Wednesday, October 31, 2007

another year.and another crisis :)

Well what a year it has been!

Sometime towards the end of last year I wrote a piece for this blogg, entitled ‘Looking back’ and sort of encapsulating the quite hectic year that had taken place, even though at the time I was thinking ‘have’nt done much this year’

So this year was going to be different. I was going to change things.

S and I were continuing with our on off on relationship, settling slowly into a sort of Friends+ situation. I was happy with this on one level since it allowed me to do what I do best…… be solo. Unfortunately it soon transpired that S decided that she wanted a partner, and it was’nt going to be me. However we rubbed along with myself not acknowledging the situation, but even with my limited skills it soon became apparent that the + bit of the friends+ was rapidly decreasing.

Once I came to terms with the fact that we’d just be friends, mates, pals, whatever, it suddenly became easier and we spent some quality time with one another.

We continued to rub along like this for a while, then in mid May I caught a particularly nasty virus which put me in hospital for a few days, but the consequential convalescence had me off work for nearly 3 months. In that time we carried on as before, except I was being kept an eye on by S, who wanted me to stay with her. For a few days it was Ok but after a while I needed my space. So it was off home with me and a lazy few weeks.

I should have updated the blog, but there was a lot I did’nt do, like small jobs around the house and what have you. Truth is I was tired all the time, a bit low and quite weak. Even going for a walk was hard work.

By the middle of June I was improving and a return to work was mooted for early July, but the week before I was due to go back I had renewed pains and the doc had no hesitation in keeping me off for another month.

The why’s and wherefores of my relapse, I put down to an incident with S. We were invited to a party. She would pick me up at 7, There was no show, so I walked down , only to find her leaving with a ‘friend’. To say I was upset would be incorrect, I had come to accept that the relationship was over and that we were just friends but this just smacked of rubbing my face in it. I supposed I was bemused more than anything.

So that was it. The final nail in the coffin lid containing the remains of our relationship. The next day I went round to her house and played hell with her, by then I was feeling very let down. It ended up with my telling her that she needed to decide whether she wanted me as a friend or not.

By and large, once the fallout had settled I was ok with the situation, and in fact took great delight in telling her that I thought the ‘new guy’ was an asshole, after she regaled me with some of the things he had said.

But we sorted it out and remain friends, even though this new relationship of her’s seemed to stagger from crisis to crisis, she being an independently minded woman and he a domineering sort.

By September the new man in her life was no more. Turns out he was a bit like that character in ‘the League of Gentlemen’ who gets his metaphorical feet under the table in various houses of lonely single women and then takes over uttering the immortal lines ‘your my wife now’ in some weird New Orleans patois. Unfortunately it appears that he has a problem with the word ‘No’ and Sian keeps getting plaintive text messages from him followed by the less plaintive, nasty and the downright dangerous. To say it’s put her on edge is something of an understatement.

Through all this angst she still says it’s a shame cos she really liked him. Me? I say good riddance.

Another consequence of this virus is that for the second year running, my plans for canoeing the Wye, Thames and Scotland were put on hold…… not necessarily a bad thing in retrospect, considering the summer we ended up with, most the places I had marked down for going to were totally flooded out. I did manage several trips away…firstly to Windermere in April where a cracking day’s paddling turned into a wet and soggy following morning. I also headed down to Pembroke in early September, in gorgeous weather, but was so ill the first night I headed home the very next day.

However in early October some 200 open canoes and their owners converged on Bala and I had a great weekend getting coached and improving my skills. This w/e was probably the highpoint of the year so far.

So what’s in store from now until the new year/ or more precisely from now until next easter. Well not a lot to be honest. Unless someone gives me a sack of money soon, I ‘ll be heading into hibernation mode, and generally ..mooching…… I have the Snowshoe to finish/finesse, a sailing kit to build for the Prospector, the rear garden to clear prior to my next Big Project.. the building of the shed/summerhouse/guest accommodation/ office.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the canoe thing

Some of you are aware of my recent infatuation with doing the open canoe thing a la Ray Mears. The floating down the river was always the main theme, to which end I’ve bought/obtained/made all the bits and bobs one needs to undertake such a trip, but of course with my customary lack of money it won’t be Canada, rather a more sedate journey as benefits my status as an over 50 – down the upper reaches of the Thames, or if I’m feeling particularly adventurous – the Wye. These as you will have noticed are both ‘rivers’ ie moving water on which I have no experience worth noting. However on more open bits of water like the sea, I’m more at home so as well as these river trips I’ll probably head off to Scotland during May to ‘go exploring’ on some of the more accessible lochs. It also needs to be May in order to avoid two specific irritants – midges and kids.

Kids are reasonably easy to avoid – just go somewhere mid week and out of the school holiday period. Midges are less easy to time and therefore steer clear of. Now everyone knows about the infamous Scottish midge which can ruin a holiday on the west coast in about ten minutes. Some people are more susceptible than others, and there’s around a million quid or so coming to the person who comes up with a guaranteed 100% successful way of keeping them at bay, without resorting to mozzie nets, deet or going to Spain instead of Mull.

The situation is now further muddied by my usual ideas about adapting/ tinkering/ rebuilding what I already have or in this case the building of a new canoe for solo use. The new canoe will be lightweight and somewhat experimental and space age-ey but is essentially a modern take on the traditional wood and canvas canoes [which were a then modern take on the traditional birchbark canoes]. Construction is in lightweight pieces of pine, forming a frame not unlike the way old time aircraft were built. The frame is then stiffened by using Kevlar yarn placed in a sort of cats cradle way, tension being placed on the Kevlar which then places compression on the struts. The whole is then skinned with sailcloth and heat shrunk into place with a smoothing iron. A couple of coats of paint to seal the Dacron and job’s a good’un.

The canoe goes by the name of a ‘geodesic aerolite’ construction- design Snowshoe 14/ and apparently it will take me and all my gear. So that’s ok then.

I’ve got the plans, the kevlar, the stickums and the Dacron, now all I need is the wood to build the frame and the strongback, the mouldings and the ribs. The ribs and some of the framing will need a little bit of getting, since they need to be made from ash, and green ash at that. Luckily there is loads of ash in the vicinity and the job will likely entail finding a suitable sapling, felling and cleaving to the 30 or so ribs I need.

I'll update on this soon since I'm well into the build, yes I know I should've posted this much earlier