Life, photos but not the universe

So of course you’re all dying to know about the hectic weekend : )

There were things like a concert and a very poor attempt to play Ave Maria (Beethoven, sadly didn’t make it). Then there was a trip to Northampton to collect a futon (not my problem except that it had to be accounted for in my timings).  Then there was a stamp fair (again, not my problem though it did mean I had to fit one very large person, two violins and some shopping into the cab of the pickup while still having room to drive it, since my car had been appropriated to carry boxes of stamps).

And then there was the unexpected but , of course, delightful, appearance of Youngest, her spouse and their (wet) dog, followed by a lengthy session at the pub and an extraordinarily late return to cook dinner.  What were we thinking of?  Not a lot by the time we’d et and drunk and I’d been very boring for a long time about the main event of the weekend .

Which was a fabulous lunch with dear zIggI and I’SLTV (and ziggi’s delightful partner and his son).  Finally after many false starts and failed attempts, (not to mention last minute changes of plan) we made it!!!  Such a pleasure to meet you ziggi and Oh yes!  We must do it again, please.  It seemed like a long way on the map but in reality, just an enjoyable trip through glorious countryside and the return journey positively winged with happy thoughts.

Thank you both for a lovely afternoon.


March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Extra hectic bits added to weekend after it was supposed to be over

So I’m not doing comments tonight – too knackered and slightly inebriated.

Love you all anyway.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Anyone remember Alice’s Restaurant?

Any one who doesn’t must be a bit younger than me or must have a hole in their sixties.  (Not that I’m saying that’s bad – I have several holes in mine).

It was a year or twenty before I realised that the judge (in the song) arrived in court with a seein’-eye dawg as opposed to a senile dawg and I was not alone in this misapprehension.  Over the years, I have wondered how you can tell if a dawg – sorry – dog, is senile.  Anyway, I’m beginning to wonder about Nutmeg.

He’s taken to suddenly stopping and standing all dazed and pensive in the middle of anywhere.  Often the kitchen where he knows he’s quite likely to get trodden or trampled on in the rush to turn off the potatoes or to get the hot thing in the oven before it becomes a cooler thing.   And to get bits spilt on him while it’s still a hot thing.  There are other places he chooses to suddenly go into a trance, usually doorways or the rainy garden or just under my feet by the computer.  He’s quite unable to find his way in through the back door curtain and will stand there for some time with a lot of curtain on his head waiting for rescue. Ah yes, and just behind the dining room door.  Waiting for someone to open it and bang him on the nose.

However, tonight, the boot was on the other foot.  I put him outside to enjoy the mild evening and to get him out from under my feet and then forgot all about him.  A little while later, we discovered a rather wet dog* waiting patiently to be let in.

Oh dear!  And the look he gave me, as he came in quite briskly and not in the least bit vaguely or absentmindedly, said quite clearly “who’s the senile dawg now then?”  and “how come, when I’m gone all dopey and not with it, I get trodden on and bumped on the nose but when you get a bit forgetful, I’m the one who gets wet? Hmm?”

I am chastened and a bad, wicked dog owner.

Oh, well in case you haven’t heard it, Alice’s Restaurant, lyrics and part of the song.

However, while looking at Google Earth this evening I saw what appeared to be a pink elephant near Andover.  Ok, I thought, either I’m seeing things or GE would like me to think I could see things if only I went to that spot on the map.  Or someone has had a hallucination there?   A closer inspection reveals that the pink elephnt is there to mark the location of the Hawk Conservancy Trust.   Er????

Funny, I’ve been there and I didn’t see any pink elephants.




But no pink and no elephants.

We were supposed to be going out tonight but we’ve had two long days between us (one each) and we decided instead to stay in and prepare for two more long days tomorrow (in my case, a particularly exciting and enjoyable day, so all the more need to be refreshed and ready for it).   Especially as the clocks migrate to BST tonight.

*It wasn’t raining when I put him out.  Honest.

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Hectic hectic weekend

Shan’t be around much till it’s over.


Snapshot on the way home yesterday.  Early evening and deer at the local farm park.  Too far away for a proper photo but oh, so lovely to see them : )

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A healthy snack and sour grapes

We watched the ‘Delicious Miss Dahl’ on TV last night, cooking several somethings or other for a special, selfish day spent all alone cooking and eating.  I was relieved to see that her deliciousness didn’t mean she was to be an ingredient in any of the cooking.

So we watched her, gliding langourously around her kitchen, slicing a bit of this and that and producing a few quite nice looking meals.  I think there must have been some miscalculation about how long it would take to  do the explaining and preparing because there seemed to be alot of padding in the form of lengthy shots of her intent on arranging things and curled up on a sofa, eating things and poised over a choice of cheeses in a cheese shop.  And often – too often – she paused for a long moment and peered meaningfully at the camera, all but batting her eyelashes at us.  Is she short sighted?  Did someone hold up a card saying “look this way now”?  Did she have an earpiece in which a producer was saying “that’s right love, now give us a bit of a smoulder”.

Then there was the commentary.  Mostly about how she was going to cook for a totally selfish, solo day.  It was going to be alright to buy expensive stuff because she’d only need a little bit – for herself.  (meaningful glance over the shoulder as she reached for some cheese, making you wonder if there was a secret someone who would be joining her after the show).  And all about how she didn’t need to make much because she wasn’t going to want to share it with anyone because today she would be selfish and self indulgent.  It was all a bit contrived really and not very convincing.  She’s a beautiful woman and the food sounded ok but, well Nigella’s done that seductive cooking  thing and I can’t see the point of  another one.

Fact is, I can’t really be doing with Kitchen Goddesses.  I like people in the TV kitchen to work hard and fast and furiously, I like them to concentrate on the food and I like to feel the heat – from the oven thank you, not the er, well any other stuff.  And while they’re at it, I like them to tell me how hot and how long and how much.  More, I’d rather they didn’t make me feel short, fat and wrinkly.  I know I’m all that and I don’t need any sultry looks to remind me.

Anyone care for a grape?*


Anyway, a tasty snack with my age, unhealthy habits and overweightness in mind

A piece of wholemeal bread (won’t go into detail about it’s healthy properties – too much information), lightly toasted and lightly buttered.

Some parsley leaves (vitamins, iron and counteracts the smell of garlic), torn up a bit.**

Some thinly sliced garlic (uses up chloresterol and ‘cleans the blood’), about a clove (Oh well exactly a clove then).

A few halved, pitted olives (I’ve no idea what they do for you but hey!  they’re olives, isn’t that good enough?)

Some cheese, as strong as you like, to cover it all. ( I like a very strong, salty cheddar.  Calcium and protein).

A sprinkle of lemon juice and  freshly ground black pepper.

Toast under the grill till ready.  Nibble elegantly at a corner, flutter your wrinkles at the camera and go “mmmm delicious”.


See, it was mildly windy and then clouds loomed and a strange stormy light fell over everything and then the wind moved cross the fields, darkening the sky and bringing a few drops of rain and then there was a flash of lightning and as the wind brought the wall of rain closer, a soft distant roll of thunder.  Just a small spring storm, passing quickly by.

And then it rained a lot.

I removed an entire washing line from this photo.  Sometimes I am so clever.***

*Obviously this whole post is a bowlful of sour grapes from one who never ever managed languorous seductiveness in the kitchen or anywhere else.

**It turns out that parsley cooked with garlic doesn’t work to counteract the smell.  You have to eat it fresh and after the garlic.

***Not often because it takes ages.  Being clever.  I have to plan in advance.

March 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Special, for The Brit

Standard 9F Class

I really wasn’t doing this properly was I.  Apologies to all serious train people for the lack of info.

; )

And in case the Brit didn’t know, No 92220 was the last one built in that class and the only one named – The Evening Star.  Oh, he says it was the last English steam engine built.  Except for the Tornado which was built two years ago.

The Brit probably knows all that : )

March 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments


It is of course perfectly reasonable for a non-photographer to feel a little twitchy about going out to dinner with a group of people who met on a photographic holiday, via a photographic website even when there will be at least one other non-photographer present.  It’s understandable that there might be a little muttering about people who only talk about photography when they get together and who will probably be photography anoraks.

“You got on very well with the non-photographer last time” a spouse might point out, but this is no guarantee that it will happen again.

So it was ironic, to say the least, that when we went out for lunch with said group of people the subjects of conversation most discussed, and discussed most animatedly, were stamps, steam engines and canals.  All subjects on which my spouse is a total and unashamed anorak*.  These subjects kept the two non-photographers happily occupied for pretty much the whole of our visit.  And sort of took over the (almost completely non-photographic) conversation.   I think that the other person isn’t exactly an anorak (except possibly about electronic gadgetry, about which he seems to be astonishingly knowledgeable), just immensely interested in everything.  And it was all very interesting.  Even entertaining.  I seem to remember that almost exactly the same thing happened last time we got together. It is possible that us photographers would have liked to be a little bit anorakey about photography too but it just didn’t happen.

As we left, there was a brief upsurge of conversation about Beer and trains with Morris Dancing making a very small appearance too.  I felt it was necessary to hurry away before Beer took over – not a problem as Barney needed to get back to go to the pub and show people photos of steam trains, organise a funny letter to be signed (concerning Folk Music) and check on the latest arrangements for this year’s canal holiday.

I think, another time, it might be nice for the photographers to get together without the non-photographic element.  Well, without my particular anorak element anyway.

Anyway, Youngest just rang while I was waiting for ‘the yoghurt to be absorbed before adding water’ in a curry.   One of the delights of my life is when my children ring up to tell me the latest thing that they want to talk about.  Youngest did her first day assistant teaching today and clearly this is going to be a challenging job.  She told me quite a lot about the challenges and then added that she has an ear infection and would like some really good news soon, please.  After putting the phone down, I thought that actually, a half hour chat with one of my girls is extremely good news for me : )  And then I decided that since the yoghurt clearly isn’t going to be ‘absorbed’ I  might as well just not add water. The curry will be quite wet enough as it is.

After a rather damp and soggy day, suddenly the cloud cleared and everything went sort of pinkish.

Sleep well : )

*The spouse in question, read this while I was in the kitchen and, being a bit of a pedant** as well as an anorak, pointed out  that you don’t spell anorak with a ‘q’ but with a ‘k’.  It’s just taken me several minutes to replace all the q’s with ‘k’s.  *Snort*

**To be fair, if, which I don’t necessarily accept, ‘anorak’ isn’t really spelt ‘anoraq’ he’s not so much pedantic as correct.  But I personally prefer Anoraq***.

***Aha! Wikipedia tells me I’m at least partly right.****

****However, confusingly, it also tells me I’m completely wrong ?: {

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

More smoke no fire. Be very alarmed.

You can’t be too alarmed can you, so we have three smoke alarms.  Very useful things up to a point.  One point being when I leave some stock reducing on the cooker and go out and Barney is outside in the workshop and therefore doesn’t notice that the stock has reduced to nothing and the cooker is attempting to reduce the saucepan.

Another point being when we are asleep and the alarm remembers that it needed to warn us about some smoke that it noticed two or three days ago because (I suppose) it was concerned that no one heard it then and for all it knows the smoke may still be raging and we may need to be alarmed again in case we still haven’t noticed anything.

Barney came in before the real smoke became fire and naturally, has reminded me so often to turn everything off all the time  that I’m getting the tiniest bit ratty about it.  The downstairs smoke alarms keeps reminding us that there was smoke even though there isn’t any more.  Barney didn’t hear it this morning (at five o’clock) and agreed that an alarm is no use if we ignore it.  (I’ve done fire drill twice this week and today I didn’t feel like doing it again).  Actually I’m a bit dubious about an alarm that one of us doesn’t even hear!  So when I came downstairs there it was, on the work top (having been removed from the ceiling) and as soon as I came in it started beeping* again.  I pressed it (to test and silence it)  and if anything it beeped louder.  I stopped pressing it and it stopped but after a few seconds it started again.  Upon which, I took it outside and hid it round the corner of the workshop.   No doubt the blackbirds and robins will soon be imitating it.

This, however was inadequate because smoke alarms, naturally, are designed to get, and keep, your attention.   They don’t intend to be ignored, not for a few minutes or even for a few seconds.   After a short while, (about three minutes) I became anxious that the neighbours might get a bit cross with me (they’re very nice, undemanding, friendly people but some things would try even any relationship, however good).  I rushed outside and looked at it from a safe distance (the other end of the garden).  Then I rushed back inside as if pursued by furies and grabbed a number of thick cloth sorts of thing.  Blankets.  A fleece.  And a towel.   Wincing I rushed at the offending item and swathed it in them and then shut it in the garage.  A faint, indigant peeping sound followed me as I left it.  I wished, very much, to drop it in a bucket of water and then throw it around and trample on it  quite a lot but clearly it works – might it be possible to reset it somehow?

Later, Barney came home and brought it into the house and undid it and then after a really very short investigation of it’s innards, cut it’s wires.  We breathed again.  Wonderful silence fell.

Now I have to go and get a new one.  Perhaps, in order to get a free one and to have it’s instructions** explained to us we also have to have a fire inspection.  If we do I feel sure we’ll have to put up with a lot of black marks.  Most of the house is fairly sound and I believe most of the wiring is ok but we do tend to go in for multiple plug use in a big way.

I keep saying Spring is here or nearly so.  Today (that’s yesterday now), the skies have been uniformly not very bright and dark grey and a fine steady drizzle has been falling.  but a couple of days ago it was like this  : )

And the catkins are really out.

And it’s really quite warm, though I do keep over-reacting to the sunshine and then needing to go and add layers.  I’m dreaming of warmth.

Hope you’re warm too : )

* Perhaps beeping is inadequate to describe the fiendish, insistent and unignorable noise it makes. I think a word should be coined to describe it.

**Most importantly, the instructions on how to shut it up!

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Liesa Van der Aa

This is quite something else.

I think if she ever appears over here I might be tempted to go and listen.


Not exactly pretty music but it has a certain hypnotic power.

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Happy Hound (from Hell?)

Not really.  She’s very amiable and friendly considering.

However, when she’s left at what she considers an inappropriate moment (for more than a moment) she barks.  While I’m trying to get shoes on, she gets up close and personal.  And between me and my feet.  When she’s  hungry, she’d rather have Nutmeg’s food which is less ‘healthy’ but more interesting than hers.  When Barney lets her out first thing, she hurtles off through the hedge into the furthest distances and won’t come back for ages.  When I take her out on the lead she pulls me this way and that and then the other and occasionally, nearly, over.  When the school run goes past she barks some more  (as Youngest pointed out, she thinks all those 4x4s thundering along the lane are actually burglars – about 50 of them).  Until she’s had her morning walk, she wanders around whimpering and watching for the return of the cat and generally creating unrest.  When she sees birds flying out of the hedge she thinks they need fetching and leaps, full ahead to the end of the lead in a single bound, taking my shoulder sockets with her and causing me also to bound albeit in a slightly stiff-legged, inelegant and reluctant manner.

And I haven’t even had my coffee yet!

I have a list that says

Toes (before attempting to take her out again, they need some tlc)
Shoot dog.

However I don’t mean that literally.  I just mean I need to shoulder the dummy firing gun thing again and get her running after dummies for as long as I can bear it in the hope of wearing her out a bit.  (a lot would be good!)

Anyway, thanks to the barking at the school run, I’ve got up unreasonably early and had more than my fair share of exercise all before getting my coffee.  Now I’m going to ignore her for a while.  However, I foresee a difficult day ahead.

Here she is at her home.  She has been keeping my dining room in the same sort of condition that she keeps her lawn.  Sort of….busy.

In the end, my day wasn’t so hard.  I took her out with the gun and she was surprisingly good at returning the dummy for further attempts.  Also, she brought the dummy home for me.   And she ate all her dinner.  Barney wan’t so lucky.  When he took her dummy shooting, she ran off with the dummy and refused to return till he gave up and set off for the gap in the hedge.  Then she got panicked about being left all alone and came hurtling back all hopeful and eager.

Today, I looked out of the window and I thought I saw three cows in the field.  This would definitely preclude the firing of dummies and the hurtling of dogs (even those disguised as small, furry, black and white cows).  Later I could see no sign of the cows so they were either a hallucination or a temporary invasion but by then I’d taken Pup across the road for a circular zig-zag-tug-of-war round the other field.  I’m hoping that the energy she has expended by hurling herself to the end of the lead in multiple directions at once will keep her quiet until her people come to fetch her later today.  (It’s certainly keeping me quiet).*

The really good thing, I suppose, is that I’ve had a lot of exercise in the last couple of days.  The not so good thing is that I’m totally knackered!

So, I quite forgot – what you really want to see on the footplate of a steam engine.  The firebox.  About ten feet to the back of it Barney said and three feet wide and needing to be fed a lot of coal.  A ton, in fact, each way along the ten mile stretch of track.  So during our day, we used six tons of coal.  Ooh.  That makes me feel a trifle uneasy.

But since we’re recklessly gobbling up un-renewable resources, you need to see a bit of actual steam!

Cor!  Innit loverly?

*What you need to understand is that, while once, I was younger and therefore stretchy and bendy enough and indeed strong enough, to handle strong dogs with casual ease and confidence, I’ve now become as wheezy and decrepit as old Nutmeg and we are both deeply content with a short but purposeful amble.  The main purpose being to enjoy a few good smells (or sights), make a useful deposit (that’s just him – I merely witness and wield a plastic bag) and return home to our warm house with a feeling of a job well done.  We just don’t do bounding and tugging any more!

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments