Monday, August 31, 2009

A Welcome Visitor

He ignored the fountain but loved the arbour and basked long enough for me to run upstairs and get my camera. Wouldn't it be great to have gossamer wings?

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

What makes you laugh out loud?

Friday, August 28, 2009


On Wednesday there were buckets of rain and wads of mist so after a quick stock up of torches and batteries for our final night’s treat we set off to see if the Quantocks were more in tune with a gentle ramble. As you can see from the photos it wasn’t any better. Fortunately we were in the vicinity of one of my favourites – the Carew Arms and it was just about lunchtime. I told my son the two front rooms seem to be the local’s choice and we usually went in the one facing the garden so as not to incommode them. So we went in the right front room. What son takes note of his Mum?

We decided to have a reasonable meal as MTL was preparing a cold collation for us to have later - before our evening expedition. Tom and I both chose a pasta dish – large for him and small for me but then I blotted my copy book by ordering a chocolate mousse with biscuits. The mousse was an enormous helping and I nearly drowned in it - in spite of foisting spoonfuls on the three nearest mouths. The biscuits were brownies so not surprisingly a few hours later I passed on the cold collation.

We were to be in the Horner car park for 7pm. Horner Water valley has ancient woods, a packhorse bridge, a delightful tea garden and has been much enjoyed over twenty odd years by all ages of the family. Horner Wood has ancient oak trees some of which could well be 1000 years old. It follows the river valley down to the village and the wood is unenclosed allowing sheep and wild Red deer to roam freely. Wildlife abounds but bats were our quarry and the preponderance of midges was bait enough.

Nigel – a National Trust warden gave us a lengthy chat about all kinds of bats and then we set off with some quite small children included in the party. This comforted me - as surely the walk would not be so long through the muddy rocky terrain liberally scattered with horse manure, with little legs to consider. But it was a tricky walk in the gloaming before we crossed a bridge into a delightful grassy dell. Did I mention we were bat detectives and the big boys had detectors which made an exciting ratatattat when bats were around?

It was mesmerising gazing up at the tall trees through a canopy of black lace and eventually we saw brief glimpses of fluttery black scraps. Later we moved down to where the waters met and with a lamp shining on the water we saw what resembled flying stoats darting over the water like quicksilver. I was dreading the walk back in the dark with pitfalls all over the pace but my son firmly grasped my arm and grandson shone the torch and eventually we were safely back in the car park with no damage apart from wet boots. The funny thing was the car park set all the detectors off and Nigel said we could have stayed there but I doubt I would have had the same feeling of elation if we had.
The weather - wads of mist and buckets of rain.

The locals haunt - invaded by us. All very amicable.
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We muster in Horner Wood

Lots of little ones

Taken on the move - I never learn!

Nigel shading his eyes in the grassy dell.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Time Out

Back next Friday. We trust and love you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Florida Sunset

These were taken by # 1 son one Christmas some year back. The beauty and the bird life whetted my appetite but I still haven't been. Have you?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jennifer Saunders and cast of Jam and Jerusalem
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A Talent to Amuse.

What a talented woman Jennifer Saunders is. She is presently appearing on TV in the third series (IMO the best) of Jam and Jerusalem – a three- parter which she co- wrote with Abigail Wilson. The final is one on Sunday night at 8pm on BBC 1.

Over the years with French and Sunders and Absolutely Fabulous tears of laughter have not been a rarity but on Sunday night her portrayal of the kind of English country woman to whom a show of affection to another human is a mortal sin (dogs and horses are excepted) I was spell bound watching her stolidly expressionless face as she, in turn, was watching a video of her young son who has just been posted to Afghanistan. Then as she turned to her beloved dog to see if he had recognised her son her face crumpled and she broke down. I was long gone and the sofa was awash.

It helps that she manages to surround herself with as fine a bunch of comedy actors you would find this side of the Atlantic; Sue Johnston, Dan French, Maggie Steed, Suzy Aitcheson and more. A welcome newcomer who seems to be starting a romantic thing with the nice, normal widow Sue Johnston is playing is Clive Russell. who takes the part of Jock – a craggy, very tall Scottish builder. Now I know Jimmy is meant to be in Alcudia but you can’t help wondering.

Jennifer and Dawn are at this moment in Australia – one of the longest farewell tours on record. Long may they continue

PS Yesterday’s gloom was instantly dissipated when I had a chance encounter with MTL at the top of the stairs. He smiled, reached out and said:

‘I’m lucky to have you.’

Everybody knows who’s the lucky one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Florence And The Machine - Dog Days

'The phrase Dog Days or "the dog days of summer", Latin: Caniculae, Caniculares dies, refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the northern hemisphere they usually fall between early July and early September whilst in the Southern hemisphere they are usually between January and early March. The actual dates vary greatly from region to region, depending on latitude and climate. Dog Days can also define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress.'

I know what they mean.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gardening made easy

Could have been this.

A peach tree seems a bit far- fetched - maybe later.

Exotic enough but why do sales never apply to what I'm buying?

I settled for orchids and enjoying trying them out but they'll end up in the sun-room
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Off Out.

Sun’s appeared so we’re away to the further nursery to buy a faux plant for the sun room and before you gasp in horror we always have fresh flowers, supplemented by some silk ones hither and yon.. The faux plant I bought for the hall – a dead ringer for cannabis – fools everybody – even the ace gardener Margaret.

At last! For days I have been trying to order a book – The Convicts and other short stories recommended by Charlie(see side –bar) but there have been endless complications because my credit card changes this month which seem to have confused everybody so they would take the order and then cancel it – over and over again. Fingers crossed!
Have a nice week-end.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Heat and Dust

As I looked down on New Delhi there was a pall of pollution hanging over the city but the hotel was splendid and palatial and we were greeted with necklaces of fresh marigolds. We were a small group of ordinary people – some more seasoned travellers than others; two Canadian ladies had experienced a grizzly bursting into their cabin and to their relief bursting out the other side and Marion a small stout widow with a hacking cough had had an awful nose bleed in Peru.

We travelled by train and plane but mostly in an air-conditioned coach. Ganesh was our very skilful driver and Haresh was our guide, mentor and Daddy for the trip. There was a large fridge on board so we never ran out of bottles of ice cold water. Haresh taught us the greeting: Namaste (sounds like no mistake) which you give with head bowed and hands together as in prayer.

We must not give money to the children but could give biros and shampoos etc from the hotel bathrooms. As well as the touts and beggars we would be approached by people who would claim to be a teacher asking for money for the children but we should say we donate at the hotel. We mustn’t haggle with the hawkers as this could put Harish in danger. Any negotiations should be done through him when we were safely on the coach. Some of the hawkers were quite frightening giving murderous looks so it was better to say nothing.

The three strioed Indian Sqirrel - sacred - as legend has it it helped Rama construct the Adi bridge

Our haven from the heat and dust.

Haresh in the centre.

Ganesh our driver.
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The tomb of Mohammad Ghaus

Ghandi's tomb


Hindu Temple Birla Mandir
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Yesterday I spent l'heure bleu sitting on the guest balcony sipping a brut something or other. There was a zephyr tinkling the wind chimes and gazing at the Quantocks, Scots pine,the cedar and copper beech amongst the forest of trees I felt at peace with the world. The small mound on the right is Conygar Hill 11thC which was a rabbit warren (coney - rabbit garth - enclosure) providing fare for the folk at Dunster Castle . A local writer Hilary Binding writes in the local rag

:- By 1266 there were so many rabbits it was decided to exterminate those on Conygar and establish a new warren near the sea at Minehead.

That's the trouble with rabbits - but I digress.

MTL was too busy - silly man - but when I went to get a rare second glass my eulogising persuaded him to grab a beer and join me.

They are not long - the days of wine and roses.

Ernest Dowson 1867-1900

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday Lunch

The summer came this week-end and with leaves already on the lawn we decided to drive over Exmoor for lunch at the Crown in Exford.
Stopped to shoot the Exmoor ponies but trouble is approaching on the right - a rival herd.

There was a bit of facing up to each other ...

and then it all kicked off - literally. I ws worried the foals might get hurt but didn't see what I could do about it.
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High noon at Exford.

Not nearly so much of a huntin' shootin' fishin' village as it once was but the noble stag remains.
Most peopls ate out of doors but we enjoyed the cool wasp- free peace and quiet
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I had roasted fillet of Sea Bass with Creamed Leek mash, Black Trumpet mushrooms, Roasted Shallots and Orange Sauce which was delectable.

What man doesn't like ham , egg and chips?

Having enjoyed the orange sauce so much I elected to have Orange Tart with creamy chocolate ice cream. The tart wasn't quite orangey enough but the ice cream made it quite scrummy.

Afterwards we cooled off in the water garden.
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Sunday, August 09, 2009

An Early Heart throb - Jake Thackray

There is a tea advert on TV at present which reminded me of the late Jake. a Yorkshire lad he was inspired by Brel (DON'T say it Daphne!} and there's a hint of Coward. I meant to embed La de dah as this one is 'offensive' but should you be interested just google Jake Thackray.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Reverie in the Attic

Whilst trying to sort some order in the chaos in the attic I came across a bulky, yellow, plastic envelope labelled in my sisters copper plate DADDY. Inside were masses of letters and cards sent to Mum when Dad died in 1990 aged 85. He had a stroke some years earlier and my mother coped valiantly, nursing him downstairs, driving the car ( to do that with Dad in the car took guts –he once switched the ignition off when I was driving MY car) travelling down on the train to visit us and even over to Portugal to house- sit my sister’s house.

They were married for 63 years; Mum was 18 and Dad 22 when they married and my mother was expecting my sister. My Gran was a mid-wife and could be quite fearsome. I asked Mum how she reacted and she said she was totally supportive although Mum had been brought up a Catholic and Dad was Unitarian. One of the three children was christened in the Catholic Church but we were reared as Unitarians so that was one battle Dad won although when I visited Gran she would give me a little prayer book and take me with her to Church on a Sunday – until the day Dad discovered us walking back from Church and whisked me home. That was the end of my new found holiness.

All the letters said what a good man he was – with a twinkle in his eye - and praised Mum for the years of looking after him. One that touched me particularly was from the brother of one of my school friends. Although there was never much money my parents both worked hard so we could escape the dark satanic mills at holiday times and discover the joys and beauty of the Lake District- climbing the mountains and fishing in the lakes. I t was a real life Swallows and Amazons. How lucky we were.

Geoffrey, a friend of Jack’s came with us some times; in his letter he says:

I remember so many happy times with you both, and will always hold these memories very dearly. You both introduced me to many joys and I will always treasure those memories.

Dad would have been pleased.

Mum, Jack and Pat

Our camp on the edge of Windermere with motor bike and side -car.

Mum and Dad
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