Saturday, 25 October 2008

Don't forget ...

... that at 2.a.m. tonight, (actually tomorrow morning) British Summer Time ends and the clocks go back an hour to Greenwich Mean Time. Which means that in the early hours I should open the front door and stumble down the path to alter my new double-sided outdoor timepiece. Not a chance. It will get done before I go to bed and slumber for the extra hour. Not that I need it. I didn't get up until 10.00 a.m. this morning!

Now cometh the dark winter evenings. The wind is blowing, there's rain forecast, and a breath of winter predicted for next week. Wednesday will be just the right time to get back to work after my autumn break.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Where the hell is Matt?

A friend directed me to this video on You Tube. It's worth watching.

The apple harvest begins

This morning the harvesting of the apple crop began ... this one tree will produce about a third of a ton.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A fresh new city

Milton Keynes is one of those places that you either love or hate. There seems to be no middle ground in people's perceptions. I'm one who finds the city attractive and lively. I don't get confused by the grid system of thoroughfares. I like the way that each suburb is a small community, and how the pedestrian and cycle paths keep to their own system of routes and away from the main roads. I find the central shopping area a pleasure to walk round, and I have long wanted to stay a night in the centre of the city. Last Friday night I did just that, booking into the Holiday Inn on Saxon Way at just after 3.00 p.m.

The room was light and pleasant, with a good view across the boulevard, and once again the hotel had a swimming pool, this time in the basement. Having taken a preliminary stroll around the Shopping Centre I returned to the hotel for a swim, and then in the early evening went out to find a meal. I headed first of all for Pizza Express, but found nothing on the menu that encouraged me to go in. I then walked to Wagamama, but as the place was heaving with customers, moved on - the Miso soup would have to wait for another day. Pizzaland was the third option, and although it also was busy, there were some free tables, and I dined cheaply and well - potato wedges to start, and a dish of tomato and mozzarella mezzaluna pasta as a main course, washed down with a small bottle of red wine.

The following morning I had another swim before making a coffee in my room and then checking out. Before heading home I stopped off at the Ikea store and wandered happily around, spending a bit more than I anticipated on church raffle prizes and Christmas gifts, as well as items for my own use and consumption. Nearing Cambridge I found a garage with petrol at just under £1 per litre, and so I refuelled there.

So concluded my week away. As I lounged on the sofa in my sitting room the next day, it was a pleasure to know that in a week's time I would still be off-duty for another couple of days. It's been an thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing time so far.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Dorset coastline

Wednesday last saw me driving from Taunton down into West Dorset. I had forgotten how narrow the lanes are off the main highways, and how little view there is with their high hedges, so that every corner is blind, and passing places infrequent. I pulled off as I neared my destination and had a sandwich.

Thursday, and a trip down to Sidmouth to look at a postcard shop (disappointing - though I bought a few oddments to go in the albums), try and buy a bathroom clock (I ended up with one for the outside of the house!) and take a walk along the seafront.

Sunny and warm, it was a delightful outing, and rounded off with a visit to a superb farm shop at nearby Kidlington where the proprietor travels across to France and brings back a variety of goods and condiments. I bought things I usually only see in the Aquitaine, and they now reside in my home pantry, waiting for the right occasion.

As I left on Friday morning, and due to extensive roadworks in the village that have closed the main street, I drove westwards, and passed Pilsdon Pen. I stopped here for a final view of the coastline across the Marshwood Vale, of Lewesdon Hill, and the Pen itself.

Wonderful countryside, and on a fine Autumnal morning, England at its best.

Ancestor worship

Last Tuesday, on my way to Taunton, and before I put up a post from the Sedgemoor Services on the M5, I called in at the village of Weston-in-Gordano to visit the church and pay my respects to my ancestors.

The church possesses a large and colourful west window donated by the Perceval family in the early years of the 20th century, showing the three main founders of the building, starting with Ascelin Gouel de Perceval, the Norman knight from Yvery (now Ivry-la-Bataille) west of Paris. He was granted the lands of Weston in 1077, but the pious image showing him holding a model of the church bears little resemblance to the truth of the man’s brutal nature. Nicknamed “The Wolf” he not only imprisoned his father-in-law in courtyard of his Breherval Castle in the depths of winter clad only in his nightshirt, but also raped a maiden from the neighbouring village of Pacy-sur-Eure, and thus instigated the Normandy Wars.

The southern light shows Sir Richard de Perceval, Ascelin’s grandson and Crusader knight who has a colourful memorial in the church’s interior, along the north wall.

His tomb also stands in the churchyard, and since I was named after this ancestor, to show my homage I stretched out on his stone table. Briefly. It was chilly.

He came back from the Holy Land minus his left leg, though the glass does not depict this loss. He married the daughter of William de Mohun IV, Lord of Dunster Castle in Somerset, and died in 1202.

In the northern light stands Sir James Perceval, the “Rebuilder” (1530-1594), the great-great-great grandson of the Crusader.

It was good to find the church open.

(Jane Maria Perceval was the grand-daughter of the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated - The Rt.Hon. Spencer Perceval, who was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons on 11th May 1812. Our common ancestor lies some 3 generations before.)

Friday, 17 October 2008

Still rambling

A swift update since my internet access has been limited for the last couple of days.

Left Taunton on Wednesday and trundled down to West Dorset. Visited Sidmouth yesterday, and an exceptionally fine Farm shop, of which more later. Leave here today and move on for final night in the centre of Milton Keynes and another Holiday Inn hotel.

Photos also to be posted later.


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Taunton nosh

Meal out in Taunton last night, with clerical co-trainee from Salisbury days (let the reader in Long Island understand), at a rather nice Italian restaurant, housed in the old school that used to be an Auctioners, in the shadow of St. Mary's church and its tall tower.

Appetiser of rosemary foccacia, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, main courses of a traditional spaghetti bolognese, and a fusilli carbonara, and then tiramisu (how predictable!)for dessert. Two small espresso coffees to finish. I slept well!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Could do better

So, am now in the Costa Coffee shop. I tried to pay for my double espresso and croissant with my Costa Club Card .... "Sorry, we don't have the machine here." Admittedly, it does say on the back of the card "valid for use only at participating Costa stores", but there should still be a sign up somehwere to say that they can't accept them here. Black Mark, Costa. Get those machines out to your stores. This customer wants that facility, and the customer is always right! I shall leave a comment on the Costa site.

Grumpy old sod

Modern Technology

I sometimes think that I'm still living in the Dark Ages .... here I am, sitting in the open air at the Sedgemoor M5 Services in Somerset, accessing the Internet on a free W-fi connection provided by Road Chef. It strikes me as amazing that I can do this. The traffic is roaring past, school parties are noisily getting back onto their coaches, and pensioners on Mystery Trips are stocking up on tea and cake.

I spent a really comfortable night at the Holiday Inn hotel at Oxford (just off the Peartree Roundabout). It could have done with better direction signs, and I only found it by following the notices for the Travelodge, but the room was large and comfortable, the swimming pool virtually deserted, and the evening meal a feast, though my wallet is now somewhat lighter! Then there was another swim before breakfast, and a drive off westwards through the morning mist.

I called in at the Prinknash monastery, only to find that despite signs that the monastery was "Open all winter", the shop was closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and the chapel only open at times of prayer services. Not very welcoming to the visitor.

Then to Weston-in-Gordano and the village church founded by my ancestors. Photographs to follow!

So, having used the Road Chef internet access, and the fact that there's drizzle in the air, I suppose I'd better buy a coffee and a nibble before I head on to Taunton.

More bulletins later!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sunday trading

Well, whatever the variety, the apples now have a future. I have just made an arrangement with a local apple press to trade my crop for some bottles of juice - made from my own apples! Far better than leaving them just to drop and then carting them over to the farm for the horses to eat. Maybe there'll still be a few for them, but within a week or two the owner of the press will come and strip both the trees. Bad luck for the birds this winter as well. They usually flock to the windfalls as the colder weather arrives. I'll have to provide some sort of alternative for them. Still it will be fun to have my own variety of juice sitting in the fridge.

And he tells me that they are definitely NOT "Beauty of Bath". Too late - they are over by July, and these ones can hang on the tree well into January!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Beauty of Bath?

The great apple identification debate continues. I've now had suggestions from both sides of the Atlantic that the main crop might be "Beauty of Bath". Here is the main tree, though the "washed-out" apples that form half of the crop appear to have almost finished.

Those on the second tree are smaller ....

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


The British Chambers of Commerce have today said that Britain is already in recession. These photographs from Norwich taken at 3.00 p.m. seem to back that up. On a weekday the main street by the Castle is usually busy with cars and buses, shoppers and pedestrians. So also the Castle Mall Shopping Centre. Not today though.

First days of autumn break

Harvest Festival in my village of residence this last Sunday, and so the morning service was followed by lunch in the Village Hall. But what weather! Torrential rain for most of the day, the northerly direction of the wind forcing water through the leak in the garage roof. The Diocese knows about this but as yet have not made any arrangements to repair it. I shall remind them.

The crop of apples this year continues to amaze. Laden, the trees receive no care from me at all - no spraying or pruning - and as one has a hollow trunk I don't quite see where it gets all its energy from. And the fruit is almost without blemish. Last year they were badly marked and scabby, but this year they are shiny and fresh. I don't know the variety. One tree has obviously had a graft in the distant past as it produces two different varieties. The other is a single, and diffferent again.

All are eating apples, and they have firm texture, are juicy, and with a slight tang. A large box went to the church for decoration. I sold some at my regular Coffee morning, and now it's a case of picking up the windfalls, storing some, and giving the others away - either on the roadside, or letting the farm have them for their horses.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

New Appointment

1st October 2008
I hereby make Saintly Ramblings the official OCICBW... Chef. In any future disputes concerning culinary matters (eg barbecue) his final word will be the final word. His presentation of haddock fish cakes, chips and peas is nothing less than a masterpiece. I look forward to being guided gastronomically by the galumphing gourmet for a long time to come.
Mad Priest

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

In response to a request ....

... from an odd rabbit on the Mad Priest blog, herewith an icon to treasure!

I quite like it! Maybe I'll get it enlarged and mounted on board. With a few candles burning in front of it ....