Tuesday, February 27, 2007

La Normandie en Fevrier

We had another week in La Ferte-Mace - where we walked in forests and drank gallons of red wine in a country where you can get a St Emilion Grand Cru claret for £5 a bottle! We ate like kings and tasted Calvados in a local farm made by a guy who has won the Concours de Paris so many times that he has a special award from Francois Mitterand. We got the usual problems due to the surfeit of goats cheese, shellfish and unpasteurised milk that we have a penchant for when in France. Ou est les toilettes??

We had Ian and Nadine with us (and their daughter Alice) and they helped us choose the themes and colours for the dining room - so that the doors have been sanded and painted a kind of turquoise blue and the walls will be drawing the blue and brown out of the marble fireplace.

Libby - Jonny's Mother came to visit

Well, whilst we were down in Normandy for the week (see later) Jonny was left alone to manage the house. He let all the bread go mouldy and then decided to eat Anne's seville oranges which he thought were "minging tasting" so he threw them out. Accordingly we have no marmalade prospects at all.

Then Libby came to visit from Sheffield - they went to town together and they were seen by Jonny`s friends from school who said later "We saw you down town with your mother!"

Hard cheese Libby!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Happy Valentines day!

Well we are on holiday and about to go away for a week in Normandy. Work has been hectic and I am about to collapse in a heap, what with another visit down to the Lords, this time as an intimate group of four, to be grilled over an open fire. This has been followed by communications from the mental health Czar, Louis Appleby who I am showing around a new hospital in my patch in March - he wants to bring a Guardian journalist with him to talk to me about stuff.

We celebrated Anne's birthday at Ian and Nadine's, with Peter and Michele Guinness, great food, good walks and Michele did a great ladies day "Women as God intended" on the Saturday and I preached on the sunday on Overcoming Anxiety - all the talks are on the website http://marpleparish.co.uk/Services/sermons.htm

So off down to the ferry tomorrow and by 10 pm our time we will be at our french house - deep joy - can't wait to be in our bed there which is the same as our bed here - so guaranteed great sleep! Plus hardly have to pack these days yippee! Ian and Nad and Alice their younger daughter are coming with us so Ian and Anne will be chefs for the week - we are taking down an LCD telly for the first time to install for DVD watching - as this year quite a few people are staying in the house.

Anway see you soon

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bootiful Bird Flu and Doctors with guns

With the furore in the UK over the confirmed bird flu infection of the Bernard Matthews plant in Suffolk, meetings have been held to plan for a possible pandemic in humans.
This all reminds me of the 1970's sci-fi series "Survivor" where a biological weapon is released accidentally in Britain sending us back into the Dark Ages. I remember that the first thing you needed to get was a shotgun and shells to fend off the marauding gangs, then a Landrover and lots of diesel and tinned food. Finally you have to wear big Arran sweaters all the time.
What is being predicted is that 50% cases will need intensive care and ventilators and conservative estimates are of 200,000 extra cases over the normal need for ICU facilities. People will have to be turned away. On top of this is the fear that up to 40% staff will stay away from work, crippling support services and abilit to treat.
Finally the suggestion that we will need guns to defend the hospitals from angry mobs.
Not media scare-mongering at all!
Anyway that's enough for now I'm off to get my Purdey shotgun and some Arran sweaters!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Those magnificent Women in their flying machines

The lady is my Great-Grandmother Jobling, standing behind Mr George (in the fetching Beret), it is 1910 and they are on Gosforth racecourse testing the George and Jobling Biplane. She was the third or fourth woman in the world to fly.

The car is the Golden Ford as raced by Mr George, my Great-grandfather's business partner, at Brooklands in 1912.

The Bandroom at Farndale

Last night Anne and I went to what was surprisingly the best gig I have ever been to EVER!
I thought that Bo Diddley (1982) in the Bear Pit in Newcastle was great, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown at the Albert Hall in Toronto was fabulous, BB King (twice) was memorable and moving in the 80's, Whitesnake in the early days tingled the spine with their arrogance, Ry Cooder had the tightest band so far, Michael Schenker had been the best guitarist I've seen (2003), U2 last year and the Stones when at Uni had the best big stage shows, and honourable mentions go to Yes, Elton John, Sade, The R 'n' B Spitfires (in various pubs in Newcastle!), the unknown blues band in Chicago, Camel, Robert Cray, and of course the incomparable Jethro Tull (3 times), the only band to come close in my view was Lindisfarne at their early Christmas concert parties at Newcastle City hall.
Back to last night, it was a clear starlit night with a blazing full moon, we were driving over the moors to a little village in Farndale called Low Mill - "Don`t stray off the path" echoed in our minds from "American Werewolf in London" as we drove down the very steep winding bank from the top of Blakey Ridge. We parked on the verge, in the tiniest village you`ve seen, near a shack where suddenly we found ourselves in a buzzing crowd. The Cava was uncorked, as well as the Chilean Chardonnay and we sipped throughout a moving, introspective set from Willy Mason on fingerpicked guitar - as an encore he played a new song - "How Old?" quipped a Wag in the audience - "last week" replied Willy, "that's not new!" replied the Wag - "How about 5 minutes ago?" - "You wouldn`t want to hear that one!" said Willy with a smile - "Why not? Is it about me?"! replied the Wag.
Then Eve came on with her two guitarists from San Diego, Mark "Twang" and "Cactus" Jim they traded furious solos on acoustics and matched Eve's awesome voice with some lovely harmonies and fingerpicking, country, rock, gospel - they did it all.
After chatting with Mark "Twang" (great stage name!!) we walked out into the frosty night, twinkling stars and the rolling moors lit by the full moon. We only just remembered not to stray off the path on the way home!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I`m in love - and she's a hottie!!

This week I succumbed to temptation and bought a third electric guitar!! I know, I know, but it was irresistable! I've always been a huge Jimmy Page fan and have always hankered after a Gibson Les Paul but when I tried one for a week I didn`t think it was worth the price. However the guy who owns that Les Paul told me about this guitar which is a Signature Les Paul (made in Japan to a custom standard), he bought one and prefers it to his Gibson as well as his Gretsch Falcon! It has the same fittings as a Gibson, with solid mahogany neck and body and a 3/4" quilted maple top, beautiful mother of pearl inlaid rosewood fingerboard. We lowered the action yesterday at work and today it will get the lemon oil treatment on the fingerboard. I have posted a pic of Jimmy with his, so you can compare - all I need now is that tasteful dragon embroidered jacket!
As for the price, well shall we say it has been the best bargain I ever have negotiated! E-mail me if you are interested in one - they are not being imported into the Uk anymore and are really hard to get hold of.