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.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

english country music weekend, bampton

Since last posting, we visited the Romany Inn for a pint and enjoyed some of the spontaneous sets that are taking place across the village as part of the English Country Music Weekend. The event is by word of mouth, it seems, and brings together hundreds of musicians. Here is a brief recording of fiddle players and a tap dancer.

godstow-binsey-oxford walk, indoor end-of-year parties, creative writing work, orcid




































I was in good time when the bus reached the Woodstock roundabout this morning, so did the Godstow to Oxford walk via Binsey. Then had an Americano at Caffè Nero before working at the Taylor.

The walk was a beautiful start to the day.

Excellent - though indoor - end-of-year parties at the Latin American Centre and ContEd ('gradschool') yesterday. Both originally garden parties which got rained off by the unexpected downpour (great for the garden and allotment, though!).

Lots of creative writing reading, commenting and marking this week and next before the MSt Guided Retreat and the undergrad marking deadline. Rewarding experiences.

Attended an interesting ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) training session organised by the Bodleian Libraries midweek. Have since created my own ORCID profile as I'm going to be doing a little Digital Humanities research in the coming year. (Am hoping it's OK to include one or two works about my works, so long as they are clearly marked - we'll see.) Here's my ORCID QR code (also, http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5520-8245):


Saturday, 20 June 2015

the tree peony, planting courgettes, working on the life-writing book, the enjoyment of decisions, different kinds of memory

















I love it when the tree peony flowers. Such beauty.

Before taking the photo, I'd been up the allotment in the drizzle planting out the courgettes, cucumbers and squashes that J has been growing in the cold frame at home. After taking the photo I went cycling. Now it's humid out and I'm hoping that the promised afternoon rain will clear the air.

It's nice to have some time to work on the life-writing book. The last section is made up of relevant posts from jtns and over the past weeks I've been going through all the posts identifying the ones I'm going to use then copying the text. I'm pleased that process is almost over and I'm enjoying some of the technical aspects of putting the book together - making decisions about the order of the different elements and what connective narrative I need to write. But reading through the last five years has sometimes been harrowing. At other times it has brought back lovely memories.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

wio party, alice's door, old friends, unexpected appearances, all at sea


A very enjoyable Writers in Oxford summer party, which was this year held in the Cathedral ‎garden at Christ Church.

An enchanting spot with on the south side the cathedral - which looks tiny from this angle - and, on the north, the doorway from the Deanery garden that so fascinated Alice Liddell and became part of the lore of the real-life story behind Alice in Wonderland. Find out more in this Telegraph article by Tim Richardson from 6th February this year (the 150 anniversary year of the novel): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/11392305/Alice-and-Wonderland-the-real-gardens.html.

It was lovely to see old friends and to meet other friends who I hadn't realised were members of WiO.

I hadn't realised too that a fellow author was also a specialist marine photographer. Check out the magnificent photo galleries on her website: http://www.kathymansfieldphotos.com.

Now on the S1, heading home.

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Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone

Saturday, 13 June 2015

stowe careers fair, thirty-eight years, get over it, i am the man who lives in a shoe

















Stowe careers fair today, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Lovely to meet the students and to see the school again. Also, looking forward to my complimentary cake!

Can't believe it's a year since the last fair - see post of 15th June 2014.

Over coffee, I caught up with someone I was at school with and hadn't seen for thirty-eight years. Just writing that figure is shocking. Is it really that long since I was at school? Where did those years go? I must try and keep a tighter grip on the next lot :-)

Last year I wrote about what it was like to return to Stowe and face some of the family memories that were triggered. Today was much easier. The family crisis that broke in 2010 and lasted, unbelievably, and excruciatingly, until spring 2014, tainted everything. Now, I feel, I must be getting over it. Talking of which, I've a new working title for what was Trust: A family story - it's I am the Man Who Lives in a Shoe. What do you think? Hope to be doing some more work on the book this coming week.

But now some more work-work - and then, the weekend!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

nostalgic walk through downton






















A nostalgic walk through the set of Downton Abbey for what might well be the last time.

The care and craftsmanship that goes into the set decoration is wonderful.

Notice the car reflected in the post office window - it looks as if it ought to be part of a different drama (one set in the fifties or sixties) but in fact belongs to the village's real life.

See also post of 29th March 2015.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

busy week, pink hogweed, late lunch

















It's been a busy week, what with library work and of post-grad and under-grad work to read and comment on.

After the last of the week's tutorials, earlier today, I went on a long cycle ride. Beautiful sunshine but a relentless westerly wind.

Saw the beautiful pink-flowered hogweed along the lane between the Aston Mile and Lew.

Now, about to have a late lunch at the top of the garden - a sun trap, that's just about out of the wind.