Saturday, September 29, 2007

Meet the Quartet

they posed very nicely
and looked soulful on demand

And played beautifully
The cellistThe viola
second fiddle
And first fiddleGood night, sleep tight, and the bugs won't bite

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A little job

that Barney wanted some help with.
Just a trifling matter of listing the catalogue numbers of the several thousand stamps he still needs to collect, by country and by used and mint.
This is a very slow business if you are both reading the numbers and writing them out. Much much slower than, for instance, one person reading them out and another typing them into a beautiful word table. So we are doing it the second way and I believe we are doing quite well.

I never realised how many countries there were in the British colonies and the empire and all that. As for the number of stamps, well I suppose it's obvious there would be a few.

I am collecting so many brownie points!

Anyway, we are up to Negri Sembilan (wherever that is - or was) and now it's time for dinner. Which I intelligently prepared before resuming our epic stamp cataloguing. There are times when I feel that Barney's understanding of the uses of computers, as opposed to the using of them, is growing a little too adventurous :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

OK, I wanna know how my new toy works

See, as I understand it, the IR filter blocks out all the visible light. So all the camera can see is stuff in the infra red spectrum - the end of the rainbow. Well, one side of the rainbow maybe.
So the camera is seeing hot bits of the view?
When I saw that somebody on flickr had taken some lovely infra red pictutres with my camera I just went 'Pretty picture...pretty picture...Awk!' And shut one beady eye, put my head on one side and parrot like, reached out with an acquisitive hand and grabbed one (off the internet) .
Now I want to know. What is the camera seeing exactly? Reflected warmth from the sun? (it works best in bright sunlight). Bits of the view that have got hot from the sun? Bits of the view which have saved up that would be the earth? The sea?
And then other bits appear a bit like a negative?
Well here's yesterday's picture before I made it black and whiteMy problem is I don't know which are the hot bits, white or red. Got to be red surely?
And here's one I took in the woods later.and then played about with it a bitHere's a link to some fabulous Infra red pictures. Unfortunately I lost the one that inspired me.
Oh, here it is.
See he's just started using the filter and his camera is the same as mine. So I ought to be able to get this kind of result.

So if anyone understands how this thing works and can explain it in simple, (and I mean really simple) terms, I'd appreciate it if they would :)

When I had just taken this picture, not having even quite left the car park, I was rudely snapped out of my 'pretty pictures' trance. Small red car swerves noisily into the car park and a young, rough, male voice bellows "OYWR'UUOGHLY'UH'UH'ERM" A very rough translation might be "Oh look theres a fat old bird wiv some camera stuff". "followed by a reply which sounded like "HAHAHAWOOERONGYDIPLLL". "Ha ha ha isn't that funny" perhaps?
I may be quite wrong but the volume and the er, quality, of the voice suggested this kind of interpretation.
Ohhhh dear. I thought. Probably I'd better go away. Um, right past a car full of 'youths'. Right. Well, no. I mean they may have been there to walk a dog or even just to enjoy the sylvan woodland charms. Or they may have been there to take drugs, drink alcohol or steal things from parked cars.
Being neither big, strong, fit or fast and also being burdened with a fragile camera on the end of a tripod which takes whole seconds to dismantle enough to fit in the car, I chose instead to vanish into the woods. I'm quite good at that. And then from a safe distance, further up the road, I phoned Barney and asked him to come and park in the car park while I got in my car and left. (yes, after the handbag theft incident I do take my bag and all my possessions with me when I go into the woods to play).

So when Barney drove past in his big, macho, pickup truck I went and collected my car. Observed the youths, lolling about in their car, nose picking, armpit scratching and making bored faces...not exactly drooling but looking close to a drooling sort of condition. I thought probably they wouldn't have all leapt out, pounced on me and stolen my camera and/or handbag and then jumped up and down on me brandishing nasty weapons. They didn't look as though they had enough vitality for any of that.
But. You read the news. You hear the stories and if you're fifty odd (and also a little bit odd :) you avoid confrontation and feel thoroughly put out.
And also feel a tiny bit of a wuss.
But.....quite a sensible wuss!
Shortly, it being another sunny day, I'm going back to the woods to play :)

On quite another subject, a while ago, I met an old friend/fiddle teacher on the park and ride into Oxford. When I told him I was doing photography more than fiddle these days, he said he's just started up a new string quartet with some other professional musicians. Would I like to come and take some pictures of them? WOULD I??????? Would I just!
And, yesterday, he rang me back (amazing) and set a date! Day after tomorrow! Oooh! I'm so excited!
I wonder how they'd look in infra red.....

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Of new toys and other nice surprises

The new toy is an Infra red filter. Interesting?
and the sun shone in Newbury.And there were clouds and it became all bright and autumnal
And then there was a watery sky waiting on the way home :)What could be better - except possibly the clouds in the other direction :)Nice day :) You too? I hope so.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007



Monday, September 24, 2007

Not the Head of the Thames

So off we went, poring over maps and printouts from other anoraquey sites, excited panting (smelly) dog in the back of the car.
We marched (or ambled or darted erratically) across fields and climbed hedges and were good about gates. We said things like "Oh this must be right" and "round the next corner?" and "good dog" and "bad dog" and "no not that way, stupid dog" and "definitely the water course" and "Aaaargghh!" (dog, lead, fence, stile, and feet confusion at this point).

Then we arrived here. It looked about right and it seemed to be the place to which our directions had led us. However, there was no stone marker inscribed with stuff about how this was IT! And though there were two Ash trees, they didn't look old enough or in the right places.
Undergrowth was scrabbled in and there was a good deal of discussion about how they might have taken the marker away to clean it or re-cut the faded wording. There was prodding of the ground in case a spring might bubble merrily up saying "only joking, here I am" (this didn't happen).
Ok. It wasn't the right place. Close, oh so close, but not quite right. So we went in search of lunch and further nice places to see.
We saw the Kennet and Avon canal at Great Bedwyn, Where the railway and a number of assorted bridges are all neatly parcelled up with a picturesque lock - very nice -
And several lovely old canal bridges.We had lunch at a cricket pavilion at Avebury (which was gracelessly decorated with millions of brightly anoraqed tourists and stone lovers, most of whom seemed to be clustering worshipfully on the ground around each stone, though some seemed to be just sleeping there in huddled groups). We saw some one who Barney believes is called Uther Pendragon to which I pointed out that he was in the wrong county, nay, wrong country even since Uther was the King of Cornwall. (A very long time ago when Cornwall was a kingdom not a county). Also people in long black cloaks. Hmm.
And Nutmeg flirted shamelessly with a spaniel and a lurcher.
We bought an old second hand Ordinanace Survey map which confirmed that we hadn't quite got to the right place (we should have gone one more field and crossed one more road!
Then we decided to leave before the rain arrived.

Birtrday Girl (looking svelte and stunning in a floaty dinner dress having been out for a posh birthday lunch) and HF came unexpectedly and had dinner and we played cribbage. It was fun.

A splendid day altogether :)
And we can go and look for the Head of the Thames again which will be fun too :)

I hope you all had a good weekend too :)

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Sunday, September 23, 2007



The source

Of the Thames.
We're going looking for it tomorrow.
I've googled it and google earthed it and hunted round assorted maps. I think we'll find it....
Other people have and have left photos on Flickr and descriptions of walks and all sorts of stuff.
If we find it and don't disappear into the wilderness (unlikely as there are villages nearby and it's only a few miles from Cirencester) I'll let you know tomorrow :)
Or the next day as it may be very exhausting and involve lengthy visits to pubs (for directions, you understand) and late returnings (if we do get lost).
Have a lovely Sunday :)

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oh Crumbs I've been tagged

For the first time ever!
Um right.
Letters in my name....oooh no, not my blog name, it's huge!
Do you remember the pyramid thing? Where you sent letters out to x number of people and they had to send them to x more people and they had to and so on for ever and ever.
And somebody pointed out that eventually all the people were busy sending letters to the same people because when you got higher up the (upside down) pyramid,the people were sending letters back down the pyramid to people near the bottom. So instead of getting a million letters (or £s) you got more letters telling you to send letters to more people telling them to send more letters to more people.....from people at the upside down top of the pyramid!
You understand that? neither do I.

OK. For each letter of your name, you have to write a bit of something that is somehow to do with you and then you tag the same number of people as letters in your name by saying who they are in the comments.
(why not at the end of your post?)

Magic and Music. Of course :)

Images. Imagery. Imagining.

God, about whom I have an ongoing internal debate. Is there one or isn't there? Is it/he/she a good thing or a bad thing? Do I believe in one? Or am I superstitious? Or not? What's it all about (see A). Alternatively Gloaming. A nice coloured time of day for taking photos.

Barney, the love of my life, the companion of my declining years, the sharer of some of my troubles (carefully selected ones), the bringer of cups of tea in the morning and currently the person sorting out yet another load of stamps on the table. Bit of an adventurer though in spite of the stamps, the steam engines and the canals.

Alphie? As in what's it all about and also a small, scraggy, stout, chestnut pony. Slow on the uptake but steady. (Won a lot of walk-trot-and-gallop races at gymkhanas for me cos while others were bouncing around sideways and backwards anticipating a gallop, he was walking)

Realms of Glory. Well it just sounds lovely and rolls off the tongue and makes me think of glorious skies and music.

Dog. Ours, Nutmeg. not as spicy as he sounds and why do so many people think he is a she? Got to love the pointy ears and the dark anxious eyes. And the little tan eyebrows. And the tail that wags across the floor when he's sitting down

Superstition (refer back to G). Or possibly Sneeze. Barney just did one of his excessive, over the top, completely uninhibited, huge, explosive ones. "phwhr - aaah-YATCHOO" My half sister sneezes like a cat )"phchew phchew". I've been having occasional serial sneezes. I wonder if I'm getting hay fever?

Light. Dawn, morning, midday, afternoon, evening, winter, summer, spring, storm, lamp, candle, moon, sun, love, reflected, shadowed, back, white, coloured, bright, soft, warm, golden, pearly, octarine (:), in a drop of water.

Eye of the beholder. Mine. I do a lot of beholding.

Yyyyy...y-y-y- Yay I've done it? No? Well, ummm.... Yummy dinner of sausage casserole with mashed potato.

That's eleven!!! Oh dear. and at least two or three that I would have done already done it!
Ok. I shall venture out across the blogosphere waving my tag and see what comes back!


A Pleasaunce in rural Oxfordshire

I've abandoned Oxford Market. It doesn't want my cards enough :)
Regrettably, all the local markets seem to be full. So I'm going to go for the local shops in a big way. And I've ordered a new toy from jessops which may help me to prepare for the Christmas period.
Watch this space....if the new toy arrives as advertised and if it does what I hope it will, there may be some quite different looking pics to see.
Meanwhile Barney's pickup needing an MOT and he needing to get to work near Oxford combined nicely with a day in the city (with Frangelita who is soon to have a birthday*) and gave me a chance to wander round Boars Hill. I saw a field dedicated to Matthew Arnold,**a map of the view from a hump, (the map is on top of the interesting lump of stone and the hump was called Jarn Mound) a wild garden planned and preserved for the local people to enjoy

and a bunny!
Who was also enjoying the garden until we saw each other and both pretended we weren't really there for several minutes. It was easier for him. he only had to pretend he was a large furry twig. I had to pretend I was an enormous blue flower with a single black shiny eye. Not the sort of thing your average rabbit often sees standing around in the woods.
Well provided with benches, this woodland garden. I feel sure one could be spared for you I so I found you this one.

*I can't tell you what Frangelita and I got for her birthday cos it's a secret and she might read this and of course she has no idea what it is :)
**apparently it was the inspiration for "Thyrsis and somebody" I have to look this up now.
Blimey, that's long! And it's called 'Thyrsis: A monody'


Saturday, September 15, 2007

So where is it written "thou shalt esteem thyself"?

Oh I'm well in the middle of a self self self event. I so hate them. Times when I look around and think well if I'd done this that or the other properly or better or at all I wouldn't have this problem now. Times when I realise with horror what I've just said or done. Times when it's perfectly clear that I'm never ever going to be the person I think I want to be. Times when I look at myself and really don't like much what I see and see it all too clearly in spite of a rash of excuses and prevarications. Times when everything I hear or see either makes me think 'look at what they have to go through, what am I making such a fuss about' or 'so what have they got to make such a fuss about look what I'm going through'. Times when loving my neighbour as myself is such a bad and inadequate idea. (Just as well they're away).
Times when someone seems to be looking over my shoulder and saying "oh you are such a feeble excuse..."
Times when social ineptness overcomes me and feels like THE MOST ENORMOUS ZIT. (which usually I don't bother about so much though I do get a bit secretive about my poor badly treated toes)
And how is it possible to feel, at the same time, too timid to say anything at all and so much in search of attention that I can blather on for ages after everyone else has gone quiet and glazed with bored embarrassment.
Bah Humbug!

Oh, self esteem. Right. That. Whatever it is.
I have recently read three, no, four, posts which seem to be about that interesting and desirable commodity. All the writers of those posts seem to me to be greatly deserving of it. Besides having written about it and around it interestingly and thoughtfully.

I think it's time to turn my head off. Restart.

Well at least I deleted the first version of this!

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For Dave on his birthday

Wishes, flowers and a narrowboat!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Too many photos = not enough sleep.

My sleeping has averaged at around 5 hours per night for the last few days. I got up early on Tuesday to say goodbye to Eldest and Northern Girl (and Marmite). After they'd gone I did an awful lot of washing and then went to look at Marlborough (stopping in Savernake Forest on the way, where there are giants)
and stay with my brother in Pewsey. We stayed up till 2 in the morning and apparently (I'm still a trifle astonished at this) drank nearly 3 bottles of wine.
Then I got up early (very very very early) on Wednesday (5.30) to see if there was a stall available on Marlborough Market and to take photos of Marlborough before the people and cars arrived. Only it was foggy and dull (so there's a photo from the previous day with all the cars and people but also with sunlight) and it seems the Market already has its quota of card-selling stalls. However, it was fun to see the lovely Eddy (of Oxford Market importance) and it was a bit of a surprise for both of us! After this I set off into the glorious Vale of Pewsey and spent a lot of time waiting for the fog to make up its mind and go away. Finally it went but it was a long wait.Then I had planned to sleep in a bit on Thursday but Barney appeared at 7 o'clock to tell me there was a nice atmospheric sunrise occurring so I got up and rushed off into the sunrise, unwashed, unbrushed and without coffee. Or tea. Later*, a journey with the marvellous Maggses to take pictures of hops in Kingston Bagpuize. Really. But as I said yesterday, I'm pretty much photo'd out. So I haven't looked through those yet
Er..... Oh, this morning was Friday. I slept in. It was heavenly!!!
You sleep well too:)

*Yes I did catch up on the washing, the brushing and the coffee.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Up with the larks

(When is that exactly? I'm sure I've heard them singing at all times of the day)
Anyway, these larks were Eldest and Lovely Partner and Marmite, getting ready to leave :(
I shall miss them all three. Once Marmite settled down and became less prone to throwing himself at doors and people he was really very good. The only downside to the visit was Mandu's exile. Last night she crept in (mewing pathetically) while Marmite was asleep (and shut in the other room) and gobbled down huge amounts of dinner, intermittently fleeing outside or rushing up to me for a quick reassuring cuddle. I had to stand by her food bowl to make her feel safe enough to eat.
I'm thinking that variations on lovely partner isn't really an adequate name for Eldest's lovely partner and I'm trying to think of a suitable sobriquet. Lancashire Lass would be appropriate but trite. Northern Girl is both the title of a very lovely folk tune and a marvellous book by Elizabeth Lynn. But it also has connotations to do with southern prejudices. Still I like it. Right. that's settled then.
You'll be pleased to hear that my brain (after a fallow period) is responding to brain training. It is now only 40 and a couple of days ago it was 54. But I really can't get the hang of the little people going in and out of a house. I can keep track up to about five entries or exits and then I just go Waaaaahh! and make a wild guess. I usually get one right (out of about ten) but apparently this qualifies as cycling speed (as opposed to walking, running , driving or flying) so it must be quite difficult? I'm at driving speed for counting slidey and bloopy numbers in different colours though. Brain training is quite fun :)

The last few days seem to have been terribly full or hectic or something. This may be due to the fact that I've got up very early several times (and you know how much I love to do that) but haven't gone to bed correspondingly early. In fact on one occasion it was somewhat the reverse. But that's for another day. I'm a bit photo'd out. And I think there must be a small creature in the computer that's saying in hypnotic tones "you are getting very sleeeeepy. you are feeeeeling very tired. you just want to sleeeeep. you will remember nothing of me when you wake up. when you next click your mouse you will fall asleeeep."
But here are some pictures :)
On the way to the pub

Donnington Castle from the far side of Newbury. (With sunshine!)

Newbury wharf with the hoist thingy and some flowers. I really haven't got the hang of taking photos for special requirements. The results are involving a lot of photoshop learning curves so that I can end up with something both 'different' but also of the same places as everyone else's pictures of Newbury (there are many!). This one also involved getting down on the stiff knees and cursing a lot!
Ooh I make such a fuss!!!

Ooops, got to go and do something hectic!
Have a lovely weekend :)

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Just before bedtime and now the weekend is over

We have visitors, which is lovely. They have brought the large floppy monster with them which is ....interesting...That's Marmite. Endless entertainment, a certain amount of door scratching and and cat chasing but lots and lots of floppy charm. As well as the big, golden, dark-rimmed eyes he has the ears which flip over at the top, making him look a bit like he's wearing bunches. He and Nutmeg quite frequently treat me to a joint pleading look, the one mournful, soft and golden and the other hopeful, pointed and brown.
I took them for a walk yesterday. We found that single file worked best as none of us wanted to walk on the thistles to either side of the narrow path. Nutmeg (as the local guide and host) went first on the longest lead, Marmite followed on a shorter lead, nose to tail and I trundled along behind as back up in case anyone needed a human (though I'm sure nether of them felt the least need for one of those). They are now both watching Eldest and his partner with the hopeful looks as you never know, she might be intending to feed them twice this morning!

In between Marmite and stuff, we went to London for the 50th birthday and watched the 'Great River Race'* go by on the Thames. There were certainly all kinds of boats and rowing and wigs and disguises. and we shouted encouragement and clapped and cheered as best we could for all kinds of random colours and names. Lots of fun. What a brilliant idea for a birthday.
Fran and I were momentarily convinced that this was the moon. But it made itself clearly the sun as soon as we had made idiots of ourselves by wondering about it out loud.

Earlier, we wandered around the Grand Union Canal and Brentford docks where my niece lives. I love the way big cities are patched together with secret little oases of greenery. We also went to Kew Gardens to take a last picture of Barney's reridge of Queen Charlotte's Cottage now that the scaffolding has come down. Looks a treat :)

Marmite is being clicker trained. To help him become a calmer, better dog:) Nutmeg is privileged to be an observer of this training and whether or not Marmite has grasped the basic principle (ie, click = treat) Nutmeg most certainly has. I may have to buy him a clicker to go with his treats!

*Goes from Ham (near Richmond) to Greenwich and is for rowers of all kinds.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tesco's awful strawberries and other things

I got a reply today and Oh dear, I've had to send Tesco another email. I think it was the line saying "and we'll all work hard to stop this happening again" that set me off. So earnest and full of childlike promise. 'And they all worked hard together ever after' Cute. Folksy. Yuk.

(Reply From Tesco)

Thank you for your email.

I'm sorry that you're unhappy with the quality of the Strawberries from our Newbury store. I understand how disappointed you must have been to find the items were below the standard you expected.

We select our fresh food suppliers with great care and always inspect the produce on freshness and quality when it arrives at our distribution depots. Staff in store also check the produce again on delivery and keep an eye on it while it's on sale. They also remove any items they feel are sub-standard.

It seems that we failed to apply this process properly and I apologise for that. I've passed your complaint to the Store Manager and we'll all work hard to stop this from happening again.

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to let us know.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us at quoting TES4056795X.

Kind Regards

'helpful employee with good personal skills'
Tesco Customer Service

So this is what I sent today

Thanks for your reply and your apology.

However, I'm not sure you read my email.

My comment was not about the 'freshness' of the strawberries. They were perfectly fresh. The strawberries were not overripe or lacking in freshness, they were hard and tasteless. They were in fact not ripe although the bright red colour made them look as though they were.

Also you failed to answer two questions I asked you.

Are the strawberries genetically modified or irradiated?

I now ask another two questions.

What process does your supplier use to make the strawberries look ripe when they are not?

And will your staff in store now remove these substandard items from the shelves?

By all means do pass on my comment to the store manager and work hard to stop this happening again. I hope you all succeed.


'evil, snide customer'

You'd think I had better things to do with my time than playing games with tesco. Well you've got to have a bit of fun sometimes and really, truly, the little hard red things ought not to be on the shelves. Not under the descriptions, sweet, juicy or strawberry anyway.

Meanwhile, making all thoughts of hyper-bad store people irrelevant, the plasterers have arrived to pebble dash our front wall. The green elastoplast (tarp) has gone and as I speak, a shower of pebbles is being thrown at the cement they put up over the last two days. A lot of it is also falling down around the window below, highly reminiscent of the day it all fell down! As it began and all that.

The next few days is looking like being more hectic than even the last weekend. Eldest arriving with Marmite, lovely partner arriving tomorrow, a 50th (Impossible!!! a person I remember bathing as a very small pink babe :) birthday in London on Saturday to which Middle daughter and her partner are coming with us. Er, Youngest's partner's birthday (What to get him???We can't afford a motor bike and we haven't been able to find him a field. No we couldn't aford one of those either but he just wants to buy one to keep it green and pastoral for ever.) Eldest will hopefully sort out the email badness. Oh I do hope so!

Oh and I have been given money!!!! For my cards!!!! One shop bought 20 straight off and the Art shop sold six and gave me a Cheque!!!!
Well, yesterday I went into Town very early. Really. Before anybody else except BT and the rubbish men. And a few odd bods. Just me and the sunrise, rising rapidly up behind a cloud bank. So much for photos of an unpeopled Newbury glowing in the dawn. Still I took some.
This is the one I am most proud of. The photo wasn't very bad or very good. But the photoshop session was extensive and involved much learning curve steepness and I went to bed triumphant.
It really isn't a photo any more. You wouldn't be sure whether you were in the right place if you stood where I took the original. I've removed signs and bits of wood and pipes and wires and added a sunset from six months ago.
So here's the original.

And here are two versions, one cropped slightly more than the other. Would you be very kind and tell me which crop looks best?*

The lady in another shop wants more cards of Newbury landmarks so I've got to decide quickly otherwise I'd leave it a week and look again.
Later the sun came out (along with all the people and cars and buses and vans thus limiting the options for pretty views)
And later still, I thought "oh the fox is back". But he wasn't :)

*sorry to be boring. Really I'll try not to do photos in pairs again :)

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