As we approach the end of 2021, I have a pretty good idea of what my top ten albums of the year will be, for my now traditional What I’ve Been Listening To post. And one of them is an album I want to write much more about than will reasonably fit into one of the brief entries in that post. Hence today’s post:
The eagle-eyed among you will spot that this album is by my wife Fiona. That has everything to do with why I know about it at all, but absolutely nothing to do with why I love it so deeply.
Fiona and I both love the sunshine, and it’s something you don’t necessarily get a lot of in Britain. We’ve often thought that if we had the money we’d love to add a conservatory (“sunroom” for you Americans) to the house — but we never have had the money and doubt we ever will. Plus who needs all the upheaval and disruption?
Then one day it occurred to us that a conservatory is basically just a greenhouse with a sofa in it — so why not get a greenhouse and put a sofa in it? And that is exactly what we’ve done. I woke on the morning of Saturday 24th April, looked at Facebook Marketplace, and found that someone was selling a greenhouse for £2 provided we could come and collect it that day. The listing said it was missing some panes of glass, but obviously it was bargain. So I woke Fiona up and we drove 30 miles to Cheltenham, thinking it would take half an hour or so to take the greenhouse apart and load it into the car.
When I started this blog over nine years ago, back in February 2010, I made an about page that said I was 41 years old and had been happily married to Fiona for 17 years. I said I was father to three boys: Daniel (12 years old), Matthew (10) and Jonno (7). And I included this photo of my with them, crouching in front of a whale jaw in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History:
Me with (left to right) Jonno, Daniel and Matthew, in front of a baleen-whale skull at the Oxford University Natural History Museum
As an offshoot from my tweeting about a session at the AAAS meeting, I found myself challenged: “what are some practical things you did with your sons when they were young to nurture critical thinking?”
Given that I wrote some brief answers in response, I thought I might as well write them up here. This is by no means exhaustive, just a few thoughts and memories.
Near where I live is a village called Littledean. At the southeast end of the village is a mini-roundabout. One direction leads to Newnham, and also to some public toilets. It’s always tickled my fancy that the sign mentions the toilets first, and only then goes on to give Newnham some credit. So the last time we drove through, I asked Fiona to take a photo of it. Here is that photo:
Last night, Fiona and I sat down to eat my favourite light meal, spaghetti puttanesca. I’d grated some cheese to sprinkle on top, but when I’d finished mixing the pasta in with the sauce I found that the cheese had GONE!
Fiona had taken it down to the other end of the table, next to her plate. I asked if she’d finished with it, and it turned out that she HADN’T EVEN STARTED. She’d just acquired the lock, then left the resource unavailable while she responded to a completely unrelated event.