Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Ballooning Across Africa
Yesterday was the most beautiful, balmy spring day -- blue skies, sunshine and a high temperature of 58º F (14º C). When I came home from work around lunchtime, I put on shorts and went out to sit on our garden bench. First time I've done that in a while.
The garden was alive with birds. Along with all the usual culprits -- blackbirds, pigeons, tits and dunnocks -- I saw a couple of goldfinches. It was such a pleasure to sit and watch them.
Thanks for all your concern yesterday about my "pink belt"! Some of you shared my initial worry that it's shingles, but I am now certain it's not. There's no pain, there are no blisters, and it appears on both sides of my body. (Shingles usually appears only on one side of the midline, or the spine.) It's just a red band, mildly itchy and slightly puffy.
I think it's something called polymorphic light eruption, which can happen to pale people like me. Basically, our bodies have an immune response to the UV radiation in sunlight. Apparently this occurs in northern climates where people go without sun exposure for months during winter, and then bare their formerly protected skin to sun in the spring -- which is exactly what I did. It doesn't take much exposure to create a rash.
I've never been a big sunbather, but when I lived in Florida, obviously my body was conditioned to the sun. Here, I've apparently lost some of that conditioning. (Even when I lived in Florida I remember getting hives after walking on a sunny beach one day!)
Anyway, enough about my temperamental skin.
Yesterday, walking to work, I came upon a pile of sodden trash bags and other debris sitting on the sidewalk (in the same place where I found the bottles last May). As I've said, it wasn't a rainy day, so I think this stuff got wet some time ago. Someone must be cleaning out a leaky storage shed. Included were several books, some of which were beyond repair, like this one about Hampstead's history.
But these three, although damp, didn't look too bad -- so I picked them up and took them to work. I cleaned them up and I'm drying them out.
The cover of the book on cathedrals doesn't look great, but the inside is fine.
I hate to discard old books. I always think, "What if this is the last one?" (Not the case with these three, which are all readily available online for about £3 each.)
I have no idea what I'll do with them, assuming they don't go straight into the trash can (which they will if they're too warped or damaged after they dry). I don't particularly want to read about cathedrals and I don't care about the life of Augustus Smith, who was governor of the Isles of Scilly back in the Victorian era. But "Throw Out Two Hands" looks interesting -- a book about some guys who took a hot-air balloon across Central Africa in 1960. It has good reviews and includes pictures. I might actually read that one.
(Top photo: Detail of a fence in Marylebone, last Friday.)