Monday 6 September 2010


Funny. You wait ages for a space station, and then three come along at once.

Or at least... I saw the International Space Station for the first time a fortnight ago, and now I keep seeing it. Like a few days back, when Louise and I were trying out her telescope on what may possibly have been Jupiter (we never did quite find out. Telescopes are evidently more complicated than they look), and the ISS appeared out of the blue and went a-swinging by overhead. "Oh look, there goes the International Space Station," I said. Which is one up on Concorde, possibly.

Here in the photo is a 30 second excerpt of one of its journeys across the Bristol night sky, just before it descended into the Earth's shadow, by which time it was probably over Poland.

I've been thinking about people being stuck in places like that, lately. It's a bit like being at sea; you can't get off, and you all trundle along, all stuck in a big container together until it comes time for you to get off. The crew changes on space stations are a bit more dramatic than the ones I'm used to, of course, though I did nearly crash when I was driving home from Poole once.

I suppose it's a bit like that for those chaps who are stuck down the mine in Chile, too, though the view is not nearly as good.

It can be quite handy to have an element like that in your life; getting on with whatever it is that needs doing, having the occasional adventure, and planning what to do with your free time when it finally comes along. It gives you a sense of ending and beginning. Right now, I feel very unfocussed, and am trying to get things in order and come up with something approximating to a Big Plan. Or even a Medium-Sized Plan.

And there are of course disadvantages to being on board something with no chance of getting off. I've been covering old ground occasionally lately, referencing the nastinesses I experienced at P&O. And I've been having a run of nightmares, involving being trapped in that environment again. In one dream in particular, I managed to be stuck in a hospital that was also an RAF base that was also on a ferry. Funny things, dreams. Maybe it's better to just blank off that old stuff after all; obviously I'm not as over it as I thought.


  1. The past is best left buried. I locked mine away for decades then did an archaeological project on it to see if it was as bad as I suspected and it was!

    Locking it all down again has not been as easy as in the past but thankfully I am too lazy to have nightmares these days, hardly dream at all.

    Once you get focused they will probably drift away.

    Caroline xxx

  2. I'm not too sure where the space station is on your picture, I've realised that my screen is filthy so there are very interesting (or not) blobs in your bit of space.

    Are you under pressure about your Big or Medium-Sized Plan? I find the bad dreams about the past surface when the pressure is on.

  3. I am sending you an interwebhug from the middle of rehearsals for a truly trivial piece of unimportantness... speaking of trapped.

    The plan will come and the bad dreams will go. I got a tide of bad ones in Oz recently... they kind of heralded some clarity - though I did not appreciate that at the time. I hope the air clears soon for you.

    I was looking forward to this photo - promised as it was, in a recent post of yours. It is wonderful.

  4. Dru, I was once lucky enough to see a satellite burn its way across the evening sky, who knows if it was the ISS? It was silver and fast.
    I do believe it was John lennon who said that life is what happens when you're making other plans, or something like that and if he didn't he jolly well should have.
    I sometimes look at my life and wish I had just a small plan. Or even a roughly sketched map.
    Good luck with yours, when you get one.

  5. I am surprised with the surrounding light pollution, that you could get such a good shot of the night sky. I looked at Jupiter once with my telescope. It looked like a cream colored orb, with two little dots (moons) on either side at its equator. I would love to have seen it on higher power. I've seen satellites passing overhead at night, but didn't know what satellites they were. They do travel fast. Probably too fast to track with the average amateur telescope.

    Love the Native Hipsters!

    Melissa XX

  6. Fossil hunting is a limited hobby, and best left to the professionals. Leave the past buried, the memories are all frozen in rock and have no life in them anymore.

  7. I used to think that it is always best to take things out of the dusty corners of the mind and blow the dust off them every now and then, i case they festered, Caroline. But apparently that isn't always the best plan. AS you say, hopefully when I'm on course again it will fade away...

    The space station is the long white line, Anji; the camera is mounted on a tripod, and that's 30seconds worth of transit. pressure about Big Plans other than internal, which is the most nagging sort.

    Thank you, Federay! -I hope the unimportantness turns out nice anyway... things are getting better here. Mondaay's poetry thing was v cheerful making. Obviously I should get out more.

    I only found out that it was the ISS after I'd looked on the internet, Graham; I only knew that it was brighter than anything I'd seen up there before. Having had a look at what the space station looks like, it's not surprising. It's huuuge!

    We're quite lucky with the light, Melissa; we're on top of a hill on the edge of the city, so the worst of the city loom is below us.

    If Katie is reluctant to wake up in the morning, I put on the Native Hipsters' Mr Magic. That soon gets her up....

    'Do not spell old enchantments', Claire. Indeed!