Monthly Archives: December 2009

A pair of cats

Just caught Midge, our lofty tortoiseshell cat, “helping” daughter Cat with her art.DSC07344 Here’s Cat’s take on the situation –True_Story_by_IckleRayOfSunshine

For more of Cat’s wonderful work, click this thingy here: Cat’s gallery on Deviant Art


After teasing us for a few days by avoiding our little corner of the North West, snow finally arrived to Ben’s delight.DSC00828 A bright, bright sun failed to warm the air even a tidge,DSC00830  …but it did make the snow sparkle prettily.DSC00831 Warm clothing was de rigeur for humans,DSC00832 …but Ben didn’t give a toss about the temperature.DSC00836 More pics of Ben enjoying the weather….DSC00837 DSC00838 DSC00844

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden

The River Eden is entirely Cumbrian and is one of the few large rivers in England that flows northwards. The source of the river is on the high limestone fells above Mallerstang Common, near the North Yorkshire border, and makes its way across eastern Cumbria, with the hills of the North Pennines to the East, and the fells of the Lake District to the west, to Carlisle. As it meanders through Carlisle, it passes the Brampton Road campus of Cumbria University.

Here came Cat for her interview and portfolio presentation, which went really well. She enjoyed it far more than Birmingham, and has been offered a place. Yay!

DSC00796While she was in the Uni, I took Ben on a Carlisle walkabout. First we visited this place – Rickerby Park – which lies between the campus and the river, and runs down to the riverbank. Ben, typical Labrador, DSC00794immediately focused on the water – and took a mighty leap to plunge greatly and splashily into the Eden, which was flowing swiftly, but not too strongly, in the middle, and more gently to the sides.DSC00788

DSC00795He had a little bit of trouble negotiating a log, but made it out OK and immediately decided I’d be better off it I was wet, too, shaking himself standing next to me. We started walking towards a nearby bridge, passing this fascinating sculpture, carved out of a tree trunk still rooted in the ground. Luckily, Ben forbore to do a wee up it.DSC00791

DSC00806The bridge was called, unsurprisingly, Eden Bridge, and was designed by Robert Smirke in 1815, and doubled in size in 1932. So said a weathered sign attached to the bridge stonework. Here’s an engraving of the bridge in  1815, shortly after it was first built.eden bridge 1815

A short walk of ten minutes and we found ourselves in the centre of Carlisle, a very pleasant town indeed.DSC00801

DSC00799The Christmas decorations were… interesting (see right, and above)… but the various buskers, including a jazz band, a brass band, and a string trio, were fun and rather talented.

DSC00802Carlisle’s history was much in evidence, and thankfully they had not followed the example of many other towns, but had kept their old buildings and thus provided a fine atmosphere. The council offices were situated in red stone towers, while other banal offices were similarly housed in impressive structures. On the left there is the police station.

And here is Carlisle Castle, unfortunately standing by a very busy road, which we did not have the time to visit, I’m sad to say.DSC00804Here and there were reminders of the recent floods which have devastated the North West of England, such as this small park where the trees appeared to be growing out of their own little islands.DSC00805

I popped into Gregg’s to buy a sandwich for Cat, although it turned out the University had provided biscuits and drinks. DSC00810I also bought one for Ben and I. In this photograph on the left you can see his “Need some help with that bread, Beardy Bloke?” expression. Note Eden Bridge in the background.

We found that Cat was still enjoying her visit, and so we returned to Rickerby Park for some Puddle Fun. DSC00813Yes, everywhere were deep (-ish) puddles left by the recent rains. Here, Ben surveys one particularly large example for gulls which he might consider chasing. In this case, he decided to give the lone bird in sight a break, and decided on a simple paddle instead.DSC00814

I was overcome by an uncontrollable urge to do something artistic, and took this artistic photo of some artistic trees reflecting artistically in, erm, another puddle. Artistic, isn’t it?DSC00817

Ben was still paddling calmly,DSC00819 when he suddenly found – a stick!

DSC00824“Its MY stick, you can’t have it!” he shouted loudly in body language, and proceeded to engage in The Zoomies, sprinting round and round at top speed in circles and figure of eights.

Across the sodden grass and through the puddles he careered –DSC00822

… often at too great a speed for my reaction time.DSC00820

By the time Cat called us back to go home, three hours of walking and running and swimming and jumping had taken its toll. Fortunately, I only have before and after photos of Ben, rather than me. I present, on the left, Ben before his three hour spree, and on the right, Ben afterwards. The look in his eyes is eloquently pleading “Can we go home, Beardy Bloke? I’m knackeredDSC00811DSC00818

Give me the naughty nightwear!

flaxI realise I am WAY behind the times, but I’ve just discovered Fallout 3.

Oh. My. God. Talk about your engrossing adventurey-cum-RPG games: this is a cracker!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Flax, blue-haired and small, expert in unarmed combat and persuading people to do what she wants. What does it say about me that in games like this I generally create empowered women, rather than baldy blokes in their Fifties? flaxcuI’ll let you decide – at least I don’t give them big guns (the one above is classified as a ‘small gun’, so there!

These “photos” are comparatively old – these days she wears leather, which will give you even more reason to doubt my intellectual capabilities.

Whatever the reasons, this game is my new drug. It is beautiful, intelligent, witty, violent (at times), sneaky (when you want it to be): I can’t get enough of it.

The blog title? That comes from an episode in the game where Flax managed to pick the lock of a safe to find that all it contained was something called – you guessed – Naughty Nightwear. As she left the room, she was confronted by this character:nn

Luckily, Flax’s persuasive skills were high enough to convince Lug-Nut that the Naughty Nightwear looked better on her than it would on him. So he left empty-handed, to be incinerated by a fire-ant shortly after.

Finally, here is Flax in said Naughty Nightwear after a rough night…flaxnn


So Cat had her first University interview-cum-lets-have-a-gander-at-your-art session yesterday, at Birmingham. After she had lugged her enormous portfolio through the door, I walked into the city for my first look at Britain’s second largest city.DSC00774 Um.

Can you say “uninspiring”? On a brief two-hour jaunt, it seemed nothing more than a tedious collection of chain stores put together in a boring layout. Even the ‘special’ Frankfurt Market paled into insignificance when compared with Manchester’s mighty Christmas German Markets. However, I did find THIS!DSC00775 Ho yes. Tasty, and entertaining to eat. While getting that little lot down me gob, I came across this outside the Bullring – he looks a bit grumpy, poor soul.DSC00776I was also amused by this sign outside the shopping centre, above a gadget shop –DSC00779  And that was about it. There was a pleasant (ish) view down one shopping street of a church and blocks of flats in the distance…DSC00777 … but honestly, the best thing about Birmingham as far as I can see is the hugely entertaining accent. I’ve tried to find a playable example to link to, but Google has let me down, so you’ll have to do it yourselves.

On my way back to fetch Cat, I did see another stall, which tempted me with its offers of delights outside my sphere of experience, but by then I was full of sausage and all the stuff I’d ladled onto it.DSC00780 Look! For twenty pence you can have cheese on your Ostrich Burger! Wonder if it is yak cheese?

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