Letouttoplay

Life, photos but not the universe

Cross-eyed

cross-patch, cross-grained,  just generally cross, that’s me.

Hmm. I need to adjust something?

I think I need to go to sleep for a hundred years and dream of nice things.  Certainly I don’t need to spend another minute in front of a computer.

Me and Eldest did our best, which is to say in spite of visits to and from his sisters and a couple of oversleepings after a couple of long nights, we got the website up and running.

just practising

Eldest, of course did nearly all the work, I mostly pottered around and occasionally sat and watched instruction videos and then attempted to make the new site do stuff according to the principles laid down in the videos.  Also, I relearned, rather successfully, how to make photoshop resize and save a photo to a useful folder which I shall apply to this blog as well as soon as I have time.

The first video, “how to create a new post”  seemed admirably clear and simple.  Of course, since the upgraded site is maintained and updated in exactly the same way as this one, that’s not surprising.  However, as the three days progressed, the videos became faster and faster.  In order to keep up, I had to replay and pause a great deal.  This wasn’t just because of the decreasing amount of time available but also because the free video programme Eldest used provided limited recording time and information needed to be squeezed in quite tightly.  So, while the videos still seem clear and simple (and I’m most impressed by Eldest’s professional delivery and presentation)  as I attempt to rewrite the latest post on the website according to his suggested layout, I’m finding one or two issues that may not have been addressed in the dense forests of information that speed past as I watch and listen.  Or the information I need may be buried in one or two tiny, swift utterances which I haven’t yet deciphered – if I even noticed them. Or they may come under the umbrella of “Oh, that’s because I forgot to update this that or the other – click click, mutter, mutter, all ok now?”

Really, we needed to spend some time with me sitting at the machine struggling slowly and him sitting next to me, getting bored out of his mind quickly and correcting me as we went along.  Then he could have re-recorded the videos to include the bits I’m getting wrong.

One of which is to do with paragraphs.  See, sometimes, I need some empty space between text and in Word, you just hit enter a couple of times and hey presto, space!  In  wordpress, you hit enter a couple of times and hey presto, as soon as you save the post, the space is gone.

(Like this.  Do you see three empty lines?  No.  And while in a blog it’s ok to have a column of dots or exclamation marks or hearts, Like so

Õ

!

this isn’t really appropriate for a professional website)

I notice that Eldest simply pastes in loads of ‘ipsum lorum factum’ in his example post so that the text always neatly fits the available space.  So do I have to invent a whole lot of relevant, technical sounding text to fill the space?  Do I have to badger Barney to produce said text?  Ooh!  This could produce a little friction!  And a lot of delay.

As you can see, I did get up very early at least once

Meanwhile, there are other issues appearing, to do with the dragging around of photos.  I fear a long phone call will be needed.  This also could produce a little friction as Eldest is a busy lad and Barney will want to hover grumpily around demanding to know if it’s all sorted yet. However, since this whole endeavour will be paid for by the business at Eldest’s mates’ rates, we still have a couple of hours unused so perhaps we can manage.

Meanwhile, I shall compose an informative email and a warning text to Eldest to let him know that we need communication time  and what it will be about.

And first, I shall have a shower and some more coffee.

(Update:  Thanks Mel and Inukshuk for reminding me about whited out text – I believe I’ve found the colour which will make text invisible and if there’s no proper technical solution, that will do nicely 🙂


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October 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Distracted

I’m going to be heavily involved with the upgrading of Barney’s website for the next few days.

What this primarily means is that Eldest will have the run of my computer (while simultaneously using his laptop and listening to ‘The Life Of Brian’) and at the end of it we’ll have a nice shiny new website and I’ll be able to edit it as required.  Without any arguments from the website host programmes.  (Ahem.  We’ll see)  Oh and instead of having our email and website space and domains supplied by a bewildering assortment of providers, we’ll have one.  Or two.

I was making this up – we hadn’t started yet and I don’t fully understand all the things that Eldest has explained to me;  I did when he was telling me about them but now it’s all evaporated from my head like smoke.  Well that’s what he’s here for.  Also, ominously,  to ‘train’ me in the use and abuse of the upgraded website.

Then, being a helpful and practical person, he’s going to write me a document* explaining how to edit in case I forget what he’s told me.  (Also in case at any point we have to get someone else to do some fixing).  Then I’m going to see if I can use said document!  Hmm.  Serious test of his ability to make things plain on paper*****.

Anyway, already he’s done the upgrading.  I’m not sure about the consolidating of our assortment of providers.  That may need stuff doing after he’s gone.

Originally, the plan was for him to be here for a week but that has shrunk to three days (including travelling back to Lancaster) so it’s all going to be a bit intensive.  Especially as he may be going to Salsa and also has to find a window in which to visit his new niece for the first time.

Ah but it’s so lovely to see him.   He decided to accompany me shopping yesterday so that he could get a pair of jeans and choose suitably high protein, low polysaturated-fat food.  (As a mountain biking fanatic child, he ate pizza and mars bars.  Now that he’s an athletic, strenuously sporty adult, he eats a lot of protein, super-carbs and er, yes.  Stuff that’s good for you – high in polyunsaturated fats and all that).

This involved an extra hour’s worth of shopping time but also an extra twenty minutes enjoyment of his company.  I don’t see him often so it’s always a bit special – of course I’ll see a lot of him today when we start ‘training’ me.  But to be honest, although computers is one of the things we sort of share as an interest  the fun is when he decides I need a challenge and to be pushed towards his limits****.  Today, we need to be sober and careful and make sure I can remember how to interpret his video (see below).

And yesterday I got time out to take the sun.  Just as well – it’s raining today.

*Oops!  He’s getting really technical – he’s making me an instruction video.**  Shame really, since the upgraded site is exactly like this one!  So I can do most of that in my sleep*** – often do in fact.

**Though he did suggest that Barney might make use of this video.  In his dreams! – and I don’t mean Barney’s dreams.

***There will be lots of things I can’t do of course, so I shall end up with new skills that I can use on the blog?  Maybe?  In fact today, I discovered a whole pageful of things I couldn’t do!

****That’s towards as in pushed, protesting all the way and declaring that I can’t remember a word of it even if I understood any of it which I may, briefly have imagined I did.  Oh I love it!!

*****So suddenly I wonder if he has a problem with paper and plainness.  As a child, his written work suffered from the same problems that mine did, a reluctance to deal with the slowness and difficulty of  transforming phenomenally quick thought into slow, illegible handwriting.  (Not that I’m claiming phenomenal quickness as a child, just the tendency of my thoughts to arrive somewhere quite inappropriate, quite fast enough for me to find myself in a quite different place from everyone else)

The odd thing is that I have ended up finding the written approach easier while he prefers to speak – to a person or even a webcam.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Let there be Light.

I’ve just read a rather nice book by Margaret Elphinstone*, called Light.   Appropriately enough, it’s about a lighthouse keeper and her family.  Anyway, I was pleased to discover that she (Margaret Elphinstone) has written quite a number of books recently since I was very taken with The Incomer, which I read long ago and have kept for regular re-reading.

I failed as usual, to get up with the sun this morning (even though it gets up quite late these days)  but it’s still there so I shall go out shortly.

Later, it went behind clouds

hid behind trees

and came out again

It’s all about light.

*Could that really be her name?  It’s rather nice – a bit tolkienesque.

October 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Traditional

Tater Ash.

One of the simplest meals to prepare and with only one difficulty.  It’s a bit like poached eggs really, you can follow the recipe to the last ounce and second (though it’s full of instructions like about an hour and a half and about one and a half to two pounds) but the end result will not always or even often resemble the perfect thing you are after.

So consider this:

1lb stewing steak, cut up into pieces.

1 big onion chopped.

2 – 2 and a  1/2 lbs potatoes cut into small pieces.

~

Put the meat in a big pan and cover with water.  Cook gently for 2 – 2 and a  1/2 hours.

Add the potatoes and onion and top up with water to just cover the potatoes.

Cook gently for another 1 and a 1/2 hours until the potatoes lob off*.

*lob off:  To remain whole, but tender,  in the centre but to have dissolved slightly around the edges into the gravy thus thickening and flavouring it,  and also a few small lumps to have broken off and become very soft.

Could anything be simpler?

The thing is, when Auntie Ella made this, the result was almost disappearingly tender meat with soft, waxy chunks of potato and a thick, slightly gluey and gorgeously potatoey gravy.  I’m pretty sure she did add salt and pepper but even without, the whole thing tasted wonderfully beefy and potatoey.

When I make it, the potatoes either disintegrate almost completely or remain firm and complete without any sign of lobbing off.  In either case the perfect, gluey consistency of the gravy is absent and the result is watery.  Tasty enough but watery.  Totally unacceptable!!!

How can something so simple be so difficult?

Yes it could be that modern potatoes don’t cook like they used to.  Why is it then that I have a suspicion that Auntie Ella or Mother in Law could have produced the original with any old potatoes?

Oh well.  It was good enough today.  A nice meat and potato stew.

Today’s plan had three large tasks in it.  To hoover the stairs and all regions above, to rearrange my home-made foot supports as the old ones are slipping into unsupporting places and to practice my fiddle.  The failure of the taters in the Tater Ash, to lob, distracted me and I didn’t get round to my three tasks till it was a bit late but eventually I got round to two of them.  Now you can see the stairs again and I hope my fiddle is pleased at being let out more than twice in a week.  The feet have yet to be given attention – perhaps even tonight.  Perhaps now!  Why not?

And the sun went down softly on another bright and windy day.

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Clocklexia (Chronolexia?)

Ok.  So the clocks go forwards – no, fall back.

While I am able to leap, conceptually, from such things as stiff shoulders to the dynamics of instructing children in correct behaviour, or from the expanding universe to the housing shortage, I fail to understand the changing of the clocks at a most basic level.

Spring forward?  Fall back?  How’s that?  (Like the changing of the guards?  No?  No, not much)

Look here!  Clocks go round and round.  (Or if you’re happy with digital, from side to side, preferably left to right – do chinese  clocks go up and down  and/or right to left?).

I mean, how does this work?

– Ok, all clocks!  At 2 am precisely, all spring forward one hour.  Oh alright, fall back.  Smartly now.  You at the back, you’re late!  (What?  It’s stopped?)  Ok, you at the back you will be correct at precisely 1am and 1pm every day (Or is that 3am and pm).  Remember that please.  Why is that clock on the floor?  The mantel piece was too small?  Well put it back please, you on the bookshelf –

See?  It just doesn’t work.

But then you have to understand that you’re dealing with a person who, in order to calculate a percentage, has to divide by 100, multiply the result by the required percentage and then do whatever you want to do with it.  I can’t remember what the shortcut formula was and I don’t bother because it never made any sense to me.  I’m happy with the pie crust imagery though.

It never helped that when the rest of the world was sadly anticipating the loss of an hour’s sleep, we were happily looking forward to an extra hour because the children wouldn’t know the clocks had gone wherever they go so while everyone else got up early, they slept on in blissful ignorance.  Similarly with the pets.  Ooh, we can stay another hour, they won’t be hungry yet.  You see I can perfectly understand what we do.  In the winter we get up an hour later so that it’s still light (for a week or two) And when we go home from work, an hour later than we did yesterday, it’s dark.  And the sun and the earth and the light just go on doing what they always do.  It’s what the clock does that baffles me.

Well, it’s just possible that rotating the clock face, horizontally through 90 degrees might clarify this for me.  Lets see.  Going back, at twenty to one it’ll become twenty to twelve.  Good?    Uh uh.  At twenty past five it’ll become twenty past six.  Worse, at three o’clock it’ll jump right across to nine o’clock.  No that can’t be right. (And if you’re wondering, I’m not one of those people who are able to read an upside down map when travelling South.   As far as I’m concerned, North is at the top of the world and if you put it anywhere else, as Google Earth occasionally does – to help you find your way – it’s just wrong).

Would it help if I considered Time not as a stream flowing past with events (such as Winter and Summer clock times) bobbing up and down in it but as an ocean in which all events are at all times at once happening?  Er…Ummmm….  Oh no.  The clocks persist in going round and round wherever they’re floating.  It’s making my mind feel a bit seasick.

