Sunday, December 30, 2007

A whirlwind visit

Double meaning - of course. Dan, Sara and Isaac rushed through on their way between London and Leeds, on Thursday, for lunch and a meal before leaving for home at 8pm. Isaac is a whirlwind all by himself, non-stop action, as you'd expect from a 2-year-old.

The cats are wary of young children and sensibly kept out of the way.

Trying to get a photo of Isaac is tricky with a digital camera - I have so many shots taken a split second too late.
I think he must be made of steel - he's very much attracted to magnets, and spent a good few minutes re-arranging them.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Boxing Day Hunt

No not for foxes, for an earring. I shouldn't have been tempted to do a cartwheel on the track - following the bad example set by Harry and Esther. In spite of two fingertip searches by Eyes-peeled Esther and Hell-hound Harry, we haven't found the earring. Esther assures me it was not expensive, nor irreplaceable. Here are the hunters, along with Adrian, and then I popped in to join them.

That tripod is fun.

Later we did see some intrepid shooters along the track. Four 4 x 4s, a dozen people and their dogs. The only game I could see was one pheasant. That food must have had one hell of a carbon footprint. At a push, I'll accept that at least it'll be eaten, and the pheasant probably had a better life than battery poultry.

Dec 25th meal

So here we are with our Christmas meal - a new 'tradition' started this year, perhaps - salmon with maple syrup and walnuts, cooked by Harry, inspired by a meal he had in Vermont in October.

Taken by my camera on its new mini-tripod, with the timer. The tripod is very portable and will be used a lot.

The blue glow round the top of the pudding is flaming Armagnac - the bottle had been sitting in the cupboard for at least three years, so it celebrated Christmas with us.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Last minute?

I'm really pleased we went to the supermarket early. We were out on Christmas Eve only because we wanted to pick up salmon as late as practicable. When we arrived there just before 9 am there was plenty of room to park. When we left people were driving round waiting to pounce on a spot. One poor woman reversed out of her space into the side of a passing van. Tempers started to rise. I was a coward and kept well out of it.

It's at the stage now, if we ain't got it, we ain't gonna.

Oh, yes... we've delegated worrying to our more placid cat for Christmas and whenever - she doesn't have many other responsibilities.

I have a rose this Christmas. Not a hothouse rose, gift-wrapped and showy. Not a Christmas rose, fine as it is, discreet hellebore, grandiose on the quiet. My rose is small and deep pink. I took a cutting from the allotment, before the builders developed it. The plant lives, and its flowers cheer the winter grey, blooming through the frosts.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ice needles

Fog inhales daylight
Ice outlines fir-tree needles
Sun shrugs off blanket
Mist rises from frozen fields Warming trees shower ice-melt.

I went for a walk just before lunch. the fog had lifted and the ice on the needles on these conifers was just melting. There was still a coating of frost in the shaded places.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Men are funnier than women?

Oh no they're not! Oh yes they are! Or are they?

Apparently when Prof Shuster ( a dermatologist) unicyles around his town, more men than women make comments, and more younger men than older ones. Men's comments are usually humorous ( or jeering) such as "Lost yer wheel, mate?" "Couldn't you afford the other one?" and similar gems. Women are more admiring and encouraging.

The prof puts this down to the fact that the young men regard him as a rival in the sex stakes, and to cover their aggression, use 'humour'. From this , according to the articles quoted, he makes the equation testosterone = humour.

The humour involved is hardly startling or original, and not terribly funny in my opinion. Of course, as a 60-year-old female, I guess I lack the requisite testosterone to appreciate or make such jokes.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

December weather

Yesterday -


Sunshine and golden light reflected by the warm colour of ironstone buildings.
Last night's fog has frozen on leaves and spider webs. It didn't go away all day - nasty patchy cold stuff clinging to higher ground and trailing about in the valleys too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A woven rug

Look what we found, when we went up into the loft to get the Christmas decorations. Made by my own fair hand, but only big enough for a doll's bed. It would be ideal for a bed cover this weather though. If I were a doll.
The style of rug is called rya (shaggy), and was common in Scandinavia. I wove it from scratch, and both backing weave and the long pile were done in wool. After a bit of searching I've found the instructions, too.


Well, just electricity, this time. But so powerful was the power cut which shut down my computer without a moment's warning, that I actually stood up, walked downstairs and made soup for lunch.
No ignition spark, so I used matches; no overhead hob light; no toaster, so I made croutons in a frying pan; no liquidiser, so we ate the soup chunky.
The cut lasted no more than 90 minutes, but was inconvenient, and a salutary reminder of how much I rely on the juice to flow.
Hell, I almost got out my pen and notebook...

Monday, December 17, 2007


An article in the New Scientist today talked about procrastination, and distraction from work and annoying tasks. Of course, once I'd seen that I forced myself out of my torpor, and managed to get a few jobs done. Jobs, I call them - like buying the Christmas cards I need, and a present.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's in the stars?

Another silly thing - a "profile" of Sean Murphy (the snooker player) on BBC2, includes his star sign, as part of the information. So what?? OK, I'm in grumpy rationalist mode today - bloody spoilsport, me!

Petrol protests

How anyone dare complain about the cost of petrol here is beyond me. Many of us drive aggressively, with our foot hard on the accelerator pedal, as though we were taking part in some crazy race. Wasting the petrol we complain is so over-priced without a second's second thought. Pity we can't run our cars on the hot air we generate.
Yes, let the government tax petrol, as high as they need to. Then they should use the taxes to subsidise efficient public transport, and cycling and walking routes. More could be passed on to fund those whose car use really is essential.
We are too profligate. I include myself here, since if you are anything like me, you take the easy way out, and hop in the car. I've no doubt I'll continue to use mine as an outsize mobile handbag and office, unless it costs a lot more.

Note from BBC website - pretty small demos today.
Meanwhile a coalition of leading environmentalists have called on the government to improve public transport and encourage more efficient vehicles, rather than cut fuel tax.
Tony Bosworth of Friends of the Earth said: "If the government is serious about tackling climate change it must not cave in to pressure to make road travel even cheaper."
In October duty on fuel rose by 2p per litre. Duty rises over the last decade add up to 25% - less than the rate of inflation. But oil prices have gone up 270% in the same period.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On Ice

For a change, instead of sitting at the computer, we went ice-skating at Nottingham's outdoor rink. It looks as though I was alone on the ice - not so, we waited for the right moment to take the photo, and I had to go pretty slowly, to allow for the digital delay. My glasses are cool, no? Then for a cup of tea in a Viennese ( so-called) patisserie, with sub Toulouse Lautrec and Degas artwork on the walls. Memo to self - stop sneering, it doesn't suit you.

Astrology, witchcraft, superstition

As I surfed through the BBC website this morning, I spotted this article about Tajikistan.
I must look into it further. How many of us in poor and rich countries now regard fortune-telling and superstition as the way to run our lives? I note the comments by Raine Spencer, re Princess Diana, at the inquest.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lottery Win for Connect 2 - but why is it a lottery?

It's great for Connect2 to have the lottery funding for expanding the cycle and walking network, but it seems wrong that this project, and the three which lost, should have to be funded like this.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we paid our petrol taxes in order to subsidise other means of transport? The system in this country really isn't logical - it's so much cheaper to travel by car, with all the extra carbon emissions, and the heavy traffic on the roads. So I have no objection to paying for the privilege of using my car. I don't consider that I have a god-given right to drive.

Trains are generally more expensive than flying, unless you can find your way through the maze of money-saving fares - something other people are always telling me about, but that I haven't got organised enough to do. Why is it an obstacle race?

Basically, we are discouraged from travelling in any other way than by road for short distances, or air for longer ones.

Where and what is evil?

I found this quote on Melanie Challenger's blog from Antarctica

“But we shan’t, not since Stalin and Hitler, trust ourselves ever again,” The Cave of Making, W.H.Auden.

A really good quote, pointing out that evil is inside each of us, as well as outside. We try to evict the scapegoat, but evil remains.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Games and Fun

Fun with forbidden words game today - like Taboo but with a slightly different scoring system.
Always fun to see people who do something apart from vegetate.
We also played the game of "Werewolf". More details here:
We had cards to decide on the roles.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ideas, ideas?

Now, I've had an idea for a story, but it really needs some developing - so this time, I may try the mind-map technique, just to see where it leads. And then I have to decide whether to write it as an adult fairy tale, or a soap-style story with the symbolism well-hidden...

After two unpleasant drives this week, with delays and bad weather, I am not in a great mood. Wet weather motorway travel is like a foretaste of one possible version of hell. I wonder what Dante's seven circles would consist of now. Before I think about that, perhaps I should read his original. I don't actually know what his seven circles were.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Starting again...

Ok, forget all the French stuff, I'll keep that to another blog, just to keep my brain functioning.
Interesting report from Compassion in World Farming that I want to remember - not that I can pretend to be purest of the pure in any way, as I balance other considerations, such as price and how much petrol I use driving to the supermarket. My nearest ones are Asda and Somerfield. Somerfield doesn't have not such a good selection, but at least they're based in UK. ASDA, part of the infamous Walmart "family" (cringe, cringe), cheap good selection, but notorious for poor labour relations in the US, and predatory pricing. They refused to take part in the survey.

Maybe it's poetic justice, but I just tried to heat up some frozen croissants from ASDA. They'd been left open in the freezer and they were dried out (I should have left the typo - dired). So we've spent the money there, and wasted it, and they've bitten back. Ho hum.

Beautiful day, so I did my frequent walk along the farm track out towards Kirby Hall - I wore the step counter, since I was curious, but it refused to register my steps - why? Since I changed at home it seems fine. Must be the trousers I was wearing, or or...
All the other people out were dog-walkers, and of course the guy who rides the bike and lets his dog walk.