Friday, September 30, 2005

I wanna jam it with you

I wonder if it'll set properly?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

It's oh so quiet

I'm having a day off from 'my' woodland restoration. Boy's timing was immaculate - he should be doing it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bye bye baby

We only set off an hour and a half after we'd planned, so that wasn't bad. Then 10 minutes into the journey Boy (following in his car) rang us to say he'd forgotten his phone charger so was going back for it. Three minutes later I rang him to say while he was there he could get the milk, cheese, bacon, sausages and mayo that I'd left in the fridge ...

So we finally got to uni and joined the throng of people laden down with belongings, like refugees. His room's pleasant enough - I'm not sure why the wardrobe door has a hasp and padlock on the inside, and I don't think I really want to know. Then while he unpacked some of his stuff so that we could take the boxes away with us, we went and did a couple of caches that were within a mile or so - although it's very near Coventry there are some very pleasing sights:

Then it was time to make our farewells and take away the unwanted boxes, and his car, which he's not allowed to have on campus. Bless him, he forgot to tell me it was nearly out of petrol. It made the journey to Leamington 'interesting'.

I was very good and didn't blub once. I wonder if I should phone him tonight, or wait till tomorrow?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I know you’ll all point at me and laugh and tell me how silly I’m being, and I wouldn’t blame you. I’m doing the same thing myself. It’s always been part of the plan, and now it’s imminent, which surely is a Good Thing, but the nearer the time comes to the Boy going to uni (63 hours and falling) the more stressed and worried I’m becoming. There’s so much to organise and pay for and it’s all very complicated. Not only that, apart from being my son he’s my friend, and I’m going to miss his company, especially when Ned’s working. Yes I know he’s a grown man, but part of the maternal job description is to worry and care, and I’ve been doing it very successfully for 19 years. Now I’m redundant. Job done. Next generation raised and sent out into the world. So if I suddenly start howling please excuse me. I’ll get over it, and find my sense of humour somewhere. I might have packed it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

And rest your head for just five minutes

As some of you know, Genie Towers is a pleasant (well, we think so) if somewhat untidy, but ordinary house, as near as dammit identical to many millions up and down the country built at the same time.

Although we have no plans to move at the moment (I haven't really recovered (or completely unpacked) from the stress of moving here in '89) every so often we see houses we fancy. We saw a lovely house for sale the other day (bliar hasn’t yet found a way of charging on daydreams) and went to the estate agents to see the details. It’s a lovely house:

though maybe a tad on the large side unless we plan to expand the family – which isn’t imminent. Besides, until we’ve won the lottery we can’t afford such a magnificent residence. The thing that seems strange is that they say it’s in the same council tax band as Genie Towers.

I think I may have to contact the council and demand a rebate.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Me and my shadow

Beattie is a very silly girl. She’s never been one to appreciate change, and she got a bit distressed when I started paid work again two years ago. Now not only is she bothered by my not going out to work now, she’s also picking up on the tension that’s building as the time nears for The Boy to leave for Uni. She’s a clingy girl at the best of times – when you call her she gallops over as fast as she can and sits as close as possible, usually with her front paws on your feet, gazing up into your face, desperate for reassurance and praise. That’s not sufficient at the moment – when she can’t physically be with us she performs a ‘displacement activity’ to relieve her stress. Some dogs will howl, some dogs will destroy things – Beetle self-mutilates. Rather like a child sucking its thumb, she’ll lick the nearest part of herself – her wrist – until it gets sore.

Then, because it’s sore, she’ll lick it to relieve the soreness until, rather like Lady Macbeth, no matter how hard she scrubs with the wire brush, she can’t get rid of the blood. So, until she feels able to relax again, it’s a case of ‘whither thou goest, there go I’.

