Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

Most of this blog's 600 plus posts are about day to day things - highlights from the previous week, books read, places visited - together with photos of what I've seen. There are some, though, that deal with a difficult subject - obsessional emotional and economic abuse that went on for several decades and that came to a head in autumn 2010. Writing jtns became in part a way of coping with the consequences of what happened and exploring them openly. This aspect of the blog is discussed in JTNS, An Introduction and Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story. Now that the pain of the past years is easing (after many false dawns, when I thought it had finally passed), the frequency of the posts is lessening and in 2020, when jtns will be ten years old, they will stop. I hope that you enjoy the photos and reading the happier posts (the majority) and take a little from them. Frank, October 2018

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.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

moonbeams, week's holiday, step by small step, best things, friendships, apples



More moonbeams. Full, this time.

More moonshine? That would be cruel.

A week's holiday (amongst other things) since this photo was taken. Wonderful. Relaxing.

Not so, the political events, though no one can predict what will happen next, I don't think, and maybe it is best to take things step by small step, trying to hold on to values and friendships and the best things in one's life in the midst of the storm.

A time for putting much of the allotment to bed for the winter, of lifting the remaining potatoes, of enjoying picking and eating apples.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

fab moon, david cameron's memoirs, heatherdown, i remember, i remember, stowe, sorry mess



Although the full moon isn't until tonight, the almost full moon last night was pretty fab!

I was intrigued to read in the Times that David Cameron had been to the same prep school that I attended, Heatherdown. His account of the bath line ups, complete with the headmaster wreathed in pipe smoke, resonated, although I thought his recollections did sound a little worse than I remembered. Surprising, given that he was there a few years after me - one would have hoped that things had improved by then. Though from what he says, I must have overlapped with his elder brother for a term.

I've not written much about Heatherdown in this blog - just one post, if I remember rightly, called... i remember, i remember, which focuses on arriving at the school on the same day as Prince Andrew. In the light of later events in his life, such far off and innocent days.

I take the point that Cameron makes about going away to boarding school aged seven (eight in my case) seeming 'brutal' and 'bizarre'. But prep school, just like Stowe, was at times for me a refuge from what was happening at home. I remember walking round and round the boundaries of the sports fields trying to make sense of all the things that had been said during the rows between my parents. Things I've only really been able to understand fully by reading the family papers after their deaths.

Will I read more of Cameron's memoirs? I dare say I will - they are living history, after all. Though I can only share his regrets about the sorry mess we are in now.

Friday, 13 September 2019

tomatoes!, mellow, moon watching



J's cherry tomatoes! They and the beefsteak variety have done amazingly well this year. Often they succumb to blight quite early - the blight here being much worse than it was in Oxford, for some reason - and we ripen them in a drawer with an apple. But this time, it's great to be able to pick them and enjoy them fresh as we pass by.

Some lovely mellow September days this week.

The other evening we sat at the top of the garden in the twilight and watched the moon.