Life, photos but not the universe

music, bread, life, camping ….

Anyway, we did a gig tonight (that would be last Saturday so by the time you read this it’l be last week) for a wedding.   Apart from one or two slightly disorganised moments it went quite well but it is becoming apparent that the leaving of our old concertina player has acted as if somebody took the brakes off.  So when we played a lovely tune called ‘Galopede’ , they did.  Galopie jalopied.

Thing is, Jan and I always played it more as a Canterpede, kind of lolloping and easy – it’s nice to have a break from the fast and furious in between dances and it’s a pretty tune with a pastoral lilt.  But Max and Barney just got their bits between their teeth and it went much like a downhill, runaway cart.    So if Sara and the boys want to play it as a kind of heavy Centipede they can.  I shall go and take a fag break.  If they won’t behave, I shan’t play it again. So there! And pfffth!   (Because I, of course, would have played it much slower and more thoughtfully.  See!)

Right, abandoning my daily weekly grouch, I’m a very chirpy bunny today.  My lovely friend the gardener came and approved my planting plan as well as adding  some suggestions like a Hamamelis (Witch hazel) and Winter Box to give lovely scent and evergreen leaves in Winter and Spring.  Coo!  Oh I am so excited!!!

Tomorrow I’m going to go and look round a garden centre and maybe order some plants to collect in time for her next visit.  And also to buy a new sleeping bag.  We have the Annual Morris Dancing Festival coming up any minute. What I mostly will celebrate is having a new sleeping bag and being warm in the tent at night.  Oh and I’ll be getting sausages and bacon for hundreds of breakfasts in the camp site.

And here is the outlook for the next few hours.  Um – unsettled I hope.

And for Christopher, since I failed on the salad front, some bread – fresh but maybe a little too settled.

See you all soon.  Probably when I come home for the night to attend music group, enjoy a hot shower and play with the computer before heading back to the  wonderfully pastoral meadows and charming, cotswold stone-walled village lanes, at a leisurely pace – perhaps arriving just in time to watch the campers soundly beaten at an Aunt Sally match with the Villager’s team.  Or maybe to help gather up escaped tents and shelter in the local pubs from the weather.

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 8 Comments

Barney’s first eye is done.  It’s ‘watertight’ which means he can now have a shower.  He’s allowed to do normal activities (which doesn’t include going back to work because thatching is not a normal activity) so he can dig up the ash stumps in the garden, move heavy stuff for me, and drive carefully.  Yay.

However, since he’s still got an awful lot of time on his hands he is still cooking up a storm of feasts, watching immoderate amounts of iplayer and wandering aimlessly around the house.  As a result, I’m doing more kitchen tidying and washing up every day than I’d normally do in a week, listening to stuff I’m not specially interested in from the other room and occasionally needing to go out quickly for an unspecified period and an undefined purpose.

I’m not really complaining though, it’s nice to have lovely dinners and snacks and chocolate brownies all over the place.  The fact is, between us, we make quite a good housewife.

There was a time when I tended to think things like “It seems possible to do a thing in this slightly unconventional way ….. Let’s go!”.  Perhaps the owner of this pony  belongs to the same school of thought.  Alas, in this day and age of compartmentalised thought and health and safety regs, he was doomed to failure.

Anyway, a few days ago we had a rainbow out the back and I spent some minutes trying to get it all into one photo.

Big things, rainbows aren’t they.  Almost impossible to fit it all in – without a wide angle lens anyway and I haven’t got one of those.  Now I’m going to have some coffee and try and work out how to clean my camera’s innards.  I know it’s got dust in there but the first time I took it to the camera shop they charged me £10 to clean it.  The next time they charged £20.  Makes me wonder what it would be this time.  And I can’t help noticing that I’ve forgotten what the word is for the bit I need cleaning.  Words are dropping out of my head so fast these days I’m sure I’ve mislaid about half my vocabulary.  At least I assume that’s what’s happening – it could be that those words never existed and I’ve forgotten that.

On the subject of cameras, I’m wondering what is the average life of a modern DSLR .  All those little electronic bits.  People on Flickr are always upgrading their cameras it seems to me and I can’t help thinking it’s like a little computer.  One day it might just crash!   So I googled it.  Guess what, I’ve already taken more photos in a couple of years than most of the people on the forums expect to take in their camera’s life.  Says one bloke on a forum “do you really expect to take upward of a hundred photos a day for the next ten years?”  Well, on average, yes I do.  Camera keeps on batting away obediently.   But I might think about getting it serviced.

And since Spring is heading towards Summer here’s a splash of green

Now I’ve got to make peach, mozzarella and prosciutto salad.  Recipe over on the right somewhere!  (I really can’t work out how these pages fit in but at least over there it actually says recipes!)

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 8 Comments

Any one want a few empty mustard jars?

See, as I was enjoying the enormous pleasure of having someone else wrestling with our unruly garden while I  cleared out the larder, I came across a few little scraps of evidence that I am an inveterate hoarder.

For instance, the average spice jar set comes in sixes.  Ridiculous.  I have at least 60 different spices and herbs in my cupboard and larder (and nearly all of them in regular use I’ll have you know) so we began to collect empty mustard jars.  Trouble is we didn’t know when to stop.  And every so often I come across a little jar so pleasing in appearance that I can’t bear to throw it away.  (It was a terrible decision, when tiny kilner jars appeared in our local cook shop, not to buy two or three or ten just because they are soooooo dinky)

And then I’ve been suffering some anxiety about deforestation and cork forests and have found it hard to throw old corks away.  They must be good for something?  Surely?  There’s a bag of them somewhere – I’m not sure where.  And though I’m fairly diligent about re-using old carrier bags, somehow I seem to collect more and after we’ve used them for the bins and for all kinds of stuff there are still a large number of special ones that are useful for special purposes (really!) which are mounded in a box and spill out of a useful bag-holding bag and also live in a drawer upstairs and here and there around the house.

My trouble is I like quantity and quality (thus a few hundred thousand photos on external hard drives which would take many hours to sort through and discard).

Books!  did I mention books?  Best not.  (Why aren’t all walls designed as permanent bookshelves?)

So along with a lot of WPSBD*  foods, I had to decide what to do with a vast collection of empty mustard jars – 21 to be precise.  (If it wasn’t that I dislike the yellow lids I wouldn’t be able to throw them out at all)

Anyone want a few empty mustard jars?

While you’re thinking about that I have to go and play with assemble a chest of drawers upstairs to contain a few dozen silk shirts and chenille jumpers which I can’t quite bear to throw out.  Yet.  Next year maybe.  (How can anyone discard the sensation of handling silk, the sensual pleasure of its glorious vivid colours?)

This is my planting plan – so far.  Of course, not all these plants will be flowering at once (shame that) and it’s quite possible that my friend the gardener may suggest some changes, though we’ve already agreed on some of these plants and quite a few old residents weren’t taken out after the amazing clear-out that she’s already done.  And the violets aren’t there because I forgot them but violets will sneak in anyway I’m sure.  It’s a thing they often do.

OMG!  She’s not coming back till next week – can I wait that long?

*Well Past Sell By Date.

May 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 15 Comments

animals, eyes,

To see or not to see …..  (Well, approximately to see anyway)

Some time ago, Tosca (small, black and white, furry, feline and somewhere between wholly evil and totally enchanting) got something in her eye and after visiting an opthalmic cat surgeon had to have an operation, stitches (once) and eyedrops in her eye four times a day.  This involved whispering sweet nothings to her, cornering her in the bathroom, turning her upside down in my arms and delivering said drops to an area roughly covering three quarters of her cute little black and white face (with special attention to the green and furious bit).  There was wriggling, cursing, squirming and noisy complaint – sometimes even a bit of scratching and yelling.

Last week, Barney had a cataract removed from one eye. He too has to have eye drops four times a day.

He swears the eyelid has a mind of it’s own, since the minute I approach it with the dropper it closes firmly.  ” I can’t help it” he says, smiling sweetly.  Holding him upside down in my arms is not an option (he’s a big lad) and cursing, swearing and yelling would be taken badly (big and sensitive).  And yesterday I realised that perhaps a triumphant “GOTCHA!” when I get a drop in the eye is also counterproductive.  So now I’m being polite and casual and not saying anything at all except “look over there a minute” and pointing vaguely at somewhere far above and behind him.

For the next three weeks, he’s confined to quarters, (well unless I’m prepared to take him somewhere) and must avoid dust and exertion.  He’s been juggling one new eye, one old one, one pair of specs and one eyepatch for several days now without quite arriving at a combination that allows reliable vision in any situation.  It’s going to be wonderful when the surgeon says he can go and get a pair of specs to match his new visual arrangement and even more wonderful if an appointment for the other cataract to be removed is arranged very soon!

Meanwhile I get a regular close up view of his exceptionally big, soft, brown eyes.  But no time to take pics – as soon as the drops are successfully dropped he does a lot of blinking and wiping – I don’t think he’d appreciate a request for a quick eye shot!

Anyway, yesterday, I took him to a stamp auction and while he was no doubt peering and swopping eyepatch and specs over stamps and getting lots of sympathy from all the aged and shortsighted stamp dealers, I visited a nearby reservoir.

Perhaps because of the polite eyelid wrestling match that preceded the trip, I made some spectacularly random decisions about f/stops and apertures and most of the photos I took came out white.   But not all.

Little boats!

(When I arrived all the boats had white sails and all were heading briskly, with the wind behind them, towards the sailing club.  By the time I was half way round the reservoir, a whole new lot were out there with red sails.  Much better!  I waited a bit but no new flocks of purple, blue or green sails replaced the red ones.  No matter.  Red is fine)

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 7 Comments

Dorchester Abbey and Bradfield May Fayre

Look here!  Didn’t the architect realise how obtrusive these long black doorhandles would be for a photographer?


I just had to get rid of them so now I’m afraid you can’t get into Dorchester Abbey any more.  And I suppose the two ladies who were arranging flowers are stuck inside too.

On the other hand I’m not responsible for the very small children climbing up Steve’s head at Bradfield May Fayre.

You might wonder about the big green bundle in the trees.  Also not mine – somebody threw it there.  There’s a bundle throwing competition going on overhead – man with pitchfork on one side, big bar on some poles the other.  Barney did quite respectably but his bundle fell short about four before the final winner.

Could have been something to do with the very small children just above his head?

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 9 Comments

pages … er, pages?

Well Word Press says this theme supports pages.  So I added one and couldn’t find it.  I added it a different way and eventually found it somewhere near the bottom on the right.  Best I can do.

Baffled really.

Anyway, the point is I’ve added a recipes page. It’s somewhere on the right underneath tags.  I’m not sure if I dare delete the ‘about’ page, which certainly doesn’t have any recipes in it, in case it vanishes from the top.  What I don’t understand is why doesn’t the recipe page appear at the top?

How about this for a nice little bit of garlic?

Roasted up lovely it did!

Update:  Oh!  so now it suddenly appears at the top!  After I’ve been faffing about for days.  Why?

Update clarification :  No it doesn’t say recipes at the top it says ‘food and water. Fish’  I obviously haven’t nested things properly.

May 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Ruffled – deleted

Never publish a post when your feathers have been rubbed the wrong way until you’ve taken an hour or so to reconsider and improve the grammar and spelling.

So I deleted one and now I can’t remember what I was ranting on about.  So that’s good.

Tuesday was a grandbaby minding practice day.  Mum and dad went shopping and out for lunch and me and NGB had a very good time.  She doesn’t mind Grandma playing with her or feeding her or putting her down for a nap or getting her up later.  She doesn’t mind Grandma taking her in the pram to the bead shop down the road.   All of this she takes in with wide eyed wonder and thoughtful consideration and many giggles.   Looks like the baby minding will be going ahead when Mum goes back to work.  (Only two mornings a week though – one can have too much of a good thing).

Not only is it the first time Grandma and NGB have been left alone together for more than half an hour, it’s only the second time Mum and Dad have been out without her.  We are a success.

Other successes too.  Yesterday (I really must post this before all my yesterdays have to changed into the days before or even the days before that) My friend, the gardener came over and spent a wonderfully productive three hours  rediscovering for me, the area under the sitting room window.  She’s done an impressive job and I can see that given some more time there will once again be a flower bed there.  It was the final demise of a fairly ancient Rosemary bush that pushed me to getting something done about it but I’m absolutely delighted that I finally overcame a deep reluctance to either risk knees, back and sanity over it or to admit something between laziness and defeat and get someone else to do it for me.

However, the sight of someone clearing out wildly overproductive stuff and creating space drove me to the larder. So while  space and light appeared in the garden, I spent a happy three hours ruthlessly  throwing out ‘past-sell-by’ tins and packages, washing jars and rearranging shelving so that now you can walk into the larder and see things in their places!  (Which I have been doing compulsively all day today)



Oops! It’s about to rain on my washing!  Must run!

See that big black cloud in the top right corner?

May 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ready for collection

I’m waiting to go and collect Barney from the local hospital.  He’s had (or is having or will very shortly have) one of his cataracts fixed and, lucky man, should be coming home with one new eye.  Do you want your new, perfect vision to be distant, middle or near?  they asked.  I mean, what a choice!  I am envious, except that he’s had to put up with the thing developing to it’s proper ripeness for a longish time now and I suppose that’s payment up front.  As soon as this one is done and dusted they will offer him an appointment to get the other one done too.  Times have changed eh!

Aha!  The phone rings and I am told that he’s having his tea and biscuits and is ready for collection.   As I leave the house, I pass the rubbish men and weave my way past the bins which are also ready for collection.  And when I get to the hospital I am parked next to a car offering ‘baby rabbits for sale – ready for collection now’.   As Barney had to be delivered to the hospital quite early, my mind is not at it’s clearest and it’s something of a relief to see that, though somewhat obscured behind a large eyepatch, Barney hasn’t grown rabbit ears and is dressed as I left him, not in a black plastic bag.

Do fish dream of Spring?

Dreaming ponds

Day-dreaming ponds

Must be time for bed.


May 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

An ancient Wake and a Modern Mariner

I’m reading Hereward The Wake by Charles Kingsley.  At various times recently we’ve been through places with names which I rather think feature in this book which I read as a child and found alternately tedious and exciting.  Reading the foreword this time I laughed because it goes into considerable detail about how badly written the novel is.  Well, I can see what he means – there really is a lot of wordy and not very exciting historical detail and more footnotes than even I could be bothered to make.  Still, I’m perspiring persisting over it.  Just because.

Recently, however, I enjoyed a book which is completely gripping from start to finish.  It was given to Barney as a thank you for spending a bit of time teaching the author how to make walking sticks so we are considerably priviledged to have seen it before the rest of you can.

The author is Nick Hayes and it’s a graphic novel, inspired by Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.   I won’t say any more – in this review, Nick’s own commentary tells you about it better than I can and there’s a taste of what it’s like as well.  Due out soon – I bet it takes off like hot cakes.  Um.  Well.  Not my best mixed metaphor.

Back in the real world it’s finally raining.  Before it rained I visited the old Bucklebury fishponds.  I believe they were made by the Benedictine monks of Reading in the 12th Century.  Only two of the seven are on public land though I have seen the others when we played for a barn dance at Bucklebury House.  Anyway, two recent visits gave me a morning with a high bright sun and an evening with a low warm one.  Extraordinary how the light can change a place almost beyond recognition.

First glimpse

And a fisherman

It’s a dreamy place in the evening

I’m very grateful to the monks.  I bet they found opportunities to meditate here – well they must have sat around fishing quite a lot don’t you think?  Perhaps my fisherman was the ghost of a monk.

May 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 6 Comments

Ikea me do

A week or so ago I went to Ikea.  Somehow I forgot to mention it at the time – odd because Ikea is not a forgettable experience.  Nor is it any of;  fun, entertaining, enjoyable, pleasurable, inexpensive.  Oh, yes the goods are remarkably inexpensive but along with the musack and the airless, moistureless and soundless atmosphere, there’s a kind of hypnotic compulsion to buy things there.  It invariably costs more than one had planned.

You swim along the tides of Ikea users, following the slightly tatty arrows on the floor because if you step off the imaginary conveyor belt you risk getting into a loop which will wind you round and round for ever and ever through dining rooms , chairs and kitchens with no escape but back to somewhere near the beginning.

Also, as you perambulate, whether or not you stick to the arrows, you pick things up.  Myself, I never remember doing it but without doubt, by the time I have arrived at the restaurant, thirsty and somewhat overwound, I seem to have a trolley with things in it.   Also, I always seem to have an incomprehensible list of items I still have to choose one of after I’ve entered the giant self service warehouse bit.  But though I have written copious information, I haven’t chosen – just added new possibilities to a list I brought with me.  And there’s still the market hall to negotiate.

Oh well, I brought home a flatpack, a glass, some other fairly useful things and two new kitchen knives.  I don’t need them but they really were beautifully sharp and elegant and balanced and are already showing off to the other knives – even the Japanese layered steel ones are failing to show their metal by comparison.  And the flatpack will open and unfold into a useful piece of stuff which will replace a heap of cardboard boxes and faux filing shelves.  Once I’ve got down to it that is.  Down on the knees those are.  Those knees which have got fatter and stiffer since I last Ikea-d myself into this situation.  See, I rather like Ikea flatpacks.  They always work and as long has you view the diagrams from the same viewpoint as the bits you are putting together they usually make sense.   Just, you really need to get down to it, on the floor, on the knees.

Speaking of knees…..

…..this could turn out to be a problem with new Grandbaby minding too.  I haven’t forgotten how to change a nappy but I had forgotten how much of the process is managed from a semi-kneeling position.  I had a bit of a practice the other day.  Fortunately, todays’ nappies work more efficiently than the earlier versions or I might still be on the floor with NGB.  She on the other hand seemed to be enjoying the whole business inordinately.  There was a good deal of chuckling, wriggling and wide-eyed interest. I’m told she really likes me which is, of course, good though I suspect a bit of useful flattery going on there.

It thundered tonight and is now fresh and damp out there.  But on the way home from baby minding, it was hot and windy and glorious with evening sun.  Nice  : )

Hope your knees are bearing up!

May 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments