Sunday, January 11, 2015

Going Online

It has been an odd winter so far. Flowers are in bloom, flies have been lazily buzzing and clothing retailers are desperately discounting their stock of unsold thermal wear. So far so good, but the mild weather has also been accompanied by flash floods and the occasional gale force wind.

Is it climate change? I don't know, but I was disturbed to read that the number of flowers in bloom on January 1st had risen from around 40 to 436.

I've been taking advantage of the mild temperatures by going for several walks around the local area. I suppose it's part of my New Year's resolution - the one I have every year: lose weight, exercise more and drink less. It's always been a half-hearted crusade, but the death of a close friend has strengthened my resolve.

My other vague resolutions for 2015 are as follows:
  • To have a holiday - it's three years since we went anywhere. I know that it's a bit of a 'First World Problem' and if you're reading this on a solar powered tablet by a mudhut in the Okavango, I'm sorry for whinging, but when I signed up to being a parent, an annual family holiday was one of the clauses in my contract.
  • To stop our garden from looking as if it is in Pripyat. If this blog suddenly stops, I've probably been eaten by one of the creatures that have evolved there.
  • To visit an island. If it's one with a secret base and a kidnapped scientist, that will be even better.
  • To have more fun. 
The last resolution is particularly important. If I've had a difficult time with my older son, it's important to do something that breaks the mood. Unfortunately, working alone in a small room logging books only seems to exacerbate any feelings of impending doom. I miss having colleagues.

I hope that my son's predicament will improve this year. We're getting a lot more help and the local authority have agreed to pay for him to go to a specialist school (something that only happens if every other avenue has been exhausted). All we have to do now is get him there. I really hope he goes, as it's a fantastic opportunity.

But I digress. The original point of this post was simply to share a few photos from today's walk around Lewes. First, a typical local scene:

These public allotments have a ridiculously long waiting list, as the bien pensants of Lewes all want to  prepare themselves for the post-oil economy by growing a few radishes. I'll die before my turn comes up.

One time I walked along the road next to the allotment and saw Kevin Bacon, which must get me top marks in the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game (in case you were wondering why he was there, he was filming a commercial. Not one for allotments).

This disused railwayline, on the eastern side of Lewes, has a unsettling, post-apocalyptic atmosphere. It looks innocuous enough in this photo, but the abandoned sidings and eerie silence suggest that a disaster has taken place (other than the Beeching Report).

The railway line passes under this bridge. The writing reads: "GATEWAY MEDIUM. CHALK IS A GATEWAY MEDIUM. CHALK IS A GATEWAY MEDIUM. CHALK IS A GATEWAY MEDIUM..." and so on.

I wondered what it all meant.

Later, I Googled the phrase, not expecting to find anything. To my surprise, this YouTube clip appeared:


The video left me none the wiser, but an additional one minute's research suggests that this phrase comes from the LAPD, who sent officers in riot gear to arrest Occupy protesters who were writing slogans in chalk.

Accused of being heavy-handed, the police allegedly replied that chalk was a "gateway medium" to full-blown vandalism. Naturally, this phrase invited ridicule.

Further along the line, to add to the sense of unreality, a nearby tree had this earring hanging from a branch. It felt like a clue in a second-rate detective drama.

As I examined the jewellery, I heard my wife saying "Ugh, that's horrible. Don't tell Dad. He'll want to take a photo of it." I turned and saw her looking at something on the ground.

She was right. I did.

22 comments:

lazycoffees said...

Just to say how much this almost antipodean reader enjoys your posts, the pictures and the words, with their glimpses into the various moods of your life.

Steerforth said...

Thanks Lazycoffees. I usually feel disappointed by what I've written, so I'm always grateful when someone seems to enjoy reading it.

Flavia said...

No, no, you have many admirers, among whom I'm very much one [is that grammatical?] -- as well as completely antipodean. I'm fully with you on the Having More Fun in 2015 (as well as all the physically healthy stuff), and need to get out of the rut of being a grumpy bitch (me not you). I plan to 'do' several islands on a cruise to Fiji, Vanuatu &c, but that may be 2016 (DV) rather than this year.

Brett said...

I like the disused railway line. It's just the kind of place I would like to walk.

So you want to go to an island? Wait, aren't you already on an island? Well I guess it's an isle, as in the British Isles.

I haven't forgotten your fine travelogue on Lundy.

According to today's NYT, (52 Places to Go in 2015), the Faroe Islands are, "drawing attention with their avant-garde cuisine". Or how about Sardinia, with it's curious tumuli?

If you are trying to cut down on your drinking, though, an island is probably not going to help.

Great post, thanks!

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello,

This post captures so wonderfully well that feeling of ambivalence as one leaves behind one year for the next. Resolutions are rarely made in this house since they invariably come to nothing but, like you, there are always good intentions which seem to have an added urgency at the start of a new year.

Your short list seems a modest one and we like to think that every thing there will be ticked off by year's end. Quite possibly having fun and getting away from it all on holiday will be connected. We like to think so and are sure that you all deserve it.

Whatever, we wish you joy, peace and prosperity for 2015. And, lots of fun!

Martin Hodges said...

Really enjoyed this post, Steerforth. Looking forward to reading more about your explorations of the locales around Lewes.

Steerforth said...

Flavia - I hope you manage to get to some of the Pacific islands. I've always been fascinated by Pitcairn, but I know that getting there is a bit of a challenge.

Brett - I'd like an island that feels like one, where I can see the sea wherever I go. I will probably pick something modest, like Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel. I was looking at the Faroes on Google Earth the other day - they seem quite appeaing.

Jane and Lance - I gave up making resolutions for a number of years, but I live in hope. The illusion of crossing a line can be quite a useful tool sometimes. My wife is trying the 'Dry January'. I'm just opting for a slightly moist one.

Martin - If my older son doesn't get any better, than my travels will be exclusively around Lewes! Perhaps I'll visit an island in the middle of a local pond. Fortunately, the town has enough curious and eccentric features to stop me going stir crazy.

Rog said...

The Gateway Medium thing is amazing - what we do without Google? The video was made even more surreal by the banner add for Funeral insurance.

We have loads of ex railway line footpaths in Norfolk. One of my faves is the "Crab & Winkle Line" which used to take jolly Enid Blyton types from Thetford to the North coast. It's now called the "Pingo Trail" after the strange craters it passes through.

Steerforth said...

Rog - The strange craters sound intriguing. It's a pity that these lines were ever closed, but at least they offer some interesting walks. As soon as spring arrives, I must take a trip on the Bluebell Railways (although the way things are going, the bluebells will probably flower in February).

Anna said...

It's nice to have you writing again, Steerforth. I hope you and your family have a happy 2015... My (adult, novelist) son made me laugh when he told me quite seriously, that his New Year Resolution was to stop looking at his feet when he walks... perhaps he wants not to bump into so many trees this year...

Steerforth said...

Anna - Who knows, your son may have just saved his life by deciding to look where he's going. There are quiet a few nasty accidents caused by people looking at their phones (or feet!) when walking.

worm said...

idea for interesting (and cheap/easy) island visit you could undertake in 2015...

http://thedabbler.co.uk/2012/09/osea-island/

moo said...

The railway path reminds me of the scene in The Railway Children where the trees start to move down the bank...

Steerforth said...

Worm - My mother-in-law lives on Mersea Island, so Osea would be easy to get to, although I like my islands to be completely surrounded by water, with a boat journey of at least 15 minutes.

Moo - I saw the film at Richmond Odeon when it first came out, but was too young to appreciate Jenny Agutter's bloomers. The trees really scared me.

joan.kyler said...

Lovely, evocative photos.

Every year I vow to learn Italian (last year I got as far as an Italian 'word-a-day' calendar), practice my piano, and something else that I've forgotten.

But I also resolve more singing, more dancing, more having fun. You'd think that might be possible, wouldn't you? But, alas ....

Andrea said...

Thanks for you blog. I'm not sure how I found it, but it's what I've been looking for. I have slowed my own blogging because it felt too trite trying to highlight the homey, lovely things in life while hiding the inner doubts. You have a great balance here. I'll be checking in again.

Lucille said...

Bart Simpson knows all about chalk as a gateway medium.

Steerforth said...

Joan - I suppose the best way to learn Italian is to be fully immersed in the language. I've always fancied one of those courses where you live with a non-English speaking family for a week or more.

Andrea - Thank you for commenting. I've enjoyed looking at your blog and it lseems as if you have a good community spirit where you live. The photos of the homegrown food were mouth-watering! I think the very fact that you're worried about being trite means that you won't be.

Lucille - I thought it looked familiar.

Anna said...

Steerforth - I've just found this blog and I think you'll love it... the things this man finds thrown away are just amazing...
http://garbagefinds.com/

AnnaC

Steerforth said...

Anna - It's wonderful! I can't help wondering how many bags of rotting orange peel and cat litter he has to go through to find these things, but but some of them are extraordinary. I particularly liked the nautical porthole.

Miss Cellany said...

A good list - I'd add sun to fun and an island.
Hope this year finds the right level of care for your son; one of our daughters was transformed once she received the correct diagnosis and sympathetic treatment of her condition.

Steerforth said...

Miss Cellany - Yes, a bit of sunshine helps. In my son's case, it's actually essential and he's now receiving treatment for vitamin D deficiency because of his refusal to go out.

Getting a diagnosis certainly gets the wheels moving and it also shuts up those people who think that you're just a bad parent.