Life, photos but not the universe

Going going …..

On holiday.


I’m just having my pre-holiday grouch actually, you know, too much to do, didn’t get up early enough to do it all, haven’t done the half of it tonight, won’t have time to do it tomorrow, blah blah blah!

Meanwhile, I’ve been having thoughts about comfort zones.  I like to be in one.  The three days before a holiday are not comfort zones but if I try hard, I may be able to arrive at one on the morning of departure when everything is packed and in the car and we are in the car and we roll off down the road and it’s too late to worry about anything I might have forgotten!  I shall like that.

However, Barney has plans to do walks.  Long ones.  Up mountains.  I’ll see about the comfortableness of that when we get half way up.  And tomorrow I must see if either of my pairs of walking boots still more or less fit any of my feet! And which pair to take.

I’m going through a grouch photo period too.  The sun isn’t out when I want it, the wind blows my flowers around just as I’m pointing the camera, the Autumn colours are not quite there and the Summer green is getting grubby. Excuses apart, I’m not happy with any of my pictures.  (Except the sunrise ones 🙂

I keep cleaning the lens as though it’s the camera’s fault and then cleaning my glasses as though it’s my eyes’ fault and then thinking “a bad workman blames his tools”  (Thank you for that Dad!)

So maybe the holiday is a good thing.  Oh, except rain is forecast so I may not feel able to take many pictures while climbing up mountains anyway.  Perhaps I don’t really want to carry all that camera stuff up mountains.

Grumble mutter.

We brought a hitch-hiker/stowaway home with us from Holland!  Yesterday, as I drove into town, a large, brown and foreign looking spider emerged from behind the rear view mirror and voyaged rather shakily across the roof towards the sun shade!  I have to say that sharing my car with an inch or so of spider (especially one which probably doesn’t understand English) is not good in comfort zone terms.

I stopped the car and attempted to flick it out of the window.  Only instead of being flicked, it jumped.*  Somewhere out of sight under my seat. Well this was better than having it mountaineering above my head! When I got to the shops, it emerged from under the seat and headed past the gear lever in a purposeful way as if hoping to regain the roof!  So I tried to catch it with a piece of tissue and this time it evaded me by slithering into a very small gap between the gear lever housing and the long thing that’s got the crank shaft underneath it.  Haven’t seen it since so I can only assume that its adventure ended somewhere down there in the bowels of the car’s machinery or that it escaped to begin a new life in a chilly Waitrose car park in England.  I wish it the best of luck.

I shall miss you all.  there’s no mention of Wifi in our B&B so I’m unlikely to be blogging for a week.

Look after yourselves a lot.  I NEED you to be all there when I get back 🙂


Ther was going to be a photo here but guess what – there’s an error instead.  It’s all go slow and stop tonight on the virtual front and as I’m on go fast and finish it quick we’re rapidly becoming incompatible.  But I’m a happy bunny.  I did nearly all the packing and I got a PARCEL!!!!! And it has BEAUTIFUL things in it 🙂


Tell you about it when I get back

Oh, xxx again 🙂

*I’d forgotten, though I did know it, that spiders don’t just spend their lives on one happy arial slide.  They perfom prodigious leaps from time to time in order to get to new anchorage points.  Or to ecape mad Englishwomen intent on flickeng them out of car windows.

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

This is for Mel.

And this made me howl with laughter.

I suspect this could keep me up all night

Lotsa love – I’m a scalded cat today.  Also a blue arsed bottle thingie.  Also late!!!!

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Blogout some more

So I settled down to visit and now blogger won’t let me comment!  I can’t believe it!!! I’ve left Blogger!  how can it stop me commenting?

Neither will wordpress.

I really hate it when I can’t say anything!!!!!  Stuck in here with me, it’s boring!

Snaaarrrl! (And Rawrrr, of course)

Ok.  Now I’ll lurk for a bit.

(Incidentally, I wonder what wordpress means by “show/hide kitchen sink”  in the post writing bit.  Anyone know?)

Light rising through the trees at Cromvoirt

Light rising through the trees at Cromvoirt

Ah.  It seems wordpress will let me comment on wordpress blogs.  and I’ve lurked.  and there’s just so much I want to say (just can’t keep my mouth shut!)

But I’ve found out what the kitchen sink is.  All sorts of stuff.  (Except EXTREMELY LARGE AND NOISY LIKE STAMPING YOUR FEET AND THROWING A TANTRUM!!!!)

Well !%^&*+*!

I’m going to bed and sulking

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Back home

East, West, and all that.

Kerke den sint Nicklaas, Helvoirt*

‘Twas a beautiful funeral in a beautiful church. Dutch churches are very large.  This one, in a small village seemed big enough to hold a good two or three hundred people which was good because there were at least that many people there. A much loved man, Jacques. (The only problem for us was that we didn’t understand a word of the service or the various readings and eulogies : (

There were too many flowers to fit on the coffin so as people left their seats to go out to the graveyard, they were handed flowers to carry.  And then formed a kind of flowery guard of honour for the coffin.

And his widow was happy to see us and two of my sisters came as well and a niece so it was all very much worth the effort.

Holland is beautiful on a sunny evening or on a misty morning.

But I was severely curtailed in the photo department.  As Barney prefers to drive himself he drove all the way there and back and all the time when we were finding the church, looking for places to eat and places to buy flowers and it seemed a bit demanding to say “STOP” (every five minutes) “I have to take a photo (or twenty)”.

I did, however, get up at six, on the morning of the funeral, and zoomed up the road to investigate a lake we’d passed the night before.

Lake at Cromvoirt

Sunrise at Cromvoirt

Sunrise at Cromvoirt

And there was a windmill which Barney agreed ought to be photographed

Windmill at Nieuwkuijk

Windmill at Nieuwkuijk

And there was the ferry of course : )

ship ahoy!

odd things you see on ships

odd things you see on ships

A veritable playground for me 🙂



And encounters with other photographers.  I’ve noticed in the last year or two, how people carrying large cameras tend to catch each others’ eyes at photgraphically inviting places, after first glancing down at the other camera to see what sort they’ve got.  It’s like belonging to a large club : )

And here’s our hotel

De Kruishoeve

De Kruishoeve

Oof!  It’s all been a long way.

Happy to have been, happy to be back, see you all later : )

I’m still trying to work out why the pictures come up a bit blurry on wordpress.  The big versions seem to be ok though.  So if you don’t mind waiting for them, you should get a reasonable picture!

*I may have got my dutch prepositions wrong here – perhaps it’s von or van rather than den?

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Odd and foreign stuff

A curious thing I’ve noticed.  As far as I know, I haven’t been logged into blogger for nearly two weeks.  but when I post comments, there I am with a link to Quiet Pictures.  Adding insult to injury really since I’m now here and I can’t do anything to the blogger blog anyway.

Well it’s taken two and a half days but I’ve organised the funeral trip all except kennels for the dog.  They won’t answer their phone.  (Maybe Jenny up the road will come and give him dinners and walks and love : )  Which would be good since it’ll keep the house looking slightly used!)  Usually it takes me at least a month to get organised to go abroad. And unbelievably, the hotel I picked almost at random is in the village half a mile up the road from where the funeral is to be and nearly the same distance from Sint Michiels Gestel, where my Grandparents lived and which I visited as a small child.  Better still, all these places are clustered round the main road we have to use to get there.  No struggling through big towns or cities.

I’m really hoping I’ll have a chance to wander around Sint Michiels Gestel.  It’s the next village to where the funeral is happening and my Dutch Grandparents lived there.  It’s full of memories and I particularly love the way all the dutch names start getting back into my head whenever I look at the map. I’ve always hoped I was one of those rare English people who can pronounce s’Hertogenbosch correctly but I doubt it.

My fiddle teacher loves going to Italy because she can understand so many of the road signs – they are of course quite similar to the Italian music instructions in classical music 🙂  and I remember loving that in Greece, I could understand a lot of stuff because I’d read Greek Myths as a child. And although the alphabet is different, you get a feel of the word from the shapes and as the names of Greek Gods and heroes figure largely in place names when you’re a tourist you get a good selection of recognisable bits of word to extrapolate from.

So.  I shall have to bring home some zoutedropjes (I loathe them but there must be someone who would like some – a kind of salt and sweet liquorice) and some Droste chocolates (My Groetmoeder’s best friend was married to Mr Droste and Groetmoeder swore that Droste was the best chocolate in the world).  And I shall try and get a picture of De Kleine Ruwenburg  Where our friends used to live.  Sadly, the Dommel House where the grandparents lived is long gone.  It was a tiny wooden house on the banks of the River Dommel and at the beginning of a long avenue of poplar trees.

I think I shall skip the bicycles – Dutch bikes don’t have brakes.  You have to pedal backwards to stop and I find this quite scary – as well as having to cycle on the right.

Well whatever.  There will be the ferry trip.  I am sad about Jacques and it’s going to be quite heart breaking going there and finding him absent from the places where he ought to be but a sea journey always lifts my heart and I’m not going to deny it.  I love journeys.

Here is one of my favourite pictures of Holland by a Dutch photographer.

And here is a rose.

Rose at sunset

Rose at sunset

Hey!  the hotel has wifi : )

But I doubt if I’ll have time for any of that : (

Oh well.  Sleep peacefully and be well and look after yourselves please, till I get back 🙂

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I need to cut down or speed up

on my Internet time, right.  I spend too much time clicking here, reading there, viewing that, commenting on this.

See, there’s this and all your lovely blogs, there’s Flickr and several million lovely pictures to view and now, just to add to my ways to waste (?) time, I’ve been invited to join a small and very intense Flickr group.  So I did and immediately cocked up on the posting rules and had to remove my pic in a hurry – hoping no one noticed.  Already I’ve had three welcomes and two visits to my Flickr site.  All needing replies. And a tutorial thread which has about fifteen really useful tutorials and is about 300 comments long. And a chit chat thread which obviously, everyone visits regularly.

And it’s been three or four days (or five or six?) since I visited around here and 3 weeks since I posted on Flickr. And months since I did a proper round of visiting my Flickr contacts.

And I really need to reread my camera manual.

And Barney says let’s go on holiday next week!

And I haven’t even had my shower yet today!!!!

OMG and I’m supposed to be putting a wedding album on face book!

It’s because I’m slow.  See.

Anyone got any suggestions about how to become faster?

Oh and as if enough wasn’t enough, we’ve just heard that a very old friend has died.  In Holland.  I’ve spent about 5 hours on the phone and the internet working out how we could get to the funeral as he was the sort of friend you don’t see very often but is, nonetheless, very important.

For Jaques

For Jacques

And while I was looking up routes from Dunkerque to S’Hertogenbosch I had a quick peek at Google earth to see if I could see the place where my Grandmother used to live and found a picture of the place where our friends lived until a few years ago and where we stayed with them. (But the link didn’t work so I cut it out – if thy link offend thee….)

I’m having a slight issue with wordpress. The photos seem to be uploaded at quite a low resolution.  When you click on the larger image you get jpeg artefacts.  I don’t like it. And I don’t know what I can do about it. I tried uploading the full size image – this may make everything very slow.  Let me know?

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Photos, about 200 – mostly very blurred, drunkenly lopsided, or pitch black!  I really wasn’t paying attention.

Glasses to wash and return to Youngest, approx 144. (plus sundry dishes, platters, bowls and cutlery, about 30 items)

Amount of water leaked by dishwasher while glasses were being washed, about 6 gallons.

Breakages, few,

Un-drunk wine (!!!!) to share among those who did the clearing up, 26 bottles.  (actually I’m going to pay F and HF for our share because that seems more fair.

Leftover cake, not much.

Days that the wedding high of proud and happy parents is expected to last, several thousand : )

Days that joints of aged parents who danced too often, too largely and not wisely are expected to continue aching, quite a few!  (Worth every twinge)

Excess postage to pay this morning on a redelivered piece of charity junk mail, £1.66 !!!!!  WTF?

But I have to mention the little note I found waiting when we got home from the wedding, from the lad up the road who fed the animals and walked the dog while we were away.

Welcome back,

Today is such a nice day so I have got your fantastic dog at my house,

Martin 🙂 ”

Today is such a nice day too : )

: )


September 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 8 Comments

Done it!!!

Witnessed, signed and sealed 🙂

Rehearsal for Life

Happy couple flown off to hot places, hall tidied and cleared.  Nothing left really except the dishwashing of what seems like several hundred glasses.  (I did promise to wash them I know but I didn’t realise there would be quite so many!) And a warm glow:)

I did take pics but there was a pro photographer there (from Fran’s previous workplace) who was clearly doing a super job 🙂 (And, briefly, a photographer from her current place of work 🙂

Sisters. and the pro photographer 🙂

I did take advantage of some of his setting up though.  After all, if the various bods were all arranged neatly in groups, it seemed a shame not to get my own pics at the same time 🙂

I’m afraid I can’t be a proper Mum.  At no time did I feel like crying.  Instead, a large, idiotic grin kept spreading over my face even at the most soulful and serious bits.  Also I bounced up and down a lot. And swelled visibly with pride and satisfaction. (this may have been quite annoying for the people behind my splendid hat)

And waved at people behind me in the church (before it started that is, not during the ceremony).

I don’t think Fran minded her Mum behaving like a large child though.

Ok.  Proper story.

I was (of course) in spite of very careful planning, almost late.  Due to rain obscuring road signs and having to drop Barney off at the other end of Oxford before getting to the church myself.

But only almost and then it was all fine.

The real thing.

The music was sublime, organ played by our talented and very very competent young nephew and singing of beautiful songs by our amazing musical sister and her children and husband and two boyfriends  (the eldest girl, Sophie Bevan is singing in the last night of the Proms tonight – I m boasting I know but it’s irresistible really).

The Bride and Groom looked fabulous, spoke clearly and confidently and glowed with a proper matrimonial radiance.  The best man and Father and Bridesmaids did all their bits flawlessly – no trains were tripped over, no rings dropped or forgotten and the Bride was properly delivered to her place.

Bride with proud Dad

bride and groom with bridesmaids and best woman

Bride and groom with best man and ushers (big bro on the left)

The congregation were all lovely and the Priest did a nice, sensible short homily.

It was Wonderful!

The rain stopped and held off until all the photos were done and all the guests had arrived at the reception (I think) and I didn’t have to walk there because my lovely brother was getting fed up with photos and wanted to get moving so gave me a lift.

nieces and nephew of the bride

Wizzie's been witty.

Organist, Uncle and half the choir

Uncle Nigel took a fancy to the Bride's Mum's hat. I'm not sure that Marti approves 🙂

The reception was a bust!  Excellent wine and a very good Prosecco (chosen and supplied by Youngest who is in the catering trade) flowed freely and the pizza and pasta from the excellent Italian across the road was lovely.  Also the magnificently ripe – even dripping  – brie and fresh salads were delicious. Oh and Barney brought a gift of beer from the magnificent Mr Maggs’s brwery.

The Aldbrickham barn dance band were great (we couldn’t have done better ourselves) and the caller was properly dry and funny and commanding and did some very good and complicated dances.

The Aldbrickham Band

No standing on ceremony!

Everyone danced who was able and the small children loved it.  So did every one else.

Compliments flowed almost as fast as the wine, on the beauty of the bride, the niceness of the groom, the marvellousness of the music, the excellence of the food and the brilliance of the band and dancing.  Everyone was, in fact, very nice to everyone else 🙂

And the speeches (including the Bride’s – as she said, she’s never been one to sit demurely in a corner listening and she wan’t about to start now) had the whole crowd in stitches.

Did I mention the amazing cake?

Happiness, togetherness, joy. The first dance

One of the very lovely experiences was the feeling of closeness and affection from all Fran and HF’s friends and families.  I’ve been to a few weddings and have played at dozens.  It’s one of the few times I’ve been so close to the centre of it all and that feeling that everyone there is connected in a single act of witness and support is very powerful.  We were, truly, all bound together in a moment which was all about love.  And at the centre, two lovely young people, glowing with it.

As Fran said to me quite early on in the planning, all you really have to do Mum, is be there and beam a lot.  I took her at her word 🙂

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Panic Stations

I probably won’t be here for the next couple of days!

thanks for all your good wishes 🙂


I’m off to be a motherofthebride!

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Bird in the hand

Well now.

there I am cooking tartiflette for dinner

Suddenly there a scuffling noise in the larder and the cat goes into hunting mode.

OMG, Rats!  I think!  (I encountered one once in the larder and I don’t know who was most shocked but it certainly left a lasting impresssion on me).

But no.  In the larder there is a very young Blue Tit.

So the blue tit naturally heads for the kitchen, followed by the cat who then evades me and chases the blue tit with intensity*.  I catch her and throw her out and then close doors and turn off lights until there is just me and the little bird, now perched on the cooker looking tiny and leaf like.  Quite unable to move for panic and shock. I realise that if I move smoothly enough, I can almost certainly catch him and put him by the window.

So I pick him up ever so gently but quite quickly, and hand him out into the dusk.

He gave a little shriek when I caught him 🙂  And then clung to the window handle for a long minute before hurtling away.  Probably wondering if Owl was nearby or the Other Cat.

He was very soft and silky.  Barely struggled at all, just froze in my hand. Sweet 🙂

*She can’t help  it, I know.  You can see it’s hard-wired into her tiny brain from the way she doesn’t notice anything else in the whole world while she’s busy hunting.

‘Night 🙂

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments