Category Archives: local

Hartley Wintney in Spring

The Church Oak

The Church Oak

Nos habebit humus, nos habebit humus

Just back from the village shops, where I bought a thoughtful ice-cream.

Big thoughts. Small ice-cream.

Walking back I looked up, and the sky tonight is blazing with stars; all I need is a winter night sky to be thirteen again, suffering insomnia and fairly convinced that with the impending death of Brezhnev I would die in some fireball; this neurosis a side-effect of reading up on nuclear physics aged 12 before I was equipped to deal with geopolitics.

This is why I know my way around the night sky – being awake late and with nothing to do in rural Worcestershire.

Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor – how can anyone make two dots into an entire dog – Taurus, Aries, Perseus, Cassiopeia… and when you reach the cover of the trees you can just make out Praesepe/M44 in Cancer. And you walk past the church and the organist is practicing actual church music, not yet succumbing to the Star Wars March which she/he plays when feeling whimsical.

Being alive is good, not least because the alternative is boring:

Gaudeamus igitur.
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem.
Post molestam senectutem.
Nos habebit humus,
Nos habebit humus.

Let us rejoice,
while we’re young;
after a pleasant youth,
and a troublesome old age,
we shall be in the earth,
pushing up daisies.

…taking a little bit of liberty on that last line.

Party on, dudes.

Skodas, Car Batteries, Sleet and Hot Chocolate

My Skoda Octavia has been bombproof for over 10 years – with the exception of being hit by third parties the only issues have been with door-windows dropping out of their raising-mechanism seats.

However a fault with the central locking this week drained the battery – or so I thought. This morning a neighbour and I tried jumpstarting it but he MX-5 – albeit equipped with a new battery – was not able to turn over the hefty 1.9L VAG TDi.  I considered stripping the battery out until I found the battery clip’s retainer bolt corroded in place, with which I did not want to mess while it was raining.

So I called the AA – who after taking £130 of my earth pounds upgraded me to “Home Start” and sent an engineer who arrived within 20 minutes.  Colour me impressed.

Diagnosis: there is a fault with the central locking, yes, but the battery itself is naturally shot. We jumped it, tested it, and basically it’s a replacement job; thus I drove to Aldershot, left the car with my favourite Skoda service team with a ticklist of issues, and Brompton’d a mile or two to Aldershot station there to catch a bus home.

Then it started sleeting. Wet, nasty stuff.

The trains were/are up the duff due to a broken-down engine somewhere, so I was doubly happy to be taking the bus. Stayed in the station for 30 mins watching the wet flakes go plop, got my bus, and one hour later, via a roundabout route, I’m home. And freezing.

Hence:

  • a walnut-sized chunk of bitter cooking chocolate
  • 3x teaspoons of dark raw muscovado sugar
  • 1x teaspoon spanish cocoa mix (ie: cocoa and a touch of cornflour)
  • mug of milk
  • into saucepan, whisk while bringing to just below simmer, allow the cornflour to thicken slightly.
  • Serve in mug.

…which is what I am sipping now. The world is a nicer place. It may involve a duvet a bit later on.

Self-assessment tax forms can wait for tomorrow.

Bramble Bank Cricket Match: The Strangest in the World | Amusing Planet

Why do I like the UK? This is why I like the UK.

Click through for pictures.

The Brambles sandbank in central Solent, midway between Southampton and the Isle of Wight, is a low-tide sandbank that appears only once each year during spring. The exposed bank never lasts more than an hour before the tide returns, but whenever it does, two clubs race down to the middle for a friendly cricket match, a tradition that has been taking place for the last 60 years.

Dozens of boats containing participants of The Royal Southern Yacht Club at Hamble and the Island Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight, and spectators wait around Bramble Bank for the sea to subside and reveal the bank. As soon as it does appear the stumps are put up and the match gets under way. Many of the competitors dress all in cricket whites and ‘The Bramble Inn’ is erected to serve drinks to spectators. The undulating surface with large puddles ensures it is more a social occasion than a serious cricket match. The ultimate example of this is the scoring – the victor of the game is pre-determined as the two clubs simply take it in turns to "win" the match, regardless of how the match progresses.

The game only lasts as long as the bank lasts (about an hour) and the sea returns to swamp the pitch. The players retreat to their boats and head back to the Isle of Wight for a celebratory dinner.

via Bramble Bank Cricket Match: The Strangest in the World | Amusing Planet.