Friday, 31 December 2010

21 more page views by midnight, please!

Looking at our page views statistics, as I write we are 21 page views short of having more traffic this month than last - can you push us higher? Looking at the graph since we started in late September is amazing - thanks again to all our readers in 2010, and we look forward to your return viewing and comments in 2011.

I am finally snuffling my way to the end of my (non gender-specific) cold, and hope to be clear of it by midnight (&/or be suitably anaesthetised so that it does not matter!).  I will write no more of it...

Today Su and I celebrated the disappearance of the fog and being able to see further than 10 yards by going off to Westonbirt with Bella.  We stopped by the Royal Oak there, but they weren't serving! 
That's all from me for 2010 - 
Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

This pic of the swans and ducks on their frozen pond was taken at 7 a.m. yesterday in Victoria Park, Bath. Only had my phone camera which, as you can see, isn't the quality of my digital one. But I think this shot succeeds in showing how cold and misty it was.
I'm fed up with all this makes it so gloomy everywhere. To cheer myself up I did a bit of gardening. Cleared the raised veg beds ready to plant out onions and rest of garlic. Neighbour's cat and one of ours sat watching but were thwarted in their efforts to "christian" the newly turned soil as I'd covered the whole lot up with ENVIROMESH...marvellous stuff which is deer-proof so definitely helps make it a no-poo-zone for the moggies.
A reminder that our competition ends at midnight tomorrow...please see blog listed on 28th December.
Marcus is still sneezing and wheezing but is up and about today.....nothing to do with my sister calling round with Christmas presents!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

What to say?

I've spent all day inside the house, quite a lot of it in bed, nursing a bout of man-cold.  Not much to see outside of the window as the fog still persists (and is forecast to continue for a while yet). I've continued to catch up with recordings of TV programmes (about the right level of intellectual challenge for my befuddled brain).  Su has been at the computer, with Randall's assistance, plotting the details of our visit to Symi in April.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


The first person to guess where these photographs are taken will win FIRST PRIZE!

We went out for the day as Bath was and still is shrouded in fog. Made our way towards the sea and landed up here. Found beach cafe open - Marcus had bacon sandwich, I had cheesy chips with tomato sauce! But before we could enjoy our lunch, Bella needed to run and roll in the mud and chase a ball and get even muddier (this is a clue).
Now we're back home and I've been looking at accommodation options for our next visit to Symi. I'm rather drawn to the converted windmill with its stunning views but on the other hand there's a gorgeous converted fisherman's cottage down in the harbour which looks inviting....decisions, decisions....
p.s. I expect you'd like to know what the First Prize is. After much thought and consultations with fellow blogsters we've decided to bestow the honour of a "mention" on this very blog. This is an exciting moment for us all. (Competition ends at midnight New Year's Eve..terms & conditions apply)

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas thaw

The thaw has begun here in earnest - it's possible to go out without being encased in layers of insulation (not that I have since this morning, as Su took Bella out this afternoon while I watched videos...). Of course, there's always something with the British weather, so no lovely views or sunsets today.

Inside it's jolly though, and I thought that you might like to see our traditional Christmas yucca...

- Posted using BlogPress from Marcus' iPad

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Late Christmas Day blog!

So disappointed that we couldn't write blog yesterday as British Telecom had cut us off from the world wide web. It's still intermittent today so quickly writing this while I can.
So a belated Merry Christmas to our readers and hope you've enjoyed your day.
The pic today is taken at dawn this morning. As I was indoors all of yesterday I was keen to get some air - until I got outside! Bella's happy to frolic outdoors not matter what the weather or temperature which I suppose is the point of martyring myself year in year out. We've tried being dog-less - I think we lasted 6 months - but a 20+ year habit of "making the effort" not matter what is hard to shrug off.
A bit like Christmas......always dread it, always succumb to it, always do it!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Nearly done...

Still cold, and getting colder tonight and tomorrow (forecast to be down to-7 degrees C tonight and -9 degrees C tomorrow night) before it starts to warm up - it's due to be +9 degrees C by Tuesday!  It was great today to see some sun after days without any, starting with this lovely early sky in the park:-
As we have family coming to us tomorrow, my role today has been cleaning while Su is busy fitting a door downstairs.  I managed to get some pictures on the wall (and they haven't fallen down yet!) and have finished wrapping Su's presents.  Still more stuff but we will probably do more tomorrow after a Christmas breakfast and present opening.

The day finished with lovely skies and great glow on the hills.  Let's hope tomorrow is as sunny as today even though it is going to be **cold** when I take Bella out!

Thursday, 23 December 2010


I took this pic last night after discovering the "night" option on my camera. (Only taken me 2 years to work it out.) The bright golden glow on the right is a street light but the beaming white orb is the moon! I shall continue to play with this new setting and will hopefully be able to show you better quality pics in the future.
Today we've been having fun making the house look more festive in preparation for the invasion on the 25th. Cards have been strung up, little coloured lights are glowing all over the house and the silver gossamer I bought a year or two ago is strewn over every picture and object d'art I can see. The little Christmas tree is suitably adorned as is the yukka plant standing in the corner. Now I just have to think about food while Marcus makes an impression with the hoover.....but that's for tomorrow.
Just a mention that poor Bella is a bit under the weather AND has developed a bit of arthritis in her hips and one of her paws. So she's tucked up and drugged up (antibiotics) and will be cosseted until she perks up again.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Ring Out Cash Tills

This morning, Su and I were going to go and see the film "Rare Exports", a Finnish tale of bad Santa entombed in ice who escapes. But when we got down into town, we were seduced by the lure of a cup of coffee and some gentle Christmas shopping plus a bit of culture in the Victoria Art Gallery.

Having done our bit to revitalise the UK economy ("We're all in it together" as the 18 millionaires in the Cabinet tell us...), we came home - on the way spotting this man with a Christmas tree on his head:-
Just so our readers don't think that we have stopped thinking about foreign travel, we came home to find an offer of free downloads of loads of Lonely Planet City Guide Apps (goes on till 2 am GMT 23rd December in UK only if you're interested).  Quiet a few places we haven't visited - all now installed on the iPad and iPhone for future reference!
Not sure we want to live in Warsaw, Stockholm or Moscow (a certain small Greek island keeps coming top of our list) but you never know...

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Happy Solstice!

Joy of joys. Today is the shortest day of the year which means the days'll be getting longer and before you know it we can start growing things again. Whoopee!
Escaped the house today to visit friend who's bought an iPad and has asked me to teach her how to use it! But first we had to have a hot toddy. And then we had to have lunch - 3 courses. And then could I top up her bird feeders and bring in the recycling bins and check the turkeys (dead) which she was keeping cold in the garage were ok. And then we had to have a coffee to get warm again. And only after all that did we get down to lesson on how to write an email...easy but boring. She said. Let's surf! So spent next half hour on "" looking at mansions in the Cotswolds. Just to explain the reason I did all these "chores" is because my friend is disabled and relies on others to help her out from time to time.
I must give iM a mention as the only reason I was able to escape was down to his stirling efforts with the shovel digging my car out of the snow. I had the inspiration to use the ash we had accumulated from the woodburner to chuck on the road and we had traction!
Don't have any pics of me driving off but of a rather strange creature I saw on my walk yesterday........

Monday, 20 December 2010

Monday, Monday...

Went out with Bella this morning, and it was **cold**.  After that, Su and I went shopping in the beginnings of today's snow, which kept on coming down quite insistently on and off throughout most of the day - but that warmed things up a bit.  Now we're back to cold again, and we're just about to literally slip out down the road for a curry with our friends if they can make it and find somewhere to park!

I've surprised myself (and Su) by being quite practical over the last few days - fitted a telephone extension , so we no longer sleep with the glow of modem/router and answerphone (it's only taken 5 years...), and yesterday I put up some shelves.

The visual effects of more snow on top of existing snow don't seem very dramatic (unless you're in Arctic conditions - we have the temperatures, but not yet the deep, deep snow...), but the light at dusk tonight was wonderfully dramatic, as I hope these photos from our bathroom window show.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Had to get out of the house!

Unlike two cats I could mention I can't bear being cooped up in the house for too long. Have been taking Bella out but not very far or for very long as it's positively dangerous walking anywhere around here. Pavements not gritted. Roads not gritted.

Today I'd had enough so dragged iM (humphing) and Bella (excited) out for walk in the park with a promise to find lunch somewhere. Miraculously car not too frozen up. All the snow had been removed by kind folk playing snowballs and road not slippery. So today's pics are iM and Bella frolicking. Not too cold as I've treated myself to some amazingly warm socks (angora/wool mix) and feet positively glowing.
Humans had had enough after 45 minutes of -6 plus a brisk breeze so zoomed off to local garden centre who serve quite nice lunches at quite nice prices......

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snow again

A welcome to our new followers, and to our continuing readers.  It is really great to know that we are not just talking to ourselves (well, no more than usual!)

We woke up to snow this morning, and some lovely vistas - from early morning light, and views of Solsbury Hill (yes, the one from the Peter Gabriel song). The sun came out later, and some amazing sights, including Bailbrook (at the foot of Solsbury Hill) glowing in late afternoon sunshine.

The cats practised their bookend impression.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Can't believe it's Friday!

Had to leave my camera at home as battery needed charging up so this pic is "borrowed" from another site...fantastic isn't it!
One of the great thing about living in Bath is the variety of places to walk the dog. Even more choice than when we lived in the sticks. Today we went downhill to walk one way along the river (Avon) and back along the canal (frozen). I took some pics on my mobile but the light was poor and the mobile's camera is pathetic (tells you how old it is). I'll have to go back another day and try again.
Mind you it was blooming cold down there especially the canal path but this stretch is home to quite a few boats in the winter. There's also evidence of some poor folk living in these minus temperatures I worry for their survival. I've been told the boat residents form a supportive community who would also look out for tent dwellers which is a relief - hope it's true. It's so easy to take comfort for granted. I'm sitting by our wood-burning stove and feel very cosy. The central heating is also chugging away. All it takes is one power cut to get me to count my blessings.........

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Out with Bella

After being down in town for the last two mornings, I had a day in the country today.  I met up for lunch at Chew Valley Lake with my work colleague, Bob,  who is also the mandolin player in Left At The Lights, the elusive acoustic/folkrock/jazz combo. He is off work awaiting an operation next week, so we discussed how it will feel to go back after time away, as well as the likely impending strike action at UWE.  Bella and I were a bit early getting there, so we spent a windswept 25 minutes with me throwing sticks and looking at the reeds, while Bella chased and chewed sticks (such fun we have!).
After lunch, we went over to Greyfield Woods, on the edge of Clutton (where we used to live), managing to miss the rain and getting rewarded with some sunshine at the end of our stomp.
Then it was back into Bath, and into Sainsbury's (such joy) before coming home.

On other fronts, Su & I are getting somewhere with thinking about what I might do to occupy myself and earn a bit of cash when I retire, but not sure how portable it will be to other countries - watch this space as things unfold.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Pic (view of Bathwick Hill taken from Sion Hill in Bath) was taken a couple of weeks ago but no doubt this is what it will look like by the weekend if the weather forecast's right.
Spent another day hunting for "stuff". That's what I call shopping for anything that's not keeping me alive - food, clothing etc. It's in abundance at the moment as you all probably know, but where are the shoppers? I was in Ikea this morning - empty....moved on to Homebase - empty. Even the traffic was "thinner" than usual. Maybe everyone's gone to Bristol. Or maybe they've just run out of money! Now that would be a first.
Came home and tackled some DIY chores that usually fall to the male of the species. Out came the mastic to fill in round the skirting boards - no draughts! Moved on to hanging the blind that's been sat in the corner waiting to be returned to it's rightful place since I don't know when. Got the hoover out to tackle the whole of the ground floor and the stairs. Had enough of that thank you. So been cooking dinner.....which is just about ready. In case you're interested, it's salmon with rice and roast peppers.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Out and About

Yesterday I popped into UWE for a colleague's leaving do, and was surprised how tired it made me feel - maybe I have developed an allergy to the place during my convalescence:-).  It was good to talk to people not seen for over a month and to prowl the corridors for a short while.  While there, outside the University library I saw something that reflects the state of Higher Education, and the way it is going to go in the next few years of funding changes:-
We aren't even bothering to burn books in "Broken Britain" (it certainly will be by the time this lot have finished!).  Sad days indeed.

I got home to find a card from an old friend at Salford University, which had this "Health & Safety-gone-mad" warning on the back!

Today saw me being less of a grumpy old man - with a lovely start to the day.
Su and I then went into Bath and saw "Of Gods and Men", a really powerful film, before we did a bit of Christmas shopping and had a very pleasant lunch.  How am I going to cope when I go back to work?!

Monday, 13 December 2010


A few years ago we bought this log store but now it's surplus to requirements. Will put it on ebay and see what happens....unless of course there are any readers who'd like to make us an offer! But which pic should I use??!!
We've been having fun looking at the statistics for this blog. We know which countries our readers live in and how many times we're read each day. E.g. we have our largest following in the UK but a bit of a following in the Americas too. Our one reader in Australia (I think I know who this is!) has dropped off but we have loyal readers elsewhere.
Nothing very exciting happening today apart from going to hairdressers. The young woman who does my hair has her own business at home. She also keeps chickens which means sometimes you can land up with one of them on your lap while she's sorting out your highlights but today it wasn't so eventful....apart from a neighbour who'd locked herself out of her house and another customer who has shingles and a husband with a gastric band!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

"Have You Just..."

"...taken a picture off me bending over?", asked Su at Brean beach this afternoon.  That's between me and my computer files! We had the place virtually to ourselves - miles and miles of sand/mud and brilliant sunshine and blue skies.  It was lovely walking towards the sun, but not so good when we walked back into the cold breeze that sprang up as the sun started to descend.
We saw lots of interesting (to me) things. This row of stakes (to keep cars off the end of the beach, where some used to get stuck in the mud and drowned by the tide).

We also saw this log/monster - all in all a bit like the Turner prize shortlist.

And to think I could have stayed at home and done the ironing, rather than see this sign as well.

Saturday, 11 December 2010


Spent nearly 4 hours having my poor old brain being crammed with facts, opinions, theories and a few jokes (sorry can't remember any of them). Today was one of many study days one is required to attend if doing an Open University course. As usual it was extremely interesting and I'm sure I've benefitted from it but at the moment exactly how is not obvious - to me anyway....I just want to go to sleep!
Mind you that could be down to the Chinese meal Marcus treated me to after the above endurance test. We always go to the same one in Bristol as it sells authentic dim sum and there's nowhere else outside of London or Manchester where you can get the range and quality....yam croquettes, paper-wrapped prawns, char sui buns, chung fung...I could go on but it's making my stomach rumble again and we just happen to have some prawn dumplings in the fridge!

Friday, 10 December 2010

What to say today?

A day that has disappeared without much to show for the time, apart from answering some emails from work (gradually chipping away at the consequences of not being there for over 4 weeks...) and another walk with Bella in lovely, albeit still cold, afternoon sunshine.  Here she is, looking cute (note the blur of her ever-wagging tail!)

The sunset was glorious this evening.  I came home and made tea, while Su slaved over her text books some more - on the agenda tonight were Plato and Christianity, ahead of her tutorial tomorrow. 

Thursday, 9 December 2010

STUDY DAY..........

I've spent a big chunk of the day catching up with my Open University studies which I've been neglecting of late. Too many distractions and an ingrained antipathy towards "applying" myself make it predictable that I'd be avoiding the books....but once I get going I really enjoyed it all. Today was all about "divas" (Madonna and Maria Callas), Stalin and the Dalai Lama. Tomorrow I'll read about Plato and Christianity, then I'll be ready for big tutorial in Bristol this weekend.
Managed to fit in a visit to Chew Valley Lake to see the frozen lake (as reported on Facebook - thanks Richard). Bella had walk and I had egg and chips so both happy!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

iPad overdose and sunshine

My brain is starting to get in gear a bit more after the operation ("About time and it's still got a long way to go", I'm sure I hear Su mutter:-)!) Yesterday, I set up a friend's new iPad (in the process missing the delivery of my own!) so today I have been playing with the new toy and seeing what it can and can't do compared to my laptop. Maybe there's a business opportunity here for me after the education cuts really bite (big vote on tuition fees tomorrow, so look out for lots of students and lecturers on the streets of London on the evening news).

One thing I used it for was to look up a recipe, which I then cooked - salmon en croute (without the creamy sauce), which was very tasty, thanks to Su's excellent guidance.

All this was after another cold walk with Bella, but lovely today as the sun was out and showing off winter wonderland to great effect.  This helped to take my mind off the wind...