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Tuesday, 29 June 2004
au coucher du soleil

Port Owen

Today is Lynne�s birthday so I was thinking of her and I decided to post a photograph that I took during my last visit to Cape Town in August 2003.  I took this at the cottage where we stayed which was about one hour’s drive up the West Coast from Cape Town.  The sun sets relatively rapidly in Cape Town (summer or winter) and generally you don�t get a great effect unless there are some striking cloud formations (which are common) and you have to be quick to capture the moment.

Where I am the sun rose at 4:44 this morning and will set at 21:34, making it one of the longest days of the year. Today is probably going to be the brightest and sunniest day of the week - the rain is back again tomorrow.

Posted by bigblue on 29/06/2004 at 08:53 PM
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la brouette

la brouette

This wheelbarrow appears to have seen better days.  I found it in the garden of the place where I am staying in the midlands.

The weather here has been changeable with alternating sun and showers. I suppose that this is de rigueur for the Wimbledon season.  Yesterday I had a barbecue with the family around. However I decided to make a paella instead, which was enjoyed by all (except that I forgot that Steven and Kirsten don�t eat seafood � oops!).  Thanks to Carles for sharing his recipe and technique!

Posted by bigblue on 29/06/2004 at 12:58 AM
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Saturday, 26 June 2004
en berne

half mast

I spotted the above flag at half-mast this morning on the way to work.

The nation is divided as to whether Beckham should remain captain and Erikson should remain coach. At least everyone is united in their condemnation of the Swiss referee who has given us someone else to blame.

Yes, Urs Meier is one of the least liked people in England this morning. He has his own website, and English fans are taking the opportunity of leaving him some feedback. Last time I looked someone seems to have cleaned it up!

Posted by bigblue on 26/06/2004 at 12:56 AM
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Friday, 25 June 2004
Au cœur du lion brisé


Well they played at times with pluck and occasionally seemed to have more confidence in their ability to win than I did. But they fell.  And much of the time their performance looked as tattered as some of the red and white car flags that have become so popular here.

With regard to these flags, there was an email doing the rounds recently which suggests that the DVLA has proclaimed that

In order to assist other motorists in identifying potentially dangerous drivers, it’s now compulsory for anyone with a lower than average driving ability to display a warning flag. The flag (consisting of a red cross on a white background) will be attached to the top of at least one door of their vehicle. For drivers of exceptionally low ability, additional flags are required.


Posted by bigblue on 25/06/2004 at 01:48 AM
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Tuesday, 22 June 2004
La vache anglaise


This is a cow from an organic farm near Smisby. Neither of us were particularly comfortable at the moment the photograph was taken.  For my part I felt the cow was showing a bit too much interest in me. Then again, she didn’t whip out a camera and take a photograph in my face.

There was a news item on the radio today about all these people in England who have injured themselves at home over the past week or so. They have been doing things like “playing indoor football” and “doing a goal celebration” (presumably emulating Wayne Rooney’s cartwheels). 

Posted by bigblue on 22/06/2004 at 09:04 PM
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Monday, 21 June 2004
le cimetière


I don’t regularly prowl around cemetaries at dusk taking spooky photographs. Perhaps I was inspired by the burial of the hope and aspirations of certain nations in the current European football championships.  Spain is the latest casualty, an example of a team of good players who have underperformed.

The above photo was taken in the Ravenstone churchyard.

Posted by bigblue on 21/06/2004 at 12:17 AM
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Thursday, 17 June 2004
le apothicaire

le apothicaire

The owner of the house where I am staying has arranged these little glass bottles on the window-ledge outside the door of my room. They are behind a blind that is permanently drawn. When you leave in the morning you see only the blind. When you return (even in the dark) the little bottles are lit up behind the blind.  At sunset the bottles can look quite spectacular.

This morning I nearly killed a wild bunny the size of my hand.  I stopped the car just in front of him, then reversed a bit, got out and picked him up. His/her siblings had fled into the grass. I examined the bunny, and it seemed fine. But perhaps it wasn’t well - why hadn’t it fled from the car or me?  I put it back in the hedgerow into which its siblings had disappeared.

I’ll be looking out for splats in the road this evening.

Posted by bigblue on 17/06/2004 at 08:18 PM
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Wednesday, 16 June 2004
Ashby Castle

Ashby Castle

Ashby-de-la-Zouch has a castle or rather the ruins of a castle, once a medieval manor house.

At the time of the Doomsday survey (11 Century), Ashby formed part of the estates of one Hugh de Grentmaisnel. Later it was owned by a Robert Beaumeis, from whom it passed via a female descendant to the La Zouch family (from whom the de-la-Zouch portion of the name comes).

Lord Hastings built the castle in the 15th Century, and it is here that Mary Queen of Scots was detained in 1569 by the Earls Huntingdon and Shrewsiry. During the civil war the castle was a Royalist stronghold, and was fortified by Colonel Henry Hastings. It was besieged, and fell. At the end of the war it was dismantled by order of Parliament.  The castle has a role in Sir Walter Scott’s book, Ivanhoe and a number of local businesses seem to have adopted the name.

According to the website castle la zouche:

Modern authors give the interpretation of the French “Souche” as the stump of a tree, probably referring to a place in Brittainy so identified. However, another version from a book published c1880, History Of Ashby de la Zouche has this to say:-

‘Geoffrey settled in England during the reign of Henry II, and founded another family. He was called Geoffrey de la Zouch.’

The French “Souche” means stock ( of a tree) and implies that he was the first of another stock.

This version seems to be rather more plausible than the modern version and could be the right one in view of the two names Parrhoet and Zouch or Zouche.

There is an introduction to Ashby and the castle, for visitors, at About Britain, UK Betts, and Local Web.  The last two sites point out the origins of “Ashby”, meaning a homestead where Ash trees grow.

Posted by bigblue on 16/06/2004 at 12:20 PM
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