Life, photos but not the universe

Sad Beachboys and too many cars.

The other night, Barney got the iPlayer working on our new(ish) TV and settled down happily to watch the Beachboys.  After a while, I left.  I quite liked the Beachboys in the days of my youth – great boppy stuff and lots of  nice teenage yearning.  Lovely tight harmony.  Sadly, they didn’t really have it any more.  No longer light, tight or bright and often not in tune.

Oh well.

Meanwhile, I’m in between cars.  Mine acquired a mysterious dent and scratch a while ago and after muttering a lot I rang the insurance company and got repairs organised.  In due course, an estimate was done and then the car was swapped for a courtesy car and disappeared.  In a further bit of due course, I was given an estimated completion date, of today and the wherewithal to look up its progress on line.   Last night it was 98% ready but today it was only 95% ready.  (You get a nice little diagram of a car which fills up with grey to show how ready it is.  Apparently only the front bumper and headlights remain unfinished which is odd since the dent was on the nearside rear wheel arch).  Anxious to get the courtesy car full of petrol and cleaned up before they came to swap back, I rang them and asked what time mine would be coming back.  Oh they’ll ring when it’s done and arrange a collection/delivery time/date they said.  No clue!

Well in case they did it today, I decided to fill up and get it clean. Then I went everywhere clutching the phone so I wouldn’t miss the call (and driving on eggshells to avoid bumps and puddles and er, egg, obviously).  The call didn’t come.  Well they can bring mine back tomorrow morning if they like?  If not, I might resort to driving Barney’s little fireball all weekend since I certainly don’t want to do all that cleaning and filling again.  Also, I can’t smoke or snack in the courtesy car and it has no power up hills.  Too heavy for its engine.

Oh well, I can have fun whizzing down to Wiltshire in the little car.  I won’t be stopping on steep hillsides and shoving it into hedges and gateways to take pics so I won’t feel inhibited.  And I do like all that growling and snorting it does when you floor the accelerator to make it change down.  (Though to be honest, I don’t drive it very fast because it’s so little and low that it feels about twice as fast as it really is.)

Anyway, here is some more early Wiltshire morning.  (Witchery? asked spell check.  Oh yes.)


Oh, I need to make up a bed!  Very exciting, Z is coming to stay!  And I shall see Ziggi too.  Lots of Z’s and igs.  I hope we don’t get confused!

September 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments


Reminds me of that Halifax (?) advert.  I rather liked it, don’t ask me why.  Ooh, I just looked it up on You Tube, to check that it was the Halifax and not some other bank (because adverts often don’t make me remember brand names), and inevitably found myself drawn to the comments.  Wow!  People do get wound up about adverts don’t they.  (Food for thought there.*)

Well it’s tonic to which I am referring.  Iso, hypo and hypertonic sports drinks.  Barney suffers from cramp (noisy, leaping out of bed at 4 in the morning and yelling in agony sort of cramp, not just the toe curling kind.) and over many years we discovered that the best preventative was Lucozade powder – purchased in big tubs and mixed up into big bottles of drink.  Much cheaper than rehydration sachets from Boots which have to be made up one drink at a time.  But, of course, Lucozade don’t make this any more.  Well it was relatively cheap so obviously they stopped selling it in favour of expensive individual bottles which aren’t nearly big enough to supply appropriate fluids for a working man for a whole day.  So I’ve been searching online and clearly, no one makes it as a powder any more**.  And yes you can make up a mixture with fruit juice and salt and sugar but that actually doesn’t do the job.  You need those  minerals and electrolytes and salt and stuff.  At one time, we were recommended tonic water for its quinine content.  Apart from the unappetising nature of tonic water at bedtime, it turned out that Barney would have needed to consume several gallons of tonic daily to obtain enough quinine to have any useful effect***.

Back to Boots then.  Actually, I’m just wondering if the NHS could be persuaded to pay for rehydration sachets?

I duly attended my dexter scan for bone density and it seems the scan showed average bone density.  Not osteoporosis then.  Ah, but it also showed some very dense bones and some very, er, thin? bones.  So the average might be comfortable, like a man with his head in the oven and his feet in the fridge.  The upshot is, I may have osteoporosis or I may not.  (When have I heard that before?  Oh, last week.).

Mr Alexander beckons (see previous post).  But I’ll see how the doctor interprets the average of my density before shelling out on lessons.  Fortunately no one  was interested in the density of my brain cell.

And here are some photos.

Sunrise, Sunset ….

Sun rising some more.

Meanwhile, after the sudden onset of an Autumnal chill of nights, it seems to be settling down to rain a bit with howling gales.  I suppose Autumn was inevitable and it will bring gold and orange leaves and early sunsets and late sunrises, so I’m not complaining.****  Oh and the green bin will stop becoming a haven for breeding flies as well which is a big plus.  (A fortnight is too long to leave bags of leftover food outside in the sun!)

Ooops!  I need to get moving.  Journeys to do, grandchild to mind, breakfast and coffee needed first!  Oh!  and the sun is coming out!  Wow!

*Mind, I could easily get quite irrational about Go Compare and those loathsomely cute Meerkats.  

**You can get the ones with lots of carbohydrate but they do a different job.  

***This also applies if you’re thinking of travelling to a malarial country.  Not only the cost but the time required to drink enough tonic to protect you from malaria would be prohibitive.

****I know – evenings drawing in as well.  I probably shan’t like that much but at least there are compensations.

September 26, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

I’m a little bit out of sorts

Since emerging from the space washing machine thingie* I’ve been given lots of appointments and letters, all amounting to not very much – so far.  It’s taken me twenty years to get round to whinging at the Doctors about my back because of a guilty feeling that it was all my fault – something to do with Mum and Dad making me stand with my back pressed against the wall when I was little (because I slouched dreadfully – even then), which didn’t improve my posture at all but felt like a punishment! **

The short of it is, I might have osteoporosis, I might have some compression fractures in my spine and I might need to be taking some tablets for it or, I might just have wear and tear and a bent spine.

I’ve seen a consultant, several doctors, a spinal assessment physiotherapist and a regular physiotherapist.  Oh and I’ve had an MRI scan and an Xray.

I now have two appointments for a bone density scan (slight crossing of lines there between some of the above but I only need to attend one of them).  I also have an open ended arrangement to attend physio if I need to after they’ve decided whether I’ve got anything and what they plan to do about it.  And I must say, lots of people have plenty to complain about but I’m quite impressed with the NHS so far.  The letters and appointments keep coming, quite quickly and they’ve all been very helpful and thoughtful.  There’s a change in the way they approach people these days it seems to me – they actually believe you when you say there’s something wrong and look for it.  Or maybe the change is in me!

Still, it’s quite possible that after they’ve done all the scans and tests they might say, sorry, there’s nothing we can do – it’s all your fault!  So, while I’m waiting for all these people to give me information, I looked up all the Alexander Technique*** teachers in the area and blow me if there aren’t three just down the road from where Mrs Middle lives.  And one of them, who seems to have extremely good posture himself****, only charges £20 a session.  So that’s going to be my next line of attack especially if they decide it’s just wear and tear.  After all, I’ve put up with it for a long time but now I’ve made a stand I might as well try everything.

Anyway, a good laugh cures all.  I was idly reading the Radio Times this morning and in an article about One man and his Dog was astonished to learn that “…the modern pentathlon (shooting, fencing, swimming, running and show jumping) is designed to reflect the average commuter’s daily journey to work.”  A delightful, pythonesque vision floated through my head of commuters thundering by on their horses, leaping traffic jams, whisking foils from their umbrellas and briefcases as they approach queues before plunging into the Thames under fire from snipers and finally, running triumphant, through the doors of their places of work.  A case of computer game overdose maybe?

Last week, I stopped on the way home from Oxford and caught a bit of evening light

And ages ago, I went for a not quite early enough walk in the woods.

though if the sun had been much lower there wouldn’t have been shadows like these

And maybe the cat wouldn’t have been up yet.

Tomorrow I plan to go off for another early morning trip.  Perhaps this time I’ll see windows and sarsen stones.

Oh, well actually, tomorrow I’m going to have my bones scanned and coffee with Tim, guitarist and banker extraordinaire.  I already did the early morning and it was pretty good, though too early for sarsen stones – more of that another day.

*MRI scan.

**I’ve always been contrary.  The mere suggestion that I ought to do something causes a whole story, of how and why I probably won’t do it, to flit through my head.

***I’ve had Alexander technique lessons before and they were rather nice and quite effective.  Unfortunately it also used to be very expensive and my teacher (who charged a tiny amount because he didn’t need to make a living from it and just wanted to teach) moved away.  

****Nice photo on his website : )

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

I don’t seem to be having any thoughts

At least, not memorable ones.  Could be something to do with having got up so early last week.  It’s not that I don’t like mornings, just that I also like being snuggled up in bed and tend to take the path of least resistance when faced with decisions.

Anyway I did get up early last week and here’s the proof.

Half way up a hillside; look one way and the sun is definitely up, look another way and it obviously felt just like me this morning, tucked in behind the cloud.

September 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The internet

Oh dear  Every lazy choice we make on the internet coming home to roost.

Well I don’t know what we thought would happen.  I mean what do you expect if you allow algorithms to make choices for you!  And why don’t the spam algorithms do the same thing?  But perhaps that wouldn’t be such a good idea either.

On the other hand, I’ve just discovered that there’s a TED app.  The internet takes away on one hand (algorithm) and gives with another.

Well the book present (see last post) went down very well and Mr Youngest revealed to collective astonishment that he’s never even heard of Swallows and Amazons.  He’s going to read it after Gorgeous Babe has read it and then Youngest is going to re-read it as well.  I foresee a certain amount of contention arising around Titty.*

I had a brilliant afternoon last week; I had lunch with a lovely friend and it was sunny and I saw three churches and a white horse.  The horse is about 200 years old, one of the churches is Saxon, one is Norman and the other is – I dont know.  It’s not on any of the lists of churches I’ve looked at and unfortunately, assuming that I’d easily be able to Google it, I didn’t note down its name.  (Or photograph it’s notice board which I didn’t see. When I’m taking photos, I forget that people might want to know stuff like the name of a church and its history but I usually just take a quick snap of  the notice board so that I can look up the church later).   And the hamlet  in which it lives, doesn’t appear to have a name either though it might be part of Fyfield.

I have a habit of turning to churches if I can’t get a good photo of the landscape.  Even if the light is sad, a church will nearly always make a point, designed as they mostly are, to make a link between heaven and earth, so they are forgiving about light.  Also, wherever you are in the English countryside, there’s usually a church round a corner nearby.  On this occasion, round two corners, about a hundred yards away from each other. I would love to know why the Norman church is redundant though it’s bigger and more church shaped than the tiny, barn-like Saxon one.  And why the Normans built a new one instead of  extending the existing Saxon one.  Perhaps they didn’t like to use the older buildings and there are loads of Saxon and Norman pairs standing next to each other all over the country.  Actually, when I was trying to find out about the third, unidentifiable church, I kept getting links to another one about a mile away which makes me thinks that Wiltshire must be extra well supplied with churches.  Anyway, having used the churches to satisfy the need to take any old photo, I feel I owe it to them to go back and look at them at a better time of day (after lunch is a bit late – or early – for pretty light) and I might as well revisit the horse while I’m there.  And have a look at the other church as well, why not?

Meanwhile, some snaps.

In a slightly random order.

Anyway, inspired by the weather and the churches and the horse I got myself up unbelievably early on Friday and drove through mist and fog and sunrise to have another look, worrying all the time that I’d left it too late and all the enticing misty light would have burned away by the time I got there.  Not a bit of it.  I rolled over the hilltop and down towards the two villages of Alton Barnes and Priors, into a heavy, dark mist.  The horse was completely shrouded and the churches were mostly invisible.  I hung around on the hilltop for ages, getting wet feet and muddy shoes but the time came to return and the sun only peeped over the top of the clouds without ever reaching the valley.  Well probably it did, an hour or two after I’d given up and gone back for a hair cut.

Ah!  I’ve found the third church.  It’s St Nicholas’ church in Lower Fyfield.  And it’s a listed building.  I’ve discovered a lot of instantly forgettable information abut it’s structure and materials but not much else about it.  Also, to my astonishment and chagrin, I discovered that there are Laurence Whistler windows in the the Saxon church.  I must have walked straight past them without noticing which says a lot about how observant I am!  And in the Norman church, there are two trapdoors with sarsen stones underneath them.  No, I didn’t notice them either.

Well that means I’ll need to go back again early in the morning and hang around till the sun is high to get a good look at the sarsen stones underneath the Norman church and the Whistler windows.    Oh well, it’s a lovely drive along the Kennet Valley and through Savernake Forest before turning off and climbing up over the Downs.

*For those of you who haven’t read it because you’re so young**, Titty is the name of a small girl in the story.  I’m not sure if I ever knew what it was short for.

**If you haven’t read it for some other reason, the above is still true.

September 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments


Just now, I glanced idly at an email (unsolicited of course) which included the following piece of – sort of – writing.  “The Microsoft account formerly known as Windows Live ID is the credentials you will use to authenticate with our network“.  Is/are they/it indeed?  And will I?

After reading that I deleted the email.  Say no more.  I’ll leave the title, as I am having a lot of trouble these days thinking of titles.  Sorry if you thought you were going to get a complete diatribe.  I’m fresh out of complete.

Next week, our older Granddaughter is having a birthday and, as you do, I asked Youngest (her Mum) what she would like.  No ideas, apparently there is nothing she wants.  A very mature young person.  Anyway, Youngest suggested books similar to her current favourite authors’ only she couldn’t actually suggest any titles.  So I went and pondered deeply and enjoyed dipping into several books and then decided that I couldn’t possibly guess which books might be like the preferred ones and briskly selected 101 Dalmations, Swallows and Amazons and The Silver Brumby.  I am turning into my Father (who made a habit of introducing me to the desperately outdated classics that he loved as a small boy fifty years before I was born*).  Anyway, I loved Coral Island and Cormorant Crag even though my peers had never heard of them (most of them didn’t read real books anyway) so maybe Gorgeous Babe (the older) will love the above mentioned too.  Then I bought her a couple of very sparkly and colorful hair clips  because I well remember the awful sense of let down when the Aged Aunties bought me bath salts which smelled er, well they smelled.  I’m quite sure they thought, and my Dad thought too, that these were wonderful gifts because those are what they would have loved when they were small**.  On the other hand a good book is a good book however old you are?***

Thinking on, I remember when I was about ten, Mum and Dad gave me an antique silver hair brush set, because they thought I might be old enough to appreciate it.  Not as much as I would a pony, a dog, the latest Monica Edwards book,  a hula hoop, roller skates, or a rope ladder.  This was the year when I learned not to say “but if it’s that expensive and valuable, you could have bought me a pony, a dog, all the Monica Edwards’ books and a small hula hoop.  Why a hair brush set?”  And I did begin to wonder how one might convey precise requirements to misguided parents!

Moving rapidly back to present, this afternoon we were treated to a pole dancing display.  The daughter of two of our friends is a sports physiotherapist and runs a fitness and beauty centre.   Naturally, she teaches pole dancing.  Well, it was a birthday and the pole dancers were planning a photo-shoot and early in the day it looked like being a good barbecue afternoon so we were invited to eat, drink and watch pole dancing.

I suppose I can see why she teaches it along with fitness.

*I really can’t work out where to put a comma which will make it quite impossible for you to think that he gave me the books fifty years before I was born.  I rely on your common sense and maybe even, no comma is required.

**Alternatively, as with notelets, which the Aunties always gave me for Christmas, there was a message in the present.  I’ve only just thought of that and it’s true, I didn’t love baths when I was 10 to 15 years old.

***Please say yes.  I’m sure it’s true isn’t it?

September 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments


Wiltshire is a stunningly beautiful county isn’t it?  Marvelous rolling hills topped with neat little loaf-like copses

and liberally splattered with white chalk horses.  I think I passed four the other week.

There’s one just beyond the people on the right – you can see the horses from the road, miles away, but not often from a convenient parking place and hardly at all if you go right up close to them.

So I was just wondering (since the majority consensus is that most probably they weren’t made by aliens in space ships or visitors from the future) how they made those horses long long ago.  Nowadays, you could make a good stab at it by having one person down in the valley a mile away with a mobile phone, saying “left a bit, down a bit, just make the left hock a bit bigger – no no – at the back – more pointy – take half a dozens steps left and  dig there – ” etc.  Well perhaps they did it with a kind of semaphore?  Or whistles?  Or maybe they made a template (like an embroidery pattern) and scaled it up with a digger for each square.  After all they did lots of  weaving?  Ah!  Perhaps they made a little horse and then just added to it all the way round till it became a big one.  With occasional trips to the bottom of the hill to see if it was going alright.

Last night I had a very pleasant session of unwise self-indulgence.  It all started with Barney coming back from a stamp fair and us playing with his iphone.  He practised using his new apple ID and we worked out how to use whatsapp and then disovered the met office app and played with that for a bit.  Then he went to bed and I got quite involved – I downloaded soundhound, sky view (amazing), light meter (possibly useful), wild forager (well you never know, I might need to eat out one day), pocket wine (and then I had a couple of drinks because it seemed appropriate), kitchen calculator (disappointing – it doesn’t convert from ounces to ml), and Jamie Oliver’s 20 minute meals.*

Then I wandered around metering light and looking at what ought to be in the sky – Sky view is brilliant.  If you point the iphone in any direction, it shows you what ought to be up there, or down there if it’s on the other side of the world.  Then I read two or three recipes and got the munchies (as you do after two glasses of midnight wine) and ate several slices of bread and taramasalata and finished off a jar of marinated herrings.  Then I looked up herring marinating recipes (I’ve never forgotten eating Dutch Maatjies –  Oh Oops no, I mean Maatjesharing in a square in Amsterdam years and years ago).

This morning I overslept.

And now, I think I’m going to go and buy a monitor.  The bright blue square in the centre of the screen, suggesting that I press ‘menu’ to exit, is lying.  No exit.  And the blue doesn’t go with anything.  Also, of course, it means  I can’t see whatever is behind it which is not good if what I’m looking at fits just in the screen – nowhere to scroll.

Oh.  I started writing this post, oh, a good couple of weeks ago.  The monitor story got a bit out of sync.  Never mind, if you’re interested, here is the missing bit.  and if you’re not, well I don’t blame you!

*I thought these would be useful to have on the boat.  I have a reliable recipe for rice but you need exactly 8 ounces of rice to 16 ml of stock and there are no scales on the boat.  And twenty minute recipes – that sounds useful?

September 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments