Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Travel marvels

Kath, Anto and Rhiannon drove Rachel and Jasmine to Birmingham International Airport for the first leg of her home run to Phoenix at five this morning. Their car journey continued south to Portsmouth for a ferry to Bilbao. From there they'll drive to Toledo on their way to Sta Pola for a well deserved three weeks holiday. The cost of the trip for the three of them is roughly equivalent to three peak time airfares plus holiday car hire, and gives them the advantage of enjoying stopovers in new Spanish cities each trip. We benefit from their photographs and visitor reports. Owain is off to Berlin to catch up with friends and colleagues there this coming weekend. No doubt we catch him up on Instagram.

While we were having breakfast, a team of scaffolders arrived to erect a structure in our and next door's garden to make access possible for work on the shared chimney stack at the end of the rear extension to adjoining houses. A few months ago we agreed with Sarah next door that it was time to demolish the chimney stack and re-make the roof gable end, as neither house has used the fireplaces since central heating was introduced, probably in the sixties. In addition, the stack is badly in need of pointing and may indeed be structurally unsafe, since it's letting the damp into both houses. It took the team just an hour and a half to complete the job. Demolition starts tomorrow.

In the afternoon I took Clare to the Heath Hospital to visit her opthalmology consultant. We were there a good two hours, with various tests, and discussions. Mr Rajkumar gave us lots of time for discussion of the findings. He's booked Clare in for two more surgical procedures to mitigate the impact of her glaucoma condition this autumn, unfortunately, I am booked to be away in Spain on duty at this time, but we don't yet know the dates. Once we do there are some plans to be made.

Around six we had a message from Rachel to say that she'd landed at Newark New Jersey, and was waiting for her connecting flight to Phoenix, expected to be an hour late. Just before bed, another message to say she was home, altogether about eighteen hours of travel, and she has to work tomorrow. Kath, Anto and Rhiannon land in Bilbao at breakfast time tomorrow after a good meal and a night's sleep on board. Their sea journey is less than a sixth of Rachel and Jasmine's. Amazing to consider how many weeks an ocean voyage and a rail journey across America would have taken a century ago. How quickly the human race has adapted socially, economically and politically to such mobility, and what extraordinary changes for better and for worse have come about as a result.

There are ten thousand Olympic athletes in Rio to compete at the moment. What an amazing feat of international logistics and co-operation to get them all there. The news is dominated by Olympic events right now. I am trying not to get sucked into spectatorship as the commentariat excels in endless trivia, sound bytes and snippets of heroic stories, not to mention statistics of every kind. This drains sport of any sustainable interest as far as I'm concerned. There's nothing much else worth watching on telly. It's a matter of hanging on until broadcast schedules normalise again.

I spent a couple of hours this evening digitising some of Clare's collection of old Colvill family photos. Her brother Eddie inherited them, but had not completed the job of digitising them before he died. Many are in quite good condition, dating back to the 1890s. Some are of Clare's father Francis, when he was a young marine engineer, working in the North East of England. He was nearly sixty when she was born. As a young merchant sailor he spent time ashore in Cardiff, and attended the farewell dinner given for Scott of the Antarctic at the Great Western Hotel, St Mary Street in Cardiff in June 1910 before he set sail on his ill-fated expedition in the Terra Nova. A couple of the photos show him in his dress uniform. This collection offers a tantalising window into the past, worth further research.

No comments:

Post a Comment