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Corn Buntings and Surfers – South West Coast Path Day 15

Mawgan Porth to Newquay, 21,000 steps

To be honest, it’s really Day Fourteen and a Half. A short hike to Newquay, a long journey home.

2017-04-03 08.14.18I set off just after nine, already wearing shorts in the brisk morning sun. I climb the Path out of Mawgan Porth, making my way around Berryl’s Point. The sky is the watery blue of a baby’s eyes and there are very few clouds.

The Path doesn’t want things to be too straightforward, recommencing its switch-backing in and out of the crenellated shoreline. Luckily, I’m more rested than yesterday afternoon, and I find it less annoying.

I soon reach the broad expanse of Watergate Bay, a long beach backed by modern holiday developments. From the clifftop, I watch half a dozen surfers in the water. I’ve never surfed, and (like recognising birdsong) it may now be too late to learn. I’m not too bothered; I don’t mind the water, the cold, the wet-suits and waves. It’s just that the actual surfing looks a bit duller than surfer dude publicity would have you believe.

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Music and Words: 2013 – Ten Things, numbers 5, 6 and 7

Continuing reflections on what I learned from 2013….

5. Wisdom’s a gift, but you’d trade it for youth

…is one of numerous lapidary phrases that spring from the best song on my favourite record of the year: Modern Vampires of the City, by Vampire Weekend.

Vampire Weekend - StepUntil now, I haven’t really got Vampire Weekend. I could tell they were talented. But they sounded just a bit too cluttered to me, a little too pleased with their own eclecticism and proficiency. But on this, their third album, they sound like they have clicked into the zone, relaxed a bit.

The song, Step, also demonstrates yet again that iron law of pop – that if you get the drums and the voice (including the words) right, you’ve pretty much cracked it.

Discovering a new favourite band also leads me on to my next lesson. It’s good to…

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Tracey Thorn: “I fell in love with Christmas once again”

In 1991, on the ‘Worldwide’ album, Tracey Thorn sang: ‘I’ve never been skating on a frozen river, Joni and Jane make it sound so cool’.

With those words, Thorn tipped the wink that she knew and loved the Joni Mitchell song ‘River’ (from the album ‘Blue’). Tipped a wink and hinted at a pledge that she has now delivered, with her own sublime brass band version of ‘River’ on her new Christmas album, ‘Tinsel and Lights’.

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Track One, Side One

On a walking trip in the Ardennes with two of my oldest and best friends, it was that point on the second morning when you start looking forward to finding somewhere that might serve you coffee. And wondering whether there’ll be time when you reach the station for a beer or two before the train.

We were walking on a path through some woodland, and the day was warming up, requiring the shedding of coats and jumpers. To pass the time I asked Paul and Jerry to name their favourite five tracks from the traditional prime spot (in old vinyl parlance) of ‘track one, side one’. It kept us amused for most of the morning.

Of course, the concept of even the first track on an ‘album’ is something that for many younger people has little meaning. But it always meant something to me, and for some strange reason, the task of thinking of the best list exercised and interested me a whole lot more than it seemed to engage Jerry and Paul. I could never whittle it down to just five of course (fifty is hard enough). But I did over the coming weeks settle on a list that I thought would fill a decent CD.

And here it is, with reasons (and in most cases clicking on the title will play you the song, through the magic of YouTube).

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