Sunday 31 May 2009

Panic on the Internet

MasterM is flying from Ecuador to Argentina,
away from the jungle and the pirate ship
and back to city life.

Or that is what MrM & MrsM thought
when they went to bed...


can you send me an email
with the times for my flight
and the code if there is one
because the email has expired
and i cant find it
and it is TOMORROW!!!!!!!!



MrM wakes up and reads message
but cannot find email
because it has expired
because he too uses AOL.



MrsM wakes up and checks her email
for the flight details
but it was not copied to her.



Lydia, the Lovely Travel Agent,
arrives at work
and provides the flight details
and emails them to MasterM
and MrM & MrsM stop quivering
and wait for news
with their fingers crossed.

Friday 29 May 2009

In The Rose Garden

We had tea on the terrace;
freshly baked scones
tiny pastries.

Then we walked over the moat
to the rose garden.

Pillars and swags wrapped
with the soft colours of early summer:


Wide banks of cat-mint
fluttering with butterflies

Enclosed by clipped hedges
and tall pastel foxgloves.

Is there a more pleasant way
to spend an afternoon?

I think not.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Excessive China Disorder

There are too many oranges
in the blue and white Fruit Bowl

and so MrsM gets out the
blue and white Mixing Bowl

and makes an orange cake*
for the blue and white Cake Plate.

*Inspired by Kristina and the "Best Cake Ever".

My recipe is by Vicky Musselman
and was originally published in Good Food
but I cannot source it online.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Learning at Work

You have not yet met
the Professor who shall be nameless
but he has a mischievous sense of humour.

He sends me a link to
the Learning at Work Day homepage.
He knows that I will be entertained
by the list of prizewinners of the
'Name the Fruit and Vegetable' Competition.

The Professor who shall be nameless
does not mention that
a Very August Colleague
is a prizewinner.

As luck would have it,
the Very August Colleague
is the next person to come into my office.

I congratulate the Very August Colleague
on this extraordinary achievement.
He glows with pride.

I got 33 out of 40.
I am amazed.

Not everyone can identify a Mangosteen, you know.
I am impressed.

I thought it was VERY unfair
that I was expected to know it was a Medjool Date.
I just wrote Date.

I am sympathetic.

I didn't recognize the Dragon Fruit
but who would?

I would!
I say.

He looks doubtful.
He is, after all,
a widely travelled,
highly respected,
senior Professor
who gets letters published in the Guardian.
If he doesn't recognise a Dragon Fruit,
it is unlikely that I will.

But it is true.
I would recognise a Dragon Fruit.


Later, MrsM recounts the story to MissM.
She looks slightly mystified.

Why did he win?
What did he call it?
Oh! I SEE ...
I thought it was 'NAME the Fruit and Veg...'
like 'Billy-Bob...the Carrot'

MrsM realises that she may have to
sharpen her act before
she gives up the day job.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Library Fines

Dear MrM and MrsM,

I am writing to inform you that MissM has some books out on loan which are long overdue. Repeated reminders have failed to effect their return.

If the books are not returned to the Library we will have to make a replacement charge on the end of term bill. I feel you would like to know of this matter, and hopefully can expedite the return of the books concerned. We are delighted that the pupils are making use of the Library, but wish to underline the fact that other pupils would also like access to these resources.

The books are:

Philosophy: the classics by Nigel Warburton
Oresteia by Aeschylus
Greek religion and society by P.E. Easterling
An introduction to Homer by W.A. Camps
Lysistrata; Acharnians; Clouds by Aristophanes
Iliad by Homer

Thank you for your co-operation.

Yours sincerely

The School Librarian


MrM and MrsM
were very impressed
when they read this letter
and agreed that it should be placed
in the family archives.

"That's my girl!" said MrM
(former classicist)

The errant MissM has promised
to return the books

Monday 25 May 2009

Shade 323

I LOVE pedicures.

My penchant is for deep red polish
with names like "Wisdom" or "Courageous".

Yesterday I was distracted by
a raspberry sorbet colour
called "Goody Two Shoes".
I accept that it was a mistake.

MissM does not make style mistakes.
She says kind things about my dubious choice
while sporting iridescent "Blue Energy".

Her weekday polish is a shimmering turquoise
with peacock depths
appropriately called "Green with Envy".

Yesterday she bought a deep viridian-green
so that her fingers and toes could glow
like the heart of the Caspian sea.
It is so stylish that it does not have a name
Shade 323.

This post is for bb
who has had to delay her pedicure.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe

It is a weekend of cloudless skies.

The roses have started to bloom
and we sit in the shade of the cherry tree,
drinking chilled white wine,
and remembering the delights of
a small courtyard restaurant in Provence.

For a few hours
everyday life
can be forgotten.

Friday 22 May 2009

Stonehenge at Sunset

If you stand with your back to the Heel Stone
at the ancient entrance to Stonehenge
this extraordinary Neolithic monument
does not seem large
under the huge Wiltshire sky.

It is only after you have stepped over the rope
and approached the great Sarsen ring
that you begin to comprehend the size
and complexity of the construction.

Walking under the massive lintel stones
into the inner circle
you feel awed by the vision and organisation
of the community that created this place
6,000 years ago.

Closer still,
you discover the pale patina of lichen
which catches the late evening light.

We were very fortunate to have
a Stonehenge expert,Andrew Lawson,
as our group leader.
His detailed description of the construction
and archaeological excavations was fascinating.

These daggers and axeheads
occur on many of the stones in the inner circle
and were carved into the rocks nearly 4,000 years ago.

Then it was time to be quiet
as the sun began to set.

It is a rare privilege
to be allowed inside the stone circle
and it was an unforgettable experience
to be there at sunset.

Thursday 21 May 2009

MasterM, Explorer

Dear Parents,

I have now returned from the 6 day trek through the jungle to the Lost City which was really good.

Unfortunately, my flip flops finally broke so I ended up walking barefoot for 2 days, I think I have 6 blisters now which is a bit annoying.

Furthermore, today when hunger was kicking in on the last of our uphill treks in about 29C I decided on my list of things which I dreamed of from home.

Caramel Digestives
Fanta Orange
Two Boost Bars
Home made tuna sandwich (white bread)
Original Pringles
Strawberry Milkshake.

If possible I would like them taken to the airport for my return.

(Mothers of teenage boys will instantly recognise
that this as a true and unexpurgated record.
Mothers of younger boys - take note.)

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Equal Opportunities

Lecture Theatre

tiered seats of excruciating discomfort
each patinated bench with a brass ink well
primrose walls and white plasterwork
black iron wall radiators
smoky glass pendant lamp

the man at the lectern
describes the manifold ways
in which discrimination should be avoided
in a dry, monotonous voice

it delights me to think
that this same lecture theatre was built
for the sole use of young women
who were educated here
but were unable to graduate
and returned to a world where
only men could vote

what would they think of this
equal opportunity legislation?

Students - 1891

Tuesday 19 May 2009

At the end of the day

We leave behind the cold rain and grey skies
to go to Evensong in the Cathedral.

Afterwards, we chat to a elderly Friar
who is a friend of MrM's father, Thomas.
MrM says "You have a new habit!
The last one had a big patch on!".
It seems rather irreverent to me
but the elderly Friar is amused,
in a saintly kind of way.

We are nearly the last to leave
and the covered stone passages are empty.

The light at the entrance to the cloister
distracts me and for a moment
the photograph is all I can think about.

Turning, I find that I am alone
and MrM and MissM have walked on
without me.

I run to catch up.

If I had not stopped
I could have listened to MissM
describe her Eurovision party
with themed food.
I would have liked that.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Some you win, some you lose.

Gusty wind
Policemen on horses
Street barbequeue
Old friends
Car park parties
Bag checks
Flags, flags, flags
A long range kick drifting wide


After the match I left MrM at the stadium
and walked back with the crowds to the station.
On the train home there were two little lads,
perhaps seven or eight years old,
who had been at the match with their dads.
They were fizzing with excitement -
for them the result was less important
than the experience of going to Twickenham.
We 'bantered' about the best London Irish player
and, fortunately, my rugby knowledge
just about took the strain.
I asked them what position they played
and when I told them that was the same as my son
they asked me where my son was.
I nearly said "On a pirate ship"
but they might have thought I was making it up
so I just said that he was walking in the jungle.
Their eyes were as big as saucers.
It was the best part of the day.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Things that are worrying me right now...

Frederick Hall (1891)

The blogging ladies of Australia.
Why are they so silent?

I hate the way my posts look
with the text randomly placed
near the photos.

Someone in Portugal
is reading through my archives
page by page.
I hope that they aren't too shocked
by the eccentricities.

Scare me.
(how do you pronouce it anyway?)

If I carry on blogging for years
will I start to write
self centred trivia?

What do you mean - it is too late?

I didn't write and thank
Mr. Eurolush(!!!)
when he left a comment.

MasterM and Pirates.

MissM and Exams.

Will it rain on Wednesday?

Should I wear my green wig
and/or green feather boa
and/or Guinness hat
to cup final match?

Or all of the above?

My new antique china dish.
Can I use it for risotto?
Will the heat damage the glaze?

I have left the lounger
out in the rain.

Friday 15 May 2009

Special Arrangements

I don't want to worry you

the invigilators have not arrived.
Could you phone the exams office?

Wait a minute!
Why is that candidate walking out of the building?

What do you mean - the invigilators are lost?

I am going to go back and reassure the other candidate.

He's gone!
This is a disaster...
we have no invigilators and no candidates.

Phone the exams office
but don't tell them
we have lost the candidates.

Ah! Here is an invigilator...

I am afraid that you will not be in the room
on the schedule because the computer centre
set up the computer in the other room.
I am afraid that we don't have a candidate either.

Ah! Here is a candidate.

Oh dear - it is the other candidate
and his invigilator is still missing.

I am going to walk around the building
and see if I can spot anyone who looks lost.


Some candidates have special arrangements
for their exams which take account
of particular challenges that they face.

These students are in individual examination rooms
and may have computer equipment or a note-taker.

This year we have a number of candidates
with special examination arrangements
including a finalist with cerebral palsy

Thursday 14 May 2009

Invitation to a Private View

The artist, smiling.
The husband, relieved.
The mature student, gesticulating.
The photographer, bored.
The research director, self-deprecating.
The gallery receptionist, blase.
The influential woman, networking.
The blogger, fascinated.


The images were taken, with permission,
at the private view of an exhibition,
Moving Patterns,
at the Royal Geographical Society.
It is the culmination of a research project
to consider the effect of migration on artistic expression.

It involved collaboration with artists
who have a variety of visual references from different cultures.
One artist amalgamates the structure of tartan
and the Indian tradition of gold and silver artwork.

Another artist uses images such as
the double decker bus and helmeted policeman
in repetitive patterns.

If you thought that
Geography was all about maps
you are so out of date.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Postcards from Colombia


Having a great time in Medellin.
Planning to head up to Cartagena
and the Caribbean.

be aware of the risk of swine 'flu
do not go too close to active volcanoes
avoid remote areas where there is a risk of kidnapping
stay away from high risk neighbourhoods in the cities


I think we might get this kind of pirate boat
to Panama which stops at these tiny islets.

Doesn't sound too bad.

Pirate boat??

Just cruisin'

Tuesday 12 May 2009


What a day!

Comments from Blackbird

and Blackbird...

and all day long

a blackbird sang outside my office.

"I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds."

Wallace Stevens

A Fantasy in Blue and White

On the outside Shobdon Church is a little nondescript,
grey and rectangular with a medieval castellated tower.

It is only when you open the door
that you fall in love.

Inside you find a confection of pastel colours
and a riotous assemblage of Gothick fantasy.
It was built by the Bateman family in 1756
in the fashionable Strawberry Hill Gothic style
inspired by Horace Walpole and the 'Committee of Taste'
and care was lavished on every detail.

The technical descriptions hint at the frivolous:
Rococo, ogee pendant arches,
lozenge shaped window panes,
oriental bamboo fretwork,
pineapple mouldings.

The Bateman family sat in the South aisle
on these elegant chairs
warmed by a substantial fireplace.

The servants sat on the other side,
below the pulpit, with no fire,
under the watchful eye of the priest.

The pulpit appears to be suspended in the air
under the extravagant canopy.

Look up the nave to the altar
and admire the barrel vaulting
and fantastical chancel arch.
Look back towards the door
and admire the carved pew ends
and elegant balcony.

What's not to love?


What happens when your camera battery dies...
just before you visit Shobdon Church?
You have to use the camera on your mobile phone.
The photos above are not edited in any way
and are an example of what can be achieved.
The trick is to hold your hand very steady
because the shutter speed is slower.
The main problems are that the colour balance is poor
and composition can be clumsy
especially without a zoom function.
I used to take a lot of photos with my mobile
and so the memory is completely full.
I had to delete five photos to make room for these images
and that made me very careful about the composition.

for Lynn, who has waited impatiently for this post.