Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Seventh Day of Christmas – Shall we go for a DIP?

Seven swans a swimming. I’d love to suggest we all pop down to Walberswick for a quick dip but despite the proximity of Sizewell I think most people would find it a tad bracing.

Swimming reminds me of swim lanes, beloved of those who do process mapping. The joy of the English language is that we have a tool with which we can communicate with people across whole swathes of the globe. We then put ourselves into a work context and promptly make everything we say unintelligible to anyone outside of the ‘club’. Add to that a whole lexicon of acronyms, abbreviations and jargon; the subterfuge is complete.

Today a quick quest; what is your favourite cross over acronym, abbreviation or piece of jargon; something which in one world means one thing and in another means something else altogether? Mine is o/c in my podiatry life it meant onychocryptosis (ingrowing toenail) in medicine it means oral contraceptive, two things that are best not confused. As for DIP, in podiatry that would be distalinterphalangeal (end small toe or finger joint) for other meanings go here.

Your spotify list for today is here.

Please remember there is still time to enter any of the previous day’s quests (and a prize draw). Effectively they start two days before Christmas with Santa’s little helper.

If you are still in the leg challenge – two people have now cracked it and I am holding their responses to publish later what you need to know is that today 46 more legs were delivered; making 138 delivered so far.

I hope you are still enjoying the 12 Days of Christmas Party #12DCP


The Sixth Day of Christmas – Wither Shall I Wander, Up Tyley’s Bottom? – I would like a Dap Map

On the sixth day of Christmas we have six geese a laying. My thoughts went to goosy, goosy gander and wandering. One of my fascinations is anything to do with maps and walking, discovering, treasure hunting and map related puzzles. My present to you this sixth day is a collection of links to map related quests, so arm yourself with your post code, map co-ordinates or GPS info and see what you learn about your area: (Health warning, if you are easily distracted, make a cup of tea now and if you have Spotify click here for the playlist, you may be here some time)

MapZone – breaking you in gently, this is an interactive resource aimed at children from Ordnance Survey but so fabulous, map jigsaws to match county and country maps; the squirrel’s nuts (takes me back to Day 1), crosswords and so much more.

Ordnance Survey select – create your own paper map with your home at its centre.

Geograph – The Geograph British Isles project aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland and you can be part of it.  Take a photo, submit it and if they like it, your photo will become part of the database.  Beware their standards can be quite exacting.
Ordnance Survey Explore – find routes, create and share routes. Here is a special present from me, a walk for anyone with strong legs and time in the Cotswolds. Called ‘Up Tyley’s Bottom’, which is funny enough, but for some who read this might be even funnier.

Bench – Marks – now if ever a geek award was to be offered for things map related this would have to be a suitable candidate. Small brackets attached to buildings such as schools and churches, find them, log them, their condition etc. At the time of writing The database contains13,000 non-pillar flush brackets, consisting of 2,947 2GL brackets, 5,143 S-series,4,893 G-series, 16 L-series, and 1 other

Geocaching – The hiding of small boxes, marking them with GPS co-ordinates, setting clues and tracking their contents as they move around the globe. I love this stuff, really anoraky, embarrasses the children; ticks all the boxes actually.

Land Registry – Not so much a game of hide and seek, unless of course you are interested in arguing about ownership, boundaries etc. It is amazing how much information is held and publically available at little or no price.

Then of course there are a host of others for example Weather maps, Flood Maps, Public Health

For the iphone there are a huge range of map related Apps, my favourites so far are geocaching, MapMyRide GBLocate and PhotoOverlay.

Adding maps to blogs and websites – I have yet to perfect this but you can use Get-a-map and OSOpenspace – one of my New Year’s Resolutions will be about mastering that lot.

By the way the most ‘boring square’ in the UK maps is at Ousefleet, in the 1:50 000 scale map, just below the word Ousefleet is a square with just a tiny bit of pylon line. Here it is:

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

All of this and I haven’t even touched on Google Maps and mashables; if you’ve got the rest of your life to do nothing else, work your way through this lot…..

And if you are stuck in 20 feet of snow and want a little something to read I recommend Map Addict by Mike Parker

My quest for you all, in the last 24 hours I have been much exercised by those little black or white shoes; with or without laces that were essential wear for PE at school. I would quite like to map what they are called in different parts of the country. I went to school in the South Cotswolds and called them daps. Where did you go and what were they called? I would like to create a Dap Map!

Oh and one other thing, would you like to add yourself to the visitors map on the right there? Thanks.

For those that are still following the legs quest another 32 arrived today; so far 92 have been delivered.

And……. drum roll……… here it is so far…The Dap Map

The Fifth Day of Christmas – 5 Gold Rings, four on two planks, three legged race, two in a sack and an Inter Village Blood Bath

This is the Fifth day of Christmas, traditionally a line in the song that allows a break while you sing out Five G –old rings, take a deep breath and then run on with the rest of the words. In the UK of course 5 Gold Rings in 2010 and beyond will be focusing on the London 2012 Olympics. Where I used to work in the North Cotswolds there was a tradition of Robert Dover’s Olimpick Games, at Dover’s Hill near Chipping Campden; including shin kicking and other cider fuelled activities. If you are a regular follower of the blog you will know that in the past I have been very involved in village activities and one of those is the Inter Village Games.

The Inter Village Games involve 10 North Suffolk villages, some with no sports facilities of their own, competing in a range of events. They range from traditional sports day type activities to, four on two planks, two in a sack, slow bike, wheelbarrow race (with real wheelbarrows) and egg throwing. In 2010 Dennington will be the host village, in the past the games were known by our local St John’s team as the Inter Village blood bath. If you want to see the calibre of the sportsmanship look here at the entry for ‘ su 17 ju 2007 ~ Final day of the Inter Village Games at Laxfield, Suffolk’.

Your challenge today: I am always on the lookout for new sports activities or fund raising ideas for fetes etc. What is the best sport or fund raiser you have ever taken part in; not necessarily for the amount it raised but for novelty and fun?

Forgot to add earlier – 5 gold rings = no legs therefore today only another 20 legs added.  We are now up to 60 legs delivered so far.

The Fourth Day of Christmas – Onion Cats and Squinzano Dogs

Today is the Fourth Day of Christmas. In the song we meet the calling birds, or are they collie or even coaly birds? Several definitions abound. I have decided they are calling birds, calling out their tales, stories and other fine lines. I am in the process of writing up tales of the cats found at Casa Mare, Cipolla, Puglia. Cipolla means onion in Italian, hence ‘The Onion Cats’. I have decided that the follow up tales are likely to be based on the dogs found in Squinzano a town in the same region of Italy. The name Squinzano sounds faintly threatening to my ears and I think the Squinzano Dogs may have a slightly ‘edgy’ set of personalities. Definitely gives me an excuse to keep going back for ‘research’ purposes. 

The long winter nights are a traditional period for the telling of tales, light hearted or ghostly so……

My challenge for you today is to tell a tale in one of the following formats or styles:



Nonsense verse

Children’s Stories or Tales of the Unexpected


The Spotify play list for this post is here

By the way today 20 new legs arrived, which means 40 legs have been delivered already

Update 11.50 my Twitter story…
Squinzano Sam saw a fight.  Two dogs, paws drawn; a whirl of hair, fangs and dust.  A huge Mastiff, Panettone Pete, entered; saved the day.

Update 12.38 – Haiku
Calcanium deep
Hair dust murderous intent
Summer memory

Update 14.19 – Nonsense verse
Squinzano Sam a duplicitous mutt

With paws down
Fought tooth and claw
To ruin his town
Panettone Pete, massive mastiff
Called for Leone
With bag and net
To catch the phoney
Pete shouted ‘get ze bag Leone’

Update 19:10

Squinzano Dogs – A Children’s Story for Adults

If you look at a map of Italy, the country is shaped like a boot.  Way down in the heel of the boot, in a region called Puglia is the town of Squinzano.  Like most parts of Italy the local people like to think they are in charge, but in reality it is the animals that have the measure of the place.  In some parts of Puglia it is cats or geckos but in Squinzano it is the dogs that have the upper hand.  Our tale takes place one day last summer.

Squinzano Sam was a particularly moth eared mutt who seemed to leave a trail of dirt, dust and stray hairs wherever he went.  He had a nasty reputation for double crossing, dirty tricks and generally trying to control the town with acts of duplicity, daring and intimidation.  Squinzano Sam hung around the town square near to the town hall which doubled up as library and ‘Pronto Socorrso’ .  This was high summer; heat reflected off buildings and at mid-morning the streets were almost empty.  In common with most of their compatriots the Italian locals had left their winter houses and moved like some nomadic tribe to their castles in the sun; their beach villas.  During these times there was less food to be found by the Squinzano dogs; communal bins did not overflow, leaving poor pickings for the feral creatures.

A small right hand drive car pulled up outside the Pronto Socorrso and four Inglese climbed out.  They peered at the signs on the walls attempting to translate.

“Definitely an emergency department; but only part time.  It says someone should be in attendance from 11.00 onwards,” said a woman in shorts and a T-shirt.

As she spoke a pale girl in a flowery dress, stood looking miserable and dropped her bag to the ground.

