By The River

A tree-lined section of the River Wensum as it...

A tree-lined section of the River Wensum as it flows through Norwich (Image via Wikipedia)

Following on from yesterdays poem, this is not a story, just memories of my time fishing and generally being on or near the River Thames from my early teens to my mid 20’s.

From an early age I can remember going fishing with my dad on the River Thames at Marlow, Higginson Park to be exact. We used to get up around 4am on a Sunday morning and be beside the river by 5am, watching the sun rise, feeling the warmth of the day as the mist cleared. We used to park the car in Higginson Park, then walk to the river, go under the bridge and walk downstream for maybe a half mile or so, then set up for our mornings fishing.

I don’t remember us catching that much but it didn’t really matter to us. We were out together enjoying the day, talking about whatever we thought about. Me probably talking about school work and dad probably talking about his job driving buses.

We often saw Kingfishers on those early mornings, waiting patiently on a branch for a fish to swim by, I think they caught more fish than we ever did but it was pleasure enough for us to see this wonderful bird going about it’s business.

Dad used to prepare some sandwiches and a flask of tea for our mornings by the river. This was normally taken around 9am as we sat back in our chairs, enjoying the peace of the day and before the river cruisers started up and down the river.

– ~ – ~ – ~ –

At my school we had a teacher who loved rowing, he wasn’t a sports teacher but he was something to do with Marlow Rowing Club. I remember he got several of us lads interested enough to get us down to the club and go rowing in the evenings and on some Saturday mornings. For me it never got any further than training with other crews on the river but it was a fantastic experience for me and one I wish I could have been better at. I used to love being on the water, rowing towards Henley on warm summer evenings.

– ~ – ~ – ~ –

As I grew older, a friend and I used to regularly cycle down to Marlow from the village we lived in, a distance of six or seven miles (I could check but I’m not going to, it would spoil my flow). We used to cycle there when we got bored in the school holidays, then we would simply sit by the river for an hour or two, maybe enjoy an ice cream or cold drink and watch the world float by.

One year, I was fifteen, several of us kids in the village decided we would go camping at Henley. We asked our parents if it would be OK for us to go. We got a couple of our parents to agree to stand as guarantors for us at the camp site that we had already got permission to camp at as long as the parents were willing. We then talking one parent to take down all our camping equipment as we cycled down to Henley for our weeks camping.

I remember having such a laugh with the other kids from the village. It was the first time away from our parents for many of us yet we managed to behave ourselves, having a great time along the way. We ate regular meals that were amazingly properly cooked. We cycled or walked the short distance down to the river most days, just messing about paddling in the water and generally getting soaked and having fun.

This, I’m sure, is were my love of camping holidays comes from.

– ~ – ~ – ~ –

In my early 20’s, I made a couple of friends who lived in Marlow. Every Friday evening I would go down to Marlow and we would go out into the quiet Marlow night life. It was always pubs and they rarely had anything much going on in them but then I’ve always enjoyed quiet places and the pubs we used to frequent were ideal for me. We would talk away the hours, enjoying each others company. I know these Fridays followed a very similar routine but I loved them, they were good friends and great times. I miss those friends and days immensely. Life moves on.

– ~ – ~ – ~ –

My overriding memory of the river is the calmness it brought me. I could sit by the river all day and simply be! It was my place to contemplate life (,the universe and everything 😉 ). Since I moved to Norwich I’ve found such a contemplative place once again and on warm summer days can be found by the River Yare, just a short walk from where I live, or if I’m in the city I love walking along the footpath through the city that follows the River Wensum, finding some quiet spot to sit, relax and enjoy being close by the water.

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A Good Day

Oxfam Bookshop, Norwich

Oxfam Bookshop, Norwich

Finally, after too many months away from it I’m back volunteering in the Oxfam Bookshop here in Norwich! It was great to be back in there helping out once again. This morning I was with one of the regulars and although he had been volunteering in the shop over a year I met for the first time a working man that also volunteers a few hours as and when he can. There was a lot of talk, catching up on everyone’s news, me getting to grips with the changes made in the shop but amazingly I remembered how to use the till! Hopefully I’ve also sorted things so that I can do my work placement at this shop, this will ease my conscience no end. It also appears that because I’ve set something up in place of that placement at the supermarket last week by myself, there will be no consequences to follow after I walked out. Good News! 🙂

One of the longer conversations we had this morning between customers is whether our families were takers of photographs on holidays or collectors of postcards. We weren’t talking about now but rather of the past, especially our grandparents. It appears one of the volunteers is a collector of postcards which all started when his family used to buy postcards of holiday destinations whilst on holiday rather than carry a camera and take photos. Mine on the other hand had embraced the then new craze and took photos.

He was saying how precious his postcard collection had become to him over the years and that he had carried on the tradition of always buying

Me

Me

postcards where ever he went. On the other hand I had loads of old family photos of day trips and holidays and even now I’m a keen togger and take photos of everything when I have the chance. As you can imagine my photos are precious to me. It’s strange how our history shapes us in certain ways, even after all this time.

So, bookshop once again and all that temptation! There is a collectable boxed set of E E ‘Doc’ Smith’s Skylark series of books in the display cabinet at the moment and to say I wish I had the £20 to buy the set is an understatement. The set is in lovely condition and it would make a marvellous addition to my small but growing collection. I say growing because over the years I’ve let a lot of my books go and now I’ve only really myself to please I intend to have a serious collection once again. In time I’d like to have something akin to a reading room but for now some nice shelving with some of my favourite books to decorate said shelving. Of course there would also be plenty of read/unread books as I don’t intend to have them there looking pretty, books are there to be read, not admired.

Back In The Saddle

Snow outside my sisters cottage

Over a week since I last sat and did this! I have to admit it felt odd not writing daily, now it feels odd to be sat here writing again. I would like to thank everyone that stopped by and had a read, seems I have more readers than comment leavers but that’s fine, I’m just pleased you drop by and have a read of the stuff I write.

The holidays were a real mix of emotions and illness, it was great to see my sister once again but we all got colds or other viruses that left the actual day pretty lame. I had a cold when we travelled last Wednesday, my sister warned me she also had a cold. On the coach journey over to Pembrokeshire it seemed as if everyone else had colds as well so by the time we arrived in Carmarthen it felt like we were covered in germs, not nice!

The final thirty miles or so soon became arduous as there was deep lying snow everywhere with the taxi we were travelling in finally giving up on getting us to my sisters two miles short of her cottage. My daughter and I had to walk those last couple of miles. It was a beautiful star laden moonlit night as we walked through drift filled country lanes but it was a walk I could have done without. I don’t blame the taxi driver, only farm vehicles and the odd Land Rover could actually drive up these lanes, my sisters Land Rover was one of those unable to get out onto the road due to the position of her cottage. Still we arrived in reasonable time and we all sat warming ourselves around her Rayburn.

More snow and view of the forest

The rest of the holidays were as already described, much of a non event though as always it was great to just sit and chat even if we were warming ourselves with cold remedies rather than whiskey or other much preferable drinks.

We arrived back in Norwich late Wednesday evening heading straight to bed after the long coach journey home. Thursday was also a long day as I had loads of paperwork to sort in readiness for our move to our new flat. I also measured up the bedrooms to get some prices on carpets plus did a bit of window shopping in charity furniture shops whilst thinking how expensive washing machines really are!

On to today then! I had already written something in readiness for today but decided it was time to hit the keys once again, below is part of what I had written and I’m pleased to say that I can already put a line through one of my resolutions as I already have the keys to our new flat which I hope to start decorating in the very near future.

Like the rest of the world I guess I will be making a few New Year Resolutions. I’m not going to be promising myself anything that I cannot or have no wish to do like quit smoking or drinking but here are some ‘dreams’ that I have for the coming 365 days.

  • To have a better year than the one just departed, though to be honest 2010 was a much better year than I ever expected it to be
  • Find somewhere bigger to live. I really do need a bigger flat or house, somewhere near the coast would be nice
  • Find permanent employment
  • Make some new friends. Since I moved to Norwich I’ve met a few people that I think will remain good friends, I’d just like to meet a few more.

Not much to ask for and I think the only one I will struggle with is the one about finding employment, after all it’s over two years since I last had a job and nothing looks to be changing in a hurry.

Have a peaceful 2011 and enjoy any party you might attend this evening

For You On Christmas Morn

Queen's Christmas tree at Windsor Castle 1848,...

Image via Wikipedia

I’d like to write something full of Christmas cheer
I’ve never tried to compose for this time of year.
I’d like it to be full of bells that jingle or ring
With kings and queens or lords all a prancing.
Thing is such words appear so often in rhyme
To use them again appears to be such a crime.
Yet still I want magical sparkles, trees and light
To give you, dear reader, candles burning bright.
Instead I offer these simple words from Yuletide
Hoping that family and peace be at your side.

©2010 Trevor Litchfield
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”For You On Christmas Morn” by Trevor Litchfield is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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The Day Santa’s Elves Nearly Went On Strike!

santa's elves

Image by namealus via Flickr

“Get Bushy Evergreen down from his office! I want this sorted now!” cried Bjugnakraekir

Alabaster Snowball, administrator of the naughty and nice list was passing by the toy production warehouse and could see that everything had come to a halt. Head in hands he entered through the door into the melee within. All the senior elves had heard the rumour that one of the elves was for the bullet but no one knew who yet.

“Ahhh Alabaster, you’ll do” said Bjugnakraekir as he spotted Alabaster Snowball enter the warehouse “What’s all this about Steingrimur getting laid off at the end of his shift?”

Although Bjugnakraekir had no authority among the elves he had the loudest voice and was the most militant of the elves, he always took notes and made sure his views were heard at every meeting Santa or any of the senior elves held. Now he had heard of a rumour that one elf was to be laid off. In truth he did not know which one, he had fears that it might be himself but by calling out poor old Steingrimur’s name, he was highlighting who was oldest among the factory elves.

“Come on Bjugnakraekir” said Alabaster “There’s no need for this now. It’s only two days to Christmas morning, all these toys need packing and wrapping ready for the big day.”

“I don’t care about that, all I care about is poor old Steingrimur”

“But who said it would be Steingrimur?” asked Alabaster

“It’s what I heard!”

Bushy Evergreen, inventor of the magic toy-making machine, entered the warehouse.

“Come on now” said Bushy “There’s no need for this, lets get at it people!”

All the other elves turned around and someone pushed the button to get the packaging line moving once again. All the other elves privately wishing that it would not be their name they overheard next.

“Should we tell ’em” Bushy looked to Alabaster for some help

“Tell who?” Bjugnakraekir still standing near the door, not bothering to get back to his position in the line

“Look Bjugnakraekir” said Bushy “We honestly don’t know which of us is going to see that letter at the time clock tonight.” Bushy looked Bjugnakraekir straight in the eyes “It could even be me!”

“Yeah right! As if Santa’s going to sack you, you’re the only one who knows how most of this stuff works!” Bjugnakraekir swept his hand vaguely around as if pointing to all the magical machinery in the warehouse whilst staring Bushy down.

Alabaster tugged on Bushy’s shirt sleeve

“We’re going to have to get this sorted, Santa should be sorting this out himself, let’s go and get him”

“I’m coming too!” said Bjugnakraekir

“No you’re not, you’ll stay here and calm all this down, after all you started it” said Bushy over his shoulder as he and Alabaster walked out of the warehouse.

“Look, all I know is that we can’t go on like this, we’ve had a bad year and you both know we got very little in the way of food left out last year. You guys know that’s how we do things here. I know it looks like I eat all the food and drink all the drinks left out for me but you guys know I bring it back here for everyone to use throughout the year.” Santa sat in his chair behind the big oak desk in his office, his arms folded over his large but slimmer than usual chest.

“What am I to do fella’s?”

The pair that escaped the warehouse now looked down on Santa.
“Look boss” said Bushy “Whoever you let go is going to make no difference unless we have a bumper haul this year, we’re down to nothing in the granaries you know!”

“And how will whoever you let go survive?” Alabaster joined in “They all have families to feed, who ever it is can’t do that if you lay him off, it’s hundreds of miles to the outside villages, they’d never make it!”

Santa sat in quiet contemplation, he hated this situation just as much as everyone else. Could they all tighten their belts further?

Minutes ticked by like years.

“OK lads, tell ’em no one is getting laid off. We’ll just have to tighten our belts another notch I guess.”

Alabaster and Bushy both sighed with relief, they could all hope for a decent collection this Christmas and they would all be happy to tighten their belts to keep their jobs, even Bjugnakraekir.

©2010Trevor Litchfield
Creative Commons Licence
”The Day Santa’s Elves Nearly Went On Strike!” by Trevor Litchfield is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://en.gravatar.com/sundowneruk.

Elf names taken from http://www.worldofchristmas.net/santa-claus/christmas-elves.html

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