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Three weeks or there abouts to when we open and I oscilate between extreme excitement and deep depression; the resting point being blind panic
Good friend and supporter Jenni Soffe puts a positive spin on these feelings:
Maybe you’re not “oscillating” from one feeling to another, but reflecting the rhythm of the waves of the sea… As you know, Sep/Oct is the time for big tides. Anyway, opening on Oct 22nd is midway between Springs and Neaps so very auspicious!
Luckily I have the support of a marvellous picture framer, Chris Worthingon, who has turned his supreme woodworking skills to creating a perfect and simple frame scheme to ‘house’ my pieces of worK
First rule of life: Hang out with smart people – chances are they will greatly improve your life. Example, super-friend, colleague and all-round bright person Kathryn Schlieben describes New York in a 50 word email:
“Your blog post made me miss NY so desperately. If I close my eyes and really concentrate, I swear I can smell it. There is no place on earth that gives me the same feeling. You step out the door, the breeze catches your hair and absolutely ANYTHING can happen. *sigh* ”
It took me 450 words: Proof that women are 9 times smarter then men.
Deep in darkest Essex my nephew John and his lovely bride, Natalie, are getting married. The sun shoos the clouds from Ingatestone village. Everyone looks gorgeous, large hats occlude the view in church but not the enjoyment. The families on both sides look so happy for this made-for-each-other couple.
We gather in St Edmunds and St Mary Parish Church, described by Simon Jenkins in England’s Thousand Best Churches as ‘magnificent, a unified Perpendicular composition of red brick with black Tudor diapering. Oh Simon, Yes! The warmth of the brick matches our hearts. The choir, bolstered by delightful trebles from Brentwood School leaves ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ more or less in tact during the signing of the register.
Outside the exquisite church we congregate, circulate and catch up on news and gossip. Frocks, hats, ties and shoes are admired or admonished or simply loved. It is the day for family and friends and love. It is Megan and Bron’s first wedding, I am proud father as well as uncle and god father.
Back to the house; The Gables where Natalie’s parents, Keith and Jazmine have thrown open the doors to their lovely home. They have placed a beautiful marquee in the garden for good measure. Prior to landing at our tables we circulate and I get into as many photographs as I am able.
Tables each decorated with such style, glass vases that reach four feet high with goldfish on the inside, pink and silver everywhere. The champagne flows, “Who’s driving?” Exquisite food and wines to match all experienced and chosen by the family months back so as to be sure. We were sure, for sure!
Afternoon into evening in side the lovely tent; John and Natalie, glide swan-like between the tables. They are happy, so in love, so made-for-each other. Relatives close and distant and friends fawn and fuss and beckon, we are all so pleased to be there. So on to the speeches.
Keith is up first, will there ever be a prouder father? His heart and good nature are on display for all to admire. Who could cherish a daughter more? The Groom responds to ensure we all know the contract is secure and all is reciprocated. My youngest nephew makes a Best Man’s speech to die for, comedy and timing bound tightly as could be.
Evening into late evening and more guests arrive to swell our ranks. We have been regaled by three opera singers who work the party like a Las Vegas floor show. Everyone is captivated and wants to sing.
Watches are glanced at, and the Bar opens and as if by magic the dance floor is full as the happy couple lead us a merry dance. All of us are suddenly on the dance floor making moves and trying to be young, again.
It is time to scoop up my family and face the M25 journey home. Oh you party givers we are grateful and shall remain so. Face book will keep all this together for months to come and our memories will do the rest.
It is 06:30am and again I am getting used to the coffee after four days here. Looking out through the window the traffic on 3rd Avenue is just starting to thicken.
This is my city, my return trip after two or so years. A place where walking is easy and the geography is north to south and east to west, grid-simple: avenues and streets.
In a few more hours people will be everywhere in the June heat. Lou Reed’s city – “Baby you’re so vicious”.
A gorgeous jogger fly’s past the window of my coffee shop. It has been a hot week. Hot in several ways, hot sidewalks, hot people, catching up with hot friends.
Blue and red lights are flashing now, NYPD, I count seven cop cars heading up town. What’s their hot date at 06:45am?
My city and the city of my daughters; when I brought them over, not long ago, it was this time of the year. Megan still remembers the polar bears in Central Park Zoo, Bronnie remembers the Thai restaurant at which we feasted, when she saw it in the movie version of Sex in the City a month or so back; they both remember the Stores. I gave them New York and they have kept it and kept it fresh.
New York is Bryant Park and I went there again last night. This a small green amphitheatre with is ceiling of trees and people walking sitting, lounging, chatting, reading or drinking in the bar at the east end of the park.
Yellow; one, two, three, four, five, six cabs flash by my coffee shop window.
“Have a great day” is the salutation from the coffee shop owner as she passes over another customer’s order – “How ya bin?”
Energy even when the streets are empty. This energy is western, washing away the silt in my head from too much preoccupation with my time in Asia. People her on are on move, hugging cell phones, hugging bottles of soda hugging cups of coffee.
New York: So fast and so easy, like slipping back into a very chic and very comfortable pair of shoes, shinny, bright and looking good. My New York.
A large stomach on a bicycle passes by the window and I drain my cup and prepare to head out onto the street. I have another meeting. In sync a couple leaves, they both look back, into my window, she smiles at me.
New York, I so got what I came for and the traffic noise says “Get to it buddy”. I am one lucky ‘mother.
“If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” CSN&Y.
Sailing in Ireland on Loch Derg
Last year we sailed the length of Loch Ness in Scotland. This year we were in Ireland on Loch Derg three hours west of Dublin. The team was the same; Richard my friend since the age of nine, Mike former CEO and now in the fish business and Dave the pilot who flies celebs around Europe in a fast, chic but impossibly small jet plane – appropriately called Cessna Citation Mustang.
We hired the only boat with sail on the Shannon estuary, a dirty, forlorn looking 27 foot Hunter 265. Had she been sailed in the last eighteen months? Richard and I arriving before the boys scrubbed her, jet-washed her and I bleached the galley and heads. We named her the Shabbess. Two days later we had her old sails nicely trimmed and she bucked across twenty miles of open water without a murmur.
The day before, Saturday, Richard’s Landrover took us up the M6 North West along the M5 through the midlands and north Wales to Holyhead where we caught the ferry to Dublin. Mike and Dave arrived by Ryan Air on Sunday afternoon into Shannon and then the bus to Nenagh in Tipperaryfive miles east of Loch Derg.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday poor weather, good winds but wet, so very wet; Wednesday and Thursday sun and the winds were still kind. The waters of the loch were steel grey in rain and peaty brown and clear subjected to my presence as I dived in every morning for a swim (lasting no more than to minutes in the icy waters).
Living on board; I cooked and prepared all meals. Breakfast – sausages, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, bacon, food to get the crew moving with large amounts of tea. Lunch was more salmon (Irish of course), salami, salad and fruit for our general well being.
The routine for most evenings was an hour or so in a bar closest to where we were moored that evening. Bars with good beer, a grand welcome, a warmth that is uniquely Irish; Larkins in Garrykennedy was our favourite. The delightful owner Maura provided wonderful homemade bread for the next day’s breakfast and lunch. http://www.larkinspub.com/
Prior to the pub Richard and I had often prepared the evening meal together so cooking it on one and a half dysfunctional gas rings would not be too difficult after two pints of Smythwicks. Across the week we enjoyed several pastas, homemade burgers from the butcher in Portumna and lovely steaks from the Tesco in Nenagh. Each meal was bolstered by several bottles of robust red wine.
Five days with good winds to move a boat we often cut the motor and made excellent speed to small harbours each blessed with interest, great bars and a warm welcome. Loch Derg 35 miles in length feed by the River Shannon and 15 miles at its widest point. We crossed it, back and forth seeing only two other boats under sail. May is not a busy time with few other craft about; several were hired and we saw large flags of the Munich Rotary Club or obscure German football teams tied to their safety rails.
The sun would light up the water up like a vast mirror by 6am; it was still light by 10pm most evenings. We retired to our sleeping bags each night after taking part in a pop-quiz hosted by Dave with his iPod, our brains addled by wine, good food. We climbed into our bunks, the boat barely moving on her mooring. We were soon asleep perhaps dreaming of our next sailing adventure.