Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Pacific Fauna

Ok. I've seen a white skunk thing. Frigate birds. Brown Pelicans. Mahoosive butterflies. Clown fish. Puffer fish. Iguanas. Buzzards. Vultures. Big bugger wasps. Fish that looked like Angel fish. Big arse crabs. A bird that looked very much like road runner. Ants that'll have your leg off. And tomorrow, hopefully humming birds. All in the wild. Not to mention the crocodiles, ostriches, deer and monkeys in the hotel zoo.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Jet Lag

Here I lie in the dark. Wide awake at 5am. The dreaded jet lag. It's 11am in real money and my body insists I should be up and about, completely refusing to sleep. But it's still nighttime. Full dark, with no signs of the sky starting to lighten any time soon. I went out onto the balcony and looked over the trees outside. There was a rustling sound, and I could see below me a whitish creature with a bushy tail that reminded me of a skunk.

We're in Nayarit, Mexico at the Grand Palladium Vallarta. It's beautiful. Our room's not quite what we expected, far more basic than the suite I thought we'd ordered, but we'll sort that out later this morning.

It's all inclusive, something we've never done before. But I'm liking it. You ask for a drink and you get it, with no charge, anytime. We ate at the Viva Mexico restaurant last night. The food was just what we needed after a very long day. We'd been up since 5am and it was 9pm Mexico time.

It's still dark. It's still early. Let's see if I can get 40 winks.

Monday, 8 July 2013


I haven't been posting stuff recently, but I really must post about our intense festival weekend at Beat-Herder. It's a dance music event hosted annually in some fields just off the A59 in Sawley.

This year, there was more than just dance music. There was reggae music, folk music, electronica, comedy and performance art. The wild swimmers were asked to perform as the latter.

We got free tickets to the event and 3 of us (including me) had backstage passes! We camped in the crew camping area and parked in specially reserved crew lots.

Our side of the bargain was to put on interactive shows throughout the festival. On Friday we put on the outdoor sink-ro-nised swim. On Saturday morning some of us were a four person Victorian carnival. Cherie and I left to go to Gareth's wedding and the rest of them took the bathing machine out for a spin. The day after was Sepia Sunday and we all dressed as Victorians with sepia coloured clothes and props. We put on short silent movie style vignettes at various spots throughout the festival site and then invited the festival goers to take a photo with us.

The whole thing was quite mad with very little time to watch any of the acts.

We all really enjoyed it.

And I think Beat-Herder enjoyed us.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

I did it!

Oh my goodness, have I got a lot to tell you!

I haven't even had chance to blog.

I did the Great North Swim last Saturday in a time of one hour one minute. But I did it.

I did get cramp in both legs and ended up swimming unnecessarily far because the wind/current meant I swam in a sawtooth instead of a straight line. But it was an incredible feeling!

We had a huge party afterwards.

I've collected almost all of the sponsorship money. That's about £150 now.

Last night we took Nat and William to look around the Altham mill and we're going back there tonight for a sauna party.

Sound be good.

Sunday, 9 June 2013


We're at Nancy's in London this weekend. Its great to see them both.

We went to an exhibition of butterflies today. Actual real-life, fluttering colourful ones. Cherie was so entranced she was almost in tears of emotion.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Nina, Aiden and Gracie bear came for tea today. It was really nice. I made a shepherdless pie and Nina brought strawberries and cream.

I bought a new shirt and some after shave.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Bats and Gongs

It's been a wonderful day. It's mine and Cherie's 8th wedding anniversary. I made her a card with a poem inside and gave her the gift of a gong bath. She gave me a bat detector.

This morning, we both woke and did Gongyo. We both took the dog for a walk and I picked up a parcel from the post office for Cherie. I then packed a bag and went to Gaddings dam with my sister. The water was quite warm today (14.5C) and we both did 1.2 miles. Alyson came too and did her first outdoor mile. We had a quick picnic (a kwik-nic) and came home.

I ate soon more of the picnic in the sun and then showered and got changed ready to take Cherie out for a meal. We went back to Todmorden to the Top Brink pub and had some grub. The parcel I'd picked up earlier turned out to be my present which was a bat detector. We came home, Cherie put on her wedding dress and we listened to the clicks of the pippistrels.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Good news, and not so good news

Cherie and I have been falling out again. Over the last couple of weeks. Hence no blog.

It makes me sad that it happened, but happy to make new beginnings.

And Maya and Nancy have had some bad times down in London.

That's the "not so good news".

Good news is I swam a mile in open water at Gaddings Dam.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Life Drawing

Cherie and I have been drawing each other this evening. Cherie did an excellent action pose of me and  then a close up of my face.

I drew one of her lying down and, would you Adam and Eve it, it was really good!

I never would have expected that it would turn out that well. Not a patch on Cherie's work, but still. It was my first time.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


Well it's a Tuesday. I've not really been feeling normal strong Ashley self recently. I've been a bit weedy. And I have no idea why.

I've not been blogging regularly for one. I have been chanting though, and it's helping. I just imagine what I would've been like if I hadn't been!

I've kept up writing my book. I've been picking up bits from all over the place and putting them in the computer to put into order sometime in the future. 

And I need to sort the writing group which seems a bit vague right now. I'll book the room tonight.

I've been doing well at swimming recently too. In fact I've found it great fun. I never expected that. Cherie wants to sign up for a run now. She's found a fun 5k one with obstacles! It sounds brilliant. I'll sign up for that too! Sounds like a larf.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Gaddings Dam

We did our first open water swimming practice today at Gaddings Dam. It was 9C. It felt very very cold. Feet and hands suffered.

I did quite well. A lot of endurance but not much speed. 

I also made a complete ass of myself by being very grumpy at Cherie for no reason. I can be such a dick sometimes.

Friday, 10 May 2013


Going out for a curry tonight with the guys to Shahi Qila. Dave and Bry and Andy will be there.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Writing Course - Week 4

The working week has started again, but it's a short one because of the bank holiday.

It was such a wonderful day and the rest of the week is just dull by comparison. We went for a wild swimming picnic on the bank of the Hodder, North of Cromwell's Bridge. It was a very warm day indeed.

The air was warm. The water was, well, not so much.

It was a real shame that Cherie had to work. I missed her.

It was the writing course last night. I'm still at it. I'm now the last.

I've started getting arrangements together for a creative writing group at the Civic called PenPals. It's going to be awesome.

Please, please come.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Bandy Legs and Flowing Fiction

It's been a slow day today. That's good.

In fact, it's been great. I managed to write loads. I got in the zone and it started to flow. I started writing in Costa Coffee again. Whilst there I ran into Stephen Murphy. He's interested in coming to my new writing group that starts in June. PenPals it's called.

The writing started off slowly. It was like trying to ride a rusty bicycle. The more I wrote, the easier it became. The wheels turned more easily as the rust rubbed off. By the end, I had written 3 scenes which form about a third of a chapter. What I'm really pleased about is that I ended with something that I'd known would be a challenge, dialog.

It's extremely difficult to portray a character's traits through their words in such a way as the dialog gives the impression of two or more intelligent independent beings each with their own points of view, perspective, preconceptions, motives and ideas. I wrote a scene which involved dialog and read it back time after time. I think I pulled it off. I even managed to get the flow of time to feel right as well as the reactions of the characters and the timing of the actual dialog.

I was quite impressed.

Not bad for a day recovering. Recovering from last nights debauchery at the Inn on the Wharf in Burnley watching Emmot and the Folkestra with the swimmers.

Whilst there, I ran into David Allen and Andy Cole.

How awesome is that! It was such a terrific night. As usual, the AWS bandy legged dance troupe served as model dancers to be copied by the other mad folk on the floor. Yes, that's right, we set the trend and the rest followed.

There were more bandy legs than you can shake a stick at.

Friday, 3 May 2013

A Vision

Cherie and I have started waking up early so we can get an hour of chanting in before work. So far, so good. We've been doing it since Monday.

Kerry invited us to chant today for Soka Gakkai day. We did.

But my head wasn't in it for some reason. I've been ridiculously tired recently and it's been a bit restricting. I've missed BookFace conversations. I've missed watching TV with Cherie, I've missed a lot of things.

Because I've been too tired. I've been going to bed early.

But this morning's chant was worse. I also felt really negative and small. Insignificant.

I need to sort that out.

But whilst chanting, I had a vision. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a religious visitation or some future prophecy. The world around me didn't change into some otherworldly experience.

No, this was to do with a story I'm writing. I had a vision of a place. A setting where part of the story unfolds. A very rich and vivid world filled with jaw dropping wonders. A dangerous but beautiful place thronging with colourful characters going about their daily business. A city where all things come together.

