Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Troy Comes to Ashburton

Tuesday is the day I have physiotherapy in the moorland town of Ashburton.  It's a quick hop down the road on the  X38 bus from my house and I've established a little routine.  After collecting my brownie points at the hospital, I toddle off down the hill on crutches to treat myself at Tea at Taylors, whilst I wait at the bus.  It's my new favourite cafe where the decor is exquisite and the cakes, particularly the almond sponge, are to die for.  I've even bagsied my favourite comfy chair which is near the window and is ideal for watching the world go by.

On the way there I pass the gallery of sculptor Heather Jansch who shapes life sized horse out of driftwood collected from the Devon coast.  I did a double take when I first saw her work as it is both breathtakingly beautiful and utterly clever in its construction.Sadly I have not been able to go inside as the gallery is only open on Fridays and Saturdays.   So, you'll have to make do with a ghostly equine image, taken through the shop window.  Could this  give someone a brainwave for a project made from found nature objects of their own? 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

20th Century Stories

Video: Pathe News
I just love social history and a bit of black and white footage.  A combination of the two is frankly marvellous. Are there other people out there who could spend hours watching those old newsreels that cinemas used to show before the headline film?  I bet there might be.

Well now you can access 85,000 clips of 20th Century history as British Pathe News is now on YouTube.  A little film from 1935 of a ten stone baby is one example. Click on the picture to access the link. It gives a glimpse of just how attitudes over the years have changed.  I wonder how a similar sized toddler would be viewed now.  Something tells me that there might be some sort of parenting order today... and a  ban on those chocolate bars!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Words About Walking

Image:  James Walker Tucker 'Hiking'
Do you remember that little jaunt up Saddle Tor that I did a few weeks back before my knee operation?  Just a few hundred yards was a monumental distance for me then but happily, things are changing.  That short hop would be child's play for me now.  I've devised a  walking circuit near my home through the  beautiful mixed woodland near my home that takes in part of the eighteen mile long Templer Way Trail. I'm currently walking   over two miles at a stretch so perhaps soon I'll be able to contemplate the full eighteen mile trek between Teignmouth and Haytor.  Counting chickens before they hatch and all that aside, things are looking good for a return to some serious yomping.  And I've so missed it being one of my primary raisons-d'etre!

I thought that talking about my own rambles was the perfect excuse to point you in the direction of two articles that have been published in the Guardian that may be of interest, to those, like me who label themselves as hikers.  The link under this superb picture celebrates the Ordnance Survey Map, that, though under threat from digital devices as the article suggests, can't surely disappear altogether.  That's just for the simple reason that a paper map is far less fallible than your phone or GPS system.  It doesn't lose signal or run out of battery power!

The other is an article by Carole Cadwalladr, written following her meeting with the French philosopher Frédéric Gros. Like me,  he knows the liberation on all sorts of different levels  that walking can bring.  After all he's written a book about it, A Philosophy of Walking that's due out at the end of the month.  The problem is that poor Monsieur Gros does not have time to put into practice what has discovered from his observation of how great thinkers incorporated walking into their very being. Seemingly he is rather troubled as a consequence. Let's hope that now his book is published he can get back on Shank's pony on a regular basis and experience the benefits that this simple but valuable activity confers.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Snaps Without Spending

I started my Master's study this week and you want to know the truth?  The compulsory module that is the first that I'm working through is very, very boring.   It's got to be done though as learning to critically appraise academic papers, which the unit teaches me, is part and parcel of every other bit of the course. Writing an serious essay is way different to producing a blog post.  Something tells me that the inclusion of random trivia or a joke or two isn't really going to be allowed!

The course is distant learning with Derby University and it's a bit tricky to troll up there from Devon to look at a textbook.  So access to other university libraries across the country is part of the deal. To obtain that I needed to send off a passport sized photo.  I'm sick and tired of spending a fiver in the supermarket booths so wondered if I could produce the correct sized image online. With the help of the folks at, I've done just that.  Their site not just for us peeps in the UK either.  A range of image sizes to meet requirements of other countries can be produced there.

To create a photo that is acceptable to the passport authorities, you must adhere to strict guidelines and my mugshots above, where I'm way too smiley and bits of my face are missing, wouldn't cut the mustard for this purpose. But then again, neither did one that was produced in a photo booth on my last passport renewal as it was rejected on the grounds that the background colour was wrong. Incomprehensible and annoying!  Common sense tells me that it should be perfectly feasible to produce your own compliant images.  Here's a link suggesting how that might be done.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Luscious Lemon Drizzle Cake

I recognise here that when sharing a recipe online that it is conventional to put up a picture of the finished article.  But heck, I fly in the face of orthodoxy.  What's more I forgot to take a photo at the opportune time and the cake is nearly eaten now. So, here's a shot of Louis demonstrating the very reason why kids like making sweet stuff.  It's so that they can scrape the bowl at the end of the process.

Anyway let me tell you that the lemon cake that Lou knocked up was blooming delicious.  Foolishly we gave a piece away 'Moist, excellent balance of sharpness  and texture...better than many purchased in cake and coffee shops' was the verdict that was texted to me.  Blimey!  So what is that recipe then?

Well, it's from the Flora spread website.  The link is here.  And yep Lou's cake looked quite like the one in the picture except he made it in a loaf tin.  All the ingredients bar the ones for the syrup were bunged in the food processor and whizzed.  Simples!  There was just one way in which we deviated from the original recipe.  I'm not a fan of margarine type spreads and we used proper old fashioned butter.  Give me the real stuff anyday! 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Sharing a Smile

I know that there are some areas of the country where it is considered really odd to engage with the strangers that you meet going about your daily business.  Thankfully, this is largely not the case in the West Country.  People often say hello, smile and even, shock horror!, start up conversations with complete strangers.  In the supermarket I was complimented on the necklace I was wearing and I myself , expressed admiration for a dress that another customer was wearing in a coffee shop.

Svelte Support, my lovely colleague, hit it on the head.  Like myself she smiles and chats to all and sundry.  She said that she doesn't care if some people see this as a bit mad.  That's their problem. Rightfully she pointed out that her interacrtion, might for some be the only meaningful interaction that they have with another human being in a day.  Now there's a thought to spur us all on to getting more smiley and more chatty.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Best Use For Duct Tape Ever!

Photo: The Guardian
I'm into week 4 of sick leave. Had things gone to my dizzy pre-op plan, literally thousands of craft projects would have come to fruition by now.  I like to be realistic in the targets that I set myself.

The reality?  Well, I'm doing very well in the scheme of things.  My physiotherapist is pleased and hell, lets give myself a pat on the back, I'm doing far more from a physical point of view than I expected at this stage.

But I get tired and the pain breaks through my analgesia.  I have to nap and rest so by the time I've done the exercise that I've agreed should form my rehab programme and what needs doing around the house there's little time for all that creative activity.  No matter!  I've no doubt that I'll be back to living as full and active a life as I want soon.

In the meantime I'll take inspiration from others.  Last week it was the mountaineer Jamie Andrew and today, Pascale Honore is the person who is spurring me onto greater things.  Follow this link here that will take you to the video which shows how this lady has taken to the waves again after a spinal injury.  It's so mad it made me smile and smile!