Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Picture Book

This morning was a new day.  The sun was shining and having not slept much for a couple of days I spent much of the morning like a zombie. 

I decided to take Boots on a local walk we haven’t done for a while which counts as vaguely different without having to use the car. We went up the towpath down the little lane to the left of the Boat Inn, up and over the fields then down onto the off-side towpath up to Shipton Church, over the bridge and down the other side of the canal on the towpath home. It was lovely. The snow drops were out:


and the Good Doctor had a duck on the roof of her boat staring incredulously down the canal at the walker and the dog staring back -  Spring MUST be coming.


The sun was shining and the fishermen were just setting up as I disappeared off under blue skies on my motorbike. 


When I came back it was tipping it down with rain and it doesn’t seem to want to stop.



I LOVE pancakes. I make them with Rye Flour, Buckwheat flour or Spelt flour. This has GOT to be the best recipe ever… much much better than the usual guescipe I usually do. I eat mine with butter and sugar.

Theatre in the Dock July 21-24th

I have looked up the website of Debs Newbold who is going to be at this event in Banbury this summer.  The website really wetted my appetite and it is definitely something for my diary!

It looks as though the weekend is going to be a tremendous amount of fun with a variety of music, theatre and story telling and there is something for the kids too - Muddy Waters will be there!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Interesting vandalism...

I haven't seen a message put forward this way. I was surprised at this unique number plate until I realised it was a sticker making a point. It certainly caught my eye when I was walking the streets of London.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kirby Hall

This mound is the location of where the village church of the lost village of Kirby stood. It now stands close to Kirby Hall. From it you can view the ordered gardens of Kirby and paint flowers in the minds eye upon the rising ground stretching away from the house known as the wilderness garden.


Kirby Hall is now a semi-ruin owned by the Earl of Winchilsea under management of English Heritage. I always get an earphone guide from the English Heritage and once again I wasn’t disappointed.DSC08391

DSC08403 DSC08399 DSC08395 



you can read about how it is one of England’s greatest Elizabethan and 17th Century houses here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dear Granny and Grandpa

I am very sorry to report that one of our deer has died. It got run over by a train. To be honest I wasn’t too bothered because it meant I could clear up the mess. It was a bit hard to carry so I had to eat some of it.  It was very tiring, but I eventually managed to make it light enough to carry up into the field where it was a bit quieter.

I could never have predicted what happened next – Mum was insanely jealous and wanted to share. She put her FOOT on it so I backed off. She suggested I could eat some (she probably wanted to put me onto the lead) but we don’t do sharing. I wanted it  ALL TO MYSELF and she wanted it ALL TO HERSELF.

It was mine Granny. I risked life and limb to get it off the track and up the slope not her.

Mum made such a fuss I eventually decided to give up on the whole thing and let her put me on the lead to take me home. I am very tired and very fed up.

In the evening we went to the pub for tea. Mum wasn’t so keen to share then was she.

I was having a nice snooze on the floor when some apple and blackberry crumble arrived:

Better check… yep. I could share that.


plaintive look:IMAG0404 

OMG it has just got better it has got CUSTARD on it…




Lots of Empty of Crumble Love


I hadn’t expected that!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Theatre in the Dock: Banbury 21 – 24th July 2011

4 days of theatre, storytelling and fun in the Tooley’s dry dock in Banbury is not to be missed. You can read about it on their Facebook page here and here. Where it says, amongst other things, this:

“Tooley's is one of the oldest dry docks on the inland waterways. 2011 will be the third year we have brought a stage, lighting, actors and YOU into the dock instead of a boat. But we won't be painting your underside, we will be entertaining you with the best that local and waterways theatre can offer”

I understand that there will be a website coming soon too.. here

Sight hounds – not for the faint hearted

Boots was in a funny mood this morning as we walked up the field in the pouring rain. He was looking very sprightly as we sauntered up towards the railway bridge and then all of a sudden he was gone. He leapt through the wooden fence to stop people going down onto the track and disappeared. I wasn’t too happy but I was delighted when he came running back to me.  I was pleasantly surprised at this uncharacteristic display of promptness to my commands and just as I was about to congratulate him and put him back on his lead he darted past me and down the other side of the track.

I stood on the bridge watching my delightful hound looking quite settled in the middle of tracks, between the rails, snacking on a deer. This is a main line railway.

I called, whooped, hollered, skipped, flapped my arms around like a lunatic but there was no way I could possibly make myself and what I was doing remotely more interesting than what he was doing. So I waited. I was quite worried for a split second, but then as I stood watching I decided it would be O.K. and if it wasn’t, it was one of those things. I stood and watched waiting to see if a train would arrive.  I decided looking over the bridge was not a good move so I stood in the hedge on the side that was safest for Boots to make his escape should he remember that he had a walking companion and I watched.

I waited.

Experience tells me that breakfast can take quite a while and in that time a train was bound to come. Endless images flashed through my mind – of which I will spare you the details.

After a while I was astonished to see Boots stand up, pick the deer up and put it to the safe side of the track. There he settled down once again to munch but in total safety of the on coming train which promptly went hurtling past him. He must have heard it down the rails.

The train did not impress my dear hound so he dragged the deer up the embankment to the field where I was now dripping wet looking on in exasperation. Fortunately the deer was quite long and I was able to get close enough to the opposite end that Boots was eating and put my foot on it. Boots unable to drag the deer away started to circle me scowling and never quite coming close enough for me to get hold of his collar. I was quite prepared to share the deer but he simply wasn’t going to share. It was to be ALL his.

Boots isn’t as dumb as I look and he began to sniff the flowers, clearly trying to distract me; sauntering around as if to say ‘didn’t want the deer anyway’.  I started to edge away towards him in an ever increasing circle getting further and further away from the deer. Once he thought it was safe he made a dash for his prey, as would I, and there would be dog and human legs flapping through the grass with my coat trailing in the wind until we both arrived at the deer. I would arrive staring at Boots because he was too far away to catch, and Boots would stare at me because I had my foot on his breakfast and the stand off would began again.

This could have gone on for hours. It gently dawned on me I was going to have to do something to make some progress for home so I could go to work. So, I picked up the leg end of the deer and walked it through the fields with Boots trailing behind me. Fortunately no-one saw us because I can’t imagine what they would have thought with me in my long coat and hat with a deer trailing behind me and a dog trailing behind that.

Eventually Boots gave in and sat on command and let me clip the lead on; the look on his face was a picture.

I did lead him to the deer so he could have a bit more breakfast but he wouldn’t touch it. He just gave me an accusing look of ‘would you eat your breakfast if I had put my foot in it?’ and walked in the opposite direction.

He has been sulking ever since.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Long Musical Ramblings

I have noticed something quite a lot and that is the way many of my friends go week at the knees at a new music Album. This months ‘rage’ is Adele 21. 

I had heard it mentioned a few times and knowing our Accounts Office had a youngster who seemed up to date with the world I decided to ask her about it. OOoh she said It is AMAZING and before I knew what was happening I was listening to a YouTube clip from Adele 19 (her previous Album). I think I can safely say Adele can sing. When Adele 21 arrived it was in my pigeon hole for me to listen to.  I wasn’t taken the lyrics  seemed full of teenage angst.  I can live with that, the lass in accounts is, after all, a teenager. The problem is that the people who mentioned it in the first place are not teenagers. Not even on the inside. So. What is music/song/lyric?

I understand the idea of loving particular tunes. I have several I just love and at one time I couldn’t get enough of because they tell a story. They tell a story that is not known to anyone else and although they sing the words of my mind, they also capture the moment they captured my mind – the environment that only I am privy to.

Music is powerful, and always has been with me.  Sometimes music invades ones privacy.

The lyrics ‘Killing me softly’ sum it up:

Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Singing my life with his words,
Killing me softly with his song,
Killing me softly with his song,
Telling my whole life with his words,
Killing me softly with his song.

but only if you let it.

The first time I listened to Adele 21 I found it rather depressing.  Lyrics combined with matched music reach into ones soul, ones being, ones life and take away the privacy you thought was only yours; takes one down a path one thought would never have to be trod again.

but only if you let it.

So I have been listening to Adele 21 a lot. Finally I can understand why people love it so much. The music and lyrics fit and even if it isn’t your own thing, it can tell any story you want it to. The music takes you where YOU want it to… but it hasn’t been easy switching from one mindset to another.

Music can take you anywhere. I have always found it strange that humans sing, enjoy singing, and that singing is so delicate, so precious. So different to talking. To sing is special. It always has been.

This morning as I was listening to Adele I was wondering why people love it so much. Adele is living life but she has an avenue through which to express it – song. Through that she sets herself and others ‘free’. A song can be related to on so many different levels; perhaps that is why it is so powerful. So many of us need an avenue to express ourselves. Singing is safe if you can do it well.  It gives one privacy; it’s the song, not you that tells the story.

A singer can sing out their misery, a painter can paint out their emptiness, but what about the likes of you and me? Where is our avenue, our outlet. For me it is loneliness, the wind in my hair, but without my friends I wouldn’t be anywhere.

My tunes from long ago (the ones I will write here anyway)!

Hell – TigerLillies

Four Stone Walls – Capercaille

Cruelty – Watercress

Bruised Orange – John Prine

Logical Song – Supertramp

Where is the love - Black Eyed Peas

Feeling Good – Nina Simone

Marche Salve – Tchaikovsky

Hailie’s song – Eminem

Haunted – Poe

Wild Wood – Paul Weller


In the end – Linkin Park

Faint – Linkin Park

Actually, Linkin Park is one of the few bands where the whole album has walked a road with me.

What I like about music is that each one of these tells a story. It is the music and lyrics that capture me, not the artist. When a friend said when I was a child ‘listen to the words’ my appreciation of music, the chords, the lyrics and the two together were transformed. It seems today my appreciation has taken another step.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A devilish Billy Goat?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Nene - Wadenhoe

My friend not only recommended that I visit Fotheringhay but also Wadenhoe. so Boots and I took a stroll around the village. On the way we crossed the Nene, a backwater and a wooded area. It was stunningly beautiful


In Wadenhoe the Nene stretched out ahead of me and disappeared into the distance. It was like an invitation to the unknown to follow into the mist. It was beautiful, calm and quiet. I sat for quite a while.


Can you see the rabbit?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Afternoon: Fotheringhay

I took a trip out to Fotheringhay this afternoon.

crouching down looking up along a grave stone pointing to the sky is beautiful, especially with these tall Celtic crosses which lie so low beneath the cloudy sky; lying down makes them tall unproportionally taller than the other stones.  The sky behind this one looks rather delicious.

DSC08342 IMAG0350_1

Another favourite of mine is lying on the floor in a church…particularly when there is a vaulted ceiling in view. With a lot of effort and thought you can gently trick your mind into thinking you are on the wall and not lying down at all.   I like the rushing water at weirs too  (or the water rushing into a lock from a gate). If you stare at the swirling water for a minute or so then look at your hand, the skin on the back of your hand crawls. 

Fotheringhay church doesn’t lend oneself to these tricks but I liked the look of the ceiling all the same; the patch that was so different to the rest. There are a lot of good ceilings in our country – I find it interesting as so many of us spend so much time looking at the floor.


The pulpit was better (not just because a piano was behind it!).


I wondered what the view over the roof tops to the church looked like and as I stood on the castle mound I was able to see:


You can trick the mind, but tricking the soul is even better.

I sat in the old castle grounds in Fotheringhay and real life disappeared. I sat and listened to the silence, the wind in my hair and watched the River Nene wind along below me.  A fly busied itself weaving in and out of the reeds as if there was not a care in the world. I found the still quiet voice of the calm. The river didn’t tell a story this time, it listened and carried my questions away.


There was a quietness there so I sat for a while on a style, me looking one way, and Boots the other, being quiet.


I liked the seats made from tree trunks, one had it’s shadow with it, so me and my shadow took a seat:

DSC08371 DSC08372

As we sat and watched the world go by we wondered whether we found a place of peace, but timed ticked on and we had to leave.

Fotheringhay is steeped in history. The castle used to look like this


but it looks like this now (you can see where the water went when standing there):

DSC08366 DSC08374

I don’t know anything about trees but I did wonder whether any of the trees standing remembered the castle as it was.

