Storm and documentaries

At the marina in Brighton the old men know. “They’ll be closing the harbour wall soon,” they grumble to one another in the sunshine. I’m eating a mister whippy and looking at the pretty boats, wondering why people are taking the flags down and checking the ropes. It’s a gusty morning, but nothing to write home about.

Ten hours later and now the wind is coming off the sea and onto the windowpane to my left at a good 40mph. There’s the bang just now of something falling over when it’s not supposed to. It’s good the old men knew. They park their motorbikes facing the sea in this town if they know what they’re doing. This wind will have to cover a lot of ground before the edge is off. It’s cold and harsh and full of rain. I’m glad I’m in bed.

I nearly booked my ferry for tonight. Thankfully I’m not sailing until Wednesday by which time the storm will have blown over. Plain sailing, I hope, by then. I’ve got enough to be worrying about without one of those twenty hour crossings where everybody is sick.

Still no idea where I’m staying, but the Jersey Premier Inn is £30 a night with breakfast. I hate the idea of paying to be isolated in a cheap hotel in the town where I was born. A week in a Premier Inn when you’re allowed to leave the room is bad enough. A week in one where you have to stay there will be the worst. It’s looking like that’s the only option though, and I’ve just got to hope that St Helier has better delivery options for food now than it did when I was a lad. Lou suggested I stock up on Pot Noodles but I would literally rather starve.

As the weather descended gradually to the state it’s in now, so we retreated back along the coast until we were safely stowed here again in the relative warmth of the flat. I felt like watching documentaries.

“My Octopus Teacher” succeeds in being considerably less hamfisted and worthy than the title suggests. It’s a hymn to nature and a reminder of the power of doing the same thing every day. It made us want to go diving, to be near the Atlantic, to travel. Then we watched a short piece – The Last Honey Hunter – about the harvesting of mad honey in Nepal.

I often say it – the world is so huge. From the coastline of South Africa to the cloud forests of Nepal and again we were longing to travel. Jersey won’t cut it and will be mostly about paperwork anyway. I want the world back. Although I’m not necessarily sold on mad honey.

Rhododendrons can have a certain Granyanotoxin that can find its way into honey. If you eat it, you might have visions. You will also be mostly paralysed with your bowels loosened and the need to vomit. “The vomit is the important part,” says the guy who sells this honey at market. I don’t think I’m sold yet. Last summer I paid money to somebody to burn my arm and scrape toxic frog secretions into the welt. Moments later I passed out, woke up again, shouted about three litres of liquid, sat there gradually feeling more and more clear while still clutching a bucket, and eventually went home feeling fantastic. I’ll probably have more frog poison some day. But I’m not sure I’m interested in this rhododendron honey.

Incredibly hard work to harvest the stuff, and it’s a beautiful documentary made with a strong eye for the human. But it leaves me no more than curious about this honey – it feels like too much of a toxin and not enough of a medicine. No point going through that sort of thing just for kicks.

Anyway it’ll be a long time until I’m in Nepal and then one day I’ll see the stuff at a market somewhere and you’ll know one way or another.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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