Friday, September 16, 2005

It's fun to wander through the alphabet with you

Today I bought:

Crusty bread
Cow juice
Complete dog food

I couldn’t find which aisle had cannabis so I didn’t get any.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

the glorious annual ugly bug ball

About this time every year, walking the dogs through the fields is a hideous experience. Every footstep releases clouds of newly-hatched daddy-long-legses emerging from the grass, and it always reminds me of a weekend back in ’81 when we had a training muster at Shearsby. We were camping in fields adjoining a pub, the landlord of which very kindly left a side-door unlocked at night so that we had access to the toilets. On the Sunday morning, bleary-eyed and somewhat the worse for wear after the socialising of the evening before, my pal Shelley and I, both clad in long calico shifts, strolled over to avail ourselves of the facilities. We entered adjoining stalls to continue our gossip erudite conversation (“Did you see who Dave Thing was chatting up?” “No, really? She must have been drunk.” etc) and settled ourselves comfortably. I’m told my shriek as I was assaulted by a rampant daddy-long-legs who’d been lurking in the pan could be heard in the next county.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Crawling for your love

Look what we found in the garden today! I wonder what sort of beautiful flutterby he'll turn into?

And will Ned get a horrible rash on his hand which will then drop off?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hey, Mister Tally-man

Ned spent a lot of yesterday outside in the rain (look at the downspout from the guttering),

with the hose, making preparations for today’s planned bananana stuffing. As well as some (now quite straightforward) one-colour pulls (new design though) we went over a learning-precipice and tried a bit of two-colour work. And crumbs, it’s much fiddlier and more time-consuming. Getting the two screens exactly in register when they don’t move easily and you’re having to gauge distances by eye and getting ink on yourself results in a lot of very colourfully-described wildlife. However the results were pretty good, and Ned and I now each have logo-enhanced clothing. The logo may yet evolve further, but so far it’s looking not too bad.

I’m not looking forward to our attempts at even more colours though.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bend it, bend it, just a little bit

Way back in the Dark Ages, when I was a doped up laid-back art student, we had an enormous piece of equipment in the studio that, once you were stood on a box and drew the curtains around you, enabled you to tweak the proportions of any part of your artwork until you were happy with the result. How we'd have loved to be able to save and print the final result! But no, we had to trace it from the flat screen.

So why, several centuries later, can't I do the same thing on a computer? It's not a complicated procedure so it's obvious the programmer would have installed the facility to isolate any part of the artwork and enbiggify, ensmallify, or in any other fashion manipulate the image. Put the cursor on a point and pull it to distort it. Basic stuff. So why the wombat didn't he make it easy to find? I've worked out how to do things on Publisher which can't be done on Illustrator, and vice versa. I can't believe I have to skip back and forth from program to program to do a simple task that would take 10 minutes with a process camera, a pencil and piece of paper.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Living in the past

I bought a book! It’s a book I’ve been seeking for more years than I care to remember. My mum used to get it from the library for me quite often when I was young, but I haven’t seen it for years. Yes, it’s a children’s book but I loved it. And now I’ve got my own lovely sparkly hardback copy which has been excellently looked after (well done, Jo Mitchell!) and I’m getting tremendous pleasure revisiting it.

It’s called ‘Charlotte Sometimes’. (And before you ask, yes it's called that the rest of the time as well!)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

We'll meat again

When we went to the maize maze ten days ago we stopped off at a pub for a snack lunch to lengthen the time we’d have to make our escape before we perished. The only snack-type things they did were filled baguettes which, despite the choice being somewhat limited, were fairly substantial. So much so, in fact, that I could only manage half of mine (ham salad), and carefully wrapped the remainder in the napkin to take home for later. However when we got home I couldn’t find it. I looked under my seat, under Ned’s seat, in the back – no sign. Very odd – either I’d only imagined I’d taken it from the pub and my grip on reality was becoming increasingly tenuous or I’d lost it somewhere. So I gave up.

Today Ned traced the source of the unpleasant smell in the car. The baguette had been safe on the glove shelf all along!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Flowers in the park overgrowing

When we saw that some farms are having their hedges flailed at completely the wrong time of year - all the berries for the wild birds are being destroyed - we decided that picking some blackberries had moved up the list of priorities.

Having a couple of boxes to put blackberries in is a castiron excuse to linger near picnicking muggles who are just about sitting on the cache you want to find. But the end result (both the find and the berries) is well worth the scratches and stings. We were surprised how few brambles there were in the hedgerows, though.

Mmmm - I'll be able to make some lovely blackberry-and-apple crumbles.

There were other interesting finds, too:

Your nuts, sire

Sunday, September 04, 2005

And on that farm he had a ...

Friday evening saw Ned and me sat in front of the TV in eager anticipation of a good educational programme about 17th century homelife, a series (poo, we missed the first episode) called “Tales from the Green Valley”. The reason for our eagerness was that one of our oldest chums (well, he’s not the oldest as in being old, because we’ve got friends older than him, but he’s been a good friend for … ooh, about 30 years) features heavily in it, and we know how picky he is about accuracy and attention to detail. So we felt rather let down when the programme turned out to more of a Junior School introduction to the subject, and with several basic mistakes and omissions.

For instance, when a pig is slaughtered you don’t lay it on the ground to bleed it (and collect about two pints of blood); you hang the (already dead) pig up by a hind leg to get all the blood (about a gallon) out, for your black puddings. The slaughterer also perpetuated the common mistake and referred to the testicles as ‘sweetbreads’. Tcha! Anyone who paid attention in O’level biology classes knows that ‘sweetbread’ refers to only two parts of the carcass; it can be either the thymus gland or the pancreas. Not the testicles. However we chuckled mightily at the archaeologist bloke going greener and greener as various organs were removed from the carcass – our mate Stuart (who was remarkably clean for the cameras) – I expect you know him too, henners, he was in Norfolk's – is much more down to earth about such things. I don’t think I’ve ever known him squeam over anything. Then they explained about using the washed intestine as sausage skins – but they didn’t show them being washed, which they did on Channel 4’s ‘Worst Job in history’ series, where Stuart got Tony Robinson washing them (there’s been a lot of filming one way and another!). The women doing the culinary creations were very good, though.

The chaps making a wattle-and-daub wall were using an unconventional method of daubing, by only doing one side at a time, rather than having one person on either side and doing both sides of the same area at once – much firmer and more weathertight, but requiring a lot more skill. But they did a good job for novices – better than I could have done, I’m sure - so that’s the main thing. The thatcher was enjoying using a slightly different technique (twisted hazel pegs and rope, not iron ones and chicken wire) to that which he usually uses.

Taken as a whole, it’s a pretty good basic introduction to the subject, but we’d have liked a lot more depth. And we know that, given the opportunity, Stuart can talk for England about it!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Gotta hold myself down

The more I see of the terrible aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the more bizarre it becomes. It’s a natural disaster, so I can’t feel the outrage I felt after September 11th or July 7th (or any of the multitude of IRA atrocities) because those were all just evil. The planet doesn’t do evil things out of malice and hatred – things just happen. But there’s a very odd feel to the debacle of the so-called ‘evacuation’, and the complete madness that it’s degenerated into. After all, this is the richest country in the world, with a huge army and vast resources, and yet after, what, 5 days?, there are hundreds of people dying because there’s no food or water or medical supplies being brought in. There were more emergency supplies on the ground in south-east Asia after the Boxing Day tsunami than are in a region (albeit a region the size of the UK) of America.

How can people help? Humanitarian considerations compel us to offer assistance to any human beings in such disastrous circumstances, no matter which country they’re from, but what have we got that the US hasn’t got more of to call upon? More manpower; vast oil (if oil was a problem, petrol/gas would be much more expensive than it is, more like the price it is over here) and food stocks; the armed forces have squillions of helicopters and trucks for airlifts and transport; so why has it descended into anarchy in the streets?

It’s a terrible tragedy, and suggests that there’s something basic lacking in the American infrastructure.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Little donkey

Ned’s on strike again tonight, because August’s salary hasn’t gone into the bank. It was meant to go in last Friday. Wombat.

We’ve got our car back – hurrah! Apparently ‘the cat had broken and gone through from front to back’ – no, I don’t understand either. But it explains why I prefer dogs. Though I'm told the dogs in the distributor can be awkward.

Having been reminded by others, I had a look to see how people had stumbled upon this blog. One had googled ‘breakers yards banbury’, but I can’t find the link on the first few pages. However I’m a bit worried about the person who arrived through Google Images, having typed in ‘donkey do’. I imagine they were expecting something else.