Category Archives: Dorset

Pool

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

My apologies for not having posted a regular blog post in a while, but I’ve been a bit busy with other  things – some Poetry commissions, and some things that will hopefully increase awareness of the awesomeness of my blog and poetry. Specifically, I have been working on upping my Instagram game – or “Instagame” as I like to call it.

For those of you who are not aware, W is for Duck now has an Instagram page. On this, each Friday not only will you be able to read my Friday poem, but now you will also be able to see a video of me reading it. Instagram have brought out a feature called “IGTV” which allows videos of up to 60 minutes in length to be watched, as opposed to the standard 1 minute videos. If you have Instagram on your phone or tablet then you will automatically get IGTV in the latest update. Each week, along with the Friday Poem, there will be “Merry Monday” where I post a brief (a few lines) funny verse just to put a smile on your face, and then also “Throwback Thursday”, where I post a poem from my book ‘The Friday Poems Volume One’. Last Thursday we started off with my poem “Brian the Vomiting Shepherd” – if you don’t know what that is, go check it out!

But enough of that, let’s get on with this blog post.

I went back to Swimming lessons this week, after a two-week break. In the two weeks since my last lesson, I have not been anywhere near the water, so was expecting this to be a tough return to learning.

And I was right.

My teacher this week was Maria, who I am honoured to say I a reader of my blog (hello Maria), as she very kindly slipped a couple of references to my blog into our conversation half way through my lesson when I was getting my breath back and trying not to die.

Maria worked me quite hard this week – well I think she did; she may well have been taking it easy with me. If that is the case, I don’t want to see it when she does work me hard – dear lord, she might kill me! I swam more lengths this week, than ever before – and although this was only 4 or 5, it was hard work. Of course, I wasn’t helping myself by trying to rush my stroke, so that I could finish the length and stop swimming. This is still linked to my anxiety in the water. Maria noticed this and said to me “Relax Larry, you are supposed to be enjoying this!”

Which isn’t the first time a lady has said that to me.

But Maria was right – I should be much calmer in the water. If I relax then I can control my breathing better, which means I will be able to get enough air in because I won’t be snatching breaths, and therefore will not be struggling for air as much, which in turn will make swimming more enjoyable.

To help with this, I did some lengths where I swam normally for a bit, and then when I needed to breathe I flipped over onto my back and took a breath in, before flipping back over and continuing.

By the end of my lesson I was knackered, and as I type this now I still feel the aches in my arms and core. But it was a great lesson and I continue to make improvements. I am getting more confident in the water – when I reached the 3 metre deep end and looked down to see the floor of the pool drop away, I wasn’t as terrified as in previous week.

This was my last lesson for the time being – but I know that I need to find the funds to continue my lessons in the Autumn. Having worked so hard, and having come so far it would be a shame to stop now.

I will strive to find my water to water over the summer, and work on the breathing exercises that Maria gave me, so that when I come back in the Autumn I can continue my improvement!

 

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Pool

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

It was my third swimming lesson this week – and my third with a new teacher. Yes, I know that last week I assured you that I would see my regular teacher return this week, but for reasons not divulged to me, she has not appeared. So, today I had Maria – who is the head teacher of the swimming school. She isn’t a headteacher (Principal) just the main teacher – but from her demeanour she has the reputation of being a no-nonsense type of teacher and does not suffer fools lightly.

As you can imagine, I was nervous.

As a matter of fact, I have suffered terrible bouts of worrying before each swimming lesson so far. Anxiety, worrying, and a lack of self-confidence are just three things that I am learning to deal with in my life (the others are devastating good looks, a beard you can set your watch by, and a crippling sense of humility), so I could say that it is understandable that I might be nervous. But, I’m not sure why I am so nervous before each know lesson. I know that one of the reasons I am having these lessons is to overcome my fear of being out of my depth, and become a stronger thus more confident swimmer, but it’s not fear that I might drown that affects me beforehand. The fear of drowning only comes to me when I am in the water swimming and see the depth of the pool deepen and realise that I could realistically drown if I mess my stroke up or get too tired. It’s also not a fear of people seeing my un-toned, middle-aged body as I walk around the pool or swim in the water. Although II am unhappy with my fitness and body condition, I have no concerns when I am at the beach or at swimming if other people do. The cries of ‘dear God – my eyes!’ or ‘that reminds me, I must by a frozen chicken’ do not bother me.

I think I get myself so worked up about trying to do better than the week before, that the fear of failure makes me nervous. And so I fail.

This week’s lesson started with a vital piece of information being confirmed. Around this morning’s breakfast table, I was talking to my fiancée about my lesson, and how we had looked at breathing, and how difficult I was finding it. During the conversation I discovered that when my head was face down in the water, I was supposed to breathe out – so that when I turned my head to breathe in, I could get as much air into my lungs as possible. Now, before you all scream at me “well, obviously – you idiot!” please understand that I hadn’t considered this before, and it had not been passed on to me by my teacher. Except that it had; when my teacher last week, Jo told me to think “Bubble…bubble……breathe” she didn’t want me to think the word ‘Bubble’, she meant that I was to breathe out – creating bubbles – and then turn my head and breathe in. What I had been doing was holding my breath whilst face down in the water, and then trying to breathe out and breathe in, in the half a second my mouth was out of the water – which wasn’t enough time, so I wasn’t getting enough air into my lungs and was therefore unable to maintain an effective and calm routine.

You may now scream at me “well, obviously – you idiot!”

So, the focus of this lesson was (again) about breathing – breathing out underwater, and when to breathe in and the correct body / head and neck position. I spent the first 5-10 minutes just stood in the pool putting my face down in the water and breathing out, and then lifting my head out of the water and getting a good lung full of air. I tried breathing out through my mouth and then my nose – and to be honest I find breathing out through my nose more comfortable. Then we tried actually swimming and trying this new-found additional bit of technique. And of course, it was a disaster. I must admit I was frustrated by today’s lesson. It feels that I can only do one of the individual techniques that make up the entire technique of swimming properly. If my arm stroke is good, then my breathing is off, my legs are kicking properly, I don’t have floppy feet, and I’m not rotating my body enough to get my mouth out of the water. If I do any of the others right, then everything else is wrong.

So, we tried me swimming on my side. My leading arm (I swapped them when I turned to swim back to the side of the pool) would be outstretched and holding a float. The idea was for me to put my head resting on my leading arm, and then look down into the water to breathe out, and then twist my head up (whilst keeping it resting on my arm) to breathe out. At the same time, I had to kick my legs well to keep my hip up which enables my body to rotate when my face is in the water, and then rotate back when I breathe out. So, on my way out away from the side of the pool, my leading arm was my right arm, and I was breathing in from my left. On the way back, leading arm was my left, and I breathed in from my right. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde! My swim out was shambolic – I was all over the place; my head wasn’t on my arm, my breathing has horrendous, and my body shape was non-existent. The swim back, wasn’t much better – but my head was on my arm, I had more rhythm to my breathing, and my body position was better. I tried it several times, and each time it was the same. At one point, on my better swim back, I went off course and nearly torpedoed a poor two-year-old having their first lesson – so even my good work nearly went awry.

Maria told me that everyone has one side stronger than the other – but she urged me to really work on my weaker side, as otherwise I will end up with unbalanced shoulders. I assume the dangers of this would be like when you have a wind-up scuba diver as a kid in the bath – you know, the ones whose arms spin round to propel him through the water. One of his arms would always stop spinning, so whenever you wound it up it would just swim in circles because only one arm worked. That’s what swimming would be like for me; just swimming around in circles.

Like I said, today was a frustrating lesson. I am being way too hard on myself – after all, this was only my third lesson. But I’m frustrated at the fear and the anxiety which still holds me in its grip. I am prising the fingers open gradually, but in the meantime, it makes learning to swim hard work – both physically, and mentally.

But, I will not give up. I will overcome my fear, and my anxiety. I will work hard on my breathing out under water (a good friend of mine swears by practising in the washing up bowl), and work hard to relax when I am in the pool.

I can’t do anything about today’s lesson now – it is gone. I look forward to next week – if nothing else, for the lottery that is finding out who my teacher will be!

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

Today was the second of my swimming lessons. This week I had a new teacher, Jo. And before you say it, my teacher last week has not resigned due to stress caused by my ineptitude in water. She is on holiday, and will return the next week.

I had to wait a few minutes to Jo to get to me for my lesson, so I had a quick go at “Sculling”. Sculling is where you lie on your back and control yourself in the water by moving your slightly cupped hands in the water in a motion that gently propels you (if both hands are moving in the same direction), or keeps you stationary (hands moving in different directions). Much to both my delight and equal frustration, I was happily able to Scull quite well this week – as opposed to last week, when for some unknown reason, despite my best efforts I was only able to propel myself in the opposite direction intended; if I tried to scull backwards, I ultimately would end up serenely moving forwards, which was very annoying.

It was good having a different teacher this week, because although Jo went over the technique just like last week’s teacher did (have you guessed yet that I can’t remember her name?), she also added some snippets of info that added to my learning. For example, I was taught last week that when kicking as I swim, my leg should be straight with the kick coming from my hips. There should be very little knee bend. This was echoed by Jo this week – but she also added that my feet should be floppy as if I was trying to shake off a sock. Nuggets like this will help my technique no end.

So, I did a few half lengths with the new and improved technique, and my swimming was indeed improved. I have purchased a pair of swimming goggles – at the exorbitant price of £20 (£20! For swimming goggles!) so I can now see clearer underwater. That is, of course, when my “anti-fog” goggles didn’t fog up. I have spoken to my partner about going back to the shop to complain, but she suggested rubbing my spit on them first. I’m not sure that is necessary; I’m quite capable of telling the shop manager how I feel without stooping to those depths.

Later in my lesson, we moved on to breathing – and when to breathe when doing front crawl. Jo told me that she has a way of remembering (apart from the feeling that your lungs are on fire) when to breathe, and that is ‘Bubble…Bubble…Breathe’. On the ‘Breathe’ is when to turn my head so my mouth is out of the water and take a breath. So it’s head facing downwards for the ‘Bubble..Bubble’, and then breathe. Now I’m sure that Jo is a very qualified teacher, but in my head, I did wonder if saying “Bubble” underwater was the best thing to do, as an open mouth lets in more water than a closed one does. In the end, I decided to think my bubbles.

I ended up swimming an entire length of the pool with my new technique. In fact, after a prolonged rest each time, I was able to swim a length back to the shallow end. But then the tiredness kicked in. I cannot tell you how exhausting swimming is when doing it properly (or as properly as an uncoordinated person can do). Remember that when I am swimming, I am trying to recall all the technique I have to do:

  • Stretch my body out to maintain a streamlined body position
  • Kick from the hips – maintain a straight leg, with minimal knee bend
  • Have floppy feet – like I’m trying to kick off a sock
  • Rotate my body as each arm stroke happens – but keep my head still, facing downwards
  • Keep my head on my arm when turning my head to breathe
  • Remember “Bubble…Bubble…Breathe”
  • Alternate my breathing from side to side each time

All of the above takes huge amounts of concentration and physical effort, and as I was pushed hard by Jo (I’m still the only one in my class, so no respite) I flagged – and flagged spectacularly. Twice!

The first flagging came as a result of my goggles. Wearing them, as I have mentioned before, gives me clearer vision under the water. So, as I approached the two-thirds mark of the pool, I saw that the bottom of the pool sloped away from a stand-uppable 1.5 metre depth, to a Jules Verne-esque 3 metre depth. Instantly, I was out of my depth – one of my biggest fears, and one of the reasons for taking up swimming lessons – to build my confidence in the water, and especially when out of my depth.But this was only my second lesson, so when I saw the bottom of the pool far below me, I panicked – and my tired body threw technique out of the window as I resorted to my default setting; head up, gasping for breath and thrashing about like a cat in a hot-tub.

The second flagging came as a direct result of my swimming shorts. I was at the deep end, clinging to the side of the pool like a limpet with abandonment issues. I was still recovering from my first flagging episode, but wanted to keep trying as I knew what I was learning was good for me on so many levels. In my lessons I have started my length swimming with a “push and glide” – that is where I push-off from the wall of the pool with my feet and glide for as far as possible in the stretched out, streamlined body shape. In theory, being just under 2 metres tall means that a good push and glide could allow me to cover a considerable length of the pool before having to think about technique.

So, with grim determination and still slightly out of breath, I pushed off from the wall of the deep end. As you might expect, my swim shorts are not streamlined and so cause a little bit of drag (I’m not ready for speedos just yet – and I’m damn sure the young families at the pool will never be ready for that image! Or you, for that matter). My tired legs did not give me the greatest momentum, and yet I immediately felt the effect of the drag on my shorts and they slipped to just half-way down my bottom. In amongst the techniques that my brain was recalling every nano-second, a small voice chipped in, “Your shorts are falling down Larry – everyone can see your bum. Best pull them up”. So as my right arm moved forward to help propel me forwards, my left arm shot back and began tugging at my shorts to pull them up.

Of course, less than a second later, my left arm was meant to be moving forwards to continue the stroke – but it was still grappling with my shorts. My forward motion was maintaining the drag on the shorts and holding them back, fighting the efforts of my left arm to raise them back to decency. So I had both arms back along the sides of my body – the right, maintaining the streamlined body position I had been taught, and the left frantically pulling at my swim shorts like a fisherman trying to haul in a full net by hand. All this meant, that my head didn’t have an arm to rest on when I turned to breathe, so when I did open my mouth it was still below the surface of the water, and I gulped in water and then stopped abruptly coughing and spluttering – thankfully just inside the 1.5 metre mark so I could stand on the bottom.

Fortunately, at that point my lesson was up. I regained my breath, and swam on my back to the side of the pool, and got out.

Jo said I had worked hard and had made improvements since the beginning of the lesson. I don’t know about the improvements, but I know I worked hard: my body aches from my shoulders, to my core muscles, down to my quivering thighs – and even the soles of my feet. But I’m still glad I’m doing it – it is such a good work out, and as I get better technically, my confidence will grow. And that must be a good thing.

Pool

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

Today, I went back to school; Swimming school, to be precise.

I have decided that I want to have swimming lessons – not because I cannot swim; quite the opposite. Well, not exactly the opposite, because the opposite of me not being able to swim, is me being SO good at swimming, it would be as if the Man from Atlantis, and Michael Phelps had a ménage-a-trois with Flipper, and I was their streamlined bastard offspring. Sadly, this is not the case. I can swim, but my technique is poor. Don’t forget, that I was taught swimming when I was at school in the late seventies and early eighties, when I was literally thrown into the pool and forced to swim by my teacher. This was in the days when “Abuse” was pronounced “Character Building”.

But a desire to thrash about less as I move through the water was just one of the reasons for my resumption of aquatic academic activities. The other reasons were:

  1. To be more confident in the water, and especially when out of my depth.
  2. A recognition that I do not exercise anywhere near enough, am therefore overweight, and subsequently parts of me are now living in the shadow of my waistline – and as we all know, nothing grows in the shade.

So, at 11am this morning I started my first swimming lesson in about 38 years. I’m pleased to say that teaching methods have moved on considerably since the 70’s/80’s, as I could make my own way into the pool rather than be pushed in with a broom, which was then used to poke me as I attempted to swim. I was the only one in my class today. My teacher did consider putting me with a class of seven-year olds who were at the deep end of the pool, but then had doubts whether I would be able to keep up with them. Erring on the side of caution, I was directed to the shallow end where I had my lesson.

My lesson started with me swimming four widths in the swimming styles I knew. These were: Front Crawl, backstroke, and breast-stroke. My teacher watched me swim my three and a half widths (I am 47 you know), before I floundered breathlessly to the side of the pool, and she told me how appalling my technique was. I smiled inanely at her – which is my standard response to criticism of my technique – and then she began to teach me how to swim. She was very good in fact. She went through the mechanics, and I practised my body position, and using my body in a way which would help to improve my swimming, rather than my current technique of being rubbish. I did get to practise with some floats – but they didn’t have any armbands big enough for me.

My lesson was only 30 minutes long, but by the end, I had already made some improvements. Although, it was hard to remember all new information; body position, full leg kicking, using my hips, stretching out, head down, turn my head to breathe. For most of the latter stages of the lesson, I managed one or two of these things. At one point, I was concentrating so much on trying to remember as much as possible that when I did remember to turn my head to the side to breath, I forgot to take a breath in – and then very quickly spluttered to a complete stop. But still, it was an enjoyable lesson.

And my body knows about it – my thighs and my shoulders, and my stomach muscles all ache for being called into action after effectively retiring 12 years ago when I stopped playing football. But I feel good – I’m pleased I have done this, and am looking forward to getting fitter, healthier, and more confident.

I’ll keep you informed of progress.

(Obviously, if there is not update next week – I drowned)

Hell o, and welcome to my blog.

In the past, people have referred to me as ‘childish’. On other occasions, I have been named as a ‘yes’ man. Some people have even gone as far as to call me the Space Cowboy – hang on, that’s a song lyric! I guess what I’m getting at is that in general, I am regarded as a light-hearted fellow who enjoys a laugh. Indeed, let me assure you that no-body likes a good laugh more than me. Except perhaps my Fiancee, and some of her friends. Oh, and the milkman. But that’s beside the point!. I do try to take a lighter view of the world (that is, when I’m not battling my own demons), and there is nothing wrong with that – at least I don’t think there is.

Take this afternoon for example. I was at work, at the Sister site of the company I work for. When I say “Sister” site, I don’t mean they are constructing a new Convent – I simply refer to the other location that the organisation I work for, operates. Anyway, I went to the kitchen to make myself a coffee, when I noticed two mugs side by side on the counter. They had been left there by someone who, like me was about to make themselves (and a friend) a drink. I was the only person in the kitchen (that’s where you’ll find me a parties), as the owner (s) of the mugs were nowhere to be found. Presumably they had nipped to the toilet, as is customary in English workplaces; you decide to make a drink, drop your vessel off in the kitchen, and then nip to the loo to empty your bladder to make room for the drink of your choice. Kind of a ‘One in, one out’ arrangement.

I looked at the mugs for a moment, and then a wave of devilry washed over me: I decided that it would be hilarious if I re-arranged the mugs somehow. Initially, I though of turning them over – so that their open tops would be counter-side down. I pictured the bemused look on the faces of the person (s) returning to the kitchen to find their mugs tampered with. Obviously, I wasn’t go to stand there and wait for their reaction – the fact that I would be blatantly to blame by my excited anticipation, and the fact that being 6’6″ tall means my most delicate parts are at the perfect height for slamming in the dishwasher that resides in the kitchen, availed me to rely on my imagination. I didn’t upturn the mugs – I just swapped their positions. This would just be enough to play a small mind game on the mug owner(s). Humans have the ability to take thousands of mental snapshots of our surroundings everyday as we go about our lives. Usually, these mental Polaroids are never recalled but every now and then – like when we lose our keys for example, they come back into our memory. This is what I hoped would happen here – I gambled that there person (s) would partially recall the image of the mugs they left on the counter – not completely, because that would say that someone had tampered with them, but just enough to confirm that those are the mugs they left on the counter, but with a degree of uncertainty as to which one was on the left, and which was on the right. My hope would be that they would be unsettled just enough to make them question their  sanity for a few moments. That is all, no harm done.

Or is there?

Mid way through patting myself on the back, a second thought coughed politely to get my attention: What if the person(s) never noticed the swap in position? So? So what? Well (the thought went on), what if one of those persons having one of those drinks had an intolerance or allergy of some kind – say lactose intolerance? And when I say intolerance or allergy – I’m talking a really serious, life threatening kind . And what if the mugs had been specifically placed in that position so that the person making the drink would know that the one on the left (or the right) did (or didn’t) have regular (or lactose free) milk.

At this point, my back-patting hand was now stroking my beard as my conscience insisted the thought continued.

So what if the person(s) never noticed the mug swap, and then put the wrong milk in the wrong mug! The consequences could be disastrous!! Someone’s life could be in danger! My stupid, childish idea could render somebody in hospital, or even worse, A&E! This was bad; this was very, very bad. What was I thinking? I can’t just go around messing with people’s lives like that – what am I some kind of monster!? I had to go back and put things right – I’d go back and swap the mugs round if I can and if not, I would confess to the person with the mug and tell them the whole sordid story, and then face the consequences like a man. A stupid, childish man.

Thankfully, at this point another thought wandered into my brain and asked “What am I having for tea tonight”, to which both my conscience, and the other thought replied, “dunno”. “oh”, said the new thought, “what were you talking about?”. “Erm….I’ve forgotten” said my conscience.

And I thought no more of it.

I’m sure it was fine.

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

 

I’ve found my happy place. Surprisingly, it is in a barber’s chair.

Friday was my monthly haircut and beard trim; with the exception of my blog writing and poetry (which I do at home mostly), this is my only “me time”. This is my treat, my little bit of self indulgence – and we all need a little self indulgence from time to time.

The barber’s chair in which I drift away, straighten out my knots, and untangle myself from the brambles of stress lives at number 26, High East Street, Dorchester Dorset – otherwise known as “Seventh Seal“. This is a Gentleman’s Apothecary, Barber and Clothier where gentleman like myself can come for a haircut, by some beautiful fragranced treatments for skin and hair, buy some clothes, or simply pop in and have a coffee and a chat.

I was booked in for 4:30pm and true to recent form, I was running late from work. I really hate it when I am late; I try hard not to be, and I feel genuinely quite bad when I am. I took the liberty of calling ahead to Seventh Seal as I attempted (badly) to speed walk down Dorchester high street, as I felt it only right to inform them.

As I inadvertently minced towards my appointment, I needn’t have worried; my barber – and proprietor of Seventh Seal – Thomas, was running a little late himself. I find this completely acceptable, as I have experienced first hand the level of attention to detail and personal service given here. This isn’t one of those large, “chain” of hairdressers where it’s a production line of haircuts. I have always found a very unique, individual focused service at Seventh Seal – one I would not begrudge anyone this.

So I arrived, slightly out of breath and frazzled. I was greeted by Toby, the other proprietor, and giver of excellent coffee. All customers receiving a haircut or treatment get a coffee on the house, so I asked for a flat white, and sat in the leather Chesterfield-Esque chair they have just added to the décor. My coffee was presented to me, and while I waited I sat and leafed through the selection of gentleman’s fashion magazines that were on offer (my favourite is a publication titled “The Chap“), along with the highly enjoyable book, “Crap Taxidermy”. My relaxation began as I perused sharp suits, fantastic facial hair, and a badger with a duck’s bill glued badly on its face. With exemplary timing, just as I finished my coffee Thomas came over and greeted me. He showed me to my chair, and my treatment began; I was having the hair on my head clippered to a grade zero, my beard tidied up, and a shave with a cutthroat razor.

I cannot emphasise enough just how much of a talent Thomas is.  His attention to detail is brilliant. He is patient, attentive, calm, gentle, thorough and skilful. He checks and re-checks, makes you feel so at ease, and the quality of his work is unquestionable.

That’s a fiver he owes me.

My favourite part of the whole treatment is the cutthroat shave; please be aware that I may get the exact order of this mixed up somewhat. The only excuse I can give is that during this treatment I always almost pass out completely from sheer relaxation.

Thomas started by massaging some shave oil into my skin. Then he wraps a hot towel around my face, leaving only my nose poking out so I can breathe. I must admit, that the very first time this happened, I was a little unsure and felt claustrophobic even. But now, I love it – I bathe in it’s warmth, and close my eyes and feel my stress melt away.  It’s like falling gently without fear of harm – truly relaxing. It’s actually a good thing that I have a towel covering my face at this point, because I expect that in that state of relaxation, my mouth would fall open and my tongue would loll out of one side like an overheating French Bulldog. Before removing the towel, Thomas massages my beard and neck a little, and I almost fall asleep.

The shave comes next. Now, cutthroat razors have got a bit of a bad press thanks to Sweeney Todd, but I have never had such an excellent close shave in my life. No pain, no wincing as my skin gets nicked, no bleeding to death. Thomas is careful, and precise. After the shave, I have some more after-shave oil stuff (that’s a technical term folks) rubbed into my face, head and neck. These oils come in a variety of fragrances; my choice on this occasion was Sandalwood.

And that was my treatment finished. I went in frantic and stressed, and I came out soothed relaxed, happy and looking sharper than a Fox in a suit.

I’ve already booked my next treatment. I will try to get less stressed in between (it is something I struggle with greatly), and although I don’t rely on it it is good to know that my little pampering session will also help me unwind.

Just wrap me in a hot towel and leave me – I’ll be fine.

 

 

 

 

Hello and welcome to my blog.

So, how was your weekend? I hope it was good.

Mine was a good one for sure, and was a weekend of contrasts. My fiancée and I were without the kids this weekend, which meant that we were able to visit places that were of interest to us, without the fear of unbridled moaning from the little people in our lives. We were like kids in a sweet shop – no, not off our heads on sugar with chocolate smeared on our faces – excited at the possibilities!

Saturday in Dorset was a glorious day – the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the world was our oyster. We decided to go to Bridport, as this weekend they were having their famous Hat Festival – where the best and brightest from the world of Millinery parade their wares and compare notes. We set off in good spirits – but soon a cloud of concern filled our horizon; a cloud in the shape of a traffic jam. Our journey to Bridport took us past Dorchester – where this weekend, the famous Dorset County Show was taking place. As we passed by the main routes into Dorchester, we could see miles and miles of queuing traffic – holiday makers, visitors to the County Show, local people who had forgotten about the risk of congestion, caravanners –  they were all there. All the drivers and their passengers looked so fed up on the already hot day, who knows how long it would take them to get where they were going?

I felt lucky that we were going in the opposite direction, and hoped these queues would be gone by the time we returned. Soon enough, we arrived in Bridport and after parking the car we wandered down to the festival.

 

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You can leave your hat on….

Well, mould me over a hat block and stick me in a drying cabinet – there were hats – thousands of them – and such variety of designs; almost everything you could think of was there. There were planes, trains, cakes, snakes, fruit, fish, houses, fairgrounds, beer glasses, top hats, Berets, Trilbys, tricorns, caps, chefs hats, big hats, small hats, hats with plants, hats with tools, hats with cards, hats with jewels, and so much more!.

Of course, my fiancée and me were suitably adorned; she had a hat on which she made herself – including some exquisite beading, and I had one of those hats on which made me look like a member of an Indie Band who, despite being way past his best days, can’t quite let go. To complete the outfit, I had my t-shirt on which read “If your dad doesn’t have a beard, you have two moms”, which got its fair share of reaction from other festival goers.

The festival was really good; along with the multitude of hats on display there were exhibitions of Millinery, plus competitions for professional hat makers, and live music from a number of excellent bands. There were also various stalls selling a wide variety of things including antiques, tools, and toys. There was even a group photo of everyone wearing their hats – taken by professional photographers hanging out of an attic window. There were meant to be two main photographs taken – one with everyone cheering, and one with everyone cheering AND raising their hats in the air. Some people had difficulty dealing with these two separate instructions and cheered when they should have raised, and vice versa – but it didn’t matter really.

We ended our visit to Bridport with a cooling drink in one of the many establishments catering for people’s thirsts and tastes. The afternoon sun was still warm, and the sounds of chatting and laughter drifted through the air, making the perfect accompaniment to the atmosphere.

It really was an excellent day – and I would recommend the festival to anyone.

 

Sunday, in terms of weather was a completely different affair. It was raining all day, and windy with it. I don’t know if this was the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, or Hector, or Humphrey – or whatever it was called, but it made for very grim conditions. This was definitely a day for staying in and keeping dry.

So naturally, I went out.

Regular followers of my blog will know that each and every Friday I post a brand new Friday Poem. What some of you might not know is that I regularly read my poems at Open Mic events in the local area, and it just so happened that down at Lyme Regis they were holding a Folk Festival, and as part of that Festival there was an open mic poetry reading event. I had been invited to attend, and was excited about reading my own work to a new audience.

The drive to Lyme Regis took me an hour, and the coastal conditions made the already wet weather, that little bit worse. The sea was choppier than a chopping board on a Harley Davidson, with the foam tipped waves crashing relentlessly against the battered shore. Sadly, because of the weather there were nowhere near the numbers of visitors to this lovely seaside town with its incredible history of fossil hunting. Only a few hardy tourists and locals braved the sea front, dragging their bedraggled dogs behind them. Still, I was in good spirits and with my portfolio of poetic prowess with me, I sought out the venue for the open mic event.

The venue was small, but overlooked the beach, and the sound of the waves provided a beautiful background to the poetry being read. It was a small audience, again because of the weather, and was largely consisted of poets and those performing. The event got underway, and I recognised some of the poets from other open mic events I had attended. I was really cool to listen to other poets work; to my not confident mind everyone else’s poetry sounded a million times better than mine – better written, better words, better message, but I find it incredibly useful to hear these other forms of poetry.

Soon it was my turn; I took to the front of the room, adjusted the microphone, and read four of my poems; Loose Skin (Friday Poem #34), Bat Poem (#33 I think), A Cautionary Tale, and Archie Pelago. The last two have not yet been posted on this blog yet, so keep an eye out!

The response I got to my poems was incredible; people laughed out loud, and applauded each poem. And at the end, a member of the public approached me and asked where he could access these poems. I gave him a business card, and told him about my blog. He then asked if I had a book published – as he thought my poems would make an excellent present for someone. I was blown away by that – I would love to get my poetry published, and to know that someone would buy it if I did is a great confidence boost!

So, I think you’ll agree it was a very good weekend all round!!