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Monday, March 26, 2007

Much Improved!

[Click on the photos to enlarge them!]
When my brother and I sold our parents' cottage towards the end of 2005 we knew we had sold to people who had major plans for improvements, but perhaps more importantly were going to love it and make it into a magnificent home. This is certainly the case and I was shown around the almost fully finished house by the proud new owners this weekend. The south face of the long barn has picture windows taking in the wonderful view and above, a balcony juts out from the master bedroom. With a window open as spring goes on, they will be deafened in the early mornings by the dawn chorus of birdsong from the trees beyond the garden. The roof has been raised somewhat, I believe after some problems with planning permission from the council but the whole works so very well in the landscape. Click Here for more pictures from my excellent long weekend in the area!

Friday, March 23, 2007


Any ideas what this is a photo of? - I will post the solution sometime next week if no one has got it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Photo of the Day

View from near Oban and a late evening ayrshire cow. June 2004

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pill, Pill, I love thee still

Today, in need of some fresh air I went to the village of Pill at the mouth of the River Avon for a walk and to take some photos. [Take a look please at all John's Pill photos] With the wind from the North, the air was certainly fresh and for about the first time this winter I felt the need of a pair of gloves. It was low tide and all the boats in the little creek harbour were stranded on the mud, which was gleaming in the sunshine. Pill was in centuries past, the home of the skilled river pilots who met larger ships, entering the River Avon from the sea. The river winds upstream for about 10 km from here to Bristol City Docks and with the second highest tidal range in the world and many shifting sand and mud banks, the entrance to Bristol by sea was always treacherous and needed a special local knowledge. Ships had to be towed upriver on the rising tide and safely moored before the ebb. At low tide ships had to rest on the river bed. The journey for a ship being towed from Pill to Bristol could take a week. Some ships anchored up at Pill and transferred their cargoes to small boats which, piloted by the famed Pill Hobblers were rowed and towed upstream to the port.
Pill has been made famous in Folk Song by the Wurzels: -
Pill, Pill, I love thee still

Even though I'm leaving
Pill, Pill, I love thee still
When the ferry boat starts heavin
When the rain down pours,
the thunder roars
The lightnin flashes bright
I'll be better by far in The Duke or The Star
Than on the Old Pill Ferry tonight.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dominic, Shakespeare and Me

Yesterday I spent a very pleasant evening at Bristol University’s Wickham Theatre listening to a talk given by Dominic Dromgoole, the Director of The Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank. A full and appreciative audience heard Patrick give anecdotal and passionate thoughts on Shakespeare, his plays and how these fitted into Shakespeare’s own history, travels and family life. He referred often to his own walk of pilgrimage from Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon to the Globe Theatre which he wrote about in his best-selling book “Will and Me: How Shakespeare Took Over My Life”.
Although Dominic is 20 years younger than me, I gave thought to the similarities and differences of our childhoods.
My father was, in his prime, a Shakespearean actor of some repute; Dominic’s father Patrick was also a leading director and producer. Dominic remembered as a child having his father recite Shakespeare to him and his siblings before bedtime and being entranced by the words and the cadences, the beginning of Dominic’s love of drama. For me the experience was different, I did hear my father practice his lines, was taken occasionally to see the plays, but I cannot remember being deliberately recited to in that way. Often my father was away performing on stage in the evenings and so my brother and I saw little of him at bedtime.
But our house was full of books. Available to us were most of the major works of literature, plays and poetry among many other genres such as art, history and detective fiction for the lighter moments and train journeys. However I sadly admit that I was an avoider of literature for most of my school years. Perhaps I rebelled against the arts because I could not compete with two extremely well read parents or with a more studious younger brother. In the many years that have passed since my schooldays I have learned to appreciate all the branches of the arts with the possible exception of the opera (sorry opera!) and have in more recent years gone out of my way to improve a knowledge that was sadly lacking by the time I had reached my late teens. After the talk, I spent a few moments talking with
Stephanie Cole OBE, one of the UK’s finest character actresses and who had known my father. She is now President of the Bristol University Theatre Collection the organisers of the talk, and she urged me to read Dominic’s book – I certainly will.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How much longer Mr Mugabe?

The chaotic rule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe must surely be nearing its end?

Violence once again hits the news: Even public prayer is now a political offence in Zimbabwe. A rally called by church, opposition and civic groups to pray for an end to Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis was thwarted by police riot squads, who shot and beat those taking part. Dozens of opposition figures were arrested, including Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change. Many were beaten and allegedly tortured in police custody; Mr Tsvangirai is reported to be in "bad shape" after passing out three times. Far from being ashamed of such police brutality, the Mugabe Government appears keen to publicise the torture: the beaten men were put on parade at the police station to intimidate Mr Mugabe's courageous opponents. [from The Times] There's lots more on the newswires.

That such a beautiful and potentially successful country has been brought to its knees by this despot is such a terrible shame.

My Photo of the DAY

I have been busy for the last few days with building a new wardrobe for my bedroom. All finished now with only a few pieces left over that I haven't found a use for despite the many sets of instuctions that came in the many boxes that were carted upstairs last Tuesday. I mean - what are the long plinth rails for? Yes I know they are MEANT to go around the top edge, but that means there is less access to whatever I need to put up there. Anyway apart from vacuuming the floor all is neater now. Sorry about the colour of the wall paint - it was the choice of the previous owner - not me! I'll get around to changing it one day!

Monday, March 12, 2007

No Surprise to me!

The headline in the New Scientist tells me that Stone Age men would not have been impressed by size zero women. I cannot think of any men from whatever age that would have been!
Polish archaeologists have found, preserved in ice, 30 flint female figurines dating back 15,000 years revealing that the preferred body shape for women was curvy with prominent buttocks.
While not I am sure that most modern me
n still prefer gigantic buttocks, I am not at all surprised that our ancestors appreciated curves!

Friday, March 09, 2007

My Antarctic Photo of the Day

Gentoo Penguins near a block of washed up Blue Ice, Neko Harbour December 2005