Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Quick catch up

Eagle sunning itself with outstretched wings
Bateleur eagle, Cotswold Falconry Centre, July 2014
Wow. Nearly a month. Some of you must have been getting impatient...

Very little has changed in the landscape at Lola Towers, although I have started to make my move on the state of the house, creeping up on it and surprising it so it doesn't have a chance to skip out of the way. I have arranged for an electrician to attend to many of the small electrical frustrations, and maybe a carpenter is going to visit to view one of the scenes of devastation. I have more plans and a week off work, when I'm hoping to plot a route through the tunnel to the light at the end, and maybe take a few tentative steps towards it.

In terms of events to report, obviously I haven't been sitting around thinking about blogging, I've been up and out there. Here's a list:
  • Cambridge Folk Festival
  • Return to Bletchley Park
  • Trip to London for Sister D's birthday, lunch with old friends, proper London theatre with Lola II and Mr M
  • Evening with the friends with whom we went sailing
  • Lots of badminton as usual, and a bit of running
  • Lola II and Mr M's Wedding Presence: a four-day camping trip
  • Meanwhile, Mr A...
  • And a little bit about work.

Oysterband frontman
Cambridge Folk Festival

It was lovely. Mr A didn't go due to the pressure and deadlines of his first contract job, but I managed to sell his ticket and I knew four friends would be there so I wasn't going to feel too lonely. Highlights, just in case anyone wants to look them up: Oysterband (well-established UK band, I'm a big fan but not as crazy obsessive as the other fans I met in front of the stage), Pokey LaFarge (American swing/blues band), Habadekuk (fantastic Danish high octane folk), Hazmat Modine (New York band worth hearing for the a sousaphone alone), and Loudon Wainwright III (I had no idea he was so funny - he made us laugh at a song about the situations in Gaza, Syria, Ukraine etc). I'd go again, except the tickets are almost impossible to buy, and the site is too crowded now that everybody brings chairs.

Return to Bletchley Park

This time with mum, and although we again spent many hours there, I still haven't seen everything. Another visit will be needed! Maybe with dad next time.

Trip to London

This included the opportunity to take part in a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous, which was very interesting though I felt very tense. I have since recommended the organisation to one of my patients. Also, the theatre - I haven't been to a real on-stage live play for many years, and had become so used to the conventions of cinema and DVD movies that I was surprised for a second when the applause came at the end.

Underwater fish Sailing reunion

This was mostly an opportunity to share photographs, but it was actually very nice to meet up again.


I am very thankful for my continued good state of health, and intend to do all I can to keep it this way! I have not only continued running, but my pace is increasing very gradually, and I even did a Parkrun in Cambridge while I was there. Here's a little clip of Eddie Izzard promoting Parkrun, which actually includes footage of the Leamington run (you'll have to take my word for it).

Lola and Mr M in front of octagonal brick building
Kings Lynn


When we were on the camping trip, we discussed each of us writing about the trip and combining these into an entertaining format for the blog. So I'm willing to postpone the report about camping for a few days in case something appears. It was a really good trip, though.

Mr A

Mr A continues to work on his OU course while looking for employment, and as I write he is engaged in open warfare with the meadow that is the 'garden'. He has been on a successful camping trip with The Boy who is temporarily back from his travels, and a less successful motorcycle trip where, true to form, his bike broke and he came back after just one day.


After much protracted discussion about extending my hours, where I was somewhat sceptical about the likelihood of any change quicker than in geological time, the boss phoned on Thursday and said that I could move to full time working from September (i.e. next week) until March. I am booked onto a training course at the start of October which will allow me to facilitate structured education for people with Type 2 Diabetes, but as ever there are as many questions as answers. For example, I don't know where I will be based or how many courses there will be or what I will do in the time that is not occupied with these courses. I am also filling in for colleagues on holiday - unfortunately, one session is an ante-natal clinic, but the other is a community clinic, which may be very interesting. On the whole, I am very pleased with the main permanent job I have been doing - pleasant colleagues and a small team in a friendly location - and maybe I'll go back to the part time option after March.

Composite flower with pink and yellow florets and buds

Sunday, 24 August 2014

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover

The History of Mr Polly
by H. G. Wells

narrated by Paul Shelley
"Mr Polly is an ordinary middle-aged man who is tired of his wife's nagging and his dreary job as a gentleman's outfitter in a small town. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, he concludes that the only way to escape his frustrating existence is by burning his shop to the ground and killing himself."
It took a while to get going - about half of the book, actually, but then things moved forward a bit quicker. Quite different from Wells' science fiction (e.g. The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and War of the Worlds), this is just a simple history of an ordinary chap living a dull life until he burns his house down. It doesn't get a whole lot more exciting after his act of arson, but it's a pleasant read nonetheless.

Image of the book cover

Mike and Psmith
by P. G. Wodehouse

narrated by Graham Seed
"Mike is a seriously good cricketer who forms an unlikely alliance with old Etonian Psmith after they both find themselves fish out of water at a new school, Sedleigh. They eventually overcome the hostility of others and their own prejudices to become stars."
Apparently this is one of Wodehouse's earlier works, and it shows. Not as refined, not as funny, not such whimsical use of language as the later books, and the greatest sin from my point of view is that a whole chunk of plot towards the end of the book is re-used in a later Blandings book that I've read quite recently. The reviews also point out that if you're not too familiar with the laws and rituals of cricket, then a lot of it won't make much sense.

Image of the book cover

Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
"Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that."
Although the author is pretty fair minded about setting out opposing arguments for the moral point (avoiding plot spoilers here but you can probably guess what it's about), I have pretty much made up my mind which side I'm on, so the alternative view seemed unconvincing. Quite a few people have recommended this book, and it was a good choice for audio because in print I would have skipped ahead just to find out what happens more quickly. I suppose that means it was a bit long-winded, but I didn't really mind, I was just a bit impatient to see if it ended satisfactorily.

Image of the book cover

Portuguese Irregular Verbs
by Alexander McCall Smith

narrated by Hugh Laurie
"In the unnaturally tall form of Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, we are invited to meet a memorable character whose sublime insouciance is a blend of the cultivated pomposity of Frasier Crane and of Inspecteur Clouseau's hapless gaucherie."
There was nothing wrong with this book at all, it was perfectly all right. But there was nothing outstanding about it either, and because of the Germanic background of the main characters, the narrator rightly used a German accent for their dialogue, which felt a bit like mockery. I'm not inclined to seek out the subsequent books in the series, but if you felt like reading this I wouldn't stop you.

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