Canal Reflections

Nicholas Quirke was getting some exercise on 14 March 2021 when Peng was running another virtual half marathon at the Beijing – Hangzhou Grand Canal. It was a long subway journey to the east of the city and he spent the time playing scrabble. He had meant to start a new book by Kazuo Ishiguro, ‘Kara and the Sun’, but he was so caught up with the run of ‘scrabbles he was having that he couldn’t put the phone down and be more literary. Though this was the third time he had been to canal he had always explored south and this time he had decided to go North. He grabbed a bike and set off along the West Bank. The temperature was warm and though the budding peach blossom on the trees announced the arrival of spring the skies were grey and cast a ghostly parlour over the day. The light gave the reflections of the buildings, bridges and sculptures that shimmered in the steely water a haunting and industrial feel that was impressive and futuristic. He cycled along the path but it was clear as he rattled and shook along the route that it had not been designed for cyclists even though some passers by shouted in friendly tones, ‘Very Good’ at him. He enjoyed the sight of fishermen, across the water the sculptures, a series of bridges including an extraordinary modern construction that he was unable to get on though he tried a variety of ways. He found a Qing dynasty usi g that he could not get into a d was unable to fathom its use and an ancient Pagoda across a building site, which again he was unable to access. He walked to the nearest bridge he could cross a d the. Cycled along the East bank to get a closer look at the sculptures he had seen and then cycled back to his starting point. Peng was still running and he made himself comfortable in a cafe where he sat in on a lesson with Terry with a potential student. peng joined him and as soon as he was finished they went to Joy City where they were selling Oatly vegan Ice Cream. He had not had ice cream for a while and they were promoting a plethora of exciting flavours and the cherry blossom and rose concoction he had was like nectar to him. All the exercise had made them hungry and they headed to The Place and Qmex where they stuffed themselves on Burger, Burritos and Quesadillas. He felt so full he could barely move and only by walking to the subway could he shake off the feeling of lethargy that had overcome him. The active day prepared him for a lazy evening in front of a movie. ‘The Block Island Sound’ was a gloomy combination of possession and deep water which filled him with a sense of dread though its doom did not stop him from having a fitful nights sleep.

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