us and frank cat Fi | 29 Jan 2009
Its sad news that we have today lost the musically ethereal and eccentrically blurry John Martyn. He was a larger than life character – he lived life full on, head on and often off his head. His wonderful music crossed the divide between folk and blues and is a marvelous legacy. He was a beautiful soul who once said “I don’t want to know about evil, I only want to know about love…”
He was, in every sense, a bon viveur and only 60 when he went. His music was an emotive soundtrack to the most astonishing times of my teen years and indeed beyond. Like me he was also a fan of jazz, particularly in later years, and a huge fan, again like me, of Jan Garbarek. I saw him live several times, first in the early 70′s when I was only 15 and most recently in the 90′s – when I WASN’T in my teens! Its always sad when someone goes who has touched our lives – especially through the arts – but as my friend Deb has just said in a text – John’s passing feels a bit weird somehow.
I can feel a delve into the vinyl and CD archive coming on.
You cane see an interview with him here – at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards hen he got a Lifetime Achievement Award. As ever, amusing, irreverent and on good form.
A very exciting request dropped in my lap last week – the soon-to-be MEGA author Reif Larsen contacted me to ask if he could use a snippet of one of my films on a superb new website that will illustrate his soon-to-be-released book “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet”. The website isn’t released yet but I’ll link to it when it is….
‘Here is a book that does the impossible: it combines Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Little Miss Sunshine. Good novels entertain; great ones come as a gift to the readers who are lucky enough to find them. This book is a treasure’
(From: The New York Observer) Here’s a fairytale: A 28-year-old Columbia M.F.A. student named Reif Larsen wrote a novel about a whimsical child from Montana who likes maps, and suddenly all kinds of famous editors in New York were calling his agent, Denise Shannon, and telling her they really wanted to publish it.
Norton offered to preempt with an advance in the neighborhood of $400,000 if Ms. Shannon took the book off the market and sold it to the publisher right then and there. The editorial director of Dial Press, an imprint of Random House’s Bantam Dell Doubleday group, offered to pay half a million for the same privilege.
Ms. Shannon said no to both and confidently took the book to auction. Within days, according to three sources, she’d sold North American rights for a sum just shy of $1 million to Ann Godoff at the Penguin Press, gravely disappointing editors at Random House, Viking, Riverhead and elsewhere. The book was also sold to publishers in Canada, Germany and Italy, and at press time, deals were being negotiated for the U.K. and the Netherlands. The book, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, is scheduled to come out this summer.
us and frank cat Fi | 25 Jan 2009
My sisters daughter, my one-and-only niece, Clare is a brilliant equestrian on her horse Frankie…. In 6 weeks or so she will be 21. How did that happen so soon? It only seems like last week she was my little companion who was called Piglet! TEMPUS FUGIT. The good looking guy is her boyfriend George.
Stop press….. she won 2 championships, and a reserve champ, at last nights riding club dinner dance too! (see last pic)
us and frank cat Fi | 25 Jan 2009
There is a tiny hint of crisp heady spring in the air – a hint of a scent.
When I nipped out to buy wild bird seed (gotta to keep the birds healthy, fed and happy) I just had to stop on the way home to meet these new arrivals, heralds to the new Spring season that must surely not be too far away now.
Young Lambs – by John Clare (1920)
The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down,
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two—till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe,
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead—and lets me go
Close bye and never stirs but baking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.
us and frank cat Fi | 24 Jan 2009
It feels kind of nice to be a normal Saturday; a lie in, coffee, bacon and eggs, a bit of gardening (even tho its too cold), washing and a load of chores. H braved the outdoor chill to clean all the fiddly small-paned downstairs windows and then also did the indoor ones too and now he’s even gone shopping. Tonight its comfort food for dinner – beef in beer and crust pastry. I’ve sat down with the laptop and a cuppa and am watching the birds at the feeders as the sun slides slowly down behind the hills and trees opposite.
The next week or two is going to be a bit mad. H away quite a lot and next Monday a chimney sweep and we think that on that Tuesday the builder will start on dismantling the mantle and getting a new hearth ready for the wood burning stove. Frank will go into a cattery to keep him out of the way and as H is in London that week its less disruption all round. Before all that we have to empty the lounge so its clear. So, a lot to do.It’ll all be worth it when the stove is in.
32 hours : brewing : hills + dales : Ribblehead hair : ??? the butler : dinner : snow : epic scary episode
A magical mystery tour, two day, jaunt for Hector’s birthday and as we set off he had NO idea where we were going, nor that we were away for a night. Was it North or South on the M6 at the roundabout?
A first stop was Ingleton and a little look around, but everything was shut, including all the cafes where had wanted a cuppa. The sun – as it always seems to do for us – came out right on cue and made the views of Yorkshire stunning.
At the pub at the famous Ribblehead viaduct we had a hot chocolate and met an automated butler that I named… (surprisingly the landlady liked it and has, she says, adopted it) and a bumpy drive along the little track to park up under the viaduct itself where I braved the windy weather to take some shots. Snow-covered Ingleborough itself looked amazing in the bright sun. It was so windy that as I got back in the car we have a new term now for really messy hair – I had Ribblehead Hair.
H still didn’t know where we were headed….
Then off to Masham… a lovely town. The market square has an honesty box instead of a parking meter so it feels welcoming. There are REAL shops, proper butchers, grocers and sweet shops and has an air of friendly calm.
And, the main event for day one was a tour of the Black Sheep Theakston brewery at Masham. It was fascinating and afterwards we had a chance to pull our own pints and H took a shopping opportunity to stock up on bottled Black Sheep.
I fancied the barman…. so I took him back to a hotel!
Hector thought we were heading home but as we pulled into the car park of the Wensleydale Heifer the game was up and I had to tell him we were having dinner there and, indeed, staying over. I think the surprise was a success! I had booked the Black Sheep room – to fit in with the beer, brewery and general theme.
Its a ’boutique’ hotel and a tad of an extravagance. Our room had a wonderful deep roll-top bath and some luxurious toiletries so I took full advantage. The specialities of the hotel are seafood, but the whole menu is tempting. I had duck comfit with truffle mash and H had a HUGE piece of haddock in Black Sheep beer batter. We slept really well after a wonderful dinner. Hector bought me a bear that wears a jumper with the hotels logo – sweet.
After a perfect breakfast we set off for a day exploring, deciding not to have an itinerary and just bimble our way hoewards. We took a walk at Aysgarth Falls which were in roaring spate and running red-brown.
We were the only people on woodland walk by the river, which is also a conservation area for Dormice and there are little hibernation boxes for them on the trees. It was still and quiet except for the thundering river and birdsong and, further off from the river, the drip-drip of the trees thawing their ice in droplets.
A zig-zag drive up the scar above the Swale valley and into the next before stopping at Grinton to try the pub there (snack lunch) and a look at the Church (St Andrews) which is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Dales’.
Deciding to follow the high road into Cumbria we left Reeth behind and were treated to the best views that the Dales have to offer. Stunning. As we climbed towards the snow line the road was still absolutely clear so we kept going. We were lulled into a false sense of security. The views kept us rapt and I had to keep stopping to take photos. We must go back in May or June to see the area when the meadows are thick with wild summer flowers.
As we ascended over the snowy pass there were some strange and eerie clouds on the horizon…an omen?
At the exact border of Yorkshire with Cumbria – right at the top – the roads went from cleared to completely UNcleared and as we crested the hill it was too late to turn back as the back of the car swung and we ‘lost it’ at the brow of the steepest of hills where the road drops down steeply beside a ravine towards Nateby. VERY scary. H made me get out of the car and got ready to try to get down safely. It looked doomed to go all wrong…. I was truly terrified and felt sure that I’d see him career down the road and smash into the rocks or the drop into the ravine. Another car appeared on the road below and stopped, unable to negotiate the hill. He spotted our predicament, left his car, and waded through the snow up the hill towards us. He and H decided that there was no way we could get back up the hill so worked out the best way to try to get the car down the hill just as a 4×4 spotted us from above. Its driver (who had been up there paragliding) came to help too. H managed to straighten the car enough to get the drivers side wheels into the deep snow on the roadside and relied on the ABS to keep him steady as he inched his way down, slowly and carefully while I hardly dare look. When it looked like he’d make it safely the guy in the 4×4 drove me down the hill too – his well equipped off-roader making it seem so easy. I have to admit, we were both pretty shaken up at the time. We rounded off the two days with a wander to the pub and a quiet drink or three.
It was however, an AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE and a really special and enjoyable two days. Its these occasions that we always remember and make us very happy. Dare I say – that it was romantic?
us and frank cat Fi | 20 Jan 2009
Quite a day for Mr Obama, quite a day for the USA and quite a day for the whole world. He’s quite a man and has a huge job ahead of him. The inauguration ceremony was heart enthralling viewing and amid the pomp there were snippets of warmth and humour. I think the whole world has high hopes…
I liked that amid the pomp and formality his wife took a sneaking glance, during a prayer, at her husband, who just happened to about be the 44th President of the USA.
us and frank cat Fi | 17 Jan 2009
We’re getting a dinky little Aga!
An unexpectedly bright and sunny start to the weekend so we went out to do a necessary recce – a trip to see a showroom of wood burning stoves. The stove showroom is on a farm and in a lovely place near Ullswater so it was a nice drive out. AND, thank heavens, we have made the decision on the stove AND committed to buy it (an AGA Little Wenlock – as big a stove as our small lounge can house). Phew. No more trawling through websites, brochures and visiting stove suppliers. Its a pity that I couldn’t be paid by the hour for all the research and trawling – it’d have paid for the stove at least twice! We can look forward to a cozy downstairs. Can’t wait.
A leisurely drive home and a couple of stop-offs to take some photos of Ullswater under increasing cloud.
For the rest of today we’re doing as little as possible and I am planning some sofa wallowing with a film or Sudoku (sad old thing!)
us and frank cat Fi | 13 Jan 2009
us and frank cat Fi | 11 Jan 2009
us and frank cat Fi | 10 Jan 2009
Hector was back at work on Monday and I had two extra days (using up hols from work from 2008). H was off to Sheffield on Tues morning and I did yet more wood burning stove research! Clarified a few points which was useful.
I didn’t sleep Tuesday night – a bit anxious about going back to work – but kept occupied watching late TV and getting up to watch the heavy snowfall which was a delight to see, so soft and heavy and pristine perfect.
I took photos of the snow falling from the doorstep…
Felt ok all Wednesday despite the lack of sleep and almost an hour trying to get to work through the snow but woke up feeling really ill in the early hours of Thursday. Severe pain and nausea. Slept on and off all day but no better. Was happy and relieved when H got back at 10 ish. Phew! Still felt grotty Friday but pain less so went to work. Took a trip to the docs that afternoon and had a long consultation that was a real comfort. Any anxieties I had about sick days from work in 2008 (7) were allayed by the Doc, with vehemence, and I’ll get all sorts checked out in the next week or two; thyroid, Bp, sugars, hormones etc. Also went away with a prescription for stronger migraine tablets and confirmation that I was suffering from stress (work related).
… and this photo of broken ice illustrated how I was feeling…
Its still very cold and the snow is compacted on the ground and gorgeously crispy, though the country roads and our drive etc are sheet ice. The weekend bodes well though – with a few chores and this evening dinner at Sally and Campbell’s – really looking forward to it!
us and frank cat Fi | 04 Jan 2009
What better way to spend a Saturday night. Good friends and a quiz and a small village hall fund raiser evening with hot pot supper (yum) made by the ladies of the Parish and puds (brought by the participants). Chris and Fiona invited us to join them for the entertainment at Crook Village Hall. There were almost 100 people there taking part, forming a roomful of teams of 4.
Its a nice hall and the atmosphere timeless. The table next to us had a tablecloth which I am certain was from as recent as the 1950′s (!) and there are portraits of the Queen and Prince Philip (also from 1950′s) hung high on the wall flanked by regal hued purple and gold balloons and streamers.
The quiz master and his young son provided a challenging series of varied questions which the four of us argued over, bickered about, but mostly agreed on the answer of… and WE WON! Joint first with another team. Who needs smart night clubs, trendy bars or posh restaurants when you can enjoy such simple and wonderful pleasures in a community spirited village and raise funds for the place too!
I doodle when I’m concentrating… meetings, quizzes etc. I don’t know Desperate Dan myself but the two boys recognised him – erroneously – from my mindless pen twiddling. Fiona thought my Boy Scout was a Tudor dressed man – ’til I turned it round for her to see. We laughed so much we made Chris cross!
us and frank cat Fi | 02 Jan 2009
us and frank cat Fi | 01 Jan 2009
Freezing conditions and fabulous weather remain and it was so perfect this morning that once everyone was up and about I sidled off on my own to look at the views and get some air and take some pohotos. I didn’t go far; just out of the village and up to Long Meg Stone Circle and to a little church tucked away up a little lane that I had not visited before. The trees and hedges and fields and everything were covered in thick white shining ice like sugar icing on a cake. We are so lucky to live surrounded by such beautiful countryside
Its still freezing and crystal clear. The perfect weather for being on holiday from work.
New Years Eve was perfect too. A fantastic dinner of roast lamb – a brilliant joint (get it!?) effort by us and Chris and Fiona. It was superb and great fun to cook. We didn’t just laze around and fester – oh dear not! – we enjoyed some quiz-style games from Chris and after dinner a brilliant quiz devised by Hector. It was superb (even thought I lost in a big way) and a lot of fun. I insisted at midnight that we go outside with some (somewhat elderly) sparklers that were initially reluctant to light – but I like them and everyone was nice enough to stand in the frosty air and indulge me!