Saturday, September 23, 2006

Gone for lunch

Back soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Flap flap witter

Nothing to do with pigeons, just the current state of my mind.
Suddenly it's got to that stage where we will be leaving...flying away a few days.
Due to my infatuation with my fiddle teacher's sewing machine I've hardly got anything organised and I can't get my head round the fact that we'll be leaving stuff at a hotel while going to game parks and then needing it all again for the last few days in Mombasa.
Also, rather oddly, I realise that whenever I pack to go away I base my clothes choices around what bits of jewellery I want to wear.
We have been advised not to wear any in Kenya. I just don't know what to take. I find myself thinking "well I won't need those trousers because I won't be wearing those earrings". But I'll still need to wear clothes for heaven's sake!
And for some other reason, the keyboard has suddenly decided that shift 2 = @ not "...Ah, and shift @ = ".
Can anyone tell me how to disabuse it of this misapprehension?

Blogger still says it can't upload pictures. the money is dry now and the bag is being heaped with stuff so we've definitely missed the boat there. (sorry this sounds like nonsense, see last post)

I will probably post during the next few days because I shall keep thinking of things to say and worrying that I won't be able to again for an unimaginable length of time (A whole less than two weeks).
I may not get round to visiting or I shall visit but not feel able to think of thoughtful things to say! so probably won't say anything except maybe "witter witter". If I do say anything please don't take it down and use it in evidence against me...I'm sure I'm not responsible for my thoughts.
Any posts I do will probably contain lists or maunderings about what I have or haven't done for the trip.

Now I've got to go and flap..and since I started changing an old and no longer suitable silk shirt into a new and slightly more current looking one I had better finish it as I really ought to give the sewing machine back tomorrow. I'm not sure what to do with the sleeves.

Oh and I've discovered a thing. Silk can be really unhelpful about ironing, clinging to it's creases and crumples obstinately. But you can use a very hot iron as long as you do it very quickly. What's more it can go in the tumble dryer as long as it's on the cool bit of it's cycle. Mine has a ten minute cool bit at the end . Works a treat. But don't quote me. Test on a part of the garment that won't be visible after you've scorched/ shrunk/crinkled/crisped it.

Update: I cut them off. The sleeves I mean. Not bad.

Update: Finally blogger let me play. See, new bag with pockets!

And clean, wet money.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Don't let me ramble on too long

Because I have to go and check the curry before it sticks to the bottom of the pan.
I went to Reading today in search of a special bag (as described in excessive detail a post or two ago) . The bag I really thought would do the trick was available (nay, reserved for me by telephone on Saturday) in Muji which is possibly one of the coolest shops in the world.
I had a precise timetable worked out involving a quick dash to Reading, a visit to the butcher in Yattendon on the way back and a bit of shopping and banking in Newbury.
A pigeon slowed things down a bit on the way by flying into my wing mirror and necessitating (my goodness what a depresingly utilitarian word) a lengthy stop in the hedgerow for wing mirror resuscitation (using an assortment of keys and a penknife)
Unfortunately I was snared by many wonderful things in Muji and also realised that I had a better chance of getting a swimming cossie in John Lewis in Reading than in anywhere in Newbury (which is of the opinion that all right thinking people will not be swimming again till after Christmas).
So I have come home with a bag (YUES!!!) I mean (YES!!!) which is liberally covered with pockets and zippy bits and has no flappy bits and, well, it's ok (I think, I haven't actually stuffed everything into it yet), an early christmas present for someone (don't know who yet but it'll be good), two pouches, 3 small pochets, two picture frames, a CD wallet and a pastry brush. Oh and a swimming cossie. Oh and a pair of trainers. (sorry, cross-training shoes for women). Oops, got to go and stir the curry. (I thought you were going to remind me)

Mmmm lovely :)

I didn't get the tiny hairdryer though I really wanted to a lot. Restraint or what!
This all took a little bit longer than the original plan so I didn't get to the butchers. But I got most of everything else done and was only two hours later than I planned.
When I got home I thought "and I'd better find out what I did with my gig money on Saturday night"....since I couldn't find it when I was in Muji or when I was trying on trainers. A careful search of all my bags and purses and fiddle case and gig bag revealed nothing. "Trousers!" I thought. Aah, those trousers I washed on Sunday. Hmm.
Yes it was those ones. I now have some very clean money and a slightly shrivelled and tattered note concerning last Friday's plans.

You know? I think holidays bring out the best in me :)

Gosh, the kitchen looks as if a typhoon came through it! As if Barney made the dinner instead of me!
And I thought you were going to remind me about the curry. Just as well I set the pinger.

I was going to show you some notveryinteresting pictures of bags and shopping and stuff but blogger's off. Lucky you!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wow! We did it :)

Well that's how I feel after my first (proper) blogmeet.
When first read Thursday's blog I immediately felt "I like this person"
When I first saw a picture of her I thought, "Oh yes I do like you".
And now, thanks to my adventurous daughter, Frangelita, we have actually met. Thursday is lovely. Tall, slim and blond with a merry smile. Wearing red and crystal beads and smart black and white (which I regret to say Nutmeg planted dirty pawmarks all over at the first opportunity).
What can I say other than the three of us had a great time, talked non-stop for what seemed like not quite long enough but was in fact an hour or four and it really was a bit like meeting an old friend.
I'm now exhausted (from so much talking) and still slightly over-excited (Fran says I was a bit over-excited when Thursday arrived but then I supose I'm like that).
(Oh and food didn't get dropped much and the blokes behaved very well and kept themselves out of the way and Thursday didn't look horrified when she saw my tip of a house :)
So, if this is how blog meets usually go, I'd do it again like a shot.
I hope me and Fran behaved well...we can be a bit of a team sometimes...(And thankyou again for the lovely flowers and wine, Thursday). I wish I'd thought to show her round the house only we were talking so much I kept forgetting it might be fun to do that but at least we wandered round the garden a bit.

The only downside is, now everyone's gone, I'm left with a mournful dog and a seriously merry husband (he waited at the pub till nearly 7.00 for a phone call to say it was OK to come home...not my idea, Fran and HF's arrangement between themselves, passed on erroneously from HF to Barney). Oh and while finishing off cooking the dinner, which Barney wasn't quite ready to do, I managed to pour some wine down my front...yes wasteful indeed but it wasn't the bottle Thursday brought as I generously sent that off with Fran (strict instructions to let it breathe before drinking as it was a very nice wine :)
Perhaps the other downside is that it may be quite a while before we do something like this again. It was fun.

Later I caught the last evening light (no sun)

and here's a sweet chapel in Avebury church

And some (genuine) mullioned windows from the Manor.Tomorrow I shall go bag hunting.
And now I shall go to sleep :)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A special message for the Beep

I thought I'd been posting comments on your blog but I've just realised they aren't there! Anyway I've loved reading it all!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I am a bad bad woman

not only because tonight I should be visiting, not blogging but because I should also be tidying and ticking things off lists (I can't do that though because I haven't done them)
In a fairly short time we are off to tangle with lions and giraffes and possibly muggers and terrorists (the first three being common occurences in Kenya and the other being recently much associated with air travel).
But there was Avebury Manor. I don't want to forget it.

It has one of those gardens that gardeny TV people talk about 'creating', where the views always lead the eye on to other views and round every corner is a new surprise. But it's also beautiful. The design actually works as well as doing all those things. It's always satisfying and delightful. It has a totally different kind of presence from the stones, intimate and charming.

I am winding up to a major rushing about session and as Frangelita plans to use our house as a birthday party venue the night after we've left I need it to look reasonable (if only so the party people know how I would like it when we get back)
We've organised dog sitting and house sitting and (Oops, haven't organised cat feeding yet) visas and insurance. I have bought items of not-bright coloured clothing.
What I haven't done is find a suitable bag. I need one which is big enough for my camera and all it's bits and pieces and also such essentials as heartburn stuff, mobile phone, purse, writing pad, handcream, passport, (Oh..suncream), anti-insect spray, tobacco.....etc.
And it has to have space for padding to protect the camera and a million little pockets to park the various lenses and do-da's in.
I thought Eldest had found it for me but regrettably, some of the essentials won't quite fit with some of the other essentials. Oh and the camera has to be near the top so I can grab it any time, but not easily accessible to thieves. There must be zippy pockets (a minimum of 6 little ones on the outside) allover and inside it and it must have a shoulder strap. And I can't manage those big flapping-over lids.
Also its dimensions have to be less than 45 x 35 x 16 cms. And not so big and awkward that I keep bumping people with it.

As if this wasn't over the top enough, I need some sort of back pack for one night stops which will carry a pair of knickers, washing gear, sleepwear (mossi-proof) and my two little pillows (for my feet and knees, the first two having a bunion and a painful instep and the other two being too heavy to lie all night on top of each other without support/protection from themselves). Into this magical backpack I must be able to cram my whole other bag. Near the top so if I see something I have to photograph urgently it's all to hand. This back pack must also be easy to protect from thieves.

It's a series of tall orders and I'm not sure if I have time to find the perfect bags.
Oh and I have to make a bean bag. I will take the tripod but there will be times when I can't get at it quickly enough. A bean bag will balance on a post or a knee or a roof and will allow me to keep the camera still enough for close-ups..I hope. I could make a bean bag easily except I haven't got a sewing machine! I've bought all the necessary bits for it but hand sewing just won't do the job tight enough...I can just see the airport security's faces when I start leaving a trail of small plastic beans across the halls.

Actually, having said I'll take the tripod, I'm not sure I can. Certainly not as hand luggage and how on earth can I get it through the baggage checks and safely out the other end?
Must borrow a sewing machine!

Ah well. Not to worry. There always is time to do the things you do get done in time and as for the others, you just do without them. It'll all come out in the wash.
(Must remember to wash all the things I want to take with me).

Update: Borrowed sewing machine from fiddle teacher (aren't fiddle teachers the most wonderful people) and in a most uncharactereistic spurt of activity, divided and sewed up a bean sausage of exactly the right texture so it was also the right size. Have to say, her machine is the most reasonable and co-operative sewing machine I have ever encoutered. when it said "the sewing computer (??) is now ready to sew" it was true. When I did the windy thing to get the threads to mysteriously appear in the right place, they did. When I put my foot on the foot pedal it started 1/2 speed just like I told it.
I could get to like a machine like that!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Oh my goodness what have I done!!!

Blithely, nay almost with careless abandon, when Frangelita suggested we have a blogmeet here with Thursday I said fine. What a good idea. I'll do lunch I said.
Here!! In the junk heap that is currently (and nearly always), our house!!!!
the blokes will hang about being heavy handedly jolly about being sent away (my god, will they even ever go?). Frangelita will have lost another stone or two and be looking delightful and Thursday will be even more stunningly classy than in her pics.
I shall get hot and bothered and drop food in the kitchen while Fran and Thursday wonder if they'll ever get any food. And my latest hair cut was a disaster!!! So I shall be looking and acting like an elderly and flustered pigeon

Where oh where is the floor mop? And the feather duster. Or indeed any duster.
And I've been hoping to meet Thursday for ages and now she'll never want to visit my blog again. Oh Woe!

Oh well.
Fran can do some Pimms.

Actually this is so exciting I hardly know what to do with myself so I've done nothing at all.
Barney is in London tonight because he's got a meeting at Kew Gardens tomorrow. Would you believe he's going to do some work on Queen Charlotte's Cottage! and I was going to go to Avebury at dawn (literally) but I have to get the car to the garage tomorrow morning and I can't see me dragging myself away in time. And I thought I might do some moon pictures tonight but there's thick cloud.
And the dog keeps whinging...I bet he's managed to eat something he shouldn't and he'll be sick! Probably on sunday morning.
Consider the lilies of the field...they toil not, neither do they spin. OK. I'll do all that.

View the scene from a different angle

(Beware blinking text if you have epilepsy)
As I wandered around Avebury, veering between purposeful (must get a shot of that!) vague (Oops, nearly fell over a tree root/ grass clump/ my own shadow) and meditative (hmm, how old are these trees, did people once live in betwen this group of stones, where does that go I wonder, aren't stones wonderful), I saw increasing numbers of people as the day went on. Some more than once (Like this man who stepped out of the circle from the 21stC into a sepia age while I was taking a batch shot at 3 different exposures). Nearly all of course snapping away. Some, like me, after the great shot, some just holiday snapping, some posing for snaps. Then there were those who looked to be after a spiritual/ mystical experience who could be seen surreptitiously stroking stones or sitting cross-legged in the grass with closed eyes (I didn't catch anyone chanting though and cross-legged, closed eyes got away before I could catch him...I expect he sensed my gently mocking aura :)
To be fair, I used to go for the whole meditative/mystical experience thing but I was never able to suspend disbelief long enough to get into any kind of other-worldly trance. Whereas, caught by a shaft of sunlight or a sweeping wing or a landscape of stormlit cloud chasms, I would (and still do) go into a state of total EYE...the legs may continue to walk or the mouth to move but the person inside has gone AWOL following a vision. A visual vision, not a spiritual one!

There were people following the obvious well trodden route around the bank, taking the same pictures I was taking, people who went their own way, like this splendid red-head, striding confidently along the bottom of the bank in contrast to the sheep people meandering along the top.There was occasional eye contact and mumbled greetings coupled with instant assessment...Ah another photographer...Oh tourists...must be local...must be from abroad...must be English...must be a weirdo.

Well, there we all were, doing the same stuff, being in the same space and seeing the same things. ??? So last night I browsed through a few hundred flickr pictures tagged 'Avebury' and I was truly impressed, not so much by the quality of the pictures as by the variety of angles and images. There were pictures taken of the same stones I took and not one was from the same angle!
I think the reason is, Avebury isn't really photogenic. It's too scattered, too big and too random. You have to work quite hard to get a feel of what will work as a photo. There's too much flat space (in spite of the circular bank). The stones are huge but decidedly enigmatic and it's hard to get a sense of the scale of the whole place. By moonlight it's staggering and I imagine at dawn or dusk likewise. I can imagine that mist or rain would bring it to life in a quite different way. And I think it needs not two or three but a hundred visits to get a true vision of it's presence and essence.
Oh but it will be worth the effort.

Anyway, here is an aerial view pinched from a website dedicated to aerial views of England*

And here is a link to multimap so you can see the same thing, as a map.
Map of SN8 1RF United Kingdom

* aerial pictures site

Monday, September 11, 2006

Well I left Blogger procrastinating over a little bit of an upload

And got bored and went away to visit other blogs. Forgot these might have arrived by now!
Today I got up early enough to give Barney a bit of a shock and set off to Avebury to take pictures of the stone circle. I was hoping for mist but the early(ish) morning sun was almost as good. And the absence of tourists was extremely good (As I found out later when they all arrived)
In times past the village was entwined with the stone circle (until some victorian preservationists decided to move the people out and demolish their homes to make room for the stones) and to some extent the village and the circle still seem to have a curious intimacy.
So Frangelita, you're quite right probably abut the anger but it's the villagers who got a bit pissed off with all things ancient and heritaginous! The stones just sit there impassively. All over the place.

And hawthorne grows around the circle along with Ancient Beech and oak trees and small purple, pink, yellow and blue flowers.

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So this one has had the path added (for tourists) and I was desperate to get the hawthorne berries showing against the stone...involving a lot of leaning amongst brambles... and failed totally. (but I spent so long over the pics, you get to see them anyway)
Anyway, here are more stones.

And bits of village (In this case it looks a bit as though the pub roof is trying to elbow the stone out of the way)

Still lurking rather crossly around the stones
or drinking across the road from them
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And the stones occasionally being used as scratching posts by itchy sheep
Wherever you go in the village, you're likely to meet a stone round any corner and whenever you gaze soulfully at a stone, you inevitably become aware of a cottage or a garden just behind it or beside it.

All I can say about Avebury is it may not have the 'in your face' mystic romanticism of Stonehenge but it most certainly has a powerful presence.
Of which these two jackdaws are clearly oblivious.
I love it.
After wearing my feet out trudging round the circle, I went to Avebury Manor which has the most serene and beautiful garden and then called on my brother on the way home and saw his new house which is looking much newer than it did last time I saw it. It was really nice to see him (it seems to have been a long time since I last did). Then I had coffee cake in hungerford and went home feeling extremely satisfied with my day out.

When I've sorted through my pics of the manor garden I shall post some.
And in case you didn't know, last week there was a partial eclipse of the moon. I spent some time trying to work out what was shadowing what to produce this topless effect. But I gave up because whichever way I looked at it, it didn't seem to make sense. But that is probably just because of my ignorance of eclipses.

Friday, September 08, 2006

No need for photosupermarkets

If you happen to have the required picture handy.
And here's an angel
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And here's some lichen

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I been having lessons

My friend Gem is a photographer. We go back a very long the days when we both left a certain Government establishment (famous for introducing the magic roundabout in Swindon among other weird and wonderful roundabout systems) to have our first babies.

So I said come over and teach me some stuff and we'll have dinner out (very nice and we even took Barney...he turned the tables and paid for our dinners so it was all very good) and we exchanged useful stuff. She will be putting photos up on her new Flickr account this space, they'll be good pics.

Anyway we went up to the churchyard and took pictures and here are some of them.
The Bell tower (again, I know, but I like it so much)

And the bell in it's tower with a phoenix like patch of sunlight on romantic can you get?

And then there was this crypt. (Well, stairs leading down to an overgrown cellar doorway). Good enough for a quick shot?

Thing was, while I was fiddling about the sun shifted and shone into the doorway
and then there was this marvellous pattern of ivy and shadows and a shaft of sunlight shining right into the back of the crypt. Only just long enough to take a few pictures and then the shadows lengthened across the entrance.
And as if that wasn't enough, a dragonfly :)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Graveyards and yewberries

I visited our tiny local graveyard this afternoon in search of yew berries. (Ever so poisonous but they glow gorgeously among the dark spiky leaves)
which I found along with an angel, A neat little bell tower (they do bell ringing there on Wednesday evenings)A gate with a cross cut in itand a view from one Horse chestnut tree to anotherI was a bit suprised to see an alien visiting the churchyardBut on closer inspection it turned out to be only a mirror.Then I was early for my yellow fever vaccination appointment and lo and behold, found another churchyard. Then I was late for my appointment.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Away again

Just a quick 'nother one to say I'm off tonight delivering Father in Law back to Essex.
Should have been visiting everyone last night but we had hundreds for dinner...and tonight but FiL doesn't do computers!
Lavender..I love it, the colours, the scent and the idea of it bundled in sachets and still smelling delicate and summery years later.

Pussy cat...wouldn't hurt a flower stem. But will cheerfully murder anyting that moves, from flies up to elephants!

OK. I've never offered her elephants. But she'll attack the dog just for the fun of it.

Hope you're all having a great weekend. Can't wait to read all about it!!!