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!


Tablet Widow said...

Blimey Charlie - thats nearly a half marathon!! Nice pictures..... missing the trees rather a lot.

Flibbertigibbet said...

I love trees.
I actually really struggle to imagine a world without them, it's something my over-active imagination just can't conjure.