Sunday 26 August 2012

Mag 132 Big Room

Thanks go to Tess Kincaid who organises and hosts this meme. To read more Magpies please click here.
Big Room , 1948, byAndrew Wyeth

Big Room

I had heard so much about Big Room from my friends but had never visited it, believing, I suppose, that I should only enter it by invitation. After many years of no invitation being issued I gathered my courage and decided to go into it anyway. ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ I asked myself and my friends encouraged me. ‘It’s amazing,’ they said. ‘You won’t be able to believe your eyes.’

I said, ‘Why don’t you come with me?’ but they all demurred, declaring there were other, more pressing claims on their time. ‘Besides,’ they said, ‘We’ve already been there. It wouldn’t be so impressive a second time.’

I thought that was a specious argument but said no more. Having decided I would go I wanted to proceed immediately on my adventure, for that is what it felt like.

It was a cold day when I slipped into the room, but light reflected off the snow sufficient to allow me to see clearly. I was overwhelmed by the vastness of the room. I had never seen such immensity. Everything was larger than life. As I moved forward an enormous head in the window startled me but I soon realised it was no threat to me though I wondered what purpose it served. I tiptoed across the polished floorboards towards the fireplace. There was no fire burning and that surprised me on such a chilly morning. I knew then that the occupant of the room was absent and I relaxed, knowing I would not be disturbed.  Instead of a bright blaze two dogs sat in the grate – I had heard of fire dogs but had always supposed them to be devices to hold logs. These dogs were facsimiles of real creatures, quite attractive in their way, but of no practical use and certainly no danger to me, for all their great size.  I peered up – there were likenesses of people, and two candlesticks, on a shelf above the fireplace. A large clock ticked heavily, its pendulum swinging mesmerically. I gazed at it, all thoughts fleeing my mind. Presently, chimes rang forth, causing me to gasp and stumble and bringing me back to my senses.

There was little else in the room but a circular table on a tall stem. On it I could just make out two rosy shapes. They smelt like apples and as my stomach rumbled I recognised how hungry I was. I should have planned my journey and brought provisions with me.  I was sure the owner wouldn’t begrudge me a little nourishment. He, or she, would have taken the food with them, surely, if they had needed it. The problem was that I couldn’t reach the fruits and even if I had been able to I would never have been capable of lifting them. 

So, exhausted, I returned home to share my experiences with my friends. They brought me refreshments and sympathised with me over the apples. ’We felt the same,’ they said. ‘That’s the trouble with only being two inches tall; it’s very limiting.’ 

Saturday 25 August 2012


Ecce Homo (Behold the Man)

The illustration shows ‘Ecce Homo’ by Elίas Garcίa Martίnez in two forms. The image at the left shows the work as created by the artist over 100 years ago. The right-hand image shows it after an amateur artist, Cecilia Giménez, 80 years old, attempted to restore it.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The fresco was not considered artistically important, but it is considerably less highly regarded now. A BBC Europe correspondent said the painting had become 'a sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic.’

Let this be a warning to all – do not attempt restoration unless you really know what you’re doing;-)

You can read more about it here and see an interview with the lady who unwittingly destroyed a work of art:- (the video link may not work for all)


Raging Grannies

I came across the Renegade Raging Grannies through Twitter – they’re terrific! Sweet little old ladies they are not but they get their point across. This is a wonderful response to Todd Akin’s idiotic ‘legitimate rape’ opinions.

I gather there are many ‘Raging Grannies’ groups across the USA – more power to them, I sayJ

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Some wedding photos . . .

It's hard to realise we celebrated Bethan and Robert's wedding just over four weeks ago!
Barry and Bethan 
Image copyright Kerry Morgan
Bethan and Robert, man and wife
Image copyright Kerry Morgan
View DSC04964.JPG in slide show
Bethan and Robert
The bridesmaids
Image copyright Kerry Morgan
View DSC04949.JPG in slide show
Bethan and Eve
View DSC04975-1.jpg in slide show
Janice and Bethan
View DSC04953.JPG in slide show
Eve, Kiri, Susannah and Marnie
The First Dance . . . 
Image copyright Kerry Morgan

Monday 20 August 2012

Under Windsor Bridge

Tess Kincaid hosts this meme. Thank you, Tess J Each week she posts a photograph from her archive to act as a visual prompt and followers respond as they see fit. Some versify, some don’t. Click here to see entries and perhaps join in.

Under Windsor Bridge, 1912, by Adolphe Valette

He trudged along the river bank, hands thrust deep into the pockets of his heavy overcoat. Nearing the bridge, he stopped, pulling his hat down over his head and tightening his scarf against the invasive damp. Horses’ hooves clattered along the road overhead and the rumble of carriage wheels drummed and hummed in the dank air.

A yellow grey fog drifted across the greasy water, wreathing the passing barges and diffusing the light from their lanterns. The dreariness of the scene suited his mood and he stared into the murky depths of the river, remembering.

There was only one thing that would release him from his melancholy. Cleansing the city of its filth made him euphoric. Those do-gooders who claimed that all human life was to be valued were wrong. He saw the expression in the eyes of the girls as he strangled them and knew they were grateful to be released.

Friday 17 August 2012

Winston’s August 2012 blog

Winston’s August 2012 blog
Winston here . . . p’rrrrr . . . p’rrrrr

Hello there, it’s me, Winston.

Why do people say ‘Hello there’? Why don’t they say ‘Hello here’ or ‘Hello somewhere else’ or ‘Hello then? What is it about ‘there’ that’s so important? I only say it ‘cos I hear the humans say it but I think it’s a bit silly so I’ll start againJ

Hello, it’s me, Winston. Well, I ask you, who else would it be when it says at the top ‘Winston’s August 2012 blog’. Who else would write it but me? Okay, I don’t ackcherly write it – I tell Mrs H what to write and how to write it and she does it for me ‘cos she’s got fingers what fit on the letters and my paws slide off. I do try sometimes but my claws catch under the letters and lift them off. It’s quite helpful of me ‘cos then she gets to see all the dust under the letters and she can clear it up. I think it’s funny seeing the letters flying across the floor but she doesn’t and she says things she shouldn’t and tries to click them back into place and sometimes she can’t and I have to look away so she doesn’t see me grinning, don’tcha know.  I don’t think she likes dust and that’s why she hides it away under the keys and on top of books and in the corners of the room. It’s hard not to see it when the wind blows, though, ‘cos it all rushes across the floor to hide somewhere else. She does get the masheen out sometimes to suck up all the dust but Gus gets frightened by it. He thinks it’s going to suck him up its spout, silly boy.

It’s been busy here – Tia and Foxy and Buster come to stay for ever but they’ve gone home with their own people now. I had to find a new quiet place ‘cos Buster and Bertie got too excited when they wanted to play with me and I got a bit squashed. Mrs H said they was leading me a dog’s life – that can’t be right, can it? I’m a cat! 
Anyway, I found a place in a cupboard, on top of a box next to the dog biscuits.
Bertie wanted to get in with me but there wasn’t no room for him so he couldn’t. I did laugh. 
Jenna tried . . .
 . . . and so did Frodo and Buster but they was much too big, as well.

 I wouldn’t want to live in a cupboard, don’tcha know, so I’m glad I didn’t have to stay there all the time. It was nice being so close to the food, though.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Time for a zizz. Be good!


Tuesday 14 August 2012

Problem solving

Problem solving

Something was at the back of my mind recently, disturbing what little equilibrium I enjoy J and worse still invading my slumber, giving me unpleasant dreams and waking me so thoroughly that I could not go back to sleep. After a few days realisation dawned – it was the characters in my novel. I didn’t like any of them; they seemed to have very few redeeming features and I really didn’t much care what happened to them.

It’s my own fault for writing such unappealing people! Since I abandoned them and turned to another work in progress I have felt more at ease and am sleeping better. I’m working with amiable characters now, or at least characters who are less obnoxious.

All this serves to illustrate is that I have very little in my life to worry about for which I am exceedingly grateful. I shall eventually return to my cast of nasties and give them a make-over, a face lift for the temperament – they’ll be better for it and so shall I! 

Thursday 9 August 2012


Christmas is just around the corner!
Xmas tree.svg
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Only 137 shopping days left until Christmas. I received my first Christmas catalogue today! Though this seems early it is actually 16 days later than the first one to arrive in 2011.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

The Ballet Dancer and the Hammer

The Ballet Dancer and the Hammer

It may sound like the title of a thriller but actually refers to Sophie Hitchon, the 21-year-old Olympic hammer thrower who broke her personal best record in qualifying, setting a new British record.

It’s difficult to reconcile ballet and hammer throwing but both require dedication, strength, balance and timing. Good luck, SophieJ


Winston and the Kindle

I enjoy using my Kindle but there are a few things that irritate me. Since most of my reading is conducted at the end of the day prior to falling asleep I sometimes forget small details and want to check them. With a traditional book it’s easy to flip back a few pages. Usually I’ve got a visual memory of where to find the elusive material – where it’s placed on an even or odd page. With the Kindle I can click back the pages but it’s so slow! If, for some reason, I want to refer to the first pages of the book it can take an inordinately long time to reach that point.

However, the things that really aggravate me are the typographical errors and the editing inaccuracies. I don’t know if this is because of the way the manuscript is transferred to Kindle. Has anyone else noticed this and been annoyed by it?

Speech impediment?

Speech impediment?

Does Mitt Romney have a speech impediment? The words 'foot' and 'mouth' come to mind all too readily once more.

It’s a shame the New Statesman link spells ‘sheikh’ incorrectly! 

Tuesday 7 August 2012

The Shame of Olympic Boxing 2012

I have been watching the excellent coverage of women’s volleyball. This is a fast, exciting sport and is being beautifully and clearly refereed. There are no arguments or appeals – it is entirely fair. What a contrast to boxing!

Barry comes from a boxing family - his father, grandfather and uncle were all good amateur boxers – and his father gave him a pair of boxing gloves when he was nine. His first ‘bout’ was in a ring he fashioned in his back garden. More serious fights followed when he became a full time amateur (shamateur) boxer in the Army and since he retired from the ring he has maintained a key interest in the sport. By default I have also developed an interest in boxing and am always keen to hear the commentary of ex-boxers and the analysis of boxing experts at the ring-side.

The London 2012 Boxing Olympics has gained Barry’s admiration for the high standard of boxers and his utter contempt for the officials (referees, judges, International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA).  The boxing press and boxing notables like Lennox Lewis are universally outraged at the ineptitude (or deliberate bias) of the officials.  There have been numerous instances of referees who are either not aware of the rules of the sport or are ignoring them. The links below provide examples from the large press cover on the issue.

Compared to many other disciplines boxing is not difficult to judge yet many of the fights have been blatantly misjudged. I’m no expert but even I can see when a fighter is holding or delivering an illegal punch. The IOC is meant to oversee the quality of judging and refereeing but is mysteriously silent following dreadful decisions. A number of these travesties have resulted in appeals leading to officials being expelled from the Games. Most worrying of all has been the failure of the IOC and the AIBA to respond to a BBC whistle blower’s broadcast last September about AIBA corruption concerning payments to favour certain boxers.

Boxing is a great sport that has done much, particularly for under-privileged youth. It focuses energy and demands self-discipline.  Boxing and boxers deserve much better than the treatment they have received in the London 2012 Olympics.  The IOC has failed to ensure that the sport is properly regulated and must ensure dramatic changes before the next games. If it cannot do so I regret that it should be excluded from the Olympic stage. A good start would be to demand and secure the resignation of the entire senior level of the AIBA.

Man's best friend . . .

  I thought you might all enjoy this clip . . . a real 'aww' moment - or should that be 'awe'?

Monday 6 August 2012

Early August in the forest

Early August in the forest
Bill junior is lighter in colour than his father
Bill and Beatrice Crow daily demand their biscuits. Bill is still the more confident bird and comes down from the tree immediately he spots that a biscuit has been thrown for him. The two young have been reduced to one, a very noisy and insistent bird that follows Bill to the ground, not to pick up the food but to squawk to be fed. Bill flies off and the youngster follows.
Frodo, Buster, Tia, Foxy, Janice, Gus, Bertie, Jenna
We decided to visit some of the ponds we’ve seen from a distance. Since the fire of May 2011 that destroyed so many trees the Forestry Commission has worked hard to clear and replant, helped by local volunteers. 
Buster, Bertie, Gus
New ponds have been dug and are full at the moment, a magnet for water-loving dogs.
In the distance you can see the Tuley tubes, protective tree sleeves to defend young saplings from foraging herbivores. They also accelerate growth because they act as a miniature greenhouse and channel growth into the main stem and roots. 60000 trees have been planted and are growing strongly.
Gatekeeper or Hedge Brown (Pyronia tithonus)
On our way back from our walk yesterday Barry spotted this butterfly. It is a Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) or Hedge Brown and flies from mid-July to the end of August. It is common and widespread in the southern half of Britain and is gradually increasing its range northwards. This is a female – the male has a dark patch on his forewing that marks an area of scales (androconia) that produce scent to attract females.
It is known as the Gatekeeper because it is often found among flowers and grasses near field gates. Its alternative name indicates that it frequents hedges and the edges of fields.

Saturday 4 August 2012

The Keirin

The Keirin
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Great Britain is doing extremely well in the Velodrome. 

The Keirin is a fascinating discipline. It is led out by a man on a derny – a motorised bike. He gradually increases speed until he reaches 45 kmh/28mph then peels off and the race proper starts.

The man on the derny is sombrely dressed in black and rides the bike in what I can only describe as a ‘country manner’ – legs widespread. He is very serious about his task, a true professional, but I think a string of onions round his neck would complete his Gallic image. The photos below, taken from the television screen, are not good quality.

Friday 3 August 2012

Green Day 7

Fiona at Raindrops and Daisies hosts Green Day. Just post a photo of something green and link back to her blog. Quick and easy . . . 

Winston guards the dog biscuits

Olympic rowing

Olympic rowing

Great Britain is doing well in the rowing. While I appreciate the enthusiasm of the commentators – and indeed, the onlookers – I am more than a little weary of hearing about the second/third/fifth/extra person in the boat that is the crowd!

The first time I heard the crowd described in this way I thought it rather endearing – now it’s just annoying. In every discipline the GB athletes have commented on the support given them by the onlookers and how the cheering lifts and encourages them. All the commentators remark on it but they don’t keep repeating asinine comments about the invisible or additional member of the crew, team or partnership that is formed from the spectators.