Monday, 31 August 2009

West Keal & Old Bolingbroke

On Saturday Rachael and I headed out for a spot of walking, just a bit over six miles, although I firmly believe that you get extra credit for walking uphill!
Or maybe the bonus for walking uphill is getting to see the stunning views. Never let it be said that Lincolnshire is really flat.

We started off at West Keal, although were somewhat unnerved to discover that it wasn't even on the map. I made the fairly safe assumption that if we headed to East Keal (which was on the map) that West Keal couldn't be too far away!
I love old churches, I just do, although I'm sure these little gargoyle fellows were crossed with owls.
I'm such a sucker for old things even the lantern looked pretty to me.
I think my camera favours bad weather though, it's somehow managed to make it look stormy out there and although it was pretty windy on occasion, it was a lovely warm day and not in the least stormy, don't believe the grey clouds!
We had ourselves a picnic lunch with this view:
I'll admit it doesn't really look that impressive, but this is Bolingbroke Castle, the birthplace of King Henry IV and to be fair, I'd be fairly ruined if I'd been created in 1220.
However, the walls are carved with the name of a different King:

I like to believe that I can really imagine how it was when this was all moat, when they got to pull up the drawbridge and keep out those damned marauding invaders.

Is it just me or does anyone else find those vintage petrol pumps really attractive? I have no idea what it is, I just really love them. At least I don't have room to start collecting them...
The Wolds are an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Goes without saying really doesn't it?
Okay, so I love vintage petrol pumps and I love tree stumps.
This walk marked the virgin expedition of my foraging bag, superbly created by my Mum so that I could collect fruits and nuts easily. It swings over my shoulder, sits on my hip and I can slip all my bounty in there and carry it off home with me.
As we walked I spotted a lovely little apple tree on the side of the road. The apples were quite small but I decided that they looked so good I had to risk it.
I did the gentle lift and twist and they came away in my hand, ripe and ready.
However, aforementioned tree was at the top of a gentle slope populated with nettles, I was scarcely balanced, holding one end of a branch as I picked a few apples. I had not chosen well, the branch I was relying on for support was past its best and decided to leave the rest of the tree. Or rather the twig part I was holding on to gave up and headed for greener pastures, trying to encourage me to join it.
I did that classic arm windmill in a desperate effort not to become one with the nettles, regained my balance, glanced at Rachael and decided that maybe it was time to move on and leave the rest of the apples just where they were.
See how shiny and red it is though?
See how easy it was to be tempted?

For me, the nicest thing about a good walk is when you get to the end and you're not ready to fall over, when you feel invigorated. You've seen the countryside. You've seen it up close, picking those nuts and fruits and you've seen it far off in the distance when the skies are clear, the sun is shining and you can see for miles and miles.
I've realised I'm not a group walker, I want to walk at my own pace, sometimes quickly and sometimes just sauntering along, looking at the butterflies, flowers, grasshoppers and trees. I want to sit on the hillside, eat an apple I picked just moments ago and appreciate the beauty of where I am.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


As I've been getting into growing my own vegetables this year, Mum gave me a gift of two boxes; one contained compost and tomato seed, the other more compost and pepper seeds.
I duly planted them and small plants grew.
I've happily eaten the tomatoes that have grown like mad in my conservatory and the peppers appear to be reaching the point where they're starting to ripen.
They're called Bolivian Rainbow and the peppers go all different colours, at the same time, on the plant, thus creating a lovely rainbow effect.
Anyway, I thought one looked as though it might be ready to eat.
I gently plucked it from the plant, held it between thumb and forefinger and gingerly gave it a gentle bite.
I barely broke the skin, in fact to look at it, you wouldn't know I'd bitten it at all.
However, I suddenly got the sensation that I'd stuck my tongue to the inside of an oven that had been heated up to temperatures similar to those seen on the sun.
I ran from the conservatory, heading at speed for the kitchen, all the while bemoaning, out loud, that I'd used up all the milk.

I grabbed the cold water from the fridge, poured a glass, then proceeded to sit with tongue immersed in cold water.

I'm not known for my tolerance for heat in food, I struggle even to eat black pepper. I am incredibly glad all I did was break the skin of the pepper, otherwise I suspect I may have combusted.

I looked it up online, those bell peppers that you slip into salad, maybe add to a stir fry, they have a heat rating of zero. That's zero.
Those Bolivian Rainbow buggers? Six. Six! Holy shit! I was lucky my head didn't come off.
So now I have two plants, each with dozens of peppers that I can't eat.
Still, the tomatoes were nice.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It's A Soapbox Moment

Yesterday morning Mifford woke me at 3.30am. That would be bad enough, except she woke me up by throwing up. In the bed.
Ah, you have to love having pets.
I thought that surely had to be a bad omen, but actually it wasn't a wholly bad day at all.

