In memory of John 'The Cam'


I built my house beside the wood 
So I could hear you singing 

And it was sweet and it was good 
And love was all beginning 

Fare thee well my nightingale 
'Twas long ago I found you 

Now all your songs of beauty fail 
The forest closes 'round you 

The sun goes down behind a veil 
'Tis now that you would call me 

So rest in peace my nightingale 
Beneath your branch of holly 

Fare thee well my nightingale 
I lived but to be near you 

Tho' you are singing somewhere still 
I can no longer hear you

Leonard Cohen


The dreaming spires and Hamlet at the Bodleian

It hardly seems like a whole week ago that I was on the back of a motorbike and heading up the M40 towards the dreaming spires of Oxford.

 We saw a great production of Hamlet performed by the Globe Theatre on Tour, set in the quadrangle of the Bodleian library. The weather held and it wasn't too chilly as the sun slowly set behind the wonderful architecture surrounding us.

While I was taking photographs before the play began, I was told in no uncertain terms by a rather stern woman that photography was not permitted during the performance. She remained oblivious to a significant number of audience members using smart phones to take photos and record videos (!) throughout. Ah well...

The rather incongruous sign pointing the way to the loo

The cast all performed really well, especially considering the noise coming from a nearby bar and what sounded like karaoke that got louder as the evening went on. That aside, it was a wonderful evening. How could it fail to be? Shakespeare, performed outdoors on a summer evening in a beautiful, atmospheric setting. Marvellous.


Pez luna

We watched in trepidation as about 250 feet below us,

we saw these divers...

seemingly unaware that what looked remarkably like a shark was only a few metres away.

We were transfixed, not knowing what to do from so far away. Thankfully the 'shark' swam away eventually.

We felt a bit daft later that evening when our Norwegian friend told us that what we had seen was in fact a pez luna, definitely not a shark. Phew!


Summer time...

As the weather turns cooler again and the wind and rain increase, I'm thinking of sunnier days. It really doesn't seem like only two weeks ago that we were in this beautiful place enjoying the heat and sunshine and the ever present blue that we both love. 

The view from the great little place we had lunch at; La Barraca, Portixol

One of my favourite beaches; Granadella

This man reminded me a little bit of Picasso

We watched two scuba divers leave their boat and then saw what we thought was a shark on the other side of these rocks. Photos to follow...



In honour of Bloomsday today, I am making another attempt to read Joyce's Ulysses. I have struggled in the past to get beyond half way through, not least because there are always so many books clamouring to be read on the shelves or the night stand and I am quite easily distracted, depending on what I feel like reading at the time.

Numerous cups of tea have been drunk,

and a few too many Rich Tea biscuits eaten.

 My lovely old second hand copy (bought many years ago in Lewes, Sussex) came with a wonderful bookmark.
This London Transport trolleybus ticket

(Another reason I love second hand books; so often interesting notes, tickets, newspaper clippings etc. can be found tucked into the pages.)

Radio 4 are serialising an adaptation of Ulysses throughout the day and have a number of programmes related to this remarkable book.

The BBC news page has a link to a summary of Ulysses, a 'cheat's guide'. There were a number of comments underneath it, many of which (perhaps predictably) were rather negative. Stephen Fry's riposte however is, I feel, worth quoting in full:

Lord help us all. "Pretentious drivel", "better off with a good walk rather than reading dusty books". What possible hope is there for a country which with such self-righteous philistinism scorns its own treasures? Ulysses is the greatest novel of the twentieth century. It is is wise, warm, witty, affirmative and beautiful. it is less pretentious than a baked bean. Read it. read it out loud to yourself. It won't bite. It wasn't written either to shock or to impress. Only pretentious barbarians believe artists set out to shock: and how these philistines delight in revealing how unshocked they are. Those who attack it are afraid of it and rather than look foolish they prefer to heckle what they don't understand. Ignore all this childish, fear-filled criticism, Ulysses will be read when everything you see and touch around you has crumbled into dust.

Melvyn Bragg reflects on Ulysses, in an eloquent and amusing manner here:

I particularly enjoyed his last comment

After the programme Tom Morris, the producer, told me something that the Irish writer Fintan O'Toole said: "You're allowed to skip. The Joyce police will never know. If it's not working for you, move on. God knows there's plenty more."

Wise words. Maybe I'll get past page 238 this time.


An early morning walk and a heron

So many spring flowers are looking decidedly forlorn after the recent heavy wind and rain but there are still some great colours to be seen on an early morning walk.

Although it is not unusual to see herons locally, it was worth getting up early to spot this beautiful bird