Tuesday, 29 April 2008

The science of big noses

Another train journey to York, this time with a frustrating, if inconsequential delay.

I arrive at Newcastle station with just enough time to buy my cheap day return and then dash over the bridge to the platform.  On my left is due the 09:30 to London; on my right is the 09:35 to Plymouth.  I note that the 09:30 is due at 09:37, so decide not to wait for that one but turn right to catch the 09:35.  I climb on board, dump my bags in the quiet carriage and retire to the vestibule (when did this word come into use on the trains?) to call Dad and tell him when I'll arrive.

Returning to my seat the ever-so-lovely conductor told us that our train was being delayed: they were allowing the train on the adjoining platform through first!  Aargh!!  I could have caught that!  We were only minutes later, but still - how frustrating.

Dad managed to greet some poor lady alighting from a completely different train but who was wearing a T-shirt like the one I'd worn on Saturday.  Does he think I don't change?  If she's reading this: my apologies for an old man shouting at you and waving madly.  He's really very nice, not the weirdo you spent the rest of the day worrying about.

On the way home in Newcastle, a tall lady got onto the Metro and sat opposite me.  I was struck by her big nose first of all.  She also reminded me of someone ... and then I remembered it was a friend in Zambia.  Presumably she also has a big nose: she certainly is tall.  The mind drifted and I began to wonder whether height and nose size are related.  And how do you measure the size of a nose?  A good patrician hook has a large area in profile but may not extend as far a standard honker.  If you get a tape measure from the top end of your philtrum to the nose-tip, how do you know where nose and philtrum part company?  The extra millimetre either way could be vital.

She's probably another lady I need to apologise to...

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Family birthdays

First blog travels: a trip to York to celebrate my nephew's second birthday.  We missed his first by being in Africa but my sister decided he'd most like to spend the day with his cousins. Mother knows best and - judging by No1 child's desire to sit next to him in Pizza Express - she was probably right.

It turns out that the first 10 minutes are spent distributing presents.  My father brought presents for his grandchildren whilst on holiday in Ireland a couple of weeks ago.  My sister brought some Turkish Delight back from a holiday in Crete (I thought the Greek/Turkish relationship was acrimonious: clearly not when it comes to sweets).  I distributed gifts for my father (birthday coming up), my nephew (principal guest of honour!) and my brother-in-law (birthday last week).  I was rather shocked to be given presents myself.  My birthday last weekend had been singularly uneventful, overwhelmed by loads of washing after a week's holiday and a five-year-old's birthday party, so I'd completely forgotten that my family might remember.  

No2 child managed to knock an entire glass of Fanta onto the floor, shattering into a million pieces. It's always her! She has an innate capacity to be a bit clumsy, falling, knocking things over.  Then she looks both horrified and so cute that we all melt and forgive her. Again. Broad grin returns and she's back to her bubbly self and quite prone to repeating the experience.

Still, birthdays mean the book collection is growing.  I now have a tale of murder in Florence, a book about how to write a book, a book about miracles of faith and another about how to be a praying wife.  So I'm reading Nigel Slater's "Toast" and vicariously reliving bits of my childhood.

Travels were totally uneventful.  We did end the day with an hour in the National Railway Museum.  Complete heaven for No1 child.  He walked into the Great Hall and said 'Wow!' as he was faced with dozens of huge steam trains.  We wandered around, marvelling at these extraordinary machines ... then tried to dodge the gift shop, where he found more ways for me to drift towards poverty.  "We're travelling by train," I try to pacify him with.  I ought to know better.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

A starter for 10

A final act of sadness as I fall into the trap of blogging.  A way to expose myself, my family and friends to the rest of the world.  A way to entertain others with my tales of travel and - almost inevitably related - woe.

I've finally ended up in Newcastle.  I say finally, but of course nothing is final when married to an ambitious employee of the NHS, who wants to return to Africa.  He is the love of my life, and I do appreciate that children of the world need to be healed, but sometimes it would be nice to see him at home with his own (completely healthy) offspring.

Consequently 'wanders' are many.  Job postings are short-term.  Family are scattered, friends even more so.  So the blog covers wanders and wonderings.  Just how exciting can we get?

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