web analytics

July 2013

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2013.

Herewith some images captured with the trusty x10 as we made our way south through France. Just off the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe (a crossing that I had not previously tried but which was really most easeful – not to mention being as smooth as a millpond on this occasion) we spent a night in Rouen:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

…where we witnessed a splendid Son et Lumiere projected onto the frontage of Rouen cathedral – inspired by the works of Monet.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

On the second night we stayed in the Loire Valley at the Chateau des Arpentis. For a B + B this is one pretty cool place – and one which we loved!

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

The evening was completed by a wonderful al fresco dinner at Les Closeaux near Amboise.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

The next day saw us in the Dordogne. More to follow…!


Tags: , , ,

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidTomorrow the Kickass Canada Girl and I head for France. As mentioned previously we intend to meander slowly down to the Dordogne over a period of some three days in the Girl’s spanking new convertible (well – new to her… You know what I mean!).

Now – the boot (Canadian – trunk!) of the Mazda (Canadian – Miata!) is the cutest wee thing going. It is good to see that the Japanese made no concessions whatsoever to utility when designing the ultimate ‘British’ sports car and that they wasted no efforts either there or in the strictly two-seater cabin on such fripperies as storage. As a result packing for the trip presents an interesting challenge.

I have discoursed briefly before on the Girl’s packing habits. She has – naturally – been working on the problem already for the best part of a week. It might appear – to the uninitiated – that her method consists of emptying out her entire wardrobe and then successively dismissing items ‘not required on voyage’ until such time as she can shoehorn the remainder into whichever trunks, valises and other items of baggage have been selected for the journey. To suggest that this were indeed the case would be a scandalous calumny and a terrible mistake, which I – for one – do not intend to make. However, given that the sum total of her travelling wardrobe must fit into two small soft bags I sense that this time her skills may be tested to the limit.

Being a chap – of course – I will simply toss a couple of t-shirts into a bag at the last possible moment and call it good. Well – there have to be some advantages to chapdom!

And if – by chance – I find that I have forgotten something, then the odds are good that the Girl will have packed said item instead – and I can simply borrow it!

Good luck with that one – as they say…

Tags: , , , ,

sun-43142_640The weather in the UK has been determinedly following its recent topsy-turvey course – routinely confounding expectations and continuing to be predicatably unpredictable. Last year’s dryest winter in aeons was followed rapidly by one of the wettest summers on record. This year’s arctic spring and early summer has finally given way to… yes – you’ve guessed it – a heatwave unsurpassed for more than a decade. Well – this seems to me to have provided us now with pretty much the full set!

With temperatures edging into the 30s Celsius for the last few weeks or so and with humidity high the working weekdays have been tough on those of us who have to commute, as well as for those who must work in the metropolitan connurbations. The evenings have brought little relief with the thermometer remaining stubbornly high, causing restless nights and tired and cranky mornings. Weekends – which one might expect to be a riot of joyous summer activities – see some of us at least simply trying to catch up with sleep and relaxation before we start on another hot and humid stretch at work. Those of us for whom school terms have finished can at least go to work in shorts and sandals. For this relief…

We are – gripes not withstanding – immensely grateful that after a considerable number of years of doing without we have finally been gifted a proper summer. We would – however – not be truly British were we not to complain about it. A treasured memory from my youth – in a year in which the customary hard winter was followed by a deeply disappointing spring… when the sun eventually came out for a period – and after a mere three days of pleasantly clement weather – the tabloid headline that shrieked in two inch high letters:

“73 degrees – No relief in sight!”

That’s Farenheit of course – not quite 23 degrees C!

Got to love those Brits!


Tags: , ,

Photo by Lazellion on FlickrIt occurred to me – in the days leading up to my recent furlough from the world of work subsequent to the culmination of the summer term – that I might take the opportunity to conduct a small and not altogether scientific experiment. To whit – I would treat my time at home as an analogue for my eventual retirement. In this I was abetted by the fact that the Kickass Canada Girl had – somewhat to her chagrin – to go to work whilst I enjoyed my days at ‘leisure’.

I duly spent the week imagining that my time was my own – not just for the duration – but in perpetuity….

…and I have to say – I loved it!

OK – now I know that this was not a serious test and that my actual retirement – when it finally comes – will indubitably prove to be a very different experience. However, this experiment felt particularly good to me – and what I loved most was having the time to do things properly. So much of modern life seems to me these days to consist of rushing from pillar to post – squeezing ever more effort into a limited period and in return being rewarded with ever increased stress. I know that this is all about ‘efficiency’ and ‘productivity’ and that these are undeniably ‘good things’… except that as I grow older I find myself more and more doubting that they truly are so.

My one serious gripe with this leave of absence was that the days were quite simply not long enough! I have met all too many retired folks who complain that they don’t know what to do with themselves – that their lives have no structure and that they miss the motivation of having to work. I don’t get that at all! I read. I pottered about. I did some chores. I ran some errands. Sometimes I sat and thought. Sometimes I just sat!

I had time to do some work on a long-uncompleted song. The piece needed some serious thought and care lavished on it so that it could find its true form. I was able to devote such time to finding suitable sounds and to gaining a clearer picture of what it wanted – what it needed – to be. It is not yet finished, but I am already particularly pleased with the way that it is progressing.

I lunched with the Girl. Lunch at work is a rushed 10 or 15 minutes spent grabbing some sustenance before heading back to the desk. Lunch when one’s time is one’s own becomes what it really should be – the reward for a morning’s attention to detail and an opportunity to share all the delights of the day with those whom one loves.

Will I miss work when I do retire? You know – I truly don’t believe that I will.

When the time is right – it’s time to go.


Having basked for a week in the heatwave by which the UK is currently somewhat unexpectedly engulfed (not complaining, you understand!) I have been obliged today – somewhat reluctantly – to return to work after my jolly splendid week at home.

Herewith some images of the Arcadian English countryside slumbering in the heat…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

Tags: , , ,

Photo by Calgary Reviews on FlickrScarcely more than twenty four hours after the British and Irish Lions’ delivered a rugby lesson to the Wallabies, recording an historic series win down under with an unexpected 16-41 drubbing – than Andy Murray completed an amazing sporting weekend by defeating the world number one – Novak Djokovic – in a hard fought but emphatic straight sets win to become the first British man to take the mens’ singles title at Wimbledon for seventy seven years!

Even to the sports-mad British it must have seemed that nothing could top last summer’s dazzling Olympic triumphs or Bradley Wiggin’s heroics to become the first ever British winner of the Tour de France… but perhaps this weekend has just done so!

Now all we need is back to back Ashes wins and we will truly be in sporting Nirvana…

Congratulations to the Lions and – of course – to the splendid Andy Murray!

Tags: ,

With sweet timing the weather gods have chosen to grace my brief sojourn from the rigours of work with blazing sunshine and temperatures soaring into the high 20s C. The Lions expedition to the antipodes reached an explosive climax this very morning with a thoroughly satisfying drubbing of our friends down under – Andy Murray has made it to another Wimbledon final and the first of the back to back Ashes series is about to commence.

Things are looking up!

On Friday I met the Kickass Canada Girl and one of her work colleagues for lunch in Reading. I arrived first at our chosen rendezvous – an outsized retail ‘park’ which occupies much of the centre of the town and the name of which I will refrain from mentioning since I have no desire to furnish them with more advertising than they get already.

The centre of this excressence features a large open space by the canal, and it was here that I whiled away a quarter of an hour in the sunshine looking for interesting images to snap with the Fuji X10.

As I lowered the camera – after being thus engaged for a while – I found myself face to face with a recently pubescent ‘jobsworth’ (closest Canadian equivalent might be a ‘brown-noser’ – apparently) who regarded me humourlessly.

“You’re not allowed to take pictures here”, he informed me drily.

I was so taken aback that I couldn’t think what to say, but I eventually summoned up a stunned “Why not?”

“Company policy”, he rejoindered. “Inside the stores or out”

I was amazed. “That makes no sense at all. What on earth could they object to? It’s not as though I was taking pictures of people.”

Apparently had I been so doing that would have been alright. What I wasn’t allowed to photograph was the ‘architecture’. When I expressed incredulity at this deranged policy the jobsworth muttered something about people posting things on websites, before shrugging his shoulders and shambling off to annoy someone else.

You will be unsurprised to hear that I was not impressed.

Anyway – here are a few images that I am not supposed to post here and you are not supposed to see…

Tags: , ,

Noon_–_Rest_from_Work_(after_Millet)_Courtesy of the Urban Dictionary:

1) R & R

Simple: Rest and relaxation

As in:

Maggie: “Ahh! Just got back from the weekend spa. Got some much needed r&r.”

Mary: (under breath) “Bitch!”

Mind you – the Urban Dictionary also has:

5) R & R

Canadian Whiskey purchased in liquor stores.. tastes like shit but gives you a nice feeling when intending to get drunk.

As in: “Yo, let’s drink some R&R tonight and live.”

I feel sure there should be an “eh!” in there somewhere…!

The term comes – as you might expect – from the US military, and my reason for using it is that this is exactly what I am indulging in right now. Term having finished – and the summer’s tasks having barely been started – I am doing something that I haven’t done for some considerable time. Absolutely nothing!

Well, that is – of course – an exaggeration and I will indeed be out and about over the next few days to some extent, but the intention is actually to spend some time at home, kicking back, sleeping, watching the tennis from Wimbledon and generally doing as little as possible. This is all about letting the old bod recover itself after recent exertions.

I do – however – feel somewhat guilty. The Kickass Canada Girl is still hard at work and is not particularly sanguine about the state of affairs. She consoles herself a little by informing me that my presence at home makes me what she affectionately terms her ‘house biatch’!

No idea what that means…..