Life, photos but not the universe

I am old, Father William

But unlike you,

I cannot turn cartwheels* while polishing shoes.

This piece of nonsense is inspired by Kate Atkinson’s novel, Emotionally Weird.  I am finding it hugely entertaining as it seems to include at least three intertwined stories, each writing themselves according to a different viewpoint.  At least one of which is that of a separate person.  Occasionally one of the narrators inserts a comment into one of the other stories.  One of the stories appears to concern a young woman at University in the 60’s and is soaked in the kind of surreal, disjointed confusion which I remember well from my own time at Art College and around Bristol University.  One of the stories is written by her as part of her degree course.  The third story is being told to her by her mother and promises to tell her about her birth and early life as well as her mother’s life while the first story is apparently being told, by her, to that same mother….

Given the waywardness of some characters and the amount of interference in the lives of others, it seems unlikely that any of the stories will actually arrive at any conclusions so I’m just really hoping that the main protagonist will succeed in getting her essays in on time in spite of  being distracted by dog kidnapping, temporarily abandoned babies and occasional accidental doses of whatever was in the chocolate brownies.

Confused?  Me too.  It’s great, especially as Kate Atkinson excels in showing you the absurd side of any event or interchange between people.  And as a result there’s a KA style narrative of my own,  in my head,  running in the background to sorting the washing and tidying the kitchen.  This makes the humdrum stuff quite unusually enjoyable : )

There’s nothing like being Lost In a Good Book, which happens to be the title of a book by Jasper Fforde thingie.  I read it a while ago.  It’s not very bad but neither  is it very good.  While it is both absurd and entertaining I feel Jasper Ff could have learnt a lot from KA.

Anyway, going back to Father William** and old age.  And music.  Like books, music will soak itself into my life and each day will be coloured by whatever I’m listening to.  These days, being no longer able or willing  to turn emotional cartwheels, I’m quite reluctant to listen to love songs (I simply can’t help thinking “Oh Yeah?” in a cynical sort of way whenever I hear people warbling about the trueness etc etc of their passions).  One of the big advantages of er, increased age is realising that now, I too, ‘can’t hear the words’.  Our parents used to complain about this as if it was a bad thing.  But it can be a very good thing – you can listen to the nice chords and melodies without being exasperated by the silly words 🙂

Also, perhaps more importantly, without being harrowed by the sad songs about unrequited love.  As a teenager, I wallowed in sad songs about love – not that there was much choice.  At times, you might have been forgiven for thinking there was no other emotion in the human repertoire.  Talk about brain-washing!  It took years to expunge the unfortunate impression I got from pop music that the only love worth feeling was the one you couldn’t have. I’m sure this is still what pop music is all about but now I don’t have to pay attention.

I imagine there was a time when other feelings and necessities loomed larger in the poular consciousness than unrequited love – or lust 🙂  Though obviously there is a certain age when nothing else is as important because it’s all tied up with biological imperatives which the teenage brain is naturally burdened with.  (With which the teenage brain etc etc I mean to say, of course).

Speaking of silly words, this is brilliant watching.  Is there hope for the human race d’you think?

*I always wanted to be able to do this.  Couldn’t though.  I don’t think I ever had very good spatial awareness.

**From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  His poems are absolute gems, full of delicious absurdity and, I’ve just discovered, wonderful parodies of poems that children of the period would have known by heart.  I’ve always loved Father William.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

All in a day

Close up of the wonderful window


The bit when the dog came too, we saw a barn owl in here – looks about the right sort of place for one


And we decided not to go all the way up the next hill, one of us was getting tired!


: )


Last thing before going home


Sweet dreams  everyone.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments

More gifts

I’ll just show you the pictures shall I?

DSC_0592-1Strangely enough, only the night before, we’d watched a TV programme about Fallow deer in the rutting season (now) and when I saw him crossing the road towards where I was standing, I knew he would be a trifle distracted – possibly a bit feisty and not too timid.  And fortunately, the dog was safe in the car just then (stags are more than usually sensitive about wolf-like creatures during the rut), as I had just stopped by the road to try and get a few Autumn colour photos.   the sun went behind a cloud and this magnificent fellow came out : )


View from  the churchyard


What I found inside the church


I have to say, after getting my very own wildlife show of the Fallow deer stag, it seemed as though I might just as well go home and dribble goofily over the photos but the countryside was so lovely and Farnborough church so inviting that I decided to be greedy instead and look for more wonders.  It was worth it.  That window was such a discovery!  Somehow incorporating a modern vision with the genuine feel of ancient glass window art.  I will have to go back and find out more about the church.  (At the time I just wandered around, open mouthed and snapping away dementedly, occasionally saying Oh Look!!!! and completely forgetting to check out the artist*, the name of the church* – anything really  : )

And later, a buzzard, glimpsed through the hedge


Even more to come

: )

*Update: I had a look for the church online.  It’s The Church of All Saints in Farnborough, Berkshire, (the highest village in the Berkshire Downs).  John Betjeman lived in the Old Rectory for a time and the window was a memorial to him, made by his friend, the artist, John Piper.  I think I might get hooked on visiting churches with his windows in them!

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 4 Comments

Grumbles and Grace

Picasa is being very busy ‘updating thumbnails’  all by itself.  Usually it doesn’t do that unless I edit or add some photos. Odd.  Mind it did say it was ‘compacting the database’ last night.  It’s much tidier than me.  I need to ‘compact the washing base’ and the ‘dining room base’ and come to think of it I ought to ‘update’ the toenails and the winter woollies bases too!

Barney’s promised/threatened absence of two weeks has been severely adjusted during the second of the weeks.  One day he had to come home because he needed materials.  Another day he had to come home for a funeral.  Now he’s needing to extend the two weeks into a third but doesn’t expect it to be more than one extra night.  I rather suspect that he’ll be back  the first night all the same.

Of course it’s nice to see him unexpectedly three nights instead of none.

However, it does mean that instead of a long period of hugely reduced responsibilities and deadlines (dinner, shopping, dinner, washing, dinner etc etc) I get a mish mash* of total freedom interspersed with sudden urgencies.  This isn’t what I was planning for.  And the weather isn’t obliging with sunshine on the free days and rain on the busy ones.  It’s doing its usual thing of producing wonderful sunny, rainwashed evenings just as I’m setting off to do some urgent dinner shopping or on my way to some other deadline.

During the first week, though, I did manage to achieve a major house improvement.  We get a huge draught through the gaps in the back door and as I have said before (every winter in fact) it means your feet get cut off on windy evenings.  So we decided to hang a curtain in front of the door.  And last week I did it!  (Barney put the rail up – I’m not very good with drills and rawl plugs and ladders and he is, so that’s fair enough).  We now have a curtained back door.

The cats occasionally get lost in there (it won’t work as a draught excluder unless there’s no gap between the curtains so they’re well pulled across each other in the middle) so I sometimes find a cat in between the door and the curtain, looking a bit sheepish.  The dog simply can’t work out where the back door has GONE!  He can smell the outside world (through the mothball smell of the curtains – I didn’t make them I’m afraid, I just scoured the charity shops till I found an acceptable pair that would fit) and he keeps sniffing around with his ever hopeful, slightly puzzled expression:  Is it under here?  Up there?  Round this corner?  What has she done with it????  Maybe it’s hanging up with my lead?

It’s hard being a dog.

And then, just to prove me wrong, I got the most wonderfully rewarding day with only a very nice deadline at the end of it and what’s more, I decided to take the dog with me so he got to find the outside world too.

West Ilsley and a gleam of sunshine


Farnborough Church


Monarch of the Downs?  Could anything be more wonderful?


Well, yes!


How about that : )  There’s more but it’ll have to wait till I’ve played with some more photos.  Suffice it to say, me and the dog came home, two very happy bunnies : )

*Come now, spell check, everyone knows mish mash is a word.  I mean both the words are words**

**Oh!  I apologise to spellcheck – it thinks mishmash is a word.  It could be right at that.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 4 Comments


And then not so much peace.

My people map is being disturbed.  I don’t like it.  I shall take comfort in my places map.  Pooh!

night moorings

night moorings

elephant ears and sunset

elephant ears and sunset

brambles and sky

brambles and sky

water lilies

water lilies

wtaer aove and below

water above and below

Goodnight.  Hope you’re all very very ok.

October 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

To lose one sister is careless enough

A chapter has been closed and an estrangement has been officially declared.  By text if you please.

“I’m in town, might we meet up” I had asked – by text – and the reply came fairly quickly.  “I’m busy as it happens and I don’t really want to anyway.  Thanks for all you’ve given me over the years”*.

I did detect the possibility of a touch of irony.  But no ambiguity at all.

We spent a year together as four year old cousins.  We met and occasionally shared holidays when our Mums needed a break from us.  We argued a bit and she triumphed and I was  abject but we did stay, not close, but connected.  The main dynamic of our relationship was always that she was the sought after and I was the follower.  She was superior and I was the other.  She needed more love from her parents and I needed more acceptance from my peers.  It was to be many years before either of us got those things.

A time came when one of each of our parents died and the other two married.  Suddenly the whole thing became fragile and fraught.   My Mother and I moved into her family home with her siblings and her father.  We were in our late teens and it was a difficult adjustment for all of us.  In fact in the end none of us adjusted successfully and my Mother died.

Later still, we both acquired dependents of our own and hers took her to America and a troubled and eventually untenable marriage.  Mine kept me firmly tied to earth and hearth and home. We both went through times of deep emotional distress and perhaps it was then that she found me inadequate as a a resource and I found her scarily in need of something a lot deeper than I possess.

As we sorted through and struggled with our separate emotional ‘stuff’ I became more and more aware that I could never give what she really needed from a friend.  I could tell that I was failing on a regular basis but I’m constitutionally unable to deal with that feeling of inadequacy.  I didn’t make more effort.  It’s fair to say I didn’t make enough effort.  Actually, I made less and less effort and each contact was harder to intitiate, uneasier and less satisfying, more worrying than the last.

My mother died, intestate.  There were issues over what she left.  Then our stepfather told us what was in his will and this provoked a storm of fury from her, carefully masked but nonetheless made very clear in a letter to me.  When he died we made an attempt at putting that behind us but I actually couldn’t quite forget what had been said and I don’t think she truly did put her feelings of outrage and deprivation behind her.

Frankly, all she had to do to hang on to my affection and friendship was accept that I’m both scatty and unreliable and enjoy what I do have to offer. Which she is constitutionally unable to do.  I needed to do quite a lot more to hang onto hers – if I ever had it – and it was more than I had to offer.  And I really have to admit to myself that in the end, I didn’t want to keep struggling to mend something that wasn’t doing me any good at all.

Actually, it’s time to face the fact that it’s been a while since I’ve been prepared to carry on pussy-footing around a non-relationship with someone who never wanted my friendship much and saw me mainly as an imposition and as a usurper.  And that I should never have accepted any responsibility for her feelings, but should instead have accepted my own as true and hers as more honestly,  if brutally,  expressed than I was able to do.   Which is to say, I had become a right royal pain in her metaphorical arse and she was becoming a giant thorn in my emotional side.  Bicycle and fish.

So long Sister/Cousin and thanks for all the fish.

Now for something completely different.  Considering water.




DSC_0523-1(Phew.  That’s better : )

*This is a precis.  But there really was no ambiguity.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Secular, religious and virtual activities. And a duck.

I am pleased to announce that my computer hardware has passed the following tests.

Bit low test

Bit high test

Nibble move test

Checkerboard test

Walking one left test

Walking one right test

It told me so the other night.  (There’s a few more tests it passed but I am especially pleased about these, especially the nibble move test.  What use is a computer which doesn’t do the nibble move correctly?)

I’ve been rehearsing today in a performance of Benjamin Britten”s ‘Noyes Fludde’  (Noah’s Flood to you and me : ).  the church was very cold and the rehearsals seemed to go on a long time – orchestra rehearsal (with stops and restarts), dress rehearsal (also with stops and restarts) and a full run through.  My feet have returned now but there was a period when I seemed to have mislaid all my extremities.  And I swear the Voice of God (The local vicar) fell asleep once or twice.  Towards the end of the rehearsals he began to sound a bit thin and querulous and I thought “come on Voice, big it up a bit”.

I had occasion to consider calling on Him during the week when I parked the car in a ditch.  Literally.  Watching a big puddle on the off side, I very gently, even carefully, put the nearside front wheel in a big hole.  The car sat there with one rear wheel in the air looking for all the world like a round legged dog, having a pee.  This was when I discovered that the last time I put new breakdown insurance documents in the car was 2006.  Not a lot of use then.

On occasions like this, after a certain amount of cursing,  I can’t help muttering something vaguely pleading in the general direction of the sky and then thinking “I want my Mummy!!!”  Fortunately, before any of these tried, tested and invariably unproductive activities were put to the test, a very kind man stopped and pulled me out.  Pulled the car out that is.  I just got wet feet as I’d failed to avoid the puddle or the ditch.

I decided not to go for a wander down the footpath and went home instead.  I felt that one senior moment involving ditches might lead to further embarrassments if I didn’t get the old dear quickly and safely tucked in behind her own front door. (You’ll notice I disassociate myself from her even though she was definitely me)

So after this, I felt slightly nervous about my next adventure which involved spending money.  Nonetheless, I took the step of purchasing a certain gadget, of which I have spoken before, namely an Eee pc 1005HA Seashell.  What a mouthful!  It’s a little netbook with 1 Gb of ROM, 160 Gb of RAM (or have I still got ram and rom back to front – I can never remember) and up to 9 and 1/2 hours hours battery life (going downhill with a following wind).  That’s probably about 7 hours in real life but it’s still long enough to download quite a lot of photos between charges.

Now I shall need to get Mr Treasure to come and set it up for me and then I can consider the possibility of giving Barney his very own (my old) laptop.  He won’t like it at first but I’m sure he’ll come round.  I haven’t told him yet either that we are now a three computer family or that he is going to be upgraded to a laptop owner.  I’ll have to pick my moment.

Mr Treasure’s coming today : )

I apologise for a brief  excess of nautical terminology – I blame the duck.

The admiral

The admiral

Flight path

Flight path



radio operator?

radio operator?

Lookout (minding the shop actually)

Lookout (minding the shop actually)

Cows.  Drinking.

Cows. Drinking.

October 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Nightlights and dentistry.

Oh woe is me.  I went to the hygeinist yesterday.   While this is never a fun activity, it seems in recent months to have been maybe a little less stressful – maybe even a little less painful.  I’m even developing a bit of a relationship with the woman.  So much easier when the sight of her face doesn’t make mine go into a kind of spasm of terror.

So I hadn’t mentally prepared myself at all. And lo and behold, when she gently poked her little pointy implement into all those ‘deep pockets’ there was a chorus of protest from nearly all the bits at the bottoms of the pockets, with added mumbles and squeaks from me.  (Also, later, from my not so deep pocket when she told me how much the next lot of treatment would cost me).  Ok, so although I’ve done well and kept my teeth quite clean, the ‘pockets’ are getting deeper.  Meanwhile, she needed to ‘flush them out’ until next time when she’d do a ‘Florida probing’.

What’s that when it’s at home then?  Or more to the point when it’s in here where I’m normally at home?  I only suggested we might consider using an anesthetic before scraping at those depths between my gums and my teeth.   I’m wondering why they couldn’t squirt a little bit of something anesthetic into those pockets before flushing them out with iced water and attacking them with the little screamy hornet sounding thing which apparently isn’t made of electrified steel with barbed wire spikes on it at all, but of nylon.*

Oh well.  I suppose I’ll find out.

Meanwhile I’m wondering why I’ve had no response to two texts and an ansaphone message to my beloved one, who is away working on a distant roof.

I’m also thinking that the reason why my typos have multiplied recently is that the new computer has a new keyboard with slightly stiffer keys and everything arranged slightly differently. It’s certainly not that I’m getting a touch of  that thing that Terry Pratchett was talking about on TV when he said the particular form his Alzheimers takes, makes it impossible to type.  Oh no.  It’s not that!

Well.  As I’m a straw widow this week, I’ve deposited the dog with the daughter and I’m setting off to Bristol today.  Just because I can, though I thought I had reason (which I now can’t remember) to go to Ikea.  There might also have been the possibility of visiting various family but one was busy and t’other had food poisoning.  It was quite a relief to get to the daughter’s last night and check that the rest of the world is still there.  Also delightful to read bedtime stories to three small cuddly people.  Anyway, after failing to buy a superking sized quilt cover in Ikea (Mothercare may go up to ten but Ikea dosn’t go up to superking), I set off homewards and then veered off into the countryside.  It was a nice evening.

On my travels I saw the sun


And the moon


Which, contrary to popular belief, is not made of cheese at all, it’s a bunch of bananas


Or possibly a handful of mandarin slices – oops! dropped them

DSC_9312Goodnight. : )

*I’m gradually learning what these people have been doing inside the cavernous parts of my mouth – I hate being in ignorance of what’s going on in there.  It helps my nerves to know that I’m not being scrubbed with a wire brush but a nylon one – now I can imagine something a bit like a toothbrush instead of something I’d use on a burnt saucepan.

October 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

I’ve got a temporary dog

Sitting Youngest’s large spaniel puppy.  It – she’s all bendy and floppy and fluffy and much too big, noisy and boisterous for Nutmeg’s elderly tastes.  Also a bit big etc etc for mine.  She’s a bit like a black and white Tigger with Eyore ears (only fluffy).

I took them both for a walk in the field and they pleated their leads (I didn’t know you could do that with only two leads – ah, but they used me as the third thread – I got pleated too).   It’s really quite hard to unpleat in the dark, especially if your torch is in your pocket.

Then they drank each other’s water and lay down in each other’s beds.  Then they came and asked me please to sort out their beds and talk to them, only them, each, first.

Then they skidded round the kitchen and fell over.  Nutmeg didn’t like this at all.

Then I had to take them out again and this time I kept them on short leads so Jess hauled me zigzag across the road and Nutmeg got very tired and plodded along far behind.  I was in the middle stretched (levi-wise) between two leads)  I’m glad to report that if dogs were wild horses I’d be as strong as a pair of levis.

Now they’re both in their own beds and Jess keeps coming over to say, if you aren’t taking me back to my proper people, could you put the light out so I can forget that I’m far from home in a strange place.  And flops down so she can wiggle her back on the floor.

That’s not Jess with Nutmeg – it’ s Wendy.


Dogs are exhausting.  I’m going to bed.  Sleep well.

October 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Where we went on our holidays

I got Barney to tell me this slowly so I could write it down because I thought somebody ought to know.  You are the favoured ones to receive this fascinating information.

We dipped our hull into a surprising total of 12 waterways (not including bits we retraced), 183 miles, 300 locks and about 8 tunnels (Barney hasn’t counted them apparently)  And more bridges than I like to think about.  Also 3 or 4 aqueducts. (apparently there were lots and lots of aqueducts but most of them so small we didn’t notice them).

The Worcester  and Birmingham canal

The River Severn

The Stafford and Worcester canal

The Stourbridge canal

The Dudley No 1 canal (or 2. I can’t remember)

The Old main Line of the Birmingham Canal Navigation.

The Stafford and Worcester canal.

The Trent and Mersey canal (Navigation?).

The Coventry canal

The Birmingham and Fazeley canal

The Digbeth branch of the Birmingham and Fazeley canal

The Grand Union canal

The Stratford on Avon Canal (down to Stratford and back up again)

The Worcester and Birmingham canal.

And I took 7,045 photos.  (Is that surprising?) Also, since I am in a statistical mood, I had filled my first 16 gig memory card half way through day 6.

Now, the various crew members are wanting to know when I’ll have all the photos ready so we can all get together and go glassy eyed over them!  I’m already glassy eyed and I’m only halfway through day, er… 4  Oops!  It takes longer to go through them than it does to take them obviously.   I’d better have some more coffee and get back to work.

Just took a brief break though, to look for a recipe for dinner tonight.  I came upon this site which has wonderful sounding Elizabethan recipes.  I may decide to do an Elizabethan feast for the next family party (cooked according to the original recipes rather than the modern ‘redactions’.  What a funny word!

Anyway, I’m trying to get the photos processed a bit faster so not having much time for anything else.


Mwah !

So I’ll leave you with a watery kiss (look closer : ) and some bubbles


October 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments