Friday, February 26, 2010

That's blown the blues away. Getting there wasn't easy. Although it is just across the lane it is on a higher level to us and from the gate there are about 50 million steps up to the house. Did I say it was raining and MTL doesn't do umbrellas - I do however. The path was well lit - happily - and we reached the door without mishap. It's an upside down house so more steps but the first faces we saw was our charming host and my dear pal Jackie. I had guessed correctly and it was R's birthday and he was also celebrating his new appointment of Station Master at Dunster.

We have a wonderful steam train railway at Minehead which all the grandchildren have enjoyed over the years. R told me he had lived in at least 15 different homes as his father had been in the army. I asked him what made him choose to live here and he said his father wanted the sea, his mother the countryside and he himself was passionate about railways so Minehead filled the bill. He has been Station Master at Minehead previously. It is manned entirely by voluntary workers - it must be every little boy's dream.

R's help had offered to do the catering and there was a splendid spread. There were about 25 of us but there were enough cold cuts, salads, baby quiches, sausages , roast potatoes and delicious blobby mixtures to feed 100. The wine and cheeses were just the right temperature and the bread was good. Eventually they cleared a space for the desserts: flans, apple pies, a meringuey trifle and the most wicked ice creams and mousses that gave everybody - especially moi - a happy glow. It was great to see everybody having a good time and R had enlisted two sons of a neighbour who looked after everybody and got us all to secretly sign a giant card for R.

Everybody was friendly and there was a nice mix of people. Jackie and I share a chiropodist - Lynn - and it's always a pleasure to sit in her office and watch the dozens of birds who visit her bird feeders and pond. Apparently she had an embarrassing moment recently when a male client of hers said:
'Oh Lynn I do like your tits.' An innocent remark which made her turn pink.

Birds are singing , the sun is shining so we're going shopping. So glad we went.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Party Time!

I haven't been to one for a while and we are only going to this because our host is a near neighbour and we both like him and knew his parents. And still I feel nervous - at my age. It's too silly.
Tell me I'm not the only one.

Goodbye. I've barely said a word to you, it is always like that at parties, we never see the people, we never say the things we should like to say, but it is the same everywhere in this life. Let us hopethat when we are dead things will be better arranged.
Marcel Proust1871-1922
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

All very Quiet

We seem to be in a sort of stasis so I’ll probably be silent for a day or two and use the time to do the last push on the book. The greyness and cold has a paralysing effect and it’s difficult not to just wish time away for brighter days.

However all is not glum; we heard today our French son is coming in May and we are going to a rare party on Thursday and my younger son has a birthday tomorrow. Both my sons and wives are coming for mine in March and daughter visits in April.

Brighter Days

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Monday, February 22, 2010

A Moving Moment

Sad that after years of service in virtually every position Lord Richard Attenborough has had to resign as President of BAFTA due to ill health. HRH Prince William –his replacement was present last night to give the most prestigious award of Academy Fellowship to Vanessa Redgrave.

We had just seen the pictures of all who had died during the last year including Vanessa’s daughter Natasha Richardson who died in a skiing accident. Vanessa just 73 – a lifelong Republican - walked up onto the stage and, balancing her left arm on Prince William’s right arm gave the deepest, most beautiful curtsy with head bowed that I have ever seen, which blurred my vision somewhat.

She told William how she admired his father for the great work he did and that she had received an award from his mother Princess Diana.

Previously Uma Thurman had given a eulogy to Vanessa and both she and William stood on stage whilst Vanessa expressed her appreciation

‘You’ve done for me.’ she said struggling to maintain composure and she spoke simply and truly about her grand parents and her parents both stars in the acting firmament. The audience rose to acknowledge such courage and grace to say nothing of her incandescent talent.

That photographs below shot off dash board unbidden and are of Vanessa Redgrave, Uma Thurman and Prince W

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring will come. Promise!

Nothing is so beautiful as spring-
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;

Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-1889

A hint of what's to come.

But in this fallow period the hedges don't grow and I can see the church.

and a nearby hill.

Our new listing bird station . I blame the pigeons:)
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Roxy in East Enders.

I'm backing her as the killer as she is the least likely. Apologies to non - watchers of BBC TV.
Oooooh I can't wait!
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wit I grew up with. Part 1

I haven’t asked you to make me young again. All I want is to go on getting older

Konrad Adenauer 1876-1967

Long experience has taught me that in England nobody goes to the theatre unless he or she has bronchitis.

James Agate 1877-1947

Housekeeping ain’t no joke.

Louisa May Alcott 1832-1888

What’s a cult? It just means not enough people to make it a minority.

Robert Altman 1922 -2003

When I appear in public people expect me to neigh, grind my teeth, paw the ground and swish my tail – none of which is easy.

HRH Princess Anne 1950-

I always eat peas with honey, I’ve done it al my life, they do taste kind of funny, but it keeps them on the knife.


