Monday, April 30, 2007

last ten tors training

I won’t be able to be part of the actual Ten Tors weekend in a fortnight’s time because it coincides with the SouthBank Arts Trail – so this weekend on Dartmoor was my last for 2007. I’ve really enjoyed the experience. Once again we set out from school at 4.30am on Saturday and were up again at 5am yesterday (so that the various teams could have breakfast and break camp to enable a 6am start to their on-going trek). The weekend’s weather was sunny and warm (probably rather too warm when you’ve got to carry a 30lb rucksack for nearly 30 miles!). I was lucky enough to be at the first checkpoint yesterday to sign teams in as dawn broke on another beautiful day. Pupils were brilliant again – but lots of blisters!
Another great weekend – breakfast at the Fox Tor CafĂ© is highly recommended!
Photo: Dartmoor images at dawn yesterday

Monday, April 23, 2007

southbank arts trail

It’s almost that time of year again! This time it’s an ArtsWeek – Arts Trail Weekend on 12+13 May, with a Performance Week 14-19 May. We’ll be opening up our basement again and Paul (Brown), Stu, Ruth, Hannah, Moira+I will be showing our latest stuff and we’ll also be having a “private view” on Friday 11 May too. At least that’s the theory – I’ve still got to get my act together!
Photo: number40 exhibition flier (based on an “Ubu Rex” poster by Hannah)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

babs lunch

We get together with our lovely friends Gail+Ian+Debby+Ken three times a year for “BAB’s lunches” (Barnes/Adams/Broadway) to celebrate pairs of birthdays. This time it was (somewhat belatedly) Moira+Ken. Yesterday we celebrated in Bristol, with the others travelling down from Oxford by train; Moira+I met them at the station and travelled to the harbourside by ferry (a first for us – very good except perhaps for “pleasure boat prices”?). We had a great meal at Bordeaux Quay (another first for us and highly recommended!) then relaxed outside the Arnolfini listening to excellent live music in the sunshine.
It’s what friends and weekends are for…..great time!
Photo: half of BABs (Ian+Moira+Gail – sorry Ken+Debby!) at Bordeaux Quay.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


My brother’s brilliant (despite being over 4 years younger than me)! Although we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, we get on really well and I love him dearly. Just received a lovely, entertaining letter from him - he does things like that - enclosing an Easter Card to him from John Sentamu (Archibishop of York to you) as he knows he’s a bit of hero of mine. He suggested that I either keep it for his autograph or give it to a friend called “Alan” next Easter! Three years ago Alan and I went to the Bromyard Folk Festival (just a boys’ weekend you understand!) and, despite the rain, had a really great time…. I’m currently trying to persuade him back this September (as long as he brings his impressive tent).
Photo: Me and me bruvva at BFF 2004 (picture cropped to exclude beer!)

Monday, April 16, 2007

birthday party

Scenario: thirty guests invited to a “surprise” weekend party to celebrate our lovely friend Steve’s 50th birthday at a Tudor Manor House in East Sussex (we like to associate with younger people!). Problem: it’s in April – thick coats/waterproofs, wellingtons, log fires et all. In reality of course, it was just the most glorious weekend weather and we spent lots of time eating+drinking outside, playing games and swimming!
Great party, lovely people, glorious food+drink and incredibly generous hosts.
Photo: pathetically, I forgot to take photographs of people enjoying themselves and, instead (despite the quantity of champagne, wine and port consumed the night before), got up at dawn to watch the sun rise over the Sussex countryside!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

hot air

This morning saw my first hot air balloon of the year (I think - but perhaps I’ve just not been looking?)…. despite the rather overcast conditions. I’m absolutely useless on heights, so I know I’ll never be brave enough to fly in one, but I do envy the people who do! It put me in mind of the balloon fiesta that happens in Bristol each August…. getting up at dawn to watch dozens of colourful balloons take off into the morning sky (when there aren’t any high winds, that is!).
Photo: just a few of the many images taken at the fiesta in 2005

Monday, April 09, 2007

easter people

Spent a wonderful relaxing Easter weekend staying with great friends Bob+Christine in Thame, Oxfordshire (where we lived for over 20 years). Went to celebrate Easter Day with our old church community at St Mary’s and Moira+I felt very humbled by the large number of people who still remembered us and greeted us with hugs+kisses after the service. Returned to Bristol later in the day and had a lovely time with Mikey+Iris (and their parents!) – Alice+Dave dropping in overnight on their way to Devon.
Photo: Mikey+Iris getting to know each other at home

Saturday, April 07, 2007

manchester passion

Watched the Manchester Passion on BBC3 last Easter and watched a repeat again last night. Found the whole production powerfully moving (as I did last year) – particularly the illuminated 8m long white cross being carried through the streets of the city. The use of “classic Mancunian songs” such as “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” (The Smiths) and “You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side” (Morrissey) was surprisingly apt and relevant. I’d read St John’s account of Jesus’s crucifixion in “The Message//Remix” during the course of the afternoon and found it equally fresh and thought-provoking.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Attended a well-meaning (but rather dry and awkward) Assembly at school last week given by four friendly, but somewhat imposing, members of the Gideon’s Society to a group of 11-13 year-olds. Was saddened at the answers offered by pupils to the question: “What’s the meaning of Easter?” - responses included: Easter eggs, chocolate, holidays and bunnies; only one reply (“new birth”) gave any hint of any deeper meaning. No one mentioned “Christ” or the “cross” or “crucifixion” or the “resurrection”.
Perhaps they were just embarrassed to appear too keen in front of these strangers from GS (or their peers) but, nevertheless, I found it all rather depressing.
Photo: Nun’s Cross, Dartmoor

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

blackout bristol

It’s just possible that you read my blog in December (then again!) about the huge wastages of energy due to unnecessary lighting in commercial buildings – featuring a photograph of a brightly-lit building in Canary Wharf, London taken just after midnight. Well, Friends of the Earth, Bristol is pressing people to turn off non-essential lights tonight (“Blackout Bristol”) and, over the past few weeks, has been putting together a list of the worst offending buildings. The winner/loser appears to be the new HBOS building, Harbourside – it has remained empty for nearly a year (apparently due to major air-conditioning problems) but, despite this, “all the lights are on all night”.
More power to FoE’s elbow I say!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

more ten tors training

I spent the bulk of this weekend helping out on a two-day training exercise on Dartmoor with 15-17 year-old pupils – setting out from school at 4.30am yesterday! The conditions were pretty good this time (heavy cloud and mist; rain; strong north-easterly winds; and sunshine!). My principle role was minibus driver, but I did manage to do my fair share of walking too. Pupils walked some 28 miles across rough and undulating terrain over the two days carrying their rucksacks - each weighing 30 lbs! You should try it! Once again, the pupils were brilliant (and very good value – they made me laugh!) and the number of volunteers who were out of the moor manning checkpoints was pretty staggering.
We camped in the grounds of a pub last night and, obviously, the helpers were all forced to sample beer!
Photo: teacher Emma with two of the pupils resting at a checkpoint on day one