Tuesday, 26 May 2015

North! And Don't Spare the Horses

So to York to visit archaeology student son and to see Tim Vine at the York Grand Opera House. (These things arranged in order of importance obviously - although Tim Vine was very funny and son was...well not as funny to be brutal)

York played ball and the weather was lovely, so wandering around was a pleasure rather than a chore. The photo above is the entrance King's Manor which is where archaeology is based in York uni - not the worst place in the world to study actually. The Kings mentioned in the title were Henry VIII and Charles I who both stayed there (er..almost certainly) or knew it existed at the very least. Either way, it is a lovely building and the toilets are very clean. I don't think they are for public use (it's not what you know - it's who you know) so don't just wander in - there will probably be a scene.

We had a wander round the shops which was nice for me and tolerated by other members of the group. I had my first ever meal in Nandos and I am able to report that although my lunch was quite mild, spicy rice does indeed make your lips go tingly.

In the afternoon, we had a nice drink by the river. An idyllic type thing. Then we went to see Mad Max at the flicks. What on earth is all that about eh?  No idea. It's supposed to be dystopian and I don't feel able to argue with that. I'm not really complaining - I did enjoy it. You just have to hold tight and get on with it. Very fast and very furious. Don't worry too much about the plot because, unless I am very much mistaken, there isn't one.

Then back to the hotel eat crisps, drink wine and watch the end of the Eurovision Song Contest. I haven't seen it for years and this year, it seemed to consist of everyone shouting "ANYONE BUT RUSSIA" really loudly at the telly. My favourite bit was Nigella giving the British scores. She reminded me of a young Katie Boyle. 

On the way home - had to take in Ikea in Warrington. I LOVE Ikea but we live in Devon so it isn't felt necessary to bless us with a store within the next five years because we are still living in caves and knitting our own cheese. 

And now - now I am pooped. 

Monday, 18 May 2015

24 Years and Counting

Hullo. Just a short note to say today is my 24th wedding anniversary! 24 years! and they said it wouldn't last. No, they did actually say it wouldn't last. HOH had a somewhat undeserved reputation as the church lothario before we married and I was warned off several times by well meaning friends. (Well my Mum's friends actually) If I were feeling that way inclined, I would write a very spiritual post about not judging on other people's opinions but I'm not. So just going to content myself by wondering if my tummy was ever that flat and then off to work. As you do.

Thursday, 14 May 2015


Matt Sewell

You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow.
Proverbs 26 2

This is clever, really clever. (I know it's in Proverbs and it's Solomon and clever is his thing but it is still striking) I don't spend that much time in Proverbs. I don't find it what you might call upbeat, though I understand the reasons why. I think all knowing God-given wisdom and seeing the world exactly as it is could be a curse as much as a blessing. 
Birds are strange don't you think? Beautiful and strange, almost otherworldly. I do know a man to whom life has maybe not been kind and he keeps parrots. They are his very dear friends and it is a lovely thing to see but I think birds can be scary as well. I live in a city but by the coast. We see plenty of seagulls They are astonishingly beautiful when you get up close. The whitest white contrasts with a lovely flat grey. They are not always popular here, they will take food and they are noisy but I love them and, to be fair, they were here first! I once spent a companionable hour with one in the park while I ate my sandwich. He waited patiently until I had finished and I secretly threw him the last corner (frowned upon round here) and in return I got to surreptitiously glance up now and then and look closely at how lovely he was.
Wrens and swallows are  different though, tiny little scraps of life, darting around. There is a lovely drawing in my bumper book of garden birds. We once had a wren trapped upstairs in the bank where I worked. It was so small yet getting it out was such a task. It was terrified and swooped and dived, making us all jump and run. It felt like havoc had been unleashed. Yet when we eventually got it out - we had been the ones that had done all the damage - thrashing about and running for cover.
Which is why this is so clever. An undeserved curse, a piece of gossip about you. I'm not talking about the more serious things that go on, which need to be dealt with properly - just the day to day slights and nastiness that can hurt so much.  It's horrible and it makes you jump. Not unlike a dive at you from a swallow. But it can't damage you - not really. Not if you keep it in context. If we react badly and it is understandable, I think, when we do, then the damage it does to us can be out of all proportion to the original slight. The old-school instruction may be the best idea. Take it to God. Leave it there. We are God's own. God looks after his own. He will be our shield and defender. Bat it away and get on. 

Monday, 11 May 2015


We spent a lovely Saturday afternoon in Buckfastleigh.We spent an idle hour wandering up the high street. (Bigging it up a bit there, three charity shops, a holistic healing centre and a Boots) HOH and I thought it was lovely and said we could see ourselves retiring here. FOW2 said it reminded her of a Hitchcock movie with a couple of nasty killings and pointed out that no-one else knew that we were there. If we disappeared - how would the police know where to look? This, I suppose, shows the difference in our ages.

Anyway, then we wandered up to Buckfast Abbey. HOH and I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to decide if we had been there before because neither of us could remember. FOW2 looked at us aghast all the way though the conversation and, I think, silently asked God that she would never be like that when she was old. I was determined to see a monk before we left (although apparently it is unacceptable to walk through an abbey singing "And we won't go home until we've seen a monk" to the tune of "Put on your Sunday clothes") 
Anyway, we did see one, you can probably just see him in this photo. I know, I know but I'm too shy to be any kind of decent photographer, I would never dream of going up to someone and asking for a photo and I have no idea where the zoom is on the camera. Still, you get the idea - probably.

I had no idea that the abbey was rebuilt having been destroyed after all the unpleasantness with Henry VIII and wasn't actually finished until just before WW2. At first, I was a bit disappointed that we were looking at a comparatively modern building but, as we walked around, I was struck by the enormity of the vision to restore something like this. It really was very impressive. We then sat in the Abbey and listened to a choir practising. Quite lovely. And, as HOH pointed out, although we are not what you would call on the same wavelength, doctrinally with such a high church set-up, both of us felt that we could feel God in the bones of the place. There is a tiny Methodist chapel in the grounds of the Abbey and I wanted to show FOW2 the contrast between the way people worshipped. However, there was a lady doing a bit of  vacuuming and she didn't seem best pleased with us because she seemed to want to do a bit of a tour thing and we weren't too keen. I do understand that but it kind of killed my point abut the non-conformist churches growing up because they were more welcoming to the common man. Anyway FOW2 was very nice about it and said she understood and we went off to the gift shop to buy some sherbet lemons instead.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A bit like May

So, what just happened? It was all sunny and smiley and Morris Dancey and suddenly, it's like November. Is it just in Plymouth? We ventured up to Jennycliffe for a walk on Bank Holiday Monday and the mist was so horrible, we half expected zombies to come lumbering out of it. The mist does that round here, just suddenly drops and it goes dark. I am still not used to it. I was having a chat with an old chappy in the bank queue today at lunch. He said Plymouth sometimes gets its summers a bit too early and then we often get a cold gap before the warm weather comes back again. I can't say I have noticed  but am sure he is right. 

I haven't been in a bank queue for years. I use  a debit card and T'Internet mostly these days. However, My card has been stopped because some charlatan has tried to buy huge amounts of Apple goods on the Internet with it. No idea how they got my details. Fiendish that's what it is. I feel like my right hand is missing with no card. I had to put half my groceries back on the shelf at Sainsbury's because I only had cash - and not enough of it. (Fortunately, I wasn't actually at the till when the horrible truth dawned.)

Anyway, on a lighter note, Plymouth got a pre-election visit from Eddie Izzard. It's not so much the politics he brings but the surprise of perfectly applied lippy and a jaunty scarf to a city packed to the drawstrings with paras and marines. It made me smile. To be honest, it would make your cat laugh.
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