Life, photos but not the universe

Cheeky. Not totally cool.


I didn’t know, until Inukshuk mentioned it, that there are Google Ads on my blog.

After some investigation it seems that sometimes there are and sometimes there aren’t.  (And I’ve never seen them on my computer but this could be a failure to notice or coincidentally, that I never look at it when they’re there)  So I did a bit of investigation and under ‘Cool free features on WordPress’  I discovered that they may place ads on my blog from time to time to gain financial support for the service they offer.  And that for a small yearly fee I can remove them!

You know, really I don’t think that is a cool feature.  But neither am I prepared to pay a small yearly fee.  So you may see an occasional Google ad on my blog.

My Mummy minding duty is drawing to a close.  Soon I shall be at home full time again.

Barney has been making delicious meals for me on my days off.  Indeed as I speak he’s experimenting with a recipe which we collected from a chef while on holiday.  The collection was via a waiter rather than from the chef himself and then scribbled hastily down by me in my notepad.  Also it was in June?  And, come to think of it, all I actually wrote down was the ingredients.

Well the recipe is for Buck Rarebit with Smoked Haddock and as you all probably know, buck rarebit is just Welsh rarebit with a poached egg on top.  An investigation into cooking buck rarebit confirmed this but also digressed into its nomenclature*.  It seems that Welsh, and Buck, rarebit(s) are actually pronounced Rabbit  (which actually I knew so quiz points to me) however, the Cookery Year and Gary Rhodes disagree about the spelling.  The Cookery Year asserts that it should be spelt Rabbit but Gary Rodes says there are two schools of thought.  One is that the dish was once called Welsh Rear bit because it was served after the dessert – at the rear of the meal.  The other, he says, is that it was always called Welsh Rabbit but no one knows why.  (After all what is Welsh about cheese and egg and what can it have to do with rabbits?)

Hmm.  Wikipedia has a lot to say about this** but I think the best bit is that Welsh Rabbit with tomato added is called Blushing Bunny.  Obviously.

And further, “According to the American satirist Ambrose Bierce, the continued use of rarebit was an attempt to rationalize the absence of rabbit, writing in his 1911 Devil’s Dictionary: “RAREBIT n. A Welsh rabbit, in the speech of the humorless, who point out that it is not a rabbit. To whom it may be solemnly explained that the comestible known as toad in the hole is really not a toad, and that ris de veau à la financière is not the smile of a calf prepared after the recipe of a she-banker.”

One of the problems we have with the dish is that neither of us has ever successfully poached an egg in water.  We’ve been told how to many times by many people and have been given a million useful tips but it never works.  Another problem is that Barney didn’t know how to poach the haddock and didn’t seem able to remember what I told him to do so it’s possible that the haddock will be scrambled and so might the egg.  Also, though I didn’t write this down in June, we’re pretty sure a Welsh rarebit needs an egg in the mixture quite independently of any poached, buck-making eggs on top.  And we forgot it!

In spite of my continuing stomach trouble (of which I will no doubt hear more later but you needn’t) I’m now ravenous what with the delicious smells and writing about all this lovely stuff.  So I hope it’s good!

Serious conversation here about whether another meal is due.

And here’s Peasemore Church, in between rain.

Got to go.  See you soon.

*I’d better check that I mean that before posting it.  It’s a good word don’t you think?

**I do love the way wikipedia gives you so much more information than you could ever need.***

***Well, sometimes I love it.

Update:  It was good : )

September 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A Pology

(as in, be a Lert)

As broadband in the city is slow and I haven’t found a comfortable place to use the netbook,  I’ve been somewhat dilatory about visiting.  And occasionally just give up.

S’not because I don’t love you all.

curly fields

and sunlit birds on a chimney.

Ooh, got to rush off again


September 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Me and the dog

are sitting side by side in perfect harmony.  This is because both of us have eaten something which doesn’t agree with us and our stomachs are complaining simultaneously.  I suppose it’s back to a diet of super-bacterial yoghurt and soup for a while (for me, not the dog.  I don’t think it would work for him somehow).  We’ll see.  Well I will.  You don’t have to know any more about it – be thankful!

Anyway, here is a selection of unusual fungi which have been sprouting on our lawn recently in great profusion.  They really do appear and disappear overnight so you have to go out and check for new manifestations regularly.

Actually, this one hasn’t disappeared but has become more like

this one.  Sort of evil!

And no, I haven’t tried eating any of them.  I don’t think the dog has either.

Anyway, to go back to harmony, I leave you with the Mandolinquents playing something quite magical by Grieg and something quite magical by Simon Mayer.

Good night : )

September 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The moon, music and mandolins

We went to see one Steve Tilston tonight, a singer songwriter from the glory years of folk music.  He was very good.  Performing as support act were Sara Daniels (who might be replacing our concertina player, recently moved to Devon – not convenient for the odd gig in Berkshire) accompanied by Richard Cox Smith’s gorgeous, rich and sensitive slide guitar.  Tonight she sang and played guitar and, I have to say, has the voice of an angel and writes stunning lyrics and tunes.  It makes me a trifle nervous about playing with her!

Simon Mayr and Hilary Jones of the Mandolinquents were there tonight and it transpires that next week at their regular show at the Greenham Arts Centre, the guest will be Louis de Bernieres.  Who, as it happens, does play the mandolin. (Yes, the very author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin).  So I shall take a night off the Mummy minding and go and see him.  Ought to be interesting.

On another matter, more ominous but hopefully now sorted out, my hotmail address has been hacked (? or whatever)

As a result, my hotmail contacts may have been getting emails purporting to be from me. They’re not and I’ve now changed the password so it should stop happening.  Sorry if any of you got any of them!  If you did, they’re not virused or anything like that (so Mr Treasure, my computer man tells me).

Here is the Lovely Mrs Middle, with Little Middle, doing a bit of co-operative multi tasking

And tonight, I watched clouds racing past a full moon above the city.  I noticed a very bright star close to the moon which I’ve never noticed before.  Later I went out again and both the moon and the star had moved across the sky without any noticeable change in alignment.  After a bit, I thought well that can’t be a star then.  They don’t do that sort of thing.  So it must be a satellite.  Both orbiting round the earth.  Curious to see and difficult to work out exactly how the satellite’s orbit has been arranged so that it follows the path of the moon.

Anyway, living in two places at once is having a distracting effect.  Things I might blog about from home vanish from my mind when I come here!  Then new things pop into my head only to vanish again when I move back.

However, I do remember that at home, we’ve had an invasion of toadstools on the front lawn.  About five different varieties.  When I have time, I might try and work out what they all are.  But for now, I shall go to bed.  Me and Mrs Middle and Little Middle have a busy day tomorrow, visiting child care centres and shops and such like.

Update:  The Mandolinquents’ performance sparkled both technically and emotionally.  Mr de Berniere’s performance suffered by contrast.  Respect to him for mastering the basics of playing a large number of ethnic instruments though.

September 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Sending my love to Swansea

So, here I am on the phone again, listening to musack-ack-ack-ack.

Today’s mission (which I did not want to accept ) was relatively simple.  Just to apply for a new car registration document because the car salvage company want it and we have lost it.  I was hoping to save us £25 but even as I explained, in a slightly garbled way to, er, the insurance company, what I was after, I realised that actually I’d misread the relevant bit of paperwork and will need to pay the £25 even if the car has already been destroyed.


I went and searched Barney’s files because I don’t believe it’s not in there somewhere but if it is, he’s well concealed it.

So so so.

I filled in the application form, (phoning various people on the way to get various information to which which I no longer have access as I no longer have the car in question) and finally got to the bottom of the page where I signed, as you do, to say I believed it to be the truth and all that.  And there, right at the end of the form, was a little extra request for the car’s mileage.  Plus an alarming note which said I wasn’t legally obliged to supply the current figure.  (My suspicious mind added, But if you don’t it may be held against you)

Sighing, I picked up the phone and worked my way through five or ten DVLA options and then got a surprisingly swift, human response.  I’ll put you through to someone else he said and someone else not only answered almost at once but seemed to know what I’d told the previous person (can it be that at Swansea, people actually speak to each other???).  As soon as I’d explained my query, he said, “don’t bother with all that.  I’ll just send you a copy of all the information you need which will be perfectly acceptable to the salvage company and no, there’s no charge”


: )


Really?  Wow!

Suddenly, I love the DVLA at Swansea.

On other subjects of love. NGB has shallow hip joints – quite common apparently with breech births.  As wearing double nappies and being kept with her legs arranged froggy fashion at all times hasn’t quite fixed this, she now has an interesting harness contraption which keeps her tiny legs in the appropriate position.  So she and Mrs Middle have had to learn a new feeding position which will accommodate all these legs.  It’s called the rugby ball position!


Life isn’t really simple even for babies.  (Rugby at three weeks!  Pretty demanding I think)

She’s still gorgeous though : )

A rose

on a wet afternoon

a golden evening

and a bright morning

And as for me, it’s time to go to bed.  (Off again early tomorrow for trips to important baby places)

Goodnight.  May your dreams be strewn with roses and all your phone calls be with people who understand what you need.

September 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

For those we leave behind

Even if only for a few days at  a time.

I did try to leave all the insurance people behind but regrettably, they followed me on the mobile phone and asked me baffling things while I was trying to immerse myself in small pink and wriggly stuff.

Meanwhile, at home, there have been cooking orgies going on!  Not that I’m complaining since I had a lovely meal waiting when I got home on Friday and another one made out of left overs yesterday.  Sadly there haven’t been any washing, drying or indeed washing-up orgies but that’s fine because I had some washing of my own to do.

And we have been to look at new cars.

Rain fell on us as we went car hunting.  It’s instructive to discover how decisive two wet people can suddenly become.  Comparisons and rejections were made and agreed swiftly.   Hovering salespeople were swept by and abandoned at high speed.  We went back to the first car we’d looked at.  And lo and behold it stopped raining and we took it out for a test drive and liked it.

And then, while Barney was dickering over prices and guarantees and stuff, my eye fell upon a Daimler lurking in the showroom.  Quickly picked up eye and refrained from climbing into Daimler and sitting on the back seat sucking my thumb.  Managed to say “Ooh look a Daimler!!”  without actually squeaking.  Didn’t rush into the showroom and pat it’s shiny flanks or perch on its running board or kiss its wrinkly bits.

Oooh!  Mmmm.

Not that we’d ever get one (at twenty grand – vintage price for a vintage car) but this took me back to the first car I remember as a child.  My Dad was a GP in Croyden at the time and I remember him buying the Daimler (not twenty grand then – or indeed any numbers of grands) and how we were all rather stunned with this palatial, leather clad (inside) gleaming (outside) creature.  It looked a lot like this (but I’m sure it had running boards).  It had personality and charm.  Kind of homely and comfortable but with a hint of not-very-ostentatious grandeur (which suited my Dad).  And an endearing wrinkly browed face (which I loved).  I’m not sure what, if anything, my Mum liked about it.  Perhaps she didn’t care?  Perhaps it had a big boot for when we went away?  Perhaps she didn’t like it?  I don’t think she often, if ever, drove the Daimler though certainly when the Daimler went to the big scrapyard in the sky, she drove the Vauxhalls.  (A Victor and a Cresta but not a Velox – didn’t they have nice, simple names back then : ).

It’s quite appropriate to be reminded of this as, while I was away, Barney discovered a box in the shed which is full of very old photos and letters.  Of these, more another time.

So it seems that we may become the owners of a shiny black car with electrically operated wing mirrors and a working remote key.  These are things I have been getting used to with the courteous car so I’m pleased about that. (No on/off button though.  Phew!)  It’s got quite a kick under the bonnet too, compared to what we’re used to and feels nice and solid.  On the other hand, it’s an estate which is bigger than I really wanted and therefore, looks just a tiny bit like a hearse.  Hmm.  Hats off please, when I pass by.

The most wonderful light.

September 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

City Life

Just down the road from Mr and Mrs Middles’ house there is a row of shops among which are a general store, (corner shop – literally), an Indian general store, a Polish general store, an old fashioned shoe mending shop (where I plan to get a new watch battery later today*), Mark’s Hair Design, a tattoo parlour, a bead shop, and a shop called CHEEP CHEEP.

I have bought milk at the corner shop and no doubt will go and investigate the Indian and Polish shops (though I don’t really know what kind of Polish foods one should look for – any suggestions?).  CHEEP CHEEP has to be visited in case it’s good as well as cheep (and anyway, how could one resist a shop called CHEEP CHEEP?  Obviously I can’t but I’ll try and refrain from cheeping now) .  Probably I won’t visit Mark’s Hair Design or the tattoo parlour but all things considered, it’s quite a useful and diverse little shopping area.

One of the pleasures of city living is that you can walk to the  shops!  Well I could walk to a shop from home but it would take me half an hour each way.  Not really an option if you need a pint of milk or a packet of tobacco right now!

And another wonder is that one of those shops is a bead shop!  I am now decorated with some gorgeous green and blue and gold Czech glass beads.

: )

Anyway, me and Mrs Middle are spending our days in a time suspension.  We make plans and then NGB suggests otherwise.  We head for bed and then I encounter Mr or Mrs Middle heading for the changing mat or just cuddling a wide eyed tiny person.  I believe, later after I have gone to sleep, there is more cuddling, changing and an enormous amount of feeding.

She’s a very relaxed baby but she does manage to get herself fed, changed and cuddled pretty much whenever it suits her.  I take my hat off to the relaxed Mum and Dad who provide the necessaries without fuss or faffing.  Lucky Babe.

So as well as admiring NGB, I noticed a raindrop full of blue sky

And Wallingford Castle

I’m a lucky Grandma : )

And now I’m home for the weekend : )

*Sad to say, the visit to the shoemenders didn’t result in a revived watch.  Although I was enchanted by the wizened little old man who greeted me with a chirpy “Hello Lady! What can I do for you today?” and confident assertions that we’d soon get a new battery in that old watch, my confidence decreased sharply as he produced a wicked looking little knife and began a ferocious attack on the back of the watch.  His confidence also waned as this produced no effect whatsoever.  Eventually I suggested gently that as it was only an old thing I’d got in Oxfam, maybe it didn’t really need a new battery after all.

September 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Packing up again

This time, for Grandma duty.

When Youngest had Gorgeous Babe, I didn’t get to do live-in Grandma duty because basically, Youngest and her partner and GB were living in a shoebox.  There simply wasn’t room for a Grandma as well, however helpful.  Getting into the loo required a three point turn* and passing in the living/kitchen/bedroom required that one of you climb onto the bed while the other squeezed past.  Even a short visit involved so much maneuvering that it was more of a series of time and motion puzzles than a help.

My lovely Mother-in -Law stayed for a fortnight when Eldest was born and she was wonderful.  I seem to remember her doing a lot of cleaning and cooking but as Mrs Middle is still recovering from her cesarean, most of my duties for her will involve picking things up and getting things down!  Just hoping it will also involve some cuddling : )   Somehow I feel it will.  (I expect I will also do some cooking and cleaning.)

So I may be a little bit distracted (and indeed absent for the next week or three.  Though Mr and Mrs Middle do have internet so who knows : )

I’ll try not to be too boring about small pink bundles and how things (nappies/prams/other baby equipment) have changed since my day.


Below, you can see Barney, phoning me from the top of the big hill at Cape Cornwall to say “I’m here!!!!”  Actually, I’d already seen him and I knew exactly what he was doing : ) (My feeling about big hills with views is that often the view of the hill is better than the view from it and also, time spent staggering up it could be more usefully employed at the bottom with a camera)

We were told not to take close up photos of the sculptures in BH’s garden for copyright reasons.  Well this is a photo of the nice overgrowth around the sculpture and the light on the wall.  Sculpture is an incidental bonus.

Have I seen this before somewhere?

We were told that these rocks resemble Charles De Gaulle.  This may be true but I’ve never seen that gentleman lying flat on his back in the sea so I couldn’t say if it’s true.

*Actually using it involved a whole other set of contortions into which I won’t go.

September 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

No excuses for posting picture postcard pictures

Because the whole of Cornwall seems to be one big picture postcard.

First, I have to say, I can’t remember a more successful surprise.  If you read my last post you’ll know that a few days earlier Mr M had issued a general invitation to anyone who wanted to join him and Mrs M for dinner on his birthday in St Ives.  Since the pub crowd, of whom we are some, all live around Newbury, this would have involved a 250 mile journey.  Along with everyone else, we declined the offer.  But then we made secret plans to join them anyway.   Such fun!

We arrived at our B&B and phoned Mr and Mrs M on their mobile phones.   Neither of them answered and we sat in our little room, wondering if we would now have to search the whole of St Ives for them, on foot.  Then we tried the phone again and Mr M answered.  “Where are you?” said Barney. ” We’re in the Sloop Inn in St Ives” said Mr M, clearly imagining that we were in Newbury,  “and we’re about to go off and find somewhere for dinner” .   Barney chatted a bit more and said Happy Birthday and then added,”Oh, just stay where you are for five minutes”   “Why?” asks Mr M, puzzled.  “Oh because we’re just coming to join you” said  Barney airily.  Then laughed and said, “no not really.  It’s too far.  Have a lovely evening, see you when you get back”.

We then hurtled off down the steepest hill I’ve ever seen outside of the Lake district (fortunately a very short, steep hill) and found the Sloop Inn at the bottom and bounced in.

The Sloop Inn

Gobsmacked was the only word for it.  Mrs M was so happy and touched that we’d made the journey she practically burst into tears!  It was worth the four hour drive, the traffic jams and the return journey the next day just for that.

Then we had a lovely dinner together and drank quite a lot and later, Barney towed me up the very steep hill.

It turned out that the B&B we stayed at was two doors along from the one they were staying at.  So we got to see them again in the morning before going in search of Barbara Hepworth’s beautiful garden and then setting off homeward along the A30.

On the journeys we had several unscheduled stops,  twice for burnt out lorries, once for heavy traffic and once for an accident – not involving burnt lorries.  These were all blissfully uneventful as far as we were concerned.

Some things everyone ought to do in Cornwall:

Visit Sennan Cove.

Eat orange and Mascarpone ice cream at Cape Cornwall.

Eat Turbot at ‘Al Fresco’ inSt Ives.

Visit the remarkably large and very beautiful sculpture garden at Barbara Hepworth’s studio. (Remarkable because it appeared to be fitted into a tiny, almost vertical space between three very close and narrow streets).

Seven windows in Barbara Hepworth's studio

Walk up the very steep hill that leads to the Atlantic View B&B.  (because I had to after eating a very large meal and I don’t see why anyone else should get away without doing it too).

Eat Cornish pasties in a traffic jam on the way home.

sorry, the pasties are all gone

There are a lot more things that one ought to do and even if you’re only there for one night it’s quite easy to see why so many people just stay there for ever.

September 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ooh! Cornwall, here we come!

Thanks to the marvellous Mr and Mrs M, we are planning to attend a birthday dinner In St Ives!!!!!

Last year, Mr M had his birthday aboard a narrow boat with us.  Could anything be better?  Well maybe.

The current plan is to leave at around midday and arrive in St Ives in time for unpacking and dinner (without telling them – Mr M issued a blanket invite to everyone at the pub to join him but I doubt if he expects anyone to come.  It’s quite a long way)

However, I am going to suggest we leave earlier and spend a little time in the port and maybe even go to the Barbara Hepworth museum.  I’m sure we could.  It seems quite daft to go all the way to Cornwall and eat dinner and then go away without seeing anything more exciting than the inside of a restaurant and a B&B!!

Today I drove the  courteous car all the way up the A34 to visit NGB and her Mum and Dad.  And I got there without mishap.  And home again.  Since I’m not allowed to smoke in the car, I turned off and parked on the Ridgeway to have a cig and it was all rather nice.

A person with many serious things to consider in her sleep

and a bit of wind to smile about

all serene and sorted.

(Now Barney tells me that it’s more likely to be a question of trawling the pubs in the whole of Cornwall in search of the Mr and Mrs M’s.  But we will be leaving earlier so we shall have some time for sightseeing).

It’s been a long day.  I’n going to retire to consider Cornwall.

(Sadly I don’t think we’ll be going here but you can’t have everything. Can you?  No I thought not.)

September 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments