Monday, 26 May 2014

Things I Have Seen This Week

I've had a pretty busy week at work – lots of training and off site visits. Being out and about has allowed me to witness some very interesting people- I do like to people watch when I get the chance (not in a weird stalkery way you understand!)

Here’s my Top 5 interesting sightings of the week :) 

5. Possibly the world’s oldest paper-boy. I'm sure there are plenty of older people out there delivering papers each and every morning with cheer and enthusiasm but this particular gentleman appeared to be taking the label of ‘paper-boy’ a bit too seriously. He was dressed as a 10 year old boy, shorts and all, cap at a jaunty angle, trainers, bag slung at a nonchalant, knee knocking height. Sadly he wasn't riding a Chopper bike but it looked like he might have been saving up his paper round money for one!

4. A monk with the best beard in town. Apparently monks are not a rare sight in this particular area of Oxford but being a mere village girl I had not come across one before! He looked very cool and flowing in long grey robes (or whatever the technical term is for monks clothing) but most fascinatingly he had a splendid beard, truly, wonderfully splendid! It was long and bushy and really quite huge. I wanted to stop the minibus and stroke it. I'm not sure what beard etiquette would say about that?

3. Where’s Wally x2. I did have to look twice at these ladies. I assume they were raising money for some worthy cause. They were walking alongside a main road, seemingly miles from the nearest inhabited area both dressed as Where’s Wally and doing it three legged. In the rain. With a bucket. They didn't look particularly happy about the whole thing. I'm not sure if they were lost or just on an epic journey. I wondered what might happen if they had an argument – would they see it through, stomping three legged and ignoring each other or would they call it a day and untie the bonds, leaving their sponsors to ask “Where’s the other Wally?”

2. It did rain a lot this week and I felt very sorry for the young lad who was out on his bike in a torrential downpour. I'm sure he was a lot happier to ride in the rain that I would have been but his face didn't reflect it. Still, he was bravely peddling on with water streaming down his face, hair plastered and clothes dripping and looking like he could not get any wetter - and then some total git in a 4x4 drove straight through a puddle...... I would have cried at this point. Instead, and all due respect to the lad, he did manage a magnificent hand gesture towards said driver. I cheered!

1. My favourite sighting of the week may have been a mirage. I did pass by on the opposite side of the road at a reasonable pace. But what I think I saw was an old lady on a bike in a long black wig dressed as a pink fairy. I mean complete with wings, tutu, crown and everything! Was she heading to a fancy dress party? Was this just a normal days clothing choice for her? Was she, in fact, a real fairy? I choose to believe the last one...fairies are real!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

No Corny Bicycle Related Titles Here!

Taken when I first got the bike - note lack of grey hair (me) and square basket (bike)

Ah, Spring is definitely in the air – the days are longer and warmer and there are bikes out everywhere!

I have a love/hate relationship with cycling. My Dad is ace at it, one of my brothers has recorded some pretty nifty time trial results in his time and I have spent many an evening watching both real life racing and getting into the thrill of Le Tour (the Channel 4 theme music is legendary!). However, I have come to the conclusion that I am so much better at cycling when it comes to cheering from the sidelines. In my head I’d actually like to be out there, steaming along, working all those muscles and looking cool. In reality I hate cycling in the wind, not keen if it’s raining much and if it’s too hot – well, forget it. This means there are exactly 4 days a year when cycling conditions are optimum for me. And 2 of those are probably when Le Tour is on.

But, I have discovered the perfect cycling for me, more my style and less sweaty! I have been getting out and about on my vintage bike. I bought this beauty a few years ago and have finally got it out on the road in all its glory. I believe it dates from around 1910 although I have no idea what make it is. But it has all the vintage accessories I need - detailed leather saddle? Check! Real stringed skirt guard? Check! The scariest brakes ever? Check! And a basket for dog/cat/ginger ale? Check!
I have tried to do some research on similar bikes and found a very interesting piece on suffragettes hurling themselves in front of Winston Churchill on their bikes. I assume this was a deliberate act of protest rather than a complete lack of braking ability. Seriously though, the link between the rise of cycling and the emancipation of women is both interesting and well documented. More information here.  

Arty shot of bike by postbox

Back to my bike - my brother recently checked it over for me, replaced the single handgrip with a pair of new period ones and did what he could to shiny it up. I also got a brand new basket!

An authentic 'Coventry Gear Case Co' Atlas saddle - still going strong and pretty comfortable!

I have this vision that in a few years time I will be the eccentric old lady peddling around the village in a big hat and talking to myself (I’m not quite there yet, thank you very much!) and in the meantime I have been checking out various vintage cycling groups. Apparently there are other people out there who enjoy dressing up and getting out and about on vintage bikes. I think I may have found my cycle niche at last! Go Girl Power :)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

“Oh, Eeyore, you are wet!” said Piglet, feeling him.
Eeyore shook himself, and asked somebody to explain to Piglet what happened when you had been inside a river for quite a long time.”

A.A. Milne 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Links to the Past

A little bit of a sombre post from me today – but I just needed to share!

No one can have failed to notice that 2014 sees the centenary anniversary of the start of World War One, there have been some really powerful programmes already on the television and lots of places are marking this event in some way. In fact in the woods where I work they have found some practice trenches still in place from the war and we are currently preparing to excavate and restore them as part of an education programme.

I did history at school but my year focussed on WW2 and to my shame I know only the barest facts about the Great War. DS#2 is about to go on a school trip to the battlefields of Belgium and France and I sat through the most moving presentation of their planned trip this week – not ashamed to say I shed a tear or two to hear some of the stories that they use to bring the reality of the war home to the pupils. From a local lad who was just 12 (12!!) when he was killed in action, to some poetry written by another young man just before he died going over the top... then all the horrific facts and figures, too many to comprehend...
Now, I had set myself a new photo challenge this week, to photograph things in my locality, in my village, things I might have been seeing every day for many years. It struck me that I had never really taken much notice of the War Memorial in my own village. True, we had often wondered why it commemorates 1914 -1919, but the names were just, well, names. So to put this right, I decided to look up a couple of the names to see if I could learn a little more about these brave lads. Here are just a few facts about two of them....

Able Seaman Ernest W Austin was born on 30th December 1892 and married Gladys Mildred, living at Wheelers Farm in Clanfield. Ernest joined the Navy and was part of the crew of HMS Wear. Based in Gibraltar, the HMS Wear served on escort and fire duties when war broke out in 1914. She helped in the rescue of over 600 men from HMS Irresistible on 18th March 1915 when the Irresistible hit a mine in Kephtx Bay. Ernest died from ‘disease’ on 1st October 1918 and is buried in the Royal Naval Cemetery, Capuccini, Malta.

In 1895 Charles Wakefield, a shepherd, and his wife Esther had a son who they named Oliver Charles. By 1911, age 16, Oliver had 7 brothers and sisters and worked as a poulterer at a local farm. Oliver joined the 2nd Battalion of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry when war broke out. He was sent to France where, as 10028 Pte Wakefield he was killed in action on Sunday 25th September 1915 in Flanders age just 20. He is now buried in plot II.E.8 near Cuinchy in Guards Cemetery.

Clanfield lost 16 men during the war – just a drop in the ocean of the vast numbers who died. Behind each of those faded names is the story of a real person who knew the village where I live, who would have seen some of the sights I still see, walked the paths I walk and were prepared to lose their lives to defend their country. They will be remembered.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Monday, 5 May 2014

I'm back - again!

If anyone out there has been regularly checking out my blog then I must apologise - the observant amongst you will notice there has been precious little input from me for several weeks other than my Thoughtful Thursday posts. So, what has happened? I could make excuses and say work has been overwhelming (true, but I have still managed to get to the gym) or that I couldn’t get near the computer for teenagers (they mostly have their own computers but getting near a plug socket – now that is a problem!!). The truth is I couldn’t think of anything exciting to say. Or even mundane. Or funny, or weird, or anything.... So, I have decided today is the day I will break out of the rut and ease myself in gently with a set format and a way to give an overview of the past few weeks.... I have used these prompts before, courtesy of Marylin at Softthistle. Here we go, a whistle-stop tour of things I have done

Making: My new shed extension into a space of beauty and relaxation. Electrics are in, insulation and wood burner still to go but that can wait a while! Now I just need to put things back in and still keep the feeling of sanctuary and not dumping ground.

Cooking: It’s a Bank Holiday and so I am trying everything in my power not to have to cook anything! Over the last few weeks I have triumphed with a chocolate cake and failed miserably with some rather overdone venison.

Drinking: I never thought it possible but I have persevered with herbal tea and now I am choosing herbal over Earl Grey! Admittedly I seem to have quite expensive tastes (Pukka only thank you) but I have discovered some that not only smell lovely but do not taste of cats wee.

Reading: Onto book four of the Game of Thrones series and loving every moment. Although I now have the dilemma – do I continue apace and then know what happens in the TV programme before it plays out or do I continue to know what will happen in the book before I read it???

Wanting: Inspiration for my blog and more time to do things that aren’t work or housework related.

Looking: At all the seeds that we have planted starting to come up. And all the weeds. And the dead dahlias that I forgot to cover before we had a frost, oops.

Playing: The new Paloma Faith cd and Emiliana Torrini.

Wasting: Too many of my evenings in front of mindless TV (not including GoT in this) and too much of my nighttimes worrying about pointless shit and not sleeping

Sewing: After my Clothkits skirt I have sadly not made anything else yet but I do have fabric to sew a new yoga mat bag. I bought new mats for my Saturday class and my old bag is not big enough. The class is still my oasis of calm on a Saturday morning and I have even booked a weekend yoga retreat in June. Will def have finished the bag before then!

Wishing: That just sometimes I could know exactly what the best decision to make would be.

Enjoying: That the weather is slowly getting better and that we are blessed with garden and allotment and space to grow things. I love that the garden gives me the chance to ground myself after a busy day at work, even if it’s 10 minutes of mindless mindful weeding.

Waiting: For someone else to offer to cook tonight

Liking: All the new learning I have been doing (see loving).

Wondering: If we will make full use of our new English Heritage memberships this year. DH has already used his card whilst at a bike rally (visiting a castle without me!!)

Wallingford Castle - I found this one!

Loving: My daily Reiki practice. Over the Easter weekend I did my First Degree Reiki training and absolutely loved it. I am now currently undertaking my 21 days of self practice before I meet with my tutor again. I am reading around the subject and practising every day. Even on houseplants. This can only be good for them as usually I am hopeless with houseplants. I am studying the Reiki Principles too and seeing how they relate to my own life. It’s not a religion but I am embracing big changes!

Hoping: My Amazon parcel arrives soon. Can’t believe they deliver on a Bank Hol but the email assured me it was on its way!
Marvelling: At how many clothes I have managed to part with. Big declutter happening here. It’s hard but I need to face the fact I am very nearly a hoarder (not TV scale hoarding yet!) but I definitely have too many things for my tiny home and the truth is I don’t need all of them. Think this might have been spurred on by my magazine declaration – which you will be pleased to hear is still going mostly well. Mostly.

Needing: A cup of herbal tea about now.

Smelling: Cut grass. We have to pay a child to do it. Hang on, I did it two weeks ago and I didn’t get paid!!??

Wearing: An ‘interesting’ top from the charity shop. It has weird seams so you’re not quite sure which is inside out and outside in. And it’s a weird shape but it’s very comfy and I love the blue colour. Also, since the purge I have less to choose from. It also hides any post-Easter chocolate bulges!

Following: Sadly nothing. I haven’t been near the computer for a while but I am determined to catch up with some favourite blogs today.

Noticing: That although I have still managed the gym every week, I have not managed more than once every week and it is showing. A lot

Knowing: That I need to give myself a gentle and loving kick up the arse to make sure I am motivated to do the things I love instead of being boring and lazy.

Thinking: Too much at night. My yoga teacher showed us some good insomnia moves but I’d have to go all the way downstairs to have room to practice as apparently it disturbs DH if I try to do a shoulder stand in bed.
My photography needs motivating too. However, now the nice weather is here I can dig out my analogue cameras again and spend 3 weeks remembering how to use them! Sunny 16 rule anybody?

Feeling: Sad that we lost 2 chickens to Mr Fox and DD lost her lovely rabbit too (not to Mr Fox). Capie the cat is also feeling sad as he lost a couple of things that were making him fighty and bitey. Now he is mostly sleepy and hungry and less of a boy!

Bookmarking: Gardening sites and Pinterest to make inspiring boards.

Opening: Up to the certainty that my grey hairs are getting more noticeable all the time and I DON’T CARE! Wearing the grey with pride...

Giggling: At the question someone allegedly asked Derek Acorah on a Q&A session – Are duvets actually just fat ghosts? (I know, but it made me laugh!)

There,  I have done it – I have blogged – maybe now the block has been blasted away for a while... Thank you for your time, see you again soon x

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”

Frances Hodgson Burnett - The Secret Garden