Thursday, December 23

Christmas Eve Eve!

I am trying to focus on Christmas but it's cold here in the village. Despite a trip to Towcester today on roads that were actually grey-black instead of brown-white my car is still covered in snow and actually getting back into the drive required a couple of goes to get up a gentle slope that even my son's 12" tennis ball wouldn't roll down.

It all looks very pretty but I think we've seen enough now and I'd welcome some green back again soon. Although I'm supposed to be completing a couple of modules for an MA portfolio due to be assessed in January, having so much time on my own has led to a whole lot of different research. I've figured out how to use different fonts on a web page, launched a new set of programmes for a client that I'm hoping will boost income a bit for me too and I've discovered where a particularly annoying draught has been coming in.

Twitter has been remarkably useful during the holiday so far. First, there's a nice chap running Towcester Tea Rooms who tweets about the road conditions and shares pictures which has helped me decide whether or not to risk a spin in the car on several occasions. Then there's the local council gritters who tell us when they'll be clearing roads and what to expect overnight. Fascinating, too, have been all the links posted by people with similar interests to myself. You click a link and find yourself immersed in some news about a new technology development, notes explaining how to do something or even a new video preview and American Idol news from either producers or Ryan Seacrest! Several hours later I realise that I'm hungry and I'm no further ahead with that portfolio But it has been a pleasure.

Facebook is beginning to get tedious now. It's a useful communication tool but practically all my posts there now come from feeds from elsewhere - this blog, for instance feeds new posts through to Facebook and the headline and the first few sentences will appear with an image. Twitter I've set to update Facebook so whatever I say in the former place appears on the latter. There are one or two people, though, who I can only keep in touch with there so I'll be keeping my profile for a while yet.

Presents are nearly all wrapped. Another delivery arrived today and I'm trying to remember whether I've got any more due from Amazon. Yes, I know I should know but, as I said, it's hard to focus in this weather and my memory is definitely not working as well as it should. It's quite nice, though, as you get a nice surprise when something does arrive - I do have this habit of getting something for myself at the same time! The other thing I do is hide presents that I haven't wrapped in case the children find them. That would be fine except I forget and last year discovered several items by chance on Boxing Day! In fact, just as I write this I've remembered two more. That was lucky!

I really don't like all those gaudy outside lights that some people have. Milton Keynes suburbs seem to be almost wholly lit solely by these displays on house walls and eaves. I'm so glad that the village has been spared these, well, so far at least. Occasionally, you do encounter a very beautiful and classy display on your travels, of course, but so many just look cheap and pretty nasty. I'm turning into a grumpy old man. Better be careful and stop bothering about that.

Right, it's Christmas Eve eve. Just one day left to get organised so enough of this drivel.
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Friday, December 10

Vincent's diary - September 1916

I inherited a set of diaries from an old friend, Mr Vincent, and have recently started looking through them. A fascinating entry for Friday, 1st September 1916 . . .

Saturday, October 2

Happy Birthday, Chairman

The Paddock Party Events Sub-Committee held an urgent meeting last night to consider the matter of singing Happy Birthday to the Chairman today. Although the Minutes Secretary did offer to type the words in very big letters on sheets of A4 which could be held up to help those who were unsure of the lyrics there was some concern that the wailing might disturb one or two new neighbours and there was also the lack of a Performing Rights Society licence which seemed to make one or two members wobbly.

Accordingly it was agreed to send him a card instead and various cakes, wine and models of cement lorries.

Monday, August 30

Harvest moon again

Now I can see what the lines were on the picture I took a couple of nights ago. I'd never realised there were so many cables draped over the paddock although clearly a couple of pigeons find them useful to hang around on. Sorry to disappoint those readers who had been hoping we'd discovered a railway on the Moon or skid marks left by a Lunar Rover on a past visit.
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Can't tell the wood from the trees

Bits of my mystery plant - that's the one climbing out bottom left and another cutting bottom right - seem to have quite enjoyed the sun and wind and rain which we've had, occasionally all at once, over the last few days. The trouble is, there's now a whole load of other stuff growing in the tub I put them in and I've no idea which are weeds and which might be something interesting.

So if there's anyone out there with some advice just let me know. The black stuff was some compost I found in another pot which might have had some cress in once upon a time. And, of course, if you can identify the main one, which has quite thick, blobby leaves that smell great when you squish them, that would be good too after what must me a year or so of wondering!

It's still never flowered. The leaves smell of something quite distinct but I just can't match it to anything I know. Vaguely citrus-like, add a touch of eucalyptus and a pinch of mint and think lavender and you'll be on the right tracks. I know it's pretty common-looking but I'd love to know what it is.
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Friday, August 27

Has it stopped raining yet?

For the last few days the birds and I have been searching the skies for a patch of blue. Finally, today, the clouds lifted and the sun shone. Now that I'm back at work I expect next week will be wonderful :/
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Harvest Moon

I have no idea what the two lines are, though.
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Wednesday, August 11

It didn't rain!

Just added a few more photos to the PP7 album, taken by Adrian, including this wonderful one of the sky as the sun was going down. You can just spot some patches of blue through the clouds still and it was such a relief that nothing fell out of the darker ones at all!
You can see all the photos so far at this link of click on the mini slideshow on the right or in an earlier post.

Thursday, July 29

9 days to go . . .

I meant to do this yesterday when it was 10 days to go but the day just disappeared. Bit like the whole of July really.
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Saturday, July 24

Minutes of the 868th meeting of the Paddock Party Committee

Nice version with RED action points available for printing or viewing at this link.

Where in the Village? photos now at links on the right >>

Minutes of the 868th meeting of the Paddock Party Committee


Held at Hibiscus House on Satuday 17 July 2010, supposedly at 6:30pm but some people arrived nearer 7:30pm due to mental exhaustion after figuring out Cold Higham dingbats or because their sausages weren’t ready any earlier.



Graeme in the chair

Maggie on the bench

Penny on the hot plate

Richard on the Barbie[i].

Sarah on the look-out

StationmasterSteve off the rails[ii]

Sue up right

Mark[iii] laid back

Kathie on the vegetables

Minutes Secretary on the phone



Various reasons were proffered for the absence of the Cold Higham Pair[iv]<.
All members to reassure SB that we think she is really lovely and miss her greatly and make arrangements to drag her and AP, kicking and screaming if necessary, to the next meeting.
1.       Adrian was still struggling with Sarah who was struggling with her essay and Adrian
2.       There was a Cauldroneers gathering in Cold Higham at which Sarah was being initiated and Adrian was likely to be debriefed
3.       Following an exhausting afternoon at the Cauldroneers’ Fete earlier that same day at which Adrian’s father had insisted on taking over the Make Children Cry With A Scary Face stand, Adrian had felt it necessary to explain to all the parents that remarks that they all needed a good spanking might have been taken out of context and, indeed, it hadn’t done him any harm. They had agreed to let matters, other than either of the Mr Pinckards’ trousers, drop in exchange for being entertained with Bament beverages and hence were far too pissed to contribute meaningfully to discussions of a Paddock nature, especially erections which would be quite out of the question for several evenings.
4.       None of the above

Minutes of the previous meeting


It was noted that action points had indeed been included but the matter of members actually reading the damn things still remained a slight encumbrance to procedures. The Chairman asked whether the action points might be red next time. The Minutes Secretary pointed out that this might make then make them redaction points which could have the effect of making them totally indecipherable but agreed to see what better system of highlighting he could come up with.
AH to make better action points (again)

The Chairman then proceeded to read at great speed those he had spotted in what could be described as an Executive Summary. Mark attempted to show that he had some knowledge of business procedures and mumbled about using a table and having little notes to the right of the minutes before returning to an almost horizontal position on the special outdoor seat Richard had constructed which resulted in an unfortunately frank view up his shorts for those sitting opposite.  Kathie and the Minutes Secretary were, however, the only members affected and neither seemed particularly perturbed.

All the action points had, he declared with relish, been dealt with - with the exception of one. Wheeling round to his right he peered over his glasses at Sue who peered over hers back. One of those exceptional moments of almost complete silence occurred as even Richard’s sausage seemed short of a sizzle for a split second before “Sue to confirm chapel tables and chairs” boomed from an inch or two below the Chairman’s glasses. This was followed by what can only be described as a wail from Sue who would have probably leapt up and done so immediately had the said chapel not been closed for business at the time.
SH, for the 4th time of asking, to arrange for Chapel furniture to be available

Stationmaster Steve remarked that there had been some special offers of big tents but that the dimensions of 6m by 9m were not as big in the context of what we had already.

The Committee were reminded that the Chairman and Maggie had also not exactly dealt with their own action point (which the Chairman had either not mentioned or read so quickly that no-one had noticed it). This concerned the taking of some pictures around the area of scenes or things and then putting them on display with some sort of competition to guess where they were taken.
GF, MF, AP and AH to take some snaps around and about and plan the competition

The action point requiring Richard to remind Penny that she shouldn’t spend all week preparing for the event led to Penny making a gesture at the Minutes Secretary with two fingers. This might have resulted in some distress for the Minutes Secretary who had only really been trying to ensure she had a more relaxing time between now and the Big Day but the announcement that another member was getting hungry meant that she had to whizz off to attend to some sausages as the concept of anyone, not even a vegan with nut and pulse and root veg allergy, going hungry on the Annis premises was totally unthinkable.
AH not to make any reference to RA not being able to see the kitchen for a week again



Penny& Richard  6
KC to make renewed effort to get money out of Shoemaker Close and all to get money to GF and any changes in numbers asap
GF to confirm numbers for pig
Kathie         20
Andrew      10
Sarah & SteveD       9
SarahB & Adrian    10
Graeme & Maggie  70

Although these only added up to 125 it was expected that the final tally would be around 160.



