Monday, 29 September 2014

Caw House, Londonderry

I suppose one would have to be at least fifty to have any real memory of Caw House. This property, originally owned by the Alexanders was for the most part of the twentieth century owned by the Cooke family. The house and immediate lands were ultimately sold for development. Today, "Bridgewater," and its thirty odd dwellings occupies the site of the house and its immediate grounds. The above photograph is of a watercolour by Emerson H . Babington, (son of Sir Anthony Brutus Babington.) This watercolour was I think painted in the late 1960's. The Babingtons and Cookes were related by marriage. During the inter war years Caw House was oft the venue for the emptying of the local hunt's stirrup cup. Thomas Fitzpatrick Cooke and his wife were the last owner occupiers of the property.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Musical Satire


When done well pithy musical satire can be extremely amusing. To be successful the protagonist of this genre needs to be clever, a bit of a wordsmith. A classically trained voice isn't necessary. It would probably take away from the performance, forcing one to pay more attention to the voice rather than the verbal gymnastics. For me Tom Lehrer is one of those individuals who succeeded in this musical niche. His, "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park." does I think show him close to the apogee of what was for him a secondary profession. His performances, now long ceased although he is still alive, showed him to have a quick witted and laconic style.


My autumnal peregrinations provided me with the opportunity of viewing the current musical presentation of the female triumvirate known as, "Fascinating Aida." I expect that they would see themselves as modern day protagonists of Lehrer's genre. Yes, certain of their songs proved to be quite funny but I don't know whether it would be fair or correct to describe them as satirical. On occasions somewhat risqué, at times bawdy and rather strident. Probably a good night out for a hen party, but I don't think that they are challenging Mr. Lehrer.



Sunday, 21 September 2014

Demise of the Classics.

It must be in excess of three years since I started to go along to the meetings of a classic reading group. They have been held in one of the local libraries on a monthly basis.


I should perhaps make clear that this is not a group of individuals who have graduated in the humanities and are meeting up to practice their Ancient Greek. No. The truth is much more prosaic. When I refer to,"classic," in this context I am referring to Penquin Classics and similar, - novels for the most part from the nineteenth century.


Initially there would have twelve or fourteen individuals who sauntered along to discuss that month's literary choice, sip their coffee and munch their biscuits. The number of attendees has however declined. Filial transportation duties prevented my own attendance at the beginning of the month. I did however visit the library at the heals of last week to pick up the choice for October's meeting. There wasn't one. No one had attended the September meeting. It seems as if I must excise this event from my calendar.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Back Training


The end of August was the end of track and field for another year. Thankfully I did not suffer any debilitating injuries and probably as a result of this I managed to improve on my previous year's times. A temporary victory against old Father Time and his scythe!


For the past two weeks we have had what counts as recovery or active rest time. No speed sessions, no hill sessions, no drills sessions, just twenty five or thirty miles a week of easy runs. Yesterday however we returned to organised and tailored training. The first targeted race is only two weeks away, the Northern Ireland road relay championships at Victoria Park. Thereafter most of the training group will be aiming to compete in the Home Countries, (and Ireland) Masters cross country races. I have a well known antipathy to mud and squelch so I don't imagine that I will be persuaded to run in the qualifying race unless I can be assured of manicured grass and dry and regular underfoot conditions. I should be safe!


After a warm up we embarked upon a six kilometre, (unfortunately proper measurement was not employed), AT run. This entailed two laps of an undulating course. I completed the first lap in twelve minutes with the second lap being slightly quicker, (eleven minutes thirty four seconds). I don't know if I would have wanted to or indeed have been able to run it much quicker. The session ended with six uphill strides of about fifty metres.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Would Sir Henry Wood vote Yes?

As we head towards the day of the Scottish referendum and, "King Salmond's" attempt to sever the Union it is rather interesting to peruse the wording of a former verse to the National Anthem. Perhaps we should be calling upon the descendants of Field Marshall George Wade to intervene and crush Salmond and his strident acolytes. They might just be more effective than Alistair Darling. Balkanisation is not something that any right minded and logical Scottish voter should be contemplating.

"Lord grant that Marshal Wade

May by thy mighty aid

Victory bring

May he sedition hush

And like a torrent rush

Rebellious Scots to crush

God save the King"

I watched the last night of the proms on Saturday night. If Salmond and his ilk have their way I expect that Scotland will no longer be part of that great annual event.



Saturday, 13 September 2014

Tomatoes Plucked


It is hard not to have a glut of tomatoes. Well maybe that is not quite the word to apply. It does after all have a perjorative ring to it and that would be unfair to this fruit which with its luscious smell, taste and look so redolent of summer. Maybe one should just refer to a large picking.


If one applies that terminology then today was certainly the day of the big picking. I haven't got around to weighing the produce of the picking as yet but I suspect that when I get around to the task I will be rewarded with a figure something in excess of thirty pounds. Much as I like fresh tomatoes I have to accept that I won't be able to munch through the entirety of the above pile in its au naturele state. Most of the big picking will be converted into chutney, soup and sauce.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Garden Fruit Feast.

I ambled around the garden yesterday evening. The sky was clear and blue although there was a coolness in the air. My first port of call was the greenhouse. The cucumbers required a little water and feed as did the chilies and the aubergines. The tomato plants did not need any attention. I plucked one tomato from its maternal vine and snacked on it. Its flesh was warm and sweet.


Passing the bean wigwams I pulled a young runner bean pod and consumed its green crispness as I headed towards the lawns and herbaceous borders. I stopped at one of the damson trees and consumed three or four damsons. A peach and a fig completed my preprandial melody of fruits. I pulled an apple for later consumption.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Scotland's heart may want to say Yes but its brain must say No.

I find it very strange that the impending referendum in Scotland is receiving so little airspace and print space especially outside of Caledonia. Perhaps both sides are so confident of their position that they don't think it important to reach out to the electorate.

There are just over four million voters who will decide whether to terminate the Union. Mr. Salmond, (I have to concede that I do not like this person), has done his utmost to increase his electorate and be the man who slices off a portion of the United Kingdom. Over one hundred thousand, "mature," sixteen and seventeen year olds have been given a vote thanks to this individual. I wonder if they were required to watch a viewing of, "Braveheart," as part of some social science module? Nothing like a bit of strident sentimentality. Should these children, who clearly have such an in depth knowledge of politics and economics, be allowed to kill off the Union? If you are fighting for that cause then I suppose the answer is in the affirmative.

The unemployed, (179,000,) represent another important target audience for Mr Salmond's brand of politics. Might there be some merit in taking a step back from the socialist principle of universal suffrage? There does seem to be some logic in thinking that only those who contribute or have contributed to Society should determine how Society is run.

That citizens of EU countries who are resident in Scotland should have a vote is I think illogical. Those persons have their loyalties elsewhere. Many of them are transient residents. Many of them have a limited grasp of the English language. They won't be casting their vote thinking and knowing that they will spend the rest of their lives in Scotland.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Autumn Berries


Autumn has arrived, We might prefer to think of it as late summer but the heavy dews and shortening hours of daylight can't be ignored. Goodbye summer.

It isn't all bad news however. Autumn provides free food with only the effort of picking to set off against the value of nature's bounty. I paddled around the unkempt corners of the garden today and picked some of the early blackberries. They have now been consigned to the lower recesses of the freezer.

I espied a few mushrooms beginning to thrust through the wooded areas. I expect that I will be able to pick a few pounds within the next week.