Monthly Archives: June 2010

Midsummer Maahes – Day 6, The Party – Return of the legs

Gosh – is that the time.  Sorry, took me a while to fix up the marquee and set out the fireworks.  However, come on in the garden looks glorious on this balmy evening. We have a huge playlist, but if you have been able to master spotify and would like to add more please do. You can always add comments in the #maahes posts of tracks you would like added and I build them into the list.

There is still time to do a couple more loops around the block and add comments where you think fit.  Remember every comment will be entered into a money can’t buy prize draw.

I will publish a full set of definitive answers later in the week.

So just one final quest for you, another journey to ponder….

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each sack had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St Ives

In this case I want to know how many legs were going to St Ives and you will need to have followed the plot all week to crack my answer.

Enjoy the party – if you have met someone new do make a point of chatting them up, if you’ve been lurking in the background, afraid to speak, please say hello.  I’ll be wandering around with the canapés.



Illustration Friday – Satellite

The small boy attached and set alight to a rocket on her back, she will soon reach our only natural satellite

Midsummer Maahes Day 5 – #OKdoogy let’s illustrate

Wow, I am seriously impressed with everybody’s efforts so far.  We survived the night; thanks for the stories and as the power is back on, we have a great day ahead.  The wonderful thing about country house holidays, is that there are some days where you don’t really want to do anything much.  Just mooching around the house is enough.  Luckily I have plenty of paper, pens, pencils, paints, glue and other craft materials available.

My challenge for you all today is:

1)  to enter Illustration Friday, either for real, or if not ready for that, then just create an illustration and take a snap or scan of it.  The topic this week is, ‘satellite’; I wonder what you will create.  Just post a link in the comments section to your entry, post or picture.

2) I met a man as I went walking; what were my first names, where did I end up and what did I do there?

As before, every comment will be entered into a money can’t buy, prize draw.  You can still go back and comment on previous maahes posts.  Also for the Spotifiers amongst you, keep adding to the playlist HERE the party ends when the music stops.

Midsummer Maahes – Day 4 – Buttercups and Daisies?

Oh gosh, are you OK? I am so sorry about the thunderstorms and I know the power cut doesn’t help. Here, you remember the sound of music ….

Well, in a  thunderstorm like this, what better than to recount a tale? Can you create for me a Twitaga? a story in no more than 140 words? The only considerations are:…. it must include; a fruit, the object immediately to your right, and be suitable for telling in a thunderstorm, in a haunted house (see previous posts if you are new to this). I’ll post mine tomorrow…

Ahh and Q2, so to speak; As I was going……In Roud 173 how should I apply cream to my scone and if so where, above or below?

Oh, if this does not make sense. You can still enter, every comment equals one entry in a money can not buy prize.  also if you have access to Spotify, you will find clues and your entries are welcome at This playlist

Day 3 of Midsummer Maahes – fancy a stroll?

I hope you are all feeling supercharged. Now that we have played some games and are beginning to know one another better. I trust you’ve had a bit of a rest in your rooms. After all it is a gorgeous evening. I think we should go out for a stroll.

So just two simple questions for now.

1)  What song shall we sing as we walk.  I suggest I’m goin’ t’ be (500 miles) but do you have any other favourite yomping songs?

2) As I walked out one evening, what were my first names?  Also when I got to the logical end of the road, how could I view the bridge strangely where Sarah Henley was saved by her skirt?

There is still time to go back and post comments on the previous Maahes posts, all for that prize that money can’t buy. And to add to the Spotify playlist HERE

Day 2 of Midsummer Maahes – we’ve arrived

Hi, well that was quite a trip wasn’t it. Amazingly there were about 200 of us in that little car. Some of them are quite quiet, but at least no one was sick. I enjoyed the poems, I do hope a few others will learn some because I think people were beginning to tire after my 40th rendition of Jabberwocky no matter how mimsy were the borogroves.

Time for a quick tour round. Here we are in the beautiful county of Grethicshire and this is Chioggia Place, a large country pile; I hope you will like it. Although it seems a little Gothic and does have one or two active but dead, older residents, I promise you it has a heart of gold. There are several rooms of varying size, so you might choose an attic nook or one of the master bedrooms, possibly a dormitory. If you don’t like to stay in a haunted house we have other options, there are teepees, log cabins or for the toughies among you the opportunity to craft your own bivouac in the woods.

