Friday, 26 November 2010

... où sont les neiges d'antan! On the way...

Forecasters have been predicting falls of snow across the country `
“A new warning has been issued of heavy snow in south Wales, after both the north and the west were hit, causing road problems and closing schools.

More than 40 schools were shut because of snow, mostly in Denbighshire and Carmarthenshire. The Met Office issued a severe weather warning of heavy snow across south Wales on Friday afternoon. It is expected to spread south east, with more than 10cm possibly falling on higher ground.”

The moon rose last night red through the cloud (this is a quick hand -held photo) and I felt sure we would find the village covered this morning.

The morning was bright and cold, minus 2 degrees with an icy sun and no snow. Across the North and East there have been heavy falls and widespread disruption. So it feels like a ‘phoney Winter’ here, waiting for the snow to arrive.

Walters Wood, Ouston, Co Durham: photo Rebecca Wilkinson  (from

Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. Photo: Christopher Keith  (from
The fields behind the village collect the frost, being in a glacial valley. I think this makes them very beautiful and I feel fortunate to live in the English countryside.

The field with the cattle is to be given over to allotments. These are very popular in the village and are well organised and kept. It means that it is unlikely that the fields will be built on so it’s not a bad trade-off.

One of the nearer fields is to be turned into a car park for the Baptist Chapel. Hopefully, this will alleviate the parking problems on Sunday mornings, though it’s unlikely to help at other times when the Girl Guides some and go, or the Youth club. It doesn’t do to take your car out then because your chances of getting back in are small. In the field, plastic mesh is being laid and paving into the back if the Chapel site. Progress is slow, but the new Minister has demanded action because of the problem it causes to the whole village.

I’ve been neglecting the glass and I had promised myself that I’d complete the new window before Christmas.

Life takes over and Christmas is almost upon us. Hopefully, I’ll get something done this weekend.

Meanwhile, it gets colder...

Friday, 19 November 2010

Tinnitus and the thunderstorm (Simply Noise)

Once again, a morning full of Tinnitus.

The deep fog this November morning was cool and silent but the Tinnitus feels/sounds like fog in the mind; stops me concentrating, makes it difficult to listen and makes my head ache.

It's not improved by sitting in front of the computer all day at work. In fact, I think that my Tinnitus is partly caused by muscle strains in my neck so the comoputer just makes things worse, however much I adjust my chair and screen.

I spent a lot of time on the internet researching Tinnitus and there are lots of miracle cures out therebut no real explanations of the causes. i think it's more common than most of us think. Anyway, in my surfing, I came across a company called Simply Noise

They make sound files to help disguise traffic noise, office noise, etc and to help people get to sleep. Their files aren't costly - you pay whatever you decide and the one I've started to use is a free download of a 1 hour thunderstorm. I play it quite frequently and it interferes with my Tinnitus and allows me to get on with my work. They do other sounds: pink, white or brown noise (?) and Summer Waves but the one I like best is the Thunderstorm

It being November, and cold and damp, the villagers have been out around the village planting daffodil bulbs. This might not look like anything but it's a small spot where we planted the left over bulbs so, by the Spring, it ought to be beautiful.

Talking about beautiful, I've made some glass pieces for the garden. I don't want to turn the garden into a 'toy shop' but I think these are quite discreet.

Meanwhile, I've still got logs to cut and the pile grows slowly.

Friday, 12 November 2010

No more Harry Potters, please

Last night (Thursday) was the premiere of the latest Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. In an interview on BBC Radio 5Live, Daniel Radcliffe said he hoped that there wouldn’t be any new Harry Potter books. His interviewer said his statement would break the hearts of Potter fans. I think it’s easy to forget that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson, among the many others, have give 10 years of their young lives to Harry Potter; pretty much the same as JK Rowling herself gave to the writing of it.
I’ve been a fan of the Harry Potter books since the beginning. I remember reading Harry potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sitting on a terrace in Trapezaki, Kefalonia, and wondering how JK Rowling had managed to capture not just the hearts and minds of children but also of very astute and usually sceptical publishers who shelled out their money in an act of faith that JK would actually produce the goods and that the Harry Potter stories would be an unprecented success. As someone who aspires to write, I admired the way Joanne Rowling tells her story, how she set up story elements from the beginning to be the foundations of future story lines and, most of all, how she absorbed and adapted familiar story traditions, the British boarding school, the orphaned hero, the elder mentor, etc., to a deep and highly imagined saga.

I especially enjoyed reading the analysis books with their (mostly inaccurate) predictions of what would happen in the next books; I queued for the midnight release of deathly Hallows and even bought my own presentation copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard in its own velvet bag and mock volume packing.

What I took most pleasure in was waiting – waiting for the necessarily postponed pleasure of each new book, the anticipation, the speculation and the wild rumours. No other generation will have that slightly perverse pleasure of having to wait months, years, to find out how the story unravels and concludes. It’s actually a pleasure I miss in all the classic stories I love so much from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Mozart’s (and Da Ponte’s) Marriage of Figaro, Swan Lake, Lord of the Rings – I could go on for a very long time and, while I love all these stories, I know how they come out and what the denoument is. I sometimes wish I could pick up my copy of, say Porterhouse Blue without knowing that Skullion will end up a Master of the college, albeit after suffering a debilitating stroke (a Porterhouse Blue) himself (sorry if you haven’t read it – you should have). This applies to so many books on my shelves – how wonderful to embark on that journey without the knowledge of where it will lead. I suppose this is why I continue to buy such quantities of books.

All this might lead you to think that I would be excited by the prospect of more Harry Potter books but not a bit of it. I think every story should have a beginning, a middle and an end; that’s what makes them different, and often better than, real life. I also think that we’ve had a satisfying ending to the Harry Potter saga and it’s time to move on. I can’t believe that a writer like JK Rowling has no more (different) stories within her though, if she chooses never to write another, I shall always be grateful for what she has already given us.

Meanwhile, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson can be allowed to grow up and get on with the rest of their acting/modelling or whatever, lives.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Golden... November

This is the weather the shepherd shuns,
And so do I;
When beeches drip in browns and duns,
And thresh and ply;
And hill-hid tides throb, throe on throe,
And meadow rivulets overflow,
And drops on gate bars hang in a row,
And rooks in families homeward go,
And so do I.

Weathers by Thomas Hardy (verse 2)

But it hasn't been like that. I think it was the early frosts that started it. Started the changing colour of the leaves and then an unusually mild couple of weeks has meant the trees hung onto their leaves and they gently changed colour

 The little Rowan at the edge of the village that was vandalised a couple of years ago but recovered as a many stemmed bush rather than a tree took on a deep red combined with the gold and the remaining green, almost like a sign at the village entrance.

And driving out with the allotments on the left, all the hawthorns, limes and willows also took on the fiery shades.

In the garden opposite our house, the hedges and the acers are all turning and the dovecote sets it all off.

The berried holly reminds me that I have to get this year's 'Celebration of Christmas' ready. I still have to confirm the acts, get the syrup for the mulled wine sorted and order the PA system. There's wine and soft drinks to buy and others will get the food together. Tickets are selling already and everything has to be ready by the end of the month (30 Nov). Last year's show was quite a success and you're only as good as your last show.

On the way into work, all the trees are golden and in the car park, the leaves are gathering. Soon all will be bare branches and the weather will turn cold. This year we're not going away to any continental Christmas Markets, so we'll just have to grin and bear it.

Still, for the time being, the colours are very cheering.