Monday, 30 April 2012

More Storm Damage And Holiday Countdown!

At the end of yesterday evening, the sun came out briefly through a slight drizzle. I managed to catch the last of the magnificent rainbow before it faded as the rain set in again
Took advantage of today's break in the rain to clear the former decking off the lawn. Stacked it in our under kitchen space to dry out before we reconfigure at least some of it. Yesterdays's temporary props were reinforced by some heavy stone.  One thing about living in Bath is that sticking a spade in the ground tends to result in a lump of stone - often already cut and squared off.
Su's engineering skills to the fore on this one, with drilling, nailing and a gert big lump of stone to secure the brace on next door's fence.
Our under kitchen space (definitely not a cellar as it is only about 3 foot high) has been waiting for us to put a door on for some time now.  The recent winds demolished our previous arrangement, so this will suffice till we get back from Greece, and saves our house-sitters from worrying about it.
At the end of all this, the sun came out and made the garden look lovely! 
Had a brief panic when we heard that trains between Bristol and Swindon are being affected by flooding on the line - we are due to to Gatwick by train on Wednesday morning. Luckily for us (but not other passengers) it is the Bristol Parkway route that is affected, not the Bristol Temple Meads - Bath route. After calming down, I took Bella out for a walk in some warm Spring sunshine, passing this poor storm-damaged tree.
But that was nothing compared to this one. I thought that the corner this tree used to stand on seemed a bit lighter than usual, and then I realised why…
Even more scary was that the tree had collapsed in the direction of the house - which is up for sale, so this will not have pleased the owners. What may have pleased them more is that although the tree brought down some guttering, it did not crash on the Porsche parked close by.
Down at the bottom of the hill, the stream was happily running fast. 
These purple topped grasses have sprung up in the last few days, so Spring must be on the way.
Blue skies and warm sunshine on my back - a welcome feeling after the last couple of weeks' weather.
 I really like these delicate flowers, but never remember their name - and the free booklet extracted from Sarah Raven's Wild Flowers from yesterday's Observer does not help.
I know these are buttercups glistening in the sunshine! 
Just across the stream, under the trees, the wild garlic is out in profusion. 
 And the pollarded willows are sprouting their leaves
On the way back up the hill by Midsomer Buildings, another casualty of the wind.
This day a year ago, we were still on Rhodes having a lazy day after our circumnavigation the previous day, when Su took this photo of octopi being prepared for cooking. 
Tomorrow is our last day before we go to Greece once more - and - of course - we have a list as long as our arm of tasks we need to finish in the next 36 hours. So, on that note, I must dash - I'll be back with an update tomorrow!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Weather Damage

The "drought" continues - last night with high winds and lashings of rain, which continued through the day leading to flooding in some places we drove through. Woke up (later than of recent days thanks to our newly installed red curtain) to see that the fence on one side of our garden had suffered quite a bit of storm damage.  On closer inspection, it looked as if the clematis was the only thing stopping it collapsing altogether.
So it was out into the garden to shore it up.  Under the direction of Su the Engineer, we managed to brace the fence and lash it together with some old washing line. Good enough to hold until tomorrow when the rain should have passed through and we can do a better repair before we go away, and spare our house-sitters from worrying about it..
We also had to brace the fence on the other side (where the decking used to be) as that was swaying quite alarmingly in the wind.
After that, I took Bella out for her morning stroll. Found pages of a Just William book scattered over the road, stuck down by the rain - took me back many years!
The wind had worked its devilment on lots of plants as well as on our fence.  These willow whips offer an opportunity if someone wants to start a plantation…
The blossom that was on this tree only yesterday now garlands the gutters on either side of the road.
And this blossom has carpeted the ground underneath, giving Bella a nice background to pose against.
What looked like an oversize pipe cleaner had found its way into some trees overnight. Blended in quite well with the fir tree, I thought.
After breakfast, it was down into town for Su to nip into Marks & Spencer briefly. I parked illegally, with other people while the drought weather continued to do its worst.
 Getting ready for our trip abroad next week, we thought that we might miss some essential cultural ingredients while away, so off we set to Ikea. Unfortunately (phew!), the traffic queues to get in were so long that we quickly abandoned that plan, and went on to our second essential cultural item - dim sum at Dynasty. A delicious feast ensued - a month without dim sum will be a burden, but we will be consoled by spinakopita and other Greek fare. Talking of Greece…

This day a year ago we hired a car and circumnavigated Rhodes, continuing past Faliraki and Lindos. Found a great (if slow) fish restaurant at Plimiri Beach.  Really enjoyed the south and west of the island with its forests and empty beaches - by far the best part of Rhodes. Lesbos sounds as if it may have similar terrain - we will find out next week!
This is already another record-breaking month for the blog with more page-views than last month's all-time best. Final figures on Tuesday, and thanks again to all our readers worldwide.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Screens, Sleep and Holiday Planning

Last night we went out for a delicious (as always) supper at Yum Yum Thai and then on to the Little Theatre to see "Once Upon A Time In Anatolia", a Turkish film which has been gathering five star reviews. Because the Little now generally only show non-English language films for one showing on a Tuesday night, we'd missed it when it was first on so we were glad to have a second opportunity to catch it. To my mind it was a film of two parts:- I found the first two hours beautifully filmed with absolutely great sound, well scripted and altogether engaging. The last 45 minutes saw me struggling to stay awake and maintain interest. Does this make me 1/3 Philistine?:-) Overall worth seeing, but not five stars.
Stayed up later than we normally do, and so today was a slower start. Weather not good for photographic opportunities, but I was moved to wonder if Torchwood is an anagram of "Doctor Who", what is Stonewood an anagram of - "woo stoned"?
Engaged in our regular Saturday treat of breakfast at the Secret Garden Cafe over the Guardian before coming home to light the stove - and it's nearly May! I struggled with my DIY abilities and managed to put up a curtain pole in our bedroom - this should help us to avoid waking with the ever-earlier dawn light.
Su took Bella out for a walk, and rang me from the other side of the valley to check if I could see her waving at me.  Established that I could from the bathroom window, which she could see me opening and shutting. Oh what fun we have! I thought I'd go and have a look at our back garden while the rain held off. Our clematis on one fence is gradually coming out. 
Our lilac is nearly flowering
 I can never remember the name of these pretty flower spikes - again my horticultural consultant will probably help me out.
This  little acer is coming into leaf again.
This one is in a waterlogged pot, but seems quite happy.  After the really dry and warm March we had, it might be glad of the moisture.
On our bottom fence , a mass of clematis buds are just waiting to erupt.
This creeper is weaving its way along the fence.
After my garden inspection, I caught up with the hour and a half of "The Bridge" that I fell asleep over last week.  Watching it without sleep deprivation or jet lag was very different - gripping stuff, and I am looking forward to tonight's two instalments. 

Su and I have just had a very happy session planning some of our Grecian Odyssey. We fly into Athens next Wednesday, and then onto Lesbos the next day. We've decided how we will spend our time and which parts of the island we will concentrate on for our 10 days there, before we move on to Rhodes and Symi (and possibly other islands too...).  

Got this great map of the island from the brilliant Map Shop in Upton on Severn. Ordered it by phone after 5 pm on Thursday, and it was here before noon yesterday.  Now Su* is in her element looking at hotels and other accommodation. 
* AKA Su's Tours!
This day a year ago, we were on Rhodes. We had decided to spend a few days there, rather than just using it as a stepping stone to Symi. For our first day, we were tourists in the old town, found a great taverna and really enjoyed ourselves looking at monuments like the castle.
Regular readers may have noticed the appearance today of a logo in the bottom left-hand side of most of the photographs here. This is a Creative Commons Licence - this one means that you are welcome to use these photographs (maximum size 640 pixels in either dimension), as long you attribute them to Marcus Lynch or this blog, do not use them for commercial purposes, and do not alter them in any way. The original images are all bigger than this, and I will announce plans for those in a later blog - some time after we are back from Greece!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Lots to Say Today

Went down to the wonderful Mr B's Bookshop in town yesterday evening to a session organised by Alex and Jude of Writing Events Bath  about "Using Social Media to find a Publisher". Not sure I am looking for a publisher (although always open to discussions!). I have been using social media to publicise this blog every day, so thought it would be interesting to go along and hear what was said. On the way upstairs, I was pleased  to see once again the wonderfully decorated wall of TinTin - mainly Red Rackham's Treasure (this one's for Greg!)
The session was run by Andy Hamilton (AKA "The Other Andy Hamilton), author of "Booze for Free" who describes himself on Twitter as a foraging/brewing teacher/write occasional broadcaster, and co-founder of self He ran a very enjoyable and informative session for an audience ranging from people who had no knowledge of Twitter and Facebook through to the more geeky.  We did writing exercises and heard how he got a publisher on the strength of the number of page-views for his blog. He very kindly posed for this blog with a glass of red wine during our break.
Thankfully it wasn't raining when I came out so I was able to wander back up the hill and enjoy Bath in twilight conditions.  I thought that the Circus looked stunning last night, but the iPhone doesn't always catch what I see…
You find out lots by strolling about. I had no idea when the Olympic Torch was coming through Bath, and now I know that I won't be in town to miss it. Instead we'll miss it from Greece, where we will be for all of May. Our house sitters are looking forward to enjoying this and other Bath events in May, so they will fly the flag on our behalf. Well, somebody has to help keep their economy afloat, and it is my duty as a recovering academic to pitch in!
You also notice bits of architecture and building decoration walking around at different times of day. I've walked past this door many times, but never noticed the pretty stained glass work before.
Nearly at the highest point of my walk - at the top of the steep path up from Perfect View. A great combination of street light, the last of the day, and brooding clouds.
Inspired by last night's session, I went on Twitter this morning to follow Andy and Alex & Jude.  Maybe it is because of that, but page-views of the blog have been running higher than the recent daily average. Let's see what happens when I publicise this post… This morning, when I came down to make breakfast, one of our neighbours' five Russian Blue cats was on the kitchen windowsill to greet me.
Spent some of the morning trying to figure out why the fridge in our camper van isn't working, but pretty soon reached the (admittedly slight) limits of my expertise in the matter. Have given in and arranged to have the fridge, stove and heater all serviced before we take off in June. Also spent some time thinking about what else we need to do before we go to Greece next Wednesday.  Starting to get really excited at the prospect of having four whole weeks there. This was better than looking out of the window at the drought rain. Gave in eventually, and put Bella's raincoat ready for our walk. Miraculously, when we got out of the door it stopped raining, and stayed that way all the time we were out. Walked past this bus stop, which is on one of Bath's new Showcase Bus Routes. Can't you tell?:-)
Not the most obvious place to put a traffic cone…
We walked up Perfect View and enjoyed the fading charms of some old tagging and graffiti.
The pallete for the sky was grey and grey - but very dramatic.
I guess the capture cars aren't as covert as they used to be before this notice went up. There was only one car parked on this street at the time, so I didn't know what to make of that!
This bollard has seen better days - all its reflectors have even fallen out.
Despite the soggy conditions, there has been a lot of grass mowing going on today - but selectively, for example around this telegraph pole, and along the edges of paths. 
The weather has also brought down lots more blossom.
But there  is still plenty left on these trees
Our clematis at the front of the house is starting to come into bloom. Let's hope we see our lilac come out before we fly away.
This day a year ago, it was our last day on Symi . Hard to believe that the time had flown by so quickly. We celebrated with a walk to Nimborio, seeing four dolphins swimming across the mouth of the harbour on the way. On the way back we stopped and enjoyed this view and talked about how we might change our lives with my impending retirement. We are still talking, but having all of May in Greece (rather than my annual descent into marking hell) is one obvious difference to last year!