Under the trees

In London today the temperature pushed close to thirty degrees.  I had booked a round of golf some time ago and went out despite the stifling heat. For the first couple of holes, a strongish breeze kept the course cool enough, but as the morning progressed, the mercury climbed. 

Late in the round, I hooked the ball into the trees. Stood next to it, I thought of staying put for the rest of the day. However, the four golfers arriving at the tee behind me in their buggies meant I had to move on.

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                                                                         Under the trees

This evening, the government has extended the current lockdown rules. Just one last push they say. I am sure they said the same thing sometime last year.

On the beach

It has been a hot, sunny day in Southwold.  Thirteen months after our planned trip to the Suffolk coast, we have finally made it here. Life in this small seaside town is not back to normal yet, but a couple of days after the main half term holidays have ended, the beach has been busy and the high street buzzing.

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                                                                The pier at Southwold 

This morning, our journey to the coast saw Isaac Newton’s fourth law applied. Less well known than his other laws, it is none the less immutable. Simply, whatever effort is expended in seeking to travel from Putney to Southwold in three hours, the journey will take four hours. Not even a 6.00am start can change this law, as we discovered today. The main impediment was a hedge trimming tractor making a stately progress on the A12. There was also an emergency bacon sandwich stop at the Orwell river crossing cafe.

Last week’s weather forecast, for the test match at Lord’s, didn’t hold good entirely. The forecast for the East coast this week is set fair. Hopefully, the forecasters will be correct this time.

At the test

Lord’s cricket ground held a test match in August 2019, and that was it for international matches until today. Last summer’s tests were played in “bio-secure” venues, meaning grounds with hotels on site. These did not include the home of cricket.

Today though saw the first day of the England v. New Zealand match.  The government’s rules allowed 7,000 people into the ground, instead of the normal capacity of 30,000.

Cricket in the sun

Whisper it, but it was a better day than for many a full house. The sun shone. There were enough people there to give the ground its renowned buzz of conversation, but the corporate freeloaders were absent and the ground had a relaxed, contented air to it.

It is raining now in London, but the weather forecast for the rest of the match is for warm, bright days. Here’s hoping.

All at sea

Back when Drake was still playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe, or so it seems, the Idle Skier spent some time sailing. Somewhere along the line, things got in the way of time at sea. The office, skiing, pandemics; that sort of thing.

Until today that is, when after more than a decade away from the ocean waves, I spent a day on the Solent with the Phoenix Yacht Club. It was a trial sail, to see if it worked for both the club and for me.

It has been pretty miserable weather in England so far the late spring and early summer and the crew, five of us, turned up ready for a day of squally weather. Instead, the sun emerged. In the morning, the sea was flat and the breeze light. Things picked up a bit in the afternoon, with a strong, cool wind to accompany the incoming tidal stream.

We headed out from Gosport and past the tip of the Isle of Wight, before heading home again. it was a crew heavy on experience for this short trip, with a yacht master and at least two other qualified skippers on board, but the day was relaxed despite all the top brass. Light to moderate winds brought 23 miles travelled on a busy day off the south coast.


Cricket, lovely cricket

“Cricket, lovely cricket” is a line from a calypso song written in 1950.  There is little that is calypso about the weather at the moment. Apparently, we are on course to have the most rain in May since Noah built his ark. 

Still though, the cricket season has been underway for some time. The first class counties are several games into the Championship season (there is a need to get the real game out of the way quickly, so that money can be made in high summer playing a form of rounders). Clubs too have been playing the game for a month or more.

Today, Arundel Castle cricket ground, one of the Idle Skiers’ summer bolt holes, opened to spectators for the first time this season.  Mrs IS was kept in London by Pilates commitments, but I made my way down the country roads of Surrey and Sussex for an 11.00am start. 

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                                      Arundel under threatening skies

The rain stayed away for a change. The sky was threatening from time to time, but for the most part, the sun shone through. A brisk wind kept the large crowd well wrapped up.

The summer game is here, even if summer weather is a speck on the horizon, with more games to watch in the next few days. To borrow from another Caribbean song, I don’t like cricket, I love it.

Because it’s there

Today, we made the long walk from Putney bridge to Hampton Court bridge.  It is a walk we have done many times, usually as practice for a still longer yomp later in the summer or early autumn. This time, accompanied by friends, we walked simply because it is there to be done. With the trip back to Kingston on Thames thrown in, we covered just over thirty kilometres. It’s not quite Everest, but it is a still a challenge. 

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                                                                 Hampton Court bridge

The last time we came this way, in the summer of 2020, it was a hot, sunny day. Today was grey and for much of the morning, cold and a bit miserable. Apart from the weather, little had changed in the intervening months. Kingston, a major shopping hub, was quiet. Many businesses remain closed, some forever. The country as a whole remains under pandemic restrictions.

Some more of our liberties, which only eighteen months ago we regarded as our rights, are gifted back to us next week. The questions are, will people use them and will we retain them for long?

Lassitude

A certain lassitude has hit this blog for the last month.  Our return to London meant ten days at home, serving the required quarantine time. It seemed like a good opportunity to catch up on some reading, but in the event, for the Idle Skier at least, time hung heavily.  It seemed as if Dali’s melting clocks were brought to life.

We have been free for three weeks now though and as the country opens up slowly, a few of the normal things in life seem possible.  For the last few days the Idle Skiers have been in the north west. Unusually for Lancashire in April, the sun shone for a while, though the clouds rolled in eventually.

 

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                                                     Clouds roll into Morecambe Bay

A bank holiday weekend approaches and the newspapers predict gridlock on the roads, which would be a real sign of business as usual.

The shape of things to come

The Idle Skiers are back in old London town, a couple of weeks earlier than planned. The Schengen area rules required us to leave Switzerland before 30 March and we gave ourselves a few days leeway.

We travelled to Zurich yesterday and flew into the U.K. today. The last 24 hours have shown the shape of things to come. Last night, in the Radisson hotel at Zurich airport, we needed a plug adapter. The receptionist said they would send one up to the room. A few minutes later the room ‘phone rang and a metallic voice asked us to open the door. “It sounded like a robot” I said to Mrs IS, before opening the door to find a robot. It was a R2D2 look alike.

However, it hadn’t brought the correct adapter. We sent it on its way (by pressing the “decline” button) and R2D2’s younger brother headed towards the lifts.

Today, in the lengthy border control queue at Heathrow, a large group of young Japanese, clad head to toe in hazmat gear, didn’t attract a second glance from other travellers.

Putney in the rain

The Idle Skiers are now confined to barracks for ten days of isolation. We have suitable reading; The Wooden Horse, The Colditz Story, The Count of Monte Cristo and so on. Tunnelling starts tonight.

A brilliant ski season, with more snow than could have been imagined possible before its beginning, brought 921,712 vertical metres in 2,057 lift rides and 5,098 kilometres travelled.

Short day

If anything, today was more beautiful than yesterday, with still better and much quieter skiing.  I was on the 9.00am cable car, which was not full. A tour around the Mannlichen-Scheidegg circuit failed to reveal many further skiers. The season has several weeks to run, but will anyone still be skiing at the end?  It is beginning to look doubtful.

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                                                      Lauterbrunnen valley in the afternoon 

It was a short ski day, but exceptional, with the downhill and slalom courses at their best. The day brought 5,100 vertical metres in 12 lift rides and 30 kilometres travelled.

For the first time in a long time, the Idle Skiers have left the village.

Superlatives exhausted

It has been another wonderful day. It is difficult to say more about it. It was only on Friday of last week that we were still freezing on the mountain. Today was warm.

The Idle Skiers were on the cable car, which was more or less full, just before 9.00am. The snow was fairly crisp at that time, but the skiing was still great and remained so all day.

 

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                                                                     Plum Pudding hill in the morning

We toured the Mannlichen-Scheidegg circuit. Mrs IS called it a day at lunchtime, but I took the cable car back to Mannlichen for another ski around the sunny pistes.

Was it the best day of the season? That is impossible to say. In this difficult winter of few holiday makers and poor times for the village, the skiing has been at its absolute best on so many days.

The day brought 11,426 vertical metres in 24 lift rides and 62 kilometres travelled.