Month: September 2012

Travel theme – Foliage

So far the weekly photo challenge has been slow to appear. In it’s absence it has been suggested that I join in with the travel theme for this week, which is foliage. I’ve accepted the challenge, and here is the story behind the photograph

We travel almost every day. We travel to work. We don’t commute as our destination is usually different each day and we might only revisit once or twice a year (with a few exceptions). Once a year, though, we return to a place that is familiar where we rest, recuperate and gather our thoughts for the busy season that is about to start. We visit Wales. Surprisingly this destination can offer photographic opportunities that would fit into many unexpected themes, but those of you that know the area will also know that foliage is something that Wales has in excess.  Frankly, I was spoilt for choice, but I have decided to show you a picture from a rather special place. There is another entry on Just Snaps, but the story is here.

Once upon a time a widow spotted an abandoned cottage. It was below road level, but had an amazing view of the river Mawddach. After much investigation and arguments with the council she was able to purchase it – and so began the long journey to recreating a garden which had been started many years before. Once a year the garden is open via the National Garden Scheme, but it is always before we visit, so we regularly miss the chance to see it. However, the lovely lady in question also has a deep rooted interest in textiles and has therefore been on several of my workshops and consequently we were able to have a private visit to this wonderful space.

Here you can see just some of the wonderful foliage that  was evident at the time of our visit, and through the gap just the tiniest glimpse of what is beyond. All constructional work has been done using items found in the garde – slate, wood, etc. So far no gold – although it is very close to an ancient mine where Welsh Gold is still found…..

The photograph on Just Snaps shows you the road level. If you look at the top right you can see the house that is just visible opposite. You’ll find the picture here.

Mind the Gap

I’m going to cheat. I’m using the title of the Weekly Writing Challenge, but it isn’t quite the correct subject. I was going to take the bull by the horns, as it were, and give you my opinion, but the more I thought about it the more this story became the inspired subject, so I hope you aren’t too disappointed….

If you have travelled on the London Underground ‘Mind the Gap’ is a recording you will have heard many times. There are other recorded announcements you will have heard too, some on a regular basis and others on the odd occasion. As a student (goodness, that was in the last century :) ) at London University I often had to travel to UCH, University College Hospital, for lectures. This necessitated a trip on the Northern Line to Goodge Street Station.

(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Unlike most other underground stations there are no escalators and access to and from the road is via lifts. There was an automated announcement that finally sent me and fellow students into hysterics each time we heard it.

In the early days of college life the announcement to ‘Stand clear of the gates’ just sounded like a normal announcement. It was calm and clear, and everyone knew what they had to do. As time went on, however, this changed. The words were the same, but gradually over time they got faster and faster. As the speed increased, so too did the pitch. The calm clear pronouncement became a frenetic screech of ‘standclearofthegates’ It was unintelligible to new travellers who would raise their eyebrows in an inquiring fashion and then follow the crowd.

I wonder what it sounds like now. Let me know if you’ve been there in recent times. My last visit was umpty years ago!

Not for the faint hearted! Do you know what this is?

You have been warned!

Any idea what this is?


It is shades of olive green with black and white markings. Those aren’t eyes, by the way, but markings. This one is about 60mm long and 10mm in diameter. It’s a fleshy creature with no hairs, but that’s a ‘horn’ on the end.

The suggestion is that it’s an elephant hawk moth, anyone know for sure?

Learning Something New Every Day

I enjoy learning. I try to learn something new each day, maybe the name of a plant or flower, but really my interests are diverse, so a new historical fact etc is equally interesting. The only thing in which I have no interest is sport. Give me a sporting fact and I will be asleep before you have got as far as the third word. I can remember most things, but sporting anything will probably be forgotten before I get to the end of this post. There are a few things I remember, but they won’t be of interest to anyone else. However, I digress, I’m trying to tell you that I enjoy learning, so waffling on about something I don’t enjoy is wasting valuable space on the  page.

So, here are three of the things I’ve learnt today. It might be information that you will find useful in the not too distant future, and of course you can always share it with friends and family so that they too can have life changing experiences

1  You can’t peel an apple with a cheese knife

2 If you want the oven to get hot you first have to turn it on

3 There is no ‘undo’ button on a WordPress post.

Undo? Yes, if you write a post and unwittingly delete it before it is  published it’s a very long process!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Solitary

For full details of the challenge, and lots more entries, follow this link.

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To Infinity and Beyond

We were woken by the sound of a lorry. Manoeuvring in our road isn’t easy. It was laid out in Victorian times when hand carts and shanks’ pony were the order of the day.  Park the odd car, and a lorry can get stuck. This one wasn’t stuck, though, it was delivering. Barriers…. What on earth? No-one knew, and this was apparent very quickly. The lorry went, then returned. More barriers, pipes and grit.

That was yesterday. Parking for some residents was a problem overnight, but we weren’t affected. This morning the barriers still stood, but we saw no evidence of work.

Until just before lunch today, that is.

Two hours later it was all over. The end of work for the day, but more to hopefully come

Tomorrow is another day. I wonder what will happen. All for BT Infinity.

That’s #100!

It will come as a surprise to most of you to discover that for the past 100 days I have been publishing a photograph from somewhere in our garden. The point is just to make a record. I chose the picture for a variety of reasons – the colour, the texture, the arrangement. I don’t claim that they are good pictures – but each one is a recording of a particular day, maybe for comparison at a later date.

Some are out of focus! For some reason, even on a really calm day, the wind will blow at just exactly the moment I want to take a closeup! This is the first picture on the blog. If you would like to see a few more this is the link. Can’t promise I’ll keep it up for another 100 days, but I’m hoping – even if I only show a picture of the ground in the middle of winter!


Amazingly I’ve seen views of over 400 in a day! It was meant as a personal record – but seems to have hit a nerve somewhere.

Remembering the ‘A Team’

Do you remember the A Team? I haven’t seen it for years and haven’t given it a thought. Until this morning, that is, so I’d be obliged if you will quietly hum the signature tune while I tell you about my early morning exercise.

Now, you didn’t know that I take early morning exercise, did you? This morning it went a little like this

Stealthily sidle along the wall to the corner

Peer round, quickly to the right and left.  All clear. Green for GO!

Run to the boundary, quick swerve and through the exit, round the car, rapid roll over the bonnet and down onto the ground. Still…. watchful, waiting, listening.


Slow but cautious creep across the road, head down, pause behind parked car to get my bearings.

Quick dash, up to speed, never mind the lactic acid, this is serious. Round the boot of a cabriolet, duck down behind the fence and rapidly approach the gate.

Wrestle with key in padlock. Trying to do it silently, head down again, open gate and another sidle, this time down the fence until I can see my target.

Stop.  Listen.  Silence.

Last dash

Across the patio, onto the step, quickly unlock the door and


Yes, it was down the road to feed the cat while a neighbour is away. It’s hard work avoiding chats with dog walkers who have lots of time! If only they would wait until evening – much more time to chat then!

Now, job accomplished, all I had to do was reverse the proceedings.

So, continue to hum, please while I …….

Tomorrow I’m definitely building a tank.

Does it matter if exam results are wrong?

I have lost count of the number of times we have been informed of problems with exam results. They have either been the result of exams that are too easy, or too hard. This year some have apparently been marked incorrectly and there is a lot of fuss over whether or not the results should be changed.

Does it matter?

In the 1950s the exam system was very different. At the age of 11 all pupils took the 11 Plus. You either passed, or didn’t. If you failed you were educated at a Secondary Modern, Grammar School was the result if you passed. Was it that simple?


At the time it was apparently more important for a boy to pass the exam than a girl. There were quotas to reach – X numbers of boys and Y numbers of girls. Many  boys failed, some by just a few points. This meant that quotas weren’t met. Conversely many girls passed, but there were no places for them. A system was introduced called ‘Second Chance’. Miraculously boys passed and girls failed. Quotas were satisfied. No fuss. No chance of argument. In fact, no-one knew until many years later.

Did it matter?

Frankly, from this distance it didn’t, but I’m sure that many of you will have a different opinion. I know a number of women who were victims of this unfair selection process and all have said that their lives have been fulfilled and satisfying. I know a number of women who went to Grammar School and regret that they weren’t able to investigate other skills that became apparent during their education. Some men grew up being channelled into jobs that they hated. Most men who were educated by that system couldn’t wait to retire.

So what do you think? Surely, if wide ranging education is available to all age groups everyone can reach their full potential in this ever changing world? The important thing is to make sure that education is affordable and available. I’d love to know what you think.