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, Bampton in 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.

New blog: morethoughtsnstuff.com.

Saturday 25 August 2012

autumnal, min-till, mad, furniture saga, jtns pics on google+, new lights

The land looks autumnal in many places now. Fields have been harvested, ploughed or min-tilled and sown.

The sky was dark and brooding when I started my bike ride but when I was returning along Calcroft Lane, the sun broke through.

A mad week at work, finishing off things so I can take some leave.

Meanwhile, the furniture saga I mentioned last year, is only just reaching its grim conclusion after legal issues were resolved--these were nothing to do with me. (The post I've linked to btw was rewritten at the start of the year, after dad died.)

Oh, and if you'd like to see the complete collection of justthoughtsnstuff.com photos, they're all on Google+.

New lights to explore before my next post.

Post edited 17.09.12.

Sunday 19 August 2012

hot, cherwell, ash, biztro

Wow, it's hot!

I'm looking at this pic--taken in the Oxford University Parks on Friday--rather wistfully. It was cooler then and now the sight of the River Cherwell makes me want to go for a dip.

Cycled earlier, after having cleared the ash out of the grate and stowed the fire guard (usually do this at the start of the summer but it's only a couple of weeks since we last had a log fire). Meanwhile, have just mowed the lawn. Late breakfast on the terrace soon.

Another delicious meal at Bampton's Biztro last night--with J's mum, this time. (For me, smoked mackerel pâté followed by seared tuna salad).

Saturday 18 August 2012

bark (birch?), parks, cycling, oppressive, oers

Took these shots of tree bark in the Oxford University Parks yesterday. Loved the colours and patterns. Assume the tree is some sort of birch, though you can never be sure of what you're looking at in the Parks. Could be an exotic, completely unrelated to birch.

Great cycle earlier. Still nice and cool then, although it's beginning to hot up now. Don't think we'll reach the 30C that's promised for some parts of the UK in west Oxfordshire but you never know. Actually hope the temperature doesn't get that high because you can already feel the oppressive humidity--also promised.

Now about to get on with the rest of the OER research mentioned last week that I didn't finish...

Looking forward to a more relaxing day tomorrow.

Thursday 16 August 2012

telegraph blog, trains, nell

Well, you heard about her here first. OK, just a brief mention in my post of 23rd June 2012: 'Also, had a great time when J's god-daughter came to stay on Thursday and we ate out at Biztro (best meal ever there).'

And now here she is, writing about trains on the Telegraph blog! With 52 comments, as well.

Not sure I agree with everything Nell says ('I think not indeed'! :-), having written my second novel on...buses, but it's a fantastic piece. What was I writing at 17? 'A...B...C...'

Saturday 11 August 2012

summer school, oers, allotment disaster, readings, firework display

The summer school ended last night with a formal dinner in Exeter Hall and the awarding of certificates to the students.

For me, the school was a thoroughly rewarding experience. I very much enjoyed working with all the students. Thanks to them for their enthusiasm, dedication and hard work.

Feeling a little drained today--not least because it's been a busy week at the library. Even so, I've been doing some preparatory work for a research project I'm involved in--tracking down, evaluating, classifying and cataloguing Open Educational Resources (OERs) in Creative Writing. (Btw if you're interested in gadgets and Creative Commons, check out the link to OpenAttribute under JTNS Links--right.)

Now off to allotment to harvest onions and chop down grass (of which there is a great deal). To be honest the allotment has been a disaster this year, as far as most crops are concerned. What's growing is doing really well--it's just that a lot of crops didn't get planted. We're so dependent on little windows of opportunity in between work commitments. When the weather is kind, that's fine but if it's against you--as it has been all this year--you're snookered...

Enjoyed reading from The Lock, Invisible and my new novel yesterday. I think the last of these worked OK, although I need to deepen the characterisations in the first chapter, as well as differentiating the voices more. The audience was great, though. Really supportive.

Meanwhile, saw great burdock, above, and the wonderful firework display of plants and flowers on the old rubbish tip along the Clanfield Road while cycling this morning.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

sushi, university parks, robin

Ate sushi in University Parks in between the Taylor and the Latin American Centre.

Was joined by this little robin, who cheered me up after my hectic morning!

Sunday 5 August 2012

rain, calcroft lane, jessica ennis, tears, narrative, economic gloom, john cantlie

BBC weather said no rain till 10 am but at 6.30, the rain said, You've got it wrong, mate.

I had to be up early because of work but had hoped for a good cycle like yesterday's--no rain and a lovely clear atmosphere. No such luck. A brief respite when I photographed the brook at the edge of Black Bourton Green but then down it came again. Along Calcroft Lane it was particularly heavy, though you can't actually see the stair-rods in the pic. (For an earlier pic and a couple of vids featuring Calcroft Lane, see posts from 31st December 2010, 10th March 2012 and 11th March 2012.)

Went to the Horse Shoe last night for a pint and saw Jessica Ennis run the 800 metres on the big screen TV. Brilliant. I've not really been following the Games much but that race was amazing to watch. Great to see Greg Rutherford's long-jumping too. There were men down the pub confessing to have shed tears while watching Britain's medal-winners yesterday. Prefaced, of course, by, 'I'm not normally an emotional person...'

Caught two excellent Radio 4 programmes this morning. Jake Arnott's Something Understood piece on narrative and how it enables us to explore and understand the world. And John Gray's salutary but beautifully argued Point of View talk on the economy and the sad truth that, 'The relative security that many people enjoyed in the recent past is fading from memory.'

Over breakfast, I read photographer John Cantlie's gripping and terrifying article in the Sunday Times about being taken prisoner by London jihadists in Syria ten days ago. He was threatened with execution and shot when trying to escape. If you're not a News Int subscriber, you can also hear Cantlie describing his ordeal on R4's Broadcasting House.

Saturday 4 August 2012

meadowsweet, burnt, exeter summer school, new novel, italian courgettes, argh!, olympic opening ceremony, frank

Lots of meadowsweet on the verges this year--more than usual, I can't help thinking. The bottom photo was taken last Sunday, the top one, this morning.

The meadowsweet apart, there is a burnt-up feel to the landscape--dessicated cow parsley heads and grass seeds, the oilseed rape and corn ready to harvest.

Enjoying the summer school at Exeter--great students. Also, finished the first chapter of the final version of my third novel yesterday. Still in shock! Will be reading this for the first time next Friday at the Saskatchewan Lecture Theatre, Exeter College, 11.15 am. (I'll also be reading from The Lock and Invisible.)  From the programme: 'All three novels are mostly set in Oxford and Oxfordshire, and reflect his love of the region, which the books celebrate. After the readings he will discuss the limitations and pleasures of writing regional fiction--and blogging about it: www.justthoughtsnstuff.com.'

Went to allotment earlier to pick courgettes. Lots of these--and lots of different Italian varieties. There's also a lot of grass up there--argh!

Loved watching the Olympic opening ceremony on the BBC Sport video player. Hats off to Danny Boyle, of course, but also to the esteemed writer behind the event's storyline, Frank Cottrell Boyce!

Meanwhile, an unexpectedly busy weekend ahead.