Thursday, November 27, 2008

number40 christmas exhibition

We’re having another number40 exhibition in the basement next weekend (Friday-Sunday 5-7 December). Somewhat scarily, it’s the twelfth exhibition we’ve had since moving to Bristol. Lovely Becky, from school, is one of the participating artists – together with members from the Broadway clan (daughter Ruth plus husband Stu; daughter Hannah plus husband Felix; plus Moira and me!). It could be even more of a Von Trapp (pathetic!) gathering if other daughter Alice (who can knit and bake for England) plus husband Dave (who studied ceramics at Uni) were taking part – which would be a little awkward, given that they live in Lancashire.
We try to hang the exhibition a week before the event, so this weekend is going to be a VERY busy one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

identity cards?

Yet more articles in the newspapers over the weekend about Identity Cards - on-going debates about cost; about security; about fines for failing to update registration blah blah. Ironically, I came across my OWN official Identify Card yesterday (as you might imagine, I hadn’t realised I had ever possessed such a document!). Admittedly, mine (issued for persons “under sixteen years”) expired in February 1965 but, hey, the principle seems pretty foolproof to me…. just a simple card (none of this plastic stuff), with space for a few official-looking stamps and a couple of handwritten details (name and address etc) and, crucially, a printed warning regarding changes of address: “no entry except by National Registration Officer, to whom removal must be notified”. As I say, absolutely foolproof and virtually nil cost. I think I may have to contact those chaps at the Home Office.
I really don’t know what all the fuss is about!
Photo: the latest specimen card (“expected to be up and running by 2012”) alongside my own old card.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

red wine

Had Liz, Mike, Merry-Carol+Gerry round for supper last night. Good to have time to sit and relax and to enjoy each other’s company. Gerry brought along a bottle of red that, in his words, he “just HAD to buy” while he was on his Tesco shop yesterday. It was bottle of Stormhoek “Pinotage” 2007. The wine was very enjoyable – but, as you can hopefully see from the photograph, it was the label that caught his eye:
Be Passionate
Dream Big
Be Spontaneous
Change the World or Go Home.


Saturday, November 22, 2008


We had a lovely surprise last night. Great friend Heather (neighbour from our days in Thame) contacted us to say she was in Bristol to visit her daughter Harriet and wondered if we might be available for a drink and perhaps some food (silly question)? The original plan was to meet up in the Arnolfini bar, but it was packed out when we arrived (for a private view of the exhibition we think?). We ended up at the Mud Dock CafĂ© – which was absolutely fine.
Lovely evening of red wine, laughter and stories!
Photo: strange how things work out…. I was searching through my boxes of stuff this morning looking for a particular photograph of my grandfather (which I didn’t find!) but came across this picture of Heather, taken on cold January morning walk along Chessel Beach (I think?) in 2001.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Had a really lovely day visiting our great friends Mags+Jeremy in Devon yesterday. Arrived for breakfast before walking along Lannacombe beach. We’d never been to Lannacombe before and it was just as well that Jez was driving, as we seemed to drive down endless narrow Devonian lanes to get there. But it was well worth it - and we were the only people on the beach too! We were really lucky as our walk coincided with a brief break in the weather (grey and drizzly) and we actually saw glimpses of the sun.
Back to Mags+Jez’s house for fish pie late lunch (perfect!) before watching the England-Australia rugby on tv (not so perfect!).
Long, but really enjoyable day with lovely friends.
Photo: Jez+Mags+Moira on Lannacombe beach

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11 november 1918

Ninety years ago today, as war ended, my grandfather Frank was on leave in the UK. He was only granted three brief periods of leave during the course of The Great War – from the time of his arrival at Le Havre on 19 August 1914 to the end of the conflict in 1918. The last of these began on 6 November when he was allowed back to the UK via Boulogne for 14 days leave. It must have been somewhat unreal for him to hear the news when he was away from his wartime colleagues, just after he’d arrive back at home. I suspect he might have had a couple of beers to celebrate perhaps?
I’ve just been updating the “Tracking Frank” blog (now virtually complete up until the end of 1916) based on the information I’ve compiled at the National Archives. The war diaries include map links that I've created (thanks to those clever people at Google!) showing his movements for each year of WW1.
Photo: very poor photograph of Frank, taken in 1972.

Monday, November 10, 2008

leigh woods (in the rain)

There are clearly lots of missing persons and dogs in Leigh Woods! Yesterday, Moira+I decided it would be good to go for a walk in Leigh Woods. As we set out, of course, it started to rain but we persevered and were very pleased we did – the Autumn colours were stunning (and there’s something really nice about walking in the rain – as long as you know there are dry clothes and hot drinks waiting for you when you get home!). As we set out for our walk, we came across two joggers who’d lost their dog and were calling its name somewhat forlornly. As we got back to the car, we passed a man who, happily, HADN’T lost his dog (it was at his side) – unfortunately, however, it appeared that he HAD lost his wife (well, I assume it was his wife?) and was just standing in the rain, with his sad-looking dog, calling out: ”Rachel…. Rachel….. Rachel, where are you?” at 10 second intervals. By the time we were disappearing out of earshot, his cries had become rather more desperate: “Rachel, where ARE you?”.
By this time, if Rachel had any sense, she would stay hidden in the woods for another day or so because her husband(?) was really getting pretty cheesed off – of course, it would be all HER fault - and he would probable make her sit in the very back of the car with Fido until they got home.
Photo: Autumn colours at Leigh Woods.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

birthday boy

Lovely to get together with Gail+Ian in Bristol yesterday to celebrate Ian’s birthday. Great pity that Ken+Debby weren’t able to make it too, but sometimes these things can’t be helped! Met up for lunch at Howard’s Restaurant in Avon Crescent (near Cumberland Basin) which, despite the fact that we were the only customers, was excellent – we’d never been there before, but will definitely do so again.
In our Thame/Oxford days, we used to see Gail+Ian at least once a week and we really miss seeing them more regularly than we now do. Nevertheless, it was great to have an opportunity to catch up on things and to enjoy their company again (we love them very much!).
Photo: Moira, Gail, Ian+me at Howard’s (just for the record!).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

of time and the city

Moira+I went to the Watershed again on Wednesday evening to see Terence Davies’s film “Of Time and the City” (a bit of a rush but we made it for the 6.20pm slot). Having spent a couple of lovely days in Liverpool last week, we thought this film would be a good way to cement our fond memories of the city on the basis of the following text in the Watershed’s November Programme: “Images of Liverpool past and present are magically combined with a wonderfully rich selection of music ranging from Handel to The Hollies, voices, radio clips and the director’s own voice-over narration. The result is a poetic love letter to his native city and a haunting evocation of post-war Britain.”
Well, actually, we weren’t that impressed!
Yes, there WERE some fascinating/amusing/poignant images and, yes, the musical accompaniment was at times quite inspirational but we ended up feeling somewhat disappointed by what we’d seen and, rather than a “poetic love letter”, we felt that at times Terence Davies gave every impression of being just a grumpy old man!
Photo: Liverpool's Albert Dock - taken on our trip last week.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

president-elect obama!

It feels a little like that May morning in 1997 when a new Labour government had finally been elected back into office under the charismatic leadership of Tony Blair. Rather pathetically perhaps, I’ve been listening to the radio throughout the night. At this early hour, it really does appear that Barack Obama WILL be the next US President – although I seem to recall that exit polls declared John Kerry the winner of the 2004 election and, of course, there were those “hanging chads” that “allowed” Bush to win in 2000 (eventually)!
I just pray that Obama will survive (literally) the hateful rhetoric/ threatening accusations made against him by the extreme minority during the course of the campaign.....
“unpatriotic”; “socialist”; “Marxist”; “the anti-Christ”; and, of course, there’s always the “Race Card”.
Having just listened to President-elect Obama (speaking to ecstatic crowds in Chicago), I admit that I was somewhat shocked to find myself holding back the tears!
I feel absolutely elated and at last, maybe ridiculously naively, optimistic for the world again.
PS: I note that “George W” has recently been voted equal 37th Greatest US President (out of 42!). Significantly, the other president sharing equal 37th place was Richard Nixon!
PPS: How come the world still has to suffer George W until 20 January 2009 (help!)?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


As well as visiting the Leyland mob, Moira+I decided to treat ourselves to a couple of days in Liverpool and we were genuinely very impressed. Neither of us really knew the city (although we’d both visited it on odd occasions in the past). We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Albert Dock (and can thoroughly recommend it – great location) and spent our time checking out The Liverpool Biennial and various European Capital of Culture sites (including both cathedrals, the Tate and the Walker Art Gallery) – and even found time to shop at the new Liverpool One centre! It was also lovely to meet up with Ellen+Mark again (they left Bristol in the summer to return home). The weather was very kind to us and we enjoyed a great hour or so walking along Crosby beach and being captivated by Antony Gormley’s “Another Place”.
We’ll definitely go back again – we were made very welcome and there are still lots of things we didn’t get to do!
Photo: Crosby Beach and Gormley figures.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Moira+I spent a lovely three days in Leyland with Alice+Dave et al. We went up for Mikey's+Dan's Thanksgiving Service.
I was great to see them all again - we just don’t get together as often as we’d like (they live in Leyland, Lancashire)! We were incredibly impressed by just how much progress they’d managed to make on their house and the basement is now very habitable and cosy (as we discovered for ourselves, it makes an excellent spare bedroom)! Life with the two boys is full-on to say the least and we continue to be amazed by Alice+Dave’s stamina!
Photos (left to right): Mikey; Dan; Alice+Mikey (all taken at the playground); Dan at home; and Mikey on the swings.