So Many Contrasts

Upton Country ParkYesterday and today could not have been much more different if they had tried. Yesterday I spent most of the day encouraging, cajoling and a couple of times, pushing someone to conquer a task that in actual fact, was way outside their comfort zone, namely cycling the fifty odd kilometres from Poole to Weymouth. That involved a great deal of talking, as you might expect.

Today, I have spent the whole day alone, apart from one chance encounter this evening as I got back from a short training ride to Upton Country Park and back. So I haven’t spoken to anyone, I haven’t spent hours in the saddle and I haven’t had the opportunity to help anyone, in any way, achieve anything.

Yesterday, the cycling, although much longer than my ride tonight, was very gentle, even over a couple of quite challenging hills. Today, the course was short and pretty flat, but the effort put in was aggressive and the effect on my increasing fitness was considerable compared to yesterday. I didn’t see any of the scenery today, whereas yesterday, there was time to stop and admire.

Life is a series of contrasting situations. Being able to adapt to the changing circumstances is the trick to taking the most out of each and every day. Contrast is good, being able to focus on the benefits it brings is a skill worth acquiring.

Contrasting Joys

The Water Road - A Complete ContrastYesterday was pretty manic. Up at 7:00, after staying up till after 2:00 watching Comic Relief, and well done to those guys, over £75m raised so far. Then driving to Bristol in rain that even Noah would have commented upon. Spray, floods, hold-ups for broken down vehicles, a real relief when I pulled up on Charlotte and Rob’s driveway.

It never ceases to amaze me, the contrast between the relative calm of the car, to the total hubbub of a house full of three energetic and boisterous young lads. There’s no such thing as peace and quiet, squeals of delight mix seamlessly with the bings, bongs, plinks and plonks of Sonic on the Wii, hectic doesn’t even cover it.

After a welcome cup of coffee, one example of pandemonium gets swapped for another as Charlotte and I go off to do some shopping at the biggest Sainsbury’s I have ever seen. Despite the cathedral-like cavernous interior of the store, there wasn’t a spare inch of room. Weaving around the assembled throng with the ever filling trolley, was reminiscent of the video game the boys were playing earlier.

Back home, and with everyone fed and watered, Rob and Jake went off to the football, while Charlotte, Zach, Oliver and I went over to Hannah’s. Lots more chatting, rugby on the telly and the two three year old cousins playing away, filled the house with life and yet more noise.

Then as the rain finally stops, my brother arrives with my Mom, having driven through similar weather, all the way from Sutton Coldfield. My Mom is surrounded by doting granddaughters and great grandsons, and it is clear that she is delighted to see them all again.

Before we get chance to see the dying knockings of the Wales v England rugby match, delivering some respite from the disappointment the score line was causing, it is time to head off for dinner at a local Beefeater. The rain has resumed and although there is a huge car park, we all get another dousing getting from the car to the restaurant.

The evening flies by, the food is good and the company better, but by 9:30 it is time to start thinking of wending our way home. In fact, Charlotte, Rob and the boys had bailed a little while earlier, the batteries of the younger members going flat before thy could make it to the sweet course. The drive home was dark, damp but uneventful.

What a contrast with today. Getting back last night, I was greeted by a parcel in the doorway, left by Ms Post Lady while I was out. It was the books about single handed boating that I had ordered earlier in the week. Although tempted, I had left opening the parcel till the morning.

I slept until after 10:00, but the lure of that parcel was enough to get me out of bed as soon as I woke. Not that I stayed out for long. Having unpacked and closely examined the contents, I made a large mug of coffee and dived back under the still warm duvet and started reading the largest of the books.

The Water Road by Paul Gogarty, is the account of his four month odyssey travelling around the maze of canals linking four of Britain’s greatest rivers, namely the Thames, Servern, Mersey and Trent. As you might expect from an acclaimed travel writer and former TV presenter, the narrative is beautifully descriptive and impossible to put down.

So, from the constant contact with the family yesterday, the conversation and physical contact, I have had the exact opposite today. I’ve spent the day all on my own, not even a phone call to break the isolation. The contrast is amazing, but I have to say that each has its joys. I love my family and spending time with them, but I am perfectly happy being alone. I guess it’s all a question of seeing the best of all situations.


Hamworthy SunsetThe beautiful weather continues, and it’s brought all the tourists down to Dorset this weekend. Hamworthy Park was heaving in the sunshine today, families having picnics on the grass, children making sandcastles on the beach and paddling in the sea, and everyone having fun.

Seeing all these people, and the shouting and laughter, is a big contrast from the quiet of The Quay. I currently spend a lot of time on my own, and although I’m fine with that, I do find it very different from when I go into town or out when there are a lot of people about.

It’s been so warm here today, and although I’ve had all the doors and windows open, it was stifling this evening. So as the sun was setting, and the temperature dropping, I decided to go out for a stroll, in an attempt to cool down a little. There were still a few people about. A couple of guys out for an evening bike ride and a family walking their dog, but it was much quieter than it had been earlier.

By the time I got to the park I was almost alone, the hoards had gone and because there was little or no wind, the waves were lapping gently on the deserted beach. Looking out towards Studland, there was a beautiful crescent moon rising into a soft sunset. The contrast between the backlit jetty and the peach coloured sky was stunning. So I took a photo and that’s the image at the top of this post.

If you like it as much as I do, you can click on it and download the full size image. It’s big enough to use it as a desktop if you want. I hope it conveys the tranquillity of the scene and that some of that transfers itself into your life.

A World Of Contrasts

Torrential RainIf life was a continuous straight, even path, no highs, no lows, it would be very easy, but very boring. Today has been a day of wonderful weather contrasts, beautiful warm sunshine and massive torrential ran showers, both amazing in their own way.

This morning the rain came down like stair rods, the raindrops bouncing off the balcony and it was so heavy, it flooded the gutters and dumped all the lichens from the roof all over the terracotta tiles. The clouds were so thick that it looked like late evening, even though it was still late morning.

There’s a special feeling to the air after such a shower, there’s a little nip, caused by the rain having come from such an altitude, but there is also a wonderful clean smell about the place. Because the clouds were heavy, but separated by bands of blue sky, the contrasts were even more apparent. Literally pouring one minute and blazing hot midday sun the next.

Beautiful SunshineLooking to the west, I could see a nice break in the clouds, so decided to take the chance to walk into Poole. Strolling up to the lifting bridge, I was feeling quite smug about the fact that I had beaten the next shower. But pride comes before a fall, and the bridge was raised. In the ten minutes it took for the yachts and motor launches to pass, and the bridge to lower again, the heavens opened.

I managed to duck into shop doorways and under arches as I made my way into town, but it was getting heavier and heavier. So I admit I decided to pop in to see my friend Gemma at Waterside Properties, on the pretext that I wanted to discuss something about the apartment, but she knew why I was there, I was rumbled.

We chatted for a quarter of an hour, but when the rain stopped she booted me out and went back to work. I must have looked a little out of place walking up the high street in shorts, T shirt and flip flops, when everyone else was sporting umbrellas, cagoules and other various forms of rainwear, but by now the sun was blazing down again.

Having done my predetermined mini shop, I walked all the way back to the quay in bright sunshine. There was a bank of black cloud looming on the horizon, but I made home with ten minutes to spare before the next deluge.

So a day of contrasts, amazing by the speed of the changes, and a day made all the more interesting by those contrasts. It could have been annoying to have a rain filled day off, but by living in the moment and accepting these contrasts, life is all the more exciting.

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