Saturday, June 24, 2006

Highlands and Glens and lochs and things....can't wait :)

I've packed. I've decided which back pack I'm going to take. I've printed off pages of maps and useful information (which will not be going near any windows on the journey). I've had the wobbly tyres replaced, balanced and the tracking done. Done a bit of cleaning, tidying and washing. I only have a half dozen things on my list to do in the morning. and another half dozen to do tonight.
Peter's going to look after the wiildlife.
I could possibly be almost ready to go?
Well we'll see in the morning.
It's very tempting to just have a quick look at everyone's blogs but I won't because that would take till 3 oclock in the morning so I'll just say have a great and wonderful week...I will certainly think of you all :). I've no idea if there will be any chance to post while we're in Scotland, but if there is, I will. Don't anyone dare vanish while I'm away!

Goodbye to our back door

View out of Adam and Jude's back window tomorrow

Er, well it's just pretty and I like it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I'm going to be late.

Tomorrow morning to work (temporary shop minding for ex boss),
The next day for shopping and packing and my fiddle lesson and dinner
And the next day for setting off on a totally inadequately planned holiday in Scotland
And throughout the said holiday
and on the way back because of the lack of planning, for babysitting the gorgeous babe. (but I've warned her mum, youngest, that this will happen)

And it's youngest's fault that I'll be late tomorrow.

These pics have nothing to do with anything and it's too late (already) too explain all the details.

So goodnight and sleep well all :)

Monday, June 19, 2006

I like work

I can watch people doing it for hours.
Which is a good thing as we had to watch quite a lot of people working very hard for a long time on Sunday.
I spent quite a long time playing with google earth on friday night and produced a lot of detailed and interesting directions for getting from here to there and onwards to somewhere else and then a little further to another somewhere and finally the last bit (with enlargements) from London to Brighton.
Sadly, as I extolled the virtues of Google earth to Barney on the first leg of our journeyings, the wind snatched the whole lot out of my careless hand and flung them across the motorway with gay abandon. A couple of pages clung hopefully to the bike hitched up on the back of the car but they blew off halfway round the M25.
Still, we managed to get to everywhere we'd planned (Jude and I had a couple of detours after dropping Adam and Barney on Sunday morning but nothing too stressful).
We had a fantastic Thai meal on Saturday night (The George and Dragon in Norbiton) with a friend who put us up for the night. We were only half an hour late on Sunday morning, for the start of the ride and Jude and I only had to sit through about an hour and a half of traffic jams when we arrived in Brighton. (my personal record for the last 3 miles into Brighton is three and a half hours).
After careful navigating round the back streets, we parked successfully and had coffee and wanderings round The Lanes, surprisingly good fish and chips on Brighton Pier and were in good time to watch Adam arriving triumphantly and sweatily at the finish. At this point, I was leaning over the barrier trying to see past the next spectator's long blonde hair to get a finishing photo of Adam. He saw me, and waved and yelled but I failed to see him. (It's really hard to pick out one cyclist flashing past among a hundred others while squinting into the sun with your head on one side). Jude, 3 or 4 people further along the barrier was yelling at him and he missed her. I didn't get a picture of either of them! Adam got his arm stamped to prove he'd completed the ride (He'd lost his bit of card provided for this purpose)
Barney meanwhile was keeping company with the slowest and least fit (and therefore most praiseworthy) member of our group and they arrived two hours later. (The rest of the nominal Pot Kiln Flyers team waited for no woman and had arrived ages earlier in dribs and drabs. This was a shame as the first two or three years, the PK team all came in together with a good crowd of supporters yelling for them.)
We all felt we'd done a good day's work and Adam and Jude went back to London by train to colllect their car while Barney and I drove home under a westering sun past wonderful places like Arundel and Portsmouth harbour. It's a shame I was driving as there would have been some lovely pics to be taken.
While Barney and adam hitched bikes up on the carand put shoes on and stuff like that,
I took a picture of our friend's wonderful garden in the early morning light.

One traffic jam picture of Preston Park.
While wandering in the town, We saw this rather odd-looking arrangement which appeared to involve a man playing a fiddle halfway up a lamp post
But which turned out, from a different angle to be a man playing a fiddle on a tightrope. Pretty impressive I thought. And not a bad fiddle player!

There were crowds on the beach looking like a postcard
Seagulls (one of which tried to steal Jude's noodles)

And distant boats and splendid lamposts

All day the cyclists came (further back in the town they had to wait for traffic so they came in waves)

and finally Barney and Alex arrived and thanks to a higher position I managed to get a picture.
And next week we are going to Scotland. I hope Scotland will stay still long enough for me to take some decent pictures...I'm tired of peering at distant, hurtling figures which turn out not to be the ones I was looking for. But it was fun having Jude's company and I'm so impressed with our blokes!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Away for the weekend

Who? what? Oh, that's me of course :)
Oops! I'd beter go and pack.
I leave you with a rather tatty looking bunny..slightly mad in fact. He looks a bit like a stuffed toy but he was real, Honest :)

a rose which I think is called something like rosy rose

and there was this meadow full of Marguerites. It would have been churlish not to wander waist deep among them and take a couple of pictures.

Have a simply fabulous wekend everyone. I certainly plan to :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Long hot weekend ahead

So I'm told.
Every year (we're a bit like that) Barney does the London to Brighton Cycle ride (in aid of the British Heart Foundation).
58 miles of insanity. I am one of the support team...that is to say, having got Barney, Adam and two bikes to Clapham Common at 6.30 in the morning, I escape from enraged stewards (because the blokes persuaded me to park in a plainly non parking spot) and drive down to Brighton. Where, after a two or three hour traffic jam, I hang about for many many hours in the boiling sun, occasionally diving into jewellery shops and cafes for sustenance, interest and shade.
then I troop over to the start line together with other support group members (the Pot Kiln have a nominal team together) and we all wobble about trying to get the definitive finishing line picture as the team swoop to the end. They're pretty relaxed by then as they all wait for each other at the top of the Ditchling Beacon (it's a killer going up the north face) and then freewheeel down the 8 miles hill into Brighton.
It's a kind of major charity event...a bit like the London Marathon but without the telly presence...Roads are closed for several thousand cyclists to fill, and the cyclists themselves start leaving at 6ish and are fired off at 15 minute intervals (in groups of lots) till about midday. The first arrivals are the maniac tour de france types and arrive an hour or two after the start. The rest arrive in surges and dribbles till about 9 or 10 pm by which time there's probably only a couple of stewards remaining to verify that they did it!
On my comparatively peaceful and pleasant drive down, I cross over the old A23, once or twice and glimpse a seething mass of cyclists twinkling in the sun like a million of those very shiny beetles. Little legs pumping and heads down. Only it's not quite like that...the cycle route is so crowded, they have to wobble around each other and overtaking isn't so much a matter of choosing the right spot as of finding a momentary gap in the crowd. New collective noun...a seethe of LB cyclists.
I must say, on my journey down every year, I surge over hills and downs and near the end of the journey, from the top of one high ridge I can see Ditchling Beacon like a giant wall across the horizon. And I know my beloved ones will struggle up it (there's a good deal of cachet in riding all the way up instead of getting off and cheers and congratulations for every one who does it for the first time on pedal power alone) and I have to say I look at the cloudless skies and the hot sun (or once or twice at the howling winds and sheeting rain) and offer up a little wish for them to get safely up without breaking a leg or a heart.
I know there are longer, hotter, faster and harder rides. But I'm proud of them all the same.
and I do love to spend a day wandering around Brighton and shopping and, well, stuff!
If you're even slightly interested,here's a link to some pics of last year's ride.Pictures speak quietly: London to Brighton Cycle Ride June 2005
But there will be pics of this year naturally :)

I find the post looks half dressed without any pics so I just slipped these in...storm warning on one side of the house and sunny and flowery on the other :)

Maps....the oyster...,Google Earth

I meant to do lots of stuff tonight and started by *quickly* having a look at Google Earth to see if a sensible route could be found from Lancaster to Kingston on Thames.
It could indeed, also routes from Chingford to Kingston and then there was zooming dizzily across the ocean to some quite other Kingston and back and round the world and new placemarks and directions and *tours* !!! Folowing the routes with zoomy bits and swerves around corners and, and , and.
Suffice it to say I've been from here to there via somewhere in america with pauses around chicago and Mount Helens (Ithink I got into the world tour for a bit) in two hour or so. And it's a good thing I don't suffer from virtual airsickness! But what fun.
and I think I know what we have to do when we get to Roehampton Lane. Just swerve the map around in a big circle and zoom back a bit before turning right...or was it left? (as far as map reading goes, I am not a woman. that is to say I can get lost as easily as the next man but I can't cope if people start turning the map round to see which way the road points)
Anyway, no blogging tonight...I've used up all my time travelling! I recommend it! If you like maps anyway.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Thunder and roses

There are two people in our family who have the power to make any other member feel that clenching of the stomach that comes with anxiety. (Possibly us others have it too but decline to use it). They are Barney and Youngest. neither of them will hesitate to use words to back up this ability and both are articulate (far too articulate in my opinion). But both can produce a warning thundercloud of suppressed fury without a word being spoken. They are both able to make anyone within range, feel that the cares of the world are on their shoulders alone and everyone else should be helping to carry their heavy burden.
Over the years a good deal of time and effort has been expended by other members of the family on soothing and blocking and avoidance. (not that the rest of us are saints you understand, just that we have a healthy sense of self preservation). However, when the two of them are directing thunderclouds at each other, there's no way to deal with it except to stand well out of the way! These days, I tell them both as soon as they mention each other, nothing to do with me...I'm not getting in between you two! I used not to have so much sense.
Anyway, just now, they are directing their stomach clenching powers at each other and I wonder whether it's like two moving bodies heading towards each other or two drugs combined...if the effect is multiplied by putting the two together. Or if because they both do it, neither of them feels the effect.
Youngest refuses to speak to Barney and Barney, well I haven't even suggested thet he make any kind of soothing overtures. He wouldn't, I suspect, mind telling some more home truths and Youngest would quite like to unburden herself of a good deal of unwanted information about the unreasonable ways in which Barney shouldn't demonstrate his love for his children.
Barney and Eldest used to have a similar problem, except eldest doesn't do the thundercloud thing (as far as I remember) and cured the situation by leaving home, getting a job and becoming happy and secure in his own right.
Middle one's problem was more that she was always good, well behaved and hardworking and so when Barney's ire wanted to fall on her he had to fall back on petty stuff like how she held her fork and how much she ate. the scars remain but I have hopes that they will fade...I had a similar Father and mine did. (I'll do me and my Mum and Dad another time)

I should point out that all three were burdened with a seriously absentminded Mum, who was reliably late for everything (almost always), clothed them from charity shops and sometimes remembered to feed them more or less on time. But apart from occasional frightening outbursts of misdirected rage, was pretty even tempered and understanding. Swings and roundabouts sort of a Mum.
Oh and I should also point out that Barney's thundercloud thing was intermittant and in between he could be generous, committed and immensely caring. (you've got to be able to see all five viewpoints from the middle of a family...?)

It'll be interesting (as in the ancient chinese curse) to see how they settle it...if they do.

But today I persuaded the back door keys to work. This is a very good thing as the back door won't stay shut unless it's either locked or bolted and Barney had the only working key. So off he would go, locking the door behind him and when I came down (a little later) I could only get to the washing line and the garden by going round the house from the front. Very inconvenient. Especially when the dog was desperate to go out and relieve himself. For some reason, he has to have company when going for a pooh and it takes him a good while to choose the perfect place and get himself poised for action. Barney hasn't the time (or the patience) to deal with all this in the morning so that's one of my first tasks of the day. And if you have to go all the way round the house to do it it's a pain!

A bit of nostalgia, perpared in advance for posterity.

And a rose bud. I like that pink creamy look, next to the battered cream paint.

Hot and hectic

We fed the girls and HF barbequed stuff and then I gave good advice to HF while the girls were out clubbing. And he told me a lot about his job. Then I fetched said girls and we all slept in the sultry night. It was very sultry.
Today youngest was less than helpful and caused Barney to speak sharply to her on the phone about not doing things she had promised and also not phoning to tell people about it. Naturally she took umbrage (and pointed out that her life is much too complex and difficult to leave time for little things like phone calls and anyway it was too late to phone when she finished work) and there will undoubtedly be repercussions. the washing line was fixed...replaced actually. the hot got hotter and Fran made some wonderful bread.

Wild Irises. I've mentioned before that Rupert Bear was a formative influence on me. There was a whole Rupert bear story about wild irises.
Can anyone doubt the wickedness of this cat? She is currently stalking beetles.* Looking as though butter wouldn't melt in her little pink mouth. Nor beetles either I suppose.

It's no good. I can't think of anything intelligent to say. I think my brain cell has been fried. I shall water it and take it to bed.

*That's midnight beetles not sunny afternoon rolling in the dust beetles

Saturday, June 10, 2006

At the risk of becoming a bit repetitive

A leafy lane.
I could, at the moment, produce endless reams of pictures of leafy lanes since we are well supplied with them round here. And we have lovely Frangelita and AF? AH? Fran's OH anyway*, staying for the weekend which is always a delight. So I haven't sat down with camera and fiddle to produce still life violin photos or anything else different from my idyllic pastoral norm. I hope that's still ok with is beginning to irritate me slightly!
I can feel a wordy post coming on.
But now I have to go and collect a carful of girls from a clubbing evening in town :)
And tomorrow I have to get some helpful person to tie up a new washing line so I can dry lots of slightly stiff, part dried washing. Three times the old one fell down as soon as I'd hung the stuff all up. You'd think I might have got the message sooner but I just thought, Oh give it another go, surely it can stay up long enough to dry one more load. Idiot, me.

My goodness isn't it hot though :) I hope you're all enjoying it.

Actually I don't have to collect girls for another 2 hours but I do have to get some stuff done before I go.

*it was HF. Of course.

reflections and shadows

Blogger is in a bit of a state it seems. I read their update on the condtion of their downloads and hardware. This jolly geeky jargon sometimes seems a bit, well, facile. Perhaps it's just because I'm old :)
Anyway, I'm not sure if they said they'd fixed their problems or not, but most of my blog appears to be missing. So here may be some reflections from my old website.
and some shadows and sunlight.

(Got photos of violins yet.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

well done those blogger engineers

It took them long enough but it all seems to be working again so here's last night's water (yesterday afternoon's water really but it's still quite fresh)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I sat down to do a bit of blogging and clicked the mouse and up came whatever it was I was looking for.
I may be about to become less than clear.
It was nice the way the mouse clicked and the thing happened. I get the same thing with driving sometimes, turn the wheel, change the gear, accelerate. The car does it's thing and makes its noises and it all works.
These are things that I do automatically, not needing to think about them consciously. But every so often I get a definite message from the body...something like "that was nice"
It pleases my body that these things work and as I get older, there are less of them. More things require thought because the body doesn't do them so well. (pooh)

I took up the violin when I was 35, having not played an instrument since I was ten and did piano for a year (after which my piano teacher and I agreed that I wasn't really that interested...though I did love looking at her Book of Russian Fairy Tales which was stunningly and fabulously illustrated). Learning to play violin brought a whole new set of body messages, often along the lines of "this is hard...couldn't we find an easier way to do it". and the conscious mind was very much involved...too much maybe. Constantly interfering and making unwanted suggestions. And then absenting itself when I needed it to remind me to hold things a certain way or remember to play LOUDLY here and softly there. Also I did exams..grades 1 to 7 in 9 years. Quite the achiever in fact. And slightly obsessive. (what do you mean, you noticed already :)
I acquired various violins, the good old work-horse hire fiddle (£50's worth of orange varnish). Then a nice little dark brown fiddle which was quiet but pleasant enough. Then a frighteningly beautiful and rich sounding french violin whose only fault was that it really wouldn't stay in tune. Followed by a german Klotz which stayed in tune but sounds like it doesn't love being played. But I did love it being called Klotz. How could you not love a violin called Klotz? And finally a hand me down little beauty with a sweet sound and (according to Simon of previous post, a phenomenal pedigree on which if only I wanted to spend several £000s of pounds in restoration might be worth a fortune).
Which I've now got back after 18 months absence. It's a bit battered and a kind of nondescript brown but it's a joy to handle and it likes me to play it and I'm getting body messages which say "nice, nice, do it some more".
In fact that's what I'm going to do now :). yes I know it's half past midnight but we won't mind.
I'll do some pics of it tomorrow. But for now, consider water.
Oh well Blogger's not playing ball. Tomorrow perhaps there will be water and violins.

words fail.

Well tonight I was taken out for a farewell dinner with the rest of the crowd from work. Very nice too. We went to our youngest's restaurant and things were helped along by a gift of wine from the chef and the reappearance (at last) of my beloved fiddle, just repaired.
It was all very nice and the evening was warm and the meal was great. Gift from the crowd of monsoon tokens. I came home quite drunk and took a picture of the moon. No howling as I didn't want to wake people up, but a certain amount of drunken clumping up and down the road (clutching a camera on a tripod) hoping to get a better view of said moon which promptly vanished behind the hill. I won't be up early tomorrow.
There was Markus, a frighteningly intelligent, sensible and competant Finnish boy who makes brilliant fiddles and bows (but he's an absolute darling and we've shared many a ciggie on the roof at work and admired the skies together), Anna, a sweet french (?) girl who makes instruments too and does repair work for Boss. ex boss. Who was there too of course and who is the nicest boss I've worked for out of many. Simon (that's Seemon with the french,or in fact belgian pronunciation) who is slightly manic/depressive but is another briliant instrument maker. Barney who behaved well and allowed Simon to confuse him hugely. Er, me.

They were all very sweet. But I'd rather still be working with them.
At least I've got my fiddle back. It's not quite right, I checked as soon as we got home. the crack has been repaired but the sound has changed. Different strings maybe?
I'd better go to bed. Goodnight all.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

But I hadn't quite finished with Bampton. As well as following morris teams and drinking a lot, we play sticks. Well others do. The game is called Aunt Sally and you throw wooden sticks at a white painted dolly, perched on an iron stand. You get points for knocking her off the stand.

The first year we went, I had a go and my throwing was so 'interesting' that everyone started to leave the pub garden. Aim at the steeple, some kind advisor suggested. so I did and my stick went over the wall into the next garden.
Here's the church and here's the steeple, open the doors and all the people have run away because there's a maniac throwing bits of wood around the garden.
Every year a scratch team of campers take on the might of the village team.
It's David and Goliath all over again. The villagers are mostly small in stature but immense in skill. The campers tend to be quite large people. I will say no more about them. Suffice it to say that in 32 years, the campers have won three games and half a dozen beer legs.
Daisy is one of the stars of the campers team,

And Frank is one of the Bampton team. Lovely action.

And a not inconsiderable thrower herself (she missed the match this year), my birthday girl in borrowed plumage. (and a borrowed coat and my guiness)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Today I am a reasonably chirpy bunny

Notwithstanding a weekend of alternate stress and delight with the gorgeous babe and also notwithstanding my last day at work on Friday.

Earlier today, they were cutting the hay (?) in the field next, next hedge then...and, I imagine, also causing terror and injury to innumerable small wild things who hadn't expected their habitat to suddenly go from 2 feet to 6 inches high. (the fuss we make about global warming, hey, these tiny creatures have their universe turned from lush forest-high grass into a naked stubbly desert twice a year).

So, naturally the scavengers were out in force. and these included not one or a pair, but six red tailed kites. I shot them (camera shot for anyone who's new here)...all over the sky and backwards and forwards across the field.
Then there were the neighbour's poppies in the sun
and later an ethereal sky
and later still, quite new foals next door to Barney's barn.

And the sun shone and I got nearly all the washing (including youngest's as she has no washing machine at present) in, out, hung up in the sun to dry and back in again just as the first few spots of drizzle threatened.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Old morris dancers don't die.

And here is 'The Rose Tree'

and the 'Bonny Green Garters'

What you have to understand is these blokes start the first dance at 8.30 am and dance more or less continuously all day in various gardens and public places round the village till 6.30 pm. (break for lunch and tea). At 6.30, a few visiting teams, from other parts of the country, dance and then our lot do a few more. The oldest dancer now is only about 55 but Francis Shergold (above)was still dancing in his late seventies. Also, this team is one of three remaining in the country who's Whit Monday tradition has been unbroken since the eighteenth century (I'm guessing but I think that's about right). while other teams gave up and vanished, only to be revived by earnest young men in later years, in this village, they just kept on dancing year after year, ignoring the mockery and derision of the modern world. (during the war, women danced instead of blokes). It's a *very* chauvinistic activity. It is, in fact, history on the hop...skip.
Well they deserve a bit of a pat on the back that's all.
OK. that's enough morris. Promise :)

Till next year.

Cloud mirror

Tomorrow there will be more morris dancers...especially for Frangelita.
And I'll do some catching up.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

East, West...home's a mess.

But it's always nice to be back, laden with memories, slightly overful of guinness and rather grubby.
Oh well, on with the washing, the removal of mysterious smells and the cuddling and collecting of abandoned pets. (they weren't actually abandoned but they like to make us think they were).
Some snippets.

~Possibly the best morris dancing picture I've taken in 32 years

~Singing in the Horseshoes pub at midnight...or some time between Friday and Tuesday anyway. (clearly a sentimental song)

and Didcot power staion making the best of itself in the late afternoon sun, seen from the top of the Berkshire downs. (Why are Downs always called Downs when they are clearly Ups?)