Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Boots, in a rare moment of enthusiasm, was up and ready to go at 6am… This is what the world looked like through my camera phone:



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Saturday, May 28, 2011


I love this:



It won’t come as a great surprise that the cleaning ladies (and Nathan) (here) are rather good at educating me on certain aspects of life (and here) and a couple of weeks ago was no exception. They were eyeing up ‘Britains got talent’ on YouTube when I went to visit so I pulled up a chair and watched. One of the groups which really caught my breath were a group called Spelbound.  Here is a video of them (here if it doesn’t work):

I went straight to my office to see whether they (Spelbound, not the cleaning ladies (and Nathan)) were ‘on tour’. They weren’t (possibly because I spelt the name wrong).  I was rather disappointed.

That evening I went to Cinderella’s Matthew Bourne (and visa versa) at the New Theatre in Oxford and lo and behold there was a flyer to announce Spelbound.

I purchased tickets and all four of us (with Kate, not Nathan) went last night.

I am taken with the ‘different’ and ‘unusual’ and I love this expressed in dance and gymnastics so Spelbound pushed all the buttons.  It was a variety show (that was a first) and another of the acts was Stagecoach – a theatre dance group for 4 – 18 year olds. As they all lined up and sang ‘we are the children’ the children really struck me. My lord – here they are singing on the stage embracing life, doing theatre, having a great time. What an amazing opportunity. It reminded me of Hannah, at the tender age of 10, when she was at the Pegasus Theatre in Oxford for a short time, and it reminded me of me. I sat and remembered what I was doing all those years ago when I was a young girl. 

What a contrast life can be.

Spelbound were absolutely incredible, they really were. It was wonderful.

Friday, May 27, 2011

2% Natural

I have always struggles with and against routine, but as time has passed by I have learnt the benefit of such a thing.  As a result I am injecting routine into my daily schedule. I have found that despite most efforts I manage to do routine things, but not at a routine time, for a routine duration or anything that really counts as routine other than the event itself  - the carrying out of which isn’t quite enough.  So, I am trying again, but this time I am tackling breakfast head on. Each day I have a bowl of muesli ‘thing’ with natural yoghurt and if it is a very special day (i.e. I went shopping and engaged my memory and can deal with ‘yellow’) I have a banana with it.

I ran out of yoghurt.


Yesterday I went shopping.  It was not a yellow day so I have no bananas, but I DO have yoghurt. Unfortunately I made a grave mistake. I picked up the yoghurt that is only 2% natural. (it was not a fat day either)


Strangely this yoghurt has the delicious sharp flavour I remember as a child.  Despite this it doesn’t taste quite right. I think life is much the same. Too often we settle for too little. Much of life is only 2% natural; 100% is on the shelf next door.

I don’t suppose anything says 100% does it.  I am very grateful that this yoghurt pot wasn’t in a recyclable natural packaging otherwise the 2% might have referred to that and I would have had to eat the pot and throw the contents away.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Surrey and Wisley

On Tuesday I went to visit my lovely friends Caroline and John for supper. James, who doesn’t live far away, came too and we all had a lovely evening catching up and sharing the time together.  On Wednesday morning Caroline and I went for a walk around Wisley.  Some years ago, when I lived in Surrey, Caroline and John gave me a years membership to Wisley so I spent quite some time there throughout the year.

  However, over the years things have changed and I felt as though I was visiting this garden of splendour for the first time.  Not only has the outside changed a great deal, but there is a new ‘Eden’ like glasshouse. The pipe work was lovely:


as were the flowers


Outside the sun was spectacular and the colours of the plants stunning.

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I was really rather taken with the alpine plants and having given up on a roof garden on the boat I was almost tempted to have another go.

What a beautiful morning walk.  The restaurant had a nice range of lunches, but we settled for coffee and a bun.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Camera. Poetry. Homeless. Cambridge.

When I was in my teens I spent quite a lot of time with the homeless people of my local town.  There were many things I learnt from this group of people , but as time went by I became particularly interested in their Poetry. Street Poetry. The rawness struck a chord with me and I liked it.

The way every day life was depicted through words was marvellous. I had never really been exposed to non-classical poetry other than when at the Ancestral home where we would play poetry games. It wasn’t all silly some was serious such as the writings in my little books and some of those I lived with. So to see all this in Street Poetry was an eye opener.

Street poetry was both heart wrenching and funny; some in a gut wrenching laugh way and others in a black comedy way, but funny all the same. The openness was raw. A time shared. Printed.

Today when browsing the news I came across the headlines “Cambridge homeless show pinhole beer can camera pictures” and I have read with joy that once again there is something unique going on in that town.  It says “..the results so impressed the charity it is holding an exhibition of the photographs and selling beer can pinhole camera kits to raise money..” Full story HERE

So if you are in Cambridge today you can catch the last day of the exhibition at Chesterton Tower from 2 –5pm today.  They are raising money for FLACK

Friday, May 20, 2011

Whose Eyes, Time and Space?

Yesterday I said “It is only through the camera’s eyes that I am reminded how splendid it is” and this morning I stood at looked at this:


and I was reminded that although it was me that sees through my eyes the view is the same regardless of who is looking at it.  Today I was looking through some pictures and I came across this again. DSC08005

It captured me and transported me through space and time to the picture where I stood in that place with Boots.

It was incredible.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Through the Side Hatch

This morning is beautiful and the view from the side hatch today is:


I love the look of that little old building steeped in history telling the stories of ages past on the water point over there. It is only through the camera’s eyes that I am reminded how splendid it is, but once I was reminded I stood at the side hatch and marvelled.

It is so easy to forget the beauty of our surroundings when we see them all the time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Minimalism in the sharp area

It will come to a shock to anyone who steps on my boat these days because it is still quite cluttered, or as I like to call it ‘full of treasured things’ but compared to a few years ago (my friends will agree) it is positively minimalistic.  I wrote some time ago about  how I wasn’t a minimalist but a maximalist.  In fact it was as long ago as 2007. Since then I have been de-cluttering.  I have been looking at things with two attitudes 1) am I ready to let it go and 2) do I really need it.

Yesterday I was reminded, when it sprung out from it’s hiding place on top of my mah-jong set at the bottom of, at the back of… underneath in…, that I had something else I didn’t need; a beautiful knife. It is far too sharp and beautiful to be of any use on the good ship so this evening I returned it to the person who gave it to me.  I am sorry to see it go, but I think it will be pleased to be back home.

I do love knifes, but I much prefer to admire them from afar. There is no need whatsoever for me to be in possession of them. It’s weight, blade and pattern was beautiful.





Crumble and My dog Tulip

My new neighbours (actually, I am their new neighbour really) are lovely.  On Monday Gilly, Maggie, Boots and I went for a stroll around the woodlands.


The walks around Thrupp are divine and at the moment they are incredibly tranquil as life bursts from every corner. On Monday evening there was a knock on my door and Ian delivered a plate of ginger and rhubarb crumble. Oh my. DELICIOUS. I had half immediately and the rest yesterday.


Yesterday Boots and I had a gorgeous walk over the fields and I stood for a while watching the village Bees foraging – not a very good picture as it was my phone camera


This poppy caught my eye, the manor house is in the distance:


Last night after my crumble I went to the Phoenix Picture house to see ‘My Dog Tulip’ a quite charming 83minute long animation by Ackerley (review). It was delightful and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Sunday was an interesting day. It started off with a beautiful walk with Molly and Boots. The wild flowers are looking fantastic:


Afterwards I headed over to the church where my Godson had decided to get confirmed. It was a privilege to share in this lovely occasion, and on top of that he sang a stunning and really quite moving solo (he is a chorister elsewhere).  The flowers looked great


Afterwards I returned with the family to their house for lunch. I am frightfully shallow at the best of times but I am more shallow than a shallow thing on a shallow day in shallow Ville when it comes to meringues. For pudding we had meringues. I love meringues and these were delicious.


It was lovely spending time with the family.  Afterwards I came home and had a jolly good walk through the fields. Boots was delighted to be back on familiar territory and just loved it. We took Maggie with us this time and they both had a great time.

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We had a long walk over the fields along with a sit down looking at the sun shining on the spire of St Mary the Virgin in the distance.

After two glorious walks Boots was rather exhausted and I wasn’t much better so we finished the evening with a drink at the local pub with Maffi and returned home for an early night.

Petroc are moored here at the moment and I have enjoyed meeting them albeit briefly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Banbury to Thrupp

I really enjoyed my time in Banbury but by the time I left the commute was beginning to get to me.  It is good to be home.

Maffi fancied a spot of boating so he came along and drove for the first 6 hours and I did the locks, then we swapped for the final 3.  An arrangement that worked well as I had work to do and could get on with it between the locks. I had a go at baking while I was at it, and made some lunch – all of which the crew complained bitterly about but at least they didn’t starve. They even looked to be enjoying themselves on occasion:



We met some fantastic people along the way, learnt a few things and saw some wonderful birds. This one was looking for lunch on the railway line:DSC09513

and several of these were around south of EnslowDSC09563

This time of year is always beautiful on the canal. I headed north as Spring really set in and I returned to see the vegetation lining the canal and flowers blooming. The fields looked amazing.


The house at pigeons lock looked splendid DSC09549

Some of the trees have gone so there is now a better view over the golf course at KirtlingtonDSC09550

People have often asked me how single handers do the lift bridges; some use a Banbury pole and some just get it wrong. This time I found the perfect adaptation of the Banbury pole and it worked very well:


so, here I am. Home. It has been a fantastic trip.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dear Granny and Grandpa

I am miserable and having a miserable time.

Mum tried to cut my toe nails.  Yes Granny, MY TOE NAILS with a nasty snippy thing like Grandpa uses on his talons.  As soon as the shears came into view I screamed; I find it better to scream before any contact is even remotely possible otherwise we both get scared and everything goes wrong and then my carefully cultivated toe nails disappear.

Due to what Mum calls my abominable behaviour towards the clippers she decided we would file my nails. Oh Granny, this is much more refined – I have heard about nail filing. It involves soft pillows,  fine scent (dead rabbit would do), powder puffs to pamper and treats being fed constantly.  I was quite excited until it dawned on me that Mum’s idea of filing is not quite so dignified - I have to get out of bed!

We don’t go for walks any more, we go for filings. We have to walk for miles on the nasty tarmac of Banbury.  Mum says it is lovely to walk around the town and ‘explore’. Mum also says that as I get to go for a run with my friends during the day on the soft stuff we can do the hard stuff in the mornings and evenings. I hate it.  Every time I try and walk on the grass I get dragged onto the nasty hard stuff. It is hateful. My pads are hardening up and my nails scrape making a tip tapping as I go along. I can’t sneak up on ANYTHING any more.

If that isn’t enough to upset me we are listening to shouty rock music. Apparently it isn’t rock music it is ‘nu metal’ and ‘rap metal’ whatever that is, but anyway it is FAR TOO LOUD.  I am scowling.

I hope I can come and visit soon. I miss the compost heap and snoozing on the duvet next to Granny.

Lots of Love from your devoted


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wild Life on the Drains

They say there is a lot of wildlife on the navigable drains of lincolnshire. There is a lot of wildlife everywhere really. On Saturday as we stood on the back of the boats we watched a barn owl swoop down and fly past us with it supper. None of us had our cameras and the sight was too good to go and get one (although there was time).  The following day I was sitting talking to Allan when this landed on his jumper for a while. I am rather keen on insectsDSC09311


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It hung out for quite some time, as did its mate.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Navigable Drains

I had a lovely time this weekend with Allan and Debbie on ‘Keeping Up’ and Smudge, Purple Fairy and Beth on ‘Fairies wear Boots’. We set off down the Witham and at Anton's Gout locked down onto the navigable drains.  The Navigable Drains have attracted my attention for some time, so it was wonderful to be able to join in a cruise for the weekend. There is a map here and info about the fun and games the Tuesday Night Club had here can be found here

I was told that the River Witham is long and straight but I witnessed a couple of corners. I rather liked it. Smudge knew how far we were down it because of the mile posts – this says something about the variability of the scenery!


This boat was a sorry sight with a sorry tale. It used to help out at Dunkirk. No-one knows who owns it now:


The first day we turned right after Anton’s Gowt and headed along Firth Bank Drain before turning left and heading up to New Bolingbroke Drain. We reversed down here which was a jolly good thing as it got very shallow and there was quite a bit of weed about. DSC09273

There was enough room for us to moor side by sideDSC09283

after wobbling over the gang plank we headed over to the village for a lovely evening and meal in the pub. It was well worth the walk, but in that company any walk is worth it!  We left just as the band were starting to really warm up and who were actually really rather good.

In the morning we set off to see this:DSC09287

Followed by quite a bit of this:


So Alan and I bowhauled Keeping Up until the water got deeper with the assistance of Debbie keeping us off the sides.

The drains are varied and quite interesting really, especially as the mind has freedom to wander. DSC09306 Some of the bridges were pretty low and cars stopped to see the boats going under.DSC09304

Keeping up had about 2 inches more clearance than the Fairies so I looked back with interest each time it was a tight squeeze to see how they were getting on.

The water levels were too high to get through this:


There wasn’t nearly as much weed as I had expected, but there were patches we drifted through:


The lads in the car on the bridge were busy telling us there was a low bridge which was actually a tube:DSC09350

which seemed to get lower as we got closer:


but there was actually quite a lot of room in the end – for us…


I was pleased to see the Fairies made it through too


after winding we came back:


I was amazed we fitted through the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it the second:


A swan swam in front of us for a while and as we got closer it would run ahead, fly up and land ahead for whereupon the cycle started again.

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There was great relief all round when we went under this pipe bridge – it was MEANT to be the lowest of all and there was a strong possibility one or both of the boats wouldn’t have got through. The relief in Smudge’s voice when I radioed back to say it had heaps of clearance was very apparent!DSC09448

We locked back up to the Witham and headed home:


I had a fantastic weekend, the water was wonderful, the drains fascinating and the company perfect! Thank you everyone!