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Waves on Wood

2015-04-28 21.09.22

Vintage Deckchair


Appley Beach, Isle of Wight

Dog on the beach

They are banned, of course, round here – well until October anyway when we rush down with veritable packs of big hairy hounds and have big dog-themed party.

Consequently, I don’t venture down there much in the summer.  Daytrippers, sun, sand…  I mean, who wants all that, really?

A friend said to me yesterday, ‘What you need is some fun.’  I said, ‘No, I don’t,  I don’t like fun.’  At this rate I won’t have any friends to say such things to me as I slip further and further into an anti-social, incapable of having fun, misery-guts pit, of my own excavation.  Actually, I raised a smile when I finished the last sentence, so maybe September and a few classes to teach will come along and save me.

I can’t even claim the credit for this find.  I was making two smaller and very nondescript stones have fun on the beach.  If you must know, I was pretending they were in a blue disco and dancing.  My daughter intervened and said my behaviour was age inappropriate.  On the other hand, she had this to show me, and it really was quite something.

The nose is brilliant

The nose is brilliant

We liked it anyway.  And I’m glad to have a kid who gets me, if only a fraction.  We were looking for someone on the beach.  My daughter said, ‘What is she wearing?’  I described the outfit, but I said, ‘I can’t remember the colour of her dress, it’s either pink or blue.’

‘Purple, then,’ the daughter said.

She was only right.

Life’s a beach

Pity I can never get comfortable on them.

I’ve changed the header photo to one I took in Portugal, although the hill topped with cloud is in Spain. At the top is the neolithic settlement. From the photos that were taken up there of the neoliths roundhouses I can deduce that they

a) liked the wind
b) liked living cheek by jowl
c) were quite short


Here’s the uncropped photo for reference. I like the lines. They’d just finished raking the beach with a tractor.

Beach Photos

One of the things I like about taking a camera out with me is that I can look at something familiar in a different way. Over the next day or two I will put up a few photos from the beach.

This is the top of one of the wooden groynes at Chalkwell. The shape reminded me a bit of the outline of Africa. I was also reminded of David Hockney who was on the television recently describing the shifting colours of a familiar landscape; he spoke of ‘violet roads’.

I see what he means.


Two birds? One boat

I was meaning to give the blog la galetta from Barcelona today, but I haven’t got round to it.

Instead here is a photo from earlier this week. Apparently, I am known for liking to kill two birds with one stone. So on this occasion I was primarily walking the dog. Then I decided I was going to make a sound recording of halyards clanking against the masts at the boatyard and when that didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, due to wind noise, I took a photo instead.

It’s not so much killing two birds with one stone then, as wounding them temporarily. And the dog came home and left half the beach in my bed. Which was thoughtful of him. He’s a one job, properly, sort of animal.


Dog as liability

I live on the edge of catastrophe with this dog. Every day it’s something, preferably involving a cat or a squirrel, or failing that, trying to fling himself out of a window in a bid for the unfettered freedom of a good pursuit. I do my best to curtail (geddit) his most heinous urges, but I take my own life in my hands when I do. Tonight, in the dark, he nearly knocked me out on a lamppost in pursuit of a cat under a car. The other week he rent my coat literally in two as he tried to go from 0-40 mph in a millisecond (again in pursuit of a cat). There will never be a day when I can let my kids hold him on the lead, and tonight was the last evening walk ever, if I can help it.

It’s not like he doesn’t get out much, here he is this morning tearing up the beach and barking at buoys.

The dog is a bastard.

Still, I believe in him more than I do in God.

On a different, but related, note, I am interested in how the very straight poles are curved when photographed in a group and how the dog manages to look very bendy indeed when he decided to run away from the buoys (as they were clearly too dangerous to be trusted).

Every Picture…

Seen & Heard: Tweeting @thebeach

Doing my annual King Canute impression. Aggregate score so far: Sea 42 – Me 0.
Unfair, as it always has the home advantage #time&tide

RT @DrDannyPenman
Cardiff University sewed kittens eyes shut in taxpayer funded experiments Like virtually all vivisection – pointless

Resisting the strong urge to tell the rest of the beach to sit down and SHUT UP.
Bet King C didn’t have to put up with sunseeking plebs.

Realise I am turning into my mother. I love her, but still, oh dear #notready

There is some eye-watering gusset action down here. Girls, check your rear view before leaving home, I beg you #southend

Lovers’ tiff. Man wearing sweater on head – she’s conducting face to face argument and tel con simultaneously. Multi-tasking emotions

She’s off phone, employing finger pointing tactic. He’s shouting, sweater still on head.
Bit early. #chill

‘It’s Southend – no-one cares. No-one is going to check you out’ #shockhorror #southend #Icare

‘Where’s the sea? Where’s the sea?’ ‘I’ll take you for a walk to find the water…’

Chelsea FC beach towel, Harrods carrier bag, deckchair hire, still arguing. Still wearing his sweater as a yashmak. Still #dre

‘You have to wait 20 minutes for your food to go down.’
Do you? Oh dear, I’ve been doing the wrong thing my whole life.

Illegal spaniel on the beach alert. Tut.

Stuck here now until the argument ends or the tide comes in, whichever is sooner.

Sweater removed from head: argument over. All smiles. Yay. Says he can’t swim.

Tide’s close enough now to see its line of scum. Doesn’t seem to put people off going in. Parents bawling at their kids behind me.

RT @paulocoelho
The danger of an adventure is worth a thousand days of ease and comfort

Argument man wears his black woollen socks in the sea.
Wet socks, caked in sand = interesting look

Wearing socks in the sea, now that’s an adventure.

Sea 42 – Me 1
Tide turns in my favour, for now. Another adventure.

A break in the clouds

My dog-walking career hit rock-bottom last week. I am now down to walking one dog, my own, so I only call it my career as a joke, since the last canine I walked for money was probably about eight years ago. A lot’s gone on in the intervening period, but in terms of dogs, I have recently lost all confidence in my ability to remain calm and centred, as per canine guru Cesar Millan.

All is fine in the house (apart from occasional growling when surprised – he’s a street rescue – what can you expect?), but when we get outdoors, I find I am a nervous wreck. I have started to avoid other dogs and last week, when we were in the park and approached by a pointer with a glint in its eye, I slipped the lead and sort of… ran off.

This is very bad form. What was worse, was that my escape on foot sans chien was severely hampered because, from fright, my legs went all jelly on me. Utterly ridiculous really, but it was an almost reflexive fear response from me. Now, this is odd because I never used to be this way and, you know what, I blame the dog! After 5 years together and many difficult moments in an attempt to form the owner-dog bond, I am now too empatico with him. I have caught his flight response as if it were a common cold.

Let me explain. When I first got this dog (my third dog as it happened) he was highly nervous and if anything frightened him he would flight off, as far as he could go, in the opposite direction. Many things could frighten him, both inside and out: the lead, a car, a noise, a dog, a person, a stick, anything at all really, so walking was something that he had to be coaxed into over a long period of time. Eventually, we got ‘there’ and he turned into a friendly, if still quite nervy sort of dog. Life is ,however, a journey and no sooner have you got ‘there’ than you end up somewhere else. In our case it turned out to be the dog’s getting in touch with his inner hunter. Now games with other dogs became confused. Firstly, he would invite them to be the hunter and him the prey, which worked out ok, to begin with. If they didn’t go for that offer, he would suggest he chase them. If they declined that he would then attempt to goad them into it, whereupon he would have to be removed from the field of play in disgrace. Him taking on the prey role didn’t always end well either. My dog is very fast, but he lacks stamina, so although another dog couldn’t ‘catch’ him, they could keep going when he wanted to stop, which merely made him feel threatened and as he was too tired to run, he would snap.

He has never hurt another dog, but, like me running away from my own dog, it’s not the done thing in dog-walking circles to say, ‘Oh I know he looks like an utter monster with those snarling teeth and jaw agape, but he’s never hurt anyone…’ I started avoiding other dogs completely, so much so that if, when I spied another walker with dog on the far-off horizon, I would curse them for daring to come within a mile of our vicinity. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I have reflected on this, why I have become this way. Me, who has walked all kinds of dogs in the most interesting parts of East London. Me, who walked Bill Sykes very own English Terrier along Bethnal Green Road. Me, who has saved goats’ legs from the locked jaws of another English Bull Terrier – did I say I am not mad about English Bull Terriers? I have therefore come to the rather ragged conclusion that as this not how I have reacted in the past, and apart from being prone to sudden and unexpected neuroses lately, I am currently experiencing the very real effects of the increasing population in the UK. In short, we have no space. I will have to learn to share the green spaces and beaches of the vicinity with many, many other people, and their dogs. Or I will have to stay in. And probably develop agoraphobia…

I read this week that the government plans to legislate to force all puppies to be microchipped. This is not a bad plan, unfortunately it will do nothing to help those of us with fearful dogs and our own anxieties, who are trying to avoid trouble.

Back to the brief break in the clouds today. This morning I made the most of the 2 days that are left to us in Southend, before the dogs are banned from the beach for 6 months. My dog managed to have a pleasant interaction with two dogs and a game with one of them and my legs didn’t sink into the sand underneath me from fright.

The fact is that when it’s blowing a Force 9 and sheeting down with rain you are only going to meet dogs and their owners of two varieties:

1) genuinely dedicated dog owners, prepared to walk their dogs in all kinds of weather
2) people like me trying to avoid the kind of dog and their owner who doesn’t fall into the group above

In which case, let it wind and rain, because my nerves are all the better for it.

Garboesque: him or me?