Mad dogs

Mad dogs and tennis players go out in the mid-day sun. As anyone in the U.K hardly needs reminding, it is warm out there  

However, the show must go on and today the diary said we were playing tennis.  We were on court at 11.30am and staggered off the best part of ninety minutes later at one set all

59522A4C-70B4-4C90-A304-234662C973C4
                                                                  Tennis desert

There were a couple of other matches at the same time as our game, but later in the afternoon the courts were abandoned to the sun. When we returned to the car, the temperature gauge said 32.5 degrees. The reading for a parked car is usually high, but it only dropped a degree or so on our drive back into town.

Tomorrow is forecast to be slightly cooler. We will take what we can get.

No room, beyond the inn

Tonight we are in Dartmouth. We left Bewitched, the yacht which has been our home for the last few days, in Plymouth and have made our way to this attractive town. We have a hotel room, but that is all. Every restaurant and pub is booked solidly by holidaymakers who might in other times be in Spain or Greece. We have managed to find some dinner, but it has been an unexpected struggle.

The River Dart

After Fowey, from where I posted last, we had planned to visit Falmouth, but the wind didn’t encourage the trip. We made our way instead to the River Yealm and spent the night on a beautiful anchorage some distance up the river. Our trip back to Plymouth was marked by the best winds of the week, along with clear blue skies.

We return to London tomorrow, with the threat of rain for most of the long drive.


Fowey

Fowey is a small town on the south Cornwall coast, probably best known for its association with the writer Daphne du Maurier. We have made our way here in light winds and are moored in the river, with most of the yachts in southern England it seems. All is quiet, but the tide will turn in a few hours. Hopefully none of the loosely tied dinghies, moored to the sterns of several nearby yachts, will be drifting down on us in the early morning.

Evening in Fowey

Sunday afternoon’s rain has given way to warm, slightly muggy days. Tomorrow is likely to be the same, with only light winds again. We need to decide on a destination which will not involve hours of motoring. As usual, the weather holds precedence.

Plymouth

The Idle Skiers are in the West Country tonight, at King Point marina in Plymouth to be exact. The town was badly bombed in the Second World War and was rebuilt in the 1960s and 1970s. Not even its greatest admirers could say it is a city which is easy on the eye.   

AEC428B2-DD9C-481D-A4BF-FB70A4D59997
                                                     King Point marina

It is, however, our starting point for a few days sailing along the Devon and Cornwall coast. Our journey from Putney was highlighted by biblical quantities of rain from Exeter onwards. This evening though, we have been sat in the cockpit and the evening sky held a hint of blue. The forecast for the week is poorish, but we hope for the best. 

Time has been called

We made our way to West Sussex today, to our usual stamping ground at Arundel Castle cricket club. The home side was playing i Zingari, one of the oldest teams in England. Formed in 1845, i Zingari is a wandering side, without a home ground; the club’s name name translates from Italian as “the gypsies”. As usual, though, they brought plenty of support. The weather has been poor for a few days, but it bucked up for the occasion. There was even some sunshine in the afternoon.

dcf5f314-fe2a-4840-a4b4-71e18d68ad6e
                                                          The Swan Inn at Fittleworth

Our journey to Arundel, through Surrey and Sussex, takes in a number of small villages. One of these is Fittleworth. Despite its proximity to the market town of Petworth, this prosperous village boasts a shop and a post office. It even has an art gallery. This summer, it no longer has a pub. Sometime over the winter, during the long periods of lockdown, time was called on the Swan Inn. The doors are shut and a “to let” sign faces the road.

Will anyone take it on? Pubs have been closing at an alarming rate for years, but that rate has been accelerating during the last twelve months. Given that Public Health England and others are promising more lockdowns in the future, it would be a brave person who signs the lease and attempts to open the doors once more.

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.

3FAA885D-EA0D-4B3B-94FA-C259EAF4F17F
                                                                         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.

3fb6b6fe-3ca8-4548-bb6e-35b066f86eb4
                                                                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. 

9361176F-EC9B-4F8C-90B1-399D991A9C19
                                      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.