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.
Yesterday we had an amazingly clear rainbow. And it happened at just the right time of day (4:20pm) that the sun was in just the right place that I was able to step back from the house and frame it entirely within the rainbow. Here it is, straight off the phone, with absolutely no retouching:
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.
I recently learned that Pink Floyd played a gig in my home town, a little under a year before I was born (on 12th March 1968):
It’s a strange thought. I am 52 years old. Pink Floyd are even older. For the princely sum of nine shillings and sixpence, I could have seen them play less than a mile from the house where I grew up, if only I’d had the foresight to be born twenty years earlier.
Do you have a nearby neighbour with either metered or no Internet access?
Give them your wireless password for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. (You can change it later, to lock them out when the crisis has subsided.)
At this time, access to the Internet is literally a lifesaver. Not only that: with video calls the only human interaction some people have, lots of data is a lifesaver. A connection limited to some number of Gbits per month is not going to cut it.
My eldest son, Daniel, just turned 22. Sushi is his favourite food, but of course we couldn’t take him to a restaurant during the Coronavirus crisis — and even in peacetime, the nearest good sushi restaurant to us is 67 miles away in Solihull. So I prepared his birthday meal.
Here, I am making the last of the nigiri — mostly salmon, some tuna. In the middle of the plate is a roll of my own invention, inspired by Peking duck pancakes in Chinese restaurants. It’s shredded chicken, sliced spring onions, hoi sin sauce and avocado. It was a big hit.
I’m fond of the old WWII slogan Keep Calm and Carry On. It’s not just that it captures something appealingly British (yes, there are still appealing aspects to the stereotypically British character), it’s that in most circumstances it’s such excellent advice.
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