Monday, February 20, 2017

In the Footsteps of Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter - England/Scotland with my Son (2)

Hi there!

Part 2 of the ramble I took some years ago around the North of England/Scotland. Enjoy!

23 juni 2013 om 16:11

Hiking in The Lake District has been our our 'to do list' for years. So when we finally came round to travelling to Windermere in May of 2013, my son Wibe and I were looking forward to it enormously.

We weren't sad to leave grubby Norwich, and the weather helped by being cold but dry. The train didn't run this Sunday, and we were herded into a bus to take us to Peterborough, which was soon filled to capacity by burly men having to travel up to Scotland.
Our destination was Windermere, which we would reach by train from Peterborough, via Leeds, Carlisle, and Oxenholme.

We only had to wait 10 minutes for the fast train to Leeds, and saw the landscape slowly but surely change. Green it was, and green it stayed, but it became more and more unkempt and rough at the edges.
In Leeds we nearly made a huge mistake by boarding the train to London, which arrived at the Carlisle platform only minutes before our train without anyone announcing anything. It was our sheer luck that we overheard two women talking, and quickly jumped out again.

Whilst Wibe dozed (he always falls asleep on trains) and the cheerful hubbub of the British voices around me faded to a background buzz, I was glued to the window. The hills became higher and wilder, and the only living things I saw were thousands of weathered sheep and one large bird of prey. 
The train passed small grey slated villages, and there was snow on the highest peaks. And dozens of waterfalls splashed down into brooks and burns. Sometimes we went into a tunnel, only to speed out of it into thick mist, and then going into the next tunnel and coming out of it into bright daylight again.
It was absolutely gorgeous. We travelled over brick arched bridges, spanning deep valleys, and I expected Voldemort to attack any minute.

At Carlisle we barely had time for a wee and a cup of much needed coffee in the quaint restaurant before we needed to be on the train to Oxenholme. And there we had to change trains yet again, this making it the 9th hour of our rail journey. By the time we reached Windermere, we were terribly tired. 
We walked downhill from Windermere Station, and entered the first hotel we saw, The Queen's Hotel, hoping they had B&B facilities. The bar was hopping with animated punters, and the barman burst out laughing when I asked him for a room.
'We don't do rooms, love'. says 'hotel' on your front?
'Yeah, funny that, I can't understand why that sign is up there. Try a bit further down the road, there's B&Bs there.'
We saw a B&B in a tiny Victorian House which appealed to us, Lingmoor Guest House, and were welcomed by Paula, who turned out to be a wonderful hostess.

The next day we took a bus to Derwent Water, and walked for hours and hours along that lake, and Grasmere Lake, and Rydal Lake back to Windermere Lake, meeting lambs and sheep and old ladies who rushed up hills with their walking sticks and small pooches. 
But that's another story. I have provided you with a link to The Lake District from Above

Monday, February 13, 2017

Never Trust a Man with a Nappy on his Head! - England/Scotland with my son (1)

I've decided to re-post my very first hiking saga for you, since most of you will have missed this, due to the fact I didn't have that many readers back in the comes in installments, so keep your eyes peeled.


I've wanted to take a sentimental journey to Norwich for years. 
But you know how it is: no time, or no money, or no time and money.

Finally, this April, time, money, opportunity and my son all happened to coincide.
 I booked a ferry trip to Harwich, a train ticket to everywhere (I'll explain 
about this later) and packed lightly.
We arrived in Harwich after an uneventful night, and found a delighted ticket 
seller at Harwich station. He was only too happy to stamp our BritRail passes 
and told us to swop trains and platforms at Manningtree.

Norwich used to be a haunt of mine when I was in my teens and early twenties, 
and I hadn't been back there since. My memories of this Norfolk city are pleasant. 
The Close, the ancient Cathedral grounds, is rated amongst the most beautiful 
and un-spoilt of England. So I felt a happy anticipation when we left the station 
and walked along the river walk to the Cathedral.

Some hours, and a visit to the Keep and Sheringham Beach later, 
we needed to find ourselves a bed for the night. The first four B&B's had 
no vacancies. We walked uphill and found a hotel which did B&B. It looked a 
bit shabby, but clean, and (quite important) it had two single rooms for us for 
the price of a double, and they even threw in breakfast for free.

We decided to walk back to the station to get ourselves some sandwiches for 
dinner, and when we had almost reached our hotel, we passed a group of young
men coming from that direction. When they had passed us, we looked back. 
Did one of them really wear a Pamper on his head? Yes.
I tried to explain the quaint practice of 'Stag Night' to my son. We had a laugh 
about it. Silly Englishmen.

Our day had started at 5 am, so we were ready for bed at 10 pm. We had only 
just wished each other a good night when an almighty banging and shouting 
started up next door. Our two single rooms were the bookends to the Stag Boy's 
room, you could say. He needed a lot of Dutch courage. The shouting, screaming,
 singing, counting 'one, two, three, bottoms up', and eventually the howling fights 
and violent throwing up lasted until 4 am. We got 10 minutes sleep, then a fight 
started under our window.
We needed to be on a bus to Peterborough at 9.40, so we needed to get up early 
Somehow, Norwich didn't live up to its memories.

The Frustrations of a Newby Music Film Maker

Good afternoon to you, where ever you are!
You have missed least, if you are a regular reader, you have. Otherwise you haven't...duh!
The reason for my absence is that I have been very busy with my regular work (let's not talk about that - although fulfilling it is extremely stressful at times and non-eventful at most others. I enjoy it. I like my pupils. It brings in the veggies. Full stop) and with my passion: singing.

I have mentioned that I am a singer/the singer (opinions differ here. I like to think I am THE singer) in three set-ups: a cover band consisting of 5 other musicians of a certain age and myself, and a duo consisting of my son in law (gorgeously young) and myself, and a jam session band consisting of  20 or so very different musicians who drop in or out and sort of do their thing - preferably at the same time as the others.
And as of yesterday I have been drafted to be the singer in a jazz band as well.
Sounds great. Is great, really, it is a lot of fun!

But: and here it comes...I have been toiling to upload a song to let you all listen to what I am working on. I've recorded it on my iPhone, using iMovie, and uploading a load of my own original photos to give you something to look at whilst listening to me singing a song.
So far, so good. It's finished, it's as good as it gets. And it's floating in cyber space...or is right now being performed on Pluto. 
But for the life of me I cannot seem to import it into my Mac. Or export it to YouTube or even FB (I mean..geez, FB takes anything, right?).
My iPhone keeps informing me that I do not have enough storing space. Well...fiddle-dee, I have space, since I've removed 3/4 of my stock of photos and songs. But my phone thinks differently.
So, clever clogs that I am, I thought to import it directly into my iMove on the Mac. Right? Nothing doing.
So there it is: a perfect little 4 minute song with images, lounging in my phone and determined to stay there and not be shifted.

I got soooooo frustrated!
Usually I routinely upload onto YouTube and then give you a link. Doesn't work.

So you will simply have to take it from me. I have tried. Honestly I have.
If there is anyone out there who knows how to fix this, please reply in the comment section.
In the meantime, I will keep on singing. 
It's just that I will have to sit on my hands in order not to throw my i-whatsits through the plate glass window!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jeremy's Bingeworthy Online Extravaganza - Vol. 01

Well I didn't think my Netflix raves and rants would merit me continuing the tradition, but as always what do I know? This week I want to look at a few online masterpieces from two different streaming services. First of course are the Netflix offerings, where I have something I never thought I would like and something I never thought I would hate. It's a pretty good way to look at things if you ask me, and then I will delve into an Amazon offering that I surprisingly like.

Let's start with the good, before we get into the bad and the ugly. Back when I was a kid there was a television show called "One Day at a Time" which only lives on in the minds of people because Valerie Bertinelli was in it. Shockingly enough I was surprised that that piece of crap show went on for nine years when I went online to make sure I spelled Bertinelli correctly. Needless to say, after I just used the term "piece of crap" you probably know what I was going to think of the "New and Improved" Latina version of the show as it was displayed on Netflix. Well to be honest with you, the name "Rita Moreno" was the only thing that got me to watch it in the first place, and before I even start on the show, let me just say, she's still got it, and can easily steal a show.

As a right wing whacko there was only one situation that made me uncomfortable, and of course with a show full of Latinas the easy sell would be an episode on illegal immigration, of course. It was still tasteful, and even had a bit of "against" thrown in for dramatic effect. On the other hand, the way all of the actresses who portray "Cubans" reacted when one of the other stars walked in with a "Che" t-shirt, was historically accurate and well worth waiting for. I don't want to ruin the first season for anyone, but trust me the show is quite funny, and the ending of the first season was enough to make my inner "big sissy" have to put down the weights and get a tissue. All in all I give this series a full murder of crows, and suggest you all try it for a few episodes at least.

Unfortunately I also watched almost a full 30 minutes of the series that Netflix had really been hocking for a month called "Santa Clarita Diet." I mean how could this one go wrong? It has Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore in it. Two of the greatest acting talents in the history of acting talents, which means the series had to be a total bulls-eye right? WRONG! Oh so very very fucking wrong (sorry bout the language folks but it is truly necessary here) and not even worthy of sticking with it. At times I have found it pretty disturbing how realistic and brutal violence has gotten on television over the years, but at the same time have given credit for something that is truly disturbing, but impressive at the same time. A good example is the impaling scene in AHS: Roanoke, which was beyond disturbing but at the same time acting magic. Santa Clarita Diet is just plain disgusting. The story might go on to be interesting, but I refuse to reward it. The show is over the top disturbing but only because it is stomach turning, and for no good reason. This show gets a rating of crows murdered fully. Maybe someone will sit through it and tell me I am wrong, but it won't be me.

The last little gem is from Amazon Prime TV which shocked me a bit because no matter what Amazon original I have tried to watch they have all been thrown in the crap pile. I mean I understand why Amazon wants to be in the game, but whoever is advising them on how to do it is failing miserably. Almost all of them are the types of things that people in San Francisco farting into champagne glasses so they can enjoy the stench might like, but normal America couldn't possibly. Unless of course they secretly want to be one of the "smell our own farts" crowd, and are willing to go that far to do it. I've met people like this.

Of course the one I found charming might even be a "smell your own farts" type of show, but I still like it. "Z: The Beginning of Everything" is based on Therese Anne Fowler’s "Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald" which I never read, and am equally as ashamed to say that I only know the name F Scott Fitzgerald as the guy who wrote "The Great Gatsby" and never even bothered to read it. I may now, as I see the beginnings of him and the other half of (what I have since read up on) America's first Power Couple. Christina Ricci is brilliant as always in her portrayal of Zelda Fitzgerald, and again, maybe Amazon is on to creating decent original TV series. Break out the champagne glasses and eat a lot of fiber folks!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Making my hiking plans for the summer holidays, folks!

Hi there, all you hikers, ramblers, amblers and speed-walkers.
Remember me?

Taken in the Derbyshire Hills, 2016  (©R.Grashoff)

I'm your friendly chubby outdoor enthusiast, making her rambling plans for this Summer. 
This sounds very straightforward, but it absolutely is anything but!
Where to go, when you have so many places on your list and little money?
Iceland is an option I have to forego, due to the high cost.
The West Coast of Canada - ditto.
New Zealand ...say no more...
Italy and Greece, gorgeous, but far too hot for me in Summer!
I have considered Austria, Germany, and Denmark, but have returned to my home-away-from-home...England.

Taken along the Dove, 2016 (© R. Grashoff)

First of all, due to their Brexit the Euro is giving me a few more Pounds. Always handy. And let's face it, I adore this country for its wonderful rambling mindset. Brits are natural ramblers! I'll never forget frail octogenarians cheerfully passing me at speed on the hills of The Lake District. And the thousands of miles of hilly footpaths are sheer heaven for a Dutchie used to flat land and barbed wire everywhere.

So, my plans.
I have already walked the coastal paths from Dover to Land's End, so that's not what I want to do this time, but whilst doing that, I took a quick detour by train to visit Bath, and this gave me a definite taste for more!
I have a taste for history, preferably ancient history, and so far have not visited Stonehenge or Glastonbury and this time I will. 

The Derbyshire hills, 2016 (© R. Grashoff)

We will make our way by car from Dover (our port of entry) taking the coastal road (A259) towards Brighton. This will be our first stop I think, as I am taking my daughter and she will love the Royal Pavilion.
From Brighton we will head inland towards Bath. But my aim is to walk and see things, so my little old car is simply a means of getting places and will have lots of deserved rest.
We will then take the A27/M27 to Salisbury, and from there on will concentrate on visiting a rough circle consisting of Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Bath, Bradford-on-Avon and Avebury, making the latter our departing port for taking the M4 back towards London and hence the M20 back to Dover.
Depending on finances, weather and roads (i.e. how long does the driving actually take to get places? I remember navigating those roads in the South very well - it seemed to take forever) we might take a detour up towards the Cotswolds.
And the main aim is to walk as much as possible.

I cannot wait! Oh...and it is only February 1st when you are reading this! Months and months of hard graft and motivating young men to get through first!
But the thought of the green English hills and the wonderful footpaths to ancient sites and gorgeous towns will sustain me.

obviously, this isn't mine, I plucked it out of cyberspace

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lost in Translation: Tennis, Twenty-somethings and a couple of Twits

Yesterday, something triggered a particularly goofy memory from junior high days. When I was in the seventh or eighth grade, a friend of mine persuaded me to go play tennis with her. I don't remember much about our actual tennis game … except that I probably stunk at it. What I do remember is that there were a couple of twenty-something guys in the court beside us, speaking in some foreign language, and my friend was extremely curious about what language they were speaking. At the time, I had only studied some French, but I was still able to sometimes recognize the sounds of other European languages. My friend and I spent some time openly discussing what language we thought it might be.

At some point, it seemed that our two neighbors had overheard us and were having a little bit of fun with us. It seemed that they were both mutually fluent in several different languages and kept switching between them. They must have overheard at least part of our English conversation about them, because at some point, my friend very goofily suggested, “Maybe, they're Russian spies!” This comment was followed by one of our European neighbors repeating, “Russian spies,” and then laughter.

Somewhere along the line, it seemed that they may have been speaking German, and my friend asked me if I knew any German. I didn't really, but my German-speaking grandmother had given me the storybook of “Hansel and Gretl” in German and had recorded her voice reading in German and translating into English. Somehow, I had memorized the first two lines. I told this to my friend, and she dared me to walk to the dividing fence and say the little bit of German language I knew.

I was an extremely shy kid at the time, but this particular friend of mine had a way of bringing out my inner goofiness. I walked over to the fence and recited (not very loudly,) “Hansel und Gretl waren geschwister. Sie hatten einander sehr lieb.” (Hansel and Gretl were brother and sister. They loved each other very much.) I guess I was brave enough, because they didn't seem to be paying much attention to me. However, they had been paying some attention to our lunacy earlier. If they were discreetly taking note, they must have thought we were one silly pair of twits. :)  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

60,700+ Readers: Words Fail Me (not really)

Good morning to you, all over our globe.

No, I'm not gloating or crowing my victory, at least...not intentionally.
But I want you to know that I am a little chuffed that more than 60,700 people have read my posts during the years that I have been writing them.
Thank you.

Writers want to be read.
So: thank you!!!