Wednesday, 28 October 2009


This evening, I was sitting eating supper.

I noticed a squeaking sound from the doorway into the hall.

This isn't unusual. Now that it is getting colder, I am in the habit of keeping the doors and windows closed, so Tybalt has to knock to come in or out.

With the door, he knows that sometimes he can hook his paw under the door and pull it open, so that's what he tries, hence the squeak.

So, like a well-trained human, I got up to open the door.

He immediately sat down (just outside the door).

He didn't come through the door.

He looked at me, with a look of utter disdain, as if to ask why on earth I was standing in the doorway.

He didn't come through the door.

Eventually, I gave up, and sat down again.

As I did, I heard a squeaking sound from the doorway....

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

In Which I Talk in Public

So, yesterday afternoon, our manager got a phone call from a local radio station. They were planning to have a phone-in about Grandparents seeking contact with their Grandchildren, and wanted to know whether we had someone who would be willing to cme on answer a few questions about the legal aspects. Since this falls fair and square into my baliwick, Manager asked me, and I said yes.

Well, actually, I said "um, do have have to? well, okay then, yes" which comes to much the smae thing.

So this morning I found myself sitting at my desk (dressed in my best suit, because obviously you have to look your best on the radio) waiting for the phone call.

I was very nervous, but I think it went alright - apparently I didn't sound as nervous as I felt. I was only on for a couple of minutes (If Andy Warhol was right, I presumably have another 13 minutes of fame still due to me...) but i was left feeling quite chuffed about it, in a 'Wow, I did something in public and didn't make a total hash of it' kind of way.

For anyone who might be interested, I was on 'The Morning Show on BBC Somerset - you can Listen Again here for the next 7 days - my bit is about 44 minutes in (Blink & you'll miss it!)

It was an interesting experience, but I don't think I'd want to be a radio presenter. Far too nerve-wracking.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

In Which I Meet an Old Friend

Having spent the last couple of weekends mostly just curled up on the sofa fighting a cold, I had been looking forward to this weekend, and to meeting up with an old friend.

I started the weekend with an (always thrilling) trip to the garage to get my car fixed - nothing serious, just a new pump for the screenwash. It was a cold morning and absolutely pouring with rain, which (quite literally) dampened my enthusiasm a little. However, to my pleasure, as I left the garage the rain stopped, and I had time for a wander around the shops in Wells. That was a little confusing, as I used to live there, so it's all familiar, but I haven't been for a while, so some of the shops are different....

I enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Fabulous 'Old Spot' restaurant (chicken & Tarragon terrine, followed by Chestney & Radiccio risotto - Nom, Nom, and Nom again!)

And then, on to J's home. J & I were in primary school together - her parents had the farm opposite my parent's house, and when we moved there, when I was 1o years old, we became friends, and we still are.
Five years ago J married another local farmer, R, and now lives less than a mile from her parents, and next door to her in-laws, with other relayives almost as close, and gravestones in the churchyard marking the past 150 years of the family. I am not sure that I would want to live in quite such close proximity to my (extended) family, but at the same time I do have a degree of envy for that rootedness and sense of belonging.
J&R have a wonderful 3 year old son. Last time I saw him, he was rather shy with me, but this time, after a brief period of careful observation he became very chatty, and insisted on taking me on a guided tour of the house, introducing me to the old collie and to the nearly-new labradour puppy, and would have taken me on a tour to meet each individual chicken, turkey and cow!
J & I spent the afternoon catching up with one another's lives and preparing dinner - of which the only parts which were not home-grown were the carrots (apparently it wasn't a good year for carrots) - the roast pork was from a l
ocal ginger pig, personally selected on the hoof (or trotter) and delivered in easily freezable joints. Everything tastes better, fresh out of the garden.
Another neighbour was also there for supper - an older gentleman who has retired to the village.
We enjoyed some local rose cider with our meal, and remained talking until very late. At some point, we got onto the subject of homemaking, and ended up rooting through some old books (one of hobbies and handicrafts, published in 1935, and the other a book of cookery and household hints, which was undated but which we determined to be of a similar period.)
We have decided that the hint about soaking blotting paper in saltpetre and then burning it to cure asthma is *not* one we shall be trying, although J did claim to be tempted by the advice about fire-proofing one's children (or at least their clothes), although R seemed oddly unenthused by the suggestion that one could captivate one's husband (or desired husband) by knitting him a golf-jerkin or cricket jumper (incorporating his school or club colours, if you feel adventurous) and that one can also knit ones own alluring underwear (with ribbed cuffs) Be still my beating heart . . .
There was a wonderful section about planning a house and kitchen to minimise housework, which included the always-useful recommendation to ensure that you have a system of speaking tubes or telephones, for efficient communiction with the kitchen to avoid the maids having to run around the house . . .
Of course, neither 3 year-olds nor milking cows take account of late nights or the clocks going back, so we had a rather earlier morning than I am accustomed to on a Sunday morning.
before heading home, I helped to feed the chickens and turkeys (and have bespoken a Turkey, for Christmas, although not a specific, individual one) The turkeys are very free-range, but not, apparently, very bright.
I came away clutching some new laid eggs, wild mushrooms and a pheasant, as R had been out doing a little rough shooting on Saturday morning, and apparently one gets bored of pheasant after a while. It is now hanging up maturing (and being ignored by Tybalt, who, it appears, does not recognise meat when it is still covered in feet & feathers and things) and which I intend to roast next weekend.
Meanwhile, I have been admiring the beautiful feathers (it's a cock) and hoping that I can remember how to pluck and clean it. It's a reminder of how far removed we normally are from the way our food starts out, that this is only the second time I have had anything which needed that kind of prepararion. (The first time was a pheasant given to me by a farming friend, too!)
J & I are determined not to leave it so long before meeting up again, and I am hoping that she will finally make it over to mine before too long (She's never actually visited my house, partrly because until my parents moved I tended to combine meeting up with her with a visit to them, and partly because as there is only one of me, it's easier for me to go there than for her to organise a husband & small child to come. But I'm not giving up until I've managed to return her hospitality!
Altogether, a highly enjoyable time.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

In Which Very Little Happens

It's been a little while since I blogged, mostly because nothing very thrilling has been happening. I am still fighting my cold - it has the very irritating habit of getting a bit better, then, when I have been lulled into a false sense of security, it pops up again in a slightly different form.

I am currently 'enjoying' its attention in the form of a deeply irritating dry cough, wheezing, and bunged up sinuses, plus a frustrating tendency to be completely knackered & fit for nothing.

I keep getting letters from the National Blood Service begging plaintively for my blood, (which of course they won't want while I am all germy), but then I feel guilty about not giving them any.

I did manage to go out last night, as I was invited to go to my father's cousin's house for dinner, as another of her (and my) cousins was visiting her. It's always good to catch up with extended family, but being sociable is surprisingly tiring :-(.

This weekend I am due to spend Saturday night with an old school friend - hopefully the fun will outweigh the tiredness. Going to her home will involve going past our old house (which my parents sold 18 months ago, after they retired) My friend tells me that the new owners have been doing quite a lot of building work, so I shall have to cruise slowly by & have a good look!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Aaaand the winner is. . . . .

OK, I said I'd pick who got the free book on Saturday morning, and now it is evening.

So, I got Tybalt to pick, (By having me put your names on pieces of paper, screw them up and throw them for him to chase. The winner is the first he ate!)

So, Sally, a copy of The Triangle for you. Can you e-mail or DM me your address?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Book Give-away!!

As a result of going to Amanda Palmer's gig, and blogging and posting pictures of it, I found the blog of Rashbre, at Rashbre Central (Or to be stictly honest, Rashbe commented on one of my pictures, and finding the blog was pretty easy from there!)

As it turns out, Rashbre has written a novel, The Triangle, which has just been published.
Rashbre has kindly sent me a couple of copies, so it seems only fair to pass one on to one of you.

So, here's the plan. Today is Wenesday. If you would like a shiny new book, leave a comment, telling me why you want a copy of the Triangle. On Saturday morning I will pick one of you (maybe at random, maybe based on the wit and artistry of your comment, who can say?), and send you the book.

All I would ask is that if you get the book, that you post a review of it somewhere (your blog, amazon, Goodreads, whichever you prefer)

So, what are you waiting for? GO!

[And if you don't win, you can always order a copy...]

Saturday, 10 October 2009

In Which The Best Laid Plans go Awry

Very frustrating. I had planned to spend this weekend enjoying myself. I was going to drive down to Rye, today, to visit Dave McKean's exhibition at the Rye Art Gallery, then go to Shoreham to meet up with my sister and her partner. We were going to go out for dinner, probably Thai, probably in Brighton, and I'd be spending the night with them, and perhaps do a little sailing tomorrow before coming home.

Unfortunately, the evil little virii currently occupying my system have other ideas. I've been fighting them, but currently they are winning. So today I will mostly be curling up on the sofa and ensuring the future success of the lemon, honey and ginger industries.

At least I have already ordered a copy of the 'Coast Road' book, so I will get the opportunity to see the pictures and read the story once that arrives.

Now. More Tea.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

In Which There Are Skulls, and a Lion Hunt

As I was in London anyway, for the purpose of seeing the talented Mr Webley, I decided to take the opportunity before heading home, of visiting the Moctezuma exhibition at the British Museum. After all, it is all about Mexica, with skulls, human sacrifice and and bloodshed - what's not to like?

Of course, in an ideal world, I would have thought to check before I left the hotel, what time the museum opened, but as it turned out I was able to find a convenient coffee-shop to sit in, watching the rain fall and reading about Shakepeare's London for 45 minutes until the museum opened.

They have a temporary garden in the courtyard outside the museum just know - it is part of a collaboration with Kew Gardens, to accompany the 'Gardens of Jodhpur' exhibition, so I did wander past the Baobab and Mango trees briefly, before heading indoors into the dry.

The exhibition was fascinating. I knew, of course that the Aztec* civilisation remained until the conquistadors arrived with their guns and small pox, but I hadn't quite put the dates together in my mind to realise that in the 16th Century there were people carrying out human sacrifices, hunting using obsidian axes and so on. There were a number of skulls, including a genuine human skull which had been beautifully covered with turquoise and jet mosaic, and fitted with straps to allow it to be used as a mask. Delightful. There were also a number of manuscripts, written by the conquistadors but illustrated by Aztecs. Beautiful but sad - a record of the end of a civilization.

After seeing the exhibition I spent some time in other parts of the museum - the Assyrian rooms, featuring many beautifully carved reliefs, including a whole set featuring a lion hunt. (I felt sorry for the lions. They started out in cages, and never seemed to be allowed to win, or escape.) There were also many chariots, and some not-altogether-seaworthy boats, although I am not convinced that they were an integral part of the lion hunt! I find it incredible that they are so clear and relatively undamaged after almost 3000 years.

I also took the opportunity to visit the Elgin Marbles (after all, who knows how much longer they will be in London) Whtever the rights or wrongs of their ownership, they are beautiful.

(*Apparently 'Aztec' is an inaccurate, if well known description)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

In Which There is a Coffee Percolator going Wheeeee!!

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Jason Webley's mailing list, with details of his upcoming shows. At first, I thought I wouldn't be able to go, as the weekend ones (one in Brighton, just down the road from where K&C live) clashed with my Aunt's party which I was already comitted to attending, but then I had to cancel a day off work whcih I had planned, one or two things in my work diary moved, and I was able to book a day off and book a ticket for the London gig, on Monday night!

So, Monday found me rushing out of work, dashing home to feed the cat and legging it to the station to get to London...a couple of hours later, after having booked in to my (very cheap) hotel near Kings Cross, and reassured myself that it did not, so far as I could tell, also rent rooms by the hour, I headed off to Camden. A few wrong turns and a vietnamese meal later I was wandering along Camden High Street , round a corner and to the Green Note which is a very small, but perfectly formed venue - it's also a restaurant, but sadly the kitchen wasn't open, which was a shame, as the specials board on the wall had lots of tasty sounding dishes! So in the absence of food, what I found was a small bar, with lots of little tables, and the worlds teeniest stage tucked into one corner.

Finding an empty table near the stage (although it would be impossible, given the size of the room, to find a table very far from the stage) I asked the couple sitting at the next table whether it was free, as one does. After saying that it was, I noticed that she was giving me odd looks, and I started to worry that perhaps I'd upset them. Then she started asking me about where I was from . . . a few moments later, (as In panicked that she was a former, and potentially unhappy, client of mine) we established that she was a former colleague, having been an office junior with us 5 or 6 years ago. I'm notsure whether to be more impressed by the fact she recognised me after so long, or amazed at the coincidence - given that the venue was so small, and neither of us knew the other was a fan of Jason's... It certainly improved the evening, having good company!
So, after that interesting start, came the music.

Which, for the record, was fantastic. It was a most interactive gig. Not only was Jason taking requests for songs (whether or not he actually knew them - turns out he can play 'Oasis' but gets stuck in the lyrics round about the word 'barbarian'....) but was also enrolling us to sing the violin and trombone parts as required, and to join in with the music, with much encouragement. There was considerable Stomping, too.

Mid evening, during the break, I was able to get my 'counterpoint' CD signed (on reflection, I think Jason still has my Sharpie..) and say Hi to Jason. Told him I heard about his music via the Fabulous Lorraine and several of her fiends, (to whom he sent his best wishes)

For me, particular highlights were 'Eleven Saints' (Why yes, we did join in with the 'Wheeee's ), 'Dance While the Sky Crashes Down' and, much, much later in the evening, 'The Drinking Song' Mr webley's instructions "Look, I don't care if you don't know the words, just sing them loudly" (gap with raucous singing) "OK, my bad, I forgot to teach you the other part. It's 'Yo da dee, Yo Daah Dah'. It's russian"....

We were then critisised for not being drunken enough (that's what happens when it's a Monday night, y'know)
It turns out, that if you stand up, raise your right finger (proud and erect) and then focus on your own finger and spin round in circles, you do achieve a very close approximation to being drunk. (but without the hangover) Who knew? I am not 100% sure that this improved the Quality of the singing, but, combined with the hugging of neighbouring strangers and the swaying, it certainly increased the volume and the good humour!

Sadly, that marked the end of the evening's music, although there was still time for a quick sweaty hug, and then we (Jenny, her bf and I) walked back to the tube, passing, on our way, this estate agency, which I belive to be the one from which the late, great, Douglas Adams borrowed the name for his character!

Most entertaining.

Now, if Mr Webley can just be persauded to come back in the very near future.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

In Which There is a Party

My Aunt (one of many Many Aunts) recently turned 60, and retired, and she decided that a party to celebrate those things would be in order.

As a good neice, I decided to go. There was just one problem. She lives in Northumberland, which is quite a long way away. (about 6 hours drive away) And I don't have much un-booked leave left...

Anyway, much plotting of travel possibilities followed and after spending lots of time on Motorways (mostly I wasn't driving, which was good!) Then after arriving in Hexham, we found the Moot Hall where we were dragooned, like obedient neices (and neices-partner) into blowing up balloons, hanging up streamers, setting out crisps and nuts and generally making ourselves look useful. There was a certain amount of talking going on too...

Several hours, one coffee shop and a pub later, we returned to the hall, dressed in our best and ready to party. We did party. There was much talking, and catching up with all those family members who haven't seen one another recently (I disapprove, for the record, of my 'baby' cousins turning in to virtually grown up people, just becasue I took my eyes of them for a year or two!) There was food, and drink, and silly games. There was dancing, and, later in the evening, there was the part of the evening which involved trying on each others shoes... I suspect I would still have been unable to walk in these, even if they hadn't been a size too small...
Sunday morning wsa dedicated to breakfast, and more family catching up, including meeting the newest member of the family, who is just turning one, and who was remarkably sanguine in the face of a sudden influx of admiring uncles, great-aunts and uncles, cousins and a grandmother.
The afternoon and evening, of course, involved the 6 hour drive home...