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.

Sunday 18 December 2016

willow walk, intricate fungus, quiet oxford, decorating our christmas tree, bill evans tracked down, hidden histories, cumberland vampire

I worked in Oxford at the library yesterday.

Caught the usual 6.30 bus and did the Cumnor Hill/Raleigh Park walk, which, as I noted the other week, has become my usual route into town since the end of the 18 service back in July. Gosh, time flies!

Saw this intricate, labyrinthine fungus on a tree beside the Willow Walk near North Hinksey. No idea what it is - perhaps identifying it will be something I shall do over the Christmas holiday, unless anyone reading this can identify it straight off.

Oxford is very quiet now that the colleges are winding down for the holidays and there are relatively few readers in the libraries,

When I came home we decorated our Christmas tree. A magical time.

On the bus into work midweek, I loved listening to the podcast of the the Bill Evans Composer of the Week series. You may remember that I was puzzled that it wasn't available on the iPlayer Radio. What I hadn't realised was that the programme was a repeat and so the download comes in the 2013 listings. Evans' story is as fascinating and as tragic as his music is sublime. An extraordinary man.

Over breakfast, I read Andrew Holgate's Sunday Times review of Hidden Histories: A Spotter’s Guide to the British Landscape by Mary-Ann Ochota, which is, as Holgate says, a 'spotter’s guide to Britain’s historical landscape — what to see and how to decipher it'. Covering hillforts, tumuli and 'a satisfying variety of different subjects, from pathways, bridges and old houses, to hedges, churches, graveyards and field patterns left behind by medieval ploughmen.' Holgate is particularly intrigued by 'corpse roads' (also known as 'coffin roads') which lead from remote areas to churchyards. There is a remnant of one of these in Bampton. The lane ran between the village and nearby Aston, which for a long time didn't have its own church. Reading the review made me want to reach for my copy of  The Making of the English Landscape by WG Hoskins but also to buy what sounds a very readable contemporary exploration of our amazing countryside.

Very much enjoying Katharine Briggs' British Folk-Tales and Legends. For example, the shortened version of Croglin Grange, an unusual British vampire tale set in the wilds of Cumberland. See also, the Wikipedia article on Croglin Grange and its page on vampires.com.

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