Monday, August 29, 2005

That's where you'll find me

We went on a nature ramble today, and we found blackberries (yummy);

and crabapples (a bit blurry cos the breeze was blowing the branches);

and sloes (where's the gin?);

and elderberries (mmm, wine!);

and rowan.

Oh yes - and loads of remarkably well-grown nettles which stung Ned to mongoosery (curse those Romans for introducing them) - and four caches.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Meet me on the corner

I'm either having a Senior Moment (shut up at the back there!) or I already posted this and it vanished and now I'm tryiong to remember what I said, whcih is pushing it.


After we chuckled at Mally and Maddy having problems replacing a cache (so did we) we went off to enfortify one of our own, which people had reported as having fallen from position. So we got there, and Ned grabbed it, then noticed a muggle sitting on the steps not 10 yards from him. We ambled off to a bench to swop over the log and waited till he'd gone. We waited. And we waited. For ages. We watched while he did his deals. We wondered where the police were to move him on. After half an hour or so we reckoned my shoelaces needed tying, and we managed get the micro in position. I hope.

*Clicks 'Publish Post' more in hope than anything*

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The grass is as high as an elephant's eye

Well, not grass, really – maize. Ooh, we did have fun at Hidcote maze! First Simon arrived at Genie Towers, then Lorry, then finally Mally and Maddy, who’d overslept. We had two mazes, actually, because we didn’t have a very good map to get to the site (the maps are in the other car, and we don’t know where that is), and went up and down many rural lanes before we decided to adjourn to a pub for lunch. Refuelled, we made a second onslaught using Lorry’s gps, but abandoned that when it wanted to take us across a field and down a footpath. However success was ours – we scorned the offer of maps and boldly set off into the maize, clutching our flags on 6-foot poles to wave if we needed help. In hindsight it might have been a good idea to find out what we were actually looking for, but there were 10 numbered boards scattered around with little puzzles to collect letters to unanagrammize and solve a puzzle. The first five were found in order, then we found number 5, then we found number 5, then we found number 5 … we’d got into a loop. Whichever direction we went we ended up back at number 5. So we changed tactics, and decided not to try to get away, whereupon we found numbers 7 and 6.

Lorry had decided the best way to carry her flag was to shove it down the back of her clothes which left her hands free. Unfortunately it meant that, to avoid getting stuck under the bridges, she had to either bend double or limbo. That was when Ned and Mally started playing,

Insertion Posted by Picasa

and she ended up with more poles down her clothes than she really wanted. This made her wider than the paths and tended to get left behind when everyone ran away giggling.

Result! Posted by Picasa

Then hurrah! We found ourselves at the central point, and got yarrred at by other venturers. We met them several times actually – sometimes from behind, sometimes head on, even when we were trying to get to the same place. We found number 5 several times more, then number 8, when one of the guides on a bridge asked us if we wanted help. Tchoh! Couldn’t he see we were bold explorers? We scorned him, cantered on and found ourselves at another bridge, still with two more boards to find. He hailed us “You should have turned left after number 8, not before it like you did … twice.” Cheeky swine! Saying ‘twice’ was quite unnecessary! Besides, we didn't feel like yelling the explanation across the field - that we were avoiding a small child who was busy excavating the depths of his sinuses via his left nostril, leaving the findings encrusting on his face ... Anyway, number 9 was found, and number 5, and then hurrah! Number 10! Now all had to do was get out …

