On a recent trip to the UK the bumblebees were prolific in the lavender flowers. They were busy all day and even into the early summer evening. It was lovely to watch them, especially as many of the species are in decline and two have actually become extinct.
I always remember studying them in school when I was doing my A levels and the teacher telling us they were aerodynamically unable to fly. This always puzzled me, but I now read that this was a misconception of the 1930s and in 2005 it was shown through high speed photography, that the way they flapped their wings was different to the way previously understood. I do love science!
Bumblebees are mainly under threat because of changes to the countryside in the UK. Changes in agricultural techniques have meant that there are far fewer wildflowers in the landscape than there used to be, meaning that many of our bumblebee species are struggling to survive.
Mum is busy cooking and I’m hungry. She hands me some peanuts. The grease speckles the brown paper bag and I know I can’t reach inside yet. I run to the living room to find Dad. A fold in the hallway rug trips me and I’m falling. My mouth hits the pipe of the radiator. Then there is pain and blood. Lots of blood. I start to scream. Somehow I’m now lying with my head cradled in Mum’s lap in the back of the car. I’m vaguely aware Dad is driving fast, as crimson seeps into the lilac of Mum’s angora jumper mixed with snot and tears.
I take a big breath and pull the shirt on. Its coarseness makes me shudder and I quickly grab my tie and cardigan; both bottle green. I still feel the newness of my shirt an hour later. It distracts me from the monotone of the history teacher. I don’t know which I dislike more.
The red glow of the gas fire does little to heat the damp room, but we’re all warm and loud with alcohol. Someone has turned the music on loud. It’s Ian Drury. Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll. I sing along. Val says, “I’m starving.” Ash goes off to get the sliced bread and margarine from the kitchen. He then bends in front of the fire and slams some pieces of bread against the protective wire. Within minutes the room fills with the smell of burning toast.
Laughter drifts across the stream. The weekend and the heatwave has brought droves of people to the Yorkshire countryside. We’re lying on a patch of grass in the midst of the heather looking up at the hazy blue sky. Steve’s Mini Cooper S throws a lengthening shadow behind us. He has a cigarette between his lips and we’ve both got cans of warm beer. Even though our chatter is frivolous, I think foremost in both our minds is, should we or shouldn’t we?
Dancing in the Seabreeze Western Australia
What I like about mobiles is that when hung outside they are rarely stationary. They dance in the breeze, their form changes and light bounces off or through their surfaces.
It all started in 2007 when I spent a year on the island of Zanzibar. Weekends were often spent at one of the beautiful white beaches, swimming, relaxing and beachcombing. One day I sat with my daughter looking at our spoils and saw she had picked up some broken coral entwined in fishing line and tied it to a piece of driftwood. That was the beginning.
My passion of beachcombing, which I do almost every day, has led me to developing a very ‘small’ but fun business, Driftwood Elements. I sell on local markets, as I did this morning despite the thundery skies, and I also have an Etsy site. The site is a little bit bare at the moment as the markets have been successful 🙂
I think even if I was never to be published my notebooks would be a witness to my writing. More tangible than the digital word and more private in that they were never meant to be read by anyone other than me.
There were hardback books, soft books, large books, small books, exercise books and note pads. In the beginning I diarised and doodled, sometime I’d stick in a ticket or something meaningful – to me at least. Other times I’d try to draw something that I had failed to describe in words or had been unable to record in a photograph. Fragments of the story of my life.
Even after our first computer it still felt good to fill a page with words, especially the private words only I wanted to bear witness to. Over the years it wasn’t just one computer in the household, but laptops and other devices appeared. My digital efforts increased as the pen lay dormant. But I was always drawn to a beautiful notebook, I’d run my fingers over the blank page and feel the weight of quality paper.
Now I flit between both worlds. My writings are more capacious and based in fiction. The words often need rearranging, the pages change as the editing takes over and I find I need the speed of a computer. Those immediate thoughts or sparks of ideas I have to write down when I’m out and about, fill the small notebooks, leather-bound or fabric covered, chosen carefully for their beauty and size, that take turns to sit in my handbag. Sometimes these jottings are transferred to join the longer stories and manuscripts that build up on my computer, or they join the growing pile of memories and stories that line a drawer, a cupboard and a shelf of a bookcase.
Summer for my daughter, was the time for surf life saving. Every Sunday morning we’d go to the club at our local beach regardless of weather conditions.There was ocean swimming, board races, beach sprinting, surf rescue, relays races and fitness, safety and first aid training.
The first few weeks were normally chilly, the Indian Ocean had not yet had time to warm up after winter and the occasional cold front would still sweep in with grey stormy skies, big waves and swell blowing onshore. The really younger ‘nippers’ wouldn’t venture into the surf unless a barrage of parents were on hand to help out and encourage, even the adults weren’t too keen to brave the elements.
Then the summer would start. Uninterrupted blue skies, blue seas and white sand that by mid morning was too hot to stand on.
As the years progressed some of the older children took on roles of leadership and mentorship of the younger ones. They became the ones that coached the younger ‘nippers’. There were also competitions and rivalry, but more importantly cooperation and team building.
As I now look back on those long summers and look at the my daughter, I’m grateful for the opportunities surf life saving was and still is able to offer.
Waiting for the person doing the ‘swim leg’ of the rescue to reach the buoy before she can paddled out to ‘rescue’ them.