Camden Market – August 2016

One of my quartet of lovely nieces has been down for a few days. On Sunday we went down to Camden.

It must be at least twenty years since I last visited the market.

It’s as fun and vibrant as ever…

…with lots of great shops and stalls.

I was very taken with this chandelier…

and this sign.

We’d have bought this programme for Prof Pete, but we didn’t know i) whether Sheffield Wednesday had won or ii) if he had it all ready.

More than anything else, it’s a great place to sit and people watch. We had a great lunch at Honest Burgers.  The onion rings are out of this world, and their beer is great.

I won’t leave it another twenty years.

Buscot Park – July 2016

Last week I had a trip to Buscot Park with my lovely friend Lindsay. In my opinion the house isn’t anything special (although there’s some amazing art), but the garden is lovely.

The old kitchen gardens have been set out in a more formal way…

…with a few vegetables left in the borders…

…and some statues peeking out through the flowers.

Sweet peas always remind me of my Grandma Gertie, and m-in-law, Lin. They both loved them.

This rose, Ferdinand Pichard, absolutely blew me away, fabulous.

Now if I had a swimming pool like this…

…I’d have some nice murals too.

I hope they restore them.

There are also lovely formal gardens…

…(anyone know what tree this is?)…

…and water gardens…

…I’ve never seen a dark red waterlily like this before.

There are a fair number of statues, including this chap with a strange animal on his head…

…a cat, a ferret, an otter?

Some very uncomfortable chairs…

…assorted Egyptian chaps…

…and assorted terracotta warriors, why not?

My faves? This smiling lion…

these pink parasols

…and this perky pup.

Shoes….

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling very down about my health and weight. I mentioned this to a student who said “Well, why don’t you go swimming, running or zumba (whatever the hell that is)?”. I was about to respond negatively, when I realised that I used to go running, completed two half marathons, and whisper it, enjoyed it (or rather enjoyed having done it).

Last weekend I bought my first running shoes in 11 years.

I downloaded the NHS ‘Coach to 5K’ podcast, and I’m now a week and a bit in. I feel very embarrassed when anyone I know sees me, but what the hell….

France May 2016 – Fréjus

As well as hanging around at the golf club, we paid a visit to Fréjus. The town was created as a seaside resort by the Romans, but also thrived as a medieval town.

There are various Roman bits and pieces, a couple of nice churches and a cathedral. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

This sundial outside the cathedral was nice, however…

…the cloister was beautiful.

Its wooden ceiling is covered with thousands of fantastic beasts…

…and scenes from daily life…

painted between 1350 and 1360.

If that wasn’t fabulous enough, the cathedral also has a 5thC baptistery.

Wandering around the town, there’s lots of lovely…

…door furniture…

…ranging…

…from the Romans…

…to odd.

Smurf flavoured ice-cream, there has to be wrong, surely?

We were reminded of this mournful dog…

…when we met this one at lunchtime. She begrudged us every mouthful!

France May 2016 – out and about in Tournus

As I remarked in my last post, Tournus is a lovely town, and I’d love to go there again.  For those of you who are interested in such things, we stayed in a restaurant with rooms called Aux Terrasses. Great food and really nice staff.

The town is on the river Saône

…look at this boat Dr Bones!

There’s an old hospital to visit…

…a dinky little cinema

…a market that sells cheese cages…

…and I got to pet a little, fat pony.

My Ma would have been very interested in this shop!

This sign was strange…

…and this sign was just plain disturbing!

France May 2016 – Saint-Philibert de Tournus

On our way down to the South of France the Boy and I broke our journey in Tournus, a lovely town in Burgundy.

The former Benedictine abbey, St Philibert was founded in 875 AD by monks fleeing the Vikings (the Normans of Normandy [given that my maternal grandmother was from Denmark, and my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Norman, there must be a lot of Viking in me]).

The Boy and I were rather taken with these signs…

…there’s someone with a good sense of humour around.

This 13thC mosaic was found during building work in 2005.

I love this little hawk…

…and the moody horse.

This little hawk must be a reference to the mosaic.

The organ is impressive…

…as are the few remaining wall paintings…

but I just adored the roof space. 

Kurt Jackson Private View – Oxford Museum of Natural History, March 2016

Earlier in March I was lucky enough to be a +One at a private view of an exhibition of works by Kurt Jackson at the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

The exhibition is well worth a visit, but for me the real star was the museum building after dark.

It’s like a beautiful upside down boat…

…an absolute gem of Gothic Revival architecture.

The museum’s design was influenced by the work of John Ruskin.


I fall in love with it again every time I visit.

Graduation – Oxford March 2016

On a lovely bright sunny Saturday, my Dad, the Boy and I graduated as Master of Arts in the beautiful Sheldonian theatre.

The ceremony is all about tradition.

The Oxford MA is a relic of the Middle Ages when students would study for seven years, after which they would be able to teach, and become a full member of the university (and at some colleges walk on the lawns). It therefore predates ‘taught’ Masters qualifications. Oxford BAs can have the MA conferred on, or after the 21st term after entering the university.

Now that I work at Blackfriars, it’s useful for me to have the MA, as there are still various administrative bits and pieces you can only do if you have MA status. However, the day was about more than that. It was a chance to celebrate our achievements, and remember all the people who had gone before us.

Although Dad went to Magdalen, and Adam and I went to St Hugh‘s, Fr Richard Conrad OP kindly took us through under Blackfriars’ wing.

It was lovely that I could graduate with my Dad, who only did it to make me happy (although he did get a good party afterwards).

It was an unexpectedly moving day. A big thank you to all our friends and family who came, and to Sandy who catered a brilliant party at Cornucopia afterwards.

[Photographs by David Hunt]

Downside Abbey – March 2016

I’ve not long returned from a short retreat at Downside Abbey. The community couldn’t have been more kind and welcoming, and there’s nothing like a bit of Gothic Revival.

I only went for a couple of days, as I hadn’t been sure how I would react to being ‘off-line’ and bound by the daily offices. As it turned out, I wish I’d had a longer time there.

I’m still processing the experience, but I’m sure it’s something I’ll do again (if they’ll have me).