Life, photos but not the universe

Man’s best friend’s ancestors

We went to the open day at the UK wolf trust and saw wolves.

And very nice looking wolves they were too.  None of that perimeter pacing, that I remember with sadness from zoos visited long ago, and nice clean thick coats.  They lay around and basked in the sun and they came and investigated the visitors and occasionally dug and snuffled in the long grass.

Sometimes they looked at us with their mournful eyes and, no doubt, thought their own, entirely unguessable thoughts.

And, very sensibly, they quite often declined to present us with close-up views but instead provided some distant and evocative glimpses through the trees as they prowled.

Meanwhile,after listening to many hours of musak on the phone I have a temporary car.  Instead of having an ignition key, like what I am used to, it has an ON/OFF button.  I think this is really weird.  It makes me wonder if I am really driving a car or if I’m actually behind the wheel of a virtual experience.

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

And today I’m slightly pissed off and increasingly shook up

though still hugely grateful and slightly astonished to be here.  (see previous post)

The thing is, I gave the insurance company a lengthy and detailed account of my little adventure while I was waiting for various people to come and rescue me.  At the time this seemed like a good thing, fresh in my mind and all that.  However, it seems a much less good thing to have to explain it all over again to the courtesy car company, the legal assistance company and the police (because the nice young copper who took down a brief statement and my details at the scene of the accident filed me under witnesses instead of drivers involved).  And I have to say that explaining exactly what happened and how it was that I wasn’t underneath a lorry and why my car had damage to its front lights not its back ones and then not being understood is wearing my patience and making me feel shaken all over again.

It all seems quite simple to me but it’s quite amazing how difficult it is for anyone on the other end of a phone to understand me.  And they all seem to think they really need to understand, not out of interest you see but because they need to know that someone else’s insurance will be paying in the end.


Never mind.  At the time, I was hugely impressed with myself and very pleased that years of watching lorries nervously had finally paid off and proved that when you are forewarned, you are actually forearmed as well.  And given two seconds you can do a plan and it can work.

Anyway, I’m now feeling a lot better, a) because the police told me that both injured drivers are now out of hospital and although the guy who was trapped in his car is in braces and stuff, he’s not as badly broken as he looked at the time*  and b) because Barney took me out for dinner.  I think he’s quite pleased to be keeping me : )

And also, there were a number of shocked and shaken people wandering around – the accident involved five cars and two lorries.  And people were nice to each other.  There wasn’t much to say except are you ok but they said it. Even people who had been hit without any warning at all.

As for the driver of the lorry, I feel for him.  Yes, he was totally at fault whatever was going on in his head as he failed to notice what was happening ahead.  But I’ve no doubt he’s paid for that already in remorse and loss of confidence and guilt.  Glad for him that no one was killed.

There’s something wrong with a system in which men drive for hours and hours in vehicles which weigh too much to stop within a sensible distance on roads with nowhere to escape if things go wrong.   There’s something wrong with a system in which every single hold up could have death and destruction hurtling towards it.  And there’s something wrong when this kind of thing is almost commonplace and when it happens it’s considered to be the fault and responsibility of one man alone at the wheel of several tons of unstoppable machinery.  People aren’t designed to hurtle, nose to tail along thousands of miles of tarmac in charge of all that metal and momentum.

Let’s bring back horses and canals!  Or for heavens’ sake, trains and buses!

Today I have to make nice little diagrams to show all those phone-deaf people what happened.  Tomorrow I am going to visit wolves**.  This will be much nicer.

And so is this.

*And me and the policeman agreed that this was wonderful and much much better than it could have been.

**There’s a wolf conservation place about four miles away and tomorrow they have an open day.  I can’t believe I’ve never been there!

August 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Today I was lucky

Also, I exercised extremely good judgement otherwise, I might have been in someone else’s photo of this.

So there I was, heading toward Oxford to visit NGB and her Mum and Dad and the traffic ahead of me was slowing down, brake lights showing for a fair distance ahead.  I slowed down too and then thought that’s not enough,  so slowed down a bit more.  Then I glanced in my rear view mirror and thought that big yellow lorry behind me is still coming up a bit fast.   Checked the queue in front and checked the lorry behind again and suddenly realised.  He hasn’t seen it.  He’s not got time to stop.  Has he? Hasn’t he? Ooooohno he really hasn’t.  So I pushed my thumb vaguely at the horn and veered towards the the nearside lane.

Big yellow lorry ploughed into the car that had just been in front of me.

Quite a lot of other stuff happened – the nearside lane wasn’t empty but the lorry driver in that lane had also realised that the big yellow guy hadn’t got his eye on the ball and therefore was able to give me room between him and the queue.  The cars who had just been in front of me skewed into the side of my car as the yellow lorry hit them and I had what seemed like a tiny eternity, in which to wonder if I’d made it or if the next thing would be cars all overturning and flung in every direction, as I briefly bounced between the traffic queue and the lorry on my left.

The yellow lorry guy had realised, not quite soon enough, that he was heading towards a slowing queue and he had braked (I heard his brakes squeal) and so only three cars were piled up.  Only two people were hurt, one guy trapped in his car and one who seemed ok at the time but later needed a neck brace and had to lie down till the ambulance came.  They were both conscious and so I’m hoping that they’ll both be ok.  It could have been so much worse.

You hear about this kind of accident all the time and every time the traffic ahead slows down, I for one, check my rearview mirror because there might be a lorry behind me.  Not noticing.  You don’t always notice the queue ahead straight away and there have been times when I’ve had to brake a bit sharpish but these big lorries don’t have any sharpish in their repertoire.

Accidents hey!  Those things that happen which no one was expecting.

I am a grateful, undamaged and lucky person.

And later after Barney came to fetch me and the insurance people had sent a recovery vehicle to take my slightly battered car away we passed this view on the Ridgeway and I thought, all over again, how lucky I am.

Sleep well.  Since, as far as I know, no one was killed in my place, I will.

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Things that are good for you

My mouth has always been a source of trouble for me.  Often requiring a sock to be put in it and sometimes finding a foot in it (being, as it is, only loosely connected to my brain) but most frequently having in it bad things such as loose or damaged teeth.  I have a very useful tooth which has at its root an abscess.  This flares up from time to time and me and my dentist have agreed that one day the tooth will have to come out but we’ll hang on to it as long as we can. Meanwhile we do what we can with antibiotics and lots of tlc.

Any way it’s currently having a bit of a flare but not so much as to use up more antibiotic (resistance and all that) and is in fact settling down again as I write (I haven’t eaten yet).  During these toothy episodes my diet consists of such delights as yoghurt and mashed potatoes and soup.  Yes, very nice.  And, to be fair, an avocado or two.  Ratatouille!

I can’t help but notice that each time this happens, I seem to become a little lighter on my feet and a little more lively.  My clothes seem a little more comfortable.  I try hard to imagine that eating paracetamol and nurofen are behind this effect but I’m afraid the inescapable inference to be drawn is that eating less and drinking less wine are doing me good.


Well all that was forgotten this evening when we went visiting a certain young lady at home.  She’s still quite nice.  For a baby.

With Dad

I never sleep with my mouth open!

Oh and we got to see toes – one leg needed to be unwrapped but they were there, all pink and crinkly.

Us grandparents drove home in the pouring rain (Goodness, didn’t it rain yesterday!  Well it did here anyway) beaming foolishly and feeling the sense of wellbeing that comes from sitting comfortably for a long time with a tiny, warm, sleeping bundle in your lap)

August 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

head first and face down

That’s what I have to say to myself when inserting paper into the printer.  Otherwise I’m likely to overprint or use the wrong side of the paper.

Some years ago, I was busy aranging the inside of the tent at Bampton (I enjoy that bit) and plunked all the pillows at the end of the beds away from the entrance. “I always sleep with my head towards the entrance” said our friend. When asked why he said he felt vulnerable in a tent and felt safer facing out towards whatever might come in.  There was general agreement.  Setting aside the likelihood of  the unexpected ingress of whatever, I pointed out that should an axe-wielding maniac enter the tent  while I was asleep I would prefer the first thing he encountered to be my feet, not my head!

This gained some consideration and thoughtful looks.

Then there are some people who always like to sit with their back to a wall or even a corner, say, in restaurants.  Barney is one.  It’s so that you can see what’s going on around you (and who it is that’s having that really weird conversation about the government’s responsibilties regarding underwear).

Also, it’s a fairly atavistic safety thing.  You can’t so easily be taken by surprise.  (Axe wielding maniacs, embarrassing acquaintances you’d rather not encounter during meals, escaped giant cats, small or large blue or green aliens and so on)

But babies are supposed to come head first because the head’s biggest and needs to come out first so the delicate neck isn’t damaged by the follow-up.  (I suppose?)  Oh and it’s a better shape and nice and hard for shoving its way through a gap which is demonstrably much too small to get through.  Brave babies, pushing their heads out into the unknown.  Getting the worst over with quickly.

Well New Gorgeous Babe had her own strategy which was to put trust in them nice people out there to pick her out and get her pointing whichever way up would be best, having hinted as strongly as she could that head up and feet down would be preferable.  So when we arrived for our first visit, she was perched upright on Mum’s tum and they were eye to eye, (and nose to nose) no doubt discussing plans for the immediate future.

There’s a lot of it about at the moment.  I know of four babies of friends which are due during the next week and at least two of friends and family which were born during the last week.  Unless it’s a local effect this tends to suggest that the gloom and doom of such things as global warming hasn’t been putting people off – possibly the reverse.  And of course there’s the cold Winter we had last year – wasn’t there a baby boom after the hard winter of – Oh I can’t remember but I do recall it being officially noted that there was a statistically significant rise in births after it and lots of comment about making our own entertainment during the long dark evenings and power cuts.  (An attempt to google this led irritatingly to a lot of stuff about population decline and demographic winters so unless you also remember the winter in question you’ll have to take my word for it).

Anyway, going back to the population boom, you’d probably like to see more photos of our personal boom.  wouldn’t you?  Of course you would.  I knew you would really.  (Please forgive any extra foolishness here.  We’ve not only been and had some more cuddles, we’ve been and wetted the baby’s head at the local and I for one am temporarily not responsible for my actions .  Or my typos.  Or the fact that WordPress has added some spaces which I can’t remove).  After all, Barney is high on cuddles and head wetting and anticipating dinner and I am high etc etc and making dinner.  Anything could happen at this point.  I’m rather hoping it’s going to be dinner and that I’ve remembered to reset the timer but we’ll see.

Taken on the first day.

Update:  One of the babies above mentioned has since arrived.  His grandma sent me a photo which, to my surprise, appeared on my mobile phone.  I didn’t know my phone could do that!  Anyway, I couldn’t help noticing that it looked exactly like a baby, for instance exactly like our NGB.  One of my friends has been kind enough to say NGB looks like me.  It’s nice to know that I look like a baby* since I feel a little bit older than that : )

*Yes, there is a logical inconsistency there.  Just because all babies look like babies it doesn’t follow that if one baby looks like a grandma the grandma looks like all babies.


August 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Enough of this soppiness

For a minute or two anyway.

We have been given more veg than we know what to do with during the last two days.  Well, says Barney, we’ll have to have ratatouille.

Once, long ago, I shared a flat with a very nice girl who had an unusually (in my experience) well to do background as a result of which she was used to fine dining in the days when it wasn’t popularised as it is now on TV.*

We decided to share a 21st birthday party and since she had lectures to attend, I was left to make the dinner.  Which was to include Ratatouille – “absolutely gorgeous, melting tomatoes and peppers and onion and so easy, you just throw them into a saucepan with nothing else at all and cook them very very slowly for a very long time”.  She and her boyfriend rushed off to their lecture and I finished the book I was reading and then looked thoughtfully at the tomatoes and peppers and onions and whatnot. After a while, realising that long slow cooking hadn’t been an option since chapter four, I threw them all into a saucepan with some oil and fried them for a bit.

I wasn’t her favourite person when she came back!

Anyway the first thing that went wrong today was that we had some, but not all, of the vegetables needed for ratatouille which I discovered when I started looking through recipe books.  Actually the very first thing was a shortage, nay an absence, of ratatouille recipes.  I found one online eventually, buried between a hundred links concerning a Disney film of the same name, (and the bit that went “surprisingly simple even though it does take most of the afternoon” rang a bell or two).

Ok, so I still have most of the afternoon but no aubergines.  I’ll substitute celeriac.  Very French if not authentic.

At the moment, I’m at the bit that says simmer till nearly all the liquid has evaporated.  Earlier I was at the bit that said peel and deseed the tomatoes.  This became a very lengthy and messy bit as many of the tomatoes were very small – not really the best kind for this recipe. But the oven baking of the peppers till their skins blistered was great and so was removing the skins – tasty!

Then Barney came home and hovered over the recipe and the saucepans a bit, like he does, and when told about the plan to substitute celeriac for aubergine said “Oh No!  That won’t work”  So I’ve divided my mixture into two and put celeriac on top of mine and not his.  So there!  And now it’s all in the oven for a whole two hours which I find very worrying but that’s what the recipe says.  Ooh fingers crossed!

In between baby visiting and ratatouille**, I discovered a couple more churches.

St Nicholas church in Beedon has a pretty sunlit churchyard as well as two or three magnificent old trees

And tucked away alongside the Ridgeway is the Church of St Mary

Then, if you wander across to West Ilsley and take a run at the flank of the Ridgeway, you get a splendid view of Didcot Power Station from the top.

And if it happens to be a wonderful sunny evening they all look quite photogenic.

The ratatouille was fine.  (I’m reluctant to admit it but Barney was right about the celeriac.)

Anyway, having used up the peppers and got the tomatoes down to a manageable quantity, tomorrow’s challenge involves cauliflower, more courgette, flat beans and the biggest cabbage I’ve seen for a long time.

Oops, a baby slipped in!  Doesn’t she go well with my blouse?

*She had been to finishing school no less before coming to Uni so no doubt she’d learnt to cook ratatouille there.

**Offerings from spellcheck for ratatouille; pratville, rathskeller, rattlebrain and raymondsville.

August 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Oh just a quick one then

With Grandad

The happy beam hasn’t left his face for two days – I believe he’s still smiling in his sleep.

With Mum.

August 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Good Lord! How long can it take?????

Yes yes I know that’s a silly question.

We’re sitting around here like a couple of old hens on a mobile phone waiting for it to hatch an informative text!



Delivered (by Cesarean) at 4.30 this afternoon, one  pink, perfect, female person.  8lbs 3ozs and deliciously like a baby.  All went well and when we got to visit at 7.30, Mum and Babe and Dad were all looking pretty lovely.

Grandad got to do his making baby fall asleep trick and I got to cuddle her too.

: )

August 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Oh Oops!

Time, tide and babies wait for no consultants.

Mrs Middle’s baby on the way!

Fingers crossed for no complications and perhaps even (XXXXXXXX) no cesarean!

Oh my Goodness!


oH, UNCROSS THE FINGERS and undo caps lock.


August 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The baby’s not for turning

Oh well.

Mrs Middle’s consultant did his best and the baby remained firmly right side up.  Which is to say wrong way up.  Cesarean booked for next week.  Of course, the baby might arrive so quickly and determinedly that a cesarean isn’t the best option but it is looking like the most probable.  Sad for Mrs Middle to have to go through surgery and sad that she will have to combine recovery from surgery with those precious first days after the birth.  But as we agreed (won’t everyone) as long as there’s a baby at the end that’s what matters.

So next Week it is.  Probably.

Stand easy all.

August 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment