Life, photos but not the universe

I’m on a slippery slope

Downhill I should think, towards that very large birthday on which the governmemt may feel obliged to give me things.

But in case HMG’s presents lack excitement, I’ve started collecting mine early with a day at the wolf sanctuary.  I haven’t a lot to say about it except that it was brilliant and I am now totally in love with Torak, Mosi and Mai, Latea and Natea and Duma.  We walked with Latea and Natea (sisters) and were lined up to be inspected by them (as if they were royalty) and warned not to take anything that smelled interesting, like sweets, biscuits, medecine, inhalers or tobacco, as they’d have it out of our pockets in no time.  We gave them our fists to smell and were prepared to be investigated quite thoroughly (perhaps even a little personally).  Fortunately, neither Latea or Natea jumped up to lick faces or peed on any legs or took any profferred hands in their jaws though Latea thought my trousers smelt slightly interesting.  And they didn’t steal any camera lenses either.

Later, on the walk we got to give them a tummy rub which was apparently appreciated quite a lot.  All of this bearing in mind that we were interacting with ‘socialised’ wild creatures not tame, domestic ones.  Two handlers to each wolf and both holding the chain at all times.  All the staff were constantly aware of every nuance of wolf expression, ready to soothe, intervene or remove at the smallest sign of disapproval by the wolves.  Interesting being taught the proper way to behave in the company of wolves and I suppose the point is, as they’ve been accustomed to a human pack since cubhood, they treat us as rather oddly designed wolves ourselves.  So as long as we don’t break any rules of wolf society they will accept us as temporary followers.

Most of the day was spent behind wire fences or on top of an observation platform, (as when we went to the open day) but the wolves were keen to investigate us, in between having their own sort of easter egg hunt for pieces of meat dangling on trees and rocks around the other side of our fence.  Frozen feet was a small price to pay for seeing such lovely animals, nice and warm they were too in their winter coats!

Nuff said.


November 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments

Up and down.

My word isn’t it cold!  I have to go into town and I can’t decide if it’s better to be shivering here* in front of the computer or out in the streets.

I’ll find out**.

What I need to find out now though, is the whereabouts of the slip of paper that will tell us how to adjust the timing on the (new last Summer) boiler so that it starts heating the water before Barney comes home from work.  Almost certainly, I have put it somewhere because although Barney is the one who had it all explained to him, it is me who puts such things in places (usually quite safe ones).  He only leaves things in places (usually the dining room table).  So far, my search has turned up a recipe for cooking mussels, the instructions for using the CD player and the mincer and a packet of non-woven swabs.  Jolly safe then, the place where I put it.

A new thing to put on the list of stuff you say on computers – immediately after RTM and RTMD – ILTM.***

Putting aside the missing instructions for now, last night we went out to investigate a recently opened restaurant in which to hold the Office Party as we jokingly call it.  (We two and the other two partners plus the apprentice and his girlfriend always go out for a meal at Christmas and it amuses us to call it the office party).

We sat and chatted in the bar over our drinks and ordered from an interesting menu and then after a while we began to feel quite hungry.  After another while, we noticed the waitress who had taken our order wandering around the restaurant with two plates looking a little lost.  It turned out that while she had successfully taken the order and collected the dinners, she had ‘forgotten’ that she hadn’t shown us to our table.  Um.  Ok.  The rest of the evening followed a similar pattern.  Things arrived but other things hadn’t been taken away.  Things were asked for but didn’t appear till they were no longer needed.  Once or twice things didn’t arrive.  I don’t think we’ll have the office party there even though the food was very nice.

Today, we went to visit a very dear friend in hospital.  I don’t know whether I have a bad feeling about him or not.  He’s a heavy drinker and he’s been feeling ill for quite a long time.  Perhaps his wife dragged him to the doctor in time but cirrhosis of the liver has been mentioned (do you get cirrhosis of anything else?) and that sounds bad to me.  He looks a good bit better than he has been looking.  That looks good to me.  The hospital is still checking things out, kidney and liver biopsies, blood tests, fluid tests, all kinds of stuff.  So they haven’t concluded anything yet.  We’re so hoping they’ll conclude something manageable.

So it’s been an




sort of few days.

I’m really hoping we’ll keep the sun till after Sunday.  On the other hand, wouldn’t snow be fun.  Stressful, but fun.  When I went into town, all the radios in the shops and the TV in the bank sounded quite overexcited about the prospect of snow any minute.  Meanwhile, in case of blizzards and white stuff I’m going to wash and dry all my woollie trousers, check the central heating oil and the cooking gas and say a few polite things to the nearest power line and the water pipe.  See?  I’m not one of those people who are totally unprepared for extreme weather.  Not until it happens anyway.

Keep warm.

*In summer, this is a nice cool house.  In Winter, sadly, it’s still a nice cool house

**it was about the same

***Read the Manual, Read the Manual, Dummy and I’ve Lost The Manual.  Or possibly, BYTMTRTMYNTKILI (before you tell me to read the manual you need to know I’ve lost it)

November 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 4 Comments

Books boats and b,b,b no, I can’t think of a word for camera that begins with B

Having just been diverted immensely by the 100 books list on English Inukshuk’s blog I am happy to be able to announce that I’ve just finished another book about which to rave.  The recent discoveries of Barbara Kingsolver and Patrick Gale have made me hungry for big, intense, rich novels and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel has turned out to be one of them.  I didn’t start reading it for a while as I’d heard a couple of friends saying it was a bit long and confusing but by the end of the first page I sort of noticed, in passing,  that I was going to have some difficulty in putting  it down.

One might imagine that Henry the Eighth and all his works and court and machinations had been done to death in literature, film and TV by now.  Wrong.   Wolf Hall is a completely new view from that skulking monster we’ve seen in other histories; Thomas Cromwell.  I’m torn now, because she’s writing a sequel and I don’t want to read about his tragic end because I like him but I really want to read more of the character she’s created out of the scanty information on his personality.  And I really want to step back into that intimate, vivid world she’s made where history behaves like real people.

Meanwhile, preparations for a party, about which I know nothing except that when it happens I shall be quite old, include me cleaning and tidying the house.  You might think I do this a lot since I mention it whenever I do it.  The clue is that I do in fact mention it every time I do it. What?  Half a dozen times in the last two years.

Ah well.

Mymamiya (the new/old film camera) works.  I’ve had the first film back.  The photos weren’t anything to write home about but I’m learning.  Definitely worth starting a second film (especially as the nice guys in the camera shop sold me a pack of three).

And a while ago, I mentioned some big news.  We have become the owners of one 12th of a narrow boat!  It’s been one of Barney’s dreams for years to have our own boat but they normally cost almost as much as a small house so it just hasn’t been possible. Thanks to Barney’s Dad’s house being sold coinciding with the offer of a share coming up we could do this without beggaring ourselves and now we’ve done it!  So we get four weeks use of the boat annually and at least one off season week extra.  Now struggling with the complex booking arrangements when 12 people are involved but I feel quite sure we will manage to sort it out : ) Somehow.

This is close to where it’s moored.

We went there a couple of years ago on holiday.  I think I could just about cope with another few visits

: )

Got to go and clean out the bedrooms now.

Well, maybe one of the bedrooms?

November 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Nothing is ever lost? Did I say that?

I did didn’t I.

When I was a kid, I lost things all the time.  I was like a sieve through which important possessions dropped – out of sight.  Gloves, books, knickers, school satchels, jewellery, money, shoes even.  You name it.  I developed a bit of an obsession about it over the years but,  apparently, helpless to retain things,  continued to lose them all over the world.

So I have little routines now to help me cling to stuff I may or may not need*, which is why my camera bag is organised to the nth degree.  Still and in spite of this, yesterday I suddenly discovered that my little bag of spare batteries and camera cards, painstakingly collected over the years, wasn’t where it ought to have been!

It is, of course, somewhere.

Not, however, in the house, the car or the garden (unless, in a fit of absentmindedness, to which I am extremely prone these days, I put it somewhere really weird – yes, I’ve tried the oven, the fridge, the rubbish bins, the wet clothes basket and the cat’s bed).  Neither is it by the road in any of the places where I parked the car the other day.  Nor in the local police station.

Oh well.  One of the advantages of getting old is that you just can’t be bothered to indulge in fits of despair and anguish over  a few missing bits of plastic.  I am a bit cross about it but the cards would have needed replacing eventually anyway and two of the batteries were at home waiting to be charged so *shrug* I’ll put them on my birthday list.

When I stopped to take these photos the other day, I was accosted by a local person wondering what I was doing peering through the hedge.  She was anxious about her horses so I explained that I wouldn’t be taking photos of them as they don’t look so pretty with their winter horse blankets on (more like large, muddy, canvas bags with ears and legs than the noble, fiery creature of one’s imaginings).  It occurs to me that now Prince William is engaged to a local girl, the countryside might well be swarming with photographers of a very different kind than me.

Anyway,  clearly I didn’t look much like a reporter, a horse thief or any other sort of dangerous animal so she said no, she didn’t mind me taking a photo of her rather lovely house which looked particularly delectable, framed by a spray of hawthorn berries and lightly clothed in mist.  As it happened, there was a horse in the distance, wearing a red rug but so far away that I don’t think you’d notice it’s there if I didn’t say.  So I won’t : )

a hard place to see a bright blue kingfisher

not so easy to see the heron either

After that I went to the pond along the road and spent a peaceful half hour watching a kingfisher, fishing.  I found him because I heard the splash when he  dived and then knew where to look to see the blue flash as he landed on a tree branch to eat his catch.  Every time he landed, I froze and then when he dived again I crept a few steps nearer (Like playing Grandmother’s footsteps), only as often as not, he flew to a different and more distant perch so I never got close enough for a good shot of him.  Nonetheless it was absorbing and hugely enjoyable, and I did get a shot of a heron though not of the moment when he saw me and did a monumentally difficult looking backflip before flapping wearily off to a different pond.

And then I saw some wool.

Goodnight.  Sleep well.  Don’t forget the hot water bottle and the cosy socks and the woolly hat.  (You don’t wear a woollie hat in bed?  Neither do I but sometimes I’d like to)

*Like an old woman. **

**Oh, I am an old woman.  Right.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 3 Comments


is what it said on the weather forecast for today.  All day.










Oh, Fog!

Actually, in the afternoon it became quite seriously foggy by today’s standards but having been brung up in Croydon,  I remember the last pea-soupers before they introduced smokeless fuel and we entered the period when real fog was a thing of the past or the future.  Now of course, smog has returned to the world.  Not so much to do with winter and cold but more to do with heat and exhaust fumes.  The more things change eh?






Well I don’t by any standards do justice to this man’s work but here are more attempts to capture something of David Nash’s work in wood

A couple of other things crept in there; the view from Sister in Law’s window, a couple of giants lurking and a sliver of Yorkshire seen from the shop window while Barney and sister in law watched films – about the sculptor it’s true but I wanted to go out and look!!  And the weather was so gorgeous!

Later though, I did watch the film about the wooden boulder.  David Nash carved it out of a giant tree trunk and sent it on a 30 year journey, starting from a waterfall near his studio in Wales.  It rolled a little distance and came to rest.  After a year or two, floods carried it a little further and, increasingly weathered and beaten, it made an epic journey to the sea.  Sometimes stranded in woodlands or marshes or tidal sand spits, once wedged under a bridge but always, eventually, rolling and floating and tumbling onwards, it travelled, with the story of its journey written on its wooden surface.  I can only guess at the patience and perseverance that must have been needed to keep visiting whenever it paused, often for years, noting down the date and waiting to hunt it down when it moved on after floods or frost disturbed it.

And how extraordinary for a young man in his twenties to conceive of such a journey, to create such a thing and to send it on its way and follow it so doggedly for so long.  To trust in wind and water and time to create the story.

So.  Last seen in  2003.  I wonder where it will be now. Perhaps one day on a journey to somewhere far away, I’ll see it!   As David Nash said,  it isn’t lost because it will be wherever it is now.

On that note I’ll go – nothing is lost.  Wherever it is.


Goodnight : )

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments

Let’s consider music.***

I know that most of the people who visit here love music.  Myself also, I do.  But we do (don’t we?) use it for different things in our lives.  For some of us it’s a whole life.  For some of us it’s an escape and a promise of something outside the daily grind.  For some of us it’s a way to express that which is otherwise inexpressible.  For some of us it’s another way to say in spite of everything (and that may be a lot), life is good.  Or conversely, that because of everything, life is awful.  Oh and of course quite a lot of people just love music for its own sake, using it for nothing and demanding no more of it than that it be there.

Good stuff innit, music.

(I am tempted to misquote someone or other and say that the beauty of music is proof of the existence of people but I forget who originally made the slightly similar quote about the existence of God)

Barney, as usual, is listening to music while cooking.  (He uses it as company and distraction during the boring bits of cooking and journeys and other stuff like that)  Also as usual, his cooking style reminds me of that good old saying about inspiration and perspiration and genius.  It occurs to me that cooking consists of  1% food and 99% clearing up.   Funny how some people can produce lovely food using only 1% of the total requirements for the task.  There’s some genius at work there.

And I’ve been away to Leeds which was sunny and yielded up lovely company (Sister in Law and her daughter), delicious food (both Sister in Law’s delicious meals and Greek cuisine at The Olive Tree), a trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the most wonderful setting for an exhibition of David Nash’s glorious tree and wood sculptures, a blue sky rainbow and time to start reading the Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.  Not a lot of music unless you count the piano concerto playing in the mini bus at the sculpture park*.