I sort of wish we could just get up with the sun and go to bed with it.  I’d find plenty of time to do my midnight thing in Summer and then I’d get lots of sleep to compensate in winter.  In fact, maybe I’ll do an experiment for a year, of setting my alarm to sunrise and sunset.  See what happens to my sleep patterns.  Barney can always tell me what time to tell my alarm when the clocks change.  That’s what husbands are for obviously.  As well as earning money, cooking lovely stuff, making a mess in the kitchen and bringing cups of tea in the morning, he can do that thing with clocks for me.

However, thanks to Christopher’s helpful comment, I can now confidently say Oh yes, the clocks are going back.  Everyone will think I know the secret.  Ho ho.

Meanwhile, can any one tell the time from these photos?

Facing West by South West, 19th November 2010

So any bets on the time in this one? A clue - it was taken half an hour earlier than the last one and I was facing the opposite way

Hah!  I thought not.  Me neither.  But wouldn’t that tree make a fabulously confusing sundial.  You’d never have to worry about winter and sumer time, they’d all be there somewhere.

Now, I wonder which of my electronic gadgets really know what to do?  The computer, surely?  My little personal organiser thingie (The Pea)?  My mobile phone?  The swish electronic stuff in the new car?  Certainly not the cooker!  That just does what it’s told (sometimes; it depends a bit on whether you can remember how to tell it or whether the instruction book is still where it was last time the clocks went – whatever).

Anyway, since there’s only a week or so to go before I lose or gain an hour, I’d better get on.  After all I wouldn’t want to be late.

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

This should have been posted last night but wasn’t. Never mind.

 

It’s been gloriously sunny, if a little chilly, all day.

I came home after a really quite productive day and even an hour’s exploring of the woods at Bradfield and the sun was stil shining, though intermittantly.  There was golden evening sun on the treetops.  I put some shopping away and fed the cat and noticed  vaguely that it was getting darker.   Well there you are – in a week the clocks will be doing whatever it is they do at this time of year.  I still, after nearly sixty years, haven’t quite grasped what it is that they do.  I suspect that the cat will be hungry an hour before I think it’s time to feed her?  Barney and I will, briefly, be willing to get up an hour earlier than we do now?  Very briefly – about five minutes in my case.

Anyway, musing on these things, a softly, thunderous roar caused me to glance out of the window to see that in ten or fifteen minutes (I’m a quick muser), the clouds had whipped up into a dark froth and the trees were lashing about in a howling, dark blue gale, the golden light had turned an eerie yellowish green and big drops of rain were splashing on the windows.

Wow!  I only took my eye off the weather for a few minutes.  It must be Autumn.

After five or ten minutes, it was all quiet again and the clouds were sulkily drifting away to reveal a yellow sunset going down with big purple bruises where the wind had passed.

I love weather.  And the sun in the woods. *

 

Tomorrow it’s going to be frosty and then sunny again.  Nice.

So I’m going to bed really quickly in the hope that I’ll get up early and consider frost and sunlight and nice things like that.

*Not the pub of that name in a hamlet which is more in the fields than the woods and is a quite unremarkable and uninspiring ‘gastro’**pub but the real sun in the proper woods.

**a somehow off-putting description of a place that sells food.  Altogether too reminiscent of the processes through which the food must pass after it’s been enjoyed.

October 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Ribbit ribbit

I just finished reading The Poisonwood Bible.  Beautifully harrowing one critic calls it and so it is.  I’ve been avoiding it a bit because the blurb contains the words saga and family but it’s certainly not one of those interminable gluey tales of  ‘passion, romance and tragedy’ (carrying on through as many generations as the author can dream up in the interests of getting one more blockbuster out) with what our bookshops shelves are lined.  Oh no.

It’s got passion and tragedy and some elegantly illuminated glimmers of romance but mainly it’s a song, of love and chains and earth,  and a very real and beautiful Africa.  Voices rise from the awful clash of the Congo and God and the changing devouring Western world and their diversity and courage and pain are drawn with fabulous intensity and devastating simplicity.

The elegaic beauty of this book will haunt me for a long time.

I’m very grateful to have ribbit.*

Life goes on here in spite of a big empty space where there used to be a dog bed and a hopeful pointy face.  Actually, it’s a big grubby looking, hairy space.   How come the absence of a messy person makes more cleaning necessary?  It’s a mystery.  The one remaining cat appears unfazed by the yawning absence, however she does seem to have an idea that now there will be more cuddles for her.  Or is she looking for her old punchbag sparring partner?  Hmm.  Anyway, I need to move some furniture and make the empty space less – empty.

Meanwhile, it’s somewhat disconcerting to hear an owl hooting just behind me in the dining room.

Oh – down the chimney!  Ok so up there, outside on the chimney there’s a owl, perched sending his mournful hoots down, together with the very chilly draughts.

It’s getting a bit autumnal isn’t it.  I’ve got cold feet and hands and it may be time to unearth the thick woollies and socks and even, to turn on the heating for a while.  So I’m pleased that I got to wear some decidedly lightweight glad-rags a couple of weeks ago with the hastily assembled sparkly stuff from the bead shop at the bottom of Mrs Middle’s road.

The occasion was a cocktails and canapes party in honour of Gorgeous Babe’s eighth birthday!  I am glad to report that the revellers revelled noisily and enthusiastically and without any unsuitable sophistication.  Though they all looked fabulous in their party frocks.  (and the boys in their smart shirts and floppy jeans, of course).

Anyway, I’ve been seduced by all the sparkly stuff I brought back from the city.

 

Velour jacket by East from Age Concern, skirt from a swish vintage shop called Reign, jewellery by me from Amy Surnan Beads.

 

 

blue, green and gold czech glass with freshwater pearls

 

 

pink glass teardrops and stuff with pink silk crepe blouse from, er somewhere. Oxfam?

 

 

turquoise and gold czech glass with monsoon silk from Cancer research

 

 

As above with tiles in the bathroom.

 

I’m a complete sucker for sparkly stuff.

Also I’m  hungry and dinner’s ready.  Where’s that man?

 

Cocktails? Canapes? What are the young coming to these days?

 

*Coo!  I certainly went to town with that one!

October 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Best dog in show.

As far as we’re concerned anyway.

 

A sweet and happy nature

 

The old dog has been called many things during his life with us.  He came to us, from a dog rescue centre, as Nanook and was promptly renamed Nutmeg by family vote and then called Nutkin, Squirrel, Idiot, Chutney, Mutley,  Nuttie, Nut Cutlet, Little Boy, Babe, Dog, That Dog and (in the grand tradition of Frank Muir’s ‘What a Mess’) ‘Get Out of the Way’.

I’ve been saying for a while that Nutmeg, the happy dog, wouldn’t be long for this world.  Not fully appreciating how short this ‘not long’ would be because you never do, do you.

Last night we found out.  He trotted out for his pre-dinner constitutional, flopped down, gasped a lot and probably had a fit.  Shortly after, we found him, lying on the grass, wheezing and unable to get up.

He said, with his eyes, really, this isn’t much fun.  Actually it’s pretty awful and scary – I don’t like this much.  Can you take it away please?  Ooh I think I have to lie down now.

We lifted him onto his bed and stretchered him to the vet’s and by the time we got there it was pretty clear that he was close to death.  While the vet was organising papers and injections to help him along, he slipped away.  About an hour altogether.  Pretty quick really and I suppose we were able to give him a little company  during the worst bit before he lost consciousness.

When he arrived here as an eighteen month old youngster, he had a number of alarming habits such as jumping up at visitors (often causing temporary incapacitation to the male ones due to the perfect but infelicitous placement of his front feet) and hurtling in small circles round the room in (frequent ) moments of high excitement.  He would hide shoes, one at a time, in different places. He had other totally charming habits like jumping into any lap that appeared to be available.  He was in fact much too big for a lap and therefore inelegantly trailed and slithered legs, tail and head over the margins of the lap in spite of his best efforts to curl up beguilingly.

He would also leap onto the windowsill (just large enough for a cat and nowhere near the width needed to accommodate a medium sized dog) and perch precariously there, peering hopefully out at the world, until he slid off.  He regularly leapt over next door’s fence like a little showjumper, sprightly with his legs tucked up, and then vanished for a longish time returning after raiding compost heaps and guinea pigs’ dinners with indiscriminate enthusiasm.  Later he would throw up and be very sorry for himself for several days.  He could leap some three or four feet vertically from a standing start.  He would chase and keep up with hares and pheasants – no problem for them since, if he caught up, he had no idea what to do next.  Not a red blooded hunting dog, Nutmeg.  When the cats gave him mice, he’d carry them carefully (alive or dead) to his basket and settle down with them.  Some days later, he’d tell me there was something bad in his bed and I’d find a small, flattened, bad-smelling trophy under his cushion.

He liked to be tucked in at night.

He walked into doors and tables, looked apologetic and then carried on.  He thought he could walk on water and looked deeply betrayed whenever this turned out to be untrue.  He hated getting his feet wet.  Though he adored snow.

He was completely at the mercy of the cats who would steal his bed and give him quick slaps as he passed, just for fun.  He was possibly the least assertive dog I ever met but there was one occasion when he found a dead bird’s wing in the grass and when exhorted to drop it, held on doggedly with an expression somewhere between wilfulness and childlike defiance.  “rrrrrmf” he said, somewhat muffled.  “It’s my new tasty, tuggy toy and I don’t want to let go.  rrrrmf”.   He did let go after a while because he knew he was being naughty.

He was such a pretty dog when he was young though he had a way of rolling on his back, legs spread out and his head hidden under a blanket which made him look like some kind of upside down, hairy, headless monster.

 

Taking his man for a walk while on holiday

 

Gone, the ticky-tacky toenails on the kitchen floor, the earnest, hopeful gaze and the stiff legged, eager bouncing at teatime.

Gone the pricked ears and the waving tail and the purposeful trotting in search of dinner.  The black nose followed by hopefully shining eyes and pointy ears appearing round the door.

The neat and polite sitting in the kitchen with all four paws perfectly arranged together when food was being prepared (Only spoiled by the paws slithering away from each other on the slippery tiles).

And the happy growling and tugging with his tuggy toy and the long, evening sniffing of breezes and passing smells at the top of the steps before the routine investigation of all his favourite smelling and peeing places in the garden.

And the leaning solemnly against any available human leg and the sudden playful pouncing on an unsuspecting foot. And the enchanting, bowing, Chinese dog pose which I never did get a photo of.

He was a good dog, a funny dog, a loving dog.  He was exasperating and endearing.  He was a nuisance and a sweetheart. He had huge zest for living and endless patience and an exuberantly sunny nature.   Ever hopeful, he was the best.

 

Last week early in the morning enjoying the sun

 

Need I say how much we’ll miss him?

~

Memories from last Christmas when he was still able to keep up  with the kids

 

Eager

 

 

Helpful

 

 

confused

 

 

distracted

 

 

playful

 

 

Still running, somewhere.....

Please raise a leg glass to a very special dog.

 

 

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

floods and rainbows

It’s well known around here that if you see a sign by the road that says

Floods!

you can be sure they happened several days, weeks or even months ago and were probably just a large, wheel-catching puddle.

But of course, every so often we have real floods with houses farms and fields underwater and possessions and cars floating away.  Even stranded people on roof tops.  And so, it appears, do France, Brazil, Mexico, China, Somalia, Singapore*, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and West Papua**.  I seem to notice every time I check the BBC weather that somewhere in the world there have been devastating floods.  And every time I notice the headline it seems to concern a different place.  Perhaps I only notice the headline when it changes?  I’m feeling a trifle warmed in the global area.  (No!  Not my backside!  That’s the pear shaped area.)

Well, moving on around the world (but in only one evening), Brother and Sister in Law stopped here last night on their way home from delivering offspring to Uni (There’s a lot of that about at the moment).  After dinner, Sister in law and I found ourselves discussing Halal meat, mainly because she was outraged that a large amount of the New Zealand lamb currently sold in supermarkets over here is, apparently, Halal*** and there isn’t a public religion warning on the packaging.  Though not overly concerned myself whether or not non-Christian prayers are said over the slaughtering of dinner I was still quite surprised by this.  Anyway we had a lengthy and spirited discussion about religion and faith and I ended up reiterating the conclusion reached long ago by a flatmate and me, also in the middle of the night after long and serious debate.  Some thirty years ago, the only thing we were confidently able to agree on was that either there is a God or there isn’t.

There the matter rests, as far as I’m concerned.

In the meantime, I had a quick look at ‘Spaceweather’.  This is a site I tried to connect with an RSS feed.  This failed because they don’t do one but the site is still running and apart from giving you assorted weird and interesting information about sunspots, has a link to a quite stunning collection of photos of  the Aurora Borealis.  You might enjoy it too but since I have no auroras here, I have to make do with the evening sun shining through the window of Farnborough Church on the Downs.   The John Piper Window is famous and I’ve been here before – another discovery – But the light was better this time so you get to see it again.

From the inside

and the outside

And in the distance

And in the graveyard

And on the way home, pools of shadow lapping at the edges of a rather elegant clump of trees on a curvy hill.

Today, the sun is out again and I’m rather hoping for another stunning evening.  Meanwhile, not to miss any of the light, I’m off with my little flask of coffee, half a dozen cigs ready rolled and a piece of quiche in a plastic bag, to explore the hills beyond the church.

See you later : )

*Probably, it’s a little reprehensible of me to be amused by this quote from Wild Singapore News.com  “At least five Members of Parliament will ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources to explain last month’s floods at the next sitting of parliament….” (some time in June)

That will have put the Minister on the spot!  I hope he was able to ‘explain the floods’

**All these floods happened during 2010.

***To qualify as Halal, the slaughtering has to conform to certain rituals which probably don’t exclude humane stunning.    (Though I do question whether stunning of animals, as practiced during slaughter is genuinely humane) Also, a brief blessing should be pronounced. And if I understand rightly, Halal means “permissible” in Arabic.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Potato race

I’m not very good at catching though I have been known to snatch a flying object out of the air with unexpected accuracy, causng various people to gasp in astonishment.  Such are the advantages of  being an underachiever in the catching arena.

However, due to a youth, mispent some might say, hurling myself and a small, shaggy pony around Dartmoor and at gymkhanas, I am very good at throwing potatoes (and other objects, like clothes pegs) into small containers on the ground.  So I feel that I have a good relationship with potatoes.  Certainly I like eating them.  And cooking them.

So today, I thought I’d give Barney a treat, since he’s been so good about cooking nice things for me while I was living in two places almost at once – very stressful that.  We’re both very fond of  Pommes Dauphinoise so I thought  chicken legs baked in lemon and thyme and roast squash with a bit of cumin and balsamic would go nicely with some of them lovely, creamy potatoes.  Only,  just after I’d got the potatoes in the oven and while I was waiting for the other oven to heat up, Barney came home and began to wonder about where a particular recipe for slow roast belly pork could be found.

I am quite unable to cook one meal while thinking about another and so now I have no idea how long the potatoes have been in the oven.  Further,  since two different temperatures are required, I was a bit confused about which oven which dish ought to go in and now I don’t know how long the chicken has been in either.

If we get a whole meal tonight, it will be quite impressive.  And I wonder when it might be ready and whether the potatoes or the chicken will be ready first?

I’ be hopeless on one of those cooking programmes.

Still, if it all goes pear shaped I’ll be able to hurl the potatoes into the rubbish bin from the far side of the kitchen as I rush past, uttering curses and imprecations.  (If things really did go pear shaped that would be quite unusual and surprising and the expression is one of those delights of the ever changing and expanding language which we speak)

At various times during the last week or three, the sun has shone and I have taken time out to amble around the woods which was pleasant and delightful.  If a little damp in places

I also discovered the B&W filter in photoshop.  So, a faux Infra Red filter.

light and shade in Snelsmore Common

And a secret window

And what’s more, the potatoes were scrummy and so was the pork roast.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments