”
“ You look like a man of the world sergeant, she wouldn’t let me near the thing while she was packing.”
Both these reasonable appeals to a potential fellow cross my mind briefly but then…. then I remember that tale that Huw told of how similar jokiness on his way to the foreign led to an extremely unpleasant incident. The one where he was escorted to a darkened room by a man with large latex encased fingers, a man who proceeded to demonstrate a glove puppet routine. I remember how poor old Huw’s eyes watered even at the retelling some years later and how he went off his beer for the rest of the evening.

“Yes I packed it myself”

Later on as my bicycle puncture repair kit sets off the hand luggage scanner I wonder what they might mistakenly make of the pump that I left in the main bag.
(photo above)