Thursday, 31 March 2011

Today was yoga - this is NOT me and if it was I'd be in traction.
But we had quite a difficult class designed to get us "breathing" and "stretching" and feeling calm.....not always possible while the above are trying to be achieved!

Dropped in to the Co-op travel shop to buy currency where I picked up a brochure about Italy. Dashed home as delivery of turf and topsoil expected.  As Bella is now
trained to use only one area of the garden to p and p we're having a go at making the rest of the garden look more inviting.....

Decided I needed a good long walk so Bella and I did the whole circuit of the racetrack. At the far end there's a metal plaque mounted on a plinth telling you what you can see - on a clear day. As I only had my ancient phone with me this pic doesn't do it justice.  As for the views, they are stunning when you can see them - unlike today when it was very misty. To the east is one of the Wiltshire white horses at Westbury, the Wells television mast on the Mendips is due south and the soon to be derelict Cadbury's factory lies west, with Bristol and the Bristol Channel beyond.  On a very, very clear day it's possible to spot both of the Severn bridges over to Wales.

As much as I appreciate living in such a lovely area I long to get away to blindingly bright skies and a language I can barely understand....not long now......

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Student Engagement

Today I wandered into work, and cleared a couple of book shelves of books I have not looked at for ages, and will never have any cause to look at again.  I put them on a table outside the office door with a notice for people to help themselves.  Gratifyingly, loads of them had gone within an hour and there were hardly any left when I came home a few hours later.

Before I left, I saw a few of my final year project students who are a week away from handing those in. One of them showed me a documentary he has made on Punk & Reggae in Bristol in the 70s and 80s, which was pretty good.  For some reason, I get the non-standard/"bonkers" projects to supervise - for example, another is music based on the position of debris in space around the Earth.  It's a challenging listen! This stage of the year when their work comes together is pretty satisfying to see. I expect to see loads of students in revision lectures tomorrow and Friday, as well as in soundscape presentations.

After a cup of tea at home, it was time to go and do a bit of work on the allotment patch. Some picking of broccoli, some culling of plants and digging over half of it ensued - just in time for Su to come and supervise :-). On the way there, I met this friendly and distinctive cat, who happily posed for a photograph.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


I'm sure the last thing you want to read about is my shopping trip to the lost world of outer Bristol commonly known as The Mall.  It's where John Lewis and other stores reside amongst a tangle of roads leading to other trading estates....HELL!
But it's where, at last, I managed to find some walking sandals and some rather nice stripey socks so it wasn't all bad.

Was relieved to get home... ate a very late lunch (goats cheese and rocket in a toasted pitta bread) and a mug of earl grey then off to the fields and woods with Bella  for some much-needed fresh air.

Am writing this in a rush as we're going down to town again to see new Woody Allen film........

Took this pic this was a bit lighter than this but I rather like the glowing car roofs - like puddles in a row.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Manic Monday...

A fragmented day - off to the doctor's for a check-up then to my back class before a couple of hours' work. Then I picked up Su from a fraught shopping trip before taking the car to be fixed.  Back for some more work before doing some ironing.  Su then presented me with this lovely plate of food (including our own fresh broccoli).
A quick bit of iPad maintenance for Su followed, before the second part of an 80s Disarmament Campaign based "Waking the Dead" (takes me back to those heady days, when Su & I met). That's the day almost gone...

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lovely Sunday..........


We started off rather sleepily (like the rest of the nation no doubt after losing an hour out of our lives) but decided to head off to Westonbirt for early walk.

Bella was thrilled to bits .......

Next stop was Bath Little Theatre to see depressing film about UK child trafficking but glad I saw it as I once worked for a charity that was involved in this (not when I was there I would hasten to add). Over 130,000 children were shipped wholesale to Commonwealth countries (mostly Australia and Canada) after the 2nd World War until 1970!  Their families were told that they were to be adopted and given a better life.....tragically many were used and abused and had no idea they had family alive in the UK until a valiant social worker uncovered this crime and worked for many years to reunite them.  
We saw a preview but look out for this film when it's released later this year.  
It's called  "Sunshine and Oranges".
We cheered ourselves up afterwards by having a quick coffee and leisurely walk back up the hill to our house......this is what we saw on the way......


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Turf time

Today saw us make a little lawn halfway down our back garden,  This garden is north-facing so from this time of year onwards the sun makes it at least half way to the house (hence the new lawn, which is to be a sitting area for breakfast etc.).  As Bella has peed on our other grass in the past, causing it to die back, we took precautions to keep her off this new lawn until it is established.  The photo shows Su putting the final touches to our Bella deterrent.
After this, I took Bella off for a stomp around and up and down the valley our north-facing garden looks towards. Up to Charlcombe Church, where I saw this unconnected hose, new flowers and a demonstration of how all-reaching the HIghways Authority is!

Then we zoomed off to Bristol for a late and delicious lunch of dim sum at our favourite Chinese restaurant. Talked more about post UWE travel and living elsewhere possibilities. Now back home with full tummies and feeling a little dozy.  Must wake up in time for the last instalment of "The Killing", an excellent Danish TV series we got hooked into.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Another sunny day...........

............but no time to tarry as we've run out of food, nearly. My experiment in NOT shopping came to an end today. I used up all the fresh food in the fridge, half emptied the freezer and the store cupboard (or in our house, large drawer) and ran out of ideas for meals. Well actually I just gave up as it was getting boring. So off I went to Sainsbury's in Bath who are going to close their doors in the next few days for a "refubishment" which they're very excited about, but will no doubt turn it into a clone of every supermarket you've ever been to i.e. a nightmare of crowded aisles, too much choice and those wretched diy checkouts which shout at you.

The afternoon improved my mood as Bella and I went to J's allotment and watered the seedlings. From there we walked down to the park and threw sticks which made her happy and hot.

This evening have just got back in from seeing a film called "Archipeligo" - an existential number which would have bored many but which Marcus and I found very entertaining.  Plot: dysfunctional middle-class family holiday on Tresco (one of the Scilly Isles off the Cornish coast). Not a lot happened. They ate, slept and argued for two weeks and then went home.  We went to the Scilly Isles a few years ago when my back gave out.  We flew there from Bristol in a plane the size of a small car, a journey which only took an hour or so.  It was very expensive, as was the hotel, but it was the only thing I could manage at the time.  Plot: dysfunctional (for health reasons) couple holiday on St. Mary's. Not a lot happened. They ate, slept and tried not to argue for a week and then went home.

Pic today is Marcus and Bella - as if you didn't know!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Another Thursday, Another Strike!

Out on strike again today, as part of our national dispute over pay and pensions.  Heard today that our last strike in February, which led to the University management discussing the dispute with the Union at ACAS, has resulted in significant concessions. A welcome result from collective action (comrades :-)!).

Unlike the last strike, I did not spend today on the picket line, but rather in the welcome Spring sunshine, doing anything but Uni work, So, I cleaned out a drain, went down to the allotment to pick the first purple sprouting broccoli of the year and some onions that have come up from last year, admired the flowers in our front garden, and moved a bit of turf and soil with Su before we went for for a walk followed by a very nice meal out.  All good practice for retirement, as the photos attest.



Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sunny Wednesday

Hasn't it been a fantastic day!  Wall-to-wall sunshine meant that at last I could get into the garden without a coat.  Our back garden faces north and it's only useable from this time of year until October if you're lucky.  So armed with spade and fork I started on one of the borders which is going to be transformed into a new sitting area.  Have decided to turf it rather than deal with heavy bags of sand and cement which we'd need for laying slabs.
Spent happy couple of hours digging and weeding then realised I'd not much time left before dashing off to hospice for this week's life story session. Really interesting today as we recorded memories of the domestic political upheavals during the Thatcher years.....miners' strike, anti-cruise missiles, Greenham Common and much more. Ah those were the days!
Good news from abroad - we shall be able to get to our remote Greek island as the ferries are running there again. Well sort of.  A depleted service means the islanders have no mail collected or delivered and no paper goods, paint, beer or bottled water so have been advised to take our own loo rolls!!
Am now babysitting for neighbours who share our broadband signal so I can write this on my iPad.....but no photos on here yet so it's just me rambling on......

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Early morning walk following in Su's footsteps along Perfect Place, seeing more signs of Spring.   I also sighted the sprouting of fearsome security ironware around some of the houses down the hill from there. 

Popped by the new corner shop, which was not open as advertised, so walked back past the established shop.  Surprised by the fact that it was open but the proprietor seems galvanised by the competition, and is now opening earlier than before.  He even held Bella's lead for me while I got the paper!

On the way home I passed the Guerrila Garden by the pub - all these trees, shrubs and daffodils on this patch of grass have been planted in the dead of night by mystery gardeners (although we have heard rumours about who they may be).
Then off to UWE, where I spent much of the day talking to final year students about final year projects, and to some second year students who have decided that just over a week is plenty of time to complete a term-long piece of work.  The joys of teaching :-).

Monday, 21 March 2011

It's such a perfect day.....tra, la...

It's hard to believe I live in a city at 7 a.m. on a glorious Spring morning ...
birds singing, no traffic (well hardly any),
a couple of joggers and a fellow dog-walker or three viewed at a distance.

We have a new local shop so able to buy newspaper and walk round to Perfect View which has these glorious views.......hence the name (!)

Just above is Richmond Hill and the Beacon which is where I'd love to have a house but 1. they're way too expensive for us and 2. there are never any houses up for sale, so that's all right then!

Now who's this you might ask?  He's our Aussie neighbour, Mat.  Father of 3 delightful children and married to Liz who's lovely.  Mat's a keen gardener and is much more organised than I'll ever be. Here he is contemplating repotting his bay tree (left of front door) and wondering how to get the damn thing out of its pot!  Lucky for him he had me passing by so was able to advise and watch to make sure he did it properly!!! (Only joking Mat).

The day ended with the most splendid sunset which threw deep reds on the distant trees which pretty much matched the houses at the bottom of our street.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sociable Sunday

Fighting our way through the hordes of migrating cyclists and Sunday drivers newly awakened from their hibernation by the Spring sunshine, we went for lunch in Nailsea to our friends, Barbara and Richard.  Also there were other Symi-holics Tricia and Mazzy (+ dog Lottie) as well as B&R's son Stephen and granddaughter Charlotte.  Much Symi-related talk followed, as well as praises for the state of retirement and musings about what our next steps post-UWE should be.  Sitting in the garden sunshine rounded off a delicious lunch most pleasantly.

Back home in time to walk Bella before sunset - next week the clocks go forward and it will be light until 8 o'clock!

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Went to see my friend Linda yesterday who gave me a lovely lunch of homemade soup and homemade bread. We then sat on the sofa drinking tea, chatting and admiring her and Stephen's very old cat who's name I can't recall.  

Marcus and I spent the day with unexpected visitors and were both blown away by the amazing full moon, shining large and bright orange.  Below is the best pic I could get of it..........!!!!

And now we're drinking wine, waiting for the spuds to cook so I can make my version of egg and chips.......tra, la!!

Thrush recording

Here is a link to the thrush singing its heart out I referred to in yesterday's (just!) post

Friday, 18 March 2011

Flowers and light

After coming home yesterday with a migraine and being sick (great timing as Su and I were going to go out for dinner with friends), I slept for hours.  Thankfully, I felt recovered after that and set off into the morning drizzle with Bella, where I saw these jonquils (small daffodils to you and me!).
Saw loads of bigger daffodils later on, lining the road up to the racecourse.  
This was after another session at the Degree Factory.  Bob Lang came back in today after months being off sick.  It was good to see him back.  Lots of students reporting in as deadlines approach - only 3 weeks of this Semester left, and then it is exams after the Easter break.  This means I only have 3 more weeks as a university teacher, and a couple of months or so examining and marking!

Even though I was busy, I was still able to escape early enough to be able to enjoy the end of what had become a lovely sunny afternoon by going off with Su to Westonbirt.  Because we got there after 5 o'clock, we had the place to ourselves. The light was lovely.
Right at the top of this tree was a thrush singing its heart out .  I recorded it on my phone, but have not yet figured out how to get the great-sounding file onto this blog - a later entry will feature it.
Lots of blossom coming out, and a beautiful sunset.

Coming home we had a curry at our local before checking out the newly opened corner shop.  The proprietor of the long-established, complacent competitor came in while we were there with a notepad to check out their prices!