and the last hour of a falling tide, it was possible to walk further along than I have been before. (Click a thumbnail for the gallery.)
It’s a time indeed since being on a bus. This one ground and clanked its way through the villages, past the sea, up the Shute, down the chalk, wound beneath the hills, and at last to town. I shopped: bought only some minute wooden butterflies. After business, there was welcome tea of reprieve. I’ve been reprieved in this place before. And the social event of the day.
Then the bus: out of town through the clogged traffic (glad to see the driver knew his bus width to the inch), below the hills where sheep did picturesque things on the skyline, up the chalk, down the Shute, past the sea, now glowing like tarnished silver in the twilight (a radiance perhaps exaggerated in my eyes), and through the villages.
Probably the stars have been there all along, but time has lapsed since we visited. At sunset I waited impatiently in the porch, out of the wind, until they began to pop in the deepening blue. I watched the Summer Triangle down into the west as if for the last time. Orion was rising in the east, holding open the sky to let the cold air in.
Here’s a photograph.
Not in it: the sparkliness; lively air; cormorant fishing well out (and I forgot the binoculars again); chattering of flints in surf; an orderliness making long long long curves of wave; steam engine noises of solid water hitting concrete; a cool sun.
There were manes being pulled off the white horses by the contradictory breeze. Nearly caught.
… with anything much, when there is water dripping through the ceiling, and the plumber clonking about detectively.
With November imminent, it was appropriate to groan and say, Here we go again, and cut out paper. Every year the most tiresome part is trying to squeeze uniqueness into a hundred squares, each no more than an inch and a half on a side, when there is barely room to turn the scissors (the large squares are much easier). So I applied the worst-first rule.
Seventy-five minuscule squares later, and with a shiny new ballcock in situ, that seems to have been a sound decision.
The storm has not stripped out the sand, though I think the landslides have been on the move again. Today was benign but perhaps not quite paddleable – at least, we did not paddle.
Later, what is possibly the cutest instrument in the western world made a reappearance:
the curved soprano sax. This one has been having a little rest in its case for most of the last eighteen years, but there was its voice again, parping occasionally from lack of practice, contending with the piano and giggles. While listening, I compounded apple cake in the kitchen, and (enjoying the ironies) thought, Thank God we are a musical nation.
I steadied myself to drive along the exposed coast road, while the car rocked and bucketed around me. At least, I thought, if a freak gust hits the car, it will blow me inland rather than outboard. Where we dipped down to sea level, the waves were making sudden white walls of their own above the sea wall, and running down to fill the road. The car obediently paddled.
Back on the clifftops, we sightseers staggered about incapably, breathless and unable to hold our ground in the gale, wrestling for a few moments to pay our respects to the turmoil below. When this is over, it will be interesting to visit the newly-sculpted beach.
Once home, another book to complete:
Eagleton writes with gusto; he has axes to grind, and the edges are not merely ornamental. Over an extended period this became a little tiresome, especially when you reach the heading Conclusion and it proves to be far (far!) from the end, but even so there were moments when he managed to crack me up.
The wind is still thumping and booming in the chimney, and all hope of seeing Orionids is pretty much gone.
Along the skirts of storm Ophelia a bilious gloom descended. In the late morning I paused at the cliff top, where the sea state was unremarkable, but the water full of nameless colours and dim yellowish gleams. What breeze there was, was blowing from the wrong direction – surprisingly disorientating.
For a moment the sun was bloodily visible, and one rather wished it wasn’t.
Around noon darkness fell, and it was impossible to read without electric light, though there was little wind and never a drop of rain.
The sky was even more unsettling at 1.30, when it became a uniform dull orange glare. The iPhone camera didn’t believe the colour and kept correcting it, so this picture is edited – I held the laptop screen up to the sky and twiddled until the colours matched.
I’ve been looking through some photos from last week. There was little time to go anywhere except the College itself, or a quick doddle round the Close for fresh air. Luckily, there was a fascinating exhibition in the library, and the cathedral always rewards. (Click a thumbnail for the gallery. If you want to see texts properly, click on link from gallery to full size.)
… calcine its clods …” I muttered gloomily, though Browning was not thinking of kitchen shelves.
I had an outbreak of Usefulness, and in fact was genuinely useful (as well as being annoying). Disheartened, though, as past a certain age and level of neglect kitchens become finally uncleanable: the greasy steam seeps into every cranny, soaks into the cupboard doors, coats every tile and pipe, and, scrub as you may, the tackiness persists. But at least the new owner should be able to find his sarcasm when he needs it.