Life, photos but not the universe

I’ve lost my glasses – 1

And the internet’s off.

Without my glasses (the computer and music ones) it’s all a bit of a blur anyway.  Nonetheless I have spent most of the evening torn between glasses hunting (wearing the distance/reading bifocals) and checking that the internet still isn’t working.  Interspersed with attempts to remember how to play a tune which I’m supposed to be playing by heart on Sunday.  I don’t seem to have learnt it well enough to play without my glasses even though I can definitely do it from memory when I am wearing them.  (How does that work?)

Barney’s gone out as well so I’ve been waiting for him to come home in the obviously vain hope that he will have inadvertently taken them away with him.  After all, last time I lost them he’d run over them in the car.  Oh and to make sure I haven’t lost him too.

On the internet front, I’ve done all that crawling about underneath the desk, plugging and unplugging things in a precise and absolutely logical order to see if any of them were disconnected* And, yes, the computer, the router and the phone are all switched on.  (And no, my glasses aren’t down there).  It’s behaving like either we, personally**, have been cut off or the whole broadband is down.  I could ask?

Oh pooh!  Eclipse support is open from 8am till 8pm.  I’ve missed them by hours.

Perhaps I took the glasses out to the car this afternoon and they’re on the seat?

If I wore my other glasses, I’d be able to see in the mirror if the reason all the double stopping bits are sounding like a strangled cat is because the bow isn’t right – if I could remember how to play those bits without looking at the music and while being distracted by the slightly appalling vision of myself in the mirror.  Or it might turn out that every time I go upstairs to practice the cat actually is busy down here, strangling herself?  Perhaps with my glasses??

I wonder if she’s found them somewhere they (or she) shouldn’t have been and has killed them for fun?

I wonder if she’s eaten the wires that connect the computer to the outside world?


Could I have left them inside the fiddle?***  The fridge?  The oven?  The dishwasher?  The washing machine?

The bath?


Well I tried having a glass of wine.  That didn’t seem to reconnect the internet, reveal my glasses or improve my practising.

I suppose, in the morning, my glasses will appear, probably in a place I have looked at several times tonight, the internet will be connected again and will blandly show no sign of ever having left.  The fiddle playing won’t have improved much but I still have Thursday, Friday and Saturday to work on it.

I keep looking but the two little televisions down at the bottom of the screen are still unornamented by a tiny world.  The funny thing is, if the internet worked I’d write a post, abandon my glasses, practice blindly and curse a lot.  If I hadn’t lost my glasses I’d wrestle with the internet and practice comfortably and curse a lot.  As it is I’m just running around like a distracted bat.  Belfrys come to mind.

Bah Humbug!

Bridges and mist and early morning sun are nicer.

*I always knew spell check can’t do grammar.  It thought the subject (object??  Whatever – I know what I mean) of disconnected was the singular ‘a precise and logical order’ when clearly it’s the plural ‘things’

**.  Have I paid them this month?

***No I don’t often put them there; I’m just doing a quick Sherlock.  When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must might be the truth.  Also, when I lose my glasses, I feel the approach of senile-whatever-it-is, looming.  Breathing over my shoulder probably, only I’m getting too deaf to hear it.  I might after all have had a seriously senior moment and then who knows what I might have done – however improbable.

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Pussy willow journeying

The waterways are lined with pussy willow in all the possible stages of development that you could imagine.  Tiny silvery ones and huge puffy-with-pollen ones and half and half ones.  In places, the water is dusted with pollen.

Yes, thank you all, we had a very good trip on the boat and the weather was as different from January’s voyage as you could wish for.  Sunshine, daffodils, violets, blue skies and balmy breezes and all kinds of nice things.  NO ice!  And we were surrounded by busy, nesting, squabbling, piping and twittering birds – even, on one evening, moored beneath a rookery where nesting was going on all day and apparently all night too – noisily and untidily.  We could tell where the rookery was even in the dark because of the crunching underfoot, of dropped twigs on the towpath on our way to the pub.

One night we moored on an embankment on the Shropshire Union canal in order to get a view of the Wrekin in the morning*.  It’s quite an impressive sight; a 407 metre high mound, rising out of the Shropshire plain and dominating the skyline for miles.

Sunset over the Wrekin

more sunset over the Wrekin


The Wrekin at Sunrise

The Shropshire Union canal was designed by Thomas Telford, a very straightforward kind of man I’d imagine, as he disdained to accommodate the slightest contours of the low, rolling  hills and valleys.  Whenever his canal came to an obstacle he either cut through it or built an embankment across it, resulting in a quantity of deep, severe chasms with overwhelmingly tall bridges alternating with bare expanses overlooking miles of landscape.

James Brindley on the other hand, who designed the  Staffordshire and Worcester canal, would have gone round (and round and round and back again) thus creating a curvy series of vistas peeping across the countryside in every imaginable direction.  I imagine him to be a much more devious character.  (Though not necessarily in a bad way).

Mr Telford’s splendid embankment gave us some fabulous views of the distant Wrekin and an opportunity to consider the folk tale about a vengeful giant who was persuaded by a passing cobbler not to drop a giant sized spadeful of mud in the river at Shrewsbury (hoping to flood the town)  but instead, left it untidily in the middle of the plain.  Further, the old saying “all around the Wrekin” meaning ‘to go the long way round’ would have been most appropriate if we had been on Mr Brindley’s curvy canal instead of Mr Telford’s uncompromisingly straight one.

And now, as well as needing recovery from the holiday my system is confused by the change to British summertime.  (ridiculous – it’s barely Spring time!)  So I’m going to bed.  Ooh it’s nice to be back : )

*As recommended by LTC Rolt, an early traveler of canals when they were still unrestored after the dilapidation resulting from the success of the railways and the demise of commercial canal use.  LTC Rolt’s book, ‘Narrowboat’ is one of the most delightful non-fiction books I have ever read, about his journeys on the canals in his boat, Cressy.  While we were struggling to moor in the very shallow water along the embankment, we were encouraged and directed to moor further along by a passer by who, though not a canal user himself, had noticed that lots of people moored successfully where the embankment gave way to a cutting.  Another reader of Rolt!

March 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Jammy, roses, luck….

Recently I have been reminded of a film – Marathon Man it was called.  I don’t know if you remember it?   I think Dustin Hoffman was in it and it involved torture by dentistry.  I’ve no idea what happened during or after the dentistry bit as I declined to watch any more.

Late last night after a series of increasingly ferocious and unpredictable attacks of what I can only describe as extreme toothache, interspersed with a kind of sullen, nagging ache, it suddenly all went away.

I had been counting the minutes (hundreds of them) to my next permitted dose of paracetamol and considering abandoning my early morning appointment and just ringing the emergency dentists and demanding instant removal of the dragon in my mouth plus a general anaesthetic and a generous supply of some kind of extreme narcotic.  (Because I am a complete wuss about pain.)

Deeply suspicious of the sudden quiescence of the raging monster, I went to the mirror and peered thoughtfully at it.  It seemed to have grown longer  (I wondered briefly if I’d taken an extra dose of paracetamol by mistake and was hallucinating, or even already in a coma, and imagining the whole thing).

Daringly, I poked at it and it leaned sideways a bit.  No pain.  After a minute, I took hold of it, very very oh so very gently, just to see how firmly it was held in place.  The answer seemed to be, not at all!  It came out!  (it come off in me ‘and M’m.)  I can only assume that all that had been holding it there was a nerve, which had finally given way.

So, I have been spared a visit to the dentist, several hours spent trying to locate things like half a numb tongue and the insensible inside of a face, and several days of tenderness and a diet of yoghurt, bananas and soup.  No mess, no dribbling and no trying to speak without being able to form more than half a word at a time.  I am so lucky!

Sometimes I wonder if in an unguarded moment I might once have made a pact with some sort of devil.  How else to account for my problem having solved itself without any outside assistance?

Anyway, the hour of departure is now not quite but nearly upon us.  Which is alarming because every time I decide to nip next door and ask them to mind the house, feed the cat and check the mail, I see them setting off in their car before I have time to rush out and intercept!  But Mrs next door might still be in.  Meanwhile I’ve been engaged in a flurry of laundry, charging of various batteries and serious thought about food.

Probably I won’t be able to connect to the internet while I’m away so I shall leave you with a picture from a previous canal trip.

Hoping for sunshine for us all while  I’m away – I feel sure we’re all due for some!

Have fun – don’t be too good : )


March 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments


to make a list.

I’ve been pottering and drinking coffee (mmm) and trying to decide whether to go and see my dentist* before or after we go away (difficult) and whether or not to try the lactose reduced milk in my coffee** (not yet; I’m sure it’s going to be horrible) and whether or not to eat and wake my tooth up and how exactly to remove two nearly overflowing hard drives and replace them with two new empty ones without getting confused about how many photos I need to move to the new ones because I haven’t finished with them yet.

As a result, I’ve done nothing except phone the eye people to say the appointment they’ve sent me won’t do.  Which was a waste of time because they weren’t there.  And while I was pottering, a whole lot of things caught my eye and suggested to me that I ought to do something about them so I decided …..

…to make a list.

Oh right.  I’m there again.

So I thought I’d start by checking whether I really did pay the credit card and now the bank is considering whether or not to let me log in a second time, since apparently I cocked it up the first time.  I should have had a second coffee before trying the first time.

Phew!  The answer is yes they will and yes I did.  I think I’d better have that second coffee before making any more decisions!  and while I’m at it I could just …..

…make…a…   Hmm.  Still there am I?

And so the day goes on.  Unproductive one might think, except that in the end I have done quite a lot which might have been on a list if I had made one.

Right.  I’ve got to get up horribly early tomorrow.  See you all later.

*This decision was made for me – There’s a tooth which has been rattling about for a while and getting increasingly picky about what I eat and suddenly it attacked me with violent toothache and the rattling became less metaphorical and more literal! Tomorrow Mr Dentist may remove it with my blessing.  And if he’s very kind maybe he’ll give me a week’s worth of antibiotics just in case I need them?

**Because as well as my teeth, my innards are not at all well behaved at the moment. ***

**Still, on bright side, what with one thing and another, there is a little less of me to carry around.  This can only be good.

March 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nostalgia for the good old days – not me!

A few days ago, Barney asked me if I would set the oven to start heating up automatically before he gets up in the morning.  It’s a new thing to add to my pre-bedtime ritual.  No problem.  Except that I keep forgetting!  So now I’ve told Outlook to remind me.

And for some days, outlook has been telling me I need to order pills and pay the credit card and check the cooking gas.

It’s tempting to imagine that this is a sign that the world is going to pot, along with the ability of checkout staff to do mental arithmetic and speak politely to their betters* and the behaviour of old people in powered wheelchairs, not to mention the ability of insurance companies to communicate.  And, of course, one must recall that in the good old days cookers were big, wood or coal burning  things that stayed on all night and fires were banked up last thing and in the morning, Hey Presto!  a quick riddle and you’d get flames!

Then I thought a bit and remembered that I’ve never been able to remember to pay bills and order pills and  one reason why I’ve never considered a job in retail is that I’ve never been any good at mental arithmetic and I recall a large number of shopkeepers and assistants who wouldn’t have known what to do with a polite “good morning” if it hit you on the head and who didn’t understand the words thank you.  Of course, you weren’t at risk from powered wheel chairs in the streets, because old people who couldn’t walk easily weren’t out in the streets at all.  Never left their homes in fact unless someone would take them and then you only risked having to step under a passing bus to give them room on the pavement.  I don’t ever remember having a simple communication with an insurance company but I do remember weary and bewildered adults trying to understand them and I also remember the habits of Agas and Esses – strange temperature fluctuations, sudden refusal to produce anything but dark, dangerous looking smoke and sneakiest of all, the ability to go out during the night without telling anyone so that the first three or four hours  of the day would be spent carrying fuel and coaxing the monster back into life.

So let’s not worry.  The world is indeed going to pot but not because we have computers to remind us of tasks and electronic tills to keep tabs on our shopping.  And speaking of checkout people, it may be a courtesy learned by rote and uttered parrot fashion but I find that if you reply “you too”  with a friendly smile when they wish you a nice day, as often as not, you get a friendly, genuine smile back.  Not such a bad thing after all.  Well done our American cousins for adding a politeness to our shopping.

As for old folks with powered wheel chairs, I am looking forward to the day when I can rampage the streets, revving up my electric motor and terrorising those people on mere legs who get in my way.  Ho ho.  Cackle.

Have a nice day :  )

And I’ve just thought, tomorrow I’m going to have left over pasta, heated up in some leek and potato soup for lunch.  You have a nice lunch too : )

*That is, their customers, many of whom are no better than they should be – since I’m indulging in a bit of anachronistic language anyway.  I’ve never quite understood how that phrase works actually.  I know it was used to imply ‘not very good at all’  but I don’t quite see how it means that.

March 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Random day

I spent most of yesterday on my own and therefore, talking to myself.  As a result, I can’t remember a thing either of me said.   Mostly, I was wrestling with making a card for our anniversary  (37 years of variable wedded bliss).  Having completely cocked up the printing arrangements the night before and having also failed to save an adjustable version, I had to go back to the beginning and make a new one. It has me and Barney looking at each other in a ghostly way across a starry sky and is quite tasteful, I think.  Before next year, I must be sure to try and take some really nice photos of him!  For some reason, I seem to be the only person in the world who can’t get a decent happy picture of my own husband even though he is one of the most photogenic creatures imaginable.

Our guests at the weekend brought some hyacinths in a pot and as soon as everyone left, they (the hyacinths, not the visitors*)  burst into fragrant flower, really, overnight.  Over the years I have occasionally flirted with assorted room smelly stuff, by far the most successful being a small selection of aromatherapy oils in those nice pots with a tealight underneath and a little dish for the oil on top.  They don’t hold a candle to the real scent of hyacinths though.  I’m glad I don’t have any allergies to pollen.

It’s going to be a busy year.  As 1/12th owners of a boat, we have 1/12th of a year’s worth of weeks to spend on it.  It seems to me that we have hardly finished one week on the boat before the next is upon us.  Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit?  Anyway, March is being quite leonine at the moment so I’m hoping for some stormy skies and flashes of brilliant Spring sunlight. (A bit like today but maybe a little warmer). Ooh and a bit of burgeoning green!    And I’m trying to work out which single set of clothes I will wear all week** since the storage space on the boat doesn’t allow for multiple choices!

Also, I noticed the computer doing one or two odd things over the last few days so I’m industriously backing up.  And while it was chuntering, I’ve read the sequel**** to ‘The Name of the Wind which impressed me a great deal two or three years ago when I first read it.  Trouble is, finishing it has left me with nothing to take on the boat and I need something large and absorbing but put-downable.  I’m tentatively investigating War and Peace.  I’ve never even considered reading it before but I used to like Solzhenitsyn?  And it is big and, so far, quite put-downable.  (I find Russian novels have a similar effect to that which I get from playing Bartók.  After a while I can’t understand normal English writing or play normal music in any language). A big fat read is what I require.  Um, Tom Jones?  Eminently put-downable I seem to recall from A level.

Aha!  I looked at some lists.  Dante!  And failing him, Dickens.  Or George Eliot.

While the sun shone I thought I’d get out quick and found some new woods in which to wander.  Some time after meeting an acquaintance in a landrover with whom I had a brief chat about shooting Bambi (he had a somewhat whimsical turn of phrase for a man with a gun I thought) I went elsewhere and Oh look!  I shot Bambi!  (He’s not really a Bambi but a Muntjac.  Still, though I don’t much like Muntjac, I’m glad he was a long way from my friend with the gun).

And now I think I have to tidy up and go to bed.

Sleep well.

*Well I don’t know about the visitors obviously but it seems unlikely

**probably you’re aware of the last law of packing*** which states that the more choices of clothing you take on holiday, the fewer will actually be appropriate to wear at anytime during the holiday.

***It’s the last law because it’s the one you discover long after you have finished packing and  have arrived at your destination.

****Strictly, it’s not a sequel but the second part of a trilogy.

A fairly giant book about a young wizard and how myths develop and how magic could be studied and stuff like that.  I love all that.  Very detailed, very well constructed and full of quite gripping adventures and plots and characters.   Plenty of social comment and complexity with a splendid cast of enigmatic and devilish enemies to investigate.  Refreshingly unaffected writing style.  Fantasy has moved a long way since LOTR burst onto our bookshelves. The sequel is as good as the first book and I suppose I’ll have to wait another two or three years for the final part of the trilogy.  I’m not recommending it unless you’re also fond of fantasy – it’s firmly set inside that genre and it’s quite dark, so far.  But head and shoulders above most of the rubbish on the SF shelves in bookshops and if the last volume is as carefully written as the first two it will be worth waiting for.

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Perfect Peace and a book with new clothes

See, we’ve had a visit today from and old friend with her her lovely daughter and her other lovely dughter plus husband and new grandchild.  The object of the visit being to admire each others’ grandchildren and generally have  a lovely time catching up and enjoying each other’s company.  So naturally Mr and Mrs and Little Middle came too and  Mrs Youngest and Mr Youngest and the three gorgeous grandchildren and the dog.  After a feast of cassoulet followed by mango sorbet with apple mint puree, some have gone home and the rest are all tucked in upstairs asleep.  (You wouldn’t believe how many and how big were the pots and pans needed to make the cassoulet – I really don’t believe that an old French farmhouse recipe could possibly involve so much cookware – where would they have kept it all?  Indeed, where do we keep it all?)

And here I am, all alone (except for the dog and the cat who are being kept separate in the interests of preserving the dog’s nose and the cat’s dinner) and all around me (well above really as I’m downstairs) people are sleeping and it’s as quiet as if there were no one else in the world (except the dog and the cat, one of whom snuffles and heaves deep sighs while the other scratches hopefully at the door from time to time – no doubt hoping to terrorise the dog).  The house breathes softly with beloved presences and it’s really very peaceful and satisfying.

I am content.

And final edition of the book is now available – Of course I haven’t seen the revised edition but after the hours of careful editing I’m prepared to believe it’s going to be ok.  Fingers crossed : )  The link in the last but one post has an updated preview and here is the link to Blurb.  Woohoo!  And other such virtual exclamations : )

So while checking that it is really there, I flicked through a few other books (it’s almost impossible not to) and discovered a gem.

It’s a bit too difficult for me but I’m sure that is a fault in the eye of the beholder – what do you think?

You just have to wonder if any one will buy it…. 000

And as you do when confronted with something apparently simple, I wondered if I could do that too.  And then I thought about my own work and I realised that I just don’t have the advanced technical skills needed to create nothing out of something. Nor the gall to offer it on sale for a mere £40!

Got a bit of clearing up to do now.  Not too much though as all our guests were very helpful and well behaved.  And fortunately, the cassoulet was mostly prepared during the previous two days so I was able to dispose of all the gallons of grease, unwanted cooking liquid and enormous pots and pans before anyone arrived.  I think Anthony Bourdain must cater for very hungry people in his restaurant though.  His recipe was supposedly for 4 people and we doubled it for 11 and there was enough left over for another 6!  All those beans!  So after I get tonight’s dinner out, I’ll have to squeeze the left overs into the freezer somehow.

Oh, and finches have arrived – immature goldfinches I think and maybe a greenfinch – but they don’t seem to have cottoned on to the new feeder, they’ve just been picking stuff up from the ground.  A bit risky since, old though she is, the cat has been watching from the window with evil intent.

And now, after a lovely sunny day it’s turning into a lovely afternoon with low, slanted winter sunlight.  I need to get off my backside and head out.

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Um… No title. Head empty, no one in today

I should have been cuddling a small delicious person at this moment and possibly visiting the bead shop just down the road from Mrs Middle’s house.

Instead, I’m languishing.  I can’t take what I’ve got to Mrs and Little Middle – it’s all very well babies acquiring immunities but think of the nappies!  So I’m here again and not best pleased about it.  I do have a large list of things to be done.  Today will be as good as any other  in which to get started I suppose.  Meanwhile, the light outside has brightened making the oak tree bark a kind of silvered grey though the clouds remain unbroken so I’m really not sure if this is a suggestion that the sun might come out or if the silvery look means more rain.  Also, Amazon have emailed me to say a book I pre-ordered now won’t be published till 2012 so I’m not expecting that to arrive any minute.

I think I’ll have a shower.  And another coffee, since I don’t suppose there’s any point in eating.  And a large glass of water – to stop my brain cell dehydrating.

Oh!  That is the sun!

Jolly good.

Meanwhile, since home publishing is somewhat on my mind, I’ve reread Mrs Middle’s wonderful book of short stories* which, regrettably, isn’t on a site like Blurb, to which I could have posted a link , but it does occur to me that it could be.  However, she’ll have to change the title.  It’s presently the same as that of  a collection of short stories by one  Jeffery Archer and her book would suffer by association!

One of the stories has been published though, in this book, which may also suffer through association with such a notoriously trashy newspaper and doesn’t deserve to.  It’s a quite arresting story.  I’m sorry, there doesn’t seem to be a link anywhere to the story itself.

And here are swans seen through the bridge that crosses the Kennet and Avon canal in Newbury.

Totally irrelevant  really.

When I saw this, I naturally thought of Christopher.   Wish I’d seen it a couple of days ago when I began this post.

*Wiping away tears of laughter and delight and going back for another look*

See you tomorrow.

*It was a Christmas present for me.  And I’m very pleased that I really have kept it in a place which is both safe and easily discoverable – right in front of the computer in fact, where I also keep another treasure, a tiny book bound and covered by a dear Blog friend.

March 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments


!          !           !           !

!            !           !

I’m a bit excited.  A couple of days ago, Blurb emailed me to say my book was being shipped.  Today, I checked the tracking site and found that it’s actually on the truck!  In Barking!  It’s going to arrive tomorrow – by the end of the day!

I must remember to go shopping while it’s on its way from Barking – that’s quite a long way so I ought to have time to get back before it arrives.  Just doing a bit of pointless pacing  now : )

Oh!  tomorrow came and I checked its progress again and at 6.45 am it was in Abingdon!

And then at 12.30 I got a phone call from a lost UPS driver!

And here it is!

(You can turn the pages with your mouse.  But you’ll probably have seen most of it already : )

Of course, when I showed it to Barney, he immediately pointed out a number of minor errors.  I will send them an updated version and reprint so don’t all rush to blurb just yet – not that you can read any of the text so it doesn’t matter really.  But it does need to be changed.

March 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments