Sunday, 26 March 2017

Saturday 25th March 2017

Yes, the weekend comes round. And this weekend, yes, this weekend, the sun was going to shine both Saturday and Sunday, and due to Jools going to that London with Jen, I was home alone from about half ten in the morning util the evening.

And there was another reason to celebrate this day, as it felt like the last day of winter, as that night clocks would go forward one hour, making it lighter in the evenings, darker in the mornings, and a sure sign that those long dark nights of winter were behind us.

But for now, the sun rose in an almost clear blue sky, soon banishing the reds and pinks from the sky.

I am away in Belgium all week, which means I need a car, and to ensure a quick getaway on Monday morning, I am collecting the car at eight. Jools drops me off, and then goes to Tesco, meaning two chores done at the same time. Everything is pre-booked, so should just go in and sign, but the green card has been forgotten again. And the new bug behind the desk had only written one once before. He calls someone up to talk him through it, which isn't so bad, as I can look around at those who are waiting for the next sailing to Calais. They are waiting because they are foot passengers, and need the port bus to take them to the dock. They are a mixed bunch, not that I am judging people, but I am sure there is a good reason to go by foot; that there is a super rail service the other side being one I guess. As I wait they are called to the bus, and the waiting area, and Costa Coffee are empty, ready for their next influx in a couple of hours.

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa I am given a VW Golf, nothing special, but it is higher spec than our old Polo, and once I had checked and driven it out of the port, it pulled well up Jubilee Way, passing a line of trucks whilst still in third gear. I leave it outside the house, and wait for Jools to come back with the shopping so we can have breakfast, then she get ready for the trip to London. I am to pick up Jen, then drop them at Martin Mill, and then collect them some ten hours later. What high jinx can I get up to in ten hours?

At ten Jools and I get in the car, drive to Whitfield to collect Jen. Tony wasn't home, so there was very little small chat before we could all get back in the car and drive back to Martin. At least it was a fine day, so I was able to drop them off so they could try to print off their tickets from the machine, and then sit in the sunshine on the platform. Only, I had forgotten my mobile, or the work mobile, so if there had been problems, they could not have contacted me.

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa Instead of going back to the Deal road, I take the back road way through West Langdon, taking my time going down the narrow lanes that ducked and dived through the landscape, comin in time to the bridge over the Sandwich road, and into Waldershare.

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa Waldershare has a small church, which is under the care of the Church Conservation Trust; it is worth a visit on its own. But the church yard has a dazzling display of snowdrops earlier in the year, and if you walk through the churchyard, you find a footpath leading over an avenue of trees, then on into an ancient wood.

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa All along the footpath, there was signs of new life, green growth, meaning trees and shrubs were also coming back to life, not just the spring bulbs and flowers. Just over the avenue of trees, the ground was covered in a carpet of wood anemones; small woodland flowers, easily overlooked, but glorious if you look closely at a single flower. But where there are hundreds together, they make a wonderful sight. I mean, I say this about o so many flowers and orchids, but I do mean it.

Ramsoms, Allium ursinum I get down onto the ground to get really close to them, and to get a shot as they merge into a white line before the darkness of the woods stops them.

Further on, the wood closes round, and once you go down a gentle slope, the plants on the ground change, and the pungent smell in the air gives their identity away, but I knew they were here anyway. Ramsoms, or Wild Garlic, grows untamed in the wood, growing so thick it looks like a crop under the trees, which is what it could be, harvested I mean. But there is just a narrow path through leading to another old avenue, made when the nearby grand house was new, now the avenue is overgrown and the view at the end hidden by fallen trees and overgrown vegetation.

I try a couple of the leaves to get a garlic hit. It is really intense, especially the first one, coming so soon after cleaning my teeth after breakfast. I take many shots, most won't be used, but it feels right to take them anyway. In a month or so, they will flower, and the green carpet will turn white. Another sight to go back to see. And photograph.

Ramsoms, Allium ursinum I go back to the car, and think what to do next. A friend of mine on Flickr has been posting shots of churchyards in the north of the county, filled with daffodils and other spring flowers. So, I thought I would go to a few in the local area. Taking the road down to Eythorne, I turn west to go to Coldred, thinking if the churchyard didn't have any bulbs, then the village green would. I was to be disappointed, as the churchyard is dominated by a hedge-lined path, and the green, although had daffodils, just a few scattered clumps. I stop to take a snap of the avenue of trees, each with a island of daffs at their feet, before crossing the A2 to Lydden.

Lydden church was standing smartly, apparently its churchyard having just been cleared of vegetation, and looking like a well kept garden. But no daffs!. I went on.

Just up the hill is an nature reserve, and in one part there are orchids growing. Too early to see a flowering spike, but there is a campaign to photograph each species all through their lifecycle, so I thought I would check on the Man Orchids. I park in the central reservation, not really allowed, but the road is quiet enough, and after grabbing my camera, I walk over to the fence and climb over the stile.

After some looking around, I see a small emerging rosette, more than I was expecting, so I snap that.

And yet a few feet further along, there was a much larger rosette with a spike starting to form. I was more than happy to get that. A bus passes by, and I am looked at from the passengers, probably wondering what I was doing on a chalk bank looking like the same back that ran for a mile on either side of where I was, only this one has orchids on. But the bus was gone, leaving just a cloud of fumes.

Man Orchid Orchis anthropophora I have all afternoon to myself, but I have things to do back home, so I think I should go and get some lunch. So, I brave the chaos that is Tesco at lunchtime. I have the scanner so can go in get what I want and be out, but it is packed, like Christmas Eve, and all are standing around talking, leaving their trolleys abandoned so others can't get past. I am in and out in ten minutes, laden with rolls, cheese and tomatoes, as I have dinner as well.

Back home I make two rolls for lunch, filled with pastrami, boil the kettle for a huge brew, and so can have lunch and review the shots from the morning at the same time.

A few months ago, my friend in New Zealand met two round the world cyclists who hailed from Kent. And since seeing the shots he took, I had been following The Tandem Men as they made their world to central America then to Africa on their last leg home, arriving in Europe last week, then coming through France and Spain before landing in Portsmouth on Friday. Anyway, I said if I was free I would go and welcome them home, and as it had been several months since I had been in Canterbury, decided to go.

Also there was the gardens beside the Stour at Westgate which I thought should be worth a photo or two. Only problem would be finding a place to park, but I hoped I could find somewhere near St Augustine's, then walk to the city centre. Which is what I did, I got the last space in the car park, and for four pounds twenty, would be OK until after six.

From there I walked down Monastery Street, past the two ancient gatehouses to get some shots, and to walk a different into the city.

St Augustine's College, Canterbury The old College is now an annex to the public school, but is good to look at, especially with a large tree in blossom contrasting to the red bricks and peg tiles.

In the city centre, it is packed, as was to be expected, but it really was jammed with people, even more so when I went down the old High Street, now pedestrianised, but rammed with people, so think it wasn't pleasant. But down here i could see Westgate over the heads of the crowds, and beside that would be the gardens.

A punt on the Stour I find a new record shop to look in, but with pay day not until Monday, best not linger.

Under Westgate and out the other side, and the Stour really was a picture, shallow and fast flowing, but weeds had turned the water looking green, and two enterprising people had set up a punting business, and were taking folks down the river at a leisurely pace. Made for a mighty fine picture, or so I hoped.

The return of The Tandem Men I walk back to the Buttercross to see if there were any preparations. I take an indirect route, and find time to call into a pub for a pint. In truth, a disappointing place for a drink, opposite the new Marlowe Theatre. It really caters for the theatre crowd. And soon enough, the pub which I had had to myself, was full of voices as people vied to get served, and looking out at the theatre, I saw dozens of people puffing on real and electric cigarettes. Must have been interval in a matinee performance.

The return of The Tandem Men Ten minutes later they had all gone, and silence returned. I drained my glass and left myself.

Back at the Buttercross, I found no preparations, but a few furtive people with plastic flags and banners. I listened in on their conversation, and realised they were the cyclist's family.

As time went on, more people arrived, and soon there must have been a hundred of us. One of their Mums said we should form two lines so they could cycle between us. And then we waited, other people going about their business wondered what we were doing, blocking one of the main streets in the city.

The return of The Tandem Men People tried to find where the boys were, there seemed to be no news. A phone call revealed them to be in Blean, maybe ten or so minutes away.

The return of The Tandem Men We waited. Five came and went. Quarter past five also passed. Half past crept by, ten more minutes was the shout. By this time, the shoppers and tourists had thinned, but in the distance we could see a group of cyclists. Was this their escort.

Then they were spotted, riding along, bouncing over the cobbles, and then they were on us, cheers went up, Mums burst into tears, and they went past and into the Cathedral precinct. 18500 miles done and dusted. Friends and family followed them, and I took my leave, needing to get back to the car before I collected a ticket.

Eighty two I drove home, a pleasure to be out in the golden hour, making my way home.

I feed the cats, put the radio on and prepare dinner; insalata caprese and two cheese twists breads. I popped open another bottle of Belgian beer and sat down to eat, outside the light failed and the sky turned red.

At twenty to seven, Jools calls, they would be back at eight, yes, I would pick them up. So, I was waiting at the station in the dark as the train glided in, and a few minutes later Jools and Jen emerged from the underpass, climbed itno the car. Yes, they had a good day. Stomp was good, and the Japanese Restaurant at Crossrail Place was good, but they had no idea what they ate.

I take Jen home, then Jools and i back home, going back via KFC as they had not eaten since lunch, so I joined her in a messy Louisiana sandwich, which looked wonderful in the picture. Once home and I got it out of the carton, it looked a mess, like all the other sandwiches they do. Oh well, and the thought is never as good as the experience.

Normalising extremism

A short post, but I think an important one.

Yesterday, someone I follow, the editor of a railway magazine, retweeted a Meme which had originated from Britain First. Britain First is a far right organisation, populated by knuckle-draggers and the such. But the meme, "retweet if you love British Traditions" wasn't obviously racist. And yet it came from a racist organisation.

I tweeted to home that I was disappointed he had done so.

"I'm Sorry?" he replied.

Retweeting something from Britain First. Disappointed.

His last word on the issue was "I support British Traditions". So he clearly felt, the editor of a national magazine, and using the Twitter account for that position, saw nothing wrong in retweeting something from Britain First. Maybe I'm being over-harsh. But I don't think so, if we give these bottom dwellers oxygen of publicity, even by retweeting them, they become normal. Hide the fact that they are racist.

If we we racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, or whatever, we should call it out for what it is, not to ignore it, or retweet it.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Friday 24th March 2017

Last day of the week, and with much to sort out, and later I have an appointment to pick up some new glasses. So, lots to squeeze in before I set off.

I mention the forecast many times, and so we plan our days around that. And despite the start of the day being dull and cloudy, it was supposed to perk up.

Before I had even finished my first coffee, I was on the phone talking to my minions in Belgium, trying to make sure that things got straight. And as I was already working, best start the computer up, and sort out the e mails and make sure the world wasn't falling in. Again.

Walk into Dover And, with it being a Friday, suddenly troubles melted away, and a way forward was found. I briefed everyone, and that was done.

Phew.

I had better make more coffee and have breakfast.

Walk into Dover My word, I feel good. So good, I decide to walk into town rather catch the bus, which I have never done from the village. Anyway, with my back playing up, was I asking for trouble? Probably.

I have a meeting to run, and even that goes well. All are aligned, so happy with that, I log my working hours and sign off.

Walk into Dover Friday came round, and I have to get into town to pick up some new glasses. I have the choice, either to walk, or catch the bus.

Although it was grey this morning, the forecast was for sunshine by lunchtime, so I took a chance.

There is just one safe way to walk into town, which just happens to be off the meter scenic, along the cliffs.

Walk into Dover Considering a week or so ago, I struggled to walk back from the village shop, to walk into the village, through the churchyard, over Reach Road, through the estate, over the fields, through the woods, past South Foreland Light to the cliffs.

Walk into Dover That alone was longer than the walk back from the shop.

Spring has arrived in East Kent, flowers in gardens and in the woods. Primroses, Grape Hyacinths, and other wonders all coming into bloom. And as I make my way through the woods after crossing the fields, the branches of the trees are full of birdsong. I get a glimpse of a Goldcrest before it flies away, but then it is replaced by half a dozen Long Tailed Tits, all chirping away to each other. I could have got my camera out, but just happy enough to watch them.

Walk into Dover I arrived at the cliffs to see three people messing around taking pictures on the cliff edge: photographic opportunity!

Along the cliffs, with the north easterly wind at my back, blowing me towards Dover. And as I walked, the clouds thinned and what was weak sunshine became a glorious spring day.

No better place to be than on the cliff tops.

Inbetween Langdon Cliffs and the Fan Bay Shelter, the National Trust have laid a path, looks more like a scar to be honest. But sadly needed, due to the added footfall along the cliffs with people visiting the shelter, causing erosion.

Walk into Dover Once at Langdon, instead of taking the direct path, I go round Harbour Filed, then down the old railway track leading to the Cliff Road.

Once out of the north wind, it feels warm, certainly too warm to need a jacket, and on either side of the path, spring flowers were already in bloom.

Walk into Dover On the Cliff Road, the sound of the busy port could be heard, and a peak over the cliff showed it working hard as usual, but no traffic getting of a ferry, but plenty more arriving.

From there it was a climb to the NT place, before making my way to the steep steps down to East Cliffe, passing a young Goth couple who found that dressing in all black wasn't a good idea.

Walk into Dover Finally, down through East Cliff, avoiding the traffic on Townwall Street, I make it tot he town centre, managing to take a few shots of the St James Development, as construction above ground continues apace.

I walk up Biggin Street to the optician, I do not have to wait, they fit first time, so I am in and out in under 5 minutes, with over two hours to kill before Jools would collect me. What else was there to do in town? THere is no other answer other than go to the Rack of Ale.

Walk into Dover Trish is inside, we greet each other with a hug, and she plies me with ale, which is nice. And I share with her the dregs of the Rumtopf. She liked that, and I also liked her ale, which was nice.

I sneak out to the nearby chippy for some chips, which go well with the beer, and as is usual, there is a great mix of other people in the Rack, and we chat and so the time passes quickly.

Thankfully, Jools rescues me just after three, dragging me kicking and screaming back to the car so she can take me home. It is a glorious end to the day, long shadows reach over the land, and the setting sun casts everything in wonderful golden light.

I have to cook, and it is boiled chicken with bacon and rice, as ever it comes out well. And considering the three pints I had supped, it came out well, even if I had forgotten to put in the bacon at first.

It is Friday, Monty night, so by eight, we are on the sofa waiting for the news from the world of gardening. And that was the end of the day, I had achy legs, and Jools was worn out from the working week, but the weekend had arrived and we planned to spend the next eight hours of it, snoozing.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Thursday 23rd March 2017

How does your voice sound? Do you think you have an accent?

I grew up on the Norfolk Suffolk border, as rural as it is possible to get, or so you would have thought, but then you've never been to Loddon.

Growing up, everyone else pretty much had the same accent, except for Darren Knott who was from London, and a Cockney, and a fire brand not to be trusted. Anyway, At some point in the mid-70s, my parents bought a Sanyo Radio Cassette player, something to listen to in the kitchen. And as you can guess, it could play cassettes. Not only that, it could record from the radio, and had an in-built microphone, so could record whatever was being said.

Pansies One Sunday as Mother was preparing dinner, she called me in to what can now be described as deliberate conversation about nothing, whilst standing in front of the new radio thingy. A while later, I was called back and invited to listen to what had been taped.

Violet To say I was horrified would be an understatement: I sounded like a junior farmer, or the singing postman, on helium. A broad East Anglian accent that I had not picked up in my own voice before. It was awful.

Really.

So, from that day forth, even at ten years old, I tried to rid myself of the accent. And over the years I pretty much succeeded, with only the occasional Norfolk-ism sneaking in, if I say computer or petrol, my mouth still says them in Norfolkese.

Hyacinth Why say this now, because I was on the radio yesterday, and when I played the show back on the i player, I did not recognise my own voice. Some kind of non-regional accent, deep. Maybe London, home counties. But not me. But it was, certainly not Norfolk now, mind. My younger self would have been pleased to have heard my voice. But this is what other people hear when I speak.

Fritilary Imperialis Anyway, that for later.

We have breakfast and morning to get through first.

I slept better, no night time panics, or any I could remember, but I had to be up and about early, as I had a meeting at eight, bins to put out and breakfast to get. In the end I failed to have breakfast until well after nine, after the meeting had finished, and the sun was out, and taking the edge off the keen breeze.

The meeting passes, then there is more work to do, and already I am feeling the pace so I warm up a bowl of curry before eleven, more than enough to see me through until evening. I take breaks through the day, as I try to concentrate on work, going into the garden with the camera to snap the plants, capture the colours, but really, just be be outside. Spring in the garden is wonderful, and I am joined by Molly, who does her circuit of all the sniffing posts, checking on who has been round. And making she is still queen.

There are even a few insects about, but I don't get a shot.

Eighty In the afternoon with more reading to do, I put the radio on, Radcliffe and Maconie, and listen to the tunes and banter. All very enjoyable. They have a game, called The Chain, where listeners can mail in with suggestions for the next tune. Normally I am working and listen via the i player, but I could write in, and in about ten minutes the producer calls. Did I want to be on the radio?

I did, so she checked some details, and said she would ring back at ten past two.

Jelltex garden update She rang back, I spoke to her some more, then put through to Mark, and away we went. All a blur, but I did OK, sounded slightly humourous, and then could listen to myself. Urgh.

You can here it here, fast forward to 01:15

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08hzqlt Jelltex garden update Phew, I was drained. I make a tea and tell Molly all about it. She's not impressed, but then she has had seen the Queen.

The afternoon passes and so Molly and I watch Time Team before I get to prepare dinner; dirty food. Burgers and onions. And beer (or cider).

Jelltex garden update Yup, just about done when Jools came home, so we sat down to eat together and listen to some fool on the radio.

That left the evening, TOTP and a Henry VIII documentary before it was time to head to bed. Again. Phew, rock and roll.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Wednesday 22nd March 2017

Today will sadly be remembered for the actions of a single male who undertook an attack on people in Westminster. I am not going to waste any more time describing that, or how deluded he was, or how nearly as bad the right wing idiots were in using it to further their hate. Hate begats hate, and nothing good becomes of that, both sides need each other, and without them they will die. Best to remember the heroes who risked their life in doing their jobs, either protecting Parliament or trying to save those that had: heroes one an all. Whilst all around, London carried on as normal, people worked, went to the tube or railway station and went home, while other went out to eat and drink. Its what Londoners, all people do, meaning that the terrorist's main aim, of changing our lives, failed. Already.

On the home front, it was a quiet day: the usual stuff. Get up, have coffee, work out, shower, work, lunch, work, prepare dinner, eat, watch TV, go to bed.

It is funny in that I have not worked on survey boats since May 2009, and yet I still dream about working on the from time to time. Tuesday night I dreamt I was on a ship, and for some reason could not get off, or there was some other emergency I had to attend to. And I could not find my room or some other piece of equipment. No idea why my mind does this to me when I sleep. I also dream quite regularly that I am still in the RAF, I had been so busy that I had forgotten to prepare to leave it and become a civvy, and find myself working on my final day with no job to go to the next day, and there are all these jobs to get done before I can leave. Anyway, that's what my mind does when I'm asleep, wear me out, apparently.

When we got up, it was getting light, the brightest part of the day, with clouds expecting to sweep in from the west on a keen westerly. It felt cold, and not quite light. Jools was already making coffee downstairs, so I go down, check online for news about stuff, and we talk about plans for that night and the weekend.

As soon as she leaves, I go upstairs to do another session on the cross-trainer. Might only be 20 minutes, but I am doing it, and enjoy listening to the radio, if not the exercise, but I do know I need to do it. I puff along to the New York Dolls, Pulp, The Clash and Gary Numan. Among others.

Time for a shower, get dressed, put the bird seed out, then make coffee, have breakfast and be ready for work at eight. If not before.

Main thought for the day was what to have for dinner. And for some reason I began to think about the leftover turkey from Christmas and so decided to make curry with some of it. I searched on line and found an interesting recipe, got the turkey out of the freezer, leaving it for an afternoon task.

Clouds got thicker outside, and inside it got no warmer, and in the end decided to put the heating on. I know, I know, could have put a jumper on, but I had to sit around and work, so might as well be warm doing it.

Yet more leftover aubergine and pasta salad for lunch, which I had at half ten, as I was so hungry.

Come the afternoon and I began to cook the curry. In truth, it might not have been the best recipe to follow, and I tried to be careful about how much curry powder to use. As I added the onions, turkey , mashed potato (!), tomatoes and everything, it began to taste like a thick stew. The last ingredient was Chayenne pepper. 1 tsp: no difference. Another generous shake: still nothing. Two more brought some heat, so I cooked it some more and left to stand until Jools returned and I could cook the rice.

Seventy nine Molly and I watch an episode of Time Team, sitting on the sofa while it gets dark outside. The hours and hours of rain we should have got was restricted to a heavy 5 minute downpour. The twins were out in it, and Mulder came and stood on my lap and then shook himself dry. I was no longer dry of course.

We have the curry, not so good as I hoped, but did not kill us, or not yet anyway.

At quarter to eight, there was international football on TV. England v Germany, from Dortmund, and what should have been a good game, even if only a friendly, was a massive let down, with it being played at walking pace. I watched it all, mind, managing to stay awake in the first half, then in the 2nd, Germany began to play and scored a belter of a winner.

And that was it, a whole day gone.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Tuesday 21st March 2017

After the rain of Monday, endless sunshine was forecast for Tuesday, I mean the skies had cleared Monday night, but even still. However, with it being the spring equinox, the sun rose in the south east, now shining into the spare room window just before six when it rose. I mean, I know the sun moves where it rises, but since living here, I see the changes on a day by day, or week by week basis. Come June the sun will almost be rising in the east.

Spring morning We get up, Jools makes coffee and gets ready for work. And after Monday, promising myself all day that I would do some exercise once work trailed off, then failing to do anything, I made myself do a session on the cross trainer as soon as Jools had left. Not long, but long enough to get a sweat on, and trying to sing along with what I was listening to on the i pod. That done, I had a shower, got dressed and checked work mails before making breakfast, then doing more work.

Fritillaria imperialis By mid morning, it was a glorious day outside, but with a keen wind blowing from the west, it was a day for wearing a jacket if you wanted to really enjoy the day. In between reading, I take breaks so I can work in the garden, planting out for the pots that almost covered the new patio, so the whole area will look better. Turns out we have more huge spaces in the old raspberry beds, and will need yet more plants.

Fritillaria imperialis Work continues, and so the morning passes. I make corned beef sandwiches for lunch; for those of you not familiar with corned beef, it is an acquired taste, and not for everyone. It is processed beef, put into cans for transportation from places like Argentina or Tesco. Once these were magnificent beats being corralled by gaucho, not sitting looking forlorn on a slice of faux healthy bread with salad cream to add an exotic flavour. I also add the dried fried onions on, to add a bit of crunch, and to give me heartburn as it turns out. Nice.

A spring walk to Fleet House along Collingwood And so to the afternoon, with more of the same; sunshine, cool breeze. But then I remember that it is Mother's Day, and I have to post Mother Dearest's card. I know there is a post box around here somewhere, and end up using GSV to find it, just at the start of the next road up the hill. I could walk there, then go for a longer walk along Collingwood Road to Fleet House, down the dip and back. Heck, its afternoon, probably won't need a coat, right?

A spring walk to Fleet House along Collingwood Wrong. However, I won't find out until it is too late and I am walking along the top of the hill.

A spring walk to Fleet House along Collingwood The house at the end of the street still has a fine display of daffodils. I snap them as I walk past, because in a couple of weeks they will be but a memory. I turn up Station Road for 25m the turn right again, posting the card in the box; no collection until the morning, but should be OK. From there the street goes mostly straight to the fields, running parallel with our street. Despite being one street away, it feels different, more modern houses with some building work going on in an empty plot. It continues a bit further than our street, behind the houses to the right there is the small field which as the path from our road on the other side.

A spring walk to Fleet House along Collingwood I clear the boundaries of the village, and realise the wind is at my back, still cold, and will be colder once I turn for home. Although this is just a few hundred yards from our house, I have never walked along thris street, getting a slightly higher and so different viewpoint. Once pass the cross-field track which we normally go down, I had still not walked in this direction down this street.

Seventy eight Anyway, I come to Fleet House, the pig's copse is still empty, and down the dip the sheep's paddock is also now empty, and three sheep had been there over winter. I take the usual shots, showing how the season has changed since I was last down here. At the bottom of the dip, there is still mud, but mostly it is dry.

And cold. Jeez, once I walk back up the dip, turn along the track to our street, I am walking headlong into the wind, passing a man walking his dog whilst wearing a parka (the man, not dog). Is it that warm? he asks. No, I reply, shivering.

I make it back home, put the kettle on for a cuppa, and think about putting the heating on, but with it coming on in half an hour, thought I could survive until then. With a cuppa I pull through, and soon the heating came on. I check my work mails, and power the laptop down. Its an easy dinner; leftover pasta salad and aubergine slices.

Golden Hour Jools arrives home in time to do some work in the garden before the light fails. She collects some flower pots so she can repot some seedlings growing in the bathroom. See, exciting stuff here!

We eat our fill, but find there is still some left, enough for both our lunches on the morrow. All from three small aubergines, breadcrumbs, some dried pasta, low fat yoghurt and some cottage cheese.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Monday 20th March 2017

Monday came like my mood, dark and already raining. It was set to rain all day, a day at home where I could look at the outside world though rain-soaked windows.

We were up at six, and by twenty to seven, I had drunk my first coffee, so went to watch the recording of the football, meaning of I skipped through the punditry I would see highlights from all three games before it was time to work at eight. As it was, I watched them all and was ready for work by half seven, made another coffee and had a bowl of Bran Flakes, because, well, you know.

Seventy seven THere was no escape from work. I mean I would like to think with the end of the project coming, I could bask in a job well done, but the next one is calling, and I have much reading to do. So, best check mails, answer calls and get down to some reviewing.

With the best of intentions to get ahead, it seemed the forces of evil were intent on dragging me from my chosen task to doing something else that should look after themselves, or at least be looked after by someone else. No such luck. However, in that manner the morning passes.

Outside, rain falls down hard, and the wind blows a hoolie. Just nice to be inside to see the rain falling in sheets in the valley at the bottom of the garden. At least I wasn't bomb servicing in this weather, like I did in years gone by.

The 20th will go down in history for two reasons: 1 The PM announced that Article 50 will be triggered on Wednesday week. Which may be the end of the country as we know it. Anyway, I avoided the news and the BBC website all day, as hearing politicians crowing about things they don't understand isn't good for my blood pressure. I hope I'm wrong about this, but you know, I don't. And then the Director of the FBI was interviewed under oath, and it turns out that Trump's campaign was under investigation for it's links to Russia since last July. Let that sink in for a moment. However, Trump's subsequent Tweets made the impression that other stuff had happened, but, the President's campaign was at least supported by a foreign power. And Russia at that, and that the investigation had been going on longer than the revelation about HRC's e mail server, which fizzled out.

This photograph was brought to you by the aubergine marketing board I mean that in itself was an incredible thing, but after 50 or so days of lies and craziness form 45, it all seems par for the course, and while we focus on him, his team dismantles social care, PBS, funding for the arts, and so on. Bread and circuses indeed.

In the afternoon, I make breaded aubergine, and once Jools arrived home, I began cooking. Outside the rain stopped and stars came out. It was Vera Lynn's 100th birthday, and there was to be some kind of light show at the cliffs, but it was a private thing, or just for TV cameras anyway.

Charles Quint Keizer Karel We watch a documentary on British photography. That was my idea I have to say. Interesting stuff about photo-journalism, and how important it is, if painful to see images of the dead and dying. And the effect it has on the photographer.