Friday, November 30, 2007

Hedgehog Day - Greenfinch - Soup

I was busy photographing birds this morning because I want to record the Blue Tits, The Great Tits, Coal Tits and Long-Tailed Tits all of which visit from time to time. In addition of course, to my extra-special Goldfinches, and today some Greenfinches arrived. Equipped as they are with those massively powerful beaks they make short work of the peanuts and seem more than willing to dib into anything from the á la carte menu provided.

As you know I am a long way from being a twitcher because I wouldn't drive a hundred yards to see some unusual bird. But I love the garden-birds and feel a resposibility to provide a reasonable habit, water, and a bit of 'snap'. I also throw stones at invasive and threatening cats. Dignified walk-throughs are permitted and I don't mind them catching the occasional wood-pigeon.

While doing mi' birds this hedgehog scurried across the patio and vanished under a cotoneaster bush. I got my camera and waited because I thought "I know he doesn't live under there" Two minutes later he emerged, with his mouth full of dried leaves. As he is obviously "feathering his nest" it occured to me that he must be a 'politician hedgehog'. I moved to another window to see where he was going because several trips were involved. Hedgehog - I now know where you intend to spend the winter. You can relax safe in the knowledge that I wont allow you to be disturbed. Unless of course we move shortly after Xmas. All about Hedgehogs - this BBC page is the nicest and most informative link. In fact their first picture looks very like our little chap - perhaps he was moonlighting.

Picture 3 is especially for Jill because she said the one I used for Rockingham Castle was not very 'Castle-Y' and I agree. This main entrance is in fact the only castle-y bit about the whole place which, as castles go is on the small side. It has a Belvoir Castle feel to it but not as big or Castle-like.

Apart from 'messing about' and researching team-blogs for EPS, I also managed an hour in the galley and made Broccoli & Stilton soup from my National Trust soup book. Another good one which I have made several times before. Very easy to do, and to get right. I won't bore you with the methodology.

Comments.......You are right about Delia not grinding her own spices Bungus. She would put it, as I do into the "Life's to short to stuff a mushroom" category. The 'Voting for Sherwood' online is possible but awful to do. So many hoops to jump through. You have to register first before being allowed to vote etc.. many many people just won't be bothered.

Welcome Nice Man. I think that in many ways the Practice 'Round The Corner' is better than the Church Street one. But ours please click has got a pretty website. Now then, how about that? In our surgery one of the digital notices says ' Carers Advice available'. I misread it as "Careers Advice available" and thought "Oh mi gawd - they want me to go back to work".

Unfortunately due to both Y and Jill not being very well the projected Tate Britain visit for the Millais Exhibition had to be cancelled. Jill feels she may be able to rearrange the tickets. But getting them both feeling 100% again is more important. Elli, who might be the source of Y's attack has recovered a lot and Y already feels better. Y has taken some St.Pancras shots on her mobile, also a video, so I am looking forward to seeing them

Quotation for the day......This strikes me as unavoidably true:-

"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it"

Michel de Montaigne

One helluva writer, from the 16th Century, and I am the proud ower of a collection of his essays. Unfortunately not a first edition !

Can't find another in my motorbike series. So you will just have to do with pedal cycles. Sleep tight and I'll catch you tomrrow............

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Return of The Goldfinch - chicken curry

Until just before Strictly...... It Takes Two... I thought there was not going to be a blog at all today. I won't bore you with the technical problems, because eventually, here I am.

As you will see from Picture 1 our wandering Goldfinches have returned. It really pleases me because so few other people have them at all. This morning the Greenfinches were here too, being assertive as is their wont. Really envious of your Goldcrests/Firecrests Jill - please keep us up-to-date. I'm not turning into a 'twitcher' but I love the garden birds and to me, they amply repay the small fortune I spend on their 'refreshments'. As I tell Y, it's better than 'wild wild women, whisky, and song' and I've never been able to sing anyway.

It's been a 'good news/ bad news day'. The good/nay excellent news is that the Dent Man came and the rear panel dent is no more. He also tapped out the front 'white-van man dents and scratches' and gave me the number of a paint-man who will give it a quick spray over. The car looks respectable again - total cost £50 ! I got him to split it with the result that my unexplained dents came to £30 and Roy's came to £20. So, no more sleepless nights for Roy !

The potentially bad news is about the house sale. Aunty Etty did some inspired googling and her results are certainly not blog-able. As barristers say "Further and better particulars will follow".

An example of horrible English - In the Surgery they have a digital display board on which your name appears and which room you are to go to etc., they also have a notice which appears saying:-

"Smoking cessation advice available"

Oh dear ! Oh dear !

Picture 2 is a Delia 'chicken curry' I decided to cook at lunchtime. It was a success ( as always with Delia) and tasted delicious.

Dear Readers ....Could I ask for your support, whichever part of the Country you live in. Next Wednesday evening on the ITV you will have the chance to vote for Sherwood, The Living Legend - all the other contestants have already had lots of help and we really need that £50 million in Sherwood.

A telephone number will be published. But, as you will see from the link you will also be able to vote online.

Glad you like the scarf. It caused much amusement yesterday because some people assumed I had bought it for Y. They immediately accepted though, that it was for me ! I shall be able to wave it as a banner because occasionally something reminds me that the old socialist embers are still glowing. I love this quote for instance:-

"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed"

Who, if you've every read it, can forget the first line of his Moby Dick :-

"Call me Ishmael"

I decided to give my Camera Club a miss this evening because I feel a little 'under-exposed and certainly not sharp'. Tomorrow morning I'm going to try to get in to see one of the doctors and if not, certainly early next week.

Different bike. Sleep tight. Catch you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rockingham Castle Day - Cold Turkey - Scarf

We had a good day at Rockingham and it was lovely to be out with all our Nat Trust chums again. Although we only had 'sunny spells' it didn't actually rain until we were nearly back in Mansfield. As you will see from Picture One, I pay Peggy a small retainer to walk across pictures in her red coat. That little splash of red, livens things up. Constable was very keen on his little blobs of red.

Although the original site dates from William The Conqueror's times the place is mainly Tudor and they have hundreds of pieces that have been there since then and there is something fascinating about seeing a large scrubbed general purpose table in the servants quarters that has been there for 400 years or so. It is one of Y's favourite periods and she loved the day.

The Castle Restaurant has a reputation for excellent food. Our Xmas lunch was OK but not excellent. Although there were refectory tables the waitresses brought the plated-up slices of turkey, stuffing ball (about half-inch diameter) to everyone in the hall rather than a table at a time and said the veg would follow. By the time it arrived the plated meal had gone cold, along with the gravy. The turkey had that 'cooked and sliced yesterday - reheated today flavour'. There were no glasses and I had to ask for a jug of water, and glasses. "How many for?" I was asked quite sharply. "I think perhaps everyone on the table would like a glass" I said, and 9 heads nodded vigorously in agreement.

Sorry about the whinge because overall we had a super day. And I bought this rather subdued red scarf in the gift shop. It has a certain Noel Coward ambience to it ! Perhaps I should wear it when I want to be witty and inventive.

Quotation........ Got to be really....

"I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me"

Comments.......Jill. I must mug-up on firecrests because even if I heard one I don't think I would recognise it. Steve's Lisa will know, she is ace at bird-rec. Annie Leibowitz is certainly a strange woman in all sorts of ways. But you can't knock her photography - she is brilliant. The Alan Bennet novella sounds a good read. One of the only writers with the 'laugh-out-loud factor' for me was Auberon Waugh sadly gone. And P. J. O'Rourke comes close.

Thanks Bungus fior the latest episode in the Hospital saga. Please keep 'em coming. It's good to have some humour 'injected'. You might win an 'a-ward'.

Y is of to London tomorrow and I'm sure she will enjoy seeing her little people. She and Jill are meeting on Friday at Tate Britain for lunch. I ought to do some work for my camera club which meets tomorrow evening, but I've been so busy and I am a little tired. Prolly be fine in the morning though. Even if I don't take any work along it will be nice to see everybody.

Sleep tight and I'll catch you tomorrow........

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nat Trst Regional Meeting - Wet and Windy

The picture is not published on grounds of quality but because it is a 'collector's item' - RG in a shirt & tie. Because it was a formal meeting with Chairmen, and Regional Directors, and important people in general.

And please do not read the title as me trying to say that the Regional Meeting was 'Wet and Windy' because it wasn't. It was lively, well-informed and stimulating.

The little bits that I contributed were well received. My point about the need for the Nat Trust to create links with other interest-groups, as with photographers via the Magnum 'Climate Change' Exhibition in Nottingham Castle in the Summer received unanimous support. I won't bore you with the rest. It was nice to see Y back to her ebullient self and engaged in animated conversations. Like me though she is exhausted and a full day is more than enough. I just don't know how people manage to do 5 days, one after the other. Did we really used to do that ?

Tomorrow all we need to do is sit in a Coach and be transported to Rockingham

Although this is a miniblogette, this is from Bungus. Please click for one of his recent experiences. Keep chuckling Bob - it's all you can do. Thanks for the chuckle.

No quotes, no smileys, just need some kip before tomorrow. I've read 'comments' which need ripostes and things. Post Rockingham I will be back.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Quiet day - Blood Test - Haircut - Y at Dentist

Had to publish this chaffinch snap . He looks so cold, and the winter hasn't really started yet.

My 'photo filing' system needs a title each day for my current pictures folder and I called today's "Chaffinch and Baked Veg." - then changed it because it sounded like a recipe. Just 3 jobs this morning - my blood-test, then Y to Dentist for check-up (all clear after 3 minute examination - cost £15.39p -no wonder dentists can afford decent cars) - then me for a hair-cut. Being due to speak at the National Trust Regional Meeting tomorrow I didn't want to look 'seedy' as Y puts it. I needn't really have bothered -

Being a careful man I decided this afternoon to check the bits of the National Trust website that I was going to complain about and suggest a remedy for. I was going to put it all on a memory stick so I could do a little presentation ! Good job I checked, because they've fixed it ! Crafty bounders. I would have looked a proper charley.

I cooked this for lunch, our scrumptious baked veg á la Delia. The chunks of celeriac are a particular favourite of mine. I also grilled tomatoes at the same time as the sausages and I do these by Y's method - cut in half laterally, a quick spray of olive-oil, dust liberally with salt and pepper, and grill for longer than you expect It all worked beautifully, but then Delia's recipes always do.

After our Nat Trust commitment tomorrow we are also out with the National Trust on Wednesday. Our Mansfield Centre Christmas Coach trip, this year to Rockingham Castle and we are looking forward to it. Ooooerrr - a proper Castle by the look of it ! Lets hope the food is good.

We have just watched Strictly come Dancing - It takes two. Nice interview with John Barnes - what a lovely fella......... And THE FONS was on. Henry Winkler no less. Wow - it took you back (would you believe 33yrs? ) and he is still great. Grey-haired but still cool - shame he wore a green sweater instead of a leather-jacket though. He is a big fan of the show, the American version usually, but judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli also judge over there. He was very well informed about the British contestants and had interesting things to say. Nice bit of telly.

Comments.....Got to go back to blog of Wednesday, 14th November when I discussed the Aldi print service. There is a query comment from William Walsh (Billy) asking about the Fuji paper. Its full title is' Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper Supreme' and I would describe it as High Gloss. My pleasure to be of help.

Thanks Bungus, as usual, and I think I agree about Cranford.

Just another thought about the RPS yesterday and Barbie Lidsay. She described in detail her methods of obtaining people pictures and how she always asks permission but then (clever clever her) if people refuse she just takes it anyway. So long as she won't complain if someone decides to wrap her top-of-the-range camera round her neck one day. I entirely disapprove of this sort of thing. Some times people who have interesting faces are so down on their luck that about all they still own is the copyright to their own face. To steal that from them is not a praiseworthy act.

Quotation for the Day......What an economy of words and how true......

"An artist may visit a museum but only a pedant can live there"


.....Must have an early night because we need to pick Peter up quite early for our NT commitment. The OAGs have hidden my Nat.Trust identity badge somewhere - but somebnody will surely give me another one in the morning. Sleep tight and catch you tomorrow...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Short blog - RPS all day - Strictly - Cranford

A short blog this evening because of the constraints of time. And channel-capacity (my brain's not the blog's). This morning was our Regional RPS day at Ravenshead which featured Russell and Barbie Linday. Please see the above pictures. The one on the right demonstrates an interesting innovation. As the prints went up on the easel they were projected simultaneously on a screen on the left. This helps people who cannot see A4 prints on an easel 20feet away. Personally I always take binoculars, but the practice has never really caught on. Photographers can be strange people - they would prefer to sit and not be able to see what they have paid to have a look at.

It was an interesting day. The photographic quality of both lecturer's pictures was exemplary. Crisp, beautiful colour balance etc., but Russell, for my taste, was too much 'into' photoshoppery. Skies from one place, figures from another, buildings altered etc., etc, and that, of course, is all in the same picture. His website can be found behind Russell Lindsay and Barbie's can be found behind Barbie Lindsay whose photography I can't fault but whose fetishistic choice of subject matter was often distasteful. I'd never even heard of 'suspension-piercing' where people have actual hooks inserted in their skin so they can be literally hung up. And shan't mind at all if I never have to hear of it again ! Diane Arbus would have been shocked. I mentioned this to Barbie at the interval but the name didn't seem to ring a bell.

Much nicer inclusion now. David sent me this short video of the ultimate in domino-effects. They had played it with the Jenga blocks at TJ's but David went up the loft and found loads of dominos and this was the result. I love the real fire burning behined the table. David and family went over to Steve's last night for supper and had a great time apparently.

Strictly come Dancing was true to form, and I won a small bet with Y that the dance-off would be between John Barnes and Kelly Brook. Unfortunately John lost but he has been great to have around and Kelly & Brendan looked duly 'sobered' which can do nothing but good.

In a few minutes I shall have to have a break to pull in Cranford. (just watched it - v.good TV again, in my opinion. There is an important death but I won't spoil it for those who plan to watch the repeat)

Tomorrow I must have a quiet day. Only my blood-test planned. Because Thursday we have a National Trust Regional committee-meeting at Clumber and I'm due to say something about the national website. Then on Wednsday we have our National Trust (Mansfield Centre) annual Xmas outing, this year to Rockingham and my first turkey dinner.

Comments.....Thanks Bungus for the great stuff ablout Mateus Rosé and particularly for the copy of of such a witty and germane piece of writing. If I've missed some comments over the weekend I apologise and I will catch up - I promise. Vis á vis the England footie manager Debra's Andy says Mourinho is too young, even though Andy is a keen Chelsea supporter. He personally would favour 'a mature manager from abroad' or so my Palmers Green contact wife tells me !

Daily Quote :-

" I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do "

Willa Cather

who, unless memory deceives wrote The Pioneers ? or a similar title

.......Catch you tomorrow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lidl, Morrisons, Soup and Strictly.

Still improving steadily and was pleased to be able to go shopping. So we did Lidl first then Morrisons. We kept seeing camera club people. AnonymousReg and I had spoken on the phone earlier and predicted meeting in Morrisons, which we did. Everywhere was very busy but we are not used to Saturday mornings.

Y cooked some 'bakes' and chips and peas for lunch which made a good accompaniment to a programme about Volcanoes which Y had recorded. It was quite good actually and first of several about The Power of the Planet. As you know we always enjoy a lecture with pictures.

After an afternoon nap I decided to cook some soup, to accompany Strictly come Dancing and selected this 'Leek, Parsnip and Ginger' recipe from my National Trust soup book. Very different ! But successful. Fresh root ginger in soups is perhaps an unusual concept but it works. The recipe also required dry white wine, which we didn't have. So following Delia's dictum I used this Mateus Rosé which we did have and that also worked beautifully. It was earmarked for going in a raffle anyway so we shall have to contribute something else. Do you remember in the 50s when we thought we were so sophisticated ordering Mateus Rosé ? Or Blue Nun ? Oh dear, those were the days.

Also, the recipe called for vegetable stock. But I prefer the Marigold - 'Bouillon' - again I suspect due to Delia. It's great that she is coming out of retirement in the New Year. What fun ! One of the young lady journalists who write in the centre pages of the Telegraph admitted she had become a Delia devotee because her recipes always work. She said she was fed up with cooking some complicated dinner-party main course from Jamie or whoever, which she finished up 'binning' and then sending out for a pizza.

After I had taken this snap, the OldAgeGremlins tried to persuade me to put the top of the bouillon-carton on my camera instead of the Nikon lens-cap. Thank goodness it didn't quite fit ! It was close though.

Comments......Of course you are all right about the Rocking Horse Man being David. Only explanation I can think of (and it is a bit limp) as some of you know I have sons John and David and I was sure his name was the same as one of them. Picked the wrong one is all !

And re: you footie-fans. As blog-meister I have no objection at all to you all using these columns to discuss footie. It is a close thing but we must at some stage, have discussed something even more trivial - so please go ahead. Y is quite interested in the idea and says she might actually join in !!

How interrsting Bungus about 'Suicide is Painless'. He deserved to make a lot of money from it. Great theme song - Great series !

By the way. Whilst reading the Horace wiki-page yesterday I discovered that we have Horace to thank for 'carpe diem' (seize the day) and 'aurea mediocritas' (the golden mean) - I went through all those Art History days and nobody ever told me that. I was told endlessly about its use, how to construct it etc., but nobody credited Horace with coining the phrase. How he would turn in his columbarium to hear camera-club judges rabitting on about 'the rule of thirds'.

Quote of the Day........ I rather like this :-

"Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people's characters"

Rather a dearth of info. on Margaret Halsey I'm afraid. No Wiki-page ! Whatever next?

Strictly come Dancing was good. I voted for Letitia who was excellent - Y voted for Gethin. John Barnes is probably the weakest now we are in the eighth week, and perhaps he is the one that should go. Alesha was first rate and so was Matt. At last Kelly got the smile wiped off her face, and could be in trouble. Kenny did surprisingly well and deserves to stay in. Tomorrow night all will be revealed.

Sleep tight and I'll catch you tomorrow.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lovely day with P & J - it rhymes OK ?

Legs OK. Y keeps telling me now 'not to go mad and overdo it' but, as I try to explain I've got my place in the next Olympics to consider.

Peter and Joan arrived for coffee and around 12.20pm we set off for Durban House and they had, as requested, reserved us a table in the window of the restaurant. Nice quiet table and the lady was pleased to turn down the music so we could chat. The music was attractive big-band Stan Kenton era so nothing to complain of. All our separate meals were fine and John who now runs it (Bungus and Sandra's chum) came over to chat. The restaurant is The Rocking Horse Bistro so named because of John's incredible talent for handcrafting wooden rocking horses. The are a joy to behold and touch and charmingly, children are allowed to climb on them and have-a-go. They just feel and look quality and once acquired would be in a family for many generations.
We all enjoyed the permanent D.H.Lawrence exhibition and also Maureen's Art Class's exhibition in the Rainbow Gallery. There were some good pieces and viewers were invited to vote for 'best in show' so I marked my slip and posted it in the ballot-box; I don't know whether or not the others did. I know I've published the 'Country of My Heart' exhibit before, but I make no apology. For my taste I prefer his nature writing, articles and poetry to the novels which have always seemed such turgid affairs.

A favourite part of the exhibition for me is this classroom and I'm afraid some of my older readers will remember these desks with the ink-wells. Your books lived in your individual desk and to our form-teacher Miss Spencer's annoyance, contriving to accidentally let go of the lid after putting your books away was hugely funny. A practical joke used to be to drop a small piece of carbide in the water-filled inkwell to produce room-clearing sulphur smells of which Bungus's dog Ralph would be proud.

Afterwards we returned here for a pot of tea before P & J drove home. It gets dark so early - and we know they got there because Peter e-mailed.

Comments....... You are right Bungus about great comics being gloomy and angst-ridden off-stage. No exception springs to mind. And AnonymousRob is right that an an hour in a pub with Reg is much to be preferred to one with the currently popular Iranian comedian. He doesn't seem funny at all - and no doubt doesn't drink either ! Horace 65-8 B.C. perceptively pointed out that no great poetry was written by drinkers of water.

And I enjoyed and approved of Nick Robinson's Blog. Everybody is at it ! See daily quotation below.

AnonymousRob's idea of a blog-outing to Paris by Eurostar is exciting ! Jill could join us at St Pancras etc......

Thanks Pete (Manxislander - his blog is mannanans cloak) for your kind comments. I'm not being clever with the night-time exposure, the camera works it out, and you might find your point-and-shoot does too. See if there's a 'night time' picture setting, put your camera on something solid and click. See what happens. But I won't hear of you putting down your own pictures; I've always thought them great and they do what you want them to do i.e. give a sound idea of what the Isle of Man is like.

Maybe Jill's got AOL probs again but I'm sure she will surface in due course. In any-case it isn't like compulsory homework; you don't need to hand it in on a daily basis.

Quotation of the Day:-

"The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time"

George Bernard Shaw

A little gentle shopping tomorrow methinks. I feel well up to steering a trolley round Morrisons and I might even cook something, or at least make some soup. Y will keep telling me to sit on my kitchen stool, and I shall keep forgetting. It's soup weather, and set to become even colder. Already down to 32F in Nottingham and the Moon is 99% full.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nearly 'back' to normal. Pictures again.

Just happened to be up and around at 3.30am, making a pot of tea on my bedroom tray, and there was the moon, over Brynsmoor Road. So thinking "I can't do another day's blog without fresh pictures" - put my camera on a tripod pointed it out of the window and let it do its best.

Thirteen seconds at f10 (I know, photographers - don't ask) and I've done nothing to the result except crop it. A copper-bottomed 'record shot' because it captures just how it was.

Picture 2 might not be very good but it is, at last, a wren. Such furtive little creatures and I thought that, before I get my camera he/she will be gone. But I was lucky - I've been trying to capture a wren-picture for my collection for ages and here we are. For me it's nearly the equivalent of a Yeti.

I'm also pleased to report that we have sparrows, blue tits, great tits, and the goldfinches paid us a visit this morning. Plus the inevitable blackbirds and a robin - also the woodpieons, and ring-doves. Fortunately we seem light on magpies so far, and I assume the starlings have gone for their winter peregrinations.

Back/legs-wise I am nearly back to normal and we are looking forward to Peter and Joan's visit tomorrow. Then next week we shall be busy - National Trust stuff mostly, including our Mansfield Centre's Christmas trip to Rockingham. I'll provide a link later.

Comments...I've sorted out by e-mail exhange with Bungus, Sandra's position re back attacks. I know how stoical she is but, as Jill also comments, expert 'advice' by non-sufferers is at best useless and can sometimes be counter-productive.

Couldn't agree more about 'un-nice' people who achieve high office or great wealth by trampling on others. And we must put EuroStar to Paris on our TBD list, perhaps in the new year. To see the refurbished St.Pancras, the train trip, those galleries (if we can only do one I prefer the Musée d'Orsay to the Louvre. ) Having said that, if you open the links, The Louvre's website is enchanting.

Thank you Jill for your comments, about my kind remarks, about your comments etc...... Ha Ha!

Nor being a footie-fan AnonymousRob I really can't comment on Shearer. When I told Y what you had said she was surprised and keeps muttering Chelsea and Mourinho. And then she says 'Phwoooor' or something. I am at a loss to explain these obviously expert views.

Quotation for the Day - Courtesy of Bungus

"Doctor, I can't pronounce my F's, T's and H's"
"Well you can't say farer than that then"

Tommy Cooper

Comic genius he may have heen, but from his wiki-page he doesn't sound a very nice man.

Good to be more or less back to normal and I'll catch you tomorrow. After our lunch out. Sleep tight folks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks for good wishes - much better

Thank you all for your 'get well' messages and I am quite a bit better today. I managed to lurch as far as the scanner - to do a 'scanned' still life and subsequently to mess about with the image in Photoshop. My camera has remained in its bag throughout. Some may say "It would have been best not to bother with the scanner either". But it was fun.

My right leg is more or less sea-worthy now and my left, always the troublesome one, is considerably better. Painwise I'm now tolerable. As AnonymousRob points out though - it's not much fun being 'legless' when you don't drink. One more 'lying-down' day and I'll be fine. Peter and Joan are coming over on Friday and we are taking them to Durban House for lunch. Peter is to do the driving and in anycase it is only a mile up the road. They haven't seen the permanent Lawrence Exhibition and we'll be able to pull in Maureen's Art Exhibition at the same time.

I've caught up on reading and forums. And what about this awful business of the mislaid HMRC discs with the personal details of 24 million familes thereon. Although I've mentioned it on WUforums, nobody nationally seems to have grasped the sheer unlikelihood of two CDs being able to carry 24 million separate sets of data ! I fear there is something we aren't being told

One piece of reading was the weekend Telegraph's supplement about EuroStar and St Pancras
However the most informative brief link is their official website, linked above. And the point is made that we can travel all the way from Nottingham ! Seems like a 'must' to me.

I may have mentioned that our Prestige steamer had broken down, and we rely on it so much. It had slipped my memory how easily carrots boil dry for instance. When I rang Prestige a haughty young lady reprimanded me for calling it 'our steamer' - it is apparently an A La Carte, Cook N Steam. Whatever, we soon became chums and she is sending a new 'probe' - she says that that is the bit that always goes wrong. The 'probe' is the bit sticking out the side and a replacement is £16, much better than £50 for a new complete one.

Comments.....I agree with Rob. Don't say Reg, that your 'niceness' has held you back. Everybody I know is of the opinion that your life is a great success. And I don't mind at all reading your comments twice !

Sorry Jill that you AOL is playing up again, and when it lets you post them, you comments are smashing. We've tried and failed over the years to discover possible causes for my back/leg attacks. But, like Sandra's they seem random ! The current pain-clinic advice is that if you have a 'flare-up' as they call them you should 'carry on' and not go to bed. Sandra and I agree that that advice was penned by someone who has never had the experience. Because it is physically impossible to stand up for more than 30 seconds ! Anyway................. Thanks for the further 'bombazine' info. Rob will enjoy that. And yes, Laycock is great. I have a photo somewhere of the window which was the subject for Fox Talbot's first picture. But it was back in the film-camera days and I can't find it so on the left is his original. Great innit?

Dear Bungus. I did not mean to attribute strange behaviour to our silver birch. I know they do it; what I can't understand is how the tree works out what to do ? And thanks for the Andrew Motion parody. Much more fun than the original. Thanks for the 'pudding addendum'. As Jill says "just the odd calorie or two" as with Maureen's trifle by the sound of it.

AnonymousRob. Y knows much more about the 19th century than I do, mainly due to her love of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood the 19th century novel in general and Jane Austen who was of course a tad earlier. Click for a reading list. Y usually re-reads her Jane Austen each year. I don't like re-reading novels because I know how they are going to end and I get bored.

Today's quotation ..... I like this, even though sometimes it is difficult to live up to:-

"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything"

Mark Twain

Reg was once much amused when I told him that I was trained always to tell the truth unless on oath. Sleep tight everybody. An early nght. I keep hearing dismayed groans from the 'telly' room where Y is watching England v Croatia. .......Catch you tomorrow......

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Legs - Still not good

These are side-by-side because No 2 is a crop of the middle bit of No 1 which sets the context. Two years ago we had the top taken out of this silver birch because we were worried about it blowing over and harming someone on the footpath. What is amazing is how the two branches just below the cut have decided to grow vertically, rather than out sideways like those only an inch or two lower down.

It is as if the tree has decided to grow back into a traditional silver birch shape. How does it know to do that ? - the difference in light levels must be negligible. Comments please !

Sorry to report hardly any improvement in my legs. It was necessary to get up this morning and drive to the surgery for my routine blood-test - but it was a perilous business. Going out with my WOW chums tomorrow is not really possible and I have decided to give EPS on Thursday night a miss too. Reg has offered to collect prints, and help out generally, just because he is a very nice man. Don't squirm with embarrassment Reg - it's true!! But I am disappointed that local pubs don't do a home-delivery run with chip-butties. Apart from the pain involved though it would be a disaster to fall over and break something. However, in recent years this has happened a few times and I have always got better and got going again. And Y is mking my time in bed as enjoyable as possible ! If we were 30yrs younger you could all misconstrue that, but I know you won't.

Anne Widdicombe enjoyed Cranford too. Please click for the link to herer article in The Daily Mail. Bythe way, for the benefit of new readers : if words are in orange, it will be a live link which just needs a left-click. Also a left-click on a picture will produce an enlarged version.

In Woman's Hour they are doing 'Dombey and Son' and it really is good. Mrs Brown is so frightening and then when I looked, I found that it was Geraldine James who is first-class at playing scary women.

Quotation for the Day Managed to unearth another:-

"The kind of patriotism which consists in hating all other nations"

Elizabeth Gaskell

For some reason known only to the compilers of qotations dictionaries she seems under-represented. The online ones carried a couple and my big Oxford only yielded seven ! I shall just have to re-read the books and prepare my own.

Comments Sorry AnonymousRob. I dont know much more about bombazine than yesterday's link. So I've linked it again. However, and this is because you asked please click for a little more. You are right about the 'confection' links though but I can't remember what they were called. I bet Bungus will though. Your efforts to obtain a syringe from the chemists were admirable but maybe the suit was a bad idea. If you had been suitably pale, skinny and dressed like a junkie, they would have probably given you a box-full.

Bungus. Your bread & butter pudding sounds magnifique. And I can only recommend readers read your comment for the recipe. I love the 1/8 pint cream and then later 'another 1/8 pint cream'. If you could e-mail me a portion I'm sure it would do mi' legs good.

I'm still with Freeman over the 'spies of colour'. To me it suggested bright bits of colour just peering round the edges of leaden clouds ( as they do). "Spires of colour" would have given an altogther different image.

Whatever, I think he was perhaps a better poet than our current laureate Andrew Motion. His Diamond Wedding poem for Queenie and Phil was pretty dire. Click here to read the full piece. Although Judi Dench did her best with it, to have to deliver lines like :-

"The years stacked up and as their weight increased
they pressed the stone of time to diamond"

Must have made her cringe. Bob's granddaughter Jessica would have rejected it out of hand.

I think Jill missed out yesterday. But I now she's OK because she and Y have exchanged e-mails about Y's next London visit and pulling in the Millais exhibition is mooted. Lucky them!

Off now to watch Claudia and It Takes Two. And there is a ham sandwich to go with it. David was supposed to be sending me a video which I could blog, but it hasn't arrived.

Must be on its way. Sleep tight. Catch you tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Short Blog - Confined to Bed

A short blog only this evening because I am in bed with my laptop. My legs have been getting bad again and this morning Y saw me walking - or trying to - and ordered me back to bed.

If they are like this with these pain-killer patches I shudder to think what they would be like without them. I'm not aiming to try. My day has been quite pleasant really - OneWord Radio nearly continuously and that's a link to todays schedule so you can see what I've been enjoying. Tim Piggot-Smith reading Michael Dobbs' Winston's War was superb.

Y also cossetted me with cups of tea, coffee, biscuits and for lunch "scrambled eggs on toast with smoked salmon" delicious. She gets the scrambled eggs just right - not easy is it?

No 'today's photographs' for obvious reasons, but I thought you would like to see Picture 1 which is a Cyanotype which AnonymousRob was kind enough to do for me from one of my Magpie Mine pictures. One can now do it digitally, because I don't like to think of him slaving away in a darkroom with baths of noxious chemicals. But he loves it and I can understand how with spending so much time on a computer at work it is nice to get into the darkroom at home. A bit like me and the kitchen.

I am to be allowed up to watch Claudia and It Takes Two and the later I aim to watch the Genius of Photography repeat. We watched and enjoyed Cranford - it was really an hour-long period costume soap-opera. But that isn't a big criticism because with the top-shelf actors and an interesting story line the hour passed very quickly. Elizabeth Gaskell was a much more humourous writer than I had realised. I am keen to hear the views of readers.

Quote of the day:-

"Bombazine would have shown a deeper sense of her loss"

Elizabeth Gaskell

Weird to think she wrote Cranford just thirteen years before my Gran was born in 1867. My Gran used to wear odd things made of bombazine. Maybe Jill knows about bombazine because that wiki link tells me it had a 'silk warp and a worsted weft' which sounds like Jill territory.

Comments Bungus. I know you have never quite recovered from Hopkins' "brinded cow" but the Freeman quote is as he spelt it with one exception. I admit a typo in leaving the 'e' out of 'lovelier'. Personally I thought that "the subtle spies of colour' was more redolent of meaning than 'spires of colour' would have been. Matter of poetic taste I s'pose.

Jill. I cheated and went back to the blog, after your comment. I left 'snadwich' though because I had eaten it by that time. I hope your boiled eggs and soldiers were just right. Re the photoshoppery artist. Abit like Bungus, if she says it is Art, then it is. The "Is it Art?" debate has always been rather sterile. The only important criteria is whether or not you like it, and whether or not it grabs your attention and works. What people decide to 'label' a piece has never, in my opinion, mattered at all.

Catch you all tomorrow.. Sleep tight. Off to watch Genius of Photography now.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rainy Sunday - a typical November day

Picture 1 is courtesy of Bungus and shows two sunset photos over Ollerton taken about 20 mins apart on 2nd/3rd November (from the EXIF data). And, as he says, they demonstrate how much the 'colour temperature' changes when the sodium discharge street lights come on. Thanks for submitting them Bungus.

Picture 2 is courtesy of Gustave Caillibotte and is here as a result of a conversation about the effect of Art on photography.

I was making the point that we should never forget what a profound effect there has been the other way round i.e. the effect of Photography on Art. This picture demonstrates the point admirably. There was no need for old Gustave to paint half a man on the right-hand edge, or for the umbrella on the left to partially obscure the horse buggy. But, as a 'frozen moment' it works beautifully. Henri Cartier-Bresson was to be 'mining' the same Paris streets 30 odd years later for what he and later photographers were to call 'The Decisive Moment'.

When I said the 'scratch and dent' man's estimate was high, I meant that the dent was more serious than I thought and would be more difficult to fix. I actually thought the price he suggested for fixing it, after he had explained what he would need to do, was quite reasonable. It remains a moot point however whether or not it needs to be done at all. When I spoke to David this morning he seemed to think that, provided I can prevent rust it could well be left.

He also told me that, in his garages to which there is no power, he has fitted a solar panel which should provide enough to power the up and over door and also a PIR light? as well. Good thinking David !

Busy evening ahead. The Strictly come Dancing result. And then Cranford, should be good but one never knows. That is the best link I could find. No doubt be better when we've seen the first episode.

No time for a quote, sorry.....

Oh yes I have. I was an hour out re the start of Strictly........ So:-

"Than these November skies
Is no sky lovlier. The clouds are deep
Into their grey the subtle spies
Of colour creep
Changing their high austerity to delight
Till ev'n the leaden interfolds are bright"

We really must award Bungus some sort of crossword prize for managing to get the answer even without the full clue, which was :- "worn out horse endlessly tired" (4) So by knocking the end off 'jaded' we get 'jade' .

Off now to make a snadwich to eat while watching you know what.

Sleep tight. Catch you tomorrow.

Stop press :- John Barnes survives another dance-off. Kate out and it's snowing in NG16'

Cranford next. Having just seen the latest trailer I suspect I might be disappointed.

All comments will be answered tomorrow.

All the best.......

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Still Weekend Off - Still cold.

A scene of domestic bliss - even though neither of us drink anymore somebody might call in who does.

It was quite late when I went into the office and the sun was shining through a gap in the curtains and I thought it looked pretty - and, nicely structured.

The 'scratch and dent man ' arrived and worked out the cost of repairing the dent in the rear nearside panel (Roys) and the scratches on the front nearside wheel arch (mine) and unfortunately the price was much more than I expected. I wont publish the figure because I don't want Roy having a heart attack. I think Y's original idea of just leaving it unrepaired is probably the best notion. None of the 'damage' stops it going and I'm not intending to enter the car in a 'concours d'Elegance' competition. I hope I've spelled that correctly because I know we have at least one reader with more than a smattering.......... p.s.- I know my spelling is OK - because I just wiki-ied it, so I'm making it a live link. Quite an interesting read, but Wiki so often is ! N'est ce pas? Ha Ha!

And AnonymousRob, I will e-mail you the chap's contact details. He seemed very competent and reasonable and was quite happy for you to go on his list. My particular dent is simply more serious than I thought.

I know Picture 2 is boring but in my pursuit of perfect coffee I have begun to grind only enough beans for one filling of the cafetiere. At the stage illustrated we all know the aroma, but when ground and brewed the coffee often seems to fail to reach the hoped-for heights. Sometimes I use my old fashioned espresso pot whereby the flavour is first rate, but it only produces one decent sized mug. OK - 4 espresso-mugs but that doesn't come anywhere my caffeine dependency level.

This Starbucks method talks good sense.

Before leaving cookery matters I have a gremlin question. When you break an egg-shell very carefully, wanting to fry or poach the egg why do the gremlins make sure that the yolk splits? Yet when you break 4 into a basin to do scrambled eggs and it doesn't matter, they leave each yolk in pristine wholeness. Is my paranoia playing up again? Or do these OAGs afflict other people too?

Quotation of the day ...Emerson yesterday, Mark Twain today :-

"I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way"

I guess that Mark would have been a member of our anti spell-checker and pro typo gang. No doubt the leader.

Strictly come Dancing was an excellent show again. John Barnes wasn't so good this week and for me, it was touch and go between Letitia and Alesha. In the end I voted for Alesha because of her outstanding performance in a ballroom dance where she had to be elegant and controlled. Y voted for Gethin and Camilla. They were good but I felt it was all Camilla and the judges agreed. Be interesting to see tomorrow night. If Kate has to do a dance-off, she will be out - there is no doubt about that. But she is such a nice girl and apparently very popular on the telly.

Comments now....Glad we agree about the artificial look to today's carnations Jill and you are right about the pictures. The crossword was easier today. By 9am I had finished it except for one clue about a worn-out horse nearly tired. The answer was only 4 letters but I couldn't get the word 'spavined' out of my head. In the end Y put 'Mare' in which I'm sure is right but neither of us know why.

Bungus. You would think 'discarded cami-knickers wouldn't you. You are quite right about retirement and income. And what an old romantic you are ! There is a quote (no time to research it) about wealth not being about having lots of possessions - it's all about having few wants. There was a marvellous obituary in this mornings Telegraph about Joseph Stawinoga who has lived for the last 40 years in a tent on a central reservation in Wolverhampton. He has been revered as a god by the Hindu and Sikh communities for giving up all wordly possessions. They have taken him food and blankets and things on a daily basis.

Sorry its been such a long one this evening. I got carried away. Sleep tight and I'll catch you tomorrow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Start Weekend Off - Shopping - Still cold

Another cold misty dawn. Freezing, but no ground frost. Not unpleasant though.

I fixed my laptop AVG firewall problem. It struck me that the original programme might be corrupted so I uninstalled it and tried to upload the most recent upgrade from the AVG website, but in the end had to ring them because it kept saying the web-version of "f... off". The problem was that, with the licence no. I had misread Anita's (at the Computer Shop) 5 as an S. After I had keyed in the correct number it downloaded without further ado. Don't know if the 'corruption' of AVG is the underlying fault with the 'system restore' not working, because, of course, if I was daft enough to try a system restore' to an earlier date, I would unintentionally uninstall the upgrade I had just succeeded with. Tell you better in a couple of days when I'll give it a whirl. I apologise to those readers to whom the foregoing para. is double-dutch.

Comments ........ Got to go to comments straight away because AnonymousRob's extracts from the Judge's remarks on Study for Bullfight No 1 were hilarious and believable enough to make me splutter over my cup of tea. Y thought I was having a fit.

And thanks Bungus for the 'word play' with punk-chew-ation. You are 'dead' right about the power of the placebo too. If you expect it to do you good, it will - and I'm sure that experienced doctors (of all cultures and over countless centuries) use the principle all the time. People simply believe that, if a potion is prescribed, all will be well. I was delighted to learn from the above link that 'Placebo' is Latin for "I shall please".

Also, I have discussed our Karen in a separate e-mail.

The two pictures are side by side because I can't decide if I prefer the monochrome version or the coloured. Your opinions would be valued and, of course, you are perfectly at liberty to dislike both. For my taste the original colour of the flower itself is so sugary and twee. I quite like carnations but they seem to be breeding them these days to look like artificial flowers,

Day's Quotation - it's got to be an Emerson day :-

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail"

Ralph Waldo Emerson

....... Coffee now, finish crossword, read, some radio............It's all go innit? Sleep tight folks. Catch you tomrrow.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hannah learing personal smilieys - and etc...

When I went over to Burton Joyce to collect Y it was possible, before she went to her dancing class, to have some time with Hannah on the subject of personalised smileys. This one is entirely her own work and she now understands a bit about HTML tags. Y had had a good day and although it is probably psychological she seem to be less troubled by her cough. The doctor said it would be some time for the effects of the tablet change to make a difference.

I have a computer problem. My AVG firewall wont switch itself on! I've tried several things including a 'system restore' but whatever date I select, Windows tells me I can't restore to that date. Everything else works so I've just switched the Windows firewall on instead. A case for WebUser forums I think plus some work, tomorrow.

The picture is a leaf from Y's birthday bouquet using my scanner as a camera, with the black material from Joan behind it. I like the result and shall continue to play some more. My capacity for 'messing about' seems almost infinite.

The lecturer at Eastwood Photographic Society was Jim Price and the title of the evening was "Every picture tells a story" and he did just that. Certainly not a dinosaur and he took us from his earliest efforts, through his army service and up to the present day. He isn't anti-photoshop and neither is his wife Fred and together they put together a most entertaining evening. And the quality of his work was very good indeed. Vibrant and interesting !

I had nice chats and Trevor (Architect) who I sent an ArtDaily link to, and about Zaha Hadid, said how much he is enjoying ArtDaily! Yet another convert - the trouble is, it is possible to spend too much time therein just browsing. Still - better than most of the 'telly' and certainly better than the News ! The leading article in the current issue is about Francis Bacon's 'Study for Bullfight No.1'. What power? Camera Club judges wouldn't like the construction at all - he didn't bother his head with 'the rule of thirds' .

Comments. Ha Ha! Bungus. Nice one about does the Comma eat shoots and leaves? Laughed so much I was worried about my Truss. Tried to think of a witty rejoinder - but failed.

You are quite right AnonymousRob to aim for retirement at the earliest possible opportunity. You have never been frightened of hard work, but we are all entitled to as many years as possible doing what we please.

Quote for the day:-

"The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact"

Big news I nearly missed. Karen (cleaning lady) is back in Brinsley and is now living at her Mum's. Now there's a relief ! We would have missed her.

I know that at the bottom it says this was written at 4.20pm but it is telling lies. The Hannah smiley bit was, over at Burton Joyce. The time now is actually 4am the following morning. Catch you later - if my computer is working.