And that's where I went whilst chanting. I walked its streets. Looked up at its starry sky. Smelled the fragrant air full of exotic spices and engine oil. Peered through the windows of the banks, the inns and the auction houses teeming with customers. Listened to shouts of joy, cries of pain and whispers of conspiracy.

I can't wait to get it down on paper.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Hot Thursday

It's Thursday. The sun is seriously out.

I'm waiting for Cherie outside the doctor's surgery. In the car. Roof down.

And it's warm,

At times like these I realise how much I crave the sun.

Maybe I'm photosynthesising.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Writing Course - Week 3

Wow. Down to one person this week.

Just lil'ol me.

I did the homework. But only just.

After such a busy week I really struggled to fit it in. I'd left it too late. I'll do the next assignment as soon as I can to avoid that happening again.

Monday came around and I had to be up early, go to work, take William to the dentist, shop for the big Buddhist meeting (with help from Nat), prepare for the meeting (with help from Cherie), take Nat and his gear to a band practice and then host the meeting.

So no time for writing then? Well, I vomited the words onto a blank page in the twenty minutes it took William to have his dental checkup. People must have thought I was a very odd character sitting in the waiting room frantically tapping at my iPad screen.

Click Click Clickety Click.

I tidied the text up after work today on the iMac. I added a title and a subtitle, broke the text into sections with headings and stuck in a few rapid screenshots.

I felt very guilty at not giving it my best.

I gave it to Mr Steve the Writer and he read it. I'd already apologised for my lack of effort.

But I think it was alright. He gave me the next assignment and said I'd got the narrative style of the magazine off to a tee.

I smiled. Had I achieved the chatty style on purpose or had it just emerged from the rushed approach?

Either way I came out pleased with myself.

I have taken the course tutor's email address and I must send him something. That way he gets my email address and can send me the homework in an electronic form. I'll then forward that to Sam, Kaye and Caroline.

I know at least one of them has dropped out already, but I didn't let on to Steve. I'll forward the stuff and they can do with it what they like.

Another thing, Kaye sent me a message about getting involved with a creative writing group. I need to make that happen.

Looks like PenPals will become a thing.

Big Buddhist Meeting

That's not a meeting for big Buddhists. So please stop imagining a room full of flabby bald smiling folk sitting in the lotus position.

Have you erased said picture from your mind? Sure? Not even a single bloater rolling around in there?


It was a men's meeting, HQ level. A meeting for any SGI men from Lakes and Lancs. there were eleven of us, which is a pretty amazing turnout.

I made pizza. Lots of pizza. And biscuits.

A bit too much really. It wasn't all consumed. I took the rest into work today. The gannets devoured all the leftovers in minutes.

The meeting was vibrant but challenging. One of the guys described it as 'a significant meeting'.

It was fairly heavy, content-wise, and it made me feel a bit, well, inadequate. I'm supposed to be a district leader. I need to do better. After an hour of chanting this morning I realised that I had been leading and that wanting to do better is a vital ingredient in human revolution.

So, win-win then.

We made a unanimous decision to hold HQ level men's division meetings every other month. What a result!

There were also people there who shared the view I had when I started the practice. Why do we have separate men's and women's divisions in the first place. I suppose I'd got so used to having the men's meeting each month I'd lost track of that particular question.

It was worth it. Thanks to everybody who made it their mission to come. Shame John couldn't make it.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Preston Station

Waiting. At Preston station.

Waiting for my love. She's been in London.

Not that far. But it seems further.

When we're apart.

Won't be long and she'll be back. And then we'll be together.

Wow, that just came out. 2 minutes. No rewrites. Almost poetic.


Tested out my wetsuit today. Impressed by how warm and buoyant it is. Lots more wild swimming in the future I think.

Fun day

Hey blog buddies! Wow, been a fun day. A long day.

Got a wetsuit. Literally the last one in the shop. The guy said it had been an incredible day - they'd sold practically all of their Orca wetsuits today. They only had this one left because someone had tried it and ended up upgrading to a top of the range one. It fits well. It's actually a size bigger than the one I tried before. The shop guy saw me and said I'd be better with that size anyway.

It is miles easier to get on and off than the other was. And still really snug.

Spent this evening watching Dr Who and Breaking Bad and describing the plot for my story to William.

I don't hate my story half as much now. In fact, I impressed myself. I think its time to start the actual writing.

Going to try my wetsuit tomorrow at Brungerley Bridge.

See you there.