It was bank holiday weekend here, meaning that most business is interrupted and the weekend lasts three days instead of two. The August bank holiday was introduced by a liberal politician in 1871, and his act stated that no-one should be required to do anything they wouldn’t be expected to do on Christmas Day and Good Friday. The act gave the people the right to four days of holiday in addition to the two they previously experienced.
The bank holiday is now kept on the last Monday of August. Having an extra day, we decided to pack in as much as we could given that the coming winter necessitates more stays indoors. Biking got priority.
Verd failed the fourth of the four tests you have to go through for a full licence. He forgot to switch off his indicators. But it was a narrow miss and with the experience, now feels confident to pass it on a second trial. We spent the Saturday getting to know the roads close to the test centre, as familiarity with roads, we’ve discovered, improves confidence. We did this by car. Those roads are not just outside of my panic zone, they exist in my terror zone. Meanwhile, I spent time on quiet roads, practicing control and manoeuvres to build up the shaken confidence from diving in the deep end. It’s a slower process, but it’s working.
On Sunday, I started to think I might have a death wish. I got the grand idea that wouldn’t ice-skating be fun? I’ve only ever been on the ice once before, when my children were children. It was a long time ago.
Clinging to the rail, I proceeded to stand up without moving and stayed there a long time, congratulating myself that I didn’t need to hold on. Tiny tots whizzed passed me, flustering granny on skates. I let Verd know that clinging on to me was a very bad idea. But he managed to stand up too. We tried to move. It was slow going. There were many wobbles, but we got around and celebrated surviving the first circuit. The second circuit was quicker, a few less wobbles. By the sixth, I was relaxing, and a member of staff introduced himself to let me know I was doing ok, but had a couple of suggestions, which I duly followed.
Fun? I’m not sure yet, but it’s not as bad as riding without a second gear.
Geoff and Nadia Lawton are in town. We have to go see them.
Now if you think these superstars are musicians, dancers, actors… that you’ve never heard of, there’s a reason you’ve never heard of them. They are superstars in the permaculture world. Especially Geoff. I believe he’s developing a fandom of which I’m a member. I’ve referred to him at least twice before.
Geoff is an Australian who is employed by NGOs to conduct large scale demonstration projects around the world. He met Nadia at the site of one of his most famous projects in Jordan. She is now involved in permaculture education at a number of schools and her students’ gardens have won first, second and third prizes in national competition. Presently they can’t keep up with the requests for help they are receiving globally. It was an inspiring talk, and he even tried to convince us that Britain was one of the best places to embark on a project. He might be right, but guess no-one told him about the price of land. For us it is prohibitive.
For a more relaxing Monday, we started with a two mile run.
Then, armed with cameras and the air of professionals, we took ourselves to Leeds which was hosting its 49th West Indian Carnival. According to the programme produced by editor Patricia Jones:
“In 19th century Trinidad, the weeks before the fasting of Lent were marked by great merriment and feasting by the French and English colonials. The upper classes engaged in balls, fetes and lavish house-to-house visits. The newly emancipated slaves then adopted this tradition, celebrating their freedom by engaging in dancing, music and the wearing of makes and costumes mocking their former masters.
“Today, that Caribbean celebration has been carried round the globe, reflecting Caribbean communities co-existing in cities at events such as New York’s Labor Day Parade, Toronto’s Caribana, Leeds’ West Indian Carnival and London’s Notting Hill Carnival.”
As you’ll see from the photos sprinkled throughout this post – this was FUN!! Not least the jerk chicken served with rice and peas.
It brought back a memory of my mother who once complained that ‘they’ shouldn’t impose their culture on ‘us’. I guess she must have been offended by the mocking of her ancestors who imposed ‘our’ culture on ‘them’.
The Notting Hill Carnival didn’t go so well. There were a couple of stabbings. But the only aggression I saw in Leeds was the jostling for a good spot among the photographers.
We got talking to an enthusiastic member of HOPE not hate action group, whose mantra is taken from Jo Cox’s famous quote: MoreInCommon. Their aim is to bring communities back together in the wake of the post-Brexit reaction. We’ve been invited back to Leeds next week, as long as we bring cake.
Here’s to more Carnivals and Cake!