Later on when I logged into twitter the number one Trending Topic was "fatpeoplearesexier".

I was immediately suspicious and wondered what sort of piss-take was going on, but was really pleased to see that most of the tweets were positive. People agreeing or relishing something that wasn't negative being said about overweight people.
Obviously there were exceptions. What was refreshing was that they were in the minority.
They were still of the mindset that it's ok to be ignorant and rude.
There's an old saying that if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.
Maybe you shouldn't jump at any opportunity that presents itself to be offensive.
This is lovely "gent" is one such example.
Apparently you have to BE fat to find anyone who IS fat attractive.
I guess those men who are thin and going out with fat women are unable to think for themselves.
But wait, he goes on to say, you can only be sexy IF you're not fat any more. He's a great guy.

Then Miss Cherry Pie steps into the mix. She's ever so funny. See what she did here?
She made a whale joke.
That's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
It's never been done before.

Oh the originality.

I actually feel a little sorry for them. If you don't have some body - that the media/fashion world has defined as perfect, then you cannot be attractive.
One must be thin to be pretty.
What utter bullshit.
And yet, people like the example below, again, have been brainwashed into believing it to be true.
It's sad to me.

This isn't what defines you.
Your weight doesn't define who you are as a person.
To my mind, your actions define you.
What kind of person thinks it's nice to mock others? For any reason, be it weight, colour, religion, disability, musical preference, whatever major or minor thing.
What kind of person finds outright insults amusing? I just don't get it.
How anyone functions with a mind so small is beyond me.

The vaguely amusing point is that the whole hashtag trending topic thing, started out because of this guy, Shane Dawson, and his video:

The whole point was that he doesn't understand why people are mean and narrow minded. As if to prove the exact thing this guy is talking about people have to jump on, what they assume to be, an offensive bandwagon but in the process make themselves look foolish.

While I'm on the soapbox...

I drove home from town last night, the traffic was nose to tail as we moved through traffic lights and I spotted in my wing mirror a large van driving quickly up to the merging point. All other cars were in the inside lane as there was clearly no room to overtake anyone. This van got his nose just in front of my car, indicated and pushed his way in, forcing me to literally stand on my brakes to avoid a collision. I may have gesticulated in anger, just a little.
A moment or two later the road bears to the left, it's a pretty serious bend, you can't see beyond it.
The van? It has decided the appropriate road placement is in the other carriageway, directly facing any possible oncoming traffic. Not just nosing over the line, hell no, his entire vehicle in the oncoming lane. I like to talk to myself and yelled "that's a bend you idiot!" Once clear of the bend he overtakes, I suspect there was just enough room, I also suspect that the car in that lane had to brake rather to allow the van time to make its pass.
I travelled along, at the speed limit, watching this van accelerate away from me, clearly breaking the speed limits.
I felt that satisfaction that every road user feels when I realised he was stuck behind some slower moving traffic with no chance of overtaking.
However, a few minutes later there is a very brief short stretch of road, before a sharp right hand bend. He chose this spot to overtake, rather brilliantly this is also where a large, bright red sign has been erected, warning about the dangers of this road.
My route from home to town is known as a red route, it denotes a dangerous road, this year it would probably average out to nearly a death a week on that road.
This guy is driving dangerously, endangering the rest of us.
You know the worst part?
Guess what it said on the back of the van?


I'm composing a letter of complaint to the Chief Constable later today.
That's actually not my nature, but seriously, if we can't get away with driving like that, why in the hell should they?
Especially when there are no sirens and no flashing lights.
Were it an emergency we'd all have let him pass, I just object to him being the one in danger of causing the emergency.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Batter vs Pastry

This is a totally random debate that has been raging for weeks and weeks now, amongst my family, friends and random strangers that get drawn into it.

So the question is: Which is the better food, batter or pastry?

Both can be sweet and savoury.
Both work as starters, mains and desserts.

Batter brings us pancakes. Maybe you like a crepe with a banana and chocolate filling or perhaps a cheesy roasted vegetable filling. What about Yorkshire pudding? Toad in the hole? Then of course there's the batter that goes around the fish in our wonderful English fish & chip shops. Weirdly I miss the batter, not the fish, as a vegetarian. Although I suppose you can still get that batter on a Mars Bar, I've never tried that and I intend never to try it. Tempura batter is another one...

But pastry opens the world of quiches. Banoffee pie.
There's shortcrust, filo, choux and puff. I adore a pie made with puff pastry and I would hate to have a life without chocolate eclairs. I made these superb feta and spinach filo triangles a while ago and they were delicious!

Now it's time to help answer this (very important) question:

So, which gets your vote? Batter or Pastry?
Pastry? free polls

Friday, 21 August 2009

Song Of The Week LXIV

I haven't had a song since I posted the Michael Jackson one, which wasn't intentional, I haven't been inspired I guess.
Then this one has been used in a relatively frequently played advert and each time I've found myself singing along.
It's funny, I've had it in my mp3 collection for ages, years maybe but I never really heard the lyrics, or rather never properly listened, but it's just beautiful.

Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life:

Saturday, 15 August 2009

More Books

I updated my Books, Books, Books post with another list, which has some different titles... I clearly have to read faster and up the number of books I've read!

That said, I'm really enjoying Eat Fat by Richard Klein at the moment. Not your ordinary take on overweight people, that's for sure. I suspect I'll be re-reading it and making notes!


The defintion of hard work:

That's a lot of hedge right there, let me tell you - and this is the second phase of cutting it down. I'm knackered!

The defintion of full to capacity:

The defintion of unlikely allies:

The definition of pretty:

To Kill A Mockingbird

A couple of weeks ago the kindly Lovefilm sent me 'Failure to Launch'.
I expected a pretty standard romantic comedy which would be lighthearted, easy to watch and that I'd forget it pretty soon after I watched it.
What I didn't expect is that I'd find myself randomly giggling after recalling a specific scene.
Actually, I have to admit to laughing, loudly at frequent intervals throughout the movie, but, no matter how many times I see this scene I find myself giggling.
The actual scene starts about 2 1/2 minutes in, but I like the way this little clip sets it up:

"Walk away from the light little buddy!"

Friday, 7 August 2009

A Peek Inside My Mind

I was laying in the bath earlier this evening, I'd left my PC running through my collection of mp3's and as I laid there I thought to myself "I'm sure I don't have Cotton Eye Joe on mp3". Then I realised it was Loaded by Primal Scream.
Because those songs exactly alike.
Or not.
I think I might have stood near to too many speakers at too many gigs.

I like to have candles around me when I bathe. It makes for a relaxing environment. What's less relaxing is having one candle piss wax all over the carpet. Especially when you're meeting your landlord for the first time in three years in a few days.

I love water. Cold, cold water. I have no reason for saying that, other than the fact I'm really thirsty and am going to have a big pint of cold water any moment.

I also really love how soft baby oil makes your skin feel. Again there's no reason for sharing that either. It was just a thought running through my mind.

I'd give a telepath SUCH a headache.

Oh and that mean Twitter? Yeah, it is keeping my account suspended it seems.
It would appear I got caught up in this spam invasion as I had the exact same tweet appear on my list of tweets. Still despite being one of thousands affected it's bloody frustrating!

I think I've become addicted to MicroDermabrasion. I keep thinking about when I can do it next. I'm currently at alternate days, but I'm worrying about my (full) pot of cream/lotion/potion becoming empty.
Must consider more important world crises....

Thursday, 6 August 2009


My Twitter account has been suspended.
Mean Twitter.
I didn't even do anything!
Although when I did log in some weird spam message seems to have been sent from my account. The worst thing is that it contained txtspk. Oh the shame.
So, I've been in, promised them I'm not a spammer, changed my password and will remain confused as to how in the hell that happened.
Maybe I'm a sleep spammer!

Now I have to wait for Twitter to forgive me, or rather figure out that I really don't like spam.
Especially the spam song. Remember that? Crap, that's going to be in my head all day now.
And just when I was starting to get my head around the whole Twitter thing too. Denied.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Cambridge 2009

Thursday rolled around and it was time to pack the car, tick things off the list and make our way to Coldhams Common, put up the tent and make a home for the weekend.
Typically the rain kicked in just as we started to knock tent pegs into the ground, I hid under the Jeff's boot lid (my car, for them what is not in th
e know) waiting for it to ease off a bit. Until the rain started to come in sideways and then I took refuge in an already erected tent.
Once the tents were up, beds made we had our wrist bands attached and headed
to the festival site. I had my traditional Nachos Grandee for tea, the sky looked like this:Yet I managed to get rained on whilst eating, so there I sat, gnome-like under an umbrella, keeping those lovely nachos nice and dry.
I seem to remember very little of Thursday night, I know I saw or heard a little of Mumford & Sons. I know I decided that the purchase of a poncho would be a wise investment, in fact it came in very useful when it came to having something to sit down on as I waited for Ruairidh Macmillan to come on to Stage 2. It was also useful to the man next to me who seemed to wipe white paint off onto it and I thank him for that from the bottom of my heart.

We headed off to Stage 2 to catch Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds, who were great and are playing in Lincoln in the not too distant future so I will be getting myself a ticket for that gig I reckon. Their rendition of All Around My Hat was superb, in fact I'm going to see if a video of it exists for your pleasure. Here it is - go watch!

End of the night meant heading back to the campsite, grabbing a hot chocolate and sitting to listen to a few folk at the Cold
hams Common stage. I think this is the first festival that I've sung along to Tie Me Kangaroo Down.

Friday means heading down to Sainsburys for a cooked breakfast before heading to the festival site to get a nice spot to enjoy the music from.
This is where things get ugly at the festival.

I wrote last year about the whole space issue. Some people want to sit on blankets, some people don't. Which is fine, so long as we can have a little live and let live. Have your blanket but don't be greedy with your space. Have only as much as you need to sit down. These days I don't have a blanket. I have a roll mat which I fold in half and is perfectly ass-sized. It stops the cold from the ground coming up and I take up only the same amount of space as I would without it, but I somehow feel guilty about it.

I don't want to repeat myself, but I really feel that people seem to enjoy the festival in two ways. There are the people that want to choose a spot and pretty much stay there all day, be that Stage 1, Stage 2, The Guinness tent or wherever. Then there are the people that want to wander, roam from stage to stage, catch different acts. I can't honestly say that either is better than the other. I tend to fit into the former group to be honest, which is what suits me. I'm sure it might be frustrating to some people but I don't always want to stand to watch an artist. Take the wonderful Cara Dillon, I absolutely love listening to her, but I don't need to be able to see her. I am prone to sit, eyes closed, just listening and I do so want to know why that's frowned upon!

Anyway, a spot was found on Friday, the festival opened with Genticorum, wonderful Quebecois music. A nice way to ease us into the day. Then The Shee, who I'd seen previously at Big Session in Leicester and enjoyed. Nice to see a harp on stage!
Then it was the turn of Edward II. I adore this band. Back i
n 1999 watching their farewell gig I could only dream that they'd come back and tour again. Here we are, ten years later and my dream is fulfilled! I danced and danced and danced some more. Absolutely brilliant!
The Waterson Family were on next and have more talent than is entirely fair for one family. I can't even play the tin whistle. It's not right I tell you!

I grabbed up my stuff and decided to head back to the campsite to dump most of it off in the tent as there was a ceilidh due to happen on Stage 2 and I do have such a love for ceilidhs. I didn't get to dance, although I did remember exactly how to do the Boston Tea Party, so that's two ceilidh dances I can probably get through without injury now! I caught Hayes Carll's set and love
d it, checking my programme I saw he was doing the second set on Saturday on Stage 1 so had that to look forward to. Everyone else was hanging around Stage 1 so I wandered around the stalls, then headed to the Internet cafe, then off to the duck ponds for some quiet time, although ended up being stalked by a pair of swans. It was a little unnerving it has to be said!I finally decided to head back to the tent where I could still hear the festival. I just didn't really have any interest in seeing The Zutons.
When I got to the festival on Saturday morning I overheard numerous mumblings that people felt The Zutons shouldn't have been part of the line-up, although from the cheering I could hear I'm sure that there are plenty of people that would disagree with that.
Saturday kicked off with Crooked Still who were great fun and Mum ended up hitting the CD sales to purchase one of theirs later in the day.
Next up was Hayes Carll and I enjoyed him all over again, although I was disappointed not to get a second listen of She Left Me For Jesus, the youtube comments would indicate that it's felt to be a little blasphemous by some and I apologise for that, but my goodness it made me laugh.
To carry on with a really fabulous day, Jim Moray was up next and was superb but I swear the "Bless you, bless you.." chorus is going to be stuck in my head for months and months. I was also a little amused by the reaction of the people surrounding me to his song Lucy Wan which I adore, but some of the traditional folkies were clearly totally unsure as to what to make of it. Excellent, you know you're pushing the boundaries when that happens!
The afternoon set was finished off with sets from Cara Dillon and Blazin' Fiddles. Bloody brilliant both!

The evening set started with Martin Simpson and as he's also playing Lincoln this year I'll be having to find some cash for tickets for that too. We decided to have a move and see what else was going on, ending up at Stage 2 just in time to get ourselves under cover before the rain started. It was heavy for a while and I could almost feel the mud starting to develop.
Diana Jones was playing and I really liked her voice, she was down to play Stage 1 on Sunday so I was looking forward to catching her again and making a mental note to add one of her Cd's to my collection. Then we watched Mairtin O'Connor, Cathal Hayden & Seamie O'Dowd who again should pass off a little of their talent to me, it's the right thing to do. Actually I'd settle for just being able to sing a bit to be honest!

For some reason we were wiped out and decided a hot chocolate was the order of the day. Not just any hot chocolate. Oh no. I'm talking hot chocolate, with marshmallows, whipped cream and a flake. It's chocolate heaven.

Sunday showed the toll that the rain had taken on the festival site.
There was plenty mud and a big truck with a giant vacuum sucking up all the water that it possibly could.
We headed back to Stage 1, Bella Hardy opened, wonderful voice and possible CD purchase.... Then
Mairtin O'Connor, Cathal Hayden & Seamie O'Dowd were on again and just as good as the night before, followed by Diana Jones who did a song that I absolutely have to own - If I Had A Gun. I'm not sure there's a woman on this earth that song doesn't resonate with, as it was written during a conversation with girlfriends about ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends.
I watched most of the set by Lau before heading off for a brief wander to stretch my legs, check out the Internet cafe (which by the way needs much better organisation - I was hassled three times by staff whilst the woman to my right who was there when I arrived wasn't hassled at all, ranty rant.) I got back in time to see Jim Moray and once again enjoy Lucy Wan and ensure that "Bless you, bless you all of the pretty girls" was well and truly stuck in my head for eternity.

Made my way back to Stage 1 just as Eddi Reader was finishing, despite having seen her a number of times, I'm just not a fan and I don't know why as she has a lovely voice. Weird.
I did rather like Oumou Sangare though, and their dancers were superb. We'd met up with Geoff again from last year and he and I attempted the occasional mimic of some moves seen from the stage, none of which seemed to work well for us!
Then a few of us made our way to Stage 2. I had heard good things about Imelda May and decided to watch her instead of Paul Brady. For me, I absolutely made the right choice, we danced until we could dance no more. We danced so much a lady joined us just so she wasn't dancing alone. When some poor man ended up standing amongst us she scolded him that this was the dancing quarter and if he wanted to remain there, dance he must. And dance he did.
She was absolutely superb, we screamed for more, we couldn't help it, when faced with this, how could you not want more?!
I was also surprised after the gig, when I wasn't looking my sweaty best by a fellow Twitterer who had recognised me, turns out the red hair is more noticeable at a festival than I ever realised!

Spent the next while having a good old gossip and a fine old time with another lovely Twitterer (is that even the right terminology? Twitteree?) before finally heading to Stage 1 to catch The Treacherous Orchestra. I didn't know anything about them until Geoff told me they were made up from guys that had worked with Martyn Bennett and with The Peatbog Faeries, which instantly made them unmissable. I cannot begin to tell you what an absolutely fabulous time I had.
I had on my dancing wellies:

I rocked those wellies let me tell you. We jumped and bounced and danced and laughed and got hotter and hotter, sweatier and sweatier. It was the absolute best end to the festival. I could literally barely walk afterwards from all the leaping around, even now, on Wednesday, my legs are still sore, going up and down stairs is a slow process!
Do one thing - go here and have a listen - then tell me if that's what you imagine when you hear the term 'folk music'? Just make sure your volume is up as far as you can manage. That's my kind of folk music, where I can dance until I'm absolutely exhausted but so incredibly happy!

For the record I never got to use my poncho! Could have spent that money on a CD!

When I got home I had to thank my neighbour for looking after Mifford, so I made cupcakes, I had a few leftover. Cupcake anyone?
Oh wait, I have one more little tale to share. On Monday night I decided to upload the few photos I'd taken from my camera to the pc so I could do this blog entry. Except my camera wasn't in my bag. I pulled everything out, but there was definitely no camera. Shit. Shit. Shit. I went out to the car, you know, in case it had fallen out. No.
Tuesday morning rolls around, Mum takes my car keys and conducts a thorough investigation. No camera.
I have to go out and do some jobs but on my return, I ring the box office, they give me a number to call. I call said number, but lady I need to speak to is busy. An email address is given and an email is duly written and sent off.
Mum is away at this point, collecting my Step-Dad, Tim, from the airport. He's flown in from France and has brought with him Mum's old digital camera for me to use. In doing so apparently he made catching the flight a close call. So, my photos are gone but I am not without a camera.
I sit down on a footstool by my TV, I turn my head to the right, what is that silver flash I see?
Ooops. That would be my camera. Which has been sitting in front of the TV the whole time.
Do I email the lady again and confess to being an idiot? Or do I just hope she's really bad at her job and never gets back to me?