Monday, 26 May 2008

The Great Big Update

It's been a busy while - had plenty of walking last week and combined with an unpleasant cold it left me pretty wiped out.
On Thursday last week Rachael and I went out on a walk around Tetford & Somersby, in a walk that would follow the footsteps of Tennyson. We started in Tetford, walking past this rather gorgeous old mill house, which apparently still houses all of the mill equipment at this end of the building.
The local churches are all built from this local stone, which is a little farcical really as the stone is so soft you can carve your name in it, probably with the soft end of a feather. They may have been master builders back in the day but they still used cheap materials!
This is where Tennyson was born, which is surprising to me as it's actually owned by a private family. There's no access to it which seems to be rather a shame. Standing in the drive and peering at it whilst being barked at by an apparently by one of the original Hounds of the Baskervilles just isn't the same.Apparently, people assume this to be Tennyson's house as it's just next door and is decidedly more imposing. I quite fancy a bit of the old turret.
Somersby church - where Tennyson's father is buried. Sadly he is the only member of the family to be buried here, all the others are in a family crypt, but following a feud in the family, he was refused the right to be buried with the rest.
It's pretty in the wolds eh? And not so flat either!
This walk was described as having 'some steep climbs', at one point I thought I would surely just keel over. Either that or have my heart explode. It was bloody steep and I was bloody knackered!

How on earth crops are managing to grow when the ground is as parched as this amazes me. And not only are they growing, they're thriving. This ground looks like months of drought have sucked every ounce of moisture from it. Although, I find it bizarrely pretty.
Tetford church - still standing despite soft stone. So either they knew what they were doing or it costs a small fortune to keep standing. I wonder which?
Running Total
Miles Walked: 5 1/2
Miles Walked This Festival: 16 1/2

On Friday we headed out to Saltfleet to do a Saltmarsh stroll. I was a bit nervous about it as I have this real phobia of the sea and don't ever go on beaches. I'd been promised that the sea was a long, long, long way away - well, can you spot it? No, I thought not. So, very delightfully there was no freaking out. Although...

...perhaps one ought to be a little afraid of getting blown to smithereens instead. Especially as a red flag was flapping its little heart out right next to this sign.
I'm really lazy, this is a fascinating area with an enormous amount of flora and fauna. I'd love to tell you about it, but look, this lovely sign can do it for me. Genius.

Now, wasn't that fascinating?
Let me tell you. Walking on sand, at speed? That's no fun. I thought my calf muscles were hot enough to burn through my skin. I felt the burn.

I'm aware I find unusual things attractive to the eye. This is an old cork buoy and I just think it looks beautiful.
I've no idea what this is, but I want to know!
I managed to get thoroughly scarlet arms by the end of this outing. When we'd set off I'd been cursing myself for forgetting my coat, but then the sun came out, and didn't go back in. We walked in direct sunlight, we sat and had a drink, in direct sunlight. I was toasted. Ooops. We also got to see a few birds, and I spoke to the walk leader who knew the wetlands I thought I'd seen an egret at and confirmed there were egrets there. Hurrah.
On this walk we actually saw another egret, whitethroats, shelducks, reed warblers, skylarks and I think some kind of bunting, but I didn't have my book!

Running Total
Miles Walked: 4
Miles Walked This Festival: 20 1/2

Saturday rolled around, there were no walks planned, I had nothing I was supposed to be doing. Unfortunately I woke up feeling achey, sore and bitten. I decided the best option was to take it easy for a day, I hadn't really rested since I got my cold and I needed a bit of a break.

As an added bonus, this was the day of Eurovision. An unmissable event in my calendar. I settled myself down, I thought of popcorn, investigated the cupboards. Yes! I had the ingredients for a caramel sauce. But. No popping corn. An apple does not and never will, make up for a lack of popping corn. Shame.
So, Eurovision kicked off.
Romania went first. One of the Eurovision staples was obvious in this first song.... cheese. A cheesy couple singing a cheesy ballad. Eugh.
Second and it was us! The UK with really not a half bad song, well performed. I'm obviously not biased, but really, we didn't suck.
Third and Albania took the stage. Terry said it was the first navel outing of the evening and I remember not being able to really listen to the song after being perturbed by the really weird coat she was wearing. I know weird clothes are one of the other staples of Eurovision, but this was kinda cool whilst being totally wrong. It bothered me.
Fourth to the stage were Germany. I got a text from my friend Glen saying they were getting his vote, but not for singing talent. They were indeed four fine looking ladies, but again, what the hell was the deal with the outfits? How long does one need a cloak to be? Because several metres of cloak seems a fraction excessive to me.
Fifth were Armenia. I noted that both these and Germany were singing in English, that always intrigues me as to why they prefer that to their own language. I'll also never understand how they don't injure themselves with some of those dance moves, they had me worried.
Bosnia & Herzegovina were sixth and I sat with my mouth agape. Terry said that it contained the brides of Frankenstein. But that was just the beginning. What was with the weird moustache? Did the dude paint that on? Why was there a washing line? And why, when they turned the washing line round did it read 'LOVE' across the pants? Was she wearing bloomers? Were they out on day release? So many questions. So very typically Eurovision nonsense.
Seventh came Israel and I actually quite liked the song. Not his silver waistcoat, but this is not (thankfully) a fashion contest.
Then Finland were eighth, I firmly believe that the fireworks were there to hide the sight (fright) on stage. Eurovision is now giving us waxed half naked men. Why doesn't this fill me with glee? I just can't believe they're real rockers when they don't have any tattoos, or when they're wearing what appear to be simulated Wonder Woman cuffs. Terry said they could have used a little conditioner and he read my mind.
Ninth brought the turn of Croatia. I couldn't help wondering if the woman on the spinning platform was dizzy. I admit I wanted her to be and to fall off at some point. I am evil, we've covered that before. I also felt like they were going to bring out the tommy guns at some point, well until the old boy was doing some sort of mixing on the gramophone, then I was just watching for straitjackets.
Poland were tenth and apparently Barbie is alive and well and wearing a dress not unlike a mermaid costume.
Iceland came on eleventh and whilst I like a bit of co-ordination. Matching your shoes to your hair might be going a little too far. I do wonder if the light effects were an attempt at hypnotising the audience.
Twelfth brought Turkey to the stage. The lead singer apparently had a Just For Men addiction he couldn't control. I picked up my book in this song, I was afraid if I made eye contact or let him see my neck he'd take me to the dark side.
Portugal were thirteenth and I really felt I should support a fellow red-headed BBW, but I just couldn't. She gave me the willies, she seemed a bit scary, especially in the wind machine.
Latvia came on fourteenth and had more traditional, ridiculous Eurovision fare. I'm not sure I was supposed to laugh that hard at the fancy dress pirates.
Fifteenth was Sweden and I am sure that their entrant has been crossed with a cat. A cat with a huge forehead.
Sixteenth was Denmark. Finally a rocker with a tattoo. Well, a camp rocker, with braces. Not on his teeth either. I do wish the camera angle hadn't been directly up his nose.
Then came Georgia, on seventeenth, initially I wondered how on earth she was able to see in the shades she had on, then I wondered if she was blind and felt a little guilty. Blindness would allow for the truly bizarre costumes. But not for the sheeted costume change. Weird.
Ukraine were eighteenth and she flounced on, then there was a man in a box, no wait, two men, three men, four men. Four men in a box. Just as it should be I guess. I am greatly distracted by clothes tonight as I wonder just how heavy her dress must be with all that bling.
Nineteenth were France. What to say. Why were ALL the backing singers wearing beards? Even the women? It's a pressing question. Was the singer found to be using illegal substances prior to be performing? That's the only explanation I can come up with...
Heading towards the end and Azerbaijan were on twentieth. They had wings. I think he poured blood over her. Was the dude in black a werewolf? I don't understand. Not that I ever understand Eurovision.
Twenty-first was Greece, I'm sure she's a great dancer. In fact when she only danced it wasn't half bad. But the singing AND dancing, it just didn't look good to me.
On twenty-second was Spain and more Eurovision weirdness blasted my eyes. He was wearing a fake quiff wig. Why? I'm also sure that guy used to do the Mr Muscle adverts.
Serbia were twenty-third and it felt a bit Lord Of The Rings to me. I expected Frodo at any moment. Terry liked this one though, but maybe he's a Tolkein fan. I was bored and wished I had managed to make popcorn.
The penultimate performers were Russia, on twenty-fourth, I was wondering if his bare feet were cold and then he went and leapt on the miniature ice rink and they had to be. I was sure that the dizzy ice skater would be lopping off a few toes with his skates afore long.
Finally, twenty-fifth were Norway. Rather scarily, not only did I like her dress, I actually quite liked the song. Had i thought that voting were not an absolute waste of time, she'd have got my vote.