*searches books and the web for the difference between a labyrinth and a maze*

Friday, August 26, 2005

Don't let me down

On Monday we tried to drive into Stratford in the rain, but our lovely ‘new’ car started coughing and spluttering, so we took it home again. On Tuesday, in the lovely sunshine, we took it into Banbury, and although it didn’t feel quite right and didn’t have its usual acceleration we didn’t worry too much, until we were about 3 miles from the village when it suddenly died. Hopeful fiddling did nothing, so we called the RAC who were on the scene within 15 minutes. The nice young lad also tinkered with various of its entrails before giving up and towing us home. So next morning we towed it to our usual garage (I hate being towed – 30 mph when you’re only about 10 feet behind the towing car is terrifying, especially when you’re afraid the back of the towing car is going to fall off as it struggles up the hills) and hoped to have it home in the evening. They opened it up and tinkered and couldn’t find out what was wrong. Yesterday they still couldn’t find what was wrong. Today it’s at another garage being plugged into computers, and they can’t discover the fault either. There’s fuel getting through, the starter motor’s turning, there’s a spark, but it just won’t fire. And now it’s a Bank Holiday weekend so it’s stuck there till Tuesday. I expect they’ll have to take it to a main dealer and we’ll have to auction several bodily parts on ebay to afford to get it mended.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A fool such as I

I hate it when people forward bogus warnings...but this one is real*, and it's important. So please send this warning to everyone on your e-mail list:

If someone comes to your front door saying they are conducting a survey on deer ticks and asks you to take your clothes off and dance around with your arms up, DO NOT DO IT!!

IT IS A SCAM; they only want to see you naked. I wish I'd got this yesterday. I feel so stupid now.

*May not be 100% true

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

In the darkness of everybody's life

Isn't life horrible at 2am and you can't sleep?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Swing low ...

For those of you who've been puzzled by the Oshkar option, here is Oshk, the inspiration behind the name, who has figured large in our lives for many years. We thought the alternative spelling would help people pronounce it properly ...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

If he hollers

A) Bananana *note that spelling could create problems*
B) Oshkar

Votes please.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Here we go round the mulberry bush

Since my lovely job came to an end I’ve been vaguely looking for alternative employment, though where I’m likely to find another situation remotely as congenial, I don’t know. My last pay-cheque went into the bank at the end of July and my P45 arrived in the post, so I decided to see what, if any, benefits I was entitled to in the meantime – and officially get my tax and National Insurance and all that dull stuff sorted out and on record – it might help The Boy get more in the way of financial support at Uni. So off I pottered to the JobCentre.

“Oh no, madam, things have changed, you can’t do that here.” I was told. “You must call this number and give them your details over the phone so they can make you an appointment to come in and talk to someone.” So I phone the number. And get informed I’m in a queue, but my call will be answered eventually; or would I prefer to try again later, between 8am and 6pm? So I call back later, and hang on, and get the same message. Over the past fortnight I’ve been trying at all available hours to talk to someone – so far the longest I’ve hung on is 15 minutes – and this isn’t a Freephone number, so it’s all going on my phone bill.

Two weeks it’s taken so far, so I returned to the Jobcentre to be told firmly that ‘the government’ says they’re not allowed to talk to people without a telephone-arranged appointment. Keep hanging on – there’s usually only about 20 people in a queue. Oh, and I was also told that I could try between 9am and 1pm on Saturday. I don’t know why – when I did the answering machine told me they weren’t open on Saturdays. How the wombat is this supposed to be helping people? I wonder what’ll happen if I go back and ask to use their phone to call, because I don’t have any money to pay the steadily-mounting phone bill? I’m getting angrier and angrier. Where’s henry’s Big Gun?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bring it on back to me

When I came downstairs this morning Clover (who you may remember is nearly 13 years old and almost blind) was sitting bolt upright in her bed and Beattie (who’s 10½) was up and about and very agitated and apologetic. We’d had a thunderstorm last night so I assumed they were still upset by that and went to put the kettle on before I let them out. That was when I noticed that the kitchen window was wide open, and my weighing scales gone from the windowsill. How odd. Glancing around I saw that the side gate was ajar, so all the dogs and I went out together to make sure I didn’t have them going exploring. That was when I noticed, through the garage window, that the main garage door was half open. That wasn’t right – The Boy had definitely shut it when he put his bike in last night – it’s a noisy door and I heard him do it. It was when I went round to shut that as well that I noticed how roomy the garage appeared – three of The Boy’s bikes were no longer there. Arseholes. We’d been robbed.

