Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Monday, August 29, 2011

28 August: A Day in the Life

I captured all the happenings of today to give you a day in the life.
It started with a walk along the canal. I used to run the 5k stretch from Ponder's End lock to a landmark I called the green bridge, but my running days have long since ended. So I walked instead and took a few photos:
Saw quite a few runners, cyclists and just a couple of narrowboats. Plus lots of wild life: swans, coots, horses.

I got home around 10.30 and realised I was out of cranberry sauce - essential for the Sunday roast. So I popped round to Budgen's, the supermarket round the corner.

After Budgen's it was time to prepare the dinner - roast chicken - and to tidy up the dining room.

While dinner was cooking I applied six watering cans of weedkiller to the lane, John having filled eight bags with weeds yesterday.
Dinner was delicious - chicken with roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots and artichokes, followed an hour later by sticky toffee pudding and custard. Just the three of us, J + daughter Rachel.
3.30pm and after dealing with the dishes and the kitchen, sat down to read the paper. John's brother Eamon came round for an hour.
Did some idle surfing on the computer for a while.
This is where it goes pear-shaped because I didn't take any more photos! However, I can reveal that after tea (buffalo mozarella/proscuitto and salad for J; quiche for me) we watched a film called "The Three Days After" with Mr Russell Crowe, which, after a slow start, became very gripping.
And to bed at 9pm to read for an hour.
How about recording one of your typical days?


Monday, August 22, 2011

The golden days of coach travel

Another fascinating BBC 4 documentary on the 1950s hey-day of coach travel was a real eye opener. Imagine Victoria coach station in London overcrowded with thousands of excitable people, all in their best clothes and hats and hundreds of coaches to-ing and fro-ing.

On the coaches, it was quite normal to have a sing song. Sometimes you would travel all day but it didn't dampen people's enthusiasm.

They loved coach travel.

Factories in the industrial towns would often close for a fortnight in the summer, and the streets would be empty. Everyone would have gone off on a coach holiday. They loved it because they could save up during the year for their ticket, get collected virtually from the doorstep and travel with their friends and family.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Around the garden

The back garden is a garden of two halves. On the left, a border of earth with nothing planted; on the right, various containers and a couple of small trees. We had the border cleared a few weeks ago and I'm going to improve the soil before planting anything. There were some trees including leylandii which leeched all the goodness from the soil and left it very dry. I'm mulling over what to plant there. I was thinking a small fruit tree (maybe a medlar) and English cottage flowers, but now I am wondering about another rose bed including some climbers on the fence.

J thinks we have far too many roses as it is. Here's a shot of the rose bed at the front.

I tried growing dahlias for the first time this year. My dad was an expert. I kept to the Bishop varieties - I particularly like the red Bishop of Llandaf - but only half of them grew, and just one was red.

I had more luck with a packet of nasturtium seeds. I threw these down and the flowers have climbed all over the hedge.

The salvia Hot Lips was a particular joy this year, as was the pink phlox and the penstemons. Very prolific flowerers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Children's play

There was a fascinating programme on BBC4 last night about children's play from the 1900s to the 1950s. Part 2 is tonight and will cover the 1950s and beyond. I think they're going to say that after the 50s, everyone became more affluent and children more or less stopped playing in the streets and had more toys to play with.

It's certainly true today, but it wasn't the case when I was growing up (which was well after the 50s, before you ask!).

I grew up in the comfortable suburbs of Plymouth, out in the countryside (now replaced by houses). There were fields to roam, streams with tadpoles, a children's plaground that was hideously unsafe by today's standards, and hedges where we picked primroses and blackberries.

We stayed out all day and played games: skipping, fighting "the enemy end" (the children at the end of the road), building a den, and racing go-karts which our dads had made.In the school playground we played "British Bulldog," which the teachers would stop because they said it was dangerous. We played conkers, myself a bit half heartedly because I didn't have the patience to harden the conker in the oven or douse it with vinegar.

As I got a bit older I became obsessed with writing and would borrow the neighbour's typewriter and create my own magazine, "Smash & Grab." There were plenty of other indoor games; creating plays, marrying off the Sindys to the action men, and throwing the gonk down the landing. That was a game made up with my elder brother and we used to play it for hours. Games that came out at Christmas or wet caravan holidays: Frustration, Buckaroo!, Ker-Plunk, Movie Maker, Cluedo and Monopoly.

There were toy trends that would sweep the neighbourhood. Chopper bikes. Deely boppers. Space hoppers (top). And the weird and short lived trend of running and holding a length of coloured tubing in your hand (above) so that it made a strange noise. I sometimes think I imagined those, because no-one else remembers.

What games did you play as a kid?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nicholas Cage interrupted by hot air balloon

There I was, on the sofa watching Nicholas Cage in Season of the Witch, when a hot air balloon gently crossed my vision.

"Quick! Get the camera," I shrieked, but J was immovable saying I had plenty of time, the balloon would be moving very slowly.

Well it was hurtling as fast as a balloon could go, but I managed to get a few shots. I wonder if it had taken part in the Bristol event? More on that and an undignified exit for one balloon in Maggie May's blog.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Blogger turns into chipmunk

J will probably kill me for posting such a terrible picture, but there you go. Here I am, a day after the op to remove my hidden wisdom tooth. My cheek has swollen and I look like a chipmunk. Tired too because I was wide awake at 3am.

Anyway, the good news is that the pain didn't last long - I haven't had to take any painkillers since breakfast time - and I am chomping on both sides of my mouth. Hoorah.

I asked for the tooth and was going to photograph it for you but it is in four fragments and looks a bit revolting so I didn't. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

We will bounce back

It's a few hours after riots hit the UK's troublespots and some of its more affluent neighbourhoods (Ealing, Clapham). Twitter is astir again but this time with defiant people using social media to organise #riotcleanup. There is even a new website, riotcleanup.com

Watching the violence spread from London to places like Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol was terrifying. There were amazing acts of bravery - Asian youths banding together to repel the vandals in East London - and heart breaking stories of people losing their businesses and homes. I wept to hear about the Reeves business in Croydon with @marcreeves tweeting that it had been established by his great great grandfather in 1867.

Today the only Govt minister who seems to be around, Theresa May, was bleating on about "we need to" do this and that, and we "have to sit down with the police."  Fortunately the massed ranks of the Hurlingham club, Boris n Dave, are flying home from holidays today to try to sort it all out, so I'm looking forward to seeing Boris cycle down to Croydon or Dave catching the omnibus over to Hackney to have a bit of a chat with the youngsters.

Among the anguished tweets last night I saw this from Hannah Nicklin who says she understands what is driving the rioters.

Today there will be endless debate about the role of social media and BlackBerry messenging in all this, but remember there have been spates of violence like this throughout history and all they could do then was light beacons.

It's too late to start talking about "we need to get parents to keep their children in" or blaming it all on single parents and not enough fathers.  Governments have to address the matter of what to do with virtually illiterate young people for whom there are no jobs. Cutting their benefits, as the current government is trying to do, isn't an answer when nobody is creating work. I used to believe that education was the answer: that anyone, from any background, could work their way up with hard work. But now, looking at the number of graduates unable to find a job, it doesn't ring true.

All I do know is that London and our other cities will bounce back. We outnumber the anarchists and we're proud of our green and pleasant land. It's just a terrible pity that we've shown the world a glimpse of London through a broken window when most of us were bursting with pride about what we've achieved the for the Olympics.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Irrationally excited about the dentist

I think I've mentioned before that I've always enjoyed a visit to the dentist. I prefer it far more than going to the hairdresser. All that personal attention, and no need to make conversation!

Well this time next week I will probably be looking like a chipmunk but at least it will be gone. A wretched lower wisdom tooth which has been trying to force its way to the surface for nearly a year.

The funny thing was, I thought I'd had my wisdom teeth out years ago, in the dentist's chair. Like a trooper I came home on the bus on my own and was eating within an hour. I always disparaged those who went to hospital for such a small procedure.

Well, as Mr Ali told me this week, we have upper and lower wisdom teeth. The uppers are the ones removed in the dentist's chair. The lowers, when they have to come out, are generally removed in hospital. In my case, I have a cyst as well and it's all very close to a nerve, so I will be under a general anaesthetic.

I expect I'll be the only patient they've had who's so excited about an op. I'll be asking if I can have the offending molar, so if you're lucky I may treat you to a pic next week!

My mum is coming to stay next weekend and I asked her what the going rate is for the tooth fairy these days, but she muttered something about me being too old for all of that. Next thing she'll be telling me is that Father Christmas doesn't exist.
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