Life, photos but not the universe

Gone to get hot.

Got packed and pussy cat feeding and house visiting organised.

Got enough bits of paper to get us from here to there and back and presumably all stations in between.

Got lots of batteries charged and masses of camera cards.

Got lots of cool clothes.  And some warm ones (I don’t trust these foreign climates).

Anything else?

Oh a hair cut – got that.  Don’t want hair getting in my way : )

Look what I saw the other day!  An egret.  I’m sure you don’t often see them around here.

Egret? Really?

Egret? Really?

Fancy that : )

Lotsa love all.

See you when we get back.


March 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Shimla* – extracts from a website

I find myself strangely attracted to this place.

The Mall Road has many famous restaurants that specialize in not just local cuisines but also delicacies from nearby places. Since there are no vehicles allowed in the Mall, you don’t quite have to worry about watching out for the traffic. While purchasing locally made goods, make sure you do some bargaining. Ideally, you should make sure that you bargain till at 30% of the amount quoted by the shopkeepers. The whole area is fun to loiter around in and you wont even know when time flies by.


The Mall Road is also famous for its wooden furniture shops that sell exquisite wooden articles, which look like antiques“.

And should we need a guide –

Getting a tourist guide in Shimla is not at all a problem. However, one must always exercise caution while dealing with Shimla tourist guides. Though these guides are dedicated professionals and trustworthy, it is always better be alert all the time. It is always better to hire a tourist guide while moving around and touring a new place. These guides are very helpful and have a knack for making your trip not just interesting but also memorable. Read on further for more information on tips for handling Simla guides.

  • Avoid exhibiting too much cash and rolls of money in front of them. Do not disclose the amount of money you are carrying with you.
  • Keep your credit cards and other cash receipts with yourself and do not hand it over to them for any reason.
  • It is okay to mingle around freely with them but keep a distance between. Do not let dominate you or take you for granted.
  • When moving around with guides, try to carry minimal luggage with you. This is because moving around with them becomes easy as the responsibility of looking after luggage is not there.

On the subject of local transport –

There are a lot of options for moving around in Shimla that would suit your pocket. The options of means of public transport in Shimla are pretty good and economically viable.” – for instance

You won’t find too many autos in Shimla. In higher altitudes, autos are not quite helpful. So for moving around in Shimla, you will either have to take a bus, a taxi, a jeep or take a walk.

I am really looking forward to going there and it’s the only place where we’ll have much time to ourselves so it will be fun mingling freely with these trustworthy guides (while keeping a distance with them) and not quite having to worry about the traffic and I can’t wait to see the exquisite wooden articles that look like antiques.

Yes, I’m sure it will be memorable.  And I do appreciate the delicately phrased warnings. It sounds altogether charming : )

*’Shimla’ seems to be how ‘Simla’ of colonial hill station fame is now spelt.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I don’t know who I am anymore

Last night, I attempted to respond to an invitation on Facebook.  Facebook said “you’ve typed in the wrong password or email address”.  Bother I said and did it again.  A few times.

****** I said.

then I told them I wanted to reset my password.

then I got an email saying reply to this email to confirm that you are who you are (whoever that is).

So I did.

then I got a reply saying there is no account  associated with this email address (or maybe it was the other way round)

then I wracked my brain to remember all the possible email accounts I might have and sent facebook emails from all of them.  (Getting all my passwords muddled in the process and discovering that I hadn’t ever read a quite important email from several months ago)

I forwarded emails to myself.  I backwarded some.  Some I turned inside out and deleted.

Now I’m waiting for a reply to the email I sent from the account where facebook sends all my notifications.  It must be that one mustn’t it?

The really annoying thing is I’m sure the password was right in the first place but now I really (virtually) don’t know who I am.

Did I ever say I hate Facebook?

I do.  I really really hate it.

No reply yet.

Um, if anyone knows who I am, would they please let me know?

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Introductions and management

Multiple dog management is a complicated business and introductions of smallish canine people to tiny ones is quite interesting too.

The Nutcase is staying with the puppy when we’re away so we took him over to her place for a visit.  He wasn’t actually very sociable.  He went straight outside and did a bit of private business on her lawn and then trotted round her garden in a rather off hand manner, peeing everywhere.  Eventually, he admitted that there was a small fluffy thing following him around but in a very dismissive way.  He found it harder to ignore her when we went  inside and after she’d rolled over at his feet several times in an embarrassingly disarming way (distoothing?) and had become so bold as to try and chew his feet, he felt obliged to warn her off.  To be honest, he doesn’t have the personality for warnings off and I don’t think she got the message.  After a bit, he took refuge under my chair.

The second introduction took place at his place (where we also happen to live).   Youngest did some multiple dog management excercises.  For instance taking two dogs round the garden on two leads.  It’s worth mentioning that 2 dogs + two leads = n x many directions.  More directions than one person can keep track of.  One person spent a lot of time untwining leads and two dogs just travelled as far as either lead would let them in as many directions as took their fancy.  Ever seen a class of kids trying to unwind a beribboned maypole?  Of course kids only have two feet each.  Dogs and puppies have lots more than that.

Later there was chasing.  Of small dog (he looks huge beside his little ‘friend’) by tiny dog.  He really tried to preserve some dignity but this is also something he doesn’t quite have the knack of.  Often, he ends up way beneath his own dignity. Eventually he was driven to play too.   A bit.  Just out of the kindness of his heart, really.  Of course the puppy has no dignity to lose so she won paws down.  And often, upside down and paws up.  Fluffy belly up too.


Every so often, I decide it’s time for an MOT.  See, I’d quite like to go galloping towards old age brandishing all kinds of drugs and prosthetic aids instead of hobbling, wobbling and creaking in my natural rather floppy and unassisted form.  I’m well aware that some things I could, if I chose, deal with myself – smoking, drinking and weight being a few outstanding examples.  Closely followed by regular sleeping and eating.  But it might be easier to do that if I had help on other fronts, such as feet hurting and heartburn.  And who knows, maybe even back pain and hurting joints!

So I took my ancient body to the Doctor this morning but, sensibly, didn’t tell her all the things I plan to get fixed in the next few weeks.  I thought it would be good to start at the bottom, with regard to what you might call my structural defects, and the middle with regard to the internal maintenance : ).  The foundations and the intake systems see : )  Therefore we started today with my heartburn (which is really a matter of convenience – I get fed up with lugging large, heavy bottles of liquid tummy soothing stuff around, I can’t bear the disgusting chewy tablets and Barney is embarrassed by my habit of glugging a couple of spoonfuls straight from the bottle in public) followed by my feet.

The first is simple, just a change of drug to be taken by tablet once a day and some blood tests to check I don’t have a bacterial infection.  Or bleeding!!! (I’d really rather not have that!)  I’ve taken today’s tablet and I’m waiting to see if breakfast is paying attention to it.*

The second is a question of whether the NHS will have alook at my poor old feet and make me some nice tailormade support thingies or whether the waiting list (since I’m very low priority) will be so long that I’ll be dead before I can find out if my feet can be made to work properly.  In which case I have the number for a private podiatrist.   I’ve looked at his website – no prices but much, very hi-tech and therefore expensive sounding stuff.

When I’ve got all that under way, I’m going to go back to the doctor with my knees, elbows** and back and find out what they can do with those.    But don’t worry***, what you see here is unlikely to change .  It may be possible to oil the joints, shore up the subsidence under the arches and pour drugs on the troubled acids but there ain’t a lot you can do with the software!

Speaking of which, the computer was so slow last night I nearly threw it out.  But it was a lovely day yesterday.

peaceful rest

peaceful rest

sunlit spire

sunlit spire

Ooh got to go!

Have fun : )

*  You’ll be pleased to hear that it’s taken me nearly an hour to write this and so far, breakfast has kept uncharacteristically quiet!

**The elbows have been complaining about time spent at the computer.  Oddly, they don’t seem to like being rested on the table for hours at a stretch though really I can’t see why!  The back doesn’t like it much either and it occurs to me that a specs check may be required too so that I can see without hunchbacked, close-up peering .  Perhaps new specs would reduce the back and elbow problems enough so I only have to do knees next visit!  Ok, an opticians appointment gets aded to the list.

***Alternatively, what a shame : )

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Sorry all lovely people

I’m up to my ears.  It would help if I knew what in but I just seem to be spending hours on the computer doing I know not what but an awful lot of it and very little of it what I want to be doing.  and then I look at the screen and decide to just go and have a quick read or practice the fiddle and then it’s past even my bedtime.

Did however take some pics of a lot of people helping one person to climb a tree.  I feel it should be said that before the mass helpfulness he was doing very well by himself : )


Also there was the river


And some trees


Got to run – well, stumble or something, to bed.


March 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Morning all : )

It’s still sunny (was it shining all night?)

So yesterday, and the day before, I went out in search of things that would fit the theme ‘strength in numbers’

I thought – Rope!  Bound to be a boat moored down by the canal with a rope.

Uh uh.  No boats (What’s up with them all?  Lovely sunny Sunday after noon – no boats?)

I trailed along the river bank looking for roots.  All well dug into the earth and hiding (very sensible really)

So how about a row of fence posts?  Plenty of fences but all falling over.  Not quite what I had in mind.

Or two trees leaning against each other?  Lots and lots of trees, all leaning as far away from each other as possible – indeed so far that some of them had fallen over.  Hmm.  Not quite strong enough then.

Trees looked like a good possibility though as there are lots and lots of woods around here, so yesterday I abandoned the canal and went off to the woods.  Plenty of trees and nice little paths and banks and shadows and stuff.  But no trees leaning on each other. (Except a few that had fallen down on top of other trees).

Eventually I got tired (and it was time to make dinner) so I gave up.  Extricated myself from a potentially interesting shot amongst the hedgerow along the football pitch, detoured to investigate a tunnel between some extraordinarily prickly holly,  paused to admire a blackbird on the far side of the football pitch, turned round and almost fell over because there they were, right behind me, looking over my shoulder!



See that road?  I walked along it half an hour earlier.  None so blind eh?  *

I’m going out – see you later.

* Come to think of it, I drove past them twice on Sunday.**

**maybe they they weren’t there earlier – maybe they only just arrived as I was about to leave!

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Two days word press wouldn’t let me in (Bah Humbug!) and two days I’ve been out with the camera (Yay, in the sun :).

Back tomorrow with pics.  Probably.

Hope you’re all good.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A roof with a view – a home with a heart

Well what a lovely day.

On the motorway I saw a herd of white ponies, a mile long ditch full of bulrushes and a flight of starlings.

In London, I was introduced to Wonderland, a house with lots of stairs, a roof garden and evidence everywhere of wonderful creative talent.  (I also saw a flight of paper birds, the art that called out to be taken home, some beautiful etchings, three rather nice (and very grown-up) children, a truly wonderful hammock and a charming, tiny courtyard.  Oh and a potential vegetable plot in containers just waiting for ‘someone’ to get planting : )

And I have to laugh a little bit because I’ve just remembered us smoking with the window open so as not to pollute too much and I used to do exactly the same thing when the children were at home.  And then feel both cold and virtuous.  It seemed so natural to do it again : )

I wish London didn’t feel so far away – it isn’t really – and if I went more often I’d have more chances to enjoy the company of a dear friend and a lovely, clever, interesting person. Still, I’m learning the way and the better you know a road, the shorter it seems.

Anyway, on the journey home, a heron flew over the motorway as I drove under it at Chiswick – I guess it came from Kew or maybe just the Thames but it was a delightfully incongruous thing to see.  Also a tiny castle.  Well probably an old gatehouse, also virtually under the motorway.

And now my machine has just made bread so the house smells lovely (in spite of the fact that now the children have grown up and left, we smoke indoors without having to consider anyone else).

And here are some views from a roof and it’s now definite – if I ever have to live in a city, I’ll have a roof garden please.

summer house

summer house



next door

next door



Olive trees and a glass tower

Good Lord!  Isn’t that a glass tower behind the olive trees?

A roof with a view

A roof with a view

It’s been a long and wonderful day.


March 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Churches on hills

We have two nearby and from either one, you can see the other across the Kennet Valley.  Two pinpricks on top of round hills.  Nice

I had an entertaining morning on Sunday.  I went to capture one of the churches (no, not with nets and ropes, just a camera – they don’t move around much) .  As Barney had taken my car to a stamp fair* I was driving his pick-up.  As it’s very high and has a powerful engine, steering and brakes this was quite a swervy and sudden kind of a journey.  Sudden accelerations, sudden stops and, er, swerves.  Also quite bumpy.  It has a habit of hitting you in the back when you drive over potholes.  Also, the foot pedals are a lot higher than I’m used to.  In order to brake and change gear, I have to lift both feet up and hang on to the steering wheel to keep my balance, which makes the suddenness of braking and acceleration quite an active and energetic business.  Also, the engine growls a good deal.  So I had been swerving and swooping along the tiny lanes, peering over hedgerows and then swerving some more as the steering is so light you have to keep doing it or you end up in a ditch.  With the pickup growling peacefully as we went.  It was all rather pleasant (apart from the back bumping bits) and mildly exciting.

When I found my gateway with a view, and parked in a byway/ bridlepath/ thingie next to it, I was immediately approached with deliberation by a decidedly official looking person.  Unexpectedly too, as I was on a smallish road, not really near anywhere that official people tend to congregate.   No car parks, police stations, town halls or other places of official person issue within ooh, a good few miles.  Not actually near anything at all in fact other than the road, a hedge, a ploughed field and a bridleway.

Anyway, this is the countryside and it’s well known that the minute you stop in a deserted piece of countryside it will immediately come alive with dog walkers, cyclists, postmen, passers by and all manner of people totally unnecessary to your purpose (whatever it may be.  If what you were wanting was a quiet but urgent pee in the hedge you might as well stay in the car and suffer the consequences as hope to find a deserted hedge to hide behind.  Indeed, when this precise dilemma happened to a fellow traveller in Kenya, the driver refused to stop by any convenient looking bushes or undergrowths and gave the same reason for his refusal.  Embellished by the possibility of scorpions, snakes, zebra or even elephants appearing from the, apparently, totally empty savannah.  Being a country girl myself, I believed him but the others thought he was being too protective).

Anyway, not needing a pee on this occasion, I smiled at the official person (who was actually preparing to write in a small notebook) and when asked, quite politely but in a decidedly official manner peppered with ‘madams’ and ‘would you minds’ what I was doing there, told him.  “Ah!”  he said. “I was wondering because you’ve got all that in the back”.  Wondering what on earth was in the back because usually there isn’t much, I looked and found that there was a biggish heap of rubble which is probably on it’s way to the dump.  I couldn’t help wondering how the official person thought a fattish, middle aged woman with no apparent shovel or mechanical aids was going to transfer the heap to the byway.  But clearly he was on a mission to stop people fly tipping and saw no reason why I wouldn’t be one – a fly tipper that is.

Once I’d convinced him that he didn’t need to write me down in his little notebook we got on ever so well.  He pointed out that I should have come earlier when the light was better and that it was going to rain soon and for the rest of the day.  I said wasn’t it going to be sunny at around three and he said Oh no, torrential rain all day**.  I said Oh well, it would make a nice bleak picture and he agreed.  Then he took his notebook away and it began to rain.   I took a few bleak photos and wandered up the bridle path to look for a better view.  Cos I had my secret weapon!  A birthday present from my sister in law, of a very small umbrella, designed to be attached – fitted – um well, anyway, to go on your head.  Designed, I might say for the army. With camouflage.  (I’ve always said they’re a funny lot).

Whatever.  It’s a very good camera sized brolly and when I’ve worked out how to attach it to my camera instead of my head it will be perfect.

And today, I visited Youngest to be introduced to the newest addition to the family.  She (Youngest) seems to feel that three children and a man aren’t quite sufficient so they’ve bought themselves a little furry heap.  I have to say that said heap was quite unusually well behaved and quiet.  Also delightfully soft, roly-poly-over and charmingly incompentent at things like running, stopping and sitting down.  Meet Jess.

the serious business of chewing

the serious business of chewing

she has a duck of her very own

she has a duck of her very own


Fetch (at eight weeks? She must be a puppy prodigy)

puppy play

puppy play



Like lion cubs and babies, you have to remember that one day this will be a full grown dog.  But in the mean time, she’s rather nice to play with.

‘Night : )

*This is a regular treat, not for the car but for one of Barney’s friendly stamp dealers and his wife who is blind.  They don’t get out much together I suppose.  Have to say a stamp fair is possibly the last place I would expect to be a treat for a blind person but who am I to judge.

**He was wrong.  It’s now five thirty ish and has been sunny since threeish.  Not that I’m in the least concerned or even slightly hoping he’s noting the weather and remembering that he got it wrong.

March 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

All visa-ed out

But they came back – today!!!* I was impressed – or maybe the Indian High commission was impressed by my thoroughness in filling in every possible detail.

Barney, who is a very thoughtful person, has made a chocolate tart for a friend’s birthday (She’s celebrating at the pub tonight).  The tart looked fabulous until this morning, when it cracked right across the top in several places.  Urgent repairs with melted chocolate were required.  Now it’s a chocolate tart with a chocolate topping.  Also, in aid of merriment and general foolishness, Barney and another friend have decided to dress up and Barney decided he ought to wear the men’s cologne that the birthday friend gave him for his birthday.  All I can say is that it takes me right back to the days when I used to drive Eldest to school and as soon as he got in the car, he’d get out his Lynx and spray himself with generous enthusiasm.  Then I’d open the window as far as it would go.

And a nice thing happened today.  (That’s the following day from the visa returning , choc tart first aid day).  Playing first fiddle in the Music Group in a very difficult quartet, I got a compliment from my teacher.  Actually time  and dealing with MS have mellowed her a lot in the twenty odd years I’ve known her but nonetheless it’s a happy moment when somebody praises your octaves, believe me :).  And we all got to the end together which is no mean feat when we’re such a very mixed and muddled bunch of amateurs. Especially, as on this occasion, I was the only First fiddle and all the others were playing two or three to a part.  I feel clever!

And the sun shone which was a bonus.

And I’m looking forward to a trip to London town next week to see a special person : ) the thought of which is making me very happy.

Looks like Spring?

Looks like Spring?

Now I have to go to bed.  I’ve banished the dog to his bed and shut the cats out of all the places they’s like to think of as their beds and Barney’s gone up to ours.  My turn.

I imagine you’re all tucked in and I hope you’re all warm and cosy and comfortable.

Sleep well.

*I really expected a fifteen day wait and then a return of the unprocessed documents with no comment!  Wow!

March 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments