Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A delightful afternoon

I really enjoyed walking the dog this afternoon, partly because it gave me an excuse to get out of the house for an hour or so. We have the grandsons with us today, aged 6 and 2, which I find rather exhausting. Smaller doses are great, but 10 hours straight can be rather tiring. Anyway, I remembered to take a camera with me so managed a few 'spring' pictures. The celandines look as though their petals have been dipped in acrylic paint, they are so glossy.

And I love the green of the new sycamore leaves.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Mobile phones

Mobile phones are useful, but the only time I remember to take mine with me is when I go to France - and then it's only switched on every couple of days or so just to check that there has been no emergency that requires our immediate return. Actually, I do use it to book a table at our local restaurant. I have to book or there is no guarantee that it will even be open, and there is often no point walking to the bar at lunch time as the owner is quite likely to be somewhere else in or around the village with the bar open and unattended. And as for sending a text message... Well, I did try once, but couldn't get it sent and I've never tried again.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

So I'm back in England

One of the problems (if that is really the word I want) with coming back home is the wadge of post that has accumulated and the volume of e-mails screaming for attention, together with the messages on the answerphone. Of course, there are always some letters and e-mails that I am hoping will have arrived but haven't.

Anyway, it was a good break and I managed to get a couple of jobs done in amongst the reading, eating and drinking. And in ten days or so I'll be off again, down to my cousin's farm for Easter, keeping up a tradition that spans something like 25 years.

Friday, 20 March 2009


Off to pick up a Chinese take-away (it's Madam's birthday), then pack the case, load the car, and off to France tomorrow morning.

What a difference a book makes

Now I have an instruction manual I hope to become mildly proficient with Photoshop Elements. Skip was quite right: the software produces a panoramic shot pretty much automatically - all I had to do was tell it which five pictures were to be merged, then crop the result to straighten the edges. This is the view from the back of our house, looking north over Patcham to the South Downs. The trees on the right are the wood which is one of the favourite afternoon walks with the dog.

Thursday, 19 March 2009


I'm not sure quite how I managed it, but I did. Maybe writing down the list of jobs to be done and then working my way through it was not such a bad idea. I came back from yesterday evening's meetings with a lot to be done, but I've actually managed to clear everything and a bit more before 5.00pm.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

More bacon!

Bacon for dinner yesterday - as an ingredient in tartiflette. Then cold roast gammon in the lunchtime rolls today, and we have Lincoln sausages (made from pork) tonight. Perhaps not bacon as such, but at least it's from the same animal.
Another fine spring day. Round the Roman camp this afternoon, where I was delighted to find primroses and violets in bloom.

I visited the Brighton history centre this morning in an attempt to find out more about Madam's grandfather, who went under two different names. I expected nothing and that's what I got.

Carrion crow or rook? I remember from the days when I was a bord watcher ('twitchers' hadn't been invented then, it was so long ago) that rooks are gregarious birds, while carrion crows tend to be solitary. Furthermore, although they are much the same size, and both black, the rook could be positively identified by a small white patch at the base of its beak. I must try to find out why none of the rooks I have seen over the last couple of years or so has had that white patch.

Monday, 16 March 2009


Maps have always held a fascination for me. To me, an Ordnance Survey one inch to the mile map was just like a picture: reading the map showed me what the countryside looked like just as if I was reading a guide book. My ambition, as a teenager, was to become a navigating officer in the Royal Navy, an ambition which was, unfortunately, never to be. If by some mischance I have finished a book and have nothing else I want to read, I will often pick up an atlas and browse through the pages. Last night was just such an occasion. Now, I have known for a good many years that Brighton is further north than New York, but it dawned on me only yesterday that all of England is further north than the whole of the USA, with the exception of Alaska. Indeed, even Winnipeg is further south than Brighton!

I suppose to most people that observation will make me seem something of an atlas anorak. So be it. I just like looking at maps.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Bacon tonight

Over the Downs this afternoon with the dog - absolutely glorious. At one point all I could hear was a skylark.

Can't quite make out the sea in this picture, but it is there, hidden in the mist. The small patch of white at the top of the picture is the chalk cliff of Seaford Head, with the sea just to the right of it.

Roast gammon for dinner tonight, with roast potatoes and probably French beans and broccoli, followed by profiteroles, I think. I'll open a bottle of Muscadet to wash it down.

Spring - again

A glorious day. Yesterday the temperature reached about 13 but it should get even warmer today. What's the betting that by the time spring is supposed to start (next weekend) it will have turned into winter again? I hope it won't as it would be nice to have some warm, sunny days while we are in France. We leave next Saturday for a week.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The last film I saw was...

I just happened to glance at the back page of one of the sections of today's newspaper and for some reason my eye was drawn to one of those gossipy pieces that I rarely, if ever, read. You know the sort of thing I mean, where a so-called celebrity answers stock questions like 'What is your favourite shoe shop?' In this case, I noticed that the last film today's celebrity had seen was Slumdog Millionaire. If I were to be asked that question, I would have to answer, 'The Ipcress File'. There has been so little on television lately that the good lady and I have been reduced to watching films on DVDs given away with the weekend papers. So we have watched Cabaret, The Fourth Protocol, Dr Zhivago, A Taste of Honey, Brighton Rock and others I can't remember. Nor can I remember the last time I went to the cinema. I think I might have seen The Sound of Music. Just shows how long ago it must have been.

A tame view?

Compared with what my Californian friend has posted on his blogs, this view might seem pretty tame, but I do like being able to look out over the Downs when I open the bedroom curtains in the morning.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Extending Extensions

I think I will have to give in and buy an instruction manual of some sort for Photoshop Extensions. I managed to cut the grey sky from one picture and replace it with the blue sky from another (who says the camera never lies?), but I have forgotten how I did it and can't manage to do it again!

Of course, the camera didn't lie. The lie came when I edited the picture.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

From the alternative dictionary

Recycle (verb) : to ride a stolen bicycle

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A passing thought:

Who bought the first telephone? And just who did he think was going to ring him?

Monday, 9 March 2009

And again

Four years ago, the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray was voted the best in the world. Almost two weeks ago it closed (temporarily) after 40 customers complained of food poisoning. That number has now risen to over 400. None of the tests carried out so far have identified the source, but I'm sure if I had eaten snail porridge with joselito ham, parsnip cereal and nitro-scrambled egg and bacon ice cream with pain perdu and tea jelly, I would be feeling a little queasy. Especially if I had paid £98 for a three course meal, without wine, plus service charge of 12.5%!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Still on food

Shepherds pie tonight. The trouble is it is so difficult to buy a decent shepherd these days.

Actually it's cottage pie as it's made with beef - the remains of last Sunday's joint.

Friday, 6 March 2009

No bacon today

Smoked mackerel for supper.

Tempus fugit

– and how! I really am amazed to find that it's Friday already. Just where has this week gone? Everybody says that as they get older, so the weeks go past quicker and quicker. What concerns me is that there is so much I want to get done before I shuffle off, but if time goes by at this rate, there is no chance that I will be able to accomplish even half of it. But half a loaf is said to be better than none, so I suppose I will just have to be satisfied with that. On the other hand, I never consider that I should be merely satisfied, especially with having done just half a job. ‘Satisfied' always seems to imply ‘well, OK, could be worse, but could be better'. ‘Could be better' is not good enough!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

That's better!

After yesterday's comment about naff reviewers, today I have received a review with some really constructive suggestions, like increase the dialogue, and give more prominence to Mrs S. I'll work on the first, but I'm not so sure about the second. I don't want her getting ideas above her station.

Today is mostly a Lions day. Not just one but two Housing Society meetings this morning, and a dinner meeting this evening. I had hoped to be taking a couple of guests, one or both of whom would make good Lions, but they already had something else on. Next month maybe.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Spring didn't last long

- it feels like winter again today.

It is a week since I discovered the web site youwriteon.com and since I uploaded the first two chapters of "Lavenders Blue" there have been three reviews. The first was a rave, the second almost non-committal and the third only so-so. I do have to wonder, though. The second reviewer complimented me on my fluent French (half a dozen words only) and the third suggested I might like (and I quote, spelling and all) "too pair down" a section. If that is the standard of reviewing, I'm not sure that the site is really for me.

Monday, 2 March 2009

It feels like spring

After an overnight frost, the day had turned out very well. I dug over a bit more of the vegetable patch this morning, working until my back told me I had done enough, but have still not got the garlic planted. I must get that done this afternoon as the forecast is for rain tomorrow. I thoroughly enjoyed a walk over the Downs from Falmer towards Plumpton after lunch, and saw my first lambs of the spring.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

St David's Day

According to the meteorologists, this is also the first day of spring. I have noticed in Stanmer woods that there are plenty of hazel catkins, and the first two daffodils in the garden have been out for a day or two. There are plenty in bloom in sheltered spots under the trees in Withdean park and I even came across a couple of hyacinths the day before yesterday. The redwings and fieldfares have left us, and a blackbird has been in full song in the woods for a few days now. Several of the black-headed gulls are in their summer plumage, although most seem not to have started developing theirs yet. We have had the occasional day when it has felt quite warm, but there is still not a lot of warmth in the sun.