Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Eagle, I mean chickens have landed...

            Good afternoon readers (er reader?), another rota of the ‘grind’ finished and once more I return to the land of the living, although still feeling a tad like a cast member from ‘Dawn of the Dead’ to be honest! Now do not be expecting any bumbling apologies for my lack of blogging because it is not going to happen – time, the ‘grind’ and a wife’s chore list waits for no man so you’re just going to have to make to with less frequent ramblings at the moment and be bloody grateful for just the odd snippet whence time allows.

            So apart from the mundane cycle of life what news has dragged the Fish away from his perpetual and never ending to do list back to his keyboard? Well today is the first day after the bleedin’ last day of the ‘grind’ which traditionally means that the Grumpster is usually in residence and bugger all is achieved.  A ha but there’s that word ‘usually’, for today the Grumpster is strangely absent and ‘Mr. All is well with the world’ is in resistance, happy days. The last block of days off were filled with decorating the bathroom (well doing the bits that Clare trusted me to do), completed the chicken coup, drinking the odd bottle of cider (naturally), and having the Warthog’s walks confined to the evenings.


            And why the mad, headlong, rush for the completion of the chicken coup? Ahh tis because today I had myself a wee trip to see John Grey and pick up me two chucks, happy days indeed.


            So please excuse my tardy posting of late (damn it, was not going to apologise!), I hope to enter a longer post in my days off this week as, even if I do say so me self, I do have some rather splendid pictures of the evenings’ meanderings to share and a few thoughts upon the difference of walking at dusk instead of the early morning or midday as is my usual habit. Oh go on just the one picture to tease then….


Until later, take good care my friends,

John

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An excuuse me note....

            OK so I’ve a tad remiss in my duties as yer friendly, ever so slightly rotund, pirate like blogger from the paradise that is North Wales lately (well there’s an opening line). But unfortunately to have something to write about for your entertainment and gratification one must actually lead a life away from the keyboard and glare of the monitor otherwise the post would read something like; - powered up computer, pressure must be low as it took an age to boot up, checked email only the usual junk mails trying to sell me Viagra and asking if I require a loan (a loan? Hell-fire, I need a bloody miracle for my present finances to return to anything like healthy!), played online chess, checked Face book (why?) and powered off computer (must remember to check the steam pressure again). Not exactly the most riveting of lives to tell you about I think you’ll agree.

            Sooo what has Captain Murphyfish (it’s my blog and if I want a promotion I’ll bloody well have one) been up to of late then? Well besides the never ending monotony of the grind, can’t live with it, can’t afford to live without it (have I mentioned my finances or rather lack of them?), tis been a whirl wind of activity of late. Firstly there has been the planting of seeds and a tad of gardening, utilising that garden frame that I cobbled together, fully and even if I say so myself what a grand piece of kit it has turned out to be.


            Then there is the little question of ch√Ęteau Wooldridge now resembling a builders yard, what with new paths and walls being laid I have to admit that my back has been in bits lately. But all will turn out well (I hope) with a cottage garden to attract wildlife (and a few veg) being the ultimate aim for the front garden, re bomb site. Work, though, has ground to a slight halt of late er have I mentioned my finances?


            A further project has been completed with the addition of wooden trellis (reclaimed from atop of a fence that was been thrown) to break up the expanse of the garage wall. Wisteria, a climbing rose and a grape vine are the intended planting here (haven’t mention the vine to Clare so shhhhhh).


            Of course there has been plenty of walking.





            Finally there is the last thing that has been occupying my time. Now it may appear that I’m off on a tangent here but bear with me (that’s if you've read this far). A week last Monday I paid a visit to a fellow blogger, yep that’s right, John the recluse and anti social git actually visited another human being! The person in question was a certain Mr. J. Grey whom I have mentioned before in earlier scribing. John writes his blog with a wry sense of humour and an outlook which is both heart warming and yet entertaining. So with anticipation and also a little trepidation about meeting someone for the first time I set of (with the Warthog of course) for the village of Trelawnyd. Any doubts about meeting somebody for the first time were soon dispelled as John proved as welcoming and as entertaining as his blog. Now I won’t expand upon the meeting and conversation just enough to say that time flew and I felt that I’d known John far longer than the brief time the visit lasted. Now how did this take up time I hear you ask? Well John has more than a couple of chickens and foul and eventually the conversation came around to whether or not my back yard could sustain a few Bantams. Mmmm the upshot and time taker is now known as project three (ish). John’s generosity went far further than advice and he has kindly offered me two bantams, so guess what I’ve been building this week?





            Ok so it’s not quite finished and I’m thinking of giving a full post over to its construction once done, but give me another couple of days after the next round of the grind and me thinks that the henhouse will be ready for its first tenants – way hay! The only thing with such a project was the state that it left the inner sanctum in:-


            But this morning’s showers gave me the time to have a tidy up.


            Oh and finally I have had a little time to do some pirating as well, firstly all materials used for the coup and run so far have cost … nothing (don’t ask ‘cause I hate lying), a couple of bargains have been found upon the car boots for stupidly cheap prices including a set of carving chisels and the lathes chucks and also I've come into possession of eleven demy johns for my favorite fee, life is certainly bumbling along quite nicely me thinks. Oh and finally, finally I've been having a sort out of my wares to place upon the dreaded E bay (did I mention my lack of finances lately?).





            So that’s about it folks, excuses made and I’ll try to be a little more regular in future, oh and I’ve got three staffs in progress one of which is for Mr. Grey as a thank you for the chucks.

Till the next time, take care,

John

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A little cheating...

Ok a little filling n cheating here, I wrote this sometime ago on my other blog, tales from the fish hoping to have a go at a bit more of this sort of thing so I thought that I'd open it for your comments to see if I'd write some more. I know some of you have already read it but all comments welcome. 

Your friend, John

Something under the sea


So here’s a story from my younger years (much younger), the events happened when I was about eight years old so perhaps my memory has become distorted over the passing of many long years since but this is how I remember the events which took place at the time (Clare says I’m lucky the remember where I left my mug of tea these days!): -

I don’t come from a ' great outdoors ' background, more your typical working class family where my mother ran the home and my father worked all the hours god sent at the local cement factory to provide for my sister, brother and yours truly. His one pleasure, when not working in dust, was the training and racing of greyhounds and through these we travelled all over the North of England. The one family holiday was the annual fortnight in a caravan on the isle of Anglesey (Ynys Mon in welsh) in North Wales in a site over looking Traeth Bychan (little beach). Whilst here my brother and I were usually left to our own devices, my brother being four years older usually taking the lead in our adventures. These usually consisted of fishing, rock pool exploration, piracy and general not letting our parents discover the various troubles that we seemed to amass (well they’d only have worried wouldn’t they?).


It was on one of the fishing adventures that this story takes place. We had in our possession a small, plywood built, dinghy I recall being of a type called a Goblin. The boat had been rescued by father on the previous year’s holiday during some unseasonal storms. Over the winter he carefully repaired the damaged side, manufactured a new mast and had my Nan run up a set of sails. So now armed with the ability not just to fish from the rocks my brother and I set forth that summer to plumb the depths of the bay off Traeth Bychan. We'd had a couple of half successful outings that summer holiday with a fare number of flatties (plaice), a couple of codling and three unattended lobster pots (minus any lobster though) as well as the usual beach debris of various shells, skimming pebbles obviously made somewhere like Germany because they were the perfect shape and weight for our small hands, and a couple of shark or ray eggs, which I was told were mermaids purses which, to an impressionable eight year old was just pure magic. The holiday was drawing to its inevitable end when I overheard a couple of holiday anglers talking about conger eel. Well my eyes must have been as big as saucers as I stood rooted to the spot listening to tales of this underwater serpent with its evil dark purple color, the mighty muscles which made it such a fight to land and its jaws filled with row upon row of flesh shredding teeth. A fish to be respected they said, a fish that would test any fisherman’s metal. Mmmmm well now its funny how an idea takes hold of a young mind, now to catch a fish like that would let me, mmm let me, oh I didn't know what it would let me do but I did know that I had to catch this monster. I must have spoken out aloud or maybe it was just the feral gleam that was shining in my eyes but the two fishermen had stopped talking and were looking straight at me "you fish" I was asked, I don't think that I spoke, just nodded dumbly in answer, "well then try for this monster at dusk" the other said smiling, "if you do fish that is" the first man added then they turned back to stowing their boat with the little urchin clearly forgotten.


But the seed had been sown, off I flew to find Peter, oh yes that's my brothers name, to fill his head with this wonderful notion of beaching a real sea monster. Problem was that Peter was quite a stubborn child in that if he had not thought of a plan then obviously the plan was not worth a pinch of salt because he was the eldest so he was the brightest (yeah right o). I’d learnt that a little gentle persuasion was sometimes needed for him to come around to one of my ideas, even one as brilliant and as adventurous as this. So after cleaning the sand off our clothes, wiping his bloody nose, telling on him for the bite marks in my leg (and arm, the jesse) and having to wash the dishes for fighting again oh and getting a clip off Pops for telling tales, bite marks or not! There was still an impasse, not his idea! I had one last ace to play him with "scared" I said with no little venom (well I’d washed most of the dishes) as I pushed him into some gorse. So the next day after doing dishes again, this time on my own (bless his patchwork legs) we coerced Pops into taking the Goblin to the beach. "It’s a little late" he said "tides’ in just as the lights failing, make sure you’re beached and stowed before then and I’ll be waiting for you on this side of the bay". The thing about Traeth Bychan is that at full tide the sea comes right into the base of the cliffs leaving just a small area of beach at each end of the bay, one with the launching slipway where our camp site adjoined and the other leading to a little more exclusive site (they had wooden holiday homes and proper toilets, not a communal block) not that this has any effect on the tale, just thought that I’d bulk the story up a bit by describing the area a little. We were off, Ahab and Starbuck in search of their monster (little did we know then what waited for us), our harpoons sharpened, ok just a rusty gaff that had obviously not been wanted by the bloke we'd past walking up the beach to get his boat trailer (told you before - piracy) our bait bucket full of fresh lug worm and a couple whole of mackerel, we even had a couple of new weights and wire traces with shiny new hooks for the bottom end, bought by Pops, probably because of the guilt off giving me that undeserved slap, well I did blub loads. But what on earth could have possibly been better than this? Two adventurers skimming across the world’s deepest ocean at a phenomenal rate of knots powered by their 1.5hp Seagull outboard.


About ten minutes later the intrepid fishermen had reached their destination of the furthest reaches of the known oceans, the other side of the bay. We dropped anchor and started tackling up. Now I did say that this happened an eon ago and is based on a younger memory but I tell you now that I’ve never since seen a patch of water as flat as the bay at Traeth this night. The saying as calm as a mill pond comes to mind but once the small wake made by that little dinghy had died away the sea’s surface was like a sheet of deep turquoise glass with only the gentlest of sounds as the tiny waves slipped onto the beach. It was like the quiet in the film Moby Dick before that knurled, crooked jawed, white leviathan breached from the depths taking Ahab and his crew to Davy Jones’s locker (not that you get many sperm whales off Ynys Mon that is). The moment was not lost upon the two adventure’s as the noiseless air covered them like a blanket, “the mackerel are mine, you can have the lug" spat out Peter, obviously he hadn't got over his nose been bled the day before. Without Pops on hand to settle the possible argument, and the fact that I was yet to learn to swim (to my shame this wasn't to happen for a couple of decades ) I took the obvious course of action, "that’s fine, everybody knows lug's a killer bait for eel" I said greedily reaching for the bucket.


We lowered our offerings to the sea gods, Peter's bait with one of the two shiny new weights that we had in our spartan selection, and a spark plug holding my flapping piece of mackerel to the sandy bottom (told you I was smart). we were prepared for the inevitable hours of waiting it was going to take to trap our monster and wrestle it from the depths, when after a couple of minutes Pete’s rod gave a tell tale twitch. Wide eyed and frozen we stared at the fiberglass beast tamer hardly daring to breath, again it twitched this time bouncing slightly in the rowlock where it rested, spurred by this latest movement Pete lunged at the rod striking so hard we both ended up on our back sides, "its on, its on" he yelled winding in like demon and sure enough a few minutes later our first monster lay flapping in the bottom of the goblin, "can you eat dogfish?" I asked innocently, "You will in a minute smarty bum" came back the retort. And that’s the way the afternoon drifted by, with each and every twitch of the rods, visions of bauble eyed monsters leapt to my thoughts, of bloody fanged creatures tearing at the side of the boat and wasn't it time that we had a butty and opened the flask of coffee yet? I reached over to nudge Pete on the back to pass the butty box, fare dues he jumped out of his skin; the tension obviously was eating at him as well. "Scared" I mumbled into my spam butty, "You were right about the lug" he quipped (2 dogfish and 3 flatties to my 1 doggy, sometimes being smart is a curse) at this we both started laughing and giggling our feud now forgotten. "Monsters" we yelled "sea dragons" we cried, we were nearly choking our selves with mirth (and relief). "Alright, flatties it is then, give us some strips of them mackerel here and we'll try the baits together", ok he may have had some good ideas after all I’ll admit grudgingly. The afternoon drifted to evening with several flatties in the bilges, no score keeping, and two content explorers stinking of bait and fish guts, full of spam butties and coffee and feeling like brothers again.


And with the evening light slowly fading something else came into Traeth, it was not the cold that had started nipping at our faces nor the few gulls that watched with dark, greedy eyes from the flat surface surrounding us, hoping for some more fish entrails, it was not even the whisper of the slightest of breezes which had stirred around the bay ,or even the beginning of twilight shadows dancing on the steep cliff faces that evening for all these things were on the sea’s surface or in the air and what came into Traeth was not above the sea. "I’m cold" I whined "and the suns going down", it was time to go, we started to stow our tackle Pete putting it away whilst I pulled up the little anchor on its sodden, slimy rope (yep, second again) I glanced across the bay at Smart’s harbor hoping perhaps to spot Pops waiting on the walls for us to head in, Pete glanced over as well "one day that yacht will be mine" he said pointing at the only boat to big to berth within the harbor breakwater, it was about a twenty eight foot pleasure yacht but to us in our little Goblin it was the Queen Mary. "we could live on that forever and sail to Australia on that" he mused, he was right, with that yacht we'd be the lords of the seven seas, with our scurvy crew to do our bidding ha ha, we sat and stared each dreaming and coming up with new ways we would use our Queen Mary. I must have still been drifting with these dreams when a sharp nudge and a breathless whisper from my brother brought my mind swiftly back into focus; “what’s that in front of the harbor?” he hissed through gritted teeth. I followed the line of his shaking arm; my eyes must have been on stalks as I strained to understand what we were looking at.


Across the other side of the bay, what only could be described as a mound of water was moving at an angle towards the anchored yacht. From where we sat mesmerized it was impossible to tell how large this disturbance was or even how fast it was traveling? To our young eyes though it seem both huge and fast as it made it’s way deliberately towards the yacht. There was something wrong with the movement that held us spellbound like a brace of rabbits caught in the glare of headlights. It wasn’t that something disturbed the surface or that something moved in the bay, we’d both seen large grey seals moving through the water as well as huge shoals of mackerel chasing whitebait against the rocks in our adventures but nothing that we’d witnessed before bore any resemblance to this. Also the sound, there was none to be heard from our vantage point although maybe we were to far away for all but the loudest of splashes to be heard. The mound, for want of a better description carried on until we were sure that whatever it was below the surface must surely ram the sitting duck of the yacht, but no, as the mound came to the side of the vessel near its stern the whole boat just lifted over it as if riding a large wave and gently settled into a slowing rocking motion. From across the bay we could hear the gentle noise of what must have been a small bell on board sounding out and bearing witness that the yacht was indeed moving back and too. Then there was nothing, no wave, no sound apart from the wavelets on the beach now nearing the rocks as the tide carried on rising regardless of anything else even the watching gulls were subdued. We looked at each both unwilling to admit our fear. “Maybe it was a dolphin?” Pete ventured, “Yeah must have been a dolphin”, I agreed “er lets make for the sailing club”. Pete turned to the ever reliable Seagull motor, wrapped the starting chord around the drum and pulled heavily, nothing! “Bugger” he said under his breath then glanced up hoping that I hadn’t heard to hold him hostage to Pops. “Try again, and hurry up” I blustered hoping that he didn’t hear how nervous I was feeling. Again he wraps the chord, more deliberately this time and his pull is hard and sure, splutter, turn, choke then nothing, again and again he tries with no burst of the noisy 2 stroke ever showing signs of happening. “Come on stop messing around” I was nearly crying by now “it won’t bloody start, will it” he yelled turning towards me his eyes wild with frustration. It was then; just over his shoulder I saw it. The water between us and the beach was rising slowly up into a mound of blackness.


Its funny how certain things stick in your memory over the years, it wasn’t the height or size of that body of water (although now if I had to but a size on it, it wasn’t hardly as high as the stern of the dinghy and only a couple of yards round) but the fact there was no wake like that of a boat moving across the surface, no ripples across it and no turbulence behind it, just a mound of water moving towards us. I grabbed the oars and started flailing like a demented humming bird at the water not making much if any headway for my efforts. Pete jerked around to see what it was that I was now screaming at and promptly dropped the starter chord into the bottom of the dinghy. The panic was enhanced by the deepening dusk as well the cloud of seagulls now wheeling over our heads, perhaps they sensed something tastier than fish guts? Both of us now were screaming at each other, at the ever nearer mound, at the useless motor, at everything. But then for the briefest of moments everything stopped, both of us froze for the smallest fraction of a second looking at nothing else but the terror etched deep within each others eyes. And that’s all it took, that one moment when to those young lads everything was lost, no tomorrow, no fighting, no laughing, nothing left but the terror of the unknown, that’s all it took. “Row properly you ponce” Pete ordered his calm voice belying his youthful fear, grabbing both oars as one I heaved with every last ounce of strength I had, once, twice again and again the little Goblin started cutting through the glass surface with each measured stroke I could feel the sea slipping past us. There was no panic left, just the oars, looking past Pete the light now made the oncoming mound look inky black as it continued to surge towards us less than twenty yards away. “ONE OAR” my brother yelled, easing off on the port oar I dug the other two handed into darkening water, swiftly the little Goblin spun around and I lost sight of the terror behind for a moment, “BOTH OARS” Pete was now screaming, the rusty gaff held aloft in his shaking hands, straining with all that I had I glance up the mound that was now angled towards us, whatever it was it wasn’t just some random wave cause by freak currents, it had changed direction to intercept us! It was upon us, eyes now tightly closed I dug the oars one last time, Pete’s screams (or were they mine) filling my senses. The little dinghy lifted up and over the dome of water, as I felt it tipping back downwards my oars tore at the water and then with a jolt that numbed my whole arm the starboard oar felt like it had smashed into rocks, and then it was gone from my grasp.


I opened my eyes to see Pete belly down in the bottom of the dinghy covered in tangle of bread crusts, discarded bait, tackle and gutted fish, I chanced a glace to the water’s surface, on our right side the lost oar bobbed on the surface a few feet away, the gulls were alighting on the water again, of the mound there was not the slightest of signs to show that it had ever been there, only the slightest rippling caused by the now freshening offshore breeze. Pete had pulled himself from the dregs of the bottom of the dinghy, starter chord in his hand, a grin on his face but with tears flowing down his white cheeks. “Don’t cry little brother” he said turning to the outboard, reaching down he turned the fuel tap 90 degrees, “that’s why it would start” he mumbled to himself. He wrapped the chord slowly around and with one swift pull the ever reliable motor spluttered into life. I wasn’t even aware of my own tears as he turned our little pirate boat back towards the sanctuary of the yacht club on the further beach across the bay, the lost oar receding into the gloom as neither of us dared to reach out of the dinghy for it.


Making our way across the now black water seemed to be taking an endless eon of time compared to the fleeting outward voyage of discovery we had started off on a few hours ago. With both of us now too scared and tired to speak we watched the approaching beach with a growing sense of relief. Instead of easing off on the throttle as we came to the beach so that we could perform our practiced act of me jumping into waist deep water and holding the boat whilst Pete would retrieve the trailer to slide under it, Pete drove the boat out of the surf and onto the pebbled ground of safety not caring of the damage done to the carefully painted keel. We both leapt out over the bow not daring for one moment to allow any part of us touch the now demonized water. “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing, haven’t I shown you pair have to look after anything?” Father’s voiced boomed from the yacht club door, falling over ourselves in our haste to reach him, both yelling and sobbing at the same time trying to describe the events that had overtook us that evening, we must looked like two bedraggled waifs cast ashore by the vengeful sea.


Later, in the warmth and safety of the gas lit caravan mum and dad listened patently whilst we gathered our thoughts and tried to recount our adventure (minus my brothers Anglo Saxon language!), in-between mouthfuls of crusty bread and oxtail soup. The events that had surrounded us that evening seemed somehow unreal but the image of that mound of water was burnt into our memories even to this day. Even with hindsight and more years experience of being outdoors than I care to admit, I have still never come up with a completely satisfactory explanation for the events on the warm summer’s evening. There have been one or two suggestions;- a freak wave, a dolphin, even a basking shark or as someone suggested the ghosts of HMS Thetis, a submarine which had the distinction of sinking twice during its short service, the first time the recovered ship was beached at Traeth Bychan. But deep down I’d still like to know what kept me from venturing out on the sea for nearly a decade after, but I don’t think that I’ll ever truly know. Maybe some mysteries are better unsolved; they certainly leave life more interesting.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Erm.... I'm back....

Evening all,

            Well my absence from the world of blogging was not for too long after all. Have I sorted my ‘life issues’ out? Not really but I have come to a point where I realise that life has to go on, whether or not it is a happy and contented life remains to be seen, for the moment I guess that I’m just resigned to seeing how it plays out, after all everything changes eventually and who’s to say what lies around some distant corner awaiting to pounce upon this unsuspecting rotund Welshman? I guess we’ll just have to wait with baited breath for life to pan out and bring what ever it brings. Oooh I nearly felt a tad profound for the briefest of moments then, that’ll never do, not at all.

            So has this little hobbit remained buried behind his round door just letting the world pass him by? Bugger that my friends I’ve been the very essence of the term as busy as a beaver! What with demolishing garden walls, the planting of seeds, a couple more walking staffs refurbished for folk (starting to become quite adept at this), having a rather excessive evening of drink and cud chewing with me mucker Rob, and walking, yep lots n lots of walking. So the simple fact is that all indeed has not been doom and gloom in the world of Wooldridge Esq. and hobbit in training. In fact all this walking has started to have visible affects upon this hobbit’s love handles with a marked reduction in their size, meaning cloths are beginning to fit (where they touch) a tad better although still a little snug to be honest.

So being as this is the first post back since, well the last one, I’m keeping it short though as usual not particularly sweet. A couple of things of note, I managed to spot and photograph (ok a grainy distance shot) a really rare bird for these parts; a Great Grey Shrike! I’ve never seen one before and will probably not have the fortune to see one again so for this bumbling happy snapper to capture it, albeit poorly, on a picture makes me as happy as a pig in the really smelly stuff.



Also stumbled across what I believe to a juvenile fox skull, minus its canine teeth. Well ok the Warthog found it and alerted me to its location.



Other than that I’ve been car booting as well and bought for what amounts to loose change a set of hand carving tools, a new flat cap (do not say a word, no not even under the breath… thank you), a couple of courgette plants and some ‘far side’ books amongst a host of other bits n bobs. So there you have it, I’ve been away but kept me eye upon you lot, and quiet but busy so all that remains is to add some of the usual walking pictures because I know some of you likes em my preciousessss (heaven knows why?)












Yes it's blurry but have you seen how fast these buggers are?

Till next time, take care of you and yours,

Your friend,

John

Foot Note; 

Now I don’t write this drivel for attention or points but today (first time ever) I scanned the stats of visits for this pathetic excuse of writing and it seems that more folk logged in when I stopped writing than when my little fingers were smoking on me keypad – you lot trying to tell me something? On second thoughts don’t answer that one…