Spring Notes


As though in the blink of an eye, winter out here has somehow slipped away, the halcyon days of pleasant twenty-five degree mid-day weather and leisurely late evening walks replaced by mid day temperatures in the low thirties. Whilst not truly hot enough to be unpleasant yet, the days leave one with a sense of borrowed time, a fleeting, finite block of time to be enjoyed before harsh reality hits. To make the most of it, and prepare myself for the long slog ahead, I pack the lightest bag I have and catch a flight back to London. Heathrow seems the same way it has always been – functional, frenetic, and increasingly arranged around minimising human contact. Trying to get cash from the ATMs for my taxi raises the spectre of having to pay a withdrawal fee for my UK debit card. A rude shock, and a first for me, if my memory serves me right. A mix-up with the telephone number they have on file for me means we spend the better part of twenty minutes trying to find each other, the blasts of cold, wet air a reminder of the stark difference between here and there. Several phone calls to the taxi company later, he gets my correct number and we find ourselves for the twenty minute ride home via the M25.


Taxi rides for me have always been one of the understated delights of travel. They are simple: two or more people, stuck in a man-made machine and beholden to each other by a transaction for a finite amount of time, have to make small talk, unencumbered by the weight of knowing and being known. Invariably, the driver is an immigrant or visible minority of some sort, which being what I am tends to create a certain element of shared experience. This trip, I get someone of Pakistani extraction who, when he finds out where I am coming from, proceeds to regale me with stories of a year he spent there working. He rode a taxi there too, his days spent ferrying military contractors to and fro airports, bound for Iraq in the days of the surge. I learn he has a daughter who is studying to be a Chemical Engineer, a wife who spends too much on henna and that he is planning to take his son and father on the Umrah next year. For my part, I nod sagely at the daughter who is studying to be an Engineer – I am after all that guy who thinks STEM is everything to an extent – and smile uneasily at the complaint about the wife. I suspect that in any other setting, this is not information that would be shared but being almost perfect strangers bound together for a brief moment, white lies and unverifiable anecdotes help pass the time.


The cul-de-sac on the banks of the Wey has changed quite a bit since I was last here. The houses which lay empty along the way now have occupants; a lady with a strong Geordie accent and her Swedish beau – both ex Airline folks, a Ghanaian couple two houses down and a Hong Kong repat amongst others stand out. The days are spent taking in what little sunshine peeks out from behind the clouds as I take leisurely walk along the Wey with podcasts for company, ferry L to and from nursery and catch up on sleep and TV when I get the chance. As with all days spent chilling they pass all too quickly. All too soon I find myself in a taxi speeding back to the airport and the onward journey of return. On the other side of the trip, Ramadan starts, and with that an extra hour of work without trips to the coffee stand to break the monotony.




Image Source, For The Sunday Muse Prompt #46.

Petal by petal,
life returns to this frigid vista
each one a delicate splash of
colour against a canvas,
bringing life, the way blood
revivifies a face
just in from the cold.
From things once dead,
life springs again, reborn.

Springing… Bloom

Bang on time for the start of spring, the trees behind my house have sprouted flowers; a welcome change from the bare, gaunt visage which has greeted my eyes over the last few months. In its place is a splash of colour – bright pink – which is always welcome in our neck of the woods, known more for the ubiquity of grey granite and grey weather than anything else.

New lights at work also speak to this season of change, the new brightness being so disconcerting that for the first few seconds I thought I had come off on the wrong floor. Speaking to the Facilities folks suggests these may be SAD lights, a bit late in the day given the changing of the season, but welcome nonetheless. It feels like this will take a while to get used to, fingers crossed.

Times, seasons, the fleeting nature of life and the speed with which the year has sped by so far are all things which stumbling on trees in bloom force me to reflect on; particularly because in a few days time I will have spent six years working in the same building.

Settled, or in a rut? The jury is still out on that I suspect.


About town – Bunnies, Movies and perfecting the art of vanishing

In retrospect, it was the best weekend to have been away from work – but I didn’t know that three weeks ago when on a whim I decided I needed an extended break. It just so happened that Thursday morning, which was my last work day of the week, brought with it the slight irritation of an unwelcome work event that needed a response. That event ended up spawning a response that had burgeoned into a full-fledged emergency of sorts – complete with the mindless, headless running around centred on being visible and being seen to be doing stuff, however pointless – by midmorning on Friday, by which time I was sauntering casually down Links Road, up the beach Esplanade and then unto the Boulevard with the sun on my back, tempered by a cool breeze from the sea and the barely perceptible sound of the waves lapping the shoreline, the sound track to what was a very leisurely stroll.

The feeling was one of peace, of uninterrupted solitude and of at-oneness with nature, a feeling heightened by the rabbits scurrying about in the grass and the birds chirping merrily away. The plan was to amble on in a loop, back up Links road and then homewards, to my 2015 FM2013 AC Milan save, where as the precociously talented AJ McSedge, I was on the fast track to league, cup and champions league double number 3. Finding myself at Cineworld for a breather, with ads for the opening day of Iron Man 3 bang in my face, I made up my mind quickly and decided a pit stop was a no-brainer.

There were only three other people in the queue for tickets, served by just one attendant. Two of them – a pox upon them – had that love lust ravaged look of horny teenagers, seemingly less able to walk straight than keep their hands off each other in what was a very public place at the most unreasonable hour of 11am. The other person, a tall, fairly muscular bloke had on a jacket with splotches of what looked like carpet glue, my best guess being that he was a joiner or handy man of sorts looking to use some downtime to catch Iron Man 3.

It turned out three other people had already settled into their seats in the cinema for a grand total of seven. I found my way to the topmost row, slouched in my assigned chair and proceeded to slowly whittle down my pile of nachos alternated with sips of coke as the endless parade of trailers and ads rolled by before it was time for the movie. Iron Man was ok, the movie that is, when I could focus on watching it without the distraction of mumbling from the two lovebirds who ended up sat within a few feet of me.

In the end, I tacked on lunch at TGI Fridays, copping a seat with a view looking out to the now less sunny, but still miraculously dry, beach front, surrounded by scores of people doing lunch in pairs and threes with my steak, chicken and shrimp combo and an appletizer for company. My leisurely stroll continued after that hearty lunch, completing the loop I’d terminated at Cineworld.

It was nearly 5pm by the time I finally allowed myself to log back in to work email, ostensibly to assure myself nothing life threatening had happened. There were the usual back and forth, pointless work emails.. And one particularly snide one from my verbal sparring partner, sarcastically applauding me for perfecting the art of vanishing…

A big pox upon him!

Spring’s sprung…


Out here, spring is very much upon us at last. Across the land there is an almost sudden profusion of colour; purples, yellows, blues, reds and whites suddenly dot the landscape where a dull, depressing green was standard fare a scant few weeks ago. Standing in front of the door to my modest lodgings, flowers are all I see when I look up the road. Those who should know say the unseasonably warm weather beguiled the flowers into blooming early. The upside to it all is that my otherwise bland commute is now transformed into a celebration of colour, colour not restricted to flowers but extending to women. The warmth and the sunshine mean that around town the hemlines and necklines are coming together quickly, and a lot more skin is visible.

At work, I have been handed a new role – one that has seen me move from my position as team-member-at-large, loaning my expertise to whatever cause earns the company the most money, to one that put me back in an Operations support capacity. My slight disappointment in being saddled with the mundane tasks that come with the new role is tempered by the fact that I get a new office bang in the centre of town. The train station and what is ostensibly the biggest single mall in town are right next door – so much so that if I really fancied some Nigerian food I could, with a little effort, get it.

In the midst of work, and the many other things on my mind, I do try to maximise the sunshine while it lasts. Lunch typically is a snack alongside something to drink whilst sitting on one of the benches laid out in a horseshoe formation in front of the mall. I bask in the sun, my iPod streaming music into my ears, whilst I watch the city go by. Women dragging little children by the arm whilst clutching bags of shopping, men in suits and ties catching trains, young boys hanging around smoking, and the odd OAP who like me appears content to bask in the sunshine and ruminate.

Something about watching the crowds mill around is vaguely reassuring to me. Perhaps we are all alone, but not alone after all

Turning Point..

Following on from the increasingly earlier start to first light, the fading of the rains and a strengthening sun, I had my first day this year of sleeping without heating. Spring truly is here then I guess….