Sunday, 12 June 2011

Doing the Knowledge

George Washington and His Family
Edward Savage (1790)

Seriously, who is going to know
"Commercial centre of Mongolia (5)?"

That is easy...Ulan Bator.
Right, what about:
"City midway between Detroit and Chicago (9)"

That would be Ohiohioio

Here is one for you, MrsM:
"Short-tailed oceanic bird (6)
beginning with F.


Idiot boy - it says "bird"
and in case you hadn't noticed
cats have long tails.


Good Heavens, it fits!
You are on a roll...what about:
"Garden feature suitable for alpine plants (7)"


I always wondered what the point of rockeries was.

Now I think I know who will get this one...
"Artificial device used to resolve plot
in an artistic work (4,2,7)

Deus ex machina.

A respectful silence falls.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Golden Cloudland

Today is the end of the long week
of examinations meetings.

It has been very hard this year
and I am so relieved that it is all over.


title from
'The Bronze Horseman'
by Aleksandr Pushkin
translated by Waclaw Lednicki

with thanks to Susan T and Mr. Susan T.

at the airport

Guess what I did this morning?

Did you go to the Arena?

Last night I asked the guy in the restaurant
where I should go on my last morning in Verona
and he said he would take me to Lake Garda...
on his motorbike...
and he did!
And it was really cool.

I am so glad you are home.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

(just for the record)

The Finalists' Barbecue

The students are in limbo
between exams and results
and their laughter has an anxious edge.

Long tables are covered with white lab roll
and bowls of food beautifully prepared
by the Operations Manager and her Crew.

The student tells me
of his trip to Vietnam.
"It will be the last holiday
I spend with my family."

I think of his mother and I say
"Don't say that - perhaps it won't be."

The academic tells me
of the overnight train journey.
I imagine his two little children
wide awake with excitement
in the sleeper compartment and smile.

The sausages and burgers
are ordered from a local butcher
and are really delicious.

And the team of Physical Geographers
show off their crazy BBQ skillz
and cook everything to perfection.

The Young Academic is recounting
the tale of the Tie of Shame
to the Head of Department elect
who is looking faintly appalled
and wondering what lies ahead in his new role.

The new GeogSoc committee
have contacted me to discuss
the Freshers reception in September.
I tell the ex-President of the GeogSoc
and she laughs
"That's a bit keen -
I didn't think about it until the week before."

Everyone clusters at the top of the Quad
for the traditional photograph.
It will be given to all finalists
on Graduation Day.

The Head of Department
thanks the students
for making it such a good evening
and tells them they are a vintage year.

As I leave the Department
the foyer is still full of students
chatting, laughing,
reluctant to leave.

It is another happy memory,
to take away into the world outside
and keep for a lifetime.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

MissM : update

Hi from Verona!
Currently getting a free listen
from a concert in the arena
whilst having supper.

Zucchero is playing
(in case you were wondering...)

Monday, 6 June 2011

In the Rose Garden

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red ;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damask, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

William Shakespeare
Sonnet CXXX

a wet Sunday afternoon
at Hinton Ampner.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

MissM : update

So sad to leave Florence
but hope to go back really soon.

Next stop Bologna!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Family Planning

Do you realise that in two weeks time
we will be on the ferry to France?

There is so much happening
in the next two weeks
that I feel faint thinking about it.

Photos from the Covered Market in Florence.

If you are visiting Florence
the cafe in the middle of the market
looked perfect for a quick lunch.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

these things made me smile...

The smell of honeysuckle and roses
as I hang out the washing
in the early morning.

Eating my breakfast
outside in the sunshine.

An email from MissM
"I have bought some new boots...
and a little bag which I haggled for.."

We have some Olympic tickets!
Suddenly London 2012 seems real.

A patch of purple flowers
on the edge of the Department car park.
I stop the car and find my camera.

Laughter from everyone in the open plan office
because I have left the crucial document
back in my office on campus.

The lady in Management Finance
who offers to write a reminder
on a post-it note to stick to my hand.

I have to wait at the Main Gate
while fairground rides are unloaded
for the Summer Ball on Friday night.

Albina, the lady who cleans my office
has treated herself to new bedroom furniture.
How could I not be impressed by photos
of the Italian Baroque magnificence?

I am told that The Admissions Tutor
wore a smart red waistcoat to the boat party.
I would like to have seen that.

My parents are delighted with a card from MissM
"It says that she is 5 minutes from a gelateria!"

MasterM sends a photo of yetanotherparty.
He doesn't think I am brave enough to post it.

He is wrong.


Thank you for your sweet comments yesterday.
Jenny said that she was so impressed
by the lovely people who
read and comment on my blog.
(And that made me smile a lot.)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


The Chocolate Cake has landed!
Here it is with my accomplice,
Jenny the Cartographer.
(she reads this blog so do say hi!)

I walked into the Exams Office later in the morning
to find four examiners having a cake-break
and looking very chilled.
(I hope that the Examinations Officer
has not noticed the frivolous silver balls)

There is a cheerful atmosphere in the Department
because the marking has been completed.
(summer fieldwork and conferences seem closer)

This evening 150 students and staff
will be partying on a river boat.
I have given strict instructions
to the GeogSoc Committee
to be careful with the staff.
(I need them all back for the Sub Board meetings)