us and frank cat Fi | 30 Nov 2008
A fiddly week at work but a weekend we have looked forward to.
The weather is clear and bright but very very cold and temperatures down to -5c. Pub on Friday evening and swim, gym, steam, sauna and whirlpool on Saturday and nothing else worthy of note – just cozy at home. Today has been a much-looked-forward-to lunch with my good friend Debs and hubby James at a hotel near Lancaster and a chance to meet their beautiful 4-month old son Asa. He’s a lovely baby and it was wonderful to see them. A happy few hours. Nice lunch too….
Some views lit up by a fantastic sunset on our way home.
us and frank cat Fi | 26 Nov 2008
I stumbled upon these online taken of us and Lolly at Crusty’s 50th birthday bash back in August. They are two of the only ones of us together ever – chiefly becuase I am usually the one taking the pictures.
us and frank cat Fi | 23 Nov 2008
Starting the week on a ‘blue’ theme with a few days at work I’d rather forget, it was a relief to start the weekend at Carlisle Blues Festival.
Hector did a great job of getting in the queue each day to sprint to near the front for a seat close to the stage.
I was very tired but the music on Friday was superb. Kyla Brox impressed us both a lot. The highlight was – as they usually are – Nine Below Zero. The coolest cool guy on harmonica is my favourite! Dennis on guitar is practically an institution in his own right.
On Saturday I left He to enjoy the music while I skived off to go into town for some Xmas shopping but we still had almost 12 hours of solid blues. Much of it was quite rock oriented but based firmly in blues. Nicky Moore’s Blues Corporation is well known but but we hadn’t seen them perform before. Impressive musicians and a nice guy. His suvvern accent and references to ‘Up North’ were a slice of comedy.
After a short break the Saturday evening line-up included some of the best blues musicians in the world. A new artiste to us was Jon Amor. Stunning! Ian Siegal growled and sneered his way through a shorter than usual, though superb, set. He’s a scary guy but a fierce blues talent. The evening closed in energetic fiery fashion with Sherman Robertson.
Using colour for the photos didn’t work because without wanting to use flash (it irritates others and ‘blows out’ the image, especially with glaring stage lighting) I thought B&W might give a better result. A bit more moody too….
On the last day (Sunday) the highlight – for us – was an acoustic set by Ian Siegal. It was emotional, fiery and edgy. We also saw Aynsley Lister; a young and brilliant blues guitarist who writes much of his own material.
us and frank cat Fi | 16 Nov 2008
us and frank cat Fi | 14 Nov 2008
The day before my birthday and an afternoon and evening out as a surprise trip courtesy of clever Hector. South down the M6 and a bit of a bimble about in the towns as we went and our eventual destination of Fleetwood. The real surprise (and he didn’t tell me until we had some supper at a local Pizza Hut) was to see ex-Free and Bad Company member Simon Kirke and a Free tribute band. What a lovely idea for a birthday treat! These bands were my favourites way back in the early and mid 70′s and it was an evening that was pure, indulgent nostalgia. Kirke is still a brilliant musician and this first acoustic set was great. Lots of blues and rock and super guitar playing. We’re going to dig out all my old albums from under the stairs and play them, and download some of them from iTunes too. Excellent evening babe! Thank you…….
Today is my birthday. Hector bought me a load of my favourite perfume – thats me set up for a whole year of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Lovely – there’s no better pressie as far as I’m concerned. We are doing nothing except lounging in bed, reading, watching films, drinking tea and eating goodies. Later Sally and Jess are calling round. Tomorrow we’re off to another gig (Mike Sanchez Band – one of He’s faves) in Kendal via a visit to see Mum and Jane et al, and closing our short break from work by going out for dinner on Sunday evening.
us and frank cat Fi | 13 Nov 2008
GUESS WHAT I DID TODAY! A Birthday treat to literally TOP all others!
Sally and I have dreamed of a trip in a hot air balloon for as long as we’ve known one another. Our aim was to do it when we were 40 but we didn’t. Then when we reached 50 we didn’t, until today that is! Only last week we said that if there was some good weather during Hector and my week off, she and I would ‘go and take some pictures somewhere interesting’. Well – we sure did!
There was no time to get nervous… I only found out I was going at around midnight last night. By the time we were in the field getting a pre-flight briefing and helping inflate the balloon I was feeling a bit butterfly-filled. I tried to persuade Hector to join us for the flight but he says he and I will do it on our own another time. He did take all the film though and it was very reassuring to have him there and to share the excitement with him. Andrea brought hot chocolate with brandy and other goodies. The pilot, strangely, wouldn’t allow her to take the sparklers up!
I couldn’t help say that I had realised that we were being taken more than 6,000 feet into the sky in a small wicker basket, attached to nylon bag filled with hot air by a few thin cables all held together with karrabiners.
It was a glorious day. Stunning autumn weather and crystal clear skies. It was perfect. Hector drove us there and filmed us during the preparations and take-off, then joined the support team following us on the ground.
After a pre-flight briefing from the pilot we helped get the balloon ready. Getting ourselves into the basket was ungainly but funny. We took off at Bassenthwaite and ascended to 6,000 feet and flew over Keswick, Derwentwater, Thirlmere, Dunmail Raise, Grasmere, Rydal, Ambleside and up the length of Windermere to land in the Lyth Valley. We could spot and name the mountains, lakes, passes, places, roads and in the distance could see Morecambe Bay shining in the sun, the Eden Valley (home!), the Pennines, Carlisle, Scotland and the Solway Firth, the Isle of Man, The Yorkshire Dales hills, Blackpool Tower and even the coast of Southport and Liverpool.
During the flight the couple next to me (Gary and Sam) got engaged. He went down on one knee and proposed to her. It was the icing on the cake! With the new ring sparkling in the bright sun and barely a dry eye in the basket the mood was celebratory.
I expected descending to be a little daunting, but it was lovely to watch our full shadow getting larger over the fields and to see the tops of trees inches from us and to wave at the people below. After crashing heavily through a tall holly tree and, on touch-down, bouncing through mud to eventually coming to rest on our side, all of us were laughing ourselves silly and looking, I’m sure, like a load of upturned turtles!
“Come on Ladies – I know you’ve had fun, but everyone else has gone home – you have to come out now!”
After packing the balloon away we were presented with certificates and had some very welcome champagne. We had had the most amazing experience. The conditions were utterly perfect and I will never forget the views, the beauty and stunning conditions. The Lake District will always look different to me now. It’s landscape has been below me and spread like an enormous rug all around.
It really was a dream come true and we were so very lucky. We made new friends and enjoyed an amazingly beautiful experience.
I didn’t spend time faffing with the camera and adjusting settings, I just pointed and clicked (400 times). Hector shot the film, brilliantly as usual.
The better pics are on Flickr.
There is a YouTube film here….
Here’s the film!
It is the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It is always poignant but more so for me this year because I found out last week (during on line research) that my Great Uncle John (my fathers Uncle) was killed in action on November 17th 1917 in Flanders, Belgium – so had been perhaps been involved in the disastrous and terrible Battle of Passchendaele. He was just 18 years old and a Lance Corporal. His name is apparently included in the lists on plaques at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing
I have just watched Henry Allingham, aged 112, lay his own wreath of poppies at the Cenotaph. Incredibly moving. The only other two surviving veterans of WW1 also laid wreaths. You can’t imagine what they have experienced, what their thoughts might be.
Henry Allingham, 112, Harry Patch, 110 (his birthday today), and Bill Stone, 108, are representing the RAF, Army and Royal Navy respectively.
Speaking before the event, Mr Allingham – the world’s oldest World War I veteran and the UK’s oldest man – said he held it particularly dear.The veteran, who is partially deaf and nearly blind, said he would like to forget the horrors of a war he fought nine decades ago – but cannot.
“Well, it was a time, that I recall, I saw too many things I would like to forget but I will never forget them, I never can forget them,” he said.
I fell in a trench. There was a fella there. He must have been about our age. He was ripped shoulder to waist with shrapnel. I held his hand for the last 60 seconds of his life. He only said one word: ‘Mother’. I didn’t see her, but she was there. No doubt about it. He passed from this life into the next, and it felt as if I was in God’s presence. I’ve never got over it. You never forget it. Never. —Harry Patch, last survivor of Passchendaele, 12/07/2007
A much anticipated weekend with Chrissie, Chris, Lollykin and Rae in Lincolnshire. We had an ‘expotition’ to the Deep in Hull. It is an amazing place. So many fascinating and beautiful marine creatures. Me, Hector, Chrissie and Lollykin went – not forgetting Bernard Bear (who belongs to the children in Lolly’s class and who is taken for lots of outings and photographed) who was photographed a lot. I liked the translucent jellyfish who were lit by ultraviolet lights, Hector liked the Green Sawfish, but we called him Chainsaw Shark. The little Nemo-type fishes were lovely. A splendid and fun afternoon.
A surprise was a in store for me. Its my birthday this week and a most un-subtle cake was brought out after dinner. Then, surprise, surprise, I fell asleep in front ofthe fire while the others watched TV. No change there then….
On Sunday Lol, Chrissie and I went to Lincoln and later Rae gave me a pedicure with parafin hot wax. The peeling off of the hot wax almost had poor Lolly in a faint and her Mum Chrissie hiding behind a cushion. Hector could only look on in masculine bemusement.
On Sunday evening we went with Lol to stay in her lovely new house. Its a Victorian place just a few miles from her Mum that is gorgeous and she has done a fantastic job making it so welcoming and superbly decorated and furnished. By the look of it though, most of her shoes must still be at her Mums!
us and frank cat Fi | 05 Nov 2008
us and frank cat Fi | 05 Nov 2008
Its quite a day for the whole world, not just the USA.Did we stay up late in the UK for first results? We sure did! This was the newspaper rack in our local village shop.
Among the people I have spoken with today the feeling is pretty happy. He’s a breath of fresh air. He has rooted connections to reality and especially to other countries and cultures which may open the eyes and hearts of many people in the USA. I hope he leads the way in a much more global and environmentally aware US that will think outside its own enormous box. As Eddie Izzard says…. America is like the Roman Empire; and look what happened to THEM in the end!
Did I say I wasn’t a political person? I’m not, but obviously Obama has lit a small fire in my political grate.
us and frank cat Fi | 04 Nov 2008
us and frank cat Fi | 02 Nov 2008
Hector went to the Spa gym and to watch a footie match on Sky. I whizzed off to Ullswater before joining him there in time to see the sunset over the lake. It was simply stunning. So very lovely.
I dashed back the Spa but the team there agreed that going into the pool etc might not be the best plan when I had such big burn blisters on my hand….I’d have risked an infection. A shame, but a valid point.
us and frank cat Fi | 02 Nov 2008
Ross has been with us a few days – great to see him. He couldn’t be persuaded to join us at the Halloween quiz at the Spa, but we paired up with Sue and Sammy and came second – chiefly because our team name of Stoned Philosphers won the team name and thence extra points.
We braved Carlisle on a Saturday evening and saw the new Bond film Quantum of Solace – BRILLIANT!