Friday, 9 December 2016

An Eight Red Kite Day

Dawn turned up at 8am this morning. I couldn't stay around to make her breakfast, however. I was off up the M4.

I would have loved to have had a fossick around this 13th century church in Swallowfield - so inviting with its flint walls and half-timbered porch. 

But the door of All Saints was locked and there was no note to indicate where a key might be found.  

Never mind. I saw six red kites on the way home, to add to the pair I'd spotted on the way up. At home I discovered that Breadcrumbs is featured in Writing magazine, in an article about my wonderful publishers, Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling of Indigo Dreams, along with Mab Jones's new collection.

And Ted was chuffed with his doggy bag of garlic bread. An Eight Red Kite Day. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

... who loved this spot

We vowed we'd try to get out for a bit if it's sunny on the weekend this winter, even if there's loads to do at home and even if we only get as far as the Downs. So today we went to the Downs. 

And it was a fine day for throwing a ball ... 

... and fetching a ball ... 

... and peeing on trees. 

Aren't we lucky, we told ourselves as we walked to Sea Walls. What a beautiful spot. What a beautiful balmy day. Look, spring's not far away. 

It's exactly two years since the bodies of Charlotte Bevan and her newborn baby were found below here in the gorge. 

And when we turned to walk back to the car we were in the teeth of a bitter wind. 

My grandfather proposed to my grandmother on one of the benches near here, a few days before Armistice. They were married by the end of the week. So I take an interest in the ones that are here now. Most of them seem to be in memory of someone.

This one has a QR code which made me momentarily nostalgic for the days when it was enough to know that someone had loved this spot. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Kennet & Avon Canal Christmas Floating Market

There were so many cars and coaches heading for Bath when I left the motorway at junction 18 that I kept on driving round the roundabout and rejoined the M4 to get to Bradford-on-Avon via a 10-mile detour through Chippenham. 

The Bath-bound platform at Bradford train station looked pretty busy too. I suppose they were all heading for Bath Christmas Market. What madness, when there was a dreaming, sundering, sonambulant Floating Market on in their very own town! 

I was quite early despite the detour and at first there weren't many people here.

But as the start time of 11am approached, the tow path started to fill up with punters. 

My friend Jan and I waited at Chris and Jinny's table for the off, determined to snaffle the pick of Skyravenwolf's wares for ourselves to give to loved ones for Christmas.  Just as well we did as they were soon inundated with customers. 

It wasn't long before Dru was pretty busy too. I bought my Christmas cards, and then Jan and I repaired to the Lock Inn for coffee. 

Then a quick wander to the Tithe Barn and more stalls in the West Barn where Jan herself had an exhibition a few years back.

It was good to meet up with Sue Meddings and become real life friends instead of just FB friends. 

Then a finger or two of Dru's dark and dangerous Kraken rum and it was time to head back home, with considerably less money in my bag than I'd set out with. But hey - Christmas shopping done. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

A Special Relationship

My co-worker, Mary, popped into my office during her break yesterday and we had a little chat, in which she mentioned that her cousin had been visiting from America last week, in the company of a Trump-voting friend whom Mary and her family had never met before. We had a bit of a snicker over the way the conversation had developed around the dinner table - apparently, it took until the cheese course for the Trumpette to bluster that they'd voted as a protest against the establishment and for the common man blah blah blah, much like the Brexiteers who failed to spot how much worse off the common man (and especially woman) is going to be once they've been stripped of their EU citizenship but hey, we can buy our Cheddar in the pounds and ounces that no one under the age of 40 knows how to use now, can't we? And then Mary said how her Democrat-voting cousin had showed her 'this really brilliant meme about Brexit and Trump, which was the outlines of -

I knew exactly what she was going to say. 

'- both countries, with an arrow on the US map and 'I'm with stupid' on it.'

Well, you know your clever, funny friend has gone well and truly viral when that happens, don't you? 

Here's Dru Marland's own blog about her design and its odyssey around the world. 

And more importantly, here's where to buy your Special Relationship Christmas presents and support an artist living by her work.


Saturday, 19 November 2016

That's how the light gets in

This came up on my Facebook feed today; an FB-manufactured 'memory' from this day last year, when my partner shared it with me. I was glad to be reminded of it, however. It's been a black ten days, but there have been moments of light.

On Sunday we went to see Blackbeard's Tea Party at the Bristol Folk House - an annual event, as I am Band Auntie. 

Earlier, up the pub, I'd talked with my nephew and niece-in-law about how to write the political songs the times demand without descending into rant.  The answer, of course, is to find a historical parallel and use that. The same stories love to repeat themselves, and giving the listener the chance to make the connections makes the message more powerful. This was borne out at the gig when they played 'The Diggers' Song' - 'Stand up now, Diggers all!' - which felt positive and apposite. 

Just down the road on College Green 19,240 small wrapped figures were laid out in straight lines in an installation called 'Shrouds of the Somme' - one for each man killed on the first day of the battle a century ago. A reminder of where intolerance and war-mongering leads us. 

On Wednesday we had tickets to see Jonathan Pie, whose political rants I find funny, though I'm not sure how well they translate to a longer show. Or maybe it was just that with the election of Trump, reality has far outstripped satire. 

Yesterday, I was on parental chauffeur duty which required me to drive Chew Magna in Somerset - somewhere I've driven through many times but never actually visited. I bunked off for an hour or two and visited the Church of St Andrew. 


There was a striking play of sunlight and shadow in there. 

On one of the pillars, some impressive graffiti with serifs

There are also some interesting tombs. These are the cherubs on the tomb to Edward Baber and his wife, Anne, who died in 1578 and 1601 respectively. 

And this is a detail of the tomb of Sir John St Lo (died 1447) and, probably, his wife Agnes. Sir John - and his effigy - are 0ver seven feet tall. For some reason he looks a bit perplexed ...

... unlike this fine fellow. Wooden effigies are quite rare - we saw one at the Church of St Bartholomew in Much Marcle back in the summer - and this one is strangely vital. 

The Victorian inscription proclaims him to be Sir John Hauteville (1216-1272) but the style of armour sported by this knight is 200 years later than the last of the de Hautevilles. 

Whoever he is, the inscrutably smiling knight isn't letting on. 

Finally, today I met up with Dru who's currently moored near Limpley Stoke in Wiltshire and we travelled to Westbury to pick up a picture I've bought from the lovely artist, Kat Otterbee. On  the way we stopped off to buy some potato sacks of logs, Kat's currency of choice. It feels good to buy unique Christmas presents direct from artists, rather than chain stores and multinationals - a small protest against capitalism and exploitation. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Leonard Cohen Songbook

I asked my sister for 'Songs of Leonard Cohen' for my 15th birthday. I know because this songbook tells me. 

I bought New Skin For The Old Ceremony nine days later, probably with my birthday money. Virgin Records at that time was a tiny shop off the Bearpit (we called it the Haymarket) in Bristol, by the entrance to Bus Station. It smelt strongly of joss sticks and was full of blokes flicking earnestly through boxes of LPs in alphabetical order. I found it quite intimidating going in there. Tried to look cool. Failed. 
Around this time I got a Saturday job in the office of a department store called Maggs & Co on Queens Road, Bristol - the old-fashioned sort with counters and uniformed lift operatives that don't exist any more. I also used to walk the three and a half miles to school and back every day to save my bus fare - 10p each way.

It took me till 11th December to save up for 'Songs of Love and Hate'. What a dark, scary album that is ... yet I must have preferred it over 'Songs from a Room', because I didn't buy that till February 22nd 1977. How many hundreds of miles must I have walked by then?  

And did I nearly wear my single of 'Do I Have To Dance All Night?' out, to transcribe the lyrics in my best handwriting without a single crossing out? 

I think it was love. And no callow, clammy-handed youth of my acquaintance ever came close.