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…

Carrying On

Well, hello the weekend. We’re currently on a road trip to the North to drop in on Lady M’s sister.

Having had a bit of a grim Friday and productive counselling session I’ve had a generally chilled Saturday with only one injury from falling up the stairs and gashing my hand on the railing. As you do.

And now we’re driving into the night, streaming the first Critical Role episode via Bluetooth. Its reassuring to realise that the auditory chaos and laughter does sound like the DDC in session.

Traffic is light, the roads are clear

Roll on the Weekend

I’m working in a quieter library this week, so while there are fewer people around it does still make for a reasonably steady rate of use, even with people starting to twitch about potential illness. I’ve had two people this week mention they’re stocking up on books to read if they have to isolate themselves, and our numbers for events are down. So far though the very British shrug is being deployed.

That said, I am looking forward to having the weekend off, especially as I’m going to go see myr s for a couple of days. Getting away and letting the sea air clear the lungs a bit is definitely in order – and it’s also the second anniversary of my collaring them so there are some small presents to exchange which is always fun.

At least I’m generally aware of what my body’s usual range of complaints is so I’m not panicking when my fluctuating sugar levels give me sweats, or my sinuses complain when I shift stock and boxes around, disturbing dust in the process. Here’s to as calm a weekend as possible.

Back Home

We came home early from up North as plague – or at least heavy colds – descended on the Maidment households. Feeling it was better to recuperate in our own beds, we fled back South on Boxing Day, joining the thousands on the roads travelling between their own branches of families over the Festive period.

Surprisingly, the traffic actually flowed well despite being so heavy so we made good time and collapsed with pizza and presents we hadn’t taken with us to console us.

Today we therefore had a lie in rather than spending it all on the roads. We even dared travel in to Kingston in search of a book of pattern-making for Lady M, and ended up buying… well, rather a lot of books really

We don’t have a book problem. We have lots of books. It’s no problem

I do need to remember that getting rid of older books is not an automatic prompt to replace them. Oh well

On a Boomerang

We had a lovely time at my cousin’s wedding on Saturday at a grand gathering of family. Readings were delivered by actors, music by string quartets, and the food was stunning. After the wedding, the day was spent celebrating at Hoghton Tower – and it was one of the grandest celebrations it has been my pleasure to attend.

It was also the Charleesi’s chance to introduce everyone to her boyfriend, Sir B and, you know what? He did well. They survived being plied with many many drinks without going over their limits, and given they’d had very little sleep due to train disruption that had got them in to Preston at about 1am, they were reasonably clued up and alert.

Being full time students in their third year, I’d expect nothing less.

It was good to see them properly as a couple too, rather than the hurried crossing of paths we’d had back in May at Comiccon. They’re good together, they’ve my nod of approval. It’s so easy to see how much they care for each other and are comfortable with themselves and each other at the same time. A true delight to observe.

Sunday we drove back home, dropping the kids back at university on the way, and today we just chilled until a few hours ago when we headed down to catch up with lady s.

We’re making good use of our holiday.

Weekend Gathering of the Clan

Aaaand we’re back from the Welsh valleys, gently baked from the glorious sunshine. We’ve been to another wedding anniversary celebration – this time of my mother’s cousin – and so we’ve been meeting various relatives whose names I have no hope of remembering. (To be fair I am awful at remembering most people’s names).

Our journey had been long, mostly due to roadworks and tailbacks from accidents, but I suppose that’s normal for any travel on a bank holiday weekend. We’d all been booked rooms at a hotel in Llangamarch – which certainly broke the ice – so the first evening was spent generally catching up and welcoming people.

Saturday was quiet – we were exhausted – so we slept through breakfast and instead went down to Llanwrtyd Wells to the Caffi Sosban which we’d so enjoyed last time we’d visited. One hearty brunch later, we went back to the hotel to chill out. We knew hat a minivan had been booked to make several runs on Saturday evening to drive us down to the farm freehold itself.

And yes, there was much wine, food, and conversation through the evening. Dogs were herded, small children steered away from the alcohol (mostly), and geese avoided.

We’re generally an amiable bunch, and storytelling really plays at the heart of all our gatherings. Sometimes the stories are even true.

At the end of the evening, the minivan reappeared and made multiple runs back to the hotel. An amazing evening, and with such glorious weather we were a little reluctant to head straight back to London.

Nevertheless, we left early to try and get the worst of the travel done before the roads filled – so we meandered back without any extra drama and have spent the rest of the weekend relaxing. All in all, a great break in routine.

Musings on a weekend

It’s been a busy couple of days. Work on Saturday was steady, with few problems bar some ongoing issues with the building that prompted me to leave irritated emails for Property Services to find when they got back after the weekend. We were short on staff, but kept our spirits up, managed to get a Pride display sorted, and generally had a good day.

Layered mask over rubber wolfsface mask

Sunday saw me travelling down to Portsmouth to attend a masquerade event with Lady S. As I was meeting her from her work to head straight there, this meant that I walked the sunny streets of Cosham and Drayton suited and booted with a walking cane and wolfshead brooch on my lapel.

Compared to the people half-falling in arguments out of pubs, newsagents, and off-licences I was therefore a little overdressed and conspicuous. It led to some bemused frowns of concentration on some faces. If they could have seen inside my bag, with its masks, paddles, and assorted elements, those frowns would no doubt have been even more confused.

The event itself, on its second anniversary of running, was a lovely celebration of humour, friendships and general debauchery as you might expect, and we were both glad we’d pushed through nerves and tiredness to attend. It was a late night, all in all, but I knew I could catnap on the way home.

The one thing I hadn’t planned in was the torrential rain that hit while I was on the train home. It’s my own dumb fault for not reading weather warnings. All I can say is that walking from the station in a suit was a refreshing experience..!

And so back to work – a short but eventful day, and a body that I’m not sure if it’s aching from being in the rain, or from exertions!

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.