Memory: A Risk Taken

This is inspired by a daily prompt for writing I saw recently that invited people to write about a risky action that turned out well. With my philosophy of “what’s the worst that could happen?” I an spoiled for choice.

I could talk of stolen kisses or jobs applied for; of approvals given or appointments made – but the most life-changing was getting in touch with Lady M after she had moved to Switzerland.

We had been flatmates, and there was no denying a spark at the time. We also had existing partners (and I was also going through a divorce) so it was complicated. She took a job out there and left, and amid my general chaos the relationship I was in also ended.

A while later, we started talking online, and I took up an earlier offer to come visit. Despite the best efforts of airlines, weather, and air traffic control I duly made it out there – and was met by a shocked Lady M who had convinced herself I wasn’t going to be on the plane.

The spark ignited, and has blazed ever since through all the ups and downs of modern life. A risk well worth taking.

Day on the Road

We’ve headed out for a celebration today – and that meant an afternoon on the road among roadworks and the usual Friday afternoon traffic shenanigans. We would have been off sooner, but the cub decided that he would rather play in the local park with his friends than come straight home and jump in a car. I can’t say I entirely blame him – he’s very nervous about meeting a lot of people in my family for the first time.

Still, we kept busy with the perennial favourite of ‘I Spy’ – with no more than the usual assortment of swear words, and with a game where we made up words from the letters in the registration of vehicles ahead of us. The latter game got quite tricky as we got into a traffic jam and the seemingly impossible task for people of knowing how to merge lanes.

All is well and good though – we’ve travelled and arrived, and are settled in our rooms. Tomorrow will bring jollity and probably some last-minute shopping as the cub has had a growth spurt.

And just as an end of day wind down, here’s a set of tokens and portrait for a charging minotaur done in Heroforge (of course):

Tall Ship Day

Lady M has been trying to drag me round the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Hartlepool for a couple of years now – and in particular to visit the HMS Trincomalee¬† which is berthed there following its restoration. Lady M’s sister had been among the Guide groups that had washed the decks during that work, so there’s a personal connection to a museum that is well regarded in the town.

As we had a few spare hours, today was the day to give in, so after breakfast she booked tickets online and we plodded round the marina to greet the ship who’d overlooked our breakfast view.

Its very good, recreating depictions of life on a fighting ship and portraying all sorts of aspects of port and naval life and their interdependencies.

Even with covid-related restrictions, we had free rein to wander and explore, while a well planned one way system on the Trincomalee itself ensured we visited more of the decks than we otherwise might have done.

So with all the good grace I can muster I’ll admit Lady M was right to pester me and this is well worth a visit – and good value for money too.

No, I’m not being paid by anyone, it really is that interesting.

We may have enquired about arranging a pirate-themed cosplay shoot there some day…

On The Road

Lady M and I are on our grand tour round the UK to drop off gifts and spend time with family. Like so many other people, we’re on the road in an escape from the day-to-day and Christmas podcasts are currently filling the car.

Our first leg was the longest, a six hour trip from London to Hartlepool. I handled the driving duties with a single break as Lady M was feeling a bit under the weather. Lady M’s sister lives in Hartlepool, and it’s where she grew up so it brought up a lot of memories.

Hartlepool Marina this morning

Hartlepool is receding behind us now as we head towards the West coast. We’ve been lucky so far in that yesterday’s traffic was heavy but generally moved along with only minor stopping and starting in the M1. This morning with Lady M driving seems so far to only be light traffic, so that’s a bonus.

There you go, boring journey updates logged. I suspect the next few days’ blog posts may be filtered through Christmas cheer.

Things the Cub Says: Will He Be Safe?

It’s very easy to forget that the cub is both eight years old, and quite young with it. He adopts language and mannerisms from YouTubers as a bolshy disguise, and can come across quite abrasively at times – but the real cub is closer to the surface than we remember sometimes.

One such reminder came last weekend while he and Lady S were staying with us. Reports came in of a man being murdered in a train not far from us, and the cub was distraught at the thought of it.

He’s generally quite wary of public transport anyway as a high-stimulus mode of transport to unfamiliar territory, and he knew that I would be travelling back from work by bus. He was, I’m told, very concerned that I would be okay – and the Ladies M and S spent a lot of time reassuring him.

Then he remembered that I’m due to visit Portsmouth shortly, and will be travelling by train. As Lady S tried to get him to settle to sleep, he remembered that we use the Glympse app to let each other know how our journeys and estimated arrival times are going.

So I have a specific request as I travel down, to use the app so that he and Lady S can see that I’m still moving and travelling. He has also been repeatedly reassured that I am careful as I travel and how and where I travel and so far he seems to be only slightly twitchy.

He’s too young to be reassured by statistics in the safety of travelling by trian, or by comparisons of the danger of crossing the road on the way to school. I’m certainly not opening the can of worms that some people may even see me as a danger while they travel: lone white male with shaven head and leather jacket? I do get looks.

So yes cub, I will be safe, and I will be there soon.

