Tuesday, August 31, 2010

bill fosdike

Our lovely friend, Bill Fosdike, sadly died just over a week ago at the age of nearly 87. Moira+I got to know him and his family shortly after we’d got married at the end of 1972 and went to live in Summertown, Oxford. He was the Rector of St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Summertown. We became very close family friends (his wife Ruth is our Ruth’s godmother) and have fond memories of shared holidays in Cornwall, garden picnics, epiphany suppers, mowing church lawns, producing the weekly “teamsheet” shared service leaflets, church wardenship, the formation of ecumenical parish, voting in favour of women priests… not to mention lots of building committee stuff (amongst a whole host of other things).
He was a lovely, articulate, wise, inspiring and gentle man and became very much like a second father-figure to me. He was a great listener and one of the ironies about his own death is that there must be dozens, if not hundreds, of families to whom he became a massive support when they experienced the death of a family member. Another irony is that one of Bill’s first parishes was St Francis’s Church in Bedminster, Bristol (about a 10 minute walk from our house). What I didn’t know until very recently was that he had been a Major in the Indian Army (his Regimental Centre was near the Himalayas). He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination in 2005.
Moira+I attended his funeral earlier today at St Mary’s Church, Kidlington and, as one might have imagined, the church was absolutely packed with family, friends and colleagues wanting to pay their respects to a very special man.
Photo: Bill christened each of our daughters (from left to right: Ruth, Hannah and Alice).

greenbelt 2010

Moira+I had a lovely time at Greenbelt and met up with lots+lots of lovely friends: Cara, Gail, Ian, Sue, Si, Ed, Joe, Andrea, Steve, Sara, Bruce, Liz, Mike, Hannah, Jess, Emily, Ange, Wilf, Orla, Ellen, Mark, Victor, Joy, Jen, Brett, Jen, Adam, Anna, Iain, Anna, Rob, Anna, Dylan, Heather, Laura, Abigail, Tim, Sharon, Paul, Emma, John, Pippa, Matt, Gayle, Steve, Alan, Marc, Beth, Nick, Becky, Sarah, Rachael, Mark, Debs, Chris, Rich, Abi, Mary, Jo… not to mention the other 25,000 we didn’t know or get to meet.
PS: this is pathetic, I know, but Moira+I were so amazed at the number of friends we kept bumping into that we started making a list (I think there are nearly sixty here)… if I've missed you off, put it down to old age (apologies!).
Photo: typical morning at the wonderful Tiny Tea Tent with the equally wonderful Ian, Gail, Sue, Si and Moira.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I had my first bath for three weeks yesterday. That’s not quite as bad as it sounds, but I appreciate it will shock some people (and probably won’t surprise others). Thanks to the wonderful Mr Magnet, our new kitchen resulted in us having no hot water – after they’d replaced a radiator; they “fixed it” twice, albeit very briefly, before discovering that the hot water cylinder needed a new valve (or something). With Moira+I being away at various stages through this process, it meant that the matter has only just been resolved. Actually, Mr Magnet was pretty impressive overall, but there’s nothing quite like a bath (you’ll appreciate that I’m a bath man who has had to become a shower person over recent weeks)(or, even worse, a strip-wash person at times!). Anyway, even though I appreciate it only shows part of the kitchen, I thought I’d post this photograph for posterity – and in recognition of the fact that I’d cleared the worktops of cooking mess!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


A stunningly attractive harbour town. Its brightly painted Regency-style buildings give a feeling that the town must be sponsored by Dulux Paint. I think I visited the town “in passing” some 40 years ago, but certainly didn’t remember it as being the jewel it undoubtedly is today. We treated ourselves and stayed overnight at 3 Pen Cei, Quay Parade – overlooking the harbour. I’d found the guest house via the internet (check out the website – “Visit Wales Gold Award 2010”/5 star rating etc) and it proved to be a really, really beautiful place. Highly recommended! We were amused to discover from the town’s guidebook that Quay Parade has recently been chosen by a GoogleEarth Poll as “the fifth most picturesque street in Britain”!
Photo: Aberaeron images.

st davids

Moira+I have just arrived back from three days on the Welsh west coast. The weather predications weren’t at all encouraging but, apart from one afternoon and evening of dire, wet weather in St Davids, we felt very blessed. We stayed at a guest house (Y-Gorlan) in Nunn Street and our bedroom apparently had “panoramic views to the back of Whitesands Bay… a perfect place for relaxation and watching sunsets and changing skies, for which Pembrokeshire is famous”. With all the rain, I’m afraid we could only see a little beyond the end of the garden! We were very struck by the cathedral – quite stark and sombre by comparison with our recent experiences of Salisbury and Exeter, but with a real sense of spiritual purpose and simple elegance. I particularly liked the beautiful tower lantern above the choir.
Yesterday morning, despite weather forecasts to the contrary, the rain held off and we made our way to Whitesands Bay (but we resisted the temptation to join the surfers) and then walked towards St David’s Head along the coastal path. Somewhat pathetically (I'm pretty scared of heights!), we didn’t make it the entire way and had to turn back because I suddenly became “spooked” by the narrowness of the path, what I perceived to be sheer drops to the wild waters below and the strong wind (even though the wind direction was from the sea!). I felt very inadequate.
PS: As we departed yesterday, we learnt from our landlord that the Italian restaurant we’d frequented the previous night had been recently prosecuted for inadequate hygiene standards! We seem to have survived the experience and, actually, the food was excellent.
Photo: St David’s Cathedral (plus a couple of images from the ruined Bishop’s Palace).

Monday, August 16, 2010

devon heaven

Moira+I have just spent four brilliant days in Devon with our truly lovely friends Gail+Ian. We don’t get to see them all that often these days, but it’s always great to meet up and they are just the most wonderful hosts – laid-back, entertaining and generous (what more could one want?). Our time together started in perfect fashion with a barbeque on the beach (South Milton Sands) on sunny Friday evening - where we were joined with yet more lovely old friends Mags+Jez! We talked, we walked, we laughed, we ate, we drank, we read, we chilled… if only you could bottle these experiences (actually, I think you can!). Moira+I travelled down last Friday via Exeter (we were very impressed by what little we saw of the city) and returned home today via Knightshayes Court, near Tiverton (National Trust and, again, rather lovely – especially the kitchen walled garden)… in between we took in Kingsbridge, Dartmouth (and discovered beautiful new walks there, thanks to G+I), the Sloop Inn at Bantham and the estuary/tidal road back at Averton Gifford (river Avon) – which I find quite magical.
We’re very very lucky people.
Photo: Ian, Mags, Jez, Moira+Gail on the beach (as the sun goes down) after our barbeque.

Monday, August 09, 2010

milk snatcher (not)

So, the Prime Minister intervened yesterday (overruling his Health Minister in the process) and decided to retain the current Nursery Milk Scheme, whereby children under five receive a third of a pint of milk each day for free. It put me in mind of my first(?) political march/demonstration in 1971 (blimey, that’s 39 years ago!) when Mrs Thatcher, the Education Minister at the time, was ending free school milk for over-sevens. The cry was “Thatcher, Thatcher, milk snatcher”!
Those were the days!
Photo: slightly bizarre image off the internet (but I thought it was mildly appropriate)… apparently it relates to “office fridge wars”(?!): it seems that person 1 stuck the original "I AM FOR DRINKS NOT FOR YOUR CEREALS" notice on all the milk; person 2 then added the picture of a certain Prime Minister (ok, well it’s quite an old photograph!).

Friday, August 06, 2010

hockney at the RWA

I love most of Hockney’s work but, I have to say, I went along to the RWA’s exhibition David Hockney “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” with a little apprehension. In the event, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It seems that he’d always loved Gimm’s Fairy Tales and had read all 220 of them. In 1960, in his second year at the Royal College of Art, he apparently ran out of painting materials – but heard that everything was provided free for students in the printmaking department, so he started working there and quickly learnt the basic techniques. The 39 etchings in this exhibition were produced in 1969. I particularly liked the images from the “Fundevogel” story.
Image (rather poor quality, I’m afraid): “A wooden Landscape” from ‘Fundevogel’.
PS: Following on from recent comments about “old age” discounts, I only had to pay half price (£2.50) to the see the exhibition – which is also combined with an exhibition entitled “Near+Far” which features work from over 60 RWA academicians.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

bus passes+discounts

With Mr Magnet in full flow in the kitchen this week (we're replacing the kitchen units), Moira+I decided it was probably best to spend a fair amount of time out of the house… away from it all. In the event, we’ve had three very good days. Tuesday we drove to Salisbury and spent time in the cathedral and in the National Trust’s Mompesson House (situated in the cathedral close). We contemplated driving into the city, but ended up parking+riding and were very glad we did – not only did our bus passes mean free travel, but also free parking (AND the bus people were very nice to us too!); we also had a complimentary cream tea courtesy of the National Trust! Yesterday, we went to Clevedon – which is only a 20 minute drive from home (and got “old age” discount to get on to the pier) before driving back to the NT’s Tyntesfield. Today, we visited the American Museum at Claverton Manor, near Bath – travelling on the train to Bath (with a cost reduction for both of us, due to Moira’s “hard of hearing” concession and then, obviously, free bus travel to Claverton Manor – where we obtained another “old age” discount to see the exhibits).
Old age definitely has SOME advantages!
Photo: A picture of Moira and me together (this is a fairly rare event!) – actually, it’s only our shadows in the sea from Clevedon pier.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

bristol harbour festival

This weekend was yet another reminder why we love living in Bristol. It was the annual Harbour Festival – which is an amazing mixture of music, dance, drama, children’s stuff, fireworks and, of course, boats (plus wonderful food and drink stalls etc). The weather was perfect; the atmosphere was very relaxed and jolly… and it was all completely FREE (well, apart from the food and drink)! It seems that the event attracted some 250,000 visitors… and certainly helped show off the city wonderfully well.
Congratulations to the City Council!
Photo: images from the weekend.