The police were very good and had a rather dishy young PC (I must have been traumatised because I let him go again) round within the hour to take statements, by which time I’d phoned Boy to break the news and Ned was home from work. We all had a prowl around to see if anything else was missing, and discovered that our two camping-stoves had gone from the shelf, as well as Ned’s chainsaw (so Hutters, you’re safe for the meantime). The main body of the scales was found at the side of the garage and its brass trays were on top of the hedge (slightly surreal); the garden poo-shovels had been moved from beside the water butt to under the garage window (even surrealler). I hope the bastards catch something horrible and die painfully (although the fingerprint man says they wore gloves).

Now I’m afraid they’re going to come back and take the other bikes from the rack, and the mower, and the bananana machine, and … and … and … and come into the house and kill us all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I could be happy

Some years ago, on this very machine, there used to be a programme where I could scan in a picture then tinker with it, pixel by pixel, which was very useful for restoring some of my family’s old damaged photographs, some dating back to the mid-1800s. However since the Great Explodification it’s vanished (along with the Works In Progress) which makes it very difficult for me to alter images for the Bananana Factory. Surely there’s something inside this infernal contraption that’s reasonably idiot-proof? All I want to do is resize, tidy up, separate colours into layers then monochrome – preferably before the keyboard-impression on my forehead becomes a permanent scar.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Like a rolling stone

These are counties I've lived in:

County map
I've visited the counties in yellow.
Which counties have you visited?

made by marnanel
map reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data
by permission of the Ordnance Survey.
© Crown copyright 2001.

And these are counties we've found caches in:
County map
I've visited the counties in yellow.
Which counties have you visited?

made by marnanel
map reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data
by permission of the Ordnance Survey.
© Crown copyright 2001.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

How do you like my feather bed? How do you like my sheets?

I like them lots! Though it must be said last night I was as snug as the proverbial bug in my fleecy sleeping bag liner and my other sleeping bag and another one over the top. The airbed still had a bit of buoyancy and I lay on my back feeling all cocooned. That was at 1am ish after the festival ended and my legs and feet and back and arms ached from dancing and my throat ached from adding my voice to the 19,999 others singing ‘Meet on the Ledge’. A brief summary:

Thursday, setting up camp and meeting Mallers and going to the field and getting rather tipsy in the sunshine listening to ‘Tickled Pink’ was great. Ned hadn’t had any sleep after his nightshift so got very tired and I started getting concerned that he might not last the evening. I was also a bit concerned about Mal too, especially when he picked up Ned’s feet and tried to tip him backwards off his chair. It didn’t work anyway, cos Ned just folded. My suspicions about Mal were confirmed when, after informing me that he thought Ned might be drunk, he fell off his chair, so I suggested a little lie-down might be sensible. So we parted with Mal at his tent and said we’d phone before we met at the main gate at about 8. Ned did indeed need a little rest because he didn’t wake till 7.30. The next morning. At 11.22 Mal had texted ”Blimey! That was a good sleep! You guys awake?” I reckon he guessed we weren’t.

Friday’s line-up included Big Eyed Fish, Edwina Hayes (great singing voice, very squeaky speaking voice), the Muffin Men (I missed them because I was back in the 'servants' quarters' roasting a chicken) but Ned said they were good), the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (great entertainment), Richard Thompson (who it seemed that only death would make leave the stage) and rounded off by the Dylan Project (see previous blog). We went to bed, bloody freezing – you could see your breath. That’s not right for August.

Saturday: Disappointingly unsunny in the morning. Mallers collected Tammy while we did our daily trip home to find that the Boy had yet again failed to look after the dogs the way we’d told him to, so came back to the site in a bit of a grump. Richard Digance opened and as usual worked the crowd well. Then ‘T and LaTouche’, a reggae band from Manchester, came on and sadly brought the rain with them. Shame, cos they were very good – sunshine music with dampness. The audience reminded me of pictures of Bridlington in the rain, stoically sitting under brollies and tarpaulins but determined not to miss out. After a few hours getting decidedly soggy, and the rain dripping off the umbrella into our beer, we reckoned another interlude was called for, but we had to rush back clutching sausage-and-egg butties so as not to miss too much of Beth Nielsen Chapman, who was excellent. Then at 8.30 it was the main event – Fairport Convention and guests (once more it Richard Thompson took some shifting). What more to say? They were fab.

One of the nice things about Cropredy is that the performers aren't too high and mighty to come 'front of house' and mingle with the audience and watch the other acts. I had a chat with Simon Nicol about Tabasco (on the plane he'd been bewailing the fact that they ran out last year so when he was at Cox's Yard we gave him his own sepcial bottle), and also to Peggy about the lyric of Matty Groves (cracking song, performed superbly last night) - he assured me there isn't a definitive version, so Lord Darnell, Lord Arnold or Lord Donald are all equally acceptable.

It was a lovely weekend made even better with the great company of Mally and Tammy (and no, I still don't believe that photo of my 'blonde' bits). I’m already looking forward to next year and submitting an order for sunshine ...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Smoke gets in your eyes

Ned went back to work last night after eventually being paid and I spent the evening wrestling with ebay – reasonably successfully. I’m sure I’ll find I’ve made some catastrophic blunders, and we’ll end up losing out. Ho hum. I also started trying to transcribe an old diary from 1857, but it’s written in pencil and is very faded. It makes my eyes go all squinty.

This morning I went into Leamington and failed miserably at a) finding a new collar for Piglet and b) signing on. If that cleric who’s fled to the Lebanon can live here for 17 years on benefits, I’m sure I can manage a few months. (They told me I need to phone up to fill in a form then they give you an appointment to go and complete it or something. It seems much more complicated than it was in the 70s. I’ll try again after the weekend, unless we win the lottery first.) Then this afternoon I set some rice to boil for Clover because she’s got the squits, had a senior moment and promptly forgot about it until the smoke alarm went off and woke Ned. I hope it’ll be possible to rescue the pan because it’s the only one the steamer fits onto. But it’s good to know the battery in the alarm’s still working.

Can anyone remind me what I should have bought to take to Cropredy tomorrow? My mind’s gone completely blank.

Today’s Zen thought: If a man stands in a forest talking and there’s no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hard to tell if anything is going to sell

Yesterday saw us at our freebie evening at Cox’s Yard, seeing The Dylan Project. Now, I like Dylan’s music, but not his voice. This lot played the music extremely well, and Steve Gibbons unfortunately did an uncannily accurate imitation of Dylan; very good and clever, but disappointing. Lots of people can do Dylan stuff without sounding like him. However, it was a free night out so gift horses’ mouths shall be left unexamined. It was pleasing to see that Dave Pegg and Simon Nicol are still talking to one another after whatever happened on the US tour.

The Dylan Project Posted by Picasa

Today has mainly been spent sorting out banananas; when Ned rang a supplier for information to be sent to us the supplier recognised the name; if it’s memorable it might be a good idea to stick with it! The packaging has arrived; postal charges are determined; photos have been taken. Advertisements are being prepared, and I’ve had a fab idea for a logo but don’t know how to get the computer to do it for me. Hours have also been spent trying to get my head round eBay’s labyrinthine twists and turns; the hoover’s being worked overtime clearing up the hair I’ve torn out in frustration. Surely it’s not as difficult as it appears?

And the Boy phoned from Newquay to ask us if we knew where he’d put his car keys since he last saw them at 10 this morning. Oh God.

*feels really smug about the double-whammy title*

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Numb me, drill me, Floss me, bill me

I don’t like having fillings replaced. It always hurts more afterwards than it did before. And why do dentists ask you questions when they’ve just stuffed your mouth full of hardware? And I’ve been contaminated with a Northern lurgy, which has given me a very sore throat and a deep, husky voice. Oh, and Ned’s on strike till he gets paid. Of course, they'll dock his days' absence from his salary when/if they do get around to paying their workforce. But sometimes you've just got to make a stand.

Addition: Are we the only people who get a RunTime Error once we've clicked on the right-hand side of Mongers' site? It starts off as something about bundebangles, then the computer crashes ...

Monday, August 01, 2005

You must have been a beautiful baby ...

Emma (or Lucy) Posted by Picasa

Lucy (or Emma) Posted by Picasa

Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of them together at the reception when, for I think the first time in their lives, they wore identical dresses. But once they're released they scatter. One day I'll snap them together ...