Finally voting began, we worked our way round the 43 countries. I laughed very unfairly, but hysterically at the Swedish chap. Terry suggested he was related to the Swedish Director General. I'm really not sure if he was genuinely idiotic or attempting comedy. Make your own mind up here.
So, voting over, the winner was Russia with 272 points.
The UK got 14. 6 points came from San Marino and 8 from Ireland.
We actually did deserve more than that.
Terry said "Is it even funny any more?" The simple answer is no.
As reported here, it's not a music contest any more, not that it has been for years. But I do wonder how much support the UK should offer in future. When voting seems pointless as the bloc voting guarantees an Eastern Europe win where's the fun in watching? There's no suspense as the votes are cast. It becomes boring. The bloc voting used to cause minor amusement, but as more and more countries join the contest, it is no longer funny.

I do feel that should Terry leave the contest that a lot of supporters will too. He makes it, his commentary is what keeps you hooked. You know it's tongue in cheek, but still you have to play fair, bloc voting feels almost tantamount to cheating.
I sat and read though some statistics from this years final, it was interesting that five countries didn't award the winners - Russia, any point at all. Those five countries were all Western Europe. Two countries gave Russia one point, those were both Western Europe too. Yet five of the six sets of 12 points came from former USSR countries. I find it fascinating.
I also find myself hoping that the BBC withdraw their support of the contest.
For a contest it is not.

Sunday morning rolled around and Rachael and I headed out to Tathwell for another walk. We'd planned an 8 1/2 mile walk but I just wasn't up to it and was really disappointed about that. So we chose this shorter walk instead, I'm pleased as it was really quite cold, the wind was bitter and although it's not bad to walk in as you don't get too hot, I have a feeling that after a while you'd have been sorely tired of the constant wind.

Can you see, just barely, just vaguely the small green mounds on the horizon. No, not the trees, the mounds! Oh well, whether you can or not, them there's burial mounds from long, long ago. There's nine in total although only a couple to be made out in this pic. It was cold and windy damn it.

Despite the cold weather it was a good walk, the leader is a really interesting woman who also led the Tennyson walk. She has an incredible amount of local knowledge and it was interesting to discover that the village we walked around was owned by the same people that owned the land adjacent to where I live. You can't quite imagine having such a vast amount of land.

We're out walking with her again later this week so that should be really interesting again.

Running Total
Miles Walked: 2 1/2
Miles Walked This Festival: 23

Well, I said it was a great big update! I didn't lie!

Song Of The Week XXIV

I remember really loving the first album from Garbage, but then not really following them much after that, but after being pointed towards this song I absolutely fell in love with it. It's really excellent. I can't get it out of my head when I've heard it once, it hums around there for days.

Garbage - Why Do You Love Me:

After this I'm going to work on a great big update. When I can get the photos to properly upload. Damn technology.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Shit Happens...

... To Other People.

This is very refreshing to me.

So, I've been walking, two walks in fact, I have photos to upload, a modicum of drama and hilarity, moaning about my cold and such. But, I am tired, very tired and I am therefore sharing only this until I am refreshed on the morrow.

So, my Mum was relaying to me a story of her friend, who upon waking, reached over to her glass of water she keeps by her bedside.
She folded her fingers around the glass and began to raise it towards her mouth.
But lo! Something appears to be in the water.
She pulls the glass away from her face, allows her eyes to focus.
Of course!
A mouse has climbed into the glass, in the night, had a swim but unable to deal with the tides, has drowned.

Sick bag anyone?

She takes a bottle to bed now.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Miff On Cam

I didn't go out walking yesterday, but I did finally get round to uploading a couple of videos of my altogether too cute cat, Mifford.
Sadly, both are without sound, quite a shame indeed.
I have no doubt that these videos only really entertain me.

I think she killed it. She has the most realistic looking fake mouse. It freaks everyone out when they see it and I freak myself out on a regular basis everytime I find it underfoot.

Look how cute she is - even in the appalling graininess.
I'm not entirely sure why she feels the need to attack the pen, but it gives me cause to chuckle. She insists on always sitting in my boxes of books, she does have a well noted thing for boxes, but this one is also right by my side at the PC so we get to hang out and she gets to be in a box. Great all round fun.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Marton & Hegley

Last night it was the turn of Marton for my latest excursion with the walking festival. Rachael and I were joined by her sister Helen, for her first and only outing with the festival. We drove into the village and looked out for fellow walkers - easily distinguishable by their shoes and rucksacks. We were supposed to be meeting at the cemetery churchyard and as we turned into the designated road we saw a collection of walkers and their cars. We found somewhere to park and joined the huddle. We waited. It was 7pm and no-one seemed to be about to set off. There was no-one that looked like a leader. We all stood around.
We murmured that perhaps we had been forgotten.
Perhaps we were in the wrong place.
It turned out the latter was true.
There was a graveyard at the church and another further along the same road.
Luckily the walk had needed to pass myself and the fellow stragglers, otherwise we'd have been a little lost!

The walk set off at quite a pace. So fast I only managed to get one photograph as we headed onto the riverbank.
It was really quite cold and that made me quite glad of a quickened pace, but I knew I'd feel it in the morning. (Although in actuality, only my left knee is a bit sore).

We strode single file along the riverbank, Rachael said later she felt like she'd been frogmarched!
It did feel a little like there should have been a chorus of "I don't know but I've been told, It's lovely walking in the wolds".

It was supposed to be a two hour walk, taking in the breathtaking scenery. The only thing I saw was the grass around my feet as I watched carefully to make sure I didn't fall down any holes. There just wasn't time to pause or look around you, even when we stopped briefly to cross a stile it felt like a quick march, I almost expected people to start vaulting over.
So we managed to cut the two hour walk clean in half.

The women directly behind me gave excellent eavesdropping opportunities too. I was able to have quiet little chuckles to myself.

Woman 1: So are you missing Weightwatchers tonight for this?

Woman 2: Yes.
Woman 1: I saw X the other day, she's lost a lot of weight hasn't she?
Woman 2: Yes, she's done really well. And lost it really evenly too.

How do you lose weight unevenly? Does it all go from your big toe?

Woman 1: There are two things a vacuum cleaner needs you know.

Woman 2: Really?
Woman 1: Yes. One is a high powered motor. I don't know what the other is. But Dyson has it.

Our vote went to the second thing being suction.

Running Total
Miles Walked: 4
Miles Walked This Festival: 11

On Thursday last week I went to see John Hegley with Gary.
I am at a loss to remember where and how I first discovered John Hegley, only that I'm really pleased I did. I adore his poetry - I'll be sharing some of my favourites in a wee while.

We went to take our seats and discovered that we were in the back row of the front four rows and also in the exact centre. We contemplated climbing over, but being miniature in stature I wasn't sure I could make it without causing concussion to a fellow audience member. The gentleman next to my seat heard my worries and held down my seat, to aid my climbing and keep safe the rest of the venue. I applaud you Sir.

Mr Hegley took the stage and was suitably brilliant. Before too long I was shaking with laughter, I could not stop the giggles and holding them in just made me shake. At one point the giggles erupted into a terrific snort. It wasn't pretty.

He said he was going to talk about Newcastle, and did anyone have a connection with the place. A lady in the front row shoved her hand into the air with an exclamation of 'I was born there'.
"Anyone else?" he asked.
Beside me I saw Gary's hand shoot into the air.
I turned and looked at him quizzically, I didn't know he was connected.
"Yes Sir?" said Mr Hegley.
"I've been there" said Gary
The lady in the row in front thought that was hilarious.

He rattled through poem after poem, he showed us his drawings on the overhead projector and caused much hilarity.

Just before the interval he did Owl acrostics, holding up his drawing of an owl. We all had to shout the letters as he shouted back his word for each. Then, lucky people that we are we had the opportunity to purchase one of such drawings... as beautifully illustrated below.
Gary had his signed first, but I demanded mine be signed in the jowls. I don't know why, I just liked the way it sounded.
There was some singing, which was brilliant, when he did The Amoeba Song he said we would be in three groups. He pointed to the right hand side of the auditorium (my right) and called us Section A. Then to the left, Section B. Folks in the middle had to make their own mind up. And as for section C, he pointed at the gentleman directly in front of Gary and called him Section C. Harsh.
Section A had to sing 'amoeba, amoeba, amoeba, amoeba, amoeba, amoeba, amoeba, amoeba', Section B had 'meeba, meeba, meeba, meeba, meeba, meeba, meeba, meeba, etc'. Section C had to thrust his glasses into the air and yell 'amoeba!'.
It was hilarious, but you might have had to be there.

Anyway, I had a fabulous time and am demanding you check out some poetry - you must click the link for the amoeba song up there, then click the link right here for the Love Cuts poem.

Here are a few of my other favourites.

Electric Chair Poem
The Volts
The Jolts
The End.

I said Pat
you are fat
and you are cataclysmically desirable
and to think I used to think
that slim was where it's at
well not any more Pat
you've changed that
you love yourself
you flatter yourself
you shatter their narrow image of the erotic
and Pat said
what do you mean FAT?

From another age
What looked like a broken window
in the phone box door
was actually a very small, lone,
levitating dinosaur.

My doggie don't wear glasses
My doggie don't wear glasses
so they're lying when they say
a dog looks like its owner
aren't they.

First sex
I was about six
the first time my mother told me
how it was bad to play with myself,
but I think she preferred it
to me playing with my sister.

Oh I think that will do for now... Absolutely brilliant.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Manby Flats

Monday was the walk we had planned for Manby Flats.
Rachael, Rachel and I headed out to Louth as I had been going on for so long about the amazing food to be found at Perkins Pantry that it was decided we should dine there before heading out on our walk.
After all, how many cafes offer a choice of over 130 scones? Every day?

The vegetarian menu is just enormous. Although the menu itself is just vast, I'm sure that there is always a stunned silence when people come in and see the scale of it.
The plan is that we get ourselves booked in for high tea this year. I cannot resist the draw of tiered cake stands with sandwiches and cakes indefinitely!
Maybe I will get there for my birthday this year!

After lunch we made our way to Manby and began to look for the church. We had decided it would be easy to find as they all have steeples making them taller than their surroundings. Unless their surroundings are ancient, very tall, trees that is. We eventually spotted a pair of high visibility vests and recognised the walk leaders from the previous day and parked the beastie outside the church.
The ground was littered with confetti, which somehow always raises a smile, giving you images of a wonderful day. Although I'm not sure the daisy was so joyful.
The church at Manby is just beautiful. I'm disappointed that you can't make out the gargoyles that sit at each corner near the top as they were wonderful. It was built back in 1485, which will never fail to stun me, it's in such gorgeous condition.
Roads in Lincolnshire are not designed for speeding!

This area is owned by one gentleman, he bought the fields following the death of his farmer friend and has turned it over to nature. The field below is ploughed and then sown, but all the crop is left to go to seed and provide food for the birds over winter. It just seems like a wonderful use of the land to me.

Each area is named after someone, the ponds were the first thing that he created when he bought the land, and he had a daughter, who sadly died but had always wanted a pond, so he created large ponds, which are now wonderfully established and home to an amazing amount of wildlife.

I'm sure at some point I spotted an egret but hadn't taken my binoculars with me, I've also never seen one in this country but I can't think what else it could have been. Someone suggested it might have been a goose. Really, I know the difference between a goose and an egret. I've seen enough of both to be able to tell the difference. I had no idea Manby Flats even existed but many, many birds don't seem to have been in the same boat. There were so many birds to look at that I bored all around me with my cursing about the lack of binoculars. It frustrates me most when I can't immediately recognise them.
We climbed a number of stiles. I attempted to kill someone with my bottle of ice as I accidentally flung it into the air in a mishandled stile climb. No serious injuries were sustained though.
Although all the people standing on the very rickety wooden bridge made me very nervous. I have issues with bridges at the best of times, but ones that are clearly rotting make me especially nervous. I'm known to run across most bridges. I'm weird like that.
We returned back to the car and a number of the walkers carried on to look at something else, but I had plans so dragged Rachael and Rachel off to go home, so I could prepare dinner for Gary & Aggie.
Running Total
Miles Walked: 3
Miles Walked This Festival: 7

Monday, 19 May 2008

Walking Festival - Snipe Dales & Jazz

Rachael and I headed out for the first walk of the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival. We drove over to Snipe Dales, after my instruction we parked (briefly) in the wrong car park and decided none of the trees were offering up any kind of pay & display option and headed on to another car park which was definitely populated with walkers. The crowd of us grew to a couple of dozen and we all headed off into the park. It was really pretty, we strolled round at a good pace and ended up cutting the predicted 1 1/2 hour walk in half to 45 minutes.
We were done just in time for lunch, so Rachael and I unloaded our pack-ups and sat on a bench under the trees. My plan to have lovely cool water hadn't strictly worked as the bottle of frozen water had remained just that, ice. Not too thirst quenching.
Rachael took pity on me and offered up an apple juice.
I gratefully accepted and neglected to remember the fact my throat felt like someone had shoved a grater down there in the night.
Apple juice stings like a son of a bitch, I offer you this revelation so you need not suffer likewise.

After lunch we realised we had plenty of time before we went off to our next adventure. We decided to wander back around the walk we just did, I wanted to get some pictures and we felt we could handle a few more strides. So wander we did and it was still lovely, as I hope the pics below demonstrate!

Then it was time to head back to Rachael's, hang out for a while, grab some tea and go off to Newark to catch the last of the Jazz Festival there. We were planning on catching The Slimline Papas but after we arrived at the bar it slowly became clear that they weren't going to be playing. I guess they're still having trouble. They were replaced by a five piece band who were really very good. Some great music, but then live music always has an edge to it.

As Rachael and I sat in the bar I saw a woman who looked familiar to me, I mulled over and over how I could possibly know her. Eventually I decided that she must have shared a ward with me, during my stint in hospital.
I tried to decide whether to say hello or not but after a wander to the bar the woman's husband turned to me and asked if I was from Lincoln. I wandered over, explained I knew I recognised them. Then they explained they knew me too. And why.

I used to do a paper round for them, as a teenager.
So, it's been twenty years and they still recognise me.
Which is both good and bad.

I haven't changed.
Which is both good and bad.
Although he gestured at the red hair and said "you didn't used to have this then though!"
Hurrah, something has changed at least!

Running Total (should that be walking total?)
Miles Walked: 4
Miles Walked This Festival:4