Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Minibreak

I spent the weekend at my grandparents' house in Cheltenham, to the north and west of where I am from.

I love visiting them, I get thoroughly spoiled and fed waaay too much - I had pie four times.  I was there for four days.  I got to see some of my lovely family, aunts uncles and cousins, and meet the newest members - my cousin's wife-to-be and their super cute little girls.  I read, I watched TV, I had a day in town with my Granny, window shopping, a walk in the hills...all good stuff.

My method of getting there was...interesting.  And different.  I mean, not the method, I drove a car like everybody else I don't mean I flew there by balloon or something...but I definitely took an alternative route on the way there and on the way back.  OK I GOT LOST SHUT UP OK

 This is how it's supposed to look.  I have put the start as Winchester, not where I live here but it's my closest big town and you have to zoom way into the map for any of my area to show up on the map! Pretty straightforward, right? I was doing this without a GPS but I had a road atlas in the car with me, I figured it would be a simple case of being on the right roads and just following the signs along the way.



 THIS WAS MY ATTEMPT
FAIL
UTTER AND COMPLETE FAIL
I don't know how this happened...I was trying to find this one main road called the A40 except that I couldn't and for a while was convinced that it didn't exist...until I found the end of it and drove along it into Cheltenham.  Bugger.



The return journey...........sliiiightly better.
Except for how I somehow went North immediately after leaving Cheltenham.  I didn't realise this until I got home (80 years later) and told my mum I'd been in Worcestershire (the next county over from the one that Cheltenham is in, shown here with a green dotted line) and my mum nearly died laughing because she realised where I must have gone to have got to Worcestershire.
I went through Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire in the course of my two journeys.
I was definitely not supposed to cross this many counties.





I was also stuck in a big traffic queue forever...





BUT when I finally arrived at


I had a lovely time.  Regarde:









Mmmmm haven't changed since I was about 12




























Monday, September 22, 2014

Cleanin' out my closet

Oy vay.  I am digging through YEARS worth of stuff that has been in various boxes for a long time.
It's no secret that I'm kind of a magpie.  Only instead of hoarding shiny things I tend to hoard an eccentric mixture of shiny, flowery, stripy, sparkly things and sentimental keepsakes and bottle caps and tickets and notes and schoolbooks from when I was a kid and clothes and fabric scraps and much much more.
It is time to go through it all, decide what is really worth saving, and say goodbye to the rest.  Doing this is both difficult and liberating.  Choosing what I'm ready to let go of is sometimes tough: there are things I'm proud of and things I want to remember.  Luckily I have enough saved up that even getting rid of more than half still leaves me with plenty of keepsakes.  And chucking out a biiig box full of stuff feels great.
My favourite thing that I have found so far is a picture I did for English class.  The assignment was to draw a picture of Hell based on the description in Dante's Inferno.  I did a picture paying very little attention to the description because I chose to use this task to make fun of my English teacher, who was the best teacher I've ever had and a 100% awesome guy.


My very non-committal artists' impression of Hell, based on...well, based on not Dante's Inferno anyway because I didn't read it properly before doing the homework.

Except I drew the head demon guy to look like my teacher.  Teehee

And he noticed because I didn't get a grade for this.  Teeheeheeeee.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Speed the plough

Dear friends, allow me once again to bring you into my world here.

Today I went to a ploughing match with my Dad.  A ploughing match is just what it sounds like - a contest of ploughing.  This particular one was a vintage tractor ploughing match.  Each ploughman has his vehicle and his plough.  They each get a 'plot' (section of land) and they must plough it within the allotted time and within the guidelines.  The furrows (the grooves/cuts made in the ground by the plough blades) have to be straight, not too deep not too shallow, even lines - there's a whole bunch of very specific guidelines that I don't know.  There are different classes for different categories of plough/tractor based on how old the tractor is and other stuff.  There were also a couple of ploughs that are motorised but they are not pulled by a tractor, instead they are pushed by hand by a madman strong farmer (they look like bloody hard work and one of the ploughmen with this type of plough had to give up because he was struggling so much to keep in a straight line/to break the ground.
Forty or so vintage tractors chugging back and forth across a stubble field on a beautiful September day is a lovely sight to behold.  Add a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea from the burger van and that's a pretty damn nice Sunday morning in the hills and valleys.








Dad on the left and Charlie, our neighbour who farms the land on which the ploughing match was held.  And who also plays the keyboard in our band.

I mentioned having a cup of tea at the ploughing match - let's take a minute for tea.
I am English therefore I must drink a fuck load of tea. Errrr.......yup! Yes that's absolutely correct. I have no argument. I don't know what it is but it is just ALWAYS the right time for a cup of tea here. Always.
Cold? Tired? Just woke up? About to go to bed? After a meal? Going out? Coming home? Working? Relaxing in front of the TV? Hanging with friends? Out and about? Gardening? Cooking? Asleep House on fire?
IT IS ALWAYS APPROPRIATE
TEA TEA TEA
I get through three cups by midday and goodness knows how many more by the end of the day. I don't know why this is. I don't know what compels me to drink so much tea here. Well not just me, most people. Just wanted to clear things up for everyone - yes, tea drinking is like breathing here. You just do it all day long without thinking. Right, time for a cuppa.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

More from the Motherland

First things first: I have a pretty one-track mind which means...FOOD


I'm eating everything in sight which means - sourdough bread and cheese and every single vegetable from the garden, tomatoes cucumber lettuce carrots courgettes plus raspberries from the garden and blackberries from the hedgerows and chicken and homemade chutney and homemade jam and homepickled beets and homemade sweetcorn relish and potatoes OH MY
Yep I'm eating meat and dairy - it's all so good and I know where it came from.  The end.  The best part is - hmm I need cucumber for this sandwich.  *grabs knife* *strolls out to garden* *cuts cucumber from vine* NOMNOMNOM
Going for a walk, feeling peckish? Oh look, SNACKS *picks blackberries, scarfs them down*
Country life!

Aside from the vittles, there's the scenery.
These are the immediate surroundings - some of the garden, the farmyard and the field.

Main yard at the farm

Farmyard track

Back entrance to yard

Neighbours

Vegetable patch #1 of 2

Back garden, apple trees, woodpile, sheds
Firewood

Baby roses in the flowerbed

Fallen tree across the road
Dad's car eye view
Oh yes.  That's right.
Then of course there's the company


These are not actually cows they are bullocks/steers.  I think.  :S Either way I love them they are ridiculous!


And here's a few of Alresford (you pronounce it Allssfud...yeah I know) the small and nearest town where I went to secondary school.  This is the High St which as you can see is very pretty.




I worked here for about a year and half when I was in sixth form college! It's where my dear friend Rachel met her now-husband and I was there for the first meeting, working alongside her.  Ahh memories!





Hopefully that gives you some idea of what my slice of England is like - there is more which I will be sharing in due course.  Luckily I persuaded my mum to let me use her car (at the cost of £76 for insuring myself on it) so am able to drive around, see friends etc.
Also for those interested - not a drop of rain so far.  Which is actually a bit problematic - people are trying to drill winter barley and other things having completed harvest so rain wouldn't go amiss.  It isn't a negative quality of English life, people - it is usually welcomed!