Monday, 21 December 2009

It is all rather quiet

on this blog.

My Girl came back happy from Damascus and then had her tonsils out.

Meanwhile I had the busiest week of work for 18 months! Hurrah!

Poor Calfy is in bed, with a very, very sore throat. To make matters slightly more intense Elby and I are getting married in less than a fortnight...(to anyone who thinks they should be invited, you will be, to a party in the summer.) We can't do it all at once because we are disorganised hippies.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Friday, 27 November 2009 it Michael Owen's fault?

How much does THIS video have to do with today's market grief? Not for the faint many minutes/seconds can you watch this video for?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Losing my mind

It has happened again. Ebay has lured me in and is exploiting my soft head. A lack of blog posts is in part due to spending hours "shopping" on Ebay and then, because I have spent so much money, I had to spend hours working out how to sell stuff back/get photos onto my computer from the Blackberry... Four years ago I bought a lot of china, in about 10 different lots, which I then gave away.... It is a dangerous pastime.

Then there is the Blackberry...I "upgraded" and am still trying to work it out..After 10 days I worked out how to put voicemail on. After two weeks I worked out how to get the ring tones I want, or at least ringtones I can stand. Elby said forlornly to Pig when I came home with over-specified mobile phone "Sigh, it's just you and me now, Pig"...I have worked out that people are not actually addicted to their Blackberry, they are just trying to remember how to get to their photos/messages/contacts...

Update: This guy is a prankster or what. Funny.

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Fontmell Down October 2009

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The house my great grandpa built

Scroblene has posted about his father and uncle building the houses he grew up in/next to. It made me think of posting this, which is the house my great grandfather built and my grandfather, and father and a multitude of great aunts and a few uncles all grew up in. They were farmers, mainly hay and sheep. The place is close enough to the sea to have been flooded by a tidal wave once, ruining the land for years. Sadly neither my father nor any of his three brothers took to farming and eventually it was sold after my grandfather and step gran died. I last visited when I was nine, and it had a red roof back then. Otherwise the view is the same. My dad brought us all over to England when I was 4 and now I am more English than the English (except that I still have that terrible colonial habit.. you know the one, a lack of pre-verbal censorship: things that would remain unspoken by any self respecting English woman, pop out ...)

Check out the views here: Esk Valley Lodge

Update: Here is a 9 year old Lilith and her little sister looking at the view from the farm.


I received this email from the current owners..I would never make an historian:

I came across your blog by accident and saw the picture of the house in the Esk Valley. Just to set the record straight, there was no tidal wave that flooded the valley! I think in your childhood you heard your relatives talking about the Anzac day flood of 1938 which did indeed flood the whole valley with sediment meters deep. I also think you are confusing the red roof of the barn with the house. The house roof was green from when it was built in 1947 to when we reroofed in 2004! I attach a picture of the barn that may bring back memories.

I do not have any photos from where you and your sister were looking over the fence but I have attached the closest which isfrom the house balcony. You will recognise the hills in the distance. I attach a picture from the hill behind the house to give you some perspective.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

My first movie (well, not exactly)

I love this song, it has been going around my head for days. Then I discovered Windows Movie Maker and this is the result!

The song is Forgiveness by The Lonesome Sisters with Riley Baugus

Friday, 23 October 2009

Saturday, 17 October 2009

More holiday stuff

One of the reasons I have very few photos is that I take photos like this

and Calfy takes photos like this

I liked the shopping, it is so different to here, with the dusty sweets:

The smoking semi naked mannequins

and tiny shops

This particular shop was called Johnny Minaret, where Johnny announced "Very small shop, very big welcome, very good price" and let us take a picture.

Old Damascus has a mixture of the very ancient

and the highly sophisticated.

With many lovely things to look at or eat

Archway and lantern

The Umayyad Mosque


One of the oddest things we saw was in the inner most sanctum of the Convent of St Thekla.

There, hanging across a Madonna and Child painting over the reliquary, was a gurt big bling chain with a DVB (David and Victoria Beckham) crown hanging off it. These sacred crowns were available in the gift shop in gold or silver and the Crown itself was about 3"x2"....

For the uninitiated and blissfully ignorant, the DVB crown logo looks like this

By the end of the 10 days my work was done. With Calfy safely married off

I could return home in full peace of mind.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Back from Damascus

What a wonderful trip it was. Anxious mother converted to reassured mother. Axis of evil unidentifiable. Very friendly place, very few beards.*

The first thing you notice about Syria, arriving in the dark, is that there are pictures of Mr Assad everywhere.

He was even gazing benevolently down upon us as we sat draped in a sheet, drinking sweet tea, in a Hammam.

This is not a picture of the Hammam we went to, and obviously it was women only when we went, but I don't have a pic for you :-)

Syria is a police state, but this has some advantages over our own. For example, the people are forbidden for blethering on about religion, except in context, i.e. in a church or a mosque. This was refreshing. Also, Muslims and Christians and all their different sub sects seemed to get along fine, not simply tolerating each other.

What with the £ being worth two thirds of what it was (there are 70ish SYP to the £)and two million Iraqi refugees, never mind the Palestinians, the cost of accommodation in Damascus is relatively high. Hotels cost what they do here. We stayed in a Hostel (twin room, private shower, breakfast, extraordinarily helpful and friendly staff) for 40 Euros a night so we were in the budget range, but it was very conveniently located, welcoming and fun. They also met us at the airport.

Food is very cheap. We had a blow out meal at the best restaurant in the Old City, three courses and way more than we could eat for £30 on the last night. Generally we were hard pressed to spend a tenner on a restaurant meal and could buy delicious falafel wraps for 30pence and a freshly squeezed juice for 50pence. I thought "Old Holborn would love this..all his family could eat at the best restaurant in town for £15 a head!"

There were not huge quantities of European tourists, and most of those were retired French folk. The souk was used by the locals and not just tourists. Prices varied wildly but Calfy and I were fairly ruthless barterers...I don't mind bartering at all, in fact I have trouble stopping when I get back to the UK.

There were off licences in the Christian Quarter but I only drank on the last night, and then only a single lovely beer...alcohol is not at all practical in that searing heat and I didn't miss it. I also heard that Syrian wine is not up to much. Give me fresh lemon and mint any day. And so they did.

Calfy bought a pirate dvd of was an immaculate rip off offering Arabic, Arabic with English subtitles, English with Arabic Subtitles, English, French, French with Arabic subtitles etc.. and all the extras were on there too. £0.50. A bargain way of learning the language :-) We didn't buy any music as the performers don't get any royalties, but didn't mind Disney.

People were very helpful. Random strangers would help us get onto the right bus, even if it meant getting off the bus themselves and crossing the (alarming) roads with us, and flagging down the appropriate bus. We saw a lot of women in hijabs but it just seemed a very practical option with all the dust about, and combined with skinny jeans, Victoria Beckham style heels and as much makeup as you might see on a transvestite, hardly "modest" or oppressive.

I will see if I can organise a few holiday snapshots to bore you with and write some more soon. In the meantime, do visit Calfy's Blog as she is still out there and has a much better camera.

Beards have their (limited) place. They are acceptable if

A) shaving brings the face up in a ghastly rash that takes days to subside e.g. My mate Mark

B) if the chin is indistinguishable from the neck e.g. Jerry Garcia

C) the shaven chin causes the poor chap to be mistaken for 16 in spite of being 30
e.g. My mate Greg

D) the beard wearer just looks weird without one e.g my mate Electro-Kevin

E)the wearer is ancient and female

I am not a beard fascist and I am prepared to allow that there may be some other perfectly good reasons for wearing a beard, but being a nonce or a sky pixie enthusiast, or a lazy hippie with an illegal ponytail and a bald patch are NOT examples of them.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Desert Island Dancing #2 in an occasional series

Farewell for a while whilst I go get meself some culture. In the meantime this is another track that gets me dancing round the kitchen. I am not sad to leave the Labour Conference behind and fully expect Baroness Scotland to have resigned by the time I get back.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Google, the font of all knowledge and truth.....

Try googling French military victories and press the "I'm feeling lucky" option and THIS is what you get....

Calfy sent me this screen shot too....

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Calfy in Rome

The morning after her acquittal Calfy sped off to Rome for a few days to refresh her spirit. As you do. Which was nice.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


New Labour have finally made me ill. I think it's an ulcer.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Unscheduled holiday

Last week I got an email from My Girl that was simply a flight booking confirmation. On closer inspection it appeared she has booked to fly to Damascus where she intends to study Arabic. After I had come out of a spin, I calmed down, talked to her father, and have booked to go with her! Only for 10 days, to satisfy myself that she is settled in her studies and to have a bit of a holiday, but as you can imagine, there is quite a bit to do beforehand. I hope to bring back a suitcase full of rose oil.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Stolen post



(Lifted from Call Me Ishmael, because it made me laugh and laugh)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

First Casualty of the Independent Safeguarding Authority

Dear Elby, who raised four lovely children who are now four lovely adults, three of whom work caring for the severely handicapped, worked hard to give his children a Steiner education. He was very involved, as the school operated on a shoestring and parental involvement was essential to keep the place running. He now has (well deserved but unplanned) time on his hands and was thinking of volunteering at the local Steiner school, with his wealth of experience.

However, he doesn't feel that paying a fee to the ISA is worth doing for the sake of offering the school his skills. A CRB check is one thing. A further ISA check is quite another. How very sad. Schools can't be expected to pay for these checks and why should volunteers have to find the money when they aren't even earning? For him to have these checks, I would need to find the money, something I am reluctant to do because I believe the requirement is pernicious, pointless and will not protect anyone except tax revenues.

What a waste of his skills and good intentions!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Funny comment on Dale shock

Nightmare. The news that we are all suspected paedos, drunk drivers, smokers, and generally not fit to be around children really depressed me today. I occasionally work with children and many of the adults I work with could be described as "vulnerable" but I have no idea if this new legislation applies to me as every one I work with comes to me voluntarily and we have a private agreement that I try and help them.

Raedwald and Angels in Marble both blogged on this today, and so did Iain Dale and I am too frothingly furious to add anything coherent.

This comment under Dale's post made me laugh.

Duyfken said...

This reminds of a recent anecdote from Australia. It is a portion of an ABC interview between a female broadcaster and General Cosgrove who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military headquarters.

So, General Cosgrove, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?

We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery and shooting.

Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?

I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.

Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?

I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.

But you're equipping them to become violent killers.

Well, Ma'am, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?

The radio went silent and the interview ended.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Obsolescence: Gordon Brown to expire in a month.

A spokesman for Polaroid said "We had to stop production. Only a few cranks and perverts will miss him. The technology is obsolete and nobody wants Gordon Brown anymore. Eventually all remaining polaroid shots of him will fade and turn blue"

Article here

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Monday, 31 August 2009

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Don't expect your local Bobby to help uphold the law.

Today I visited an old friend (82) and told her the good news about Calfy. Her cleaner was there, and my friend was so overjoyed on my behalf that she told her my good news about Calfy winning her appeal. This was the response:

I told you about X didn't I?


X was catching a train home with his wife from Bath station late in the evening. Some tourists were smoking on the station. X went up to them and told them it is against the law to smoke on English railway stations. The tourists ignored him. X saw two policemen and went up to them to say that he had informed the tourists that it is illegal to smoke on a railway station. The policemen ignored him. X again went up to the tourists and reiterated that they were breaking the law. The tourists ignored him and continued to smoke. X went back to the police and asked them if they were going to do anything about it. The police then threw X down the station stairs, injuring him significantly, hand cuffed him and took him to the (nearby) police station. They swabbed him for DNA, finger printed and photographed him and kept him overnight. Luckily for X, he was with his wife (a solicitor) and another woman waiting for a train saw everything. His wife was not allowed to see him. Naturally the cctv cameras in the station were "not working" on the night in question. This is Bath police, not the Met. (The Bath police are famous for NEVER EVER SOLVING A MURDER. Even when there is a lot of evidence...we have lost a number of women called Melanie, generally killed by their foreign boyfriends who were allowed to return home immediately.)

Monday, 24 August 2009

The next thing we'll be hearing is that he's been "repatriated" to Israel?

This caught my eye this evening.

Perhaps the US Authorities will show him compassion.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


You have me to thank for England winning the Ashes. Elby booked Sky for the computer so he could watch and every time I left the room we got a wicket. Very, very exciting. It meant I only ever saw replays, but it was worth it.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Happy Days

Anderson, Broad and Cook.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


Calfy, October 1991

Calfy had her appeal today. A judge with respect for the law found her innocent. £15k and 14 months later, you should have seen her lovely face this evening. Radiant and relieved. Unburdened. You tax payers will be thrilled to know you have to pay our costs now, as well as the costs incurred by the CPS. :-)

Nu Labour has failed to undermine the judiciary to the extent it's Police would wish. The Judge was very interested in the law and evidence and proof. (Mind you, he was very old and thin and so his sort may not be a problem for the Police much longer.) He loved that her character witness was her Greek teacher. I love her Greek teacher. I also love her barrister, a gorgeous, minuscule, Irish dame.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Hey, Mr Astra Dealer, have you asked for your money back?

Or is this a subliminal message about mortality? I dunno, I am on holiday now :-)

Monday, 10 August 2009

Ancient monuments, now you see them, now you don't.

These fields are near a favourite Pig walk and Elby was looking for alternative routes. He got excited when he noticed what appeared to be an iron age hill fort (it overlooks a valley) and tried in vain to find it.

link to map here.

Then he found this map. Poooof! All gone.

update: Excitement over but mystery not solved. Clearly the ancient monument is not what it seems.

This is the the 2005 picture:

This is the 2001 picture:

Which still begs the question WTF is it? Why was Elizabeth writing about it? I am relieved nothing precious has been destroyed and I am sorry to get everyone excited and outraged needlessly. Elby thinks it is a UFO landing site. It has been an interesting quest.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Madonna, Britney, just go home and look after the kids...

Why do they bother? Have they never seen a Shakira video?
Poor Elby was rooted to the spot with his jaw hanging when I played him this...

I think the effect she has on Danzig she has on a lot of men. Class.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Chris Galley....can we send him back to the Civil Service now?

The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics is raising money. I bunged them a few quid. This has apparently bought me the entire list of SCOP donors.

Nice Mr Galley sent round an invitation to drinks next week and left the email addresses visible to all. I guess that is just how they are trained in the Civil Service. He didn't reply when I queried this policy.

How very "open". How very off putting.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Life during wartime Desert Island Discs #0.1

How mad is David Byrne? How much do Talking Heads rock? Big it up and treat yourselves to the full screen turn it up loud version.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


For the first time in my life I have been giving the idea of "marriage" some thought. Obviously it is a patriarchal conspiracy to keep property in the male line but having stumbled across my truelove at 40 I have to say I am a little bit tempted. It is said that Marriage is the first step towards Divorce but sometimes you just want to be with someone forever.

This made me laugh.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The patch of sloping clay behind the house

Here are some of the things that make me smile outside my back door


Mini euphorbia and weird foxglove

Self seeded hollyhock

First carrots

Scabius, knautia, allium

Mini potentilla


First sweet peas.

The clematis finally took off...

White delphinium, past its best.

Gorgeous dog

Garden ornament