Friday, 25 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Monday, 14 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Sunday, 29 November 2009
- Ann Summers: Have a Horny Christmas
- MacDonalds: Salivation is Nigh
Both are tasteless, so I suppose I don't have to choose. I'm just hoping not to have to add more to the list.
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
In another connection between Australia and WW1, I have had in my possession for some months the 1916 diary of a friend's grandfather, which I offered to transcribe for her (although with pregnancy there has been a major hiatus on this front). So, to mark the war, lest we forget, I have flipped forward to 11 November 1916:
"There was a straff of unusual violence last night
our first Div had ten guns blown out we never heard if any of the men got knocked
it has been rather a fine day & the mud is like glue a mans feet weigh somewhere near 1 cwt
Fritz put some busters very near us last night & today"
Sunday, 8 November 2009
(1) the Despenser reredos
(2) the Pelican lecturn
Both of these survived the Reformation by being hidden: the reredos disguised as a plumber's table, the lecturn buried in a garden. Shame that the powers that be there felt the need to put a hole in the lecturn stand in order to feed a microphone cable through it, though.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
For some weeks now the boy and I have been reading the bump a bedtime (or in its case a wake-up time) story from the Teddy Robinson books. These are childhood favourites of mine, and generally appreciated by the boy also, even if he isn't so sure about Teddy R's penchant for his best purple dress, or the propensity to dress up in a tutu and do generally girly things. If you are unfamiliar with Teddy R you can read a favourable review here, or here. But we did get a scare the other night: the story (one I definitely don't recall from childhood) was 'Teddy Robinson and Guy Fawkes' (or as it was read out by the boy, 'Teddy Robinson and the Hate Crime'), and it was essentially a deeply disturbing conversation between a Guy, who was really looking forward to being burnt, and TR. As some of my Teddy R books lack substantial quantities of their page edges (I used to tear them off and chew them), we're wondering if the bump will notice if we rip this particular story out. Its a hard thing for bibliophiles to consider, but, gosh, if you'd read the story you might appreciate where we are coming from.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
Monday, 28 September 2009
- the number of chairs which have come to die there have substantially multiplied (it costs money to get them officially removed when dead)
- at least three gerbils have died in the desktop since last usage
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Thursday, 20 August 2009
As the next weekend quickly approaches, a note about the last. Our cultural offering then was an outdoor performance of 'Measure for Measure' as part of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival. When I booked the tickets I couldn't recall the plot, but that came back to me within minutes of the show. Having been to some pretty ropey outdoor productions in the past my expectations weren't high, but it was pleasantly quite good. And, more crucially perhaps, this being England in August, the weather actually held. The rest of the weekend, like much of the week preceding it, was dominated by cake. Some formed part of the theatre picnic, having adapted a friend's recipe for blackberry muffins. The rest provided at a rowing bunfight on the Sunday. You should note the similarly between W1 (women's first boat) and WI (the Women's Institute). It is generally held that we ought to enter/create a WI rowing league, where our cake-fuelled performance and our cakes might be equally judged. Defeat, then, by lean mean crews? We think not.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Monday, 3 August 2009
nb. the culture content is reduced by taking young children with you, as a museum visit today with a friend and said young children reminded me.
Friday, 31 July 2009
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Thursday, 16 July 2009
- and full of rage at the laziness of those conference attendees for whom the courtesy of bothering to shape (and time) a paper so that it can be tolerably listened to is a step too far
Saturday, 11 July 2009
- pancakes for breakfast, courtesy of the husband
- a walk down memory lane (here a shot from the undercroft, the Norman chapel, of Durham castle)
- taking time to smell the roses (at Anglesey Abbey)
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Monday, 29 June 2009
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
I was glad to see that during the chaos that is University Bumps measures had been taken to protect the swans and cygnets, all the more so as I had by then been told (?reliably) that Mr. Asbo had lost all his young in 2008 during this event. Sadly between Bumps ending on the Saturday evening, and the swans again being protected on the Monday evening when a race was being held, one of the cygnets was killed.
If I read again that the swan is interrupting people's training, I'm going to suggest they go for a swim and see how they like oars whacking them. Grrr.
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
We were visiting a friend who works and lives at Herstmonceux castle, and it was a weekend of much eating out and visiting sites of historical interest, don't you know. The only downside was that we ate as if we were teenagers on a growth-spurt and moved as if we were shuffling off to live in Bexhill-on-Sea. That aside, it was a great weekend, where we:
1. Spent some time in the British Museum 'doing' the Assyrian galleries, Africa and some of Roman Britain (before we got turfed out). I found the lion hunt displays a bit relentless in the Assyrian galleries. In the African gallery I'd recommend the 'Tree of Life'.
2. Splashed out on National Trust membership for a year and put it to good use by visiting Bateman's (Rudyard Kipling's house) and Bodiam castle. The latter is so liberally provisioned with fireplaces its primary use must have been as grand manor house rather than for defence of the south coast, whatever the introductory video might say. Watch this if you ever go though, if only for the shot of a knight apparently making his fortune in the Hundred Years War by riding down a fleeing peasant.
3. Visited Lewes, scene of the Montfortian victory over Henry III in 1264, which was unfortunately mostly shut. The castle was having its walkway renovated, and the priory remains, although some attempt had clearly been made in the past to open them up and turn a penny from them (there were faded information boards and instructions that you could obtain leaflets from the ticket office), were shut away behind a fence topped with barbed wire. This seemed a shame, but apparently money is on its way to open the site up. All in all we appear to have visited Lewes too soon. In compensation we went to 'Anne of Cleeves' House'. A triumph of marketing over content because although given to Anne of Cleeves by Henry VIII she never went there. So, unless you want to see a local history of Lewes museum, you may not want to part with your gold. One display did catch my eye though: a series of firebacks made from local pig-iron. My question to you is, who would want a fireback of Protestant martyrs being burned at the stake? But this is a town with a fierce Bonfire night tradition (indeed, bonfire societies) with flaming crosses and (until recently) burning effigies of Pope Pius IV. This, I suppose, is what happens when your town suffers Marian persecution under Queen Mary.
4. Obviously looked around Herstmonceux castle and its grounds, including an embryonic archaeological dig, examining a purported moated manor house.
5. Shuffled along the sea-front at Eastbourne and its pier. Having never been on the 'traditional' English sea-side holiday I'd rather anticipated that all such resorts had tat shops selling 'Kiss Me Quick' hats and the other assorted junk a-plenty, but apparently Eastbourne is a little more classy than that.
6. Made it to the heart of '1066 Country' with a trip to Battle. English Heritage haven't done too bad a job here - your entrance fee buys you admittance to the battlefield and the remains of the abbey. It's not necessary to watch the video as you will hear the text again on your audio-guide. I found it a little hard to envisage the battle as you go around with your audio-guide as, of course, the terrain has changed and you don't get a full appreciation of the incline of the hill as the abbey buildings cut this off. (Tradition says that William had the altar of the 11th century church placed on the spot where Harold was killed, and this is some way up the abbey complex).
Monday, 13 April 2009
Saturday involved a limited amount of rowing. Limited because the boat house door has been broken for some time now meaning certain boats can't be got out safely (grrrr). This did give me another opportunity to watch 'Mr Asbo' in action. The so-called 'Mr Asbo' is a male swan who has been terrorising rowers on the Cam for some weeks now. He's quite a spectacle, when viewed from a safe distance. It's cruel, but the stroke of my four has been known to do the theme tune to "Jaws" when moving through his self-proclaimed zone of the river just to freak the cox out that little bit more. The real exercise of the weekend was a walk. Doesn't sound hard, but when you cycle everywhere, walking suddenly becomes a bit of an issue. More so when you've booked to go to the Lake District for a week and your wife expects to be taken hiking. So the boy went for a bit of a drag on Saturday afternoon, and is booked for another one in a fortnight's time. (Hopefully we will both have recovered by then).
Easter celebrations at church were, in my view, cool; at least for the 'Presentation of the Gifts' section when Indian members of the congregation performed a West Syriac rite, involving lights and dancing. I thought it was just a touch Bollywood, but of course I got in trouble for saying so. The slight, ever so slight, Bollywood theme continued in the afternoon when I took the boy to see Slumdog Millionaire. My boss had told me it was sad because of the poverty and that was the overall message I took from the film, whatever the critics have said. The boy, who had been planned to endure the film, admitted to having enjoyed it.
Easter Monday saw my first sculling outing of 2009. I managed not to send my partner for a swim and, of course, stayed well clear of Mr. Asbo, so all was well on that front. The sculling season may commence.
Monday, 6 April 2009
'Ride on, ride on in majesty
In lowly pomp ride on to die'
The second line isn't taking any prisoners. I'm not sure what the local church was using in place of palms. It seemed to be whatever greenery the parisoners could offer up. A good idea, but the boy was in fits of hay-fever induced sneezing throughout the service.
A laid-off banker turned up to stay in the evening. It's not so bad as she has severance pay, and is already pursuing those new jobs with a determination that I've never quite mustered. And, being laid off, she didn't need to engage in defence of the 'morality' of her post.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Friday, 20 March 2009
- getting up a bit later than usual
- going to the Tower of London
- eating copious amounts of apple crumble and custard at St. Martin's
- watching Avenue Q
Sounds grand, but I felt a bit otherwise about the Tower. I'd been there once before (scarily over twenty years before) on a truly grand day trip from Birmingham to London with my sister. That day had been glorious sunshine, and we had caught the boat up the Thames and arrived at the Tower by that means, if not literally through 'Traitor's Gate'. It was probably about the time that the film Lady Jane came out, so the historical romance of the place would have been pumping through the youthful veins. The highlight then, indeed, was locating the graffiti 'Jane' in one of the Towers. I remember this, the sunshine, and the fact that we decided we weren't going to pay to go and see the Crown Jewels. Last week wasn't so exciting. I blame various things. For one, it has been very much done over for tourists in the intervening 23 years, and I don't make a good tourist at historical sites. For two, there wasn't much medieval going on, and these days that's more 'my bag' - a downside of specialization. On the plus side, the boy enjoyed it, and it was his day out.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
- Under A Blood Rey Sky by Kate Furnivall - a book I have lost the last few days to, and consequenly top of my list. Set in the Russia of Five Year Plans and labour camps this book has it all. Here is another blogger talking about it.
- Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche - which I found grimly educational.
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsover - some more African history.
- And, an old classic, Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens - as if you need me to tell you that.
Monday, 2 March 2009
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Monday, 16 February 2009
Think you know more about me now?
Thursday, 5 February 2009
Monday, 2 February 2009
Monday, 26 January 2009
Saturday, 17 January 2009
But if you want to see something else worth seeing, without impediment, check out the new exhibition at the FitzWilliam Museum. I particularly liked the twentieth-century manuscript illumination and the Rossetti Annunciation.
Saturday, 10 January 2009
Thursday, 8 January 2009
- the brother in-law's (Christmas Day = 27 people, Boxing Day)
- the aunt's (New Year's Day = 13 people); and, in order,
- Culver's (on the drive to Wisconsin), where I was culverized
- MacDonald's (on the drive back from Wisconsin)
- Perkins (which was a little less than mediocre)
- Dynasty Buffet (Chinese all you can eat, which I don't particularly care for)
- Ruby Tuesdays (my choice, it has a good salad bar)
- International House of Pancakes (a breakfast meal following a mass on New Year's Eve)
- Lone Star Steak House (to get the boy a steak)
Further we went to a number of church services, and took in three churches, viz:
- the first Sunday (although on TV from a chapel in La Crosse, as the roads were too bad to drive in Wisconsin)
- Christmas Eve (at St. Vincent's, the usual church for this trip)
- the second Sunday
- New Year's Eve twice (once a mass said for the repose of the soul of the deceased Grandpa, once for the vigil of the Solemnity of Mary, both at St. Philomena's)
- the third Sunday
I learnt two ditties, both the eldest and youngest female members of the clan; respectively:
- I'm old and grey and have lost my way, and all my tomorrows are yestersdays (a repeated refrain), and
- a, b, c, d, e, 1, 2, 3, Thank you Lord for feeding me (the timing of which should require little explanation)
I also witnessed plenty of weather (as well as plenty of worrying over said weather), including:
- an ice storm (which put the kaibosh on a intended jaunt out to eat at Hometown Buffet for the father-in-law's birthday)
And finally, in a list of one, I went to a New Year's Eve dance with the aforesaid Grandpa and girlfriend (aged 88 and 91 respectively) at a Senior Citizens' Centre somewhere in central IL. Undoubtedly the highlight of the trip.