Meanwhile (rather a lot of photos to trawl through from Leeds and subsequent sunny, misty walks so not ready to post yet) is this a doll?

Or a New Gorgeous Babe?

(Answer below**)

And just one or two from the Sculpture park

We weren’t allowed to photograph any of the works which were displayed in galleries which was a shame but I did my best from outside.  Well there was also the interesting effect of the outdoor sculpture revealing glimpses of the indoor ones, in their reflections, to consider.  (Please ignore the tubby, striped figure on the right.  She gets into all my reflection and shadow photos!)

Curves and verticals.  Ash Mound I think this is called?

One would think Barney and Sister in Law were more interested in the view than the sculptures.  Though you cold see distant sculptures on the hillside opposite.

anyway, it’s now sunny and misty again.  I’m off : )

*I’m blowed if I could identify it.  It was either Tchaikovsky’s, Grieg’s or Schuman’s from an album of piano concertos I listened to exhaustively in my youth and from which I therefore can’t distinguish any one from either of the others.


***Sorry, I forgot to consider any more music.  Another time?

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 3 Comments

I’ll be away for a day or two.

So I’ve had the sort of day when my mind keeps trying to think in three directions at once.  Partly because a friend came for the day, partly because I need to decide which little pocket sized camera my lovely family would like to buy for my birthday and another partly because I inadvertantly bought a film camera from Oxfam a day or two ago.

Oops!  how did that happen?

Anyway, gradually I’ve been acquiring the information and batteries and film I needed to find out if it works ( the shop said it did but they won’t really know) and while I’m away I may attempt to make it work and then when I get back I may find out if it did.  I always did wonder if film wasn’t too complicated for someone like me and I suppose I’l be finding that out too.

Anyway a number of knowledgeable people have confirmed that if it does work it is a bargain.  And Oxfam said if it doesn’t they’ll take it back.  Can’t lose then can I?  and it’s a Mamiya which means all day I’ve been wandering around muttering Mymamiya to myself.  (which translates roughly as “what have I let myself in for?” if you say it quickly enough.)  And I haven’t dared tell er, anyone who shall remain nameless, that I seem to have a camera which I didn’t have a day or two ago and that I still need the tiny pocket sized one for my birthday and that of course I will use all three of them.  And that, no, it won’t mean I have even more stuff to carry around wherever I go (bit hard to make that last sound convincing even to me but I’m working on it).

And now I’m packed and trying to remember if I’ve supplied all that is necessary for them what’s being left behind.  Very difficult when I can’t quite decide how to pack  MyMamiya so it travels safely.

Meanwhile I’ve run out of notebook (brain) and We (that’s not the royal one but the plural one …. two) have decided to do an exciting thing which I shall save for another day.  Oh and my friend pointed out that I ought to have been reminded by the government that my pension is nearly due.  I spent a harassed half hour tracking down the appropriate department on the computer before deciding that it’s really silly trying to think about that while also thinking of all that other stuff.  Next week then, I shall attempt to garner up the things I hope I have earned by being good for all those years and giving my hard earned cash to the government.  Hmm.

Lots of love, lovely people and have a very, very nice weekend : )


November 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments

The time of my life

As I have trundled along the last few years of life’s journey I’ve been vaguely aware of a certain milestone on the horizon.  The big Six O in fact.

Apart from hoping that I’ll be able to swim cheaply and get free bus travel and thinking for this birthday a tiny, carry-everywhere camera and a trip to Venice might be allowed as presents (plus, of course my long awaited photographic day with wolves) I haven’t actually thought very hard about it but Barney has suddenly realised that he ought to be organising some kind of celebratory event. After all when he turned the decade, we had what amounted to a concert in the village hall and over a hundred people came and quite a lot of those performed in one way or another.  (But all performed very beautifully).

So I made a list of people I’d like to see and suggested a few places where we could arrange to see them all at once.  Due to my more solitary and meditative nature, I wasn’t thinking of a performance event, more a chatty and intimate party with some of my favourite people (only a hundred or so) and food.  Also, though I had lots of help (and fun) organising Barney’s do, I wouldn’t want to impose that much work on anyone else!

Then it turned out that Barney had been thinking about a select little dinner party here at home (a dozen guests) while Youngest had been thinking about a big do at a village hall!  Oops.

So I rewrote my list (wonderful things computers) and gave them each a copy and awaited developments.  Also I wondered if I’d been unkind to some people who might think they were entitled to invites even though numbers will be tight – the house will be tight as well but we won’t worry about that.  And then, having made what seemed to me to be a huge mental effort I decided to take advantage of yesterday’s sun and went out to get wet feet, frozen fingers and lots of photos.

Come with me?

Do bring warm shoes and gloves though.

As well as milestones, the trundling has made me think about boots – particularly last week when it was quite cold and wet underfoot.  New Boots is what I was thinking.  With very wide bits for my bunions, very loose fastenings over the instep, very high bits for the toes, plenty of support under the instep and a soft furry lining.  And for preference, a touch of smartness or at least cuteness so I can wear them out in the evening too.  And I don’t want them brown.

Any one seen them anywhere?  I’ve been to all the shoe shops in town and I can’t find them.

Sleep well : )

November 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 3 Comments

Quick quick, the leaves are all blowing away

Lucky I kept some

And wasn’t it nice of some people to light a bonfire for me when I visited the woods last week

Barney is cooking to music and I wanted to utube Norma Waterson singing this song.  However it’s not on Utube so I give you the lyrics (by Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead – here singing the original version.  Homage.  They were a great band – wish you could hear Norma’s version though).

Black Muddy River

When the last rose of summer pricks my finger,
And the hot sun chills me to the bone,
When I can’t hear the song for the singer,
And I can’t tell my pillow from a stone,
I will walk alone by the black muddy river,
And sing me a song of my own,
I will walk alone by the black muddy river,
And sing me a song of my own.

When the last bolt of sunshine hits the mountain,
And the stars start to splatter in the sky,
When the moon hits the southwest horizon,
With the scream of an eagle on the fly,
I will walk alone by the black muddy river,
And listen to the ripples as they moan,
I will walk alone by the black muddy river,
And sing me a song of my own.

Black muddy river, roll on forever,
I don’t care how deep or wide, if you’ve got another side,
Roll muddy river, roll muddy river, black muddy river, roll.

When it seems like the night will last forever,
And there’s nothing left to do but count the years,
When the strings of my heart start to sever,
And stones fall from my eyes instead of tears,
I will walk alone, by the black muddy river,
And dream me a dream of my own,
I will walk alone, by the black muddy river,
And sing me a song of my own, sing me a song of my own.

And a link to Norma singing Fallen leaves. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but she’s a remarkable singer, now in her late sixties and with a voice that has grown in confidence and warmth since the days when she and Martin Carthy were young folk icons.  Falling Leaves was written by her slightly better known daughter, Eliza Carthy, here singing Rolling Sea (traditional chantey).

And now…. Oh, no point in going out after leaves.  It’s too dark to see them.  I would be awfully grateful for one more day of sunlight though.  If anyone could arange one for tomorrow before any more rain and wind comes, I ‘d really appreciate it 🙂


November 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

WordPress announces

That it’s introducing foodpress.  I may feel an overwhelming urge to investigate this.  After all a chance to enjoy virtual food sounds like a quite good thing.  Though I suppose, like fairy food, it wouldn’t actually nourish you?

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of blogs requiring open ID or a google account to enter comments.  I do have a google account but it links back to my old blog which I abandoned in a fit of pique against blogger, in 2008.  I also seem to have a wordpress open ID which is fine except that blogger always seems to have to think twice before accepting it and sometimes just declines altogether.

So if  you have a blogger blog and you don’t have the ‘name/URL’ option I may occasionally seem to be neglecting you.  This may be because blogger’s playing funny buggers with my open ID.  Or I may really be neglecting you.  Or I may have read your post and been so overwhelmed by it’s cleverness and complexity that I found myself with nothing to add. Or I might have started a comment and then become dismayed by the length and/or idiocy of it and abandoned it.  Or if I’ve already failed, one way or another to comment on lots of posts I might just be wondering where to start (this happens a lot). Or I might suddenly have realised that not another word could I type without sleep, coffee or alcohol or all three in no particular order.   Or …Oh well that’s enough possibilities to be going on with.

And come to think of it, I’ve reached that last stage right now……(long pause for sleep, followed by coffee and breakfast and if the pause lasts till tomorrow night, for alcohol as well.  While I’m doing all that I shall make no comments at all)………………




(Update:  Oh oops, some of you have got there before me!  I was going to add, clearly, I reached that point, above mentioned, some time before writing this post.  Forgot to say, whatever blogger does with  my ID, I wouldn’t miss a word of any of your blogs and the small exasperation caused by Blogger rejecting me (or possibly, by WordPress refusing to supply the required information without a token moment of resistance – I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a  little political friction going on between giants like Google and independents like wordpress) is directed at them, not you!

November 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments