Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why break the habits of a lifetime?

Aah! Well because even after a lifetime some of them still don't work efficiently.
This evening I drove back from doing shopping and a bit of guess what.
I found that as I drove, my head was rabbiting on about what time the sun would shine best on that tree and what exposure might be needed to catch that hillside in the sun and what a fabulous shot that flock of rooks would make if only I were at the top of that hill and....and...
"Shut up" I found myself saying. there was a brief pause and then the head went on, rabbit rabbit rabbbit....

No wonder I need a blog. Look, I'm rabbiting on as though I'd never said it!

SHUT UP!!!!!!



OK. Habits.
Well first of all I need to go and make dinner, feed the wildlife (they think it's teatime though of course that won't be for an hour in current time but it seems unfair to make them fit the vagaries of people time) and keep track of 475 photos I'm downloading.
Three quite useful habits actually. Combined, however with a bad one. Start something and then get bored and start three more at the same time. Screw up at least two of them in the process. Fortunately Barney went out for a couple of hours so I was able to do a retake on the dinner part (but not a whole remake thank heavens).
Then I needed to make a list of things I must do tonight (some of them were on that list I hadn't done any of the other night). So I did that. And the third thing on the list. Then I did something not on the list. Then it was dinner time. Then I did some more of what wasn't on the list and now I have two choices. Either do a scalded cat impersonation and do the other things or skip the list and go to bed.
Maybe I'll just do some more of what wasn't on the list.
Bad habit...make a plan ( a perfectly good and effective plan) and then do something completely different.
Wasting time making lists of things I won't do. Bad!
Really I have one enormous bad habit. Not doing all those things I ought to be doing before doing the things I want to do.
Oh and another bad habit is letting my head rabbit on to itself when it ought to be paying attention to things. Blogging was supposed to be a way of using some of that up but it seems to have worked like fertiliser on a weed. The head now not only rabbits but occasionally imagines it's having good ideas for the next blog. As if any of it gets remembered!
Bad rabbit habit :)

But yesterday, I just had to go out with the camera (and I did have to do a bit of shopping) because it was this sort of day. Finishing with a burst of glorious evening gold.
And rougeing the inside of this unexpectedly fabulous church. The outside isn't very prepossessing but the door was open. What a gem!
And coming home to windows, with Barney inside the office one and the sunset reflecting off the other!
Oh and while shopping, I caught a Gingko. Such a wonderful tree. The leaves are somewhere between flower and butterfly-shaped and the yellow in Autumn is like shower of golden wishes.
Autumn is a time of knowledge. That things change and can be beautiful in the changing. That the seasons still endure but may not for ever. That nothing is forever and sadness follows joy. That there are gifts of gold and light and memories to take with us into the cold. That as there has been a past, there may yet be a future. Promises. Berries to hoard against winter. Life stored in advance against the cold.
Oh, and that the central heating oil is getting low and needs replenishing!
Knowledge is a wonderful thing.

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I've done drafts

But the sun's been out. Too many pictures, not enough time
The Eyrie window.

And the view.
Night :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Two things that blogger needs

These are not all my own idea, Flickr has them and it makes life soooooo much easier.
'Recent activity' and 'check on comments you've made'.
The one lists all the comments that have appeared on your site since your last login and the other lists all the comments that follow the ones you've made.
In fact I'd be quite happy to re-read all the posts I've commented on to see if there's any more to follow if only I had another four or five hours in the average day.
As Barney says often and exasperatingly, 'these computers are meant to make things quicker aren't they'?
He's back and it's very nice to have him back but I'm wondering how actively he'll be sleeping tonight. I get hooked on a peaceful night's sleep very quickly. In fact I think I'll go and try for one now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Morning has broken

Only when I got to the computer I found that it (morning, not the computer) had broken an hour early. Of course.
I notice that the list I made yesterday of tasks I would like to get done, yesterday, is almost unchanged. Wonder if I can get them all done in this extra hour thingy?
Well I'll start with the coffee.

Speaking of mornings, when Barney is away, I quite often sleep in what I call the eyrie. It's the room in the roof that was converted to be Eldest's room before he left to become grown up and educated and get a home of his own. It has a lovely view which you can see from the bed and wonderful sloping roof corners. And also, an electric blanket on the bed. the only things wrong with it are that it's the 'fly room', (that place in the house where flies winter over and multiply and are horribly fruitful) and that Eldest managed to stick mountain biking stickers on the outside of the window. As the window is three storey* height above a sheer drop I try not to work out how he did this.
After the sleepless night (described in some detail in the last post), I had a sleep deprived day. That is to say I wandered around in a sleepy, headachey, shivery state and went to the loo a lot. Then I wondered if I had a temperature because of the prickly hot skin feeling, before remembering that I was just tired. But as mentioned last post, by nine-ish I had recovered a bit, enough in fact, to remember the electric blanket and the view from the eyrie. Aha!
So I loaded myself up with nice and essential things** to take to bed and snuggled down and slept like a baby. (not the feeding at midnight kind, the*Ooh she slept through the night!* kind). So good!
And woke up to a nice dawn. And just as I was thinking "nice but not spectacular" it did this sunrise. Of course, due to the mountain bike posters, I had to open the window to get pictures but there was the electric blanket to get back in with.
And then, although I wasn't quite so early to bed on Saturday, I had that extra hour after I'd got up late. So for once the whole extra hour thing has fitted in rather usefully.
I always remember that when our children were little the extra hour worked the wrong way round. When everyone else was bemoaning the loss of an hour in Summer time, we were happy because the tiny people didn't know they had to wake up early. So they slept on and blissfully, so did we! But when everyone else was gloating over their extra hour of sleep, we were woken as usual by happy tiny people expecting wideawake Mum and Dad to come and play at swapping pyjamas and chaos for clothes. And chaos.
On the other hand, on one occasion when we got up an hour earlier we surprised six fallow deer crossing the road, at their usual time I assume, and probably wondering what we were doing out and about so early. So we people do these strange things to time but the seasons roll on quietly as always.
Or not so quietly. It was quite windy today and I spent a long time trying to catch falling leaves. They seem to fall slowly but just as I get them in the viewfinder they drop beneath the wind and almost plummet earthwards. Very trying. But I will keep trying :) Meanwhile, taking a lot of pictures of blurred and tilted bits of house and garden and lawn. Don't expect to see any falling leaves any time soon! Not here anyway :) I expect there are lots wherever you all are :)
Hope you had a good weekend too.

*Is that right? Second floor = three storeys?
**cup of tea, glass of water, mobile phone, camera, bungey thing as temporary tripod, book, little pillows for knees and bunions etc etc:)

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Friday, October 26, 2007

The natural disorder of things.

Ever since watching a very interesting programme about sleep disorders, during which one couple were told that the husband's noisy, disruptive and unpleasant behaviour during the night wasn't technically a sleep disorder because he wasn't technically asleep (!) I've been looking askance at Barney on certain mornings when he's had a more than usually 'active' night!
Especially when, just as I seem to have drifted off he suddenly pats me on the backside, gives a volcanic heave which simultaneously removes six inches of duvet from my person and moves him six inches closer to me (this is surely not accidental? It doesn't make sense.*), flinging out a large pointy knee or foot with which to push my cold little feet or knees nearly out, over the edge.
If this is followed by a comment such as "Flmmpph, hahahah, uuurh, tootle, phmmm........Mmmmmm :)" and then a long peaceful snore, I get quite cross.
If it happens several times I get very cross and have to go downstairs, have a cig and a tiny cup of tea and read for half an hour to reset myself for sleepiness. If that works and I'm just gratefully drifting off again and he repeats the process......
Well I know I ought to kick him. But then he gets hurt and sorrowful and mutters about separate beds and is grumpy in the morning!
Last night was such a night and I can only be very glad that he's off to visit Father in Law for the weekend. As, due to lack of sleep, I have an upset stomach, aching joints and a disordered ** (and aching) brain. Therefore I've cancelled a fiddle lesson and done bugger all else today!
Just as well I went walkabout last Sunday:)

Or there'd be just nothing to show you :)
Anyway, I seem to have recovered now it's 10 o'clock at night. Which is a bit late to do anything else useful. Never mind.
Tomorrow is another day.
Although tomorrow never comes.
But there's jam tomorrow right :)
I'm now going to go to bed (yes very early) and wrap myself in a whole duvet and sleep right in the middle of the bed and occasionally fling some arms and legs of my own.

*In that, if he unconsciously moves himself away the duvet would naturally go with him but moving towards me ought to move the duvet towards me too? And, spot the arithmetic. Six inches less duvet + six inches less bed space = twelve inches less sleep!
**It's not working.

I didn't actually quite get to bed yet as I foolishly had a 'quick' look at my favourite blogs. I'm just off now. Goodnight all :) If you had duvet enough and space....No that's not quite right. World enough and time.....
Well I hope you have :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

On a go slow day

I think the crisp, chill of Autumn has frozen my brain. I'm doing everything so slowly today. Even the glorious sunlight didn't get me up, out or moving till the afternoon. Now I've got to do some shopping and go for a fiddle lesson.
Last night I went out with another flickr photographer for a night shoot. Such fun but we both came inadequately dressed and had to seek warmth in the pub after a couple of hours. Brrrrrrrrr!

I've spent the last few days either frozen, exhausted or out. Frozen from sitting around playing with photos or from being out, exhausted from getting up unaccustomedly early and oh, I forgot, asleep, either in front of the computer screen or the telly or of course, in bed :)
But it was warm last night :) We had such a lovely evening with Joe Brown and Thursday and watched 'meet the natives' Who did finally get to see Prince Philip.
You didn't know about them? they are a group of people from Tanna in the Pacific. they came to England to get to know us weird people and believe that Philip is the son of their God. I particularly liked that they visited three English tribes, the middle class tribe, the working class tribe and the upper class tribe.
They had a question for Prince Philip...."is the paw paw ripe yet?"
I'm not sure how he answered this question exactly. But it's to do with when he is going to come home to Tanna and the two peoples of Tanna and England will bring peace and harmony to the whole world.
I will say as well as inexhaustible humour, they all had very nice bums :)

Well, I've taken a few pics but the energy necessarily to upload them has temporarily deserted me. 'Nother day.

I think I'm going to take a brief blog break. Just too much stuff to sort out!

See you all soon.
Be well and happy xxxx

Lines of life

I was going to go to bed but a comment on one of my flickr photos lead me to this. I had to put this link in straight away.

I so, so, agree with this :)
And isn't the photo wonderful?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Art : - Could do better.

This evening, after opening the fridge door to a waft of excessive cheesinesss, I decided. the camembert has to be dealt with. I got it out with every intention of wrapping it in several layers of plastic bag.
Then I ate it.
Well that solved that problem.

It's been one of those days when things get done. Mostly by sweeping them up or under with scant attention to detail. As it's also been a day for suddenly dropping everything to run out with the camera muttering and cursing the sun's timing.
So here we have a puddle, transformed by sunshine into twinkling stars (I wax lyrical. Excuse me)
And raindrops, still lying on the blades of grass after a whole day of sun
And the house transformed by the Infra red filter. Who'd have thought cutting out visible light would make everything so bright!

Going back a bit, Canal trips involve a good deal of effort and technical stuff (of which, more in a minute) but the vast majority of the time is spent watching the banks go by at a steady 3 miles an hour.
It's rather nice.
As well as doing things and being distracted by the sun, I had the idea I might draw a diagram for Mel to explain locks. All I can say is, mice are not good drawing tools. I think it's the fur?
So I gave up on explaining and just made a, well, one of these, what do you call it? A picture. I'm sorry there's only one very small duck but really, you know, drawing with a mouse!

I wonder if any more cheese needs eating up. . . .

(you'll notice that even when behaving like a small child, my sense of composition is faultless and at least half of my perspective It would work better with the other half of course but small children lack application see)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two for tea and tea for one

Sometimes I offer Barney a cuppa. Yes please, he says and decides, coffee or tea.
I go away and make the opposite of what he asked for. I don't know why I do this but at one time it seemed to happen to at least half of his drinks. One of life's little mysteries.
Then sometimes I go away and make the right drink but forget to put the sugar in. Well anyone could be forgiven for doing that.
Then occasionally I put too much sugar in mine and not enough in his. No problem - just swap.

But tonight takes the biscuit.
I went away and carefully made a cup of tea - the right drink. Then I carefully put in the right amount of spoonful. Then I carefully put in the right amount of sugar for me....half a spoonful. Then I realised I'd only made one cup.

Do you think maybe I'm not paying attention?...

It seems to me that whoever built this nest wasn't paying attention. It's in a lock gate at the bottom of the Watford staircase. Well at least it's on the lower side of the gate!
I was so amazed by this Kingfisher not flying away that I nearly missed him altogether!
Heron also stayed in one place long enough to take pictures. Perversely, I really really wanted to catch him in flight.


And this lady (obviously offended by the mud stirred up by passing boats) just appeared out of the bushes as we glided past :)
View from the top of the Foxton staircase (with gongoozler*...or maybe another boat person, I'm not sure which)
And from the lower end of the first five locks. The gentleman in shorts on the right is the lock-keeper,mowing the grass. There were two lock-keepers and they kept everything running smoothly as the only place two boats can pass is here, in between the two staircases. Everyone had to book their turn through the locks. It really is very neat as you get two boats at a time, one going up and one going down. they meet in the middle and pass and the locks are always set for you by the boat going the opposite way.
It all seems wonderfully peaceful and smooth and easy till you open the paddles an see the immense power of the water bursting up from below the surface. (here, it's being met by a leak in between the two gates)

*Gongoozler, usually found in many small groups by locks. People who stand and watch you working through, asking questions, pointing cameras and looking interested when you stop to have a row over who's fault it was that the winding thingy fell in the water. The children of gongoozlers are always very helpful and push lock gates and may even be given rides to the next lock if they don't seem too dangerously adventurous. At Foxton, we had more gongoozlers children helping than felt safe and the locks were lined with gongoozlers all pointing and asking questions at once. And as Barney pointed out, it really is better to push the gates the right way when there are so many people watching. Besides, if you push the wrong way you could push for ever but it won't open!

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

And good morning!*

The computer is busy over in Picasa downloading no. 38 of 476 photos. **(that's the second of 3 cardsful and I have to say there are some beauties on the first card :)
We've unpacked and the cats and dog have been fed and Barney's got a curry simmering steamily away in the kitchen.
I believe Joe Brown and Thursday have recorded 'meet the natives' for us from Thursday night.

We've been up and down staircases - that's lock staircases. I love staircase locks. they are so clever and efficient and utterly satisfying. I am so enchanted by the logic and magic of them that I have to tell you in (possibly) boring detail just how wonderful they are. Do feel free to skip this bit :)
Ordinary locks you see, just pick up a bit of water with a boat in it and raise it all up a few feet.
You have a waterway and two gates, a top gate and a bottom gate and in between, a chamber. The waterway is higher above the top gate. Let's say a boat just went up ahead of you. The chamber is full of water and the level of the water is the same as the higher bit of the waterway.
So you open some paddles at the lower end of the lock, which let most of the water out of the chamber into the lower bit of waterway where you are waiting. When the water in the chamber is the same level as where you are, it stops emptying and also stops pressing against the lock gates so you can open the lock gates. You close the paddles again, drive your boat into the chamber and close the gates behind you.
Then you open some paddles which let water into the chamber from above. The water rises and the boat rises on top of it. (This alone seems quite magically clever to me). After a while the water in the chamber is the same level as the water in the waterway above the lock and that water above the lock stops pressing against the gate so you shut the paddles, open the gate and float away up the waterway. Fabulous!

But a staircase is quite even more fabulous.

Instead of having a lock and then some waterway and then another lock, you have a series of lock gates, each opening into the next chamber. So if you are at the bottom of a staircase, you have to empty the lowest chamber and go into it closing it behind you. Then you empty the next chamberful into that lock and up goes the boat on the water. Drive into the next chamber, closing the lower gate and paddles behind you and empty the one above into the second one. Repeat until you emerge at the top of the staircase.

Best of all, is when another boat has just come down the locks. Because if they have, they will have done the process in reverse, emptying all the locks and floating away past you. All the locks are empty and all you have to do is open the gates, and fill from above one stair after another until you are at the top.

I love locks.
The Foxton Locks are two sets of five staircases. and we went down them and then up them again a few days later. It's true, on the way up I had to do all the winding and gate opening, since I don't like steering, and this is hard work. But very satisfying all the same. It's just so amazing to arrive at the top of a great hill and look down and know that us and the boat are going to work our way straight down that hill, going from step to step down the staircase. And then we'll float away through the woods and fields at the bottom of the hill.

The boat itself now! That was a bit luxurious compared to the hire boats we've always had before. Barney's brother has a time-share in it and couldn't use one of his weeks so we got to use it. (which is why we have had two canal holidays this year). It's all nice and light and wooden inside and has a shower and a bath! An actual little bath! And a wood burning stove and central heating!!! And a microwave. Which meant we could have our coffee with hot milk which didn't do little floating white bits. Not to mention telly (which we didn't use) and a music centre.

And the weather veered from brilliant to not wet (except for one day when it rained half the day and then let us off and became sunny and bright).
We saw herons and kingfishers and kestrels. I don't think we saw a single rabbit but so many moorhens that I wondered if the Leicestershire moorhens have done a take over. The fields were dotted with them.
Nobody fell in or over :)
The dog was happy and spent most of the week looking sweet and doggy and pretending to be a real boat dog :)
Our various companions were lovely company and seemed to enjoy the bits of holiday they had and all the arrivals and departures worked perfectly :)
There was a sunset to die for on the last night (and I did nearly fall in trying to get a picture over the side of the boat). And a few glorious skies. Some marvellous reflections and a couple of excursions at night with the tripod and the camera.
This was the morning we left
A tunnel (there were several)
Another morning, all misty
A gloriously windy, cloudy, sunny afternoon
And the last night :)

But it's nice to be back.
*This was actually written the night we got back but I hadn't got any pictures ready so it's all out of order! Never mind.
**They're all done now but it'll be a while before I get them all sorted so look out for locks and ducks and other stuff soon. well, eventually. Well some time anyway :)

Friday, October 12, 2007


I'm back :)
Hope you're all happy.
And well.
See you in the morning :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Gone away

Not like the fox and not for long.

Have a very good week.
Look after yourselves all.


Clearly this is a pagan tree goddess. (I know shes a she because her offshoots have berries.)
Isn't she just amazing?

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Monday, October 01, 2007


I know this is late but I hope you get it anyway :)

Meanwhile, on the joys of canal holidaying:-----
to start with, my internet connection is on the blink
They are of course, very joyful. (Canal holidays that is, not blinking connections) However, on this (upcoming next week) occasion, there are flies in the ointment. Mainly that all the people who were going to come with us have backed out. We have one couple for 3 days and then for the rest of the week there's just us chickens (not at all the spring variety) and a fifty six foot boat. (oh and the dog)
Barney assures me that there aren't very many locks. However, his idea of not very many and mine differ widely. I think here will be a lot of locks.
I foresee miles of trudging and heavy winding and general struggling. and not many opportunities to take pictures.
I could of course leave all the locking to Barney but I don't actually like steering. It's a bit like playing second violin in an orchestra. Miles of emptiness verging on boredom and then lots of sudden, difficult, urgent concentration. (first violins get to play the tune a lot, very high and soulfully and all that, while seconds get to fill in the extra notes that the composer wanted, to make the harmonies work so they often don't make a lot of sense on their own and very rarely sound like a tune) This is why I abandoned playing in an orchestra!
Furthermore, once you have been left with the steering thingy in your hand, you can't escape until some one comes back and relieves you. And then there's the whole business of turning round. Boat steering being the way it is, you have to do everything back to front. And they don't have brakes you understand, you slow down and stop by reversing the engine.
Oh and boat steering and braking are not responsive. You have to plan a turn minutes before you get to the point where you want the turn to happen. Whole minutes.* Also, nearly all turning round comes in multiples of points. In a car you might have to do the occasional 3 point turn to prove you can do it without hitting the curb. In a boat, all turns come in points of three or four or twenty and usually involve wedging one end of the boat against the bank while dragging it's back end round with the engine in reverse. Or is that forward? And turning the rudder ...which way was that now? Not the way you would expect. Or maybe this time it will be the way you expect only by now you can't remember if you've learnt what to expect or you're having a reversal and you're back to expecting a car style response. Sometimes, while doing this you also have to throw a rope to the person on the bank...simultaneously.
Then the urgent moment is over and on we go at a stunning 2 or 3 miles an hour for the next several miles.
Basically, the thing about boats is, the more the merrier. More people to steer and wind locks and more people to shop and more people to cook. And some one to talk to when you've upset the steerer by complaining about the bumps when they hit the lock or the bridge!

Oh and more people to make tea!!!!
You will have noticed by now that my first response to any new situation is to list, comprehensively, all the bad things about it.
Actually, experience has taught me that canal holidays are always fun.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing in the world, like messing around in boats :) I just make a point of being ambivalent. Since I'm neither amphibious nor ambidextrous.

*Whole minutes when you'd rather be pointing a camera than a boat.
Update: One of the drop outs may have dropped back in :)
I think I'd better try and post this!

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