Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's nightmares started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. In February 2020, jtns will be ten years old and there will be no further posts. It will then become a contained work of life-writing about me and the past ten years of my life. Frank, December 2019

Sunday, 19 January 2020

super-frosty, good riddance to rain, veg, christmas break, brideshead revisited, first week

Super-frosty morning in west Oxfordshire but I'm still hopeful of a cycle later.

Thank goodness the rain's gone. Some downpours at the start of the week were horrendous! One evening, I got off the bus and ran to our car - only about 20m - and I was completely soaked!

Veg has kept going on the allotment but the downside of the frost is that some will probably start to rot.

Wonderful and refreshing Christmas break! Lots of long walks - taking to the high ground above the flooded Thames valley - amazing food, catching up with friends and family, and Victoria and Brideshead Revisited on DVD. I don't think I saw all of the latter when it was originally broadcast, so it's great to watch it all now - and it's fascinating to see the programme again after nearly 40 years. It remains rather wonderful.

First week of term begins tomorrow, though the working year has been busy from the start.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

waterlogged allotment, christmas veg saved from the depths, happy christmas!!!!

Really surprised how well the winter veg has done this year. The allotment has been waterlogged or flooded for a couple of months. The worst flooding has been over the last few days and it was quite a struggle to get this lot out, as I sank into the mud and my wellies sprang a leak! Still, all ready for Christmas lunch now!

Happy Christmas!!!!

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

barrington and sherborne park walks, wigeon, end of full term, christmas cheeses!

We spent the weekend's mornings walking on the Barrington and Sherborne Park estates near Burford and yesterday morning we rambled the gated road near Clanfield. Managed to dodge the rain.

Saw wigeon on the brook below Sherborne house.

Great to have a few days off after the end of full term.

Bought slices of cheese to taste-test for Christmas from the Cotswold Cheese Company.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

frosty walk and views, whistling east wind

Had some time in hand before I was due at work yesterday morning but found that the canal towpath is being repaired between Wolvercote Green and Aristotle Lane, so I did the Godstow and Port Meadow route instead. Breathtaking frosty views!

Exceptionally chilly, though. Or perhaps the way the air felt was exaggerated because it's been a relatively mild winter up to now. Home certainly felt cold, as it does when the wind is in the east and whistles through, between back and front doors!

Sunday, 24 November 2019

portugal, waterlogged veg, teaching, an imaginary interview with sir thomas bodley

A wonderful break in Portugal - staying near Trancoso and in Porto.

Back to an allotment that isn't as flooded as I expected, although the ground is still sodden. Wondering whether carrots, beetroots, parsnips, chard and leeks will make it to Christmas.

Last of my face-to-face teaching commitments before the new year yesterday. A full but terrific day. Really enjoyed working with this year's students.

I was thrilled that recently two pieces I wrote in the summer were published on the Modern Languages Schools Blog, Adventures on the Bookshelf. One on the amazing Taylor Institution Library and its equally amazing Reader Services team. The other, an imaginary interview with Sir Thomas Bodley, founder of the Bodleian Library (originally published on the estimable Le mot juste en anglais and Clio - la muse de l'histoire websites in California in English and French).

The latter piece was an unexpected commission. I wasn't sure I had done the right thing in accepting at first but once I had completed my research and began to write, the project was incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

edinburgh, jisc digital leaders, cox apple, delicious

Spent a couple of days in Edinburgh a fortnight ago and again this week.

I was part of the JISC Digital Leaders programme, which I really enjoyed. Learned so much and met great people.

Not much time to enjoy the city but some terrific circuits of Carlton Hill after breakfast each day. And just looking out of the windows upon this glorious city was a treat.

Brought a Cox apple with me to remind me of home. Delicious!

Sunday, 20 October 2019

winter veg, bumper apple crop

Looking back at the spring and summer, conditions on the allotment were difficult, and yet it has been a rewarding year. Better winter veg - apart from parsnips (it's always, apart from parsnips, it seems...) - than ever. I think this results from being able to get started in good time, before the weather changed, giving rain when it was needed. So, great carrots, beetroot, spuds, onions, leeks and chard. Not a huge range but plenty to enjoy and keep us in touch with the land during autumn and winter.

Bumper Cox apple crop still going strong.