Heading Home

Back on the train home, with a slightly reduced suitcase (I’ve been able to zipper up the expansion panels now I’ve dropped off presents), and I’m rueing the separation caused by the distance currently between us. I love my partners deeply, and hate leaving either of them, even as I look forward to seeing each again.

I’m travelling by train today on an uncomplicated route, so I’m engaged in some idle people-watching in the quiet carriage. Some are solitary snoozers, others quietly chatty students. There’s an elderly mother with her adult daughter, both weighed down in what can only be Christmas shopping.

There’s been a quietly British professionalism to the guard and ticket inspector as they work down the carriages, handing out advice as needed about connections and alternate routes. It’s been reassuring in its familiarity of language and tone.

All in all, here’s to getting home and putting the kettle on

So Many Photos

We may have gone a bit mad on photos while we were away at Disney – and even trying to curate a small number for a slideshow here has been a challenge – so I may do some themed ones along the way.

We invested in a Photopass too, so that the various photographers around the parks, as well as the character meets and rides could all be easily collated and downloaded at our leisure.

So on top of the hundreds of photos taken between us there was another treasure trove of memories to recover – which include some truly amazing facial expressions as we were caught off guard. Disney magic covers a range of emotions, and these photos illustrate it well.

The two biggest extremes both come from Lady M. The first was in a character encounter with Kylo Ren – and she was rendered literally speechless. She looked terrified as we were ushered by Imperial operatives into his presence, and she was abruptly interrogated by the tall dark hooded character.

She said later that it had been unnerving, even knowing it was an actor, to come face to face with the mask, abrupt body language and tone of voice. As an evocation of the character it worked amazingly, and has left a lasting impression she gladly talks about – a true emotional thrill ride if you like.

The second came when we dined at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom one evening. During the day, it is Belle who holds court there, but the evenings belong to the Master (Beast) – and so once we had eaten our main course, Lady M went to his study to meet him.

Now, Lady M’s maiden name was Potts, so the film and characters have a special resonance for her as they recall her mother. As she told the Master this, there was a jolt of surprise. He looked to the ex-Lady M for confirmation, and then spread his arms wide to gather her in an expansive hug.

With so much floating around – the ambience, music, location, thoughts of her mum – Lady M cried, and the Beast held her, and wouldn’t let her go until she was recovered. It was totally off-script, and apparently confused the helpers who hadn’t heard the exchange – but this too has been a lasting memory that she will always cherish.

Disney magic, caught on camera.

Home At Last

It’s been a bizarre journey home over the last 24-36 hours – mostly from a combination of heavy head cold, a turbulent flight, and weird cabin temperatures.

We had people collapsing with cabin stuffiness; someone had a seizure, and more pettily, the headset socket in my seat wasn’t working properly so I had to either hold the coax connector carefully, or give up and listen to an Audible book on my phone (Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross). Sleeping, although attempted, was not on the agenda.

At least we’d arranged to have the car valeted and waiting for us as we left the terminal, so that was one less drama. The road journey was relatively clear so we soon dropped the ex-Lady M and the Charleesi home so that we could get back and unpack – and quietly collapse with lemsip and warm blankets…

Off to Disney

The day is finally here – an evening of pizza and prosecco last night has turned into an early morning drive to Gatwick and the trials of automated bag drops and clearing security.

We’re currently sat in the Weatherspoons eating breakfast, and the initial giggliness from the girls has subsided into serious refuelling and checking of Facebook.

Lady M, Charleesi, and I have done this journey before, but it’s been some 20+ years for the ex-Lady M so she has been fascinated by the processes and procedures that now accompany the whole flight experience.

While I was being patted down (because of course my belt buckle set off alarms), I was asked where I was off to. “Florida” I replied, to which he said “Of course,” smiled at my Tigger hoodie and, “I should have known, have a wonderful time.” The tinsel on his belt sparkled, and behind him a security officer in an elf hat and ears grinned too.

I still haven’t got my head round this while being on holiday at Christmas, but I’m sure I’ll adapt with all these little kindnesses and flourishes.

Travels and Trust

Oh, yeah, I have a blog – so hi there anyone who’s still hanging around… It’s a bit of a busy time of year for everyone, and we’re no exception having realised that this weekend was our main chance to try and get presents out to far-flung family members before we flit away on holiday.

So Friday saw me doing a full day at the library before going to counselling, and then driving up to Hartlepool straight after. With the closures of several sections of the M1 this meant that we got to our room at 3.46 am on Saturday morning.

A quick handful of hours’ sleep later and we dropped presents in to Lady M’s sister before popping over the Pennines to catch up with my parents and do likewise with them. This led to a gentle evening of gin, food, wine, and board games and then a relatively early night to try and make a dent in the sleep debt.

Cue a restless night, because my brain wasn’t cooperating.

And now we’re driving home again. Or rather, Lady M is doing the driving and I’m forcing myself to relax and ignore the part of me that is uncomfortable as a passenger.

I know it’s purely a control thing, especially with the weather being so wet and windy, so it’s a good exercise in trusting Lady M and her extensive driving experience – and forcing my jittery brain to just let go.

It’s been good to step outside of normal routine and comfort zones. That’s the positive here, alongside knowing that a good proportion of Christmas presents are now where they need to be…