Thursday, 6 March 2008

Bears, marmalade sandwiches and cheesey chips

Three years ago today, I met a bloke on Paddington Station who would, in no small way, change the course of my life. As I stood next to the statue of Paddington Bear waiting for the train from Exeter to arrive at its platform on March 6th 2005 - Mother’s Day - I had no idea at all that it would lead me down the road that it has.

We had written to each other by email and had shared in lengthy telephone calls, and it was clear by the time of March 6th that we had a lot in common, but there was still the question of whether we would still be suited ‘in the flesh’ so to speak.

However, as we sat sharing a few beers, and a plate of cheesey chips (alas no marmalade sandwiches to hand) it soon became quite obvious that this bloke – with his long hair and leather jacket – was someone who was going to be around in my life for quite a while.

After that day, I undertook what some described then, as a leap of faith into the unknown. I threw in my shorthand notebook and left my job at a place I had worked at since 1996, sold my house, moved to a completely different part of the country and got married again (something I had vowed I would never do after my first marriage ended). However, my intuition served me well (as it usually does) and that leap proved not to be one that saw me crashing to the bottom of some jagged-edged cliff to end in some bloody messed up pulp at its base! No sirree, it was one that has led to me sharing my life with the larger-than-life Jonathan Downes and his anarchical view on life. Three years down the line I can honestly say that I have no regrets at all in stepping off the precipice.

I now live an idyllic life in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, have made new friends, share my home with a motley crew of creatures (and somewhat untidy and oft gibbon-like blokes) and get to meet some interesting folk in my travels with Jon.

He has introduced me to his world of chaos and has encouraged me in many aspects of my life. One of the things he did was encourage me to get my book, Ethna’s Journal, finished and to publish it. I had no intention of ever publishing my scribblings – they had been something I did to get my feelings out of my head down on to paper. There was always a part of me in Ethna and, strangely, I miss her now it is finished. However, I was chuffed when it was published at the beginning of the year and even more chuffed when dear Nick Redfern interviewed me at the end of last week. You can read all about it at Thanks Nick.

A piece of self-advertising? Well yes, why not? At 51 years of age I think it is about time I blew my own trumpet.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

I saw something nasty in the woodshed

Well I did the other week, but (and here is the cue for a trumpet fanfare of gigantic proportions) the area up by the aviary is looking rather nice now that all the piles of unwanted bric-a-brac have been removed and deposited in the local municipal tip. Thanks to Graham’s sterling work the aviary is now complete and, apart from the imminent planting of some suitable greenery, is basically ready for its new occupants. What the new residents of it will be, I am not too sure yet, but I am sure they will enjoy the spacious accommodation and pleasant vista of open pasture next to them.

Arabella surpassed herself today and laid not one, not two, but three eggs! Must be the time of year. Also, one of our mice has had babies. Four tiny bundles of stripey sweetness.

You may notice from my ‘whistle while I work’ section that I have been in somewhat of an Amon Amarth mood this last month or so. I simply can’t get enough of the long-haired fellas from Sweden. Yeah OK they may screech out the lyrics in a - probably to some - incomprehensible way, but I can assure you that the words to the songs are well worth listening to. Most are based on Norse mythology, and are powerful, if not a little bloody in places.

In case any of you may be interested in their background, Wikipedia states thus: Amon Amarth is a Viking-themed melodic death metal band from Tumba, Sweden founded in 1992. It is named after a location in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. The name means "Mount Doom" in Sindarin, one of Tolkien's Elvish languages. The band was originally known as Scum, and released a single demo under that name in 1988 before changing their name to Amon Amarth in 1992. And there you have it.

Those of you who may have read my last blog may be wondering whether the absent items have been returned to their respective places. I am happy to report that yes – apart from some mugs – all seem to have made their way back to their cupboards – measuring jug included. I know who the guilty party is and no, I shall not name names – that would be too shameful of me.

This weekend we are off to the Big Cat Conference which is being held this year at Tropiquaria – not too far which is nice - from a driving point of view - and also because it will be in lovely surroundings. It also means that when the need for an occasional rest from our book stall arises, and when there is a lull in the proceedings, I shall be able to seek out the company of Odo (the gibbon), or have a quiet contemplative sit in the Tropical Hall in the company of the sweet roul roul partridge and Stanley the macaw. Heaven.

Sunday would also have been my late father's birthday. That will be a tough one to cope with.