Democracy means government by discussion but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.

Clement Attlee 1883-1967

The future is …black.

James Baldwin 1924-1987

They were a tense and peculiar family, the Oedipuses, weren’t they?

Sir Max Beerbhom 1872-1936

Good taste is better then bad taste but bad taste is better than no taste.

Arnold Bennett 1867-1931

The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.

Irving Berlin 1888-1989

Phone for the fish knives Norman as Cook is a little unnerved; you kiddies have crumpled the serviettes and I must have things daintily served.

Sir John Betjeman 1906-1984

I like the weather when it is not rainy, that is, I like two months of every year.

George Gordon Byron 1788-1824

Cocaine isn’t habit forming. I should know – I’ve been using it for years.

Tallulah Bankhead 1903-1968

Tallulah Bankhead 1903-1968
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

If you want my Frank opinion …

The first thing I noticed about him was his pleasant speaking voice which he uses with unassuming authority – a rarity when presenters these days can yatter on about people ‘in the nooze’ He’s a quiet man and it’s no surprise that his parents were diplomats.

He always seemed to be seated – even when reporting to camera and then I noticed the wheel chair. I was delighted when later on he was standing, albeit with the help of a frame out of shot. I did a bit of delving.

Frank Gardner on the 6th of June whilst reporting for the BBC in Saudi Arabia was shot six times and his camera man was shot dead. One of the bullets hit his spinal nerve leaving him partly paralysed in the legs. He had fourteen operations and after seven months treatment returned to the BBC.

As a child he met Sir Wilfrid Thesiger whilst on a bus with his mother, and through his influence started to study Arabic. He back packed to Greece and then went to Manila where he got to know tribal people. After nine years of working in banks in Saudi he took up journalism in 1995 with the BBC working as a producer reporter. In 1998 he became a full time Gulf correspondent with an office in Dubai. In 2000 he was made Middle East correspondent in Cairo and after the Nine / Eleven attacks in the US he specialised in stories of The War on Terror.

He has received many awards for journalism and the Queen gave him an OBE. There’s something heroic about him and he wouldn’t be out of place in The 39 steps or Gone to Ground he seems to belong to that era. Married with two daughters a colleague said:

He’s a good communicator – incredibly good at thinking on his feet.’

The Saudi government who insisted he had the minders who fled when the shooting started, promised compensation but so far have not paid up. I have just ordered his book ’Blood and Sand’ not to be confused with the old classic by Vincente Blasco Ibanez about bull fighting.

As a child Frank went to a junior school in Hawkhurst Kent and I like to think he and his mother may have popped into my shop for a pair of rugger boots. Who knows?

I’ve just discovered the video below – could have saved myself some work. It’s worth looking at to get the flavour of him - special interest to New Zealanders.

It's all here!
Frank Gardner with his wife Amanda

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Change of Plan

Last week we had planned to have lunch in Exford but a nose bleed delayed us and we decided to stay nearer home and go to Blue Anchor Bay- eminently suited to the high anti-cyclonic weather.

This is the Smuggler's Inn above but it was closed - I seem to remember it doesn't open at lunch time in the winter months.

See what I mean about the weather. The far hill is where we live.

Looking in the other direction the higher white building is the Blue Anchor Inn where we had a reasonable lunch. Normally there are lots of anglers here.

It's a rambling old place and after we had eaten in this room we discovered a conservatory which we'll try next time. Beautiful day - but chilly.
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Commercial Nonsense?

From the personal Vintage Valentine collection of Barbara Crews.

This is from me for anyone whose partner thinks Valentines are expensive, commercial nonsense but has secretly hoped for one. I've been in your shoes.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Cheeky little Squatter

The noise is deafening. Now he's laid claim to the little house he does a perfect imitation of a woodpecker eating the fatsnax meant for the long-tailed tits.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Isn't he lovely?

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage.
William Blake 1757-1827

The pious bird with the scarlet breast,
Our little English robin.
William Wordsworth 1770-1850

Yesterday lunch time I knelt by the window hoping to snap the tits but got robin instead although he's too fat and keeps falling off. We now have a vertical feeder more suitable for him. We just have to get it out of the box and erect it.
Can you see him in flight?

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Would you?

I never dreamed I would be moved to put my arms round Alastair Campbell to comfort him but yesterday morning when he was being tormented by Andrew Marr I held my breath when he seemed about to lose it. It was so odd when he had sailed through the Chilcot Inquiry without turning a hair. He just stopped speaking and seemed to have difficulty in breathing - the silence seemed endless. Finally he managed to gasp out that Tony Blair was an honourable man. Very strange.

I haven't got much work done today- we were disturbed by a clanging, reverberating noise and checked the house from top to bottom - all windows and doors - tried to convince ourselves it came from elsewhere but it was too close. At last staring out of the window I noticed the door between the side and the front of the house move imperceptibly. It hadn't been bolted - great relief all round. It is extremely cold with a bitter wind.

I should get back to work. I'm at a difficult part - it's never easy writing about one's fall from grace.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Low Winter Sun at Rascarrel Bay by Kim Ayres
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Two Blogging Friends

Thanks to Kevin who I regard a horticultural expert - this is a photo of Solanum jasminoide which I now know is the name of the potato plant Karen (my gardener) warns is on its way out- no doubt to join the New Dawn rose in flower Heaven. As Kevin says it is a 'doer' but alas its day is done.

The good news is that as soon as I can get it framed this beautiful Photograph taken by Kim will be on my walls. Kim thinks his landscapes are 'nice' but I disagree. I find this quite spiritual.
Sometimes my links work but today when I highlight the link to cut it - it lights up in blue and my right click won't work. If these links don't work click on Kim and Kevin on my side bar. These things are sent to try me no doubt!
Kim's photo has just disappeared so I will publish it first - DV. Knowing blogger it may be above or below this post.
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Saturday, February 06, 2010


Ian Carmichael OBE 1920-2010 Rest in Peace.
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Friday, February 05, 2010

One dam thing after another!

Way back when I was a member of the Garden Group in TWG (Town's Women's Guild ) I had this arbour and terrace built. It seemed a good idea to use the expertise on hand so with the chairman's permission( Margaret and yes she's settling in nicely in her new home) I offered a prize for the best planting design for my new toy. The entries had to be anonymous to avoid any hint of favouritism and there were some excellent entries. One of them stood out because it included New Dawn - my favourite rose - so there was beauty and fragrance - then there was the blue potato flower - so prettty with the pale pink, a honeysuckle and a winter jasmine with lots of suggestions for b
etween seasons plants.

I didn't recognise the handwriting so was genuinely surprised and a little dismayed to find the winner was Margaret. It's been an absolute joy over the years and I was upset when Karen told me the rose was dead and she had dug it up. It was discovered the year I was born so it felt personal. Anyway there is sun today so we shall go over to Exford for lunch. Must support the locals - heard the other day that The Notley Arms at Monksilver had closed its doors. Let's hope it's only temporary
Have a nice week-end - I plan to finish a next batch of chapters.
P.S. I googled
fruitlessly for the name of the potato plant - I'm sure you'll know it. Apparently that also is on the way out - the one in my garden I mean. Too cruel!
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Word in your Ear.

Adversity cause some men to break; others to break records.


Never, never, never give up.


The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and simple.


The fashion wears out more apparel than the man.


Nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what he’s talking about.


By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.


The best mirror is an old friend.


It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.


The deeper interior you have the more you have in your library.


Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.


Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.


Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.


Terry Prachett

I last wrote about Terry on February 6th 2009 soon after he had been diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease and discovered that many of you were fans of his. In case you missed it below is the link to Terry giving the Richard Dimbleby lecture

I was relieved to see that Terry seemed well with his usual sense of humour. He explained that Richard Dimbleby – father to brothers Jonathan and David had inspired him when - on discovering he had cancer- told the world, when previously it had been the disease that dare not speak its name. As a result Terry made the programmes about his battle with Alzheimers and did great work bringing it to people’s attention. Now he is doing the same for assisted death – he refuses to call it assisted suicide.

The lecture is 45 minutes long approx and Terry had arranged after his initial introduction to hand over to Tony Robinson to read the excellent speech for him. This worked perfectly with Terry sitting on the stage and Tony becoming his mouthpiece. The main gist is that we need to redefine how we deal with terminal illness and in spite of the seriousness of the content there was much laughter. Incidentally the two books he had published recently are best sellers.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Scarlet's Challenge

To name three classic movie momentsthat made me buy things, do things and or think things
that maybe I shouldn't have.

I always remembered the frustrated passion of the other Scarlett when she stood in the turnip field in 'Gone with the Wind' - shook her fist at the sky and vowed ' As God is my witness I'll never go hungry again!' Years later with the same passion I stood behind the yew hedge in the garden and vowed I would never be dependent on a man again. After weeks of schmoozing I had been refused money for a new bathing costume. My tears were real.

Oh the glamour of the fag - the intimacy of sharing a smoke. In 'Now Voyager' Paul would put two cigarettes in his mouth - light them and give one to Bette and she would say 'Don't let's ask for the moon Jerry - we have the staaaaaaaahs!' I was only 13 but once I had the excuse of the sweat and strain of taking finals I took up the weed and puffed for Britain.

' Where do the noses go?' Ingrid asked Gary before their first kiss. She was so beautiful with her cropped hair so I had mine all chopped off. No Gary for me and the head boy at school who I fancied said 'Oh you've done it now!' He still phones me though. No pressure - the challenge is open to anyone but I'd love the hear Naomi's, Eryl's and Kim's if they can find the time.
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