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 29 September 2012

michaelmas, anticipation, things to be done, a conscious englishman, a pint or two

Oxford Michaelmas Term starts on Monday. Lots of preparations have been going on in all departments recently and everyone is frantically busy. There's a great sense of anticipation and excitement.

Teaching tomorrow from 8 am and today there are lots of things to be done for the libraries and the creative writing courses. Will also be doing some more work on StreetBooks' 2013 lead title, A Conscious Englishman by Margaret Keeping. A terrific book! More on this over the coming months.

Fantastic cycle earlier, which got the day off to a good start.

A beautiful autumn morning with not a cloud in the sky, as the above photo shows.

Will there be time for a pint or two later? I dare say there will be.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

batcombe, sweet tooth, september sun, rain, reckless, assessor

Birthday break at Batcombe, Somerset. Great to return there and to stay at the wonderful Three Horseshoes (the best ever food and hospitality there, I would say). Presents included copy of Ian McEwan's new novel Sweet Tooth, which I'm really enjoying. A textbook McEwan opening chapter that completely immerses the reader in the fiction.

The weather on Monday didn't look promising (top photo), although it cleared towards lunchtime and yesterday's walking was in brightish September sunshine.

Astonishingly heavy rain on Sunday night. Not surprised to learn of sad floods in Somerset and elsewhere.

Was intrigued by the tombstone in Upton Noble churchyard (St Mary Magdalene's)--that middle name 'Reckless' (third-from-top photo). A story there, I feel.

Into Oxford this evening for induction for Certificate of Higher Education assessors.

Saturday 22 September 2012

misty, refreshing, days off, cherwell boathouse, oers live, first fire of autumn?

Misty, cold start to the day. Very beautiful, though.

It was great to go out on the bike--journey refreshed me after a madly busy week.

Today was hectic to start with, after the bike ride, catching up on library work then doing online teaching. Now, though, looking froward to the rest of the weekend and a couple of days off.

Fun trip to next village earlier in the afternoon for colleague's house warming party. Nice to able to chat to everyone away from work and see the lovely house.

Delicious birthday meal yesterday at Cherwell Boathouse!

Btw the open educational resources for creative writing that I selected in August and last weekend are on the Rewley House site. Worth a glance at the CW ones, as well as those for other subjects.

Chilly evening. Debating whether to light first fire of the autumn.

Saturday 15 September 2012

hooky, plough, oers, keble gaudy, lost, spray, spuds

Enjoyable pint of Hooky at the Plough at Kelmscott earlier after online teaching and intensive Open Educational Resources (OER) hunting.

Now on bus to Oxford dressed up for Keble gaudy. Can't believe it's four years since the last one. It'll be fun to see everyone again, although it's sad that 1985 English alumni never come back. Indeed quite a few are 'lost'...

Meanwhile, still reeling from busy, busy week at work. Glad I caught up with some sleep on holiday!

During a break from online teaching and OER stuff, I went to the allotment and sprayed off the couch grass. Hated doing this but I've got so behind with everything up there this year, what with the atrocious weather. Still, the spud harvest was good, as were the onion and shallott crops.
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Sunday 9 September 2012

energised, cousins from australia, churches, collobrières, sweet chestnuts, huge, huge thanks

Well and truly back to work but feel energised by the holiday and the great weather we've been having this week.

Really enjoyed visit from Australian cousins, Paul and Annette, yesterday. Lovely to catch up, have lunch at Biztro (thanks both) and visit the churches at Black Bourton and Langford (benefiting hugely from the experience of the guides who were there for the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust sponsored bike ride).

Above are photos of our destination in the South of France, Collobrières (see also), a beautiful Medieval town in the wooded hills above St Tropez. The town is overlooked by the ruins of the church of St Pons and has a narrow 12th century bridge leading to the centre, which demands careful driving! Highlights included the red and rosé wines and sweet chestnuts, which featured in preserves, starters, mains, kirs and the local beer. If you'd like to see more photos, they're on Google+. A huge, huge thank you to Rachel for making the holiday possible!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

end of holiday, horseshoes, bell at langford, châlons, tournon, seguin, jaboulet

Last day of the holiday... Great lunch at the Hollybush's sister pub, the Horseshoes, in Witney. Yesterday, did the Bampton-Black Bourton-Langford walk featured in post of 3rd September 2011--superb lunch at the Bell!

Above are photos from the journeys to and from the South of France. On the way down we stayed in Châlons-en-Champagne (top pic), as mentioned in my first French post below, and Tournon-sur-Rhône (see also, French Wikipedia site). On the way back, it was just Châlons (last three pics)--quite a drive, that one.

The second from top photo shows the bridge between Tournon and Tain-l'Hermitage, which was built by Marc Seguin (the inventor of the wire-cable suspension bridge) in 1849--the first night pic is taken from the bridge itself, looking towards the old castle. This structure was the second Seguin bridge to be built at Tournon. The earlier one (1825) was said to be the first of its type in France (see Bridgemeister). It was converted to a footbridge in 1847 and demolished in the 1960s--for navigational reasons, according to a board on the surviving bridge.

In the background of the daylight photo of the Seguin bridge, can be seen Paul Jaboulet's vineyards. Terrific to catch a glimpse of these, having enjoyed the wine with Christmas lunches.

Tomorrow, the furniture is to be lotted up. Quel dommage.

Monday 3 September 2012

holiday, france, châlons

Had a great holiday in France--the first European trip by car for ages.

Years ago, I took against the Channel tunnel but having travelled to and from Europe via it now, I feel OK. (One of the few 'complaints' was that French Orange seemed to last from France to GB, whereas GB Orange kicked off after only a mile or so of being on British soil and was in any case just weak 3G--in France Orange data services seem to be ubiquitously strong 3G.)

Now home but will be posting photos of the trip here every so often. Above are, the tunnel and a couple of pics of the first stop--Châlons-en-Champagne.
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