Life, photos but not the universe

onward and – backwards and forwards a bit

Metaphorically speaking anyway.

Last night as we prepared dinner, we noticed a smell of gas.  After a bit, we noticed that dinner wasn’t cooking any more.

I wonder why the gas smells when it’s  run out?




Then this morning, various things failed to happen.  I failed to wake up at the usual time, the house failed to be warm when I did get up and various things failed to make their usual humming, whirring and beeping noises. All with good reason.  I had failed to remember that we’d been told that the power  would be off today from nine am till four pm.

Well, being denied use of the computer and it being a bit chilly, I attacked a task which has been lurking in the undergrowth of my mind since – oh, at least this time two years ago.  Namely, the sorting of the file iceberg.  I say iceberg instead of mountain because only the tip of the heap is visible to the physical eye  (since my response to most pieces of paper is to hide them in a cupboard somewhere – and not always the same somewhere).  The awareness of the enormity of the heap is very much a big wavery shadow across the under-view of the inner eye.

Bank statements, insurance renewals and phone bills from time immemorial have now been ordered, ruthlessly culled and put into nice little folders (I mean, really, will I ever again need to know anything at all about the insurance company we abandoned in 2003?  I think not!  And now that I have rid myself of one vodafone contract,  surely all I will ever need to see of that,  is the letter from them pleading with me to come back : )

A number of useful phone calls have been made and the recycling paper basket is satisfyingly heaped.  I feel virtuous and because power cuts are common around here anyway, when the gas ran out we just got the camping cooker down and so I was able to make coffee and breakfast and generally have quite a pleasant day what with the total peace (no beeping or bingling and no possibility of doing anything party related).  So, ok, filing isn’t getting the organisation any further forward but it was  nice to have a day off from it all 🙂

The only small  blot on the horizon is that I am left with the usual small pile of unfileable items and, worryingly, I can’t find last years’ unfilable heap.  I think I’ll make a new file called ‘unfilable’.  And it was a pity that I didn’t use the chill today as an excuse to try out the thermal qualities of yeterday’s purchases.   I’m quite looking forward to trying  the long  johns and the vest.  Maybe tonight?  Youngest said they looked like pyjamas (!!?? really?  Oh well, you live and learn)

And, the gas cylinders are coming tomorrow.  So after a day of managing quite well without the cooker, I shall be able to go back to normal before I get really pissed off with camping in the kitchen!

Meanwhile, a little more misty stuff won’t hurt 🙂

two suns

two suns

And a tree stump

And a tree stump

Have good dreams 🙂

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

exigencies and exhaustion

I have little or no idea of what exigencies are but in this case I think they were the ones of choosing clothing which is both enormously warm and will look nice enough for a very cold wedding.

Exhaustion is what you get for being accompanied by two young women through the streets of Oxford in search of the above mentioned clothing.  But we did find a coat and a very nice and useful coat too.  Also a hoody, scarfy things called a snood (only since it came from an army surplus store, I doubt they’d call it that).  And some extra gloves for wearing under reindeer mitts.  Oh and some very attractive underwear – ie, long johns and a longsleeved vest.

Ok.  I feel a bit more prepared for the extremes of cold we’re expecting.  Though it may take me some time to get myself dressed on the day.  And when I’m completely bundled up and sealed into all these layers it may be that they will just have to lay me down and roll me into the chapel before standing me up in an appropriate place to beam cheerfully at the proceedings and at all those gathered.  It’s ok though, that will be something entertaining and useful for the children to do 🙂

And we did succeed in finding an ex army great coat in approximately the right colour.  Barney is dubious about the size but we have our fingers crossed 🙂

We were reduced to helpless giggling by a garment that was obviously designed for camouflage against ‘the thing from the swamp’  A kind of fronded, head to foot garment in army camouflage colours.  If it had been white it would have worked quite well as yeti camouflage 🙂

Youngest and Mrs Middle one went to a chinese supermarket (I don’t know why but it semed to make them very happy) while I went to a book shop and we had a very nice Malaysian lunch.  All in all a succesful day.

mist lends enchantment to the weed

mist lends enchantment to the weed

Got to go to bed now!

‘night 🙂

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments


The dogs crashed, the computer’s thrown up and the cats won’t start.

No.  Let’s try that again slowly.

Outlook hung, the dog threw up and I had to restart the computer.

All sorted now.

I had a nice day with a dear friend, we talked a lot, rushed out to have lunch just before the pub stopped serving and came back here and talked a lot more.   Just before she came, I suddenly realised that the sun was trying to get through the fog and rushed out to grab a few photos of the pond at the bottom of the hill.  I hope she didn’t have to wait too long when she arrived but she’s a photographer too – I think she understood 🙂

faded rushes

faded rushes

No longer Green-O

The narrow way

The narrow way

The only way in fact unless you want to walk a very long and muddy way through thorns and nettles and cow pats and possibly get lost.  But not a bad way.

Right.  Tomorrow I have to collect girls from various places so they can take me shopping in Oxford.  It’ll be an early start for me.

Sleep well.  I hope all your plans for tomorrow work out smoothly and easily.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

It’s always nice to have help

Like, it’s wonderful that the girls and indeed the boy, are going to organise marvellous special things for Barney’s party and all I have to do is make sure everything’s booked and arranged.

Only it’s funny that I’ve spent nearly the whole evening on the phone to assorted children and then searching my files for old and large and, well, difficult to find photos of Barney* and also making lists of phone numbers for them.  I really need to get on the phone on my own account to organise a collection at the pub for him – whenever it’s anyone else’s birthday, it’s always him who does that – so where is he???  Oh – well he can’t exactly do his own can he 😦

And to be honest, it’s going to seem a bit weird if I do it.  So I need to pick a good organiser who can do it for me.  Delegate in fact.

Found her!!!  I knew someone would do it for me 🙂

winter waters

winter waters

Time between one appointment and the shopping to lean over the bridge and admire the river 🙂

Got to go now – check out the party venue and visit the butcher and the brewery 🙂

Have fun all 🙂

Incidentally, I know we are rushing precipitously towards a recession but I hadn’t realised it was this bad.**

*This is such a distracting thing to do!  I found photos of holidays from long ago, photos of the children, photos of himself and even photos of me (there aren’t many of those these days – next time we go away, he must take his camera too – I may not be beautiful but I am there!).  And photos taken by my father years and years ago.  Of course the photos I was looking for were buried at the bottoms of many boxes and in the middles of albums and in envelopes and all over the place.

**I feel like instantly ringing up Great Grandad and asking if he’s got his woolies from Iceland yet 🙂

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Yell for help

I’m trying to find a large (46 chest at least), mans, vintage style,  wool great coat.  It needs to be military looking (WW2 type) with epauletty things and double breasted and shiny buttoned and belted.  And long.  Preferably with a collar that can be buttoned right up.

Or really, any sites or shops which sell these things and have them in stock.

I have of course found such sites but they’re all out of stock or only have little sizes left.  Apparently these coats became popular after the’ ‘Torchwood’ series on TV.

I mean if you happen to have a little military surplus/vintage clothes store, just round the corner which has a great big enormous grey greatcoat in the window, let me know?

This one looks perfect but unfortunately it’s out of stock. (nice isn’t it 🙂

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I’ve just re-read ‘An Equal Music’  by Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy was the first book of his that I ever heard of – it was hugely feted at the time and I didn’t like it at all – couldn’t finish it in fact which is unusual for me).

Any way, I hadn’t forgotten that  ‘An Equal Music’ is wonderful but I had  forgotten how wonderful.  (And I must say, it seemed to me to be quite unlike ‘A Suitable Boy’  but since I didn’t finish that I can’t be sure).  I was spellbound, enchanted and moved all over again.   And I have to wonder if it would affect a non-musician or even a non-violinist in the same way.  Anyone?  I defy any fiddle player not to sniffle at least once.

Yesterday, we had a power cut.  Or rather a series  of small power cuts with each return of power lasting just long enough for a chorus of indignant electronic beeps and bingly-bongs to run round the kitchen and dining room and for the kettle to get a bit warm.  Which reminded me, a few nights ago I went up the road with the dog and the moon was chasing cloud shadows along the hedge.  A tiny mewing came from out of the darkness and then an inelegant squawk*.  The two cats had followed us and vanished and reappeared as the clouds passed, one tiny black and white shadow and one little grey one.

And this morning the sun is shining.  However, I came downstairs keen to get a bit of stuff for the party organised – just a quick bit of photo editing and a few emails while my coffee brewed.  Just now I noticed that the sun had gone, the heating had turned itself off and my feet and fingers were frozen solid and no longer doing things very efficiently.  The reason being** that I’d forgotten to finish getting up.  Like, I’d flung a woollie on over my pyjams and was only wearing socks on my feet!   Ok, I’m up and running now and my goodness it’s a bit warmer with clothes on!

I’ve just got halfway through a round of comments when blogger informed me it wasn’t available right now.  So the rest will have to wait till it is.  I just hope it’s only blogger and not WP too 🙂

And now I have to go to bed.  Being suddenly very sleepy. I hope you all sleep well.

*Tosca has no pussycat voice, she sounds like a cross between a parrot and a very small, high-pitched cow : )

**Obviously forgetting to get dressed didn’t make the sun go.  You’ll have to make whatever sense you can out of that paragraph.  The brain was frozen too.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Just a few little inconveniences

Or – when do all those stitches in time become more stitch than whatever you had to start with?

Well, when the car gets to that certain age and the back door handle falls off and the  draught through the back door where we had to keep shaving bits off because it sticks in summer gets so fresh that we need to buy a curtain to hang in front of it.

Today, I got into the car and adjusted the seat (because some people never put it back after they’ve used the car) and then readjusted it only the lever which ought to adjust, suddenly didn’t. And while I was getting that fixed, Barney came home and the back door handle just fell off in his hand.  (“it come off in me ‘and Mum, Honest”)

Curtains to follow.  What puzzles me about the back door is how much bigger can it go on getting in summer?  I mean surely, eventually, it just won’t be able to swell enough to stick any more because there won’t be any left?  Maybe we should keep the shavings and stick them back on in winter?  And anyway, why does it swell in summer when it ought to be drying out and shrinking and then shrink in winter when the damp ought to be making it swell?  I mean doesn’t it obey the basic laws of um?  Physics?

Oh well.  Silver linings and all that.  while the car was being fixed I wandered up through the woods behind the garage and although it was getting a bit dark to take pics I did find a pond.  I’m very fond of ponds and now I know it’s there I’ll make a point of returning on a nice bright day 🙂

Meanwhile the dog got hold of some chocolate after Christmas (I don’t know who knocked the chocs on the floor but I do know who sits next to them and didn’t pick them up).  So that maybe accounts for his hangdog look and frequent visits to a certain patch of grass to chew and then throw up.  I hope  it doesn’t mean he’s getting to the same sort of certain age as the car because he, though exasperating and not very bright, is irreplacable.

The cats (who show very few signs of reaching any kind of age) have brought yet another something into the utility room and have let it escape into one of the many unreachable corners in there.  It has a considerable pair of lungs* though – I could hear its outraged screeching from halfway up the stairs.  When I reached the scene, they (cats) were both on guard near the impenetrable pile of Barney’s boots (old, new and apparently all useful, if not in the foreseeable future, at some time we can’t exactly describe just yet).  I decline to take out and shake every one of Barney’s boots to see what’s taken refuge in there.  One or two of the things they’ve brought in I wouldn’t tackle without gauntlets and a long forked stick.  Besides, by now, it’s probably under the freezer or the washing machine.

My frosty day last week was enormously productive – here’s a few more pics.

Fairytale woods

Fairytale woods

‘The Larch’.  (for Monty Python fans)

The long and winding road

The long and winding road

Ooh!  Stop in the middle of the road kind of moment.


This is almost a bunny’s eye view, there’s a style in the corner of the field and you have to scramble up a bank to see through.

I’ve just realised that we don’t have enough room for everyone who’s supposed to be staying over for Barney’s party.  If only he’d had the sense to be born in the summer instead of in February we could have put everyone in tents!

Um!  Need to get in touch with extremely kind and helpful sister in law about beloved Father who suddenly needs somewhere to stay!  Or maybe some of the children would sleep in the sitting room.  After all I don’t suppose we’ll be sitting in it much!  Right.  Time to get on that phone again.

I hope all your plans are going well.  I’m going to order some wooden spoons and knives and forks.  It turns out they’re not out of stock after all.  Isn’t that nice 🙂

*It turned out to be the tiniest shrew you could imagine.  It must have been nearly all lung to be able to make so much noise when clutched in the jaws of death – I mean a cat.

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Positively -positive!

You may remember that the year before last I tried to sell some hand made cards.  You may remember that the week before last I tried to get started on doing some accounts (the enormous gap is because that tax man doesn’t want to know what you’ve been doing with your money till the year after the year you did it – I suppose there’s some sense in that)

So, finally, I found the little blue book and the little heap of invoices and got out the cash box.  And tonight, I sat down to write all the numbers down.  The first month ended with a huge column on the left which said -£354.36 and an empty one on the right which said+£0.00.

The second month had -£444.33 on the left and +£3.25 on the right.

The next few months looked similarly unbalanced.

But by the time I got to the end, in spite of the growing figure on the left, the one on the right had somehow become more than half as big as the one on the left!!!!

I’m a little astonished, not to say gobsmacked!  (is that really all one word?)  What’s more, the float that I used to take to market is still there so I can pay myself back for that!

Well you can see why I wasn’t inspired to keep trying very hard but if only I’d kept doing the accounts regularly I might have made a bit more effort.  And really, since I still have lots of stock and lots of materials, I might as well start it up again.  If only to get the two figures to end up the same 🙂

It’s an odd thing but though I hate sitting down to sort all this stuff out, I actually quite enjoy quietly adding up rows of figures and finding out what it all means in the end.  I’ve often wondered why I was so happy doing ex-boss’s accounts and that must have been why 🙂

frozen cornfield

frozen cornfield

So, meanwhile, there’s frozen fields

Lake - no swans

Lake - no swans

and  – um, well, not exactly lakes – just the overflow reservoir for our water

the road goes ever onward

the road goes ever onward

And on we go, through frozen winter hopefully to burgeoning Spring.  But since it’s really cold right now and quite late, I’m going to go to bed.  Sleep well 🙂

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

It’s pretty but it bites

Frost , that is.  It’s been wonderfully frosty for a day or two and also, impressively foggy.  Bits of one or two days have been sunny.  I’ve taken quite a lot of photos but overall, the result has been somewhat – gloomy.  Not at all up-beat.  I’ve gone out and taken photos in marvellous light and colours and come back and thought “Oh but that’s not very – nice”

Not that I’ve been so very up-beat myself.  More sort of grumpy and tired.  I’ve missed several potentially wonderful early mornings because I couldn’t be arsed to get up out of the warm bed.   Then I’ve been cross about it all day.  then I’ve gone out late to do shopping or whatever and not had time to stop and take pics.  Grumble grumble.

Well it’s that time of year right?  Woman cannot live by Festive occasions and parties alone.  Woman must also learn to deal with anti-climactic after days and the cold!  Woman ought to get her thick warm socks on and pull them up and all that stuff.


Kite on the wing

Kite on the wing

Well some of them (the photos) were quite nice 🙂

Shepherd's delight

Shepherd's delight

Fog in the morning.


No way in

frost flowers

Frost flowers

The fields in winter clothes

The fields in winter clothing

Incidentally, woman really ought to remember that the sock* is simmering when she setles down to read uostairs for an hour.  Still, the saucepan was very old and ex-non-stick aluminium.  Probably best thrown out anyway.

It’s been warmer today.  Is it nearly Spring?  At all? Not even a little bit?

Oh well.

Keep warm and wear hats when you go out ok?

*That would be  – have been – the stock.  Simmering.  I don’t often simmer socks, honest.

January 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Anyone seen a missing brain cell?

It’s the one that makes my head work.  Sort of little and pointy and quite useful really.

No?  Oh well no doubt it’ll turn up sometime.

Meanwhile, how about the little book I wrote all my card sales down in?  Little and blue and quite useful really!  No?  Well I expect that will also turn up.  Preferably soon.  I really hate doing accounts!

unmelted frost, evening light

unmelted frost, evening light

Oh bother.  WordPress won’t play.  Only one pic tonight then.

Back to the accounts.

More here when  I find my missing bits.

Sleep the sleep of the just, for whatever is wrong in our lives, we cannot be held accountable for all time, only for now.

(Actually it’s only just time for dinner but I doubt I’ll be back before bedtime 🙂

Oh I forgot.  Mrs Middle child has inveigled me into attending a her new book club tomorrow night.  So last night I started reading “We need to talk about Kevin”.  I reckoned I could read it in two evenings.  I reckoned without the book itself.  I read it all at one sitting.  (and you wouldn’t believe how cold I was at 3 in the morning when I got to the end).  Harrowing, utterly and devastatingly perceptive and dreadfully, sometimes coldly, moving.  Not to be missed. (I expect I’m the last to read it but just in case, I thought I’d say.)  It’s appallingly tragic but there’s hope in there.  I think I may buy the current Leonard Shriver.

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments