Fresh

Freshers week.

The week when we librarians induct Freshers into the joys of library use.

Only.

They don’t take place in the Library.

We have to trundle over to their departments and get them to use their imagination, shun, shun, shun.

I know. Weird right?

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And we don’t know what will greet us when we get to the allotted room. It could be a small, cosy broom cupboard with a handful of lovely postgrads.

Or as I experienced last week, walking through the door to be faced with a ginormous lecture theatre, tiers of seats rising before my horrified eyes.

A lectern stood in front of me. A lectern with 2 monitors and a bank of IT stuff stacked underneath it and another stack of IT stuff stacked off to the side.

And no “on” switch.

Or at least none of the buttons I frantically pressed turned anything on. At all.

Meanwhile the seats were filling up with a couple of hundred first years.

All obviously expecting entertainment.

I could hear the distant roar of the lions waiting.

And feel my face turning the colour of puréed beet root.

Reader, I turned and fled.

But only in search of a passing, random, tame academic.

Who came and found the cunningly hidden “on” switch.

Unfortunately :-)

And at the end, one little Fresher came up to me and said

“Well, at least you seem friendly”

I take my crumbs of comfort where I can :-)

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Clypping

If you’ve never tried it before, hugging a church is an interesting experience.

Sunday saw us at Painswick, a stunning Gloucestershire Cotswolds town of amber stoned buildings, to see the ancient clypping ceremony.

Painswick was also celebrating the Painswick Feast and the Apple Fair.

You could bring your own apples for pressing.

And buy puppy dog pie from the food stall.

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We were assured the pies contained beef and plum.

Much to the relief of the local puppy population.

Clypping is an olde English word meaning hugging or embracing.

Nothing to do with the topiary in the churchyard

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So after a procession around the churchyard

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The congregation forms a circle around the church, holds hands and then embraces the church

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Afterwards the children are given a coin and a clypping cake

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Sunshine, pies and mad English customs.

Unbeatable. :-)

I Hear You Calling Marian

Name that group :-) (one for you Goths out there)

This weekend we made our long awaited trip to a centre of Christian pilgrimage, Walsingham in Norfolk.

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As an agnostic with sometimes pagan leanings, this weekend was at times an uncomfortable and challenging experience.

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It was also Fascinating

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And strangely moving.

An experience more catholic than Anglican.

A drinking of holy water.

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An anointing with oil.

An invitation (unaccepted) to a laying-on of hands and confession.

A candlelit procession in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham

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This is a special place, whatever your personal faith

Ave Maria.

Renewal

It’s been a little while.

A combination of the horror of the back-to-school routine

Depression at the impending start-of-university-term teaching

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And a little bit of writers block.

A head crowded with thoughts but none of them of interest to anyone but me.

And often not even to me.

But! But. The urge to ramble and waffle is upon me again, brought about by two cheering things

Thing one.
This weekend Averil (hi Averil!) and I are heading over to Walsingham for the candlelit procession to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

And possibly fish and chips at the coast whilst we’re over that way.

There may be winkles….

Thing two

Yoga. Ha HA. This week I have managed for the first time, and on one side only, to get myself into the weird arm behind back and other arm around leg holding hands bind thingy.

This is an achievement so momentous I wanted to stop the class so I could do the “running man” whilst shouting “yeah baby”.

But I didn’t.

Om.

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Party

We invited 35 friends to the grand kitchen unveiling at the weekend.

Only, the weekend before this one? the kitchen wasn’t actually quite ready to be unveiled.

And neither was the living room, which we decided to start redecorating a couple of weeks ago.

Because that’s a great thing to do when you’ve got masses of guests due to come to the house very soon.

So it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of nailing, sawing, painting and papering over the last ten days.

But I think we made it.

Just.

Or at least we were able to strategically place furniture in front of the bits that weren’t quite finished.

I think we got away with it.

Maybe :-)

So Saturday was party day. A whirl of cooking and baking

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Triple layer Mississippi Mud Cake

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White chocolate and strawberry cheesecake.

And a lot more that I was too flappy to take photos of.

Squawk.

I make a very convincing headless chicken :-)

Vincent

Still with a bit of an art theme.

As we left Compton Verney we saw an irresistible sign.

For these

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A pick-your-own sunflowers field.

How could we not?

Armed with secateurs the children lost themselves in a field of gold, sunflowers towering above them.

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Bees buzzed.

But thankfully there were no wasps :-)

And the kids picked flowers with blooms bigger then their heads!

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I did have thoughts of getting them to paint the flowers a la Van Gogh.

But in the end we just enjoyed looking at them

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In the immortal words of Coldplay

“And they were all yellow”

Indeed, Chris Martin, indeed.

:-)

Art

It was sunny yesterday.

Youngest child had a play date so this seemed like a good day for a long overdue visit to local Mecca of High Brow Arts and Culture, Compton Verney.

I’ve been wanting to visit this season to catch the Henry Moore/Rodin exhibition.

And yes, with 5 days left for it to run, it was cutting it a bit fine.

But better late than never.

Compton is beeyootiful.

The grounds are stunning

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The house delightful

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And their exhibitions are always interesting and thought provoking.

The setting of the outdoor exhibition of sculptures was spot on.

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A Henry Moore

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But what is it mum?

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And you can’t help but be impressed at the sheer size and visual impact of some of the pieces

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And then you get to tryout some sculpture for yourself!

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Oldest child’s eyeball and entrails installation.

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But what is it mum?

Then a final walk around the sculpture trail

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Is it a Moore? Is it a Rodin?
No it’s Gwendoline the giraffe.

If you get the chance to go ( before 31st August) do! It’s very family friendly and it’s great for the kids to see pieces like these, in a setting like this.

And the chocolate cake in the coffee shop is pretty darned good too :-)

The Change

It’s there now isn’t it?

First thing in the morning, when you step out of the front door and shiver.

Late afternoon, as the sun is starting to go down and you smell the bonfires starting.

In the evening, as it starts to get properly dark.

Autumn’s coming.

I love this time of year.

It’s softer.

The light is hazier, the evenings cooler.

The hedgerows full.

So, we made our annual trip to a tiny hamlet (ha!) just outside Stratford.

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The light was dappled, the birds twittered, the bees buzzed

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The Avon did it’s gurgle-y river-y thing.

And the trees and hedges?

They were full of these

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And these

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And these

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Elderberries and rose hips and sloes (oh my!).

Oh and blackberries and damsons and apples.

And then a hazy, twittery, mellow walk back through the hamlet

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To the pretty, amber hued church

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Rose-filled churchyard

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And frankly hacked-off looking gargoyle chappie

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Finishing off the late summer day with a stop at the Four Alls, for a cool refreshing drink (or in the case of oldest child a cream and marshmallow loaded hot chocolate (well it is the turn of the seasons after all)).

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One for All

I like taking the kids to the theatre. I love it when the production is so good that they can lose themselves completely in the story.

I love it that some plays that they might struggle with reading come alive for them on the stage.

Though of course that was a bit unfortunate in the case of Alls Well That Ends Well

But we won’t revisit that here.

Ahem.

Anyway, theatre going opportunities have been a bit thin on the ground recently. The RSC has largely been sold out for plays we might fancy. The Belgrade has been particularly uninspiring.

And then a groupon offer popped into my inbox.

The Three Musketeers.

At Stoneleigh Park.

How fab is that?

So we packed a picnic, because England in Late August is going to offer a beautiful, balmy, summer evening right?

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Mmm. Blankets and hot soup all round.

But the play was great fun.

The actors were young and enthusiastic.

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The setting, especially as the sun set over the Park, was stunning.

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If you get a chance to go and see something by Boxtree Productions do go.

It’s not the RSC.

But sometimes, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

:-)

Fiction Friday

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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Girl In the Box by Robert J Crane.

Surprisingly good!

A series of books about a teenage girl with superpowers and her work with a shadowy organisation called The Directorate.

I know.

So far so predictable.

But these are actually thoroughly enjoyable stories. Fast-paced, well-written, funny. They draw you in.

And the first three vols are available free on the Kindle.

What have you got to lose?

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

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It’s been sat on my bookshelf for about three years.

But I’m finally going to do it.

I’m going in.