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 27 May 2017

swans, ducks, grebe pool, happy times, kellogg hub, bampton whitsun weekend, ancient cacao, roque dalton, sir francis chichester

These swans and ducks were near the confluence of streams at the southern end of Fiddler's Island beside Port Meadow. The streams widen at this point and when we lived on Osney Island, we used to cycle here on Saturday summer evenings and have a picnic on the bank. We called it the grebe pool and we would sit and watch the grebes, the other water birds and the reed warblers. Very happy times.

This morning, I got up early, so that I could get to the allotment before the promised downpour. All set, I stepped towards the back door and... the heavens opened. Ah well, there were other things I could be doing. Only about five minutes later did I remember that my shoes were outside!

At the beginning of the week, I visited the Hub at Kellogg College for the first time. I've watched this being built and was really looking forward to its completion. It was great - a lovely atmosphere and terrific views from the cafe across the lawns towards the dining hall. Housing a cafe and the common room, the building is what the college was missing. It is also the first in Oxford to use an environmentally friendly low energy design called Passivhaus.

By the bye, Prince Charles visited the college the other day. A tour of the Hub was included, naturally.

Yesterday was the start of the Bampton Whitsun weekend. There will be folk songs and music late into the night in the pubs and a full day of Morris dancing on Monday. This evening it's the renowned Shirt Race. Last night we had a pint in the garden of the Romany and watched one of the Morris sides practicing as the light fell.

A couple of excellent World Service programmes on Latin American themes recently: The Bittersweet Tale of Cocoa - the story of cacao in ancient Latin America - (check out this chocolate drink recipe and cheese dunking suggestion from food historian, Maricel Presilla); and Witness's The Killing of Poet Roque Dalton, which tells of the life and untimely death of El Salvadorian poet Roque Dalton, who was killed by fellow rebels in 1975 - five of his poems can be read on the BOMB Magazine site.

Also, have to mention this Sporting Witness programme about Sir Francis Chichester and his round-the-world solo voyage in 1967. (Doesn't seem to be available on the web yet, though.) Sir Francis sounds quite a character. So strange listening to programmes about far-off historical events and thinking, I remember that!

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