taking its toll

I seldom write about things in the news, but seeing that the Severn Bridge tolls are to cease tomorrow, it seems a good opportunity to get out a whole collection of photographs I’ve taken of the River over the last few years.

I used to travel back and forth between London and South Wales fairly regularly by road and was very familiar with the queues at the toll booths on the old bridge. Then there was a period when I travelled from Bristol airport late at night and, again, I’d have gone over the old bridge.
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lighter, whiter, brighter

the sun flowers
and sheds its petalled light
into the corners
of our unswept lives

I said this morning that yesterday was grey, with little to recommend it. Today has not been much better, although I suppose it must be slightly brighter and less grey, if only because it has been a day of domesticity: I have been washing and ironing, sweeping and dusting, scrubbing, mopping and polishing.
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mostly grey

Yesterday was a grey day with little to recommend it and little in the way of colour or words worth repeating.

Here, then, are some bright fuchsia blooms to start today; perhaps there will be equally bright thoughts and words later.

fuchsia

train of thought

Trains were a major feature of my childhood. I don’t know how many times I’d actually been on a train before my first birthday, but I do know that I had already travelled from the south east of England all the way to the Highlands, a journey that, even today, would be likely to take the best part of a day.

Even when we returned to live in the south a few years later we didn’t own a car so my father commuted to London by train and underground each day, and any holiday we took tended to feature traditional black cabs and card games played in waiting rooms at railway junctions.
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ordinary days

My mother mentioned that yesterday was St Andrew’s Day, adding that this meant that there would be no more “special days” until Christmas.

Well, I may have been brought up a Protestant, but I lived in Spain long enough to know that that couldn’t be right: every day seems to be the feast day of a dozen or more saints in the Catholic calendar, so I headed off to Google to find out more about St Andrew, as well as what other dates may be coming up that I should pay attention to.
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in the dark

It’s said that glossophobia – the fear of speaking in public – is high up among the most common fears, so I’m slightly surprised that it’s not something that has ever particularly bothered me.

Perhaps I read the lesson in church as a child or at the school carol service often enough for it to cease to be really frightening, although that raises the question of why, as a very timid small child, I was willing to volunteer to read – especially as I remember on at least one occasion having to stand up to a terrifying schoolmaster in order to be allowed to audition for the carol service: he thought I would never make myself heard – though I proved him wrong.
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worrying about stress

Some time ago I read one of those ‘motivational quotes’ to the effect that you shouldn’t laugh at someone who pronounces a word wrongly, as the chances are it means they learned it through reading, rather than hearing it spoken, and no one should be mocked for trying to better themselves.

It’s true that I am still likely to laugh when I hear an American say someone made a “fox paw” when they mean a faux pas but, essentially, I think there is a lot of truth in the sentiment.
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