Time Off and Time Out

I worked eight days in a row after returning from my hols and boy was I glad to have a couple of days off. I love my work, but it can be a bit intense at times, and I definitely needed time to recoup. I am rereading Milkman by Anna Burns for book group next month. However, my recuperation required doing a jigsaw, and having more credits than I know what to do with with Audible, I decided to buy the audio book so I could listen and solve simultaneously. It works really well. I’m switching between the audio book and the print version according to where I am and what I’m doing. It’s a multi-sensory experience.

This afternoon I left both the audio book and the real one at home and headed to Tate Britain to see the Frank Bowling exhibition. I am so glad I did. It is wonderful. I took some photographs once I realised it was allowed, so maybe I’ll post some of them tomorrow. His work is abstract and I found it tremendously uplifting, though I can’t say why. It made me wish I lived in one of those loft places which are murder to keep warm but which have vast walls. There were several paintings I think I could happily gaze at for the rest of my life. Continue reading

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Sunday morning

Celia will recognise the scenario: go for a walk that includes a visit to a place with small, independent shops; stop in those shops and see a dress/shirt/cardigan you like; try it on; buy it; return from your walk with a new addition to your wardrobe. However, I have added a new twist. The shop is in Maghera, a small town not far away, so when we returned there to buy groceries, I went back to the shop, Allie Mae, to take a second look at two more items I had seen, and I bought them too. The shop will soon have a website and be selling via shopify, so if you want to look at the stock, sign up here.
Not all walks end in shops. Walks around Cousin’s are entirely retail free. It was warm and sunny this morning when Westie Boy, Poppy and I followed out usual route to the end of the road and back.

Shaded

Blue skies

Fortunately it had rained in the night so Poppy enjoyed a paddle in the larger puddles while Westie Boy drank. I admired the view.

Interesting

Both dogs are now lying on the floor asleep.I may take them for a shorter walk when we come back from hearing Alan Johnson later today. They only had one good walk yesterday, but Poppy was tired by the late evening. She took to her bed while I read the Guardian and was soon snoring, then dreaming, making little woofing noises and moving her front paws. I must have been very quiet when I came to the kitchen this morning as I surprised her sleeping on the sofa. Continue reading

The week so far

Monday
Already a day behind. I am reassured to read that 59% of people polled in a survey wouldn’t trust Boris Johnson enough to buy a second hand car from him. However as a significant number of members of the Tory party have chosen to elect him to a post which is somewhat more important than selling second hand cars, that reassurance is tempered with fear.
Some of the red tops are printing headlines suggesting Johnson is a champion, a knight in shining armour who is going to tilt with the EU and get an advantageous Brexit deal. This is disingenuous. For one, there is no deal that would make leaving the EU a better option than staying in. Secondly, the EU has made it clear there is no better deal than the one secured under Theresa May for Brexit. Johnson et al are engaged in window dressing, preparing to blame the EU for intransigence, when the ones being intransigent are Johnson et al. These same Merry band of cynics will then turn to the electorate, claiming to be patriots, and call a election. It feels like a runaway train. What we need is someone who can apply the brake.
Anyway enough of such things today.
The promised rain came at breakfast time yesterday, so we had a slow start, but by midday Cousin and I were on the bus to Belfast. We had been expecting to go out to meet her daughter K and go on to Downpatrick, but Cousin’s ‘phone rang once we were on the road to say the plans had changed. So instead we spent a few pleasant hours in the city, and I acquired a Van Morrison self-guided walking tour manual. I didn’t manage to get a collapsible lunch box for Celia as they were out of stock, but
I did make the decision to purchase a reversible dress for my second great niece. I had seen them when I was with Fiona, but was hesitant. Second great niece has a big sister and bigger girl cousins, so has an inherited wardrobe. I decided to Ask Her Mother. She gave the purchase the thumbs up, so in a few days the postman should be delivering one of these.
Tuesday:
A two walk day, the first with one dog, the second, appropriately, with two. Westie Boy went well ff to the beautician with Toots this morning, so Poppy and I had a walk on our own. She is very interested in the cows, not in a bad way. She wags her tail, and her body language is entirely friendly. Some of the cows seem to reciprocate her interest, leaning over the hedges and sniffing the air. I was back in Belfast, back at the falafel place, back at the Ulster Museum. I could spend a lot of time there very happily. I loved the Cornelia Parker Left Right and Centre film. Also the exhibition of woodcuts by women artists. Inevitably I didn’t have enough time, and I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to get back before my return home. Suddenly the days are speeding by. We are hoping to see Uncle Bill on Thursday, it’s Van Morrison on Friday, Alan Johnson on Sunday, and I still haven’t quite finished my book An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris which I am finding gripping.

Tomorrow, Cousin’s daughter K is coming with the lovely Westie Pup, now the sweetest natured little dog you ever could meet, so it could be a three dog walk. The chances of taking pictures with three leads are about nil.

Slievegrine Gallion at sunset

Fungi

At the top of the hill

The Roads Well Travelled

My photographs so far are fairly sparse.

Sunshine

Fungi

In my defence, it is quite tricky to take photographs when you have a Westie at the end of a lead in your left hand, and a yellow Labrador at the end of a lead in your right. And you are making sure each dog stays ‘in lane’ so that you don’t get tripped up, tangled or twisted.

Poppy at the field gate

Other than that, the walks up and down the lane have mainly gone well. I say mainly as both canines disgraced themselves when we met a black Labrador, also on a lead, on the road. Honestly, you’d have thought they had been brought up in the gutter, or had never seen another dog in their lives. Gone were the socially adjusted dogs I know. Poppy and Westie Boy tolerate each other rather than being best mates, but faced with a dog they didn’t know they reacted as one, lunging and barking.

Once was enough, but we met the dog again and the whole performance was repeated. Seeing another dog coming towards us I expected the worst, but apart from suddenly pricked ears and quickened gait, we walked by without incident.

During the day yesterday I took the longer road to Belfast, travelling there and back by bus to meet Fiona. Regular readers of this blog will anticipate an account of shopping, but not this time. On Wednesday afternoon a friend of Cousin’s called at the house. She runs an antique business and I have been a customer of hers in the past. Her daughter Charlotte is a curator at the Ulster Museum, and curated the Fashion and Feminism exhibition Fiona and I visited last year. I said how much we’d enjoyed it, and a few hours later we got a message to say Charlotte would be happy to take us around her new exhibition Vice Versa.

It’s not a large exhibition, one gallery, but fascinating. Charlotte loves her job it’s clear. She talks knowledgeably and entertainingly. It was a lesson in socio-economic history, and much much more. Charlotte will be doing talks and arranging workshops I shan’t be about to attend, but i’ve A feeling Fiona might. Continue reading

A little slice of heaven

The gentle movement of das Boot at her mooring, the creak of the ropes, the birdsong, are like a balm. The great crested grebes are nesting yards from the galley window, and watching them tidying up the nest, adding to it, taking it in turns to sit on the eggs, has fascinated me. When there was a change of shift last night, the one who had been sitting, the hen I think, immediately went off to collect more weed to add to the structure. Had she been thinking about this, looking about her for likely material during what must have been a fairly tedious afternoon?

Maybe Older Nephew’s and my coming and going provided her with some entertainment. We went to Ely and back, eating lunch aboard and enjoying a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc the ON had brought with him. The newly serviced engine purred. Not far from the marina we spotted a terrapin the size of a side plate. It was sunning itself on a stone. No doubt an unwanted pet, dumped in the river, and now a predator of small fish and young birds. I hope the baby grebes, when they hatch, will be beyond its orbit. MasterB joined us after a while, and as is now customary, I built him a cushion citadel. He seemed perfectly at ease. Continue reading

The end of the weekend

I have eaten all three of my meals at home today, not unusual, but either I am being particularly uncritical or the meals have been particularly good, for as I finished the last mouthful of my freekah based salad this evening I reflected that I could not have enjoyed better meals anywhere. OK lunch would have been improved by a side portion of rice, but otherwise it was all perfection. I reckon I have had fifteen portions of fruit and vegetables today, and that includes a rather lovely alcohol free cocktail of mango, orange and something I have forgotten Celia bought me at Sound Unbound this afternoon. It was made by Mix and Match Unlimited if you are looking to try it.

My neighbours B&J who looked after the incomparable MasterB when I visited Australia in 2016 told me about Sound Unbound. They also kept a close eye on him and gave him love and attention when I was hospitalised for a few days at the end of last month. But that’s another story, and yet another post I haven’t got around to writing. If you follow the link you’ll see we were spoiled for choice with music in a variety of venues, all for free. It was eclectic, it was vibrant, it was eye-opening and it was fun. I rather liked Zwarm who performed in St Giles Cripplegate, the church where my paternal great  great grandparents married. I think they would have been quite surprised by today’s use of the space.

Zwarm at st Giles Cripplegate

Continue reading

Pet Remembrance Day

The Big Cat

Freddy


Despite the pictures of the Big Cat and Freddy, the story I am about to tell is about a dog. Or rather two dogs. I never met them, but I was telling a neighbour the other day that tonight I shall be lighting a candle to place in the window and remembering Cat and many other animals I have known and loved.
This neighbour knew Cat and expressed surprise that it was already eight years since his death. In all the time I have known her she has never had a pet. I didn’t know she had ever had one at all. It turns out she had. This is her story of her two dogs, Digby and Shane. Continue reading

Welcome to the WeekEnd

The petition to revoke article 50 reached 3,000,000 at lunchtime. It’s now at 3,706,979 and I think it’s slowing down. There was a very uptight member of Leave Means Leave on channel4 news tonight who claimed it was open to fraud and that he personally had signed it three times within five minutes. Whether that is true or not, the excitement generated by this petition is wonderful, and it obviously has some ardent Brexiteers such as the oleaginous Farrago rattled.
Not that the Prime Minister has any intention of considering any changes to her deal. Is it lack of imagination? arrogance? stupidity? obstinacy?
Anyway, when I finish work at lunchtime tomorrow I shall be marching tomorrow for a People’s Vote, though whether I shall succeed in meeting any of my friends is doubtful. The sheer number of people last time meant I gave up and walked with strangers.
Continue reading

Eight years on, pet remembrance day.

Next week 20th March it will be eight years since Freddy, aka Cat, aka Freddy the Gorgeous Boy, aka Monkey, died. My lovely boy. Again on the Sunday following the anniversary I shall be remembering him, and all the other animals who have enriched my life, by lighting a candle and raising a glass (or two). There’ll definitely be a toast to MasterB, Freddy’s very worthy successor. MasterB is Freddy’s legacy, and I love him as much as I loved Freddy. I am fortunate. Two cats, two treasures. Continue reading

Petone

There’s a walking trail from near Nadia’s house to Petone which she hadn’t had the opportunity to try out. I wanted to visit to Petone. Thus our plan for today was hatched. The trail follows the Hutt River, and so is imaginatively named the Hutt River Trail.

I have had a blister on my foot which is both surprising as I have been wearing my boots for some years, and painful, but today it was quite quiet. I have run out of Devil’s Claw tincture which I take for my poorly knee and Nadia has sore ankles.

Nonetheless we set out with high hearts. It’s a shared walking and cycling trail. Quite early on I remarked that it would be great to do on a bike. For me the absolute highlight was seeing a Tui in the tree directly above me. I stared at it, then reached for my camera. Too late, it flew away. There was a nice section through bush, but to be honest, as walks go, it was pretty dull, with little variety to keep us interested. Unsurprising we saw my cyclists than walkers. After 16km we called it a day and took the bus into Petone and a latish lunch.

The most interesting bit

The map

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