23 March 2014

Is it really a week since we last wrote? Where does the time go?

After the tantalising glimpse of Spring we had last Sunday and the eager anticipation of the warmer and calmer weather to come, I have to say that this week has been pretty disappointing. Although most mornings have dawned bright and sunny if a bit on the “fresh” side, it hasn’t taken long for the clouds to roll in and the wind to pick up leaving us feeling decidedly somewhat less than spring-like. The snatches of rain haven’t helped either.

Penelope has been working very hard this week – she has been engaged in the difficult task of redecorating the “family” bathroom while I have done as little as possible to be of assistance. Penelope originally decorated the upstairs bathroom very soon after our arrival at 23 Banbury Road. The autumn had been particularly colourful that year and Pen decided to stencil leaves in similarly bright autumn colours over the walls while the woodwork she painted a delicate shade of bright pink. The leaves looked great but the bright woodwork always reminded me of raspberry sorbet! Now, it is a much more neutral coffee and beige and feels more like a bathroom than an ice cream parlor.

We had the pleasure of attending another quiz night in the village last night. The elderly couple who generally ask us to join their team did so again and, once again, we put on a decidedly mediocre performance. When will these friends of ours realise that we are a hopeless addition to any quiz team? Indeed, we are more than hopeless – we are an outright disadvantage! I guess it must be our vibrant and entertaining personalities that make us so popular. Still, while we didn’t do especially well in the quiz, we did not walk home empty-handed. Penelope won one of the raffle prizes – a delicious sounding collection of “body butters”.  As Penny said when her number was drawn, “Oh, well. Something to donate to the next raffle, I suppose.”

Body Butter

I spotted a photo collection of the allegedly 10 Greatest Works of Art in the Guardian the other day and it got me thinking – which would be in my top ten favourite works of art? Certainly some of these probably would make my shortlist – Guernica, for example, partly because it’s such a powerful painting and the Rembrandt self-portrait simply because it is outstanding. But I would also certainly include something by Monet, very probably one of the lilies series. I’ve always thought they have a dreamlike quality of a warm, still summer’s day. Of course, looking at any of these on screen is bound to be a disappointment. I remember visiting the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris some years ago and staring open-mouthed at the selection on display – absolutely stunning.

Monet Water Lilies

And while we are on the subject of the top ten works of art, how about ten of the world’s great natural wonders taken from a new Lonely Planet book entitled The World’s Great Wonders.

My friend Julie sent the following – the piece she sent asked you to identify the object in the photo below.

hard_drive

It then went on to explain that the object on the forklift is a computer hard disk drive from IBM introduced in 1956. It weighed about a ton and stored a “whopping” 5Mb of data. Compare that with the data capacities of current USB memory sticks – it would take 3200 of the IBM hard disks to equal the capacity of a 16Gb memory stick – just think of all those units lined up outside your house or tucked away in some back bedroom.

I am grateful to the Daily Mail (now there’s a statement you don’t see very often) for alerting me to the scrapping of an old law which we have been violating for much of the time we have lived in Byfield (and, very probably in Radway as well). Apparently, it used to be a criminal offense not to report the sighting of any grey squirrel on your land.

We have a resident grey squirrel who makes several appearances a day scampering along the back fence and along the side fence as well, sometimes pausing outside the kitchen window to have a look at us looking at him/her/it and we have yet to report its presence to the appropriate authorities.

The law was introduced in 1937 in an effort to eradicate the grey squirrels which were introduced to the country in the middle of the 19th century. Wealthy Victorians released the greys, imported from America as a curiosity, onto their estates and unwittingly let them spread like an epidemic across Britain. It seems that the greys carry a virus which does not affect them but is fatal to the native red squirrels of which there are now only about 10,000 to 15,000 in England having been completely swamped by the approximately three million grey squirrels.

I have to confess, I did not know we were obliged to report our grey squirrel to the authorities but ignorance of the law is no excuse. I shall be reporting Penelope to the relevant authorities on Monday.

Quick feedback on last week’s asparagus spear poll – it turns out that 73% of respondents prefer skinny spears to the tree trunks preferred by some.

Finally, it’s great to be able to enjoy meaningful baseball again although why they had to go all the way to Sydney to make a start is beyond me. Still, it was good to see the Dodgers defeat the Diamondbacks to take the best record in the major leagues so far. And even though the Dodgers won the first two games of the season . . .

Peanuts

And finally, finally, a very happy anniversary to Steph & Hope.

Doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself!

Much love to you all,

Greg