Monthly Archives: February 2011

M4 Corridor

I was born around the M4 and have lived either side of my birth place, Newbury, at junctions 11 and 15 in my time. On the haul back from Devon to Essex I like to try and make it as far as Membury (just past Swindon) services before I have to stop. Years ago when I was pregnant I only made it a short way up the M5 before I had to pull over to fall asleep somewhere near Taunton. I don’t like Leigh Delamere, just past Bristol, having once spent an hour driving there to buy a jigsaw on a Sunday afternoon (prior to Sunday shop opening). They didn’t have one. I don’t like Chievely (Newbury) either because I spent a long time in the car park once waiting for the dog Rudi from the boat from Ireland, plus which you have to get involved with traffic lights which is a pain. There’s no point stopping at Reading services in my view and if I have to stop at that South Mimms on the M25 then I will have definitely lost the will to live.

I like to stop at Membury because it seems sort of equidistant and because if you are lucky you can watch the rabbits outside from the cafe. Yesterday we had the wobbliest table in the world, it was raining and there was no sign of the bunnies. On the other hand they have this mural thing at the entrance to the ladies toilets, so all was not lost.

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Putting it all in

It’s probably a bit bogus to compare attitudes in horses to attitudes in people, but its my blog so I will do it anyway.

I was enjoying a bit of a re-run of yesterday afternoons racing with AMB before the England Five Nations match (cue WBWC) and we were pretty happy to watch her morning pick Quinz win the Racing Post Chase at Kempton. She was happy because she had backed him some and I was happy for that reason, but also because I was reminded about horses and their ways. We had been to a Cheltenham preview night a few nights before and Phillip Hobbs, the trainer of Quinz, had mentioned the horse didn’t take much racing, which AMB had duly noted. We could then concur that perhaps this RP Chase was his Cheltenham, although it is looking like he may go to the Grand National (16/1).

Anyway, during the race, Quinz was making a good effort from the front before turning for home wherein the extravagantly priced (50/1) Mount Oscar started to look a bit ominous. In fact, for a time between the penultimate and last fence, it pretty much looked like Quinz was going to lose. But he didn’t. He jumped the last the best of the pair and then stuck on, dug deep, pulled more out and stayed on for pressure to the line – take your pick from the bag of racing cliches – and as I watched, and was glad, it seemed more than evident why the horse didnt take much racing: he was giving his all.

Loads of horses dont. They are bridle merchants, or need a late charge, they curl up in the shadow of the post, won’t go past one sticking its neck out, find nothing for pressure etc. etc. Its made me wonder what the majority of humans are like. If they are sensible they will, like some horses, keep a little back for themselves. If they don’t, they’d be a bit like me and Quinz – needing a long lie-down in their stable before the next effort is asked for.

In Goal

I am right fed up with these interminable grey skies, even more so since we had some sun yesterday.

This was a hot and windy day last summer on a dog walk. I like the way the ace goalie has taken her jelly shoes off neatly, all ready to stop the ball.

A boot full of bass

I used to get a bass kick like this: an elderly gold Mercedes-Benz parked up under the council flats where I lived in North London with its boot full of subwoofers and speakers. The car used to shake with the bass coming out of it and so did the flats.

Since I got a bit older I have started to miss that bass vibration coming up through your feet that you get in clubs, so yesterday was a bit of an unexpected treat. I had downloaded Read the rest of this entry

Half-term weather

Its not been good so far – this was a good day at Hadleigh Castle and that was freezing cold and windy.

Today its raining. If I didnt have things to do Id be straight back to bed for a long sleep.

Wake me up for the Craven Meeting please.

Dog as fashion accessory

Lest we forget, this is Essex.

Taken at the Village Green in September last year. I am not sure what the fate of this free festival is in the current climate.

A little bit of lake music

James Blake music. This is a young fella who is now post Dubstep. I quite like it; fingers crossed he doesn’t end up another Dido.

Of course, in the usual annoying way, you will have to make an effort and click through to actually hear it.

Lal Ghat Guesthouse, Udaipur, India

I stayed at this gaff midway round my trip round Rajasthan in the late 1990s. It was the only point in the trip when I resisted the Indian drivers incessant hotel prescriptions, for which he received a commission that you could hardly begrudge him. I wanted to stay near the lake. Mahinder, the driver, recommended a hotel in another district. This is what I wrote about the Battle of Lal Ghat.

“Finally, after nine hours on the road, we reach Udaipur. Mahinder goes without consultation, as per usual, to his preferred hotel partner. It is situated up a hill, far away from the town and the lake. For the first time in six days I put my foot down and refuse to check-in. It is not so much that the rooms are shabby, which they are, it is just that I cannot bear the thought of being stuck up here away from the town, again.

Despite Mahinders disappointed expression and his warning about the area I want to go to: dirty and smelly; I hold firm. On the journey down to the town, Mahinder stops again at yet another hotel. This one is on the lake, but not in the town. The hotel is posh, but modern. I am now committed to original character and I refuse to even look at a room – very brave.

So Mahinder gives in and drives to the area in the town that I have insisted on: near the Jagdish Temple, the City Palace and on Lake Picholas shores. The dire warnings persist: this bit of the lake is man-made with fetid water that attract very many mosquitoes, many people get a fever (malaria), the streets are narrow and crowded, no vehicle can pass along them etc. etc. I say that, in that case, I will walk. Mahinder says it is up to me, he just knows whats what. He continues that the Rough Guide or whatever book I have consulted in the matter will lead me astray, listing only hotels that are now closed, or under disreputable management. And so on.

Sometimes you have to be very thick-skinned to put up with the Indian way of doing things. I walk down an alley to the Guesthouse. I feel a bit bad because I have cost the driver his commission but he can have a bigger tip at the end of the trip to compensate.”

This is what I dug my heels in so hard for.

Turbulence: my new favourite

I love this guy: direct from downtown Kingston, Jamica. Jah Rule…

An experiment

Im getting rid of apostrophes for a while on the blog, for both possession and omission, or contraction if you prefer.

Im expecting theres going to be a huge hue and cry about this, but consider yourself part of a project, potentially for the higher good.

The argument for their usage is that they aid meaning, and, thats true. But do they actually hinder understanding? I would like to propose the motion: perhaps not as much as we think…

Education should not be about the oppression of others after all. So, for now, Ive set the apostrophes free. If you see them scampering down the road, having a pint in the pub, cheering a goal at the football, fret ye not. They have instructions and theyll be back before you know it.