Victory and the Carsfields

The Society for Nautical Research annual dinner was held aboard HMS Victory tonight. Because we enjoyed it so much last year, we invited Dawn and Nicktor to join us for the occasion. For reasons known only to the shortly to be found extinct gods of spelling, their surname was down as Carsfield.

Dawn quite liked it while Nicktor claimed it was because he had to use an alias given his recently acquired award winning fame. (He wrote a piece about pensions that was entered into a competition along with five big corporations. They had massive backing and contributions by all and sundry. Nicktor had a pencil, tissue paper and his own musings. And he won the trophy. We were all rightly proud.)

HMS Victory on a beautiful evening

Surnames aside, we all had a marvellous time made a little more special by being elevated to the heady heights of the Top Table this year rather than among the ratings gathered around the cannon. It was a bit tight and cramped and the table was very skinny but it felt a bit like being an officer.

Down the Top Table

I’m not sure if you can tell by the photo but there were a lot of glasses for each person…which is a nice way to segue into the next photograph. Our newest acquisition:

We’ve been wanting a glass cabinet for ages. Firstly because it would be handy to free up a cupboard in the kitchen and secondly because we thought it was very good idea. Mirinda found the funky little retro Modernist 1950’s number above on ETSY and we snapped it up at a bargain price. It arrived this afternoon and I very quickly loaded it up with all of our glassware.

It also gave us somewhere to use the runner we bought at the market in Cenac-et-Saint-Julien quite a few years ago. It has been packed away just waiting.

But, back to the Victory Dinner…

Obviously there was the lovely wander over the ship during which I staggered everyone with my lack of knowledge about it. I explained that a lot of my maritime expertise is for the period between 1811 and 1912, most notably from the advent of steam. They laughed at this fobbing off. All they wanted to know is why it’s called the ‘poop deck.’ Mirinda was concerned it had something to do with the toilet facilities.

Dawn in a dress???
What a shocker!

(The Poop in Poop Deck is actually derived from the French word for stern, la poupe and is the name of the highest part of the rear of the vessel usually forming the roof over a stern cabin. In the case of the Victory, it forms the roof of Hardy’s cabin.)

Something we were told, which formed the basis for a good deal of hilarity, was that there is no squid in the Mediterranean*. We were astounded, wondering how the Greeks were so well known for calamari when they couldn’t catch any in their closest body of water. The chap who told us this extraordinary news didn’t know. He then told us that if a giant squid came up from the bottom of the ocean (where they live) it can explode as the pressure equalises close to the surface.

This made me wonder whether ages ago, Greek chef Costas Calamari was happily having a barbeque when a great lump of squid fell on his hot plate. He fried it; he tasted it; he decided to add a bit of batter; he named it after himself.

Anyway, we all had a jolly good time. The food and wine were delicious, the company a delight. We even managed to convince the Carsfields that moving to France for two months was a fabulous idea.

Nicktor in a tie…a minor miracle

One rather odd thing though. The meal was delicious (even Dawn’s vege option) but the coffee was served cold. I’m not talking hot coffee that’s left to go cold because it was made a long time ago. This coffee was intentionally cold. After the initial shock of it not being hot, it wasn’t actually that bad and the lower gun deck was so hot and stuffy that a cold coffee rather hit the spot. It was just odd that they didn’t warn us first.

It was probably the newest (yet oldest) method of coffee brewing, the Cold Brew. It’s ground coffee that’s been…well, if you really want to know, it’s all explained here.

Who knew there are buffalo in Hampshire

* Having had time to research the squid question…it seems the chap was wrong. The type of squid that the Greeks use for calamari does, indeed, live and breed in the Med. Most notably the Loligo vulgaris which is quite abundant.

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Almost back to work

I was planning to return to the Science Museum this morning. I was up nice and early, packed the dogs up and given them over to Sue. I then received a text from Nick at Work to say he had to go to the hospital for a check up. We changed my re-start date to next week.

I guess I could have gone back to Sue and kept the dogs but I felt a bit guilty about getting her up so early…also it meant I could give the terrace tiles a good scrub without having them wanting to play constantly. And leaving wet paw prints everywhere I’d just cleaned.

So, rather than catching a train to London I headed into Farnham.

The day was beautiful – not too hot with a light breeze. The town looked lovely, bright and cheerful.

Ages ago, the jewellery shop on the corner of the Borough and Castle Street closed down. It’s a lovely old building (looks Tudor and could be, I guess) which has just stood empty. Then, the other day, I noticed there were builders inside making changes. Then a sign went up to say it had been sold to Alton Sports.

At the bus stop

Alton Sports have a store in the Woolmead which, I’m assuming, they are going to leave given the Woolmead has been scheduled for demolition since…well possibly the 1970’s. Lots of the tenants have gradually moved out though quite a few remain. I thought the departure of Iceland was going to herald a sort of mass exodus but that never happened. Peacocks is still there, for instance.

Back at home, I started scrubbing the terrace tiles. This is in order to remove the black stuff that falls from the tree and refuses to move by water pressure alone. The stuff is so stubborn that a bucket of water (with added Flash) will only manage four tiles before being replenished.

Clean left and dirty right

I have to say that it was very satisfying work. Mirinda was in her library working on a very important document for next week and I just scrubbed away under the mottled light of the tree. Presumably I was covered in tiny bits of black stuff but unless I remain there for a couple of months, I reckon it will all just brush off without me even realising it was there.

After completing two rows of four tiles, I went down to Homebase to get Mirinda some tester pots of paint colour options for the library. This gave the terrace a chance to dry off before my assault on the next two rows of four.

Muchos betros

While I didn’t quite finish – there’s still a couple of rows to go – I was very happy with the result. Mirinda reckoned they looked as good as they did when they were originally laid. I’ll take that.

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Emma day

Today Emma turned three. That’s three years of teddy bear cuteness, three years of warm loving cuddles and three years of yapping. Fortunately, the first two cancel out the last.

Emma on the Stairs ready at the Yapping Post

Three years doesn’t seem like much but I’m finding it hard to remember a time without her…though I do remember it was a bit quieter.

For her birthday we didn’t do very much. Of course I went to the gym first thing then into town where I didn’t buy her a cake.

The day started off (and continued to be) much nicer than yesterday. The temperature was down to a manageable mid-twenties and there was a slight breeze keeping things cool. Unfortunately I didn’t have the big bit of the terrace to clean (that was yesterday in the blazing heat) so it didn’t take nearly as long. Even so, it all looked lovely when I’d finished.

Then lunch, then an episode of Orange is the New Black, then to the park. Emma always knows that when the end credits start that it’s time to jump off my lap and get excited because it signals our walk. (Freya just copies Emma because every experience is a wonderful surprise for her.) It’s like the Big Ben bongs at 6pm which signals dinner…though Freya definitely knows what that sound means.

Speaking of both OITNB and Freya…apparently Freya the Barista stopped watching this new series after the third episode, claiming it wasn’t very good. I’m very surprised because I think the concept of a series that follows a prison riot and the aftermath over a period of a few days is very clever. Okay, Piper is irritating but then Piper has ALWAYS been irritating.

I admit I found the first two episodes a bit annoying because after the prison power was cut, a lot of it was almost pitch black (hard to see during the day) but once the sun came up, it was like a classic New Dawn situation as things started to ‘evolve’ from the anarchy.

Meanwhile, in the real world, we went running around the park, chasing a tennis ball and generally getting far too hot and bothered. I say ‘we’…

The rest of my day was spent doing housework in preparation for Mirinda’s return from town.

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Under pressure

The more the year goes on, the more stuff gets dropped onto the terrace from the branches of the tree in Clive’s Corner. And the more stuff that gets dropped, the more the terrace looks unappealing. It’s pretty obvious, when it gets to this stage that the Karcher needs to get busy.

Before the Karcher

Before I could get stuck into it, though, I had to high tail it over the gym for my morning constitutional.

During my Talking Newspaper session last week I read out a piece about the footpath that goes from the park to the Six Bells was going to be closed off while Virgin Media bury some fibre optics. They were not there on Monday but today the story was very different.

Footway? Really?

This meant a slightly longer walk as I had to go up and around via the main road. Not that it made a lot of difference but the alley is more pleasant than the main road. And then the same was repeated on the way back as I didn’t go shopping. Instead I had a Wednesday Skype with mum before hitting the terrace.

And what a difference a bit of high pressure water makes. The dogs, naturally, cowered inside while I managed to not just wash the terrace but also most of myself as well. Given it was easily the hottest day of the year (felt like at least 50 degrees) this was a good thing.

After the Karcher feat. the Karcher

After lunch (a very odd sauteed pork mince and eggs I invented in order to mop up leftovers) we headed to the park for a bit of exhausting ball chasing. I see the stile and new tree are starting to become part of the general landscape now.

We met a few dogs then headed for home. Actually Emma decided quite early on that she’d had enough. She always picks up her ball then walks us all home but it’s usually just before we return to the path. Today she stopped just beyond Squirrel Tree. It was really very hot.

Because it was so hot, I naturally decided to cut the grass. Fortunately it didn’t take long and I managed to survive…though it did mean an early shower.

Apart from a bit of housework, that was about it for today.

This morning I woke to the awful news that the Grenfell Tower block in North Kensington had burst into flames. The television images were extraordinary as the flames engulfed the building in mere seconds. There’ll be a lot of post-mortems and plenty of blame throwing over the next few days but I’d just like to say how wonderful the feeling of community has been. There were something like 600 people in the block and people in the local area couldn’t do enough to help them.

People offered bedrooms, clothes, food, anything they could. It was amazing. It follows on from the help that was immediately forthcoming after the London Bridge attack last week.

Also the Fire Brigade was (and continues to be) amazing. My hat goes off to all of them. Especially, the Commissioner, Dany Cotton.

We are very fortunate to be part of a society that actually cares about each other. Humans can be amazing sometimes.

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When Florence met Venice

I’m fairly certain that of all the artistic periods that I’m familiar with, the Renaissance is my favourite. So whenever there’s an exhibition of some Renaissance master or other, I rush to get tickets and stare in wide eyed wonder at the brilliance on show. It was obvious, therefore, that I should go along to the National Gallery and see the Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition. I had a ticket for lunchtime today.

Before leaving the house, I took the girls for an early walk in the park, leaving Mirinda to continue to the station, something which totally confused Freya. It was glorious morning, everything looking alive and (mostly) green.

Avenue of Trees

We met a massive dog (I thought it was a pony at first) who Freya managed to rub noses with when it bent over a long way. In fact the dog’s nose was about the size of Freya’s head. It was a very big dog. After talking to us his owner jumped aboard and rode the dog away.

We also met a pug which was very keen on playing with the girls. His owner kept apologising then cooing over the girls. She thought Freya looked like a lamb and Emma a teddy bear. Of course she as perfectly correct. We see an awful lot of dog walkers when we go up early in the morning, which is generally good fun.

Before finally heading for home, I remembered to check up on Thomas and Erika, something I noted a year or two ago.

All seems well

At home, it was a brief rest then off and out and headed for London.

The exhibition was quite crowded, which is unusual for a Tuesday but I guess it may be because the exhibition is almost over and, of course, it’s a lunchtime slot. The 10am is generally the best but it means a very early start from home. Still, it wasn’t so crowded as to be horrid and I hired a an audio guide and headed around the rooms.

The National Gallery always puts on a great show…well, from the ones I’ve seen anyway. (Actually, if I think about it, I can’t think of many exhibitions anywhere that I haven’t liked.) The inventiveness of the subject is always a bit of a treat.

Take this one. Michelangelo and Sebastiano were contemporaries. Michelangelo was well known for not getting on with fellow artists and, in fact, was quite irascible with just about everyone. Fortunately his artistic skills were far in excess to anyone else’s. I guess this meant he could be as awful as he wanted.

Sebastiano, I’d never heard of but his skills were exquisite as well. He was a great fan of Raphael and they worked together in Rome. Apparently Michelangelo couldn’t stand Raphael so, some posit, that’s why he decided to take up with Sebastiano.

St Sebastian by Sebastiano del Pombo (1518-19)

The two worked together on various projects both in Rome and Florence and there was a large and affectionate correspondence between them both. This is very unusual for Michelangelo who never wrote an affectionate letter to anyone, even his wife. The thing is, they appear to have really got on and their work together is a beautiful combination of their separate skills.

As well as seeing some amazing paintings by the pair of artists, the exhibition also had two amazing pieces.

Firstly an extraordinary copy of the famous Borgherini Chapel in Rome. Obviously the whole chapel couldn’t be moved and the paintings are painted directly onto the wall so, rather than just show a photo, the organisers recreated the chapel using 3D printing technology and hi-res imagery. The effect is amazing. It’s so real. And that’s not to mention the beauty of the painting itself.

In two halves, Sebastiano painted with oils directly onto the plaster of the wall of the chapel at the bottom, something that was very difficult until he perfected the process. This process gives the image great depth of colour and light. The painting above is a normal fresco style and while bright and cheery is not nearly as moody.

Secondly, and I have to admit to being my favourite, was the presentation of Michelangelo’s two versions of The Risen Christ. Made about five years apart, the differences are as amazing as the similarities. Most extraordinary is the ease with which the master manages to create a stone figure that looks both real and ethereal. The legs alone look like they could just walk off, something I wish mine would do.

It would be impossible to normally see them both together so this is a unique opportunity and one I took full advantage of, remaining in the room for quite a while comparing and contrasting the two. (This is despite one being a plaster copy though it’s virtually impossible to tell they are not both marble.)

Of course, no photos were allowed but I’ve snapped a few photographs from the guide book. First is the St Seb above and this one is of a story about Jesus I wasn’t aware of.

The Descent into Limbo (detail) by Sebastiano del Pombo (1516)

This is just after Jesus has died. He goes to Limbo because that’s what happens when you die and before your final destination is decided. And guess who Jesus finds there. You’ll never guess. It’s only Adam and Eve isn’t it! So these two have been hanging about for yonks, all naked and waiting for some decision to be made on their fates when all of a sudden Jesus pops in and decides they can go to Heaven. I guess that just underlines the fact that he’s a good deal more forgiving than his bastard of a father.

Confusingly, there are various interpretations of the biblical story. In most of them, Jesus actually goes to Hell (or Hades) and frees a bunch of souls, including Adam and Eve. Whichever, it makes a great story of redemption and forgiveness.

My favourite painting was The Visitation by Sebastiano. It is a meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of St John the Baptist. The faces on the two women are superb. There is so much emotion that it’s hard to believe it is merely a painting.

The Visitation (detail) by Sebastiano del Pombo (1518-19)

So, a beautiful day, a wonderful exhibition and a lovely day out.

National Gallery and Trafalgar Square

As I was leaving the National Gallery I stopped in the final gallery to take this video:

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Back to the gym

First thing this morning I was up at the gym doing the things I need to do to keep mobile. It’s a strange kind of joy that envelopes me as I puff and pant, sweat and push myself. Odd what the human body can do.

Obviously I went shopping and Starbucking after my exercise efforts. On the way home I noticed that the Swain & Jones development is progressing behind the hoardings. When I say ‘progressing’ I obviously mean that they have put pictures on the hoardings rather than leave them plywood brown. I can’t remember how long it has taken them to get this far but there was a rather long hiatus that has only recently ended.

Was Swain and Jones

I’ve written about their closure before and will keep tabs on the developing development.

Socio-photo-history aside, I was eventually back at the house. Mirinda worked from home so I was banished to the garden. That’s not exactly true. She WAS working from home but there was no banishment. In fact I spent quite a while in the office working on our tax figures to send to the accountant. (I like to say that I’m ‘doing our tax’ but Mirinda has corrected me a number of times, saying that the accountant does the tax while I supply him with the numbers. Given my numeric dyslexia, that’s a very good thing.)

But I did work in the garden a bit. If nothing else, there was the annual allium staking to do.

It’s always lovely working in the garden this time of year. The Crazy Bed is alive with bright flowers and noisy, nosy insects…

…and the lavender fills the air with its delightful scent.

Actually, we want more lavender. A long continuous line from the row we have alongside the steps, then following the Path beside the Wildflower Patch and on beyond the holly tree. I love the way the scent just wafts when you brush past the heads at this time of year. Plus, of course, they seem to love our garden enough to survive.

Another success is the mahonia. Having finally flowered it is now setting forth its stall of berries (for the birds, I assume) and a new level of hard spiky leaves have formed at the top. I know because they tend to stab me in the head whenever I go anywhere near it. I can only hope that this is a sign of affection.

Back in the winter, I took a 360 video of where I wait for the bus after the gym. I figured it only right to do the same now that summer is almost here.

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A very English Sunday

A woman accosted us in a garden today exclaiming how brilliant it is being British. “Is there anywhere else in the world,” she asked, “Where the people in a village just open up their gardens for complete strangers to wander around?” She was rightly proud of living in such an amazing place. Best of all, it was while we were looking at the various unattached body parts of Horatio Nelson which were scattered about the aforementioned garden.

We were in Chawton for their Open Gardens day. We’ve been before. This year we managed to visit a lot of gardens that we’ve never visited before. (This included the garden of a house we actually viewed back when we were looking to move away from Folly Hill. As it turned out the house was beyond our budget and we wound up buying the cottage in East Worldham. Looking at the garden now, there’s no way we’d have been able to achieve such greatness.)

Chawton main road

It was a glorious day for it as well. Clearly the people of Chawton have some sort of direct line to the Weather Gods.

Alongside the Open Gardens, they also have a scarecrow competition for the local kids. This year the theme was Horror. There was a plague doctor, an executioner (complete with decapitated heads), a weird scary nun, the various bits of Horatio Nelson and the mummy, along with many others. They were all quite clever.


As usual, the horses were out, pulling the weary footed around the village. This year it was Herbie and Silver pulling the cart. For all I know it might be Herbie and Silver every year.

Of course, it’s impossible to visit Chawton without popping into the Greyfriars for a bit of required refreshment. I have to say that Fuller’s Summer Ale is perfect on a hot day of garden viewing. Mirinda, however, went for the white wine spritzer.

All in all, it was a lovely day out enjoyed by not just us but also by Emma and Freya. In fact, it was an exhausted Freya who collapsed on the back seat almost as soon as we set off for home.


Finally, here’s a short video of Denmead, one of the new gardens (for us). The ceramic cat on the thatch has been there as long as we’ve been visiting Chawton. Apparently no-one knows quite why or when it first turned up. It is now a part of the fabric of the village.

And just to round the day off perfectly, I made a Sunday roast for dinner (lamb) which just goes to show that here at Chez Gaz, food nationality is always catered for…as long as it’s lo-carb of course.

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Politics and plants

Adam West, the original and campest Batman ever, died yesterday aged 88. He was totally the coolest guy. He’ll be missed.

The day was beautiful and bright, perfect for a bit of work in the garden while Mirinda worked on her DBA. Not so bright was the news that the Tory minority government is planning to cosy up with the Northern Irish DUP. A few things I have found out about them before I get onto more pleasant things…

From New Scientist:

DUP assembly member Thomas Buchanan has previously called for creationism to be taught in schools. In 2016, he voiced support for an evangelical Christian programme that offers “helpful practical advice on how to counter evolutionary teaching”. He has expressed a desire to see every school in Northern Ireland teaching creationism, describing evolution as a “peddled lie”.

Buchanan told the Irish News “I’m someone who believes in creationism and that the world was spoken into existence in six days by His power,” adding that children had been “corrupted by the teaching of evolution”.

Here is a YouTube video from 2014 showing how backward the DUP is. And this is the party who will hold the government to ransom over decisions affecting the normal human beings who vote in this country.

And this is when a record number (45) of LGBT members of parliament were elected this time around.

It goes to show that you don’t have to blow people and things up in order to be a religious extremist. I despair, I really do.

On a nicer, less discordant note, I heard a piece on Radio4 this morning talking about how more younger people used a mix of media to decide on their vote. Given the inherent and distasteful bias shown by the increasingly misnamed news media, they are turning to more politically challenging websites and blogs for their information. And it’s not just because they are more attuned to using the Internet for information because all the national newspapers have a massive online presence as well as traditional print. This is really, really good news for the future of the UK.

But enough of that (there’ll be another election soon enough anyway) and back to the normal, more mundane things of life. Like the garden…

When we returned from our extended visit to the southern hemisphere, one of the things we found in the garden was that all but one of the potted conifers appeared to be dying of thirst. Rather than their evergreen leaves, they were turning brown. It was difficult to ascertain whether it was because of the long dry period or some sort of disease or because the roots were waterlogged or…as I said, it was difficult. Made even worse by the fact that one of them was perfectly fine.

So, today I dug one out of its pot to examine the soil and the roots and anything else that could cause such evil actions.

The result? Completely inconclusive! There was nothing wrong with anything. All seemed fine and dandy (except for the colour). We re-potted it with fresh compost up the back with the other nursery plants to see how it goes. Very odd.

The roses are all blooming beautifully, oozing delicious scent around the arches and gazebo. All perfect for an English country garden like ours…messy English country garden I meant to say.

For dinner I treated Mirinda to a Japanese feast. Most popular was the spinach and tofu jelly which worked well enough to be left for last (always the ultimate test) though the teriyaki tuna came a close second. I also made shiitake mushroom miso soup.

A delicious way to end the day.

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A well hung Parliament?

The election that Theresa May called in order to gain some stability and give her the mandate she claimed that the British voters wanted regarding a hard Brexit, has been and gone. She didn’t win enough seats to form a majority government and, if she wants to remain, she’ll probably have to form a coalition which is pretty far from stability. I think this proves how bad she is for the country given she has no idea that having an early election is not a stable decision.

The Labour party did very well, thanks in no small part to Jeremy Corbyn (which is very funny given the number of leadership challenges he’s had to withstand since becoming leader), while UKIP was almost reduced to disappearing up its own racist butt. If nothing else, the election proved that the majority of voters who voted are not keen on the xenophobic politics of UKIP. And that’s an excellent result. I guess the whole Brexit thing was their only reason to exist.

In our constituency, naturally, the penguin won again but with a reduced majority (-4.1%). Almost 75% of our electorate turned out to vote as opposed to just over 70% in the last elections in 2015. And that’s a good thing. It’s probably because more young people voted this time after urging by just about everyone. I know that Dawn & Nicktor’s boys both did for the first time.

It’s been 30 years since the Conservatives have held a significant majority. In that time we’ve had the global financial crash, a coalition government, the awful civil war in Syria resulting in refugees which in turn resulted in a racist backlash across Europe, Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Arab Spring and the Muslim Brotherhood, Trump, social media and the growth of the Voice of the People, the Internet…to name but a few. It’s all been very turbulent and unpredictable to say the least. Not that there’s a link between the lack of a majority and all the other things…though I’m sure they’d be people who would try and draw one.

Then, late in the day, Theresa May was talking about forming some sort of partnership (she didn’t say ‘coalition’) with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. With the DUP seats, it would give the combined parties the majority they would need to get things through the House a lot more smoothly.

However, this is being seen as a deal with the devil given the DUP’s medieval attitudes to just about everything. They are against gay marriage and abortion, even in the case of rape, they believe in retrograde religious nonsense and some of them actually think the world is only 6,000 years old. They were responsible for getting the National Trust to include their Creationist views at the visitor’s centre for the Giant’s Causeway. I’d not be surprised if some of them believe the earth is flat. Clearly a good match for the daughter of a vicar.

Anyway, it makes me wish that the great Lord Buckethead had been elected in Theresa May’s seat rather than her. He managed to get 249 votes, a new record for him. Here is a link to a BBC piece on him. It’s what I LOVE about UK politics and something that MUST NEVER BE LOST!

Back in the, sadly, real world…will there be another election before the end of this year? Possibly and very, very annoying. I guess that’s the ‘will of the people.’

As for me, I woke up with gout in my right toe, where it belongs. It was fine until Freya stood on it. When I shrieked, she went flying across the room only to return looking somewhat dismayed and apologetic. I’ve been teaching her to give me a high five (like Carmen used to) and she started batting me with a paw to make me feel better. I assume.

Weatherwise, it rained all morning off and on…though mostly on. I was stuck indoors not just because of the gout but also because Mirinda’s new library chair was being delivered today. It arrived at about 3:30pm.

The material pattern is a cheeky fox, a few owls and a hedgehog. Here’s a close-up of the material:

Then, at 6pm I was off to the Maltings to see a very, very delayed live streamed La traviata from the Glyndebourne 2014 season.

It featured Venera Gimadieva as Violetta and Michael Fabiano as Alfredo. And while Venera is certainly beautiful and has a fabulous voice, she wasn’t frail enough for me. I just didn’t believe she was dying of anything, let alone consumption. Mind you, she managed a wonderful death, falling into a heap at the end. Superb.

Fabiano, however, was a perfect Alfredo. His voice, his desperate need for Violetta, his love…I thought he was utterly convincing.

Obviously, being Glyndebourne, the whole thing was wonderfully done with cast and orchestra both perfect.

Of course, as usual, the above is my opinion which is drenched in a very limited knowledge of the technicalities of opera…however, I do love La traviata and have seen a few productions to compare and contrast.

There was a pretty good audience in (around 200) and I think they all enjoyed it. I should also point out that the average age was about 70.

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Voting time

The PM said we needed stability so in a weird decision decided to call an early election…because that’s very stable. After months of campaigning, today was the day for the electorate to go and let her know what it thought.

Lion and Lamb bollard

Before voting I had an early Talking Newspaper so I set off at 8am, leaving the sad puppies yet again. Poor things. They never know when I leave if they’ll be alone for ten minutes or ten hours.

The recording session went very well. I had an excellent team (Lindsay, David and Heather with Roy at the controls) who all performed so beautifully that we went in and came out early.

There was some talk about the new system of documentation. I’d been warned (as were all the presenters) by email that it was going to happen so it was not a surprise. It makes little difference to me but it does seem like a retrograde step. Where the intro form used to be compiled on the PC, it is now hand written. Apparently, it makes it easier for the people who send the recordings out (I don’t understand how) so I guess it’s a good thing. One person, however, has resigned over it.

It didn’t affect our recording one little bit and we had a jolly good time. I’ve said before how much I like recording with Lindsay (I always put her in seat one so I can try and make her laugh) and it’s so rare that we’re rostered on together. Given I swapped with Mary for today means I fooled the roster.

Leaving early, I headed for Waitrose then to the TA to vote. And of course it rained so I managed to get a bit damp.

Having placed my cross in the appropriate box, I then headed home to two excited puppies, taking them to the park almost straight away…because the rain had stopped and they were in great need.

The park was very green.

Regardless of how the election goes, the park will always be there.

And, in an amazingly short time, my new passport turned up today having taken less than a week. Colour me very surprised.


AND, NEWS JUST IN…Sam Panopoulos, the Canadian man who, it seems, invented the pineapple pizza, died today. He was 83. I can’t abide them myself but I know Mirinda is a fan.

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