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Alotment day

Paid a visit today after a few weeks away and things weren't too bad - a few more weeds in some places, but almost none under the beans - do they exude some nasty other plant poison or something? The strimming was fun as usual and dealt effectively with the long grass.

The weather has been wet ad humid and it looks like a few folk have had blight attacks, but our potatoes still look okay. I picked:
  1. A few onions from the excellent crop as rain is forecast for the next few days and I'm worried they might rot.
  2. Some carrots, which are small and stocky, but have an incredibly strong carrot smell.
  3. A huge marrow- I hate marrow but leaving it on the ground seemed a waste - anyone know an edible recipe for marrow?
I expected to pick some blackberries but they are still sour as so I'll wait a few more days.
The wall supported by the contentious "pigs ear form of buttresses" has mysteriously disappeared - parish council shenanigans I expect.

Beautiful Days

Summer in England means music festival time, so we three went off for the weekend to Beautiful Days for music and fun.

As it is held just down the road from us it wasn't too long a drive on Friday afternoon to get to the site and pitch our tent. This was done amazingly fast as Enid had selected a great tent from on a trip to Trago Mills several months ago. Once set up in our home away from home we wandered off to explore the stalls and music on show.

Nouvelle Vague were fun with their cabaret style interpretations of classics such as dancing with myself and ever fallen in love. The had a nice sound but it was a bit restrained for an out door venue, suspect a CD or a smaller club are the best experience.

Sleep in the tent was easily achieved, with the family area proving to be calm enough.

Saturday saw rain hit the festival site which made me feel more inclined to sit and read in out wonderfully waterproof tent. We did venture out for some exploring, with Small trying out whittling at the Escot education display.

We listened to Transglobal Underground who put on a good set, but my day was upset by the news that John Cooper Clarke wouldn't be performing as planned. Bum! I went and listened to Ian Cognito for a while, but he just seemed to be swearing for his own amusement so wandered off for a while, returning to the little big top for Attila the Stockbroker who was swearing just as much, but with some wit and left wing vigour.

I fled from the rain for a nap, and returned to hear the last bit of Stiff Little Fingers' set - and good they were too!

Small enjoyed splashing in the mud, as we had all come prepared with wellingtons to keep our feet dry, which was a good thing cause there was a lot of mud about!

After a bit of a rest and read we ventured out again for Supergrass, who I thought were a bit tired. They seemed to be going through the motions of a festival gig without actually having much fun. The "You're a great crowd" patter sounded really forced. At least the rain had stopped by this time so everyone could dance or sit in relative comfort.

The next morning we awoke to a clear sky which made packing the tent an easy task. Plans to hang around at the festival soon gave way to the decision to escape the mud, which involved negotiating a large mud slide that had been the drive into the car park. At first we tried cutting across the car park via vacated spaces, but soon gave up as we became stuck. With some assistance we made it closer to the main drive and decided to turn on the hazard lights and wait for a tractor to tow us out as per the signs around the place. With only three tractors their was along weight. We tried to get Small to look upset hoping this would make the tractor drivers take pity on us, but Small kept laughing. The wait gave Small and Enid a chance togo off and collect Smalls clay diorama of a camping scene from a kids craft tent. Upon their return I decided to give the mud slide/exit a go, having observed a few woks having success with one particular set of tracks in the mud bath. Having suggested to a four wheel drive enabled family they give it a try, we used their free tracks as our link to the magic ruts, and with just a a few pushes along the way the rover slide and spun it's wheels all the way to the exit! Hooray!

I had a great time as did Enid and Small, so we are already planning to attend another festival next summer.

Jet planes

Mad my way by bus and plane from Exeter back to Christchurch New Zealand. Small and I are here for 5 weeks, though she is off doing family things while I visit my friends and family. The trip went well, with no technical difficulties, and shorter queues than I'd expected. Guess that's the benefit of turning up hours before the scheduled check in times. We both managed to entertain ourselves on the trip with books and in-flight entertainment systems.

New Zealand is still where I left it, and I hope to explore it over the next few weeks to see what improvements have been made while I was away. So far the only change is that TVs have grown bigger - I though in the future things were supposed to get smaller?

Brian Eno a vote winner?

Happened across the latest news that the UK Liberal Democrat party leader has called upon Brian Eno to act as the parties youth adviser.

hmm. While I admit Eno is a clever chap, I fail to see how a nearly 60 year old will drag in the youth voters. When asked what she though of Brian, Small said Never heard of hi!. His appeal I would have thought is limited to 40 something folk like me, fan's of Roxy Music, and geeks.

Maybe the Lib Dems choice of Eno is appropriate as they are as ignorable as they are interesting.
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What's up in Burma?

John Weeks made an interesting comment in an e-mail that I thought worth sharing:

"Festival of Pchum Ben, the Hungry Ghosts, is coming up in Cambodia. Why are the military in Burma so ticked off? It's because the monks are refusing to feed their family ghosts for their similar observance. Yup. In a nutshell, that's what kicked it off."

Busy weekend getting the house in order, we have several rooms now, so we can move between them as our moods allow. Rooms rock!

Been doing stuff

Okay, so it's been a few days... well actually quite a lot of days since the last post. Since then I've been to Jersey, moved house and done lots of regular stuff in England. Most of it probably wouldn't be of interest to you dear readers, and I'm not sure which bits would, so I'll open the floor for questions: if you want to know something about my life in the UK ask away and I'll answer to the best of my ability.

Golders Green asked a while ago about my trip to Jersey, so here's a travelogue of sorts. As a visual aid be sure to check out the photographs at flickr.

We flew to Jersey care of Flybe, a UK budget airline that operates out of smaller airports such as Exeter International, which consists of three sheds and a carpark. We checked in online so as to speed things up, but for some reason there was only one person at the online check in desk and about 3 at the normal check in, so we actually waited around longer than the folk in the normal check in.

The flight was quick and calm. Once on the island we decided a rental car would be useful, something we were very pleased about as our time there went on. Sure, the island isn't that big but the car gave us the time and freedom to explore. Plus petrol seemed to be cheap so it didn't cost us that much over the period. The car rental was likewise very reasonable for 6 days.

We immediately drove off to a beach for some sightseeing and a coffee at Plemont. It's a small beach surrounded by cliffs. Most of the day there is no beach at all, and with the tide in we never got to swim there but it was a nice place to sit and drink coffee.

We paid a visit to another beach, Greve le Lecq. This is much more beachy with lots of sand and several restaurants/souvenir shops close by. We wet our feet but as we couldn't find any lunch decided to drive off to the Devil's Hole, where we had some good pub grub after a nice walk to look at a blow hole in the cliffs that wasn't actually blowing....

It was then off to the guest house for a nap. I had a walk round Saint Helier looking for beach equipment. The town was pretty much like any other - the usual shops etc. I also noted that even though I had been lead to believe that it was a duty fee paradise, consumer goods weren't really that cheap. The main shopping district was your typical street mall - busy and not very entertaining, with some quaint old buildings hidden amongst the more modern shops. Enid joined me later and we had fish and chips, then visited the waterfront.

Day 2:

We went to the Jersey War tunnels in the morning for a tourist experience. We were to learn over the course of our stay that the WWII occupation was a strong part of the national identity, even now. It made me realise how protected NZ is all the way down at the bottom of the world. In the UK too, there is a sense that people live with the memories of war and it still influences them greatly in their opinions of the military and international relations.

The war tunnels were very interactive; lots of exhibitions that got you thinking about what happened. The human figures with a TV screen where the head would be that represented German soldiers were very confrontational in their presentation, challenging you to think "what would you do if a German soldier said hello?" as the video showed a man greeting you and uncomfortably waiting for a response.

After that we went walking on another beach and had a look at the quite stunning Lalique glass in the St Matthews Church at Millbrook - well worth seeing.

Next stop was St Brelade's to see a Norman era church and the medieval fresco in the Fisherman's Chapel.

Day 3:

Went off to Portelet for some swimming and sunbathing. The walk up the steps for lunch was exhausting in the heat. That evening I took Enid off to La Capannina for a lovely Italian meal. The waiting staff took their jobs very seriously. The main waiter was actually preparing many of the dishes and really knew his stuff. At the end of the meal we went for a random drive around the town, ending up in a fun fair.

Day 4:

Spent much of the day on Greve le Lecq beach lying on a deck chair. Every so often I went snorkelling but it was a relaxing, lazy day. Great beach for doing that as there is lots of sand. It was busy but not overcrowded.

Day 5:

Went to St Catherine's bay for a swim and collecting sea glass. Very very hot so we moved on to Plemont, but the tide was too high for a swim so had chips instead, and briefly visited St Ouen to look for fresh seafood - sadly the shop was shut. Retired to the B&B and a neighbouring hotel for drinks and a game of pool.

Day 6:

The trip was coming to an end. We checked out and went off to town for a look at the markets. Then to visit the Living Legends shopping village, which was rubbish. We expected some craft shops but it was all tat! Then back to St Ouen to buy some fresh cooked crab, and a picnic at Grosnez, by the castle ruins. Took the time to write some postcards, and had some drinks at the farmers inn near Agateware pottery, before the trip to the airport and home.

In all it was an entertaining visit. The main pastime for us were the beaches and had good weather most days to enjoy them. The cultural attractions were low key but interesting, though I don't think we could have entertained ourselves for many more days.

With Jersey being so close to England, and fairly cheap to get to we are amazed that more UK folk don't go there, but our B&B host told us that tourism is in decline from the good old days. We recommend it to beach bums everywhere, just don't mention Bergerac!