My shadow wondered what it would be like standing or dining in the great all on the 9th Feb 1586/7


Morning: River Nene and Caster Mill

Yesterday on my walk with Dad I saw a topless windmill across the fields. Today I went to have a look at it. The Nene looked very atmospheric in the morning mist. I have a healthy respect for Rivers; each day they tell a different story. Today with the morning mist the River told a ghost story. I was pleased to be walking along the bank as it’s tale hauntingly wound around and disappeared into the distance.


The windmill sits close to a water mill.DSC08335


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The River Nene – A Walk with Dad

My dear Pa and I went for a walk along the River Nene. We had hoped to sneak a peak at Milton Park but when the footpath turned into road we turned around and came back again.  Dad did the walk from one page of the map to the other and back again in Gun Boots. I did ask whether they were the best sort, but he said they were better than the ones he wore for his last walk which were 2 sizes too big.  I wore my new walking boots and neither of our feet fell off.  Boots loved his walk.




I had a lovely day and dad took me out for luncheon which was lovely.  I do enjoy my Dads company, he is very calm.  I was quite surprised to survive one of his walks…the two I remember (one I did on crutches) were gorgeous but very very long.  I have got better at walking over the years and I think today’s classed as one of his ‘short walks’.

Boots spent most of the rest of the day looking like this:


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Phone Camera and Boating

Yesterday I returned from London and pulled the pins in glorious sunshine.  The clouds were stunning, roof tops enchanting and I had a lovely day cruising from Oxford to Thrupp. I have been away a while so it was good to be home.  I also had a chance to see how the phone camera works when the light is good.  I was looking for a small pocket size camera that was a point and shoot, no zoom (generally I find that if I need to zoom then I am not close enough, and the picture gets SO much better when you get close enough), good lens and quick to handle.  I couldn’t find one and as my phone was up for renewal I decided I would see whether my phone would do it. My last Nokia 3MP camera took good pictures when the light was right, but after it broke I downgraded to a 2MP and it drove me potty!

The new phone is a HTC desire with a 5MP camera. I was steering so these pictures aren’t particularly considered they were  snapped when I saw something I liked and quickly before I passed!  I haven’t fiddled with them (and never do). You decide what you think, but I quite like them.

The roof tops in Oxford are lovely.


Boots spotted a cat just after this picture and nearly rocketed off the edge of the boat shaking with excitement!

Coming out of Shuttleworth Lock the clouds roared up ahead



The moorings around Alchemy Boats were incredibly empty. I haven’t seen them that empty since Jericho Boat yard Closed (that’s NB Ocelot in the distance coming around the corner)


I often look back when I am cruising – the best views are often behind one. Here is Ocelot disappearing around the corner.  You can see how the light in a different angle changes the whole picture


And again


As I came through Kidlington Green there were some gulls in the sky ahead of the boat. The view was spectacular. By the time I had navigated the corner and switched the camera on the view wasn’t so great. They were in the sky rather than over the water and flying upwards. This one has a bird in the corner:


but then I pointed the camera at the sky and this is what I got:


I quite like the camera. It will take a while to really get used to it, but I think I will.  I still have my Sony which I will use for most things, but it is great to have a camera to hand all the time.  I could carry the Sony around, but I am just not one of those people and as much as I would like to, I just don’t.

Mobile phone bloging...

...seems to work

Friday, February 11, 2011

London Town

I am in London looking after my Niece and Nephew for a day or so.  I found myself with a bit of time, so I thought I would meander down to the London Canal Museum. I have been meaning to go for ages.  Here are some pictures from about the place:

There is a bit of an old boat to give one a taste for the back cabin and cargo space. A friend of mine wanted the plans for a traditional back cabin but it all got a bit awkward when trying to get it from a museum in Gloucester that I think he ended up giving up on the idea. I must ask him to remind myself of the story.


I rather liked this picture of a steam boat near Kensal Green Gas Works:


Apparently 40,000 people lived aboard the boats they operated in the 1870s.

you can step outside into the basin, but not access the towpath: