Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Slade - 06.Merry Xmas Everybody

This is my all time favourite Christmas song, first heard at a school disco my sister took me to many, many moons ago! It was a close call between this and Fairytale of New York which I also realy like, but this just pipped it. I would have liked it to be the other way round, you know a partial celt bloodline and all, but I guess I am just a rock chick at heart! Merry Christmas Everyone!

Winchester Cathedral

I went to the City of Winchester, former capital of England, for work today and made a trip to the Cathedral during lunch. It is an awesome city and it was my first visit there. Needless to say I took lots of photos. Here's the first of them.

This is the central area for the congregation. There was a carol service there at 6.30pm and I bet they raised the roof.

The choir pews were so ornate. I sang in church choirs when I was a kid, and loved it, singing with other people is a great experience, especially with the harmonies of a full choir, from baritone to soprano. The robes weren't so great but they kept you warm!

As a foot note I was really impressed with the service I received at Winchester City Council, the purpose of my visit. They were extremely helpful.

What the Header is Going On?

I seem to be having trouble with my blog header. I am not sure what everyone else is seeing but since my first TT post (no associated blame) the header has been shifting about and I can't fix it! Anyone else come across that?

Speaking of headers check out this header over at Damozel's blog, it's mesmerising!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2nd Thursday Thirteen

Greetings. It's been a frosty winter wonderland here today hence my inspiration. This weeks TT is 13 things I like about winter!

1. It’s the season that heralds snow; the most fun of the winter weather, good for sledging, snow ball fights, making snow men and animals, and playing snow angels.

2. It’s the season of cold air of the purist clarity that fills my lungs and by its crisp neutrality permits springs first scent to be detected.

3. The season where weather creates a world cleansed and virginal in its iced fa├žade.

4. The skin on my face tingles beneath winter’s crisp caress, making my cheeks glow.

5. Wrapping up to venture out into the cold in gloves, scarves, hats, boots and a winter coat, snug in wool.

6. I like the frost framing winter fruits; complimented by the crystal background.

7. Tree branches are revealed in their skeletal glory, naked of their leaves.

8. There’s a glimpse of the birds returned from their summer hiding, e.g. blackbird and thrush, frantic in their long preparation for spring, enduring the winter spell.

9. The weather wild; natures signal to stock up and batten down.

10. Buds on trees are plump yet dormant teasing of the foliage and blossom to come.

11. Seeing my breath escape my lips in furls of thick white cloud.

12. The beautiful glow of the landscape under a winter sun.

13. The countdown to the shortest day which once passed allows the count up to spring and long days of sunshine.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Winters Tail

This poem was co-written with Sunpat for a Christmas challenge made by his parents a few years ago.

It is traditional to have a new game each year and they have varied from: draw a picture that denotes a Christmas carol, make a hat for the day that symbolises your profession, murder in the dark......which pretty much gets played every year, and write your own Christmas poem. There are generally lots of kids there, and plenty of adults who like being kids for the day!

Sunpat and I wrote this one together, in the car on the way down actually, and I am proud of it. We wrote it from the point of view of our dogs, who were an integral part of every family get together, and we thought it should be posted at this festive time of year, in remembrance and tribute. I hope you enjoy it.

'Come Fill Our Bowls'

Greetings from old County Durham
we are so very glad to be here,
seeing all of your friendly faces
smiling and so full of cheer.

It's been along time since we've seen you
but the smells are familiar to us.
If you're eating we'll mosey on over,
you can pat us and give us a fuss.

We've noticed the oven smells tasty
and spotted a chocolate or two,
however our bowls are still empty
some turkey and gravy will do.

So who's for a walk in the woodland
and then back for more food and a drink?
Here's to a canine Christmas,
best wishes, Mojo and Pink.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bird Update

I have not done a bird update for some time however, I am happy to say our garden remains a hive of activity with the usual suspects. The Thrush and Blackbirds have returned as tends to happen at this time of year, one of the Goldfinches has returned and with him the Bullfinch, and the Robin has well and truly stamped his species mark on our house! No other Robins allowed.

This weekend has seen an increase in activity as the birds prepare to mate off. Mr. Blackbird is chasing Mrs. Blackbird from fence to tree and she's having none of it and the Sparrows appear to be practising for next years Red Bull Air Race. The Starlings, as usual, bathe constantly and squabble.

I am ever grateful for their presence.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Porcupine Tree - Blackest Eyes

This weeks Porcupine Tree offering. I have had this one on my head jukebox a lot this week.

Bing Crosby

Got a bit of a Bing thing going on.

High Society

One of my favourite classic musical screen moments. If you have 3 minutes 41 seconds to spare then please watch. It's good stuff!



I just found this fabulous blog care of Lone Chatelaine, called Scotland. It is a collection of images from the country. I had to share it as Scotland is where I would always be if given the choice. There is no part of the country that is not beautiful. I mean even those 'burgers to be' look good this morning and I am a vegetarian! Anyway have a look, the pictures are truly awesome.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Secret Santa is Revealed!

Last night was our works Christmas do, well the team do, we still have an office lunch next week. I bought candles for my boss, which went down really well I am happy to say, and I got this! I am still not entirely sure what it's all about but it's funny, in a really silly 'I cannot explain this at all' way!

The other surprise of the evening was getting these! Our boss gave a flower arrangement to our administrative staff for all of her hard work and great organisational skills through the year, she is a very unique lady and brings us together as a team; and then announced that there was a second group gift to the member of staff who has done the most miles this year....which is me! It is pants I have to drive a lot for my job as I work for an environmental consultancy but it's just how it is, I look after a lot of trees and they are all miles away. I thought it was very nice and very funny of them! I have exceeded the maximum amount for the top mileage rate for this year and therefore move down to a lower rate until April.

They are racing grandpas in mobility cars. You pull them back and release and they fly across the floor! Getting them to collide is tricky but we managed it!

The green tubes under their noses are connected to Nitrous Oxide tanks on their backs! Again, a little odd, but very entertaining!And they really do shift! Anyway if you still have your works do or Christmas party to come I hope it goes really well!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

1st Thursday Thirteen! (DF001)

I have decided, after much deliberation, to join the Thursday Thirteeners! I am a little nervous as I don’t like committing to things unless I can complete them. I had a regular post called the weekly six which involved a weekly posting about 6 items of my choice that I wished to share or rant about and I have struggled to maintain that. To do it properly with all links and pictures takes a day and like most bloggers, I regretfully do not have a day every week to spare for this pursuit.

I am hoping that the TT posts will enable me to post about items of importance to me while maintaining the original concept.

So here goes! For my first Thursday Thirteen I would like to share my love of camping and what it means to me!(Was that the sound of several bloggers hitting next blog?)

I love being outside and would camp all year round if given the chance. With suitable under bed mats and a fire to sit round in the evening the UK is a perfect place to camp no mater what the season; in fact, if I could I would live outside, with a hut or shelter for rest and to escape the wilder weather. I tend to camp in the most extreme environments this country has to offer. Here are 13 things I love about camping:

1. Fresh Air – I go camping for two consecutive weeks every year and during that time seldom set foot inside a building. I feel great benefit from constant fresh air and the elements and after a few days become totally acclimatised to the weather. There is always air movement around you rather than the still and sterile atmosphere of the built environment and associated heating systems, to which I become accustomed to for most of the year.

2. Observing Nature – The great outdoors provides a constant source of activity to be observed. Camping allows you to access the countryside in a unique way and provides constant entertainment and sensory stimulus.

3. Restful Sleep – I sleep better than at any other time when I am camping, probably related to the fresh air, but even if disturbed through the night I find comfort in the noises I hear, be they the wind, the adjacent stream, or cows and sheep eating grass outside!

4. Body Clock – When I am camping my internal body clock resets itself and I tend to go to sleep earlier in the evenings (lack of good light being a contributory factor) and wake earlier in the mornings. I love mornings and it’s great to be up and about at what I think is the most beautiful part of the day.

5. Appetite – Another factor of camping that I partially attribute to the fresh air is my ravenous appetite. I think that the increased activity of hill walking and cycling also helps but when I am away I can eat three cooked meals a day and thoroughly enjoy every one of them.

6. No TV – I am actually quite a big fan of the TV and have over the years clocked up many hours watching films and science fiction shows but I never miss the TV when I am camping and I enjoy it being absent from my life. I have considered getting rid of my TV; my partner spent some years without one happily and only got one again as his dog started spending most of the time in his house mates room watching one man and his dog and animal hospital! (I kid you not!) Anyway, we no longer have dogs and have discussed getting rid of our TV however the prospect of no football, and no viewing my Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs was enough to make us hesitate! (I know it’s a kids show but I like it!)

7. Homing Skills – I find that camping brings out certain skills that much of the western world no longer utilises as a necessity and I enjoy using and perfecting them. Whether it’s developing my sense of direction and map reading, picking a good camping spot taking into consideration all available resources or producing a meal to satisfy both a herbivore and omnivore with camping catering equipment! (It’s the cooked breakfast that’s the trickiest!)

