Monday, April 19, 2010

Keep on Running...

Yesterday was the first full Brighton Marathon, and it was a really wonderful event. The race actually went past my house (twice), so we had a great view of the proceedings, and also had the benefit of no traffic at all during the day. Grandson and I were up betimes, and swept and tidied the balcony so that we could put out the chairs, tables and cushions and see everything from our vantage point. It was a glorious day too - very fortunately - and our neighbours were setting up a party in their front garden next door. We put out flags, made breakfast, and waited for the runners to appear. The race started at 9am, and the first runner flew past our house at 10 minutes past 10! What an amazing performance. We were at the 25k mark, and I found it incredible that anyone could run so far, so fast! He looked very fit too. Anyway, soon enough the road was completely full of runners, joggers and walkers, all running for their own chosen Charity, and for the next three hours we watched, cheered and clapped them on their way. We had probably the best view possible and sat in comfort, with Buck's Fizz at hand, enjoying the spectacle and the sunshine. When it all moved on to the Seafront, we repaired downstairs to the party next door, and enjoyed a barbeque, a few drinks and some party games. Grandson had a fabulous time playing with the older girls, and it was quite hard to drag him away in the end.

Last Thursday I went up to London for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of CDP (Collett, Dickenson and Pearce), the famous Advertising Agency I was privileged enough to work at in the late 60s. It was a grand party, and I had found the perfect dress and shoes to wear, so I felt pretty good. There were lots of old faces, some recognizable and some not. Luckily though we were all wearing labels, so if you couldn't recognize a face, you could hopefully read a name. It led to some comical situations, but on the whole it was great fun, and I hope I can put some photos on for you to see. I was staying in London with Son and his girlfriend, which was lovely, so I got a taxi home at 11pm. They have a very comfy spare bed which I just fell into and slept very soundly. Next morning we all had boiled eggs and soldiers together in their sunny kitchen, before they went off to work, leaving me to shower and then potter off to meet Sister at Patisserie Valerie in Old Compton Street. Bliss. After some perfect coffee and a Croque Monsieur I headed home on the train, tired but very, very happy. Oh what a busy life I lead!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hearing Things..

No wind and a pale dawn sky as I walked along by the sea this morning. The only sound was the soft, insistent shush-shushing of waves breaking on the shingle - and of course the soft insistent ringing in my ears, which frequently accompanies me these days. No matter, it's just another of those sounds which I can block out most of the time, like the incessant cries of seagulls which used to wake me at 4 in the morning, or the chug-chugging of buses waiting at the traffic lights outside my front garden. Nowadays I seem to choose what I hear, like the birds singing while I'm gardening, and a couple of weeks ago it was the frogs croaking, very loudly, in my pond. They all turned up for the annual frogspawn-fest on the first day of Spring. There were at least 10 quite large frogs, not sure if they were in pairs, but there was an awful lot of frantic activity going on, which we watched in total fascination, and it has resulted in a pond full of frogspawn. Lovely.

I remember that as a child I used to lie in bed and listen to the train chugging (yes, it was a steam engine) along the single track "Pull and Push" railway which ran between Romford and Upminster, stopping at Emerson Park Halt along the way. To catch this train at Emerson Park we had to walk half a mile up Osborne Road, and as the road ran parallel with the railway line, we could guage the train times precisely, and knew when to break into a run so that we didn't miss the train. Going to Primary School also meant walking up the road, in the opposite direction, to cross the railway. There was a black cinder path which led up to the railway line, and a simple wooden stile to cross on either side of the line. Then we walked along a criss-cross of cinder paths and alleys to get to school. I can't imagine that those paths are still there today - it would be considered far too dangerous. But in those days we all did that walk and crossed the railway line at least twice a day. Of course a steam train was slower, much more visible and pretty noisy. And we knew that the train ran along more or less every half hour, so I guess we had the train timetable fixed at the back of our minds. In any case, I can't remember a single accident happening along that line in the 20 years we lived there!

We actually lived in Osborne Road and the line ran along the back end of our garden. The railway bank was a great place to go for having adventures, and Sister and I regularly climbed over the fence to explore. Most of the time, though, we just didn't hear the train - it was another of those sounds that disappeared into the background. But to this day I find the sound of a train comforting when I'm lying in bed. And, funnily enough, most of the houses I've lived in have had a railway line within (faint) earshot. In Cambridge we were backing onto the Botanical Gardens with the train station close behind, though not too close. And even here, in Hove, I can hear the train in the distance some nights or early mornings, when there are no other competing sounds. It's quite a way away, but I guess my ears are tuned to that particular comforting and familiar sound.

By the way, one thing I am listening to is Chris Evans in the morning (sometimes) on Radio 2. He has stopped shouting, and has made me laugh a couple of times. He's no Terry Wogan, but I need a bit of light-hearted banter and some music while I'm ironing. So I suppose I have capitulated - but anything is better than the non-stop bickering between the political parties that's currently wall-to-wall on Radio 4.