“It’s OK I’m just hot and I hurt.  If I could marry a snowman right now I’d be happy” she said.

An old Italian cycled into view, ceremoniously parked his bike against the wall and started talking to the woman in shorts.  After much muttering about bleeding from the ears, temperatures and specialists he declared that the group should go immediately to the ‘Ospidale in Brindisi’.  The group climbed reluctantly back into the sweltering car and left.

Squinzano Sam shifted his head, flicked first one eye and then the other open, sniffed the air and started to raise his body from the shade of the tree in the square.  Then he saw movement; Mad Rex, a scrawny terrier whippet cross had seen and scented the same thing.  Then as if from nowhere, dropping down from a roof, the strangest of creatures, not a plain black and white cat; but a marmalade orange cat, known locally as the Tangerine Jellicle sprang onto the pavement.  All three had their eyes on the same trophy, the bag dropped by the girl with the flowery dress.  It smelt of foccacia. 

Tangerine Jellicle and Rex raced to the bag; attempted to rip it open and then started to scratch at each other.  Sam hung back, watching, secretly he was very tired following a night out with his bitches the night before; but eventually could resist no more.  Hair and dust flying in all directions, a gnashing of teeth and whimpers of pain drew more dogs and cats into the area to see what was going on. Panettone Pete a huge mastiff came around the corner and waded in to try and sort out the argument..  Then Leone a small cat, with petite features moved carefully round the edge of the group.

Tangerine Jellicle cried out, “grab ze bag Leone.”

Eventually the animals had fought for and collected bits of the prize; Panettone could be credited with having crushed the fight.  Indeed Panettone had saved the day but the toll on all of the animals had been high.  In the street was a mess of fur, hair and bits of flesh from each of the creatures.  As the street cleaner swept up there were bits of Panettone, Tangerine Jellicle and bits of ze bag Leone had rescued.

“You are fantastic for clearing that lot up,” said the man with the bike.

“It’s nothing,” said the street cleaner, “a mere Zuppa Inglese, a triffle.”
With sincere thanks to……
Richard P-S also known as @tettig, @isemann and @josordoni for joining in the challenge, you will see I have threaded your ideas into mine.

NorfolkKitchen, The View from Cullingford , @Goodshoeday, @essexgourmet , @MartinCampbell2, @LivinginPulia and @downatheel for the various culinary and other references which I hope you will recognise

The Third Day of Christmas – Postman’s Knock and a Pioneer

On the third day of Christmas, we have three French hens. So birds, French; somehow my mind went back ‘several’ years. Who can remember the game that was known as Postman’s Knock, the anticipation mixed with dread, would you be chosen, did you even want to be; and as for the kissing…….French or otherwise? I don’t think I would like to relive all of that angst (no disrespect to any of the individuals involved!). At this stage of the party I think we should start playing some games; how about Postman’s knock? Just take a look at some of the pages in the blog. Pick a link to a topic, another blog or a tweeter and just go and pay them a virtual visit, leave a comment on their site or a reply in twitter, someone you haven’t ‘spoken’ to before and if you are very brave sign the comment with a p.s. xx #12DCP. Come back here and leave a link in the comments so we can all see what you’ve been up to.

The Spotify Playlist for this blog post can be found here.

Today 12 more legs have been delivered. Some people have been working very hard on the legs question and one person has the answer right – well done to @easternsparkle – I am saving your comment to publish later to allow some others time to get to the right answer too.

The reference to Pioneer is the topic for Illustration Friday which this week is ‘Pioneer’ (if you have come here from Illustration Friday, you might like yesterday’s post, create a Miximal). Here is a little story from me….

The Second Day of Christmas – Miximals – Two Ostortoises?

I hope you are enjoying the party. There is some fantastic food on offer that some of the other guests brought. Tell me, did you receive any new crayons, felt tips, an etch-a-sketch, spirograph or other art making stuff? I’ve been thinking about those Turtle Doves, sound like crazy mixed up animals to me. I wonder what other mixed up animals we could create. I am going to work on the idea of an ostrich crossed with a tortoise a miximal called an ostortoise ….

Can you create a new animal cross and what will you call it?

Not sure how to put a link to your photo or blog page in a blog comment cut and paste this little snippet changing the http address to the location of your miximal.

<a href=”“>Here</a>

Spotify playlist for today’s post is here

By the way, today 6 legs arrived.

Not sure what any of this is about – go to the Christmas Eve post which covers the basics – there is a prize on offer.
Update – my Miximal an Ostortoise

The First Day of Christmas – A Squirrel in a Pear Tree?

Welcome, thank you for coming to my party. Mwah, Mwah. Here, wellies and coat? I’ll take those. Take a glass of bucks fizz and come through into the lounge. The fire is crackling, sit yourself down. How was your lunch, what did you have? I do hope you enjoyed it, or if you haven’t eaten yet I hope you will enjoy whatever you are having later. I was thinking about that partridge in a pear tree, it wouldn’t make much of a meal and that made me think………. I’ve actually eaten squirrel in a Pear Tree, it was part of a game pie and the Pear Tree in question is a pub. So, by way of an ice breaker;

what is the strangest thing you have ever eaten and where?

Spotify playlist for today’s post is here If you have an ‘other half’ who read Jackie magazine ask who they put on their wall; this list will suit some down to the ground

By the way, today 2 legs arrived.

Not sure what any of this is about – go to the Christmas Eve post which covers the basics – there is a prize on offer.

Not a creature is stirring not even a mouse – Welcome to the Eve of the 12 Days of Christmas Party #12DCP

Tis the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature is stirring not even a mouse. However, over the next 12 days I am expecting a bunch of deliveries to go with my 12 Days of Christmas Party. You are very welcome by the way; do have a mince pie and a small glass of chilli sherry. Over the next 12 days there will be a post a day, hopefully you will find at least one that will make you stop and think, share a memory, create something new or do something different. For each day that you have a published comment I will turn it into a prize draw entry and on the 13th day of Christmas I will select a winner and put the answers into their rightful places. Please leave comments and links as appropriate. So by way of a warm up……………………………..

I am a ‘mostly’ good fairy. My true love has said that he is sending me gifts, but for historical reasons I am much affeared of not knowing how many legs I might see, (those who know me will understand why).

At the end of the 12th day of Christmas, how many legs will there be in my house?

You may ask for one wish to be granted, I may or may not choose to answer the question; I definitely will not answer the question if the answer I would have to give is a number.

Want another puzzle? If you haven’t already tried it yesterdays warm up is still available for comments.

The Spotify play list for this post is here

You are all invited to the 12 Days of Christmas Party – Be Careful What You Wish For

A change of avatar today; I am sending out the final batch of virtual invitations. Please come to my virtual 12 days of Christmas Party #12DCP. The first post, to set things up will be on Christmas Eve and then every day for the 12 days of Christmas. Each day you have a comment published will create a draw entry and at the end of the 13th day I will announce the winner. If you haven’t already done so please let me know who your +1 will be, if you are bringing food or drink, or create a room design, invitation card, Christmas decoration; anything at all to set the party atmosphere. Oh and the party playlist on Spotify is here please feel free to contribute.

For now I am Santa’s little helper …..

I will pass on messages to Father Christmas with requests for presents, but only if they pass a simple rule. What would you like to request that he brings you? Can you work out what the rule is? Put your request in a comment and I will let you know if your message can be passed on.

The Spotify Playlist for today’s post is Be Careful What You Wish For

Shortest Day and Longest Night

A change of avatar and a last downbeat reflection before the fun and mayhem of the Christmas Holiday proper.

Last night the buyers of music ‘rose up and fought back against the X factor phenomenon’ by buying Killing in the Name by Rage against the Machine. I wonder did they all look at the lyrics, what did they interpret by them? I’m not saying the x-factor track would be preferable, but sometimes I wish we could go back to tracks with jingle bells, snowflakes and reindeer that we can share with the average 6 year old.

In the meantime, ever since hearing the name of the band and the title of the song, the words revolving in my head have been from Henry Reed’s poem, ‘Naming of Parts’ – I think this is one of the most powerful war poems, follow this link and you will see the words in full and at the bottom of the page an audio of the poem. Today we have reflection, yesterday we had snow and to-morrow morning we shall go Christmas shopping. I am grateful that my life is simple and I am thinking of those who are separated from loved ones, for whatever reasons in the darkest days of winter.

The Spotify playlist to accompany this post is here.  I’d love to know what you think of this collection, in particular the Mathieu Ruhlmann. Here is what his website says about it “In 1853 while in exile Victor Hugo began conducting séances, as a way to communicate with his daughter who had drowned in the Seine.  During these séances he claimed to have spoken to the Ocean, the Moon, Plato, Galileo, and Jesus.
During one of these meetings he received a message ‘from the otherside’ that described the afterlife as a return to the Earth in four states depending on how you conducted your life. If you lived a terrible life you would come back as a stone/pebble and then next step plant then animal/insect and if you lived a good life you would come back as a human again. What interested me in this idea was that life would be involved in everything that rocks, plants, stones hold this history of life in them and by working with these objects you can extract this history sonically.”

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