Wednesday, 31 March 2010

You cannot be serious

No! It seems I have been duped. Can this be? Does this mean I have been an unwitting participant in some weird case of bigamy? Jonathan Downes does not exist?! I am really married unlawfully to someone called Mimsy Barrowclough who already has a wife and children?! I am a pawn in some crazy underworld organisation and plead my innocence of any crimes against the state.

Please, please oh powers that be - let his esteemed replacement NOT be any of those mentioned - I can suggest a few more sensible ones if I may be so bold: Viggo Mortensen, Karl Urban, Hugh Jackman, Warlord Nygard ........ any of these would make up for the most indefensible trick that has been played upon me.

Eeeee I feel like a right April Fool.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Shaken but not stirred

Absolutely nothing to do with cryptozoology, but it appears that it has all been happening in the town where I used to live. I was intrigued to read that a chap (a 30-year-old plumber) from Stamford in Lincolnshire had fitted a flamethrower on to the back of his moped. Although this is obviously not the best thing ever to be installed on to such a vehicle, I have to admit that his reasoning behind the 'extras' does touch a nerve. He was fed up of being cut up by other motorists, something we have all probably experienced and perhaps have even done ourselves on the odd occasion.

"Lincolnshire Police spokesman said: "A man was arrested on suspicion of possessing an object converted to a firearm. He was released on unconditional bail."

This was the James Bond fan's third attempt at his moped modification - it would seem that the first didn't ignite and the second burst into flames. However, this last - successful - attempt has landed the chap into hot water.

Stamford is quite a sleepy town apart from the various annual events that are held there, so to hear of someone pottering along the roads on a moped armed with such a dangerous weapon conjures up quite a picture.

Personally I would rather stick to the Aston Martin DB5 and its hidden weaponry - now that was classy.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Lazy Sunday afternoon

After suffering two clock changes within a matter of a couple of weeks, the spring bunny seems to have hopped forward a bit too much for my liking. Even the world outside seems to have come to a standstill – there is no breeze and the hedgerow outside the dining room window seems to be standing to attention as if waiting for something; the only movement within the branches and foliage being a tiny wren as she goes about her business hunting insects. Oll is outside administering to the fish tanks and Biggles is annoyed that he thinks he is missing something. Jon is in the office, and upstairs is quiet as Graham has gone away for a week on family business.

All in all a very quiet Sunday afternoon, with no post and no telephone ringing. Time to gather one’s thoughts for the week ahead and map out a plan of action. There is a doctor’s appointment on the calendar for yours truly, plus a visit from Max Blake. Olivia (and Ivan hopefully) are popping down as well, plus there is paperwork still to complete. Oh and the purchase of those chocolate items of confectionary mentioned before of course.

There will also, no doubt, be the need for donning a helm when popping one’s head over the parapet to avoid the pugnacious bullets from pusillanimous protagonists who have nothing better to do. No matter, it all adds to the entertainment value of my warts and all record of events since I became involved in the CFZ where names will be named and truths will be told that up till now, out of moral propriety, have remained locked away in their allotted alphabetical files from A for Argyll to Z for zoo. Thumbs up for the wonders of shorthand, and a daily journal where conversations are logged word for word.

On the up side I am really pleased to learn that Ruby Lang and Mike Williams from CFZ Australia will be coming down to Devon to see us in June before they go up to Scotland to the BCIB conference. It will be great to see them both and I am looking forward to meeting them and giving them a warm Devonian welcome – there may even be some traditional cream teas involved.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Snap, grackle and pop

Yesterday morning I was up bright and early (mainly due to Biggles needing to be let out) and was actually downstairs before anyone else so I had the run of the bottom of the house all to my lonesome. It was refreshing to be able to open my eyes without having to rub them furiously before I could do so – it would seem that what I thought was an allergic reaction to something in foreign climes may just be a case of conjunctivitis so it will mean a visit to the doctor to procure some eye drops I suppose.

After my second cup of coffee, I was still staring at the pile of paperwork that was to be sorted through, but once started I achieved a fair bit. Everything is now back to normal, in more ways than one, after two weeks away and I cannot believe that it is nearly Easter already! It is that time of year when you walk down the allotted aisle in the supermarket and drool at all the chocolate on display Рlet us hope they have a bit more in stock this year as it became a race against time to obtain what was required last year. It does not seem that long ago that Woolworths was buckling at the seams with the volume of the cornucopia of shapes and sizes, price tags and fillings of assorted confectionary to mark the annual occasion. But at least we were not let down and the tiny (I am sure they have shrunk) cr̬me eggs were on sale by Boxing Day! In fact, were they ever not on sale? Ah well. I can honestly say that I have not had one yet this year.

