Sunday, August 27, 2006


I see in Saturday's Guardian they ran the Readers' Guide to Florence.

Some of the highlights include: the top 4 places to see - Fra Angelico's Annunciation (Convent, scene to much of Florence's history); Cappella Brancacci; San Miniato, it's graveyard plus the view of Florence; San Lorenzo - the old sacristy and Brunelleschi's interior.

I have for a number of years wanted to visit Firenze. The first trigger was my love of fountain pens that reached a peak a couple of years back. There are fountain pen makers who work independantly, making pens in small one or two man workshops. We even know someone with a relation who runs a guest house out there, the only off putting thing is that we have been told that it is expensive. From the prices quited in the paper for restaurants I can see that but something keeps nagging the back of my mind that it's as expensive as you want to make it. Some careful research, a few packed lunches and I am sure a 3 or 4 day trip could be feasible.

From photographs it is certainly a beautiful place.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Juggling at Dartington Cider Press

The humble blackberry

Rubus fruticosus, a modest wild growing fruit found across the UK, my favourite fruit; though the banana runs it a close second.

My father-in-law manages to grow delicious tasting thornless blackberries. When I planted a cutting it seemed to dwindle away, replaced naturally with a wild thorned one.

I read in a newspaper today, in ancient Greece they were used to treat ailmen5s such as gout, inflamation of the bowel, diarrhoea, whooping cough and sore throats; it also said that the pectin in them helps with arthritis and rheumatism. I have also heard that they are eschewed in Greece these days as, for the older generations, they are associated with severe shortates of food due to wartime occupation.

For my haiku writing I use the nom-de-plume Blackberry.

Dartington Hall Cider Press

Having a day at the Cider press I came across an entertainer along the lines of Richard Vobes. No not a Podcaster but a juggler with a wicked line in juggling, tricks involving great dexterity and patter.

It was the most entertaining 10 minutes I have had in a while, what with Cathy in agonies with her bad back. She is getting better but standing for move than a few minutes soon brings discomfort.

This is a very smart tourist attraction, no screaming children being the first thing I've retistered, even though this is a bank holiday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Here are a few samples of the fine day we had recently at the Eden Project. Unfortunately my Axim froze mid post so I haven't written up our trip. The main points were: pick a sunny day when most people are on the beach, (we found a Sunday to be good), pick a day with little wind (movement spoilt most of my outdoors shots), the fruit smoothie was especially refreshing after the tropical dome, (though a large one at £2.50 isn't cheap) and don't miss the Core building - I liked the educational bits and the mechanical hands on exhibit can be good for tiring children.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Things that annoy Part 2

This could become a series.

Working most of my lunch to cover the hour I had to leave early for my osteopath; then, as I leave work, remembering I came in an hour early anyway.

Power walking to get to the train with 10 minutes in which to buy a ticket; finding the queue 5 deep with 2 more being served and seemingly planning around the world train journeys.

I don't ask for much. I have caugfht the train and am waiting to find out if I can use my rail card or have to pay over the odds. There is this rule these days that means one has to pay full price when boarding the train without a ticket, unless a station hasn't ticket sales avaiable; my justification is that it was obviously a longer than 10 minute queue that I was in and I could have got a ticket but would have missed the train.

Yes! I am allowed to use my railcard - yippee. In my book one good thing can outweigh two bad, so I am evens stevens at this moment. This train should get me in good time.

There is some noise on this train, almost like something grating against the rail or wheel, it's mildly annoying but much less so than the train stopping well short of Truro. Further up the carriage people are complaining toi the guard, she is polite and explains that an engineer will be awaiting the train in Truro to try to sort the issue. She clearly stated that the noise is not a safety issue, that the brakes are working and we would not be travelling if it was not deemed safe to do so. Still the people complain, why can't we have another train and why is it so busy at the moment anyway, it isn't usually. One, this traiun company is known to use all of it's trains and not have anything of note in reserve, that all the trains are in use was again explained in a clear and polite manner; as to the business of the trains it is the holiday season, the roads are busier, as are the streets and tourist attractions. As long as one has a seat why complain? Small train companies such as this need the numbers to make it viable to run services in the Spring, Autumn and Winter, but the people who are moaning would not think oif these things. I would not want to be the guard, they annoy me and I am only a bystander.

We are debating about whether to catch a film after visiting the osteopath, I am feeling very tired; I am hoping we could go another night. It is a film Cathy has been hoping to see and this is the last cinema to show it locally. It is not the plushest of cinemas, I am not keen going and leaving kit in the car where it is - fingers crossed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

How to upset me

If you ever want to upset me then get me to do some DIY.

It has been something of a national obsession that peaked in the run up to and for a year or two after the millenium. There have been a whole host of television programmes on the subject of doing your house up and this spilled over into garden makeover shows. The good part of them is that they were a whole category of viewing that I didn't even have to think about watching or recording.

I went through the house renovating phase, in the build up to getting married at the end of the eighties. I didn't like it then and I like it even less now. It's not simply a matter of maculine pride, I am the first to admit that I have very poor wallpaper to paste skills, when it came to decorating dexterity I definitely rolled a 1 in a 100 and rerolled a second 1 in 100. Or being a warped individual in so many ways perhaps I have a superpower, the abiltiy to warp space at the precise moment I don't want it warped. I can take all the care possible in lining up sheets of paper and at the last moment, when I am committed, things shift by the smallest amount needed to make it clearly visible to the most casual of inspections. It doesn't matter if it is tiling, papering or carpet laying and even painting has it's problems.

Left to myself our cottage would have remained in an unfinished state until well after we married and moved in; it was through the help of friends, Marc in particular, that things not only took shape but were finished.

Why write about a topic that causes me to grit my teeth at the mere thought of it? This weekend I was forced to face a leaking overflow pipe on my water tank.

Knowing my limitations 15 or more years ago, I had employed an occasional plumber, (he worked when he needed the money), to sort out the plumbing when we had our kitchen and bathroom redecorated. Here comes a tip for anyone in a similar position, specify that you want things easily accessible for any future maintenance! To my horror, once I got into and across the roof space, the tank is 6 feet from a beam that doesn't have water pipes running along it; the two nearest beams have hot and cold pipes running across the top of the beam i.e. where I need to place my hands/feet when trying to get to the water tank without rupturing something - particularly of me. As it is, with only the sloping slate roof of a single storey kitchen, I can barely move and then only while crouching. After starting out, it's a few hours before I am actually ready to reach in to the tank andvremove the ballcock mechanism. Because of where the water tank is sited, I must lean forward as far as I can only feel and not see into the tank. At last I am ready to grip the split pin, squeeze and remove it; once done I can then get the bqrrel mechnism out, rub it down with sandpaper and put it all back, so it shuts the water off before it starts going out the overflow. It's not sunny out but, so hot in that little space, I am pouring in sweat, my hands are slippery, my muscles streched tight and eyes stinging; it'll be all worthwhile once I have finished. I reach in, squeeze the handle of the mole grips, only to find that one side of the split pin had snapped off at some point! Aaaaaaaggggghhhhhh!

I hate DIY.

I admitted defeat, worked my way out of the ceiling and am now looking for the name of a good plumber, (the one who fitted my stuff has passed away). If you want visual proof of how upset I was

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Trewennack Show

I had hoped to have some photos suitable for the local country show, now that I have once again been bitten by the photo bug. There are categories and they were not topics that I had taken many photographs in, such as candid, in a garden and animal/bird. I am quite critical of my own photographic work, a combination of watching club photographic competitions and a fear of criticism; I decided that I had nothing that would be of a high ennough standard, (my one cracking bird photograph had the bird larger than the maximum print size).

We went to the show as our best friend W and family, including our Godson N, had quite a few entries in various categories. It was very enjoyable, especially to see the event so well supported.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The sights you see when you haven't got your camera

We just passed a field where 10 or so pieces of equipment were laid out in two neat rows. If the field didn't seem so remote I would have said it was for a farm sale, there are quite a few of those these days with many getting out of farming unable to afford to continue.

You can see quite a bit of the old Cornwall from a train. By nthat I mean the view of farms and fields that won't have changed in many cases for hundreds of years, well barring the springing up of trees. You can see field shapes that I am certain date back a long way, based on the their shapes. Farms and cottages tucked away that have managed to avoid the modern habit of rusticating or "improving".

Whoops, that was Camborne, time to prepare for getting off at Redruth. More anon.

On the train once again

I kind of miss my train rides that had become a regular part of my commute. With the nearest station now in the town where I work my only public transport option is the bus.

I have no complaints about the bus, (the take it as you find it mindset being a neccessity). Most days I have a whole single decker and maybe one or two fellow passengers on days when a double decker runs. It's almost like having a private driver.

While I waited for the train I availed myself of the facilities and purchased a hot chocolate drink. While the chocolate was dark and had a modicum of froth, that soon dissipated, it did not compare favourably with that from St. Austell Railway Station. There the hot chocolate is made with a steamer within your sight and it has a magnificent luxuriousness about it - the froth remaining all the way to the bottom of the chocolaty goodness. (Crikey, I must be keen - a bit advertisey that but I am writing while the train whisks me to Redruth and do not have the time to amend the above prose.

As I sit here and glance about I can see the strangest thing. Beneath a seat opposite and slightly ahead of me is a small clear bowl on the floor under the seat; it contains a small amount of liquid, that rolls about the interior in time to the motion of rhe train. Who could have left such a thing? What might it have contained when full? Much more liquid than I would expect to be left over from a salad.

We are leaving St. Erth station now and heading for Hayle. Everytime I travel this area I think about getting a map to pick out the features that we pass. the Towans, the harbour so much in need of restoration, an indicator of how the fortunes of this once prosperous town have fallen, alongside the collapse of the Cornish mining industry; the church with it's cemetary standing proud above it and earlier, between St. Erth and Penzance, that little church peeping over a ridge, suggesting a route of what might be an interesting detour.

About Me

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Cornwall, United Kingdom
A married Cornishman who is getting an inkling of what he wants to be when he grows up. I currently work for the NHS. [See bottom of page for Blog Archive and Links.]