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 and life-writing. 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 fifty-year nightmare 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, Oxford, where I work, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. Note: In February 2020, on jtns' tenth birthday, I stopped posting to this blog. It is now a contained work of life-writing about ten years of my life. Frank, 21 February 2020.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

farewell from jtns




Enjoyed walking the Oxford canal from Wolvercote Green to Hythe Bridge Street this morning - along the newly resurfaced towpath! Fantastic that it is now all-weather!

The other photo shows larch roses on the tree that featured in the first pic I posted on jtns. When we lived in Oxford, Jess and I used to love the first sightings of larch roses on this same tree.

And so farewell from jtns. As mentioned a while back, it's been my intention for some time to stop posting to this blog on its tenth birthday - today! - so that it becomes a self-contained work of life-writing covering ten years of my life.

I hope readers have enjoyed the posts and pics.

I loved writing the blog - even during the periods when it was therapy.

I'm always surprised when people tell me they read my blog - surprised and really delighted.

Thanks for reading. And although jtns is coming to its close, there might just be morethoughtsnstuff...

Sunday, 16 February 2020

more gales and downpours, bright green grass, downton the movie, thames towpath from osney bridge to port meadow, overlays of memory




More gales and downpours. Got drenched cycling this morning and came across scatterings of debris every so often - even a branch across the start of Calcroft Lane (aka the Gated Road) at Clanfield. The ditches and steams were full and when we drove to Burford this afternoon, there was flooding in the fields.

What a winter!

On the plus side, the grass is bright green and the plants in the garden are thriving.

Have started to watch Downton the movie. Amazed to see a post van driving along the lane beside the church for what seemed an age, whereas in reality it would have taken seconds. Fascinating manipulation of time and space.

The cinematography and lighting - beautiful naturally lit interiors - are superb and, presumably, are what you get for your money when you're making a feature film, as opposed to a television series.

The top photo, above, looks rather menacing - the result of the jagged shape of the fencing in the foreground. Though the view was gentler than that in reality - and in the colour original. I changed it to black and white because I was wanted to intensify the patterns in the composition.

I remember discovering this towpath shortly before moving to our flat on Osney Island in the late eighties. I was so thrilled and imagined walking along it from Osney Bridge to Port Meadow and the Perch at Binsey at the weekend. In those days it was more of a rough track and had yet to be surfaced. The experience of walking it was in any case much more bucolic because none of the development between it and the railway line had begun and the waste land was densely overgrown.

Much has changed but the overlays of memories remain!

Saturday, 1 February 2020

flooded water meadows near north hinksey, canal towpath improvements completed last friday!



Pics of a walk I did a couple of weeks ago when the Thames flooded the meadows east of North Hinksey, Oxford. Stunning views that morning, though I remember worse floods in the 1990s - at least this time I could walk along the causeway between the innundated fields.

Meantime, I learnt from the Council website that the Oxford canal towpath improvements from Wolvercote Green to Aristotle Lane should have been completed last Friday. Yey!

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

brrrr! what's new! all-weather towpath, what's left of me is yours by stephanie scott



Brrrr! Frosty morning. But then it's soon going to be... unseasonably warm again. So, what's new this late winter!

Haven't been able to walk the canal towpath between Wolvercote Green and Aristotle Lane for some months now, not because of the mud - which there would have been in JCB buckets - but because it's being upgraded. The work will soon finish, hopefully. True, a certain amount of rustic charm will go, but the towpath becoming all-weather is very appealing. My office carpet will be less muddy too.

Thrilled to see featured in the Guardian, Oxford MSt in Creative Writing graduate, Stephanie Scott, and her debut novel What's Left of Me is Yours. Several years in the writing, the book's pre-publication buzz is a testament to Stephanie's unwavering professionalism, hard work and dedication to her craft. As her advice to aspiring writers illustrates: 'Persevere and believe in yourself and your project.' Can't wait to read the book when it comes out on 21st April (published by Orion)!

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.