Sunday, 27 September 2009

Capital idea?

Generally, I try to avoid going to London - nasty, dirty place - but a niece's birthday dinner dragged me there recently.

Nice meal, good company, horrible journey home on a packed tube (everyone in my village is in bed by 11.30pm, not travelling home on a very crowded underground - though that would be difficult as we don't have the underground, or come to that a bus, at that time of night).

We had dinner at Strada, in the shadow St Paul's Cathedral. It was the first time I've been close to St Paul's and though I thought it was a fantatstic sight (well, what I could see of it in the dark), I always imagined the dome being bigger - what a philistine I am.

Anyway, it gave me the chance to take some pictures!

St Paul's taxi

St Paul's street scene

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's at night

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Hidden gem

We've visited Saffrion Walden a number of times over the years and like its streets of lovely higgeldy piggeldy cottages, but it seems we've always missed its hidden gem - Bridge End Gardens.

What a delightful corner of the town.
One of the seven gardens

It's a series of interlinked gardens laid out in Victorian times and now gradually being restored.
Mrs DW is not a great gardener and the youngest boy is no gardener at all, but we all enjoyed out visit. The highlight for them was the maze - not large but quite tricky for directional dimwits like us. I particularly like the walled garden - very much a work in progress, but my sort of garden. It has a wonderful 'Plant Theatre', where the best blooms and plants are displayed.

The plant theatre

The seating in the garden is very simple, but is really effective.

Very near to the gardens is a memorial to US airmen killed while stationed nearby - quite a simple affair, but quite touching when you start reading all the lists of names. Also nearby is an excllent playground which Master DW enjoyed very much.

Combined with a very nice coffee at Costa and a little explore, picking out the houses we'd like (including the very grand and ancient looking YHA), it was a very pleasant way to kill and afternoon.

A rather constipated-looking 'beast' guards
the entrance to one of the gardens

Saffron Walden's rather grand youth hostel

Saturday, 11 July 2009


What an utterly crap world we live in - four members of the DW family were victims of crime this week, all in the space of 24 hours.

The two DW girls are on holiday in Thailand and on the same evening, the elder had her bag slashed and cash and cards stolen from it and the younger one - on her first proper holiday without us there - had her drink spiked. The friend they're travelling with also had her drink spiked.

Luckily, whatever the lowlife scum put in their drinks just made them throw up and it doesn't seem to have had any major effect. But who'd do such a thing? Words can't describe what I think about someone so twisted,

And despite losing her cash, cards and driving licence, the older DW also had some luck in that her passport was in the hotel safe.

We now just want them to get home safely.

Mrs DW's pensioner parents returned home after a two-hour shopping trip to find they'd been burgled (for the third time). Presumbably it was someone just looking for easy drug money - apart from creating a horrible mess, they took just jewellery and cash.

And, of course, it's no surprise that they're still waiting for the local plods to turn up - despite the DW oldies being nearly 80, feeling a bit fearful and not sure whether they can start tidying up and repairing the damage.

Finally, one of the DW boys has been on a school camp this week and he had money stolen from his tent - a pretty minor crime in the scheme of things, but probably most worrying because it's rather horrible that 12-year-old boys think it's okay to steal from someone they know. In this case, however, someone had a consience and dobbed in the little gits. I suppose when they're old enough they can set out for a new life in Thailand.

What sort of world have we created for our kids?

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A welcome visitor


Hopefully this little chap is eating lots of slugs, though I still find lots (to the delight of the chickens!)

He has lovely eyes . . .

Toad's eye

On closer inspection

I never really think my garden looks that great. It's made up by too many plants that flower or look their best at different times of the year - there's never a spectacular moment when everything peaks.

But having said that, there's lots of plants and flowers that are beautiful in their own right, so it's nice going round the garden and taking pictures of the individuals - never mind that the overall effect is (to me) disappointing.

A dead end . . .

I love councils - the elected members are, by and large, individuals who want to do the best they can for the people who elect them, the officers are (probably) intelligent and highly qualified, but the result of their combined efforts are often just plain stupid.

I came upon the sign above on one of my slightly longer Sunday walks with the hound. On the face of it, it's quite sensible - warning motorists of possible delays while council staff or contractors spend eight days working on a stretch of road.

That's fine, but this particular road (a farm track really) is a dead end. It serves one property. In the five years that I've walked this route (admittedly, usually on Sunday mornings), I've seen three cars and two bicycles using it - one of those was someone who'd turfed their dog out at one end and drove along with the animal trotting behind.

Who decided it was a good idea to spend eight days working on this road? A good use of resources?

I don't mind paying my Council Tax. I figure it's part of living in a civilised society that we all contribute. But I do sometimes wonder if councillors and officers on local authorities realise they are spending other people's hard-earned money and that we deserve at least a little common sense applied to their decisions.

Eight days of work on a dead end road serving one property, common sense, I think not!

By the way, in case you can't read the sign, the prats in this particular case are Cambridgeshire County Council.

Rant over. The reason I took the picture was that I thought it was funny that they should warn of delays on a road used by the inhabitants of one small bungalow.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Birds of a feather . . .

The mother-in-law's parrot - a vicious old bird . . . and the parrot's not much better!