8. Simplicity – I enjoy the simplicity of camping trips. The day starts and your only considerations are to feed and clothe yourself appropriately, and then to achieve your chosen activity for the day while being prepared for anything nature may throw at you.

9. Climbing Mountains – There is a wonderful sense of achievement and calm that comes from completing a hill or mountain walk. It is a paced journey requiring mental and physical discipline and a respect of your environment and the forces of nature. (Ok not necessarily a component of camping trips but definitely a component of my camping trips!)

10. Erecting the Tent – The tents available now are very simple to put up requiring little skill or time however it is still an integral part of the camping experience from the selection of the spot to achieving a balanced shelter capable of withstanding strong winds and rain, without blowing away or flooding, in the middle of the night…..which is always when the worst weather occurs!

11. Time – I always feel like I have loads of time when I am camping. I think our lives become cluttered by the clutter we accumulate in our houses. The more things we buy to do, the more there is to be done but the time available to us does not increase. When I go camping personal effects are kept to a minimum to allow easy transportation and minimise distraction. I always have a book, a pen and paper and occasionally my guitar. My mind is very still and restful.

12. Seclusion – I have found other campers to be predominantly friendly but similarly to me protective of their time in the great outdoors and therefore not overly sociable. This suits me well.

13. Peace – I think the last item encompasses all of the other 12 in one way or another. Camping gives me peace.

Ok, well there it is! I would enjoy hearing your thoughts or experiences on camping, I know it is not for everyone but for me it’s the best activity and if given the choice I would pack up my tent today and go and find a nice spot. For now I am off to find some more 13'ers! Bye for now!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I received this beautiful Christmas card from my Mum & Dad today. This photograph really does not do it justice but it's the best shot I could get of it. The very best view is reserved for us from the comfort of our couch!

Many of our family members make their own cards for Christmas and it is so lovely to receive them.

(Until we speak and I can tell you in person, thank you!)

While attempting to photograph the card in its best light I had a play around with my camera and made this!

I know it's a bit glarey but I like it!

Our Christmas decorations went up at work today which instantly inspired Christmas songs to commence continuous play in my head. The one I usually get stuck on is Let it Snow - Dean Martin but I did have a brief spell of David Essex - Only a Winters Tale!!

The song that was playing on my head jukebox when I woke up this morning was Dreamer - Supertramp, which has since returned.

A final note; my thanks to the lady with the two boxer dogs that I bumped into this morning who told me I would get a better picture of the sunrise if I drove up to the bridge. I did!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Blind in the Glare

I’m caught in the headlights again
The 5am roadsters make this their domain
I turn off the byway, the world goes insane
I’m caught in the headlights again

I’m blind in the glare of their haste
Aggressive, invading my allotted space
They throw down the gauntlet, endorsing the chase
I’m blind in the glare of their haste

I’m tempted to retaliate
To punish their rude and superior state
To inform of peril, atonement create
I’m tempted to retaliate

I’m caught in the headlights again
Caught in the slipstream; where madmen reign
I turn off the highway, leave them to inflame
I’m out of the headlights again


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Spirit

Lady Banana has very kindly offered this badge to everyone who visits her blog as a way of saying Merry Christmas. For anyone stopping by here that hasn't visited you should! To visit her blog follow this link or the link in my blogroll. My thanks and salutations to Lady Banana, and to you all.

Happy Christening Zora!

My very good friend from Greece just called to let me know that my second Godchild, Zora, was Christened today. Apparently the weather looked threatening for a while but a bright spell persevered and all went well.

As Zora is of Greek nationality her official Godparents have to be Greek Orthodox. My friend is British and married to a Greek chap, and so has official Godparents in Greece, and unofficial Godparents for both of her daughters. It allows her to generously involve her friends in her family and also gives her daughters an additional guardian, who represent the other nationalities within their family.

I am looking forward to watching Zora grow. As we live in different countries it will not be easy to see her and her sister as much as I would like but I hope that we are able to develop a good relationship and that she truly feels she can call on me for whatever she needs, whenever she needs it.

Secret Santa

Every Christmas at work we do Secret Santa within our team; that's the landscapers and arborists, there are 12 of us altogether.

We set a financial limit of £5.00 this year. It was £10.00 last year but I think there must have been some complaints, which is a shame as it's much easier to buy a £10.00 gift than a £5.00 gift!

Last year when it came to drawing the name out of the hat I got one of my fellow arborists who has a lovely collection of old and interesting zippo lighters. I went to a Christmas fare with my sister about this time last year and found a giant brass zippo for exactly £10.00 which was very well received.

This year I got my boss! Well to be accurate she's not my boss but she is our technical director. I don't know her very well and have been struggling for an idea. One of the twists of our Secret Santa is that during our works Christmas do (happening this Thursday night) we pass out the gifts, one at a time, and then you have to guess who gave you it! So if you do get something that the recipient does not like they will know who bought it for them by the end of the evening!

Anyway, we have just been for a walk around the village and called into our village gift shop, which is open on Sundays throughout December, and I saw these. I mean you really can't go wrong with candles can you?!?!?! Ok I know some people do not like things that you burn and are smelly but it's Christmas, what nicer trinket gift than a couple of festive candles that give off subtle aromas!

Well I will let you know if they were well received after Thursday! Last year (my first Christmas at this company) I was given a lava lamp which I was really chuft with. It's one of those things I have always liked but would probably not have bought for myself. I don't turn it on that often, but when I do it is beautiful and lights up the corner of the living room with a warm glow.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Twisted Songs - Walking Round in Women's Underwear

This is one of my favourite Christmas tracks! I like the humour! It always makes me think of the Wake up to Wogan crew. I think it's the type of thing they would sing. I have a lovely vision of Deadly and Boggy Marsh with the Togmeister in shirts and suit jackets and suspenders and stockings!

Many years ago my sister took me to the stage show of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the evening was filled with men dressed in womens underwear.....I think they all loved it!

Friday, December 07, 2007

On the Field of the Cloth of Gold

The Last of Knights.
Vsevolod Ulianoff (1924)

I have just been looking into Arundel Castle, as I drove through there twice this week and noticed the amazing castle for the first time.

Anyway, on my Blackle journey I came across this brilliant website called Castle Xplorer. It has information about all of the castles in the UK and you can search any region to find a castle near you. It is also a School Zone 5 Star Site.

In addition to loads of beautiful photos there is lots of history and general information. I went looking for a suitable picture to accompany this post and found The Last of Knights, which I enjoy looking at and thought should be shared.

P.S. Can you P.S. a blog post? Anyway, I should mention that this posts title, The Field of the Cloth of Gold, is a Nick Harper song from his new album. It is not available on You Tube but I would strongly advocate buying it and all of his albums! His website, Harperspace, is in my links list.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


These Yew trees are between 250 and 300 years old, as far as we can guess; Yews being difficult to age. There were loads of them on site but this group lent itself to a good group photo.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Louis Prima - I Wan'na Be Like You

Let us all give thanks for You Tube! Enjoy.

Queens Of The Stone Age - In My Head

One final clip I wanted to share. This morning we are relaxing and listening to all of our favourite stuff, this one is always on the list to play and next on the list of bands to go and see!

Hellsing-Porcupine Tree-The Sound of Muzak

Nick Harper - Love Junky


Live Music Plug

I have been to see a couple of bands recently, one for the first time and one for the.......I've lost count time! Anyway, the latter I am always pleased to shout about. Nick Harper is an awesome musician and an inspiration to me and many other people who make seeing him play a regular feature in their lives. In addition he has an awesome musician father, Roy, who also features heavily in my gigging calendar however, Nick is my generation and sometimes it feels like we have been going through parts of life together. It's the first time I have had that kind of connection with an artist who I like so much. When we turned up to see him the other night and I looked up to the stage it was like looking at the face of an old friend.

The other band are something of a new musical interest for me. Someone I worked with gave me a couple of their cd's which have been growing on me over the past year or so. They are a British rock band called Porcupine Tree and I went to see them a couple of weeks back. It was an interesting turn out with people of all ages there singing along, I think they have struck a chord with many rock fans who have been waiting for a band like this to surface, and none of us were disappointed at the gig.

When I listen to the likes of these artists it really makes me notice how much effort they put into their music. There are so many bands out there that have one good lyric or riff which they make the focus of their song with no more effort put in. Each and every song composed by Nick Harper and Porcupine Tree is given the utmost consideration from conception to final production. I think Kate Bush recently commented that people do not put the time in to write a really good song anymore, and her album Aeriel was worth the wait, although I hope it does not always take her a decade to bring out a new album! (I think there was some family time mixed in there too!)

Anyway I am off to try and find Nick Harper and Porcupine Tree clips to post. If you are a rock fan I strongly recommend you check out Porcupine Tree. If you like music then Nick Harper is your man! (You can listen to some of Nicks stuff here at his My Space page, including Blue Sky Thinking, the single from his new album Miracles for Beginners.)



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