Friday, May 30, 2008


The last two weeks or so all the words vers have been eight letter jawbreakers with lots of double x's and z's and too many t's and really taking duplication to excess. And then suddenly they've all gone five letter and almost meaningful. Okobe is my favourite so far. Though I was quite taken with rwaldi and vebruk. And sazqr had a certain ring to it.

Today, I may have temporarily solved my perennial camera carrying problem. The new one is too big (and heavy) for the old system so I've been using a rucksack. Good in the outside pocket department but not so good on the inside - just a big dark cave really for things to get jumbled and heaped in. And a bit floppy so that if I don't zip up all the outside pockets, it flops over and things fall out.
So now, my camera lives in a lunch bag. An Umbro lunch bag from WH Smiths no less. It seems happy there.

Yesterday was a grey day. Moody and off centre was how I felt and hey! The sky agreed with me. I went to Hampstead Norreys and found footpaths into the grey and green gloom. But first, speedwell. Probably my favourite flower. little tiny bursts of blue sky hiding obscurely in every hedgerow and meadow and bank and ditch. Got to love them.

And then, moody and off centre.
I shall leave you with flowers.
Good night :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

cobwebs blown away?*

I think the wind and rain cleaned my head out. It seems to be nearly working again though I haven't stopped taking the tablets. Might try that tomorrow!
Next week but one we're off again, back to the North and the Rochdale canal. This time hopefully, to travel all the way into Manchester and possibly venture underneath Picadilly (Manchester Picadilly) Railway Station where the canal slithers into oily darkness between big concrete pillars and the thunder overhead is the sound of trains. Once seen, never forgotten. Not a romantic or pretty place but splendidly Dante-esque and just a little bit scary. One step below urban and as is always the case with canals, a whole staircase beyond the norm.
Mind, the main part of the journey will be over the Pennines again, locking up and down through twisty ways to one of the most beautiful summit pounds in the country.
I'm not a canal anorak like Barney. But water that carries you uphill and down and all the strange, huge, creaking structures that allow it to do so, are endlessly fascinating and wonderful. The tales (told of an evening in the boat or pub, by Mr Anorak himself) of the men who built them are worth a listen - I wish I had his kind of memory sometimes so I could tell you more.
I wish, even, that he'd write a blog. It would be a wonderful source of traditional and historical interest. If only he could type! (But you might as well say, 'if only dinosaurs could speak' :)

Well, and there will be pies :) (There were rather nice pies in Bampton - the best of the southern kind with thick gooey and crusty pastry and real pieces of chicken and mushroom).

And Oh look! (no not a chicken) The sun's coming out :)See you tomorrow maybe :) Have a Happy Friday.

*I wonder why they're called cobwebs? Is cob an old word for spider?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weather report for the bank holiday weekend

Horizontal buckets of water propelled across flat, open, camping fields expected and delivered at various times over the bank holiday weekend.
According to the BBC gardeners' weather report big swirly clouds full of water were due to arrive above Oxfordshire, centred over Bampton and then stop and empty themselves above the village. This they have done in spite of interference from gusts of wind.
We've been saying to everyone, last year was the worst ever in living memory (our living memory anyway) and it can't possibly be as bad this year. Indeed it wasn't as bad this year. But it's hardly been the balmy, sunny garden-viewing kind of weekend we were hoping for!
There's been a certain amount of wimping out :) Most notably, for the first time in 35 years, Barney failed to appear at the opening dance at 8.30 am, claiming cramp and a hangover as his excuse. Youngest indignantly said "I can't believe my Father hasn't made it when I can get myself and three small children here on time. (partner also assisted of course)" (Caused me some mild amusement as for many years, it was me who got ourselves and three small children there on time. Barney assisted of course :)
The three small children stood and watched the first dance with faint bemusement they don't understand yet about mad Morris dance traditions. One day they'll regard their parents with vague astonishment and wonder why all of them are continuing to turn up at a wet windy street in a pretty Oxfordshire village having shepherded and harried small children out of cold damp tents to stand and watch men in white trousers and bells and flowery hats dancing to a slightly out of tune fiddle at 8.30 in the morning. I hope so anyway.
But somehow, I feel they will do it :)

One way to enjoy a wet windy weekend (laughing at people throwing wet toys at each other and wearing the latest in campsite fashion - a bin bag bustle which should only be worn by the naturally elegant)
And another - really, he is enjoying it
I'm back by the way :)
Sleep well :)

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

High as a .....

We'll be off in the morning, it hasn't started raining yet in spite of Met Office threats and wouldn't it be nice if they'd got it completely wrong :)
Anyway, I have three new tyres and I've packed lots of waterproofs and woollies. What more could I want?
Except anther three hours of today to play with pictures :)
At this time of year, hay cutting means kites! They follow the tractors around and swoop and dive and soar above the fields. And today the kite circus came to our back door :) I had time to try all sorts of wrong settings on the camera and still get shots of them. Even with ten or more to choose from it's quite hard to get them in focus and I've taken an awful lot of blurred brown blobs! but eventually I got the idea and here they are. Great big birds with mad eyes and huge wingspans.
I have a feeling it's a good thing I'm not really any kind of bunny - I don't think it was a good day for bunnies :(
But even birds of prey have families to feed!


Have a nice weekend

See you when I get back :) (Which may be sooner than currently planned if the Met Office have got it right!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's our camping weekend

I checked the weather forecast today and yesterday. I'll take yesterday's thank you.
Now I'm checking my camping list. Yes, I'll take all that.
And there's some gas in each of the gas bottles so I suppose we'll take all of those. (No full ones!)
Chairs and tables - definitely.
The car's got a flat but we'll take it anyway. Barney will have to change the tyre and I'll have to get a new one tomorrow.
Now I'm going to go and crawl around in the attic cupboard thing and get useful stuff (like tents) out. And cooking gear. I wonder if the cooker works.

The lovely woods
And the Frilsham Rain Forest (No rain but lots of stuff growing in the trees - as well as tree that is)

Oh honestly! some people will do anything to get in the picture!While others have to be chased around the skyAnd others have to be stalked along hedges and surprised through gapsAnd some have to be observed by a pesron pretending to be a fence post
Pesron = a person pretending to be a gate post - obviously.
Blogger must assume that everyone dashes off their new posts in a few minutes, or that they compose them elsewhere and then transfer the finished article in one go. How else to explain that it says I posted this at 3.10 pm? It's 11.30 pm for heaven's sake!
I'd better go to bed ^&^ (I've decided that's a shrug performed with crossed legs in a nonchalant way. ^?^ or ^!^ is the raised eyebrows)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Well that was a piece of cake

I'll go and have one! A very small piece.

Ah! finally. Pictures.

Sorry, got to go to bed now! We can all look at them tomorrow.

G'night :)

Sssh....don't say anything

But Blogger's stopped making me sign in.
I'm not sure why and I'm a bit scared if I sign out it'll stop letting me sign in, you know how computers and the www are.
Still it saves a lot of time.

Had a very busy day today and while the photos are loading I've got a few minutes or twenty to spare.
See, I went off this afternoon to deliver some pics to the Brewery and to deliver a birthday present to a friend and on the way (which was a bit roundabout - but in a good way) I stopped to consider a quite nice, but not breathtaking view and suddenly a kite flew out of the trees right overhead. Then another one and then I realised they were all over the place. Spent a long time practising following kites round and round and up and down (suitably propped against a helpful hedge).
Then I did my errands and stopped in the woods on the way home. Then after dinner, as Barney is settled in front of the football for the night, I went for another stroll and this time encountered deer and hares and bunnies. (When I told him I'd seen a deer he said well of course - the people are all sat in front of the football so he should have had the fields to himself).
Although that's only a half dozen exciting things to see, I seem to have taken a few hundred pics. Still waiting for one cardfull to download!
So what shall I do now!

tap tap tum ti tum.


Ho hum.

tiddley pom. Pah pom pom POM!!!!

Oh I do like to be beside the.......Bah humbug! Nowhere near done yet!

OK. I'll sign out and then see if I can get back in.

See ya.

blackbird has spoken

And he says it's time to get upEr.....?

He has to be joking.

Mornin' everyone :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Skin deep

Over the years, I've had various opportunities to go to spas to have days of 'pampering'.

I've never had to think much about rejecting the idea out of hand. For one thing the people who offered to accompany me have often been, well, um..... boring.
For another, I know full well that however pleasant it may be to be massaged and perfumed and smoothed and buffed and polished, the me that emerged from such a place would be the same me that went in, glowing a bit, smelling of whatever is currently considered a fashionably nice smell (ugh) but basically, no more beautiful nor any less short, fat and scruffy than usual. And with flat, limp hair (crushed by being heated and wetted and not properly blowdried) to boot.

Further, the people who normally go to these places seem to be either of the tall, slender, fair-skinned and elegant variety or of the rich, elderly, 'don't give a toss what the pretty girls at the spa think of me cos I'm rich' variety. Or the fit, spa-tanned, muscular, 'look after myself and work out regularly' variety.

Undoubtedly this is a wild and inaccurate generalisation. But add to my preconceptions, a horde of pretty, manicured, smoothskinned young women and (presumably a few tanned, fit, young men) on the staff to give ladies the right ideas about why they came to theses places and maybe you can see why my sad toenails, baggy stone and a half in the middle, geriatric warts*, 'once bitten, many times shy' fingernails, and lousy posture loom large in my imagination as I consider walking, flat-footed, through the portals of one of these temples to the pretty body.

To enjoy going go to such a place, I'd have to erase my preconceptions, suspend disbelief, enter into the fairy tale and accept my physical curses as minor things which everyone has seen hundreds of times before and couldn't care less about. Big mental effort! Much easier to keep the body more or less contained with it's layers of clothing and forget about it :)

And of course there's the money. Not that I have the least hesitation about spending large amounts of money on my personal desires. Oh no! If I wanted something enough, I'd sell my own grandmother to pay for it. **

What has given me pause on this occasion is that I am invited, nay, pressed, to accompany two friends to a local spa and neither of these ladies are even slightly boring (though they are both tall, fairskinned, elegant and younger than me). At the pub they both twinkled eagerly at me and demanded to know why not? Threatened to do a pub collection for my birthday. Worse (or at any rate, more) Barney has assured me that he'd happily allow the housekeeping to be spent in such a worthy cause (not that he has any more say than I do about how it's spent). (I hope he doesn't imagine that a day at a spa would change my image much).

They'd both be great fun and brilliant company and I feel a bit as if I'm digging my toes in just out of grumpiness. But the fact is it's just that this isn't one of the things I've ever wanted to do.....
For heaven's sake, for the cost of a day in a spa I could instead spend a day walking with wolves or visiting Eden or stay in a really really wild and wonderful place in the mountains and commune with nature and my camera. I could get wet and muddy and wear big boots and waterproofs and catch sunlight glinting in a wolf's eye or watch the sunrise over a single thorn tree on a misty hillside. I could hobble down to the bottom of a waterfall and see spray making rainbows or to the top and watch white water plunging. I could have a delicious, unhealthy, chloresterol-laden dinner and a glass or two of heavenly wine. I could buy a new lens! Even, I could get some new spectacles! I could go to a nature reserve and see shy birds flitting. Maybe even otters or wild deer. I could spend a day playing violin at a course. If I was thinking about my personal well being, I'd go for a day's Alexander technique.
Well, see, if I wanted to spend more money on myself it wouldn't be on being pampered. It would be on doing something!

There is a wolf sanctuary 6 miles or so up the A4. Hey, you two gorgeous ladies, want to come and walk with wolves one day? We could howl at the moon :)

Oh and did I mention that the camera wouldn't like the steam?
*Not the kind that witches of the old fashioned fairy tale kind sport, hairily on their chins and noses, but a vast quantity of mole-like things which inconveniently scatter around my neck and chest. GB has kindly monitored their presence for me ever since she first asked what they were and was reassured that they don't hurt. Still there Grandma :)
**She's dead now but she would have fetched a very good price - a fantastic, delightful and beautiful old lady. In fact, no, I wouldn't have sold her. She was too precious.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sweet Sunday

When the dreaded dizzy thing struck, we were supposed to be going to Youngest's for one of the children's birthday tea. (Not GB, one of her step siblings who are as delightful as she is). We missed it and so they all came to us for Sunday lunch today. (When it was explained that Grandma was ill so we couldn't come she said, couldn't Grandad come by himself? When it was explained that Grandad had to look after Grandma, she said well they could both come and Grandma could go to bed upstairs).
Lunch was brilliant in spite of a small misunderstanding about who was supposed to be cooking the potatoes.
And then we all went to the pub where there is a wonderful old tree in the garden which has been clambered over for many years by generations of very small children. "That tree" said Youngest "has been looking after small children for as long as I've been alive".
Then somebody landed a little yellow helicopter in the field at the back which caused a small crowd of people to gather with cameras and open mouths. (Also caused a number of young cattle to run backwards and forwards in a rather sheep-like manner).
And then Grandad juggled with fire (which was one reason why StepGB was prepared to abandon Grandma to the upstairs room on the occasion of the missed birthday tea). This also caused a gathering of open mouthed camera waving people and children.
At some point during the afternoon, several dogs had a barking match which was very exciting.
So the birthday got an extension and we all had a good time and the sun shone for enough of the afternoon that the old tree saw a great many small children.
Eventually it got cold and we all went our separate ways (I was very glad I'd had the forethought to change into a cashmere jumper, a thick fleece, woollie trousers and socks before coming out) and now we are preparing for an extraordinarily early bed time as we both seem to be really quite exhausted :)


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Black lightning

Oh dear I must have been knackered last night. And spaced out!
Well there you are, it just goes to show I think about the vest of the world even when I have absolutely nothing of any interest to say!
(Not sure if that's good for the rest of the world or not - maybe it would have been better if I'd gone straight to bed and then I could have told you all about my dreams. Er, right. Um which dreams. Hmm)

Aah! the vest of the world. Not only little to say but vulgar with it :)

A couple of things I forgot to mention - how could I have forgotten Barney offering to cut my toenails! the nice Doctor happens to have a skin disease interest and happened to notice on my notes that I had sad toenails. Unwell toenails even. (No photos available). So she asked if she could have a look at them. Should I feel flattered or something.? Will they appear in a text book some day? Anyway on pointing out that I couldn't easily reach them these days and couldn't always be bothered, Barney leapt in with his noble offer. Greater love hath no man! Er, or should it be 'greater love hath no woman' than to allow her partner to cut her toenails. Not to mention trust.

And then, how could I have forgotten that on Monday I am to have a tooth extracted and then until the following afternoon, I have to go around without my plate since it will be at the lab being fitted with a 'cover'. The thing being that the current plate is for a front tooth. My teeth will in fact be displaying full frontal nudity. (Again, no photos available).

I feel decrepit! Is there no end to the humiliations to be heaped upon me? Should I perhaps get me to a nunnery? Should that be 'are there no ends' to the (plural) humiliations?

Ok ok, only two humiliations so far, assuming I can avoid everyone in the world for a whole day and a half. I could always take a vow of silence or carry a sign saying 'my lips are sealed'. Perhaps I could take a veil for a day. Barney will have to drive me so I can cover my head and duck out of sight if we meet anyone we know!

Or, wait!!! I could wear a pointy hat and some warts and a long black wig and say I'm going to a halloween party!

Or, wait wait. I could get me some sponsors and go toothless for charity! In fact I could combine the witchy outfit and the charity bowl. box. thing.

I shall pick flowers.

Flowers outnumber humiliations by several. got a few flowers to spare. You can have them :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

We've got a gig tonight and I'm wondering how much inactivity I can get away with. I can read music slowly and I know a good few of the tunes by heart - though it's easier to use music all the time but still, playing from 8 to 11.30 will be quite tiring. We''re pretty flexible and there's two of us to carry the tune (not something I like to do by myself as I like to wander away from the tune occasionally and embellish it with harmony and pretty twiddles. Also to have someone else covering up my fluffing - it's a mutual support thing). So I will be able to stop playing now and then and just look as though I have something important to add in a minute or so :)

Yep. It was ok. I couldn't read more than half the music so I made up the rest and as far as I could tell it was fine :)

Going to bed now

Sleep well :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Busy bunny

Also contented, pleased, and LET OUT bunny!!!!!*
We went to get more pills, from our own surgery. We saw the nice Doctor (Very nice doctor :). I told her all about everything (well, no not everything, we'd waited 45 minutes to see her so that would have been silly. Just everything I thought she needed to know and everything she thought she needed to know).
And just before leaving, I threw in the burning question - since the pills do not make me drowsy, CAN I DRIVE???
Oh that's no problem she said cheerfully, the pills won't affect your driving at all. Then realising that she might have been a little indiscriminate, she added that of course I shouldn't drive if I was feeling spaced out or dizzy or anything like that.

Lovely doctor. Excellent pills.

The thing is, sitting in the car is the least spaced out place I can find. Walking, computer, stairs, talking and shopping all require a good bit of planning and careful balancing but sitting in the car - no problem. It's almost as good as lying down.
Don't worry, I tested myself out very carefully. Drove up and down the drive and turned the car round several times with looking over shoulder and in mirrors and then pootled very gently down the road 100 yards and did some more turning round and peering in all directions, quickly, slowly, even reflexively when someone drove past. Brilliant!

No more than fifteen minutes at a time. I really am being careful but the reflexes all work and the dizziness stays off till I get out. Then, well, it's so GOOD to be out :) And if I can cope with a little bit of cooking and tidying and washing, I think I should be allowed to cope with a gentle wobbly amble in the woods and half an hour propped against a gatepost taking pictures of kites following the harvesters :)It may be raining tomorrow - today - but remember, the sun shines somewhen :) Hold that thought :)

*Sorry, only a metaphorical bunny :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Sun Also Rises

I never could get into Scot Fitzgerald but he certainly did a good line in novel titles. So although I've never read the book, the above title came into my head the other morning and stuck. Suspecting that anyone more literate than me (I'm a dyed in the wool sci fi and fantasy addict though I'll read almost any type that passes before my eyes, quite indiscriminately - words are so clever, beautiful, wound through the fabric of human awareness, how can you not) would know what it meant and wonder how on earth it could apply to my pleasant, meandering and generally quite mundane blog. So I looked it up and discovered its provenance. Much too literary and intellectual for me but good old Wikipedia provided me with the following quote* which I'm happy to adopt. This is one of the themes of my life and experience.

"One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever."

And what it's all about is simply that Saturday night I didn't do any sleeping to mention. Having abandoned poor old snoring bear (at 3am) I settled down in the spare (/Fran's/Grandad's/Gorgeous Babe's) room and bounced up and down for the rest of the night, enjoying the balmy night air, the peace and soft night sounds, then grumbling about how this was going to make me feel next day and then peering into the dark and seeing mist, gathering across the fields and promising gorgeous sights in the morning, wandering around on tiptoe (metaphoric tip-toe since flat-footed and yawing** slightly to the left, is the only way I can get around at the moment) to make tea, collect camera, tidy the table, read, stop reading, arrange things on the bedside know, all the daft, trivial things you do when sleep eludes you.
So the dawn chorus awoke me from a fitful doze (that's good literary stuff isn't it :)***and the camera was to hand and Yay! The sun also rose :) I only took about 197 pictures. But it's going to be awfully hard to throw any away!

I'm sorry there are such a lot, but at least they're all of pretty much the same thing :)

Otherwise, we had friends round to be BBQ'ed yesterday and John was so, so funny. Had the best laugh I've had for ages (fortunately he doesn't mind being the centre of affectionate amusement over his tractor collection and his opinions on the price of mars bars and how things were in the colonial days in Kenya -such a darling). And everyone did all the work, since Barney made an unscheduled pub stop (to collect more lemons - really) and I was veering quite a lot :) Oh well all right, some of the blokes spent some of the time sitting in the garden, providing a centre to which to bring things. Very important task that :) As long as there's at least one person by the table waiting with a drink and a meditative expression, all's well with the world I think.
Oh and between us, we made Lemon (Orange, Lime) Sherbet. This was my thoughtful contribution to the non-alcohol drinkers among us. Mostly me! Huh! not that I'm bitter and twisted about it or anything or that I whinged at all that I didn't get to try the delicious looking wine Scarlett and Joe Brown brought - thinking this would be a nice treat for me to share. Oh no :{
Anyway the sherbet was very nice. And good for me. (The juice of 3 lemons and 1 lime: a couple of desert spoons of caster sugar: two pinches of salt: top up with water and ice and adjust salt and sugar to taste: orange juice optional. Good vitamin C laden stuff).

Oh my Goodness! Isn't the sun absolutely wonderful!
Wishing you green and growing loveliness wherever you are.

*which I shall now look up ~ Ecclesiastes. 1: 4
**yachting term I think, implying a tendency to veer without warning. I have that!
***You know it's really true about cock crow - they do it, all over the view, just before dawn!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Secret places