Chilly hike in a brisk north wind out from Preston Park, Brighton to Great Wood in the South Downs National Park. It’s a privilege to wander amongst the many big old trees in Great Wood; they’re mostly beech and many have to be more than a century old.
Ratcliffe on Soar coal-fired power station in the Trent Valley was new and modern when I was studying at Nottingham University in the 1970s. It was a major landmark from both the Real Ale pub at Trentlock (where the Erewash Canal meets the River Trent) or when I used to cycle south of the Trent.
Back then, Ratcliffe generated electricity at a relatively low price so it was almost always running and so pushing out clouds from its eight cooling towers, even in summer. I remember being impressed at the huge plume of steam from the cooling towers, indicative of the tremendous amount of electrical energy that was being generated.
We did a visit as part of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree course, the engineers at Ratcliffe showed us the (then) state of the art and efficient coal-handling and generating technologies. We would think differently now that coal has been unmasked as a major contributor to climate change.
Sunday stroll through Fulham, Putney and Wimbledon. But it is hard not to see just my lockdown routes in this area close to home. We all did them, these permitted daily exercise walks, desperate to escape the four walls that we call “home” but also anxious to “stop the spread” or catch Covid and be part of the problem.
Rewarding trek to the London Lighthouse gallery to enjoy GPN’s latest annual photography exhibition. A diverse show of prints, videos and slide shows by photographers of the GPN, the Gay Photographers Network. There’s no overall theme to the exhibition, all the images are intensely personal with a refreshing absence of group-think.
I have fond memories of the GPN meeting in March 2020, which was the last organised event I participated in before everything stopped. Great news that GPN has re-emerged and with a strong exhibition.
Unexpectedly brilliant ride and then a brill sunset as well, I never thought a ride out from Keswick in November would be this good. I wrapped up well, leathers under touring suit but even so, no cold fingers and no, my little Z250 Ninja doesn’t have handlebar warmers.
The centrepiece of the concert was Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet No. 3 which was first performed just after the composer’s death in 1976. Hearing a live chamber music performance again after so long was as emotional as it was therapeutic; this programme was chillingly appropriate in view of the pandemic we are enduring. Cellist Felix Hughes (no relation) introduced the quartet as written by Britten after unsuccessful surgery and when he must have been aware of his own mortality. It is a more contemporary exploration of the themes of illness and death than the well-known Mahler Symphony No. 9, that composer’s last completed symphony.
That was a really pleasant ride. Not too long, balanced between Riviera coast and hills plus the weather was mild and the traffic moderate. Great to see again palm trees and lush semi-tropical flowers and trees. Fantastic light also.