Saturday, 30 September 2017

spud harvest, desiree wins, early autumn, oxford rush of energy























Harvested our spuds this morning.

Once again, Desiree was the most successful variety. It must suit the claggy Oxford clay.

Difficult to find a moment when the earth was dry enough. Autumn seems to have come early this year.

Oxford term about to start and the MSt residence is this weekend. As always, the University is suddenly alive with a rush of energy after the long stretch of summer.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

early autumn views, elmet by fiona mozley, sequentiality is key!, p.s., thanks, ml!









Excellent walk on the Barrington Park Estate. Lovely early autumn views.

Very much enjoying Elmet by Man Booker shortlisted Fiona Mozley. She tells a great tale. From a creative writing point of view, one of the brilliant - and deceptively simple - things she does is, as it were, just to put one foot in front of the other, taking us to the other side without ever looking down. Sequentiality in fiction is key!

P.S. A friend - and Oxford Creative Writing graduate - picked me up on 'sequentiality', saying that some tutors and writers would disagree about its importance because it leads to predictability. Which is fair enough and I obviously didn't explain myself well. I meant sequentiality at scene and paragraph levels not that of plot. The kind of sequentiality that constantly takes the reader onwards, creating a strong, page-turning momentum. In Elmet this is done in a way that seems incredibly simple and yet the power of the 'everyday' observations drives you forward inexorably. Thanks, ML!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

walking, somerset, fb wishes





Loved walking in Somerset.

Thanks to Facebook friends for birthday wishes!

Monday, 18 September 2017

lichen, downpour, fire in the grate, poldark























A muted-colour day.

Topped by an outrageous - and completely unforecast (if the internet weather was to be believed) - downpour!

A fire in the grate. It's not exactly cold but the dark, dank night demands it.

Poldark, Series 2, Episode 6 on DVD.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

old stoic day, the years went - where?, lions, first fires of autumn, hangover square and netta the fish





Returned to Stowe for our year group's Old Stoic day yesterday... Forty years since we left. Help!

The years went - where?

Lovely, lovely to see close friends from school days - close friends too little seen.

Other friends not seen at all since that time. Gosh.

And such a different school. The grounds managed by the National Trust; the stately home restored to former glories, when the Dukes of Buckingham lived there. An extraordinary place to be at school - then as now.

The lion on the South Front shown in the photo - one of a pair - was recently reinstated (having been sold off in 1921, before the school was founded) after it was discovered in a park in Blackpool. On extended loan now. See this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/fogGLSoyMdQ

Really enjoyed talking to the school librarian too.

At home, we lit our first log fire of the autumn last Sunday and have lit one each day since. It's been freezing out!

Finished Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. Beautifully written and constructed, from a page-turning point of view - it has amazing momentum - but I found the short section told from Netta's perspective, in which her personality and attention span is compared to those of a fish, seemed both reductive and contrived. How much more powerful the book would have been if her interior life had remained a mystery. I even wondered if that section was added later. A fascinating novel of its time, nevertheless.

Friday, 8 September 2017

missed that one... missed another..., still feeling the effects



How was I to know that the bus timetables changed on 3rd September?

Mostly, there were hardly any changes at all. Just the 2.57 pm from Bampton Square, which now goes seven minutes earlier. It took quite a while to realise we had missed that one - well, we just assumed there was a hold up somewhere. As you do... Until...

I was also unlucky with the 6.40 pm from Carterton. Now zooming off at 6.32...

So, an earlier bus from Oxford after work means I have longer to wait for my Carterton connection and more time for exploring.

Pleased to say that the effects of the holiday are still felt.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

one of those days























A great walk this morning.

But a somewhat disappointing day, as far as the weather was concerned...

Lots of other good things, though!