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.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

moonbeams, week's holiday, step by small step, best things, friendships, apples



More moonbeams. Full, this time.

More moonshine? That would be cruel.

A week's holiday (amongst other things) since this photo was taken. Wonderful. Relaxing.

Not so, the political events, though no one can predict what will happen next, I don't think, and maybe it is best to take things step by small step, trying to hold on to values and friendships and the best things in one's life in the midst of the storm.

A time for putting much of the allotment to bed for the winter, of lifting the remaining potatoes, of enjoying picking and eating apples.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

fab moon, david cameron's memoirs, heatherdown, i remember, i remember, stowe, sorry mess



Although the full moon isn't until tonight, the almost full moon last night was pretty fab!

I was intrigued to read in the Times that David Cameron had been to the same prep school that I attended, Heatherdown. His account of the bath line ups, complete with the headmaster wreathed in pipe smoke, resonated, although I thought his recollections did sound a little worse than I remembered. Surprising, given that he was there a few years after me - one would have hoped that things had improved by then. Though from what he says, I must have overlapped with his elder brother for a term.

I've not written much about Heatherdown in this blog - just one post, if I remember rightly, called... i remember, i remember, which focuses on arriving at the school on the same day as Prince Andrew. In the light of later events in his life, such far off and innocent days.

I take the point that Cameron makes about going away to boarding school aged seven (eight in my case) seeming 'brutal' and 'bizarre'. But prep school, just like Stowe, was at times for me a refuge from what was happening at home. I remember walking round and round the boundaries of the sports fields trying to make sense of all the things that had been said during the rows between my parents. Things I've only really been able to understand fully by reading the family papers after their deaths.

Will I read more of Cameron's memoirs? I dare say I will - they are living history, after all. Though I can only share his regrets about the sorry mess we are in now.

Friday, 13 September 2019

tomatoes!, mellow, moon watching



J's cherry tomatoes! They and the beefsteak variety have done amazingly well this year. Often they succumb to blight quite early - the blight here being much worse than it was in Oxford, for some reason - and we ripen them in a drawer with an apple. But this time, it's great to be able to pick them and enjoy them fresh as we pass by.

Some lovely mellow September days this week.

The other evening we sat at the top of the garden in the twilight and watched the moon.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

working in oxford, walks, cox's orange pippin, sparrow hawk



Worked in Oxford yesterday. Had a lovely walk beforehand, along the Oxford canal, across Port Meadow and beside the Thames. It's over eighteen years since we moved from Osney. The time has flashed by but it's great to still have the opportunity of doing the walks I loved from those fourteen years spent on the Island.

Ate our first Cox apple yesterday. Gorgeously rich sweetness. It went well with the Abondance goat's and cow's cheese we brought back from our holiday in the Alps.

Coming downstairs this morning, I was surprised to see the sunflower hearts bird feeder on the lawn. I couldn't think what had brought it down - a cat or a squirrel, perhaps. Then I found four great tit tail feathers on the patio below where it had been hanging. Later J said there had been a hawk about yesterday and she had chased it away from the bird table. The culprit, I reckon. Sparrow hawk.