I miss the grackle. “I beg your pardon?” I hear you mutter. Although it does sound a bit like some sort of boiled sweet or even a mixture of cold vegetables fried up like bubble and squeak, it is in fact a bird. Grackles are all over the place in Texas and are the most wonderful birds to watch. They were busy at their courting displays whilst we were there and there were grand displays of feather fluttering and chest puffing-out on branches here, there and everywhere.

It is one of the best things with going abroad - seeing and hearing the different wildlife, and apart from the grackle - and amongst others - it was great to see the weird looking pelican again.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Back in the UK

Hi there.

I am back to writing on my own blog after a two week visit to Texas, and methinks it is going to take a while to adjust to being back in the UK timeline. And there are hundreds of photos to sift through and log as well as diaries to update. I have been accused indirectly of being banal by blogging about something as mundane – although necessary – as packing whilst away so I had better not mention the piles of laundry I have to sort through either for risk of more recrimination. Or maybe I should write about it in detail and of the wonders of unintentional tie-dying between dark clothing and a stray item of light underwear for example.

The two weeks away from this country to stay with our friends Richie and Naomi were for a joint reason – one to look into some interesting reports of the mysterious blue dogs, and the other to have a holiday (in fact a kind of belated honeymoon for Jon and I as we have never really had the chance to partake in such a traditional thing since we were married in 2007). So mixed in with travelling from one part of Texas to the other to meet folks regarding the first reason, it was also a time to make new friends, meet old friends, and dine out and enjoy a few relaxed evenings catching up. It was great seeing Nick and Dana Redfern again and to actually meet Ken Gerhard in the flesh so to speak, after a few years of communicating only by email.

It is lovely seeing Biggles again; I can but hope that he stops following me quite so closely as if to make sure I don't disappear on him again. The cats, on the other hand, just greeted me with a 'meow' and hovered over their food bowl as if I had only been gone for one day.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Birthday greetings

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Shoshannah
Happy Birthday to you



Here is some cake for you:


Thursday, 4 March 2010

CFZ Expedition

Just to let you know that, in the main, I shall be writing my news over on the CFZ Expedition blog for the next couple of weeks: CFZ Expedition: Texas 2010

Monday, 1 March 2010

A funny thing happened to me on the way back from the village shop

Perhaps it was my unintended stab at slapstick comedy that started the ball rolling, but after Friday night’s incident with a gas trolley I spent the rest of that evening and most of Saturday giggling. I lost count how many times I had to retake the most simple sentences whilst recording for On the Track, the one giving me the most trouble involving the words Scandinavia, Asia and the Urals in one mouthful, which ended up several times as Scandinasia (shorthand syndrome via the brain rather than the hand). As for the Urals – well that always makes me giggle. Not to mention the crabs that became grabs and the wildlife friendly farming that insisted on becoming the farming friendly farming, no matter how hard I tried to resist it.

It didn’t help, of course, that by the end of my many attempts - and the fact that a small covered microphone more commonly known as a 'dead chincilla on a stick' was waving precariously by my left eye - David was turning his head away obviously giggling and Jon was staring at me holding a can of Newcastle Brown Ale in one hand, whilst donning a pair of rather large headphones over his lug holes trying his best to impersonate Steven Speilberg. The fact that all three of us were jammed into the small office space made it even worse, as it felt like we were trying to film The Big Country in a small understairs cupboard.

And the gas trolley?

For those of you who cannot visualise to what I am making reference:


Now imagine one of these species painted dark red rather than a fetching bright yellow. Then picture it lurking surreptitiously in the shadows as it lounged against a wall outside the village shop. Imagine then a slightly befuddled woman rushing out of the shop door and turning rather too sharply into the darkness on her hurried return to the safety of her home, whilst clutching two cartons of fruit juice (one orange and one apple if you would care to know – two for £2 in fact). As said woman plonked her ungainly plates of meat on the ground one came into contact with the canister resting plate of said lurking beast which then, as if auditioning for some old Ealing comedy (or even, heaven forbid, some dreadful Chuckle Brothers advert) flung itself forward as if to hit her on the head in true slapstick style.

Well nearly, because although getting on a bit and perhaps not possessing the razor sharp reactions she used to, she did have enough left to save her head from being thwacked with the metal by raising a fist (still clutching on to one of the cartons) and saving herself. However, she did manage the obligatory “Oh goodness, dear me,” as she checked for passers-by, hidden cameras etc., before she collapsed into a fit of giggles which lasted all the way from the shop to the corner, then all the way down Back Street, through the garden gate, and into the office.

A case of an apple a day keeping the doctor away perhaps?