A little more about our surroundings. As you will see the grounds are extensive; a walled veg garden, the croquet lawn and then the formal rose garden. The knot garden goes through that little gate at the side into the fruit garden which is followed by the nuttery and I have high hopes of finding truffles there. If you notice the ha-ha beyond you can see a grass track that divides. To the right is the path to the lake, which is fed by the river Farc, the water comes down from Farc Tarn away in the fell. To the left the path leads down to the beach, at low tide a causeway is uncovered and you can walk across to Scribilita island.

There, you have your bearings.  Now why don’t you go and freshen up.  I think its time for a game or two.  Here is your quest for today:

1)  Where would you like to sleep?  I want to be a good host, what one thing would make your overnight stay perfect?

2) We need some games to play, we’ve been in the car a long time.  What would you suggest?  I am about to set up the French cricket.

3) I wandered lonely as a cloud.  Can you find a watery flower connection between the author and an Eye?

I am thrilled with the ideas for food and the music collection that is building, you Spotifiers are great.  Here is the link

If you like there is still time to use the Maahes tag and find the other posts.  Every comment will be entered into a draw for a prize that money can’t buy.  See @josordoni’s comment, she won the Christmas one.

Midsummer Maahes – let’s get this party started!

Let’s get this party started.  I have been inspired to run a summer party, please come along and join in the fun.  Starting today, midsummer and ending with a virtual get together on Saturday, we will build this party, share some thoughts, songs, ideas and more.  There will be puzzles and games.  At the end of the party I will put an entry, for each comment, into my mechanical awesome amazing hydraulic excellent selector  [MAAHES] and draw out a winning comment to receive a prize that money can’t buy.

Let me start by explaining a bit about Maahes, an ancient Egyptian god of war, but also of midsummer; you can learn more about him here.  As well as being a bit of a tough guy, he defends the innocent and is a helper of wise ones; you may find him useful later in the week.

In my last post you should have chosen your outfit for Saturday and decided what food you will bring.  There is still time to go back and add comments.  The more comments the more chances of winning the prize.

It being summer, the party theme is journeys – most of us will either be on a journey by now or have one in our sights for the holiday period.  Possibly you have just returned and wonder how you can capture that feeling of being away whilst retaining the comfort and familiarity of ‘home’.  Even home may not be where you live, but where you would prefer to be.

Enough philosophising, lets start this party with the first quest.  We are starting a long journey I have three questions for you:

1)  On this long journey you have no books.  Is there one poem you can recite by heart?  If not could you commit to learn one? For me I offer up Jabberwocky, I used to be able to recite it, I will re-learn it now for when we meet.

2) Could you add some tracks to the party Spotify playlist please.  The current songs are listed in the first comment.  What would get you up and dancing on a long hot summer evening?

3) As I walked out one midsummer’s morning, what was my name and which village did I leave?

I will publish the posts in the morning, so post away, no one will see your answers until after #okdoggy has been for her walk.

Midsummer Maahes – You are invited to a party

I am in party mood again.  Were you here for the last one, at Christmas, can it really have been six months ago?  It is all @SamirBharadwaj ‘s fault, he planted a little seed in my head.

This time I thought we could have a midsummer party.  A blog post a day, culminating in a ‘virtual’ party on Saturday. I will do the first proper post later today, but in the meantime… what food will you bring and what will you wear?

I thought I would make some macaroons and fill them with elderflower scented cream, I haven’t invented the recipe yet but @DrTimKinnaird thought it could work, so I’m just trying to work out how.  As it is midsummer I thought I would wear this dress…..

How about you.  If you have a blog, Posterous or other place to post things please do and add a link here. Or otherwise just describe your responses in the comments to the posts.  If you need the script for posting links you may find this helpful:  Just cut and paste and replace your blog address between the quotation marks

This is my link <a href=””>here</a&gt;

There is a collaborative playlist for you to add to, if you have access to spotify here

The Paisley Stoater

Illustration Friday - Stoater

Over at Illustration Friday the topic of the week it ‘Paisley’.  Regular readers will know I am fond of poetry and Paisley being in the heartland of the great Scottish bairds I thought I would find some worthy ancient verse to share. However, in my travels I found a gorgeous poem called ‘She’s Just a Stoater’ by Peter Thomson.

I have clad her in a tartan skirt; if only it was longer it might prevent her from getting erythema ab igne, a condition I used to see a lot years ago.  I picture her sitting one side of the fire while her old man sits the other side. She has developed erythema ab igne (Granny’s tartan) on her right leg, the smoking won’t have helped her circulation.  He probably has a tartan leg on the left.  I presume she pawned the ring, but she wouldn’t have received much cash for it as it was not pure enough gold, hence turning her finger green.  Still, she probably bought some coal and fags with the proceeds.  I have to admit I have no idea what a “HAWN’-N-CAN” is, in the poem; I’ve assumed it is a handle-less bucket that she is off outside to fill with more coal.

One thing I do know, he loves her; after all she’s a stoater.  I think this calls for music – Link to Spotify playlist here

Great East Swim – Thank You!

A huge thank you to everyone for their support over the last six months.  I did it; completed the Great East Swim and raised well over my £300.00 target for Water Aid.

In January, a tweet came through via the Stradbroke Web site, saying that the swimming pool had updated their page. If people wanted to sign up for the Great East Swim, they could do so and train at Stradbroke pool.  With an impending 50th birthday, it being winter and feeling like there was plenty of time ahead, I signed up.  At this stage I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.  Although I knew I could swim like a girl; head out of the water and was not afraid of swimming in the sea, lakes or streams; I had no concept of how far a mile is when swimming.  I walk and cycle, but at my own leisurely pace and have learnt that a mile is a very different thing depending on how you are propelling yourself.

A few days later I turned up at Stradbroke pool, bought an everyone active card and went into my first training session. Then the penny dropped. These people were very good swimmers, take part in competitions, do triathlons and there was me; never done crawl, never mastered face in the water breast stroke either. However, they were friendly, Len the coach was great at trying to turn my uncoördinated mass of wheeling limbs into some sort of stroke and steadily I started to make progress. Without the lovely James Zarro at Gilmour Piper, sorting my neck out, I may not have passed first base. Learning to breathe and turn my head, was testing parts that hadn’t been tested before.

A few weeks later, I signed up to use the pool at Framlingham College and started using the Take to The Streets website to provide training plans; which I followed religiously. From then on, I have swum three or four times a week, most weeks. Gradually building up my distance and stroke technique.

Then in early May, I swam at Spitchwick on Dartmoor and later in the month started swimming at Fritton Lake. I really wanted to swim crawl, having learnt how to; but despite changing to an Orca wetsuit from Wiggle I still struggled.

Along the way I have tweeted, facebooked,  blogged and foursquared my activities.

Yesterday was the big day. Walking towards the lake it was clear that the day was squally, lumbering clouds, gusts of wind, patches of blue sky that whisked away as soon as they appeared.

Watching the Yellow wave leave, gave a fair idea of the conditions and I was lucky enough to meet another newbie who happened to work for British Gas, the event sponsors. We teamed up to get changed and generally support each other going into the holding pen and acclimatization zone.

Once the hooter went it was each to their own. I had taken the advice of others, held back and to one side to enter the water so as not to be swum over by faster swimmers. The route out to the first three buoys (about 600m) was hard work, into the wind, very choppy and a couple of stern chats to myself about ‘not finishing is not an option’ were required before finally making it round the bend.

Once being chased by the wind, a different problem occurred, a feeling of overtaking myself as my legs were lifted by the following waves. Around about 800m, I was convinced someone was splashing me, it was a torrential downpour.

At the 1200m point, I was expecting us all to turn for the orange buoys at the shore as instructed when we left, due to the weather; but we were told to keep going to the next yellow buoy and actually by then I was feeling in my flow. This was the point when the best of the white wave started passing me and by the time I went through the timing arch there were a few whites coming through too.

My time was 53:17, I don’t think the elites who do it in 14 minutes need worry.  The light purples below are the sub 30 minute crowd.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me with chats and sponsored me along the way – you are great.

Would I do it again?  Well, in a moment of madness I made an Olympic 2012 pledge to do it next year and the one after.

There again I might like to try something new.  I am tempted by surfing the Severn Bore or riding Sustrans route 1.

What would you suggest?

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