All was looking good, despite the quintet possibly now being a quartet. Rocky would be likely to be Rocky Matt and another. Amy was happy to do her intro and a spot or two during the event. There might also be one or two late additions to the list of musicians to entertain us but these were not yet certain.
GF to check licence received

Graeme would check that all the stage boards were still around and that Peter hadn’t used them on some project or set fire to them in a recent clear-out.
AH to advise if any other performers likely



There was great enthusiasm as the saladettes listed what they’d be providing, namely Caesar, carrot & kidney beans, beetroot & yoghurt, corn & black bean salsa and something that the Minutes Secretary has written down but can’t now read which looks like woolly but surely can’t be.

A head of lettuce, roasted vegetables, lime-dressed courgettes and watercress & grapefruit were also mentioned although not he was not entirely sure of the context.

Maggie would do pasta & tomatoes, rice and yet more courgettes. It seems that there is expected to be an abundance of courgettes this year and the Chairman warned everyone of the coming season of courgette & pest soup which should have been courgette & pesto soup although the former might be a change perhaps.

Kathie, Maggie and Sue would play the roles of saladettes with Penny as Chief Saladeer, a word which now seems to have been added to the UK dictionary on some laptops as a sign of eminent respectability, despite her occasional gesturing in the garden. They would invade the Cash & Carry emporium and get revenge on the chap at the entrance who gave them strange looks last year by dressing as Bunny Girls on Thursday 5th August. Stationmaster Steve and Mark seemed to pay more attention to proceedings at that point but only for a brief moment.
Saladettes on parade 5th August

All the necessary bits and pieces would be bought from the kitty which was now beginning to grow into a positive figure with contributions from members’ ticket sales. The Chairman did urge everyone to ensure that they did have enough tickets as he and the Minutes Secretary had gone to a huge amount of trouble printing and cutting the damn things up.

Kathie seemed to think that she had only had 19 but as they were distributed in pairs this was pretty unlikely. She would investigate as it may be that her entrepreneurial (not a word often encountered in the Minutes) son may have nicked one to sell on the Black Market, Ebay or wherever people sold things at highly inflated costs these days. The Committee didn’t agree that he could park his Aston Martin in the paddock that day and he would have to find a convenient verge like everyone else.

Penny announced that those who weren’t participating in the shopping trip should be informed in good time so that they could add their requests to the list.
Saladettes to contact SB and SD re shopping list



The Chairman had ordered 2 barrels on Frog Island ale. One called “Shoemaker” and “The Other One”.



Kathie had a series of photos which would remind the Committee of where they’d put tents last year and an effort would be made to reproduce the layout which everyone thought had worked well. If she was unable to unearth those photos then the Minutes Secretary and Adrian had some that they’d taken before guests got in the way.
KC to find photos and show AH or GF

Graeme suddenly realised that he had forgotten to check the scout tent was still there and would do so pdq.
GF to check scout tent

Kathie undertook to find some table covers and advise if they needed to acquire any more.
KC to check table covers

Sue would dig out last year’s table displays and do the honours in that respect, probably renewing some of the flowers too.

SarahD had boxes of plates and plastic bits and pieces, mostly in extraordinarily bright colours in her loft. It was suggested that this might not be the best place for them as she would be away until the day itself. She agreed to get Stationmaster Steve to deliver them within the following week which Maggie could then keep in the shed with a large sign declaring that they were not to be used for any installation or ‘tidied up’ by Peter in the meantime.



Kathie had agreed to do the hamper at the last meeting but The Absent SarahB had indicated to SarahD that she was in the process of doing one. No-one was quite sure what to do about that but unless SarahB had actually put the whole shooting match together it seemed sensible for Kathie to carry on and to include anything that SarahB had accumulated. Presumably they could have a chat about that and take it from there.
KC to liaise with SB re hamper production

The hamper, or maybe even hampers now, would be the main raffle prize. There would be donations of bottles which would be second and third prizes and, unless something else came along at the last minute, it was hoped that the prize announcement bit would be nice and short like last year.

The Chairman confirmed that the Rugby Group Development Fund trustees had agreed once again to match the funds raised from the event. This was much appreciated and made the whole thing really worthwhile. He would also attempt to get some publicity leaflets and stuff from the W&N Air Ambulance people so that this was available for guests to see where the funds would be going.

Any Other Business


There then followed some quite exceptional servings of bangers and mash. Being a Paddock Party Committee meeting, of course, these were not just bangers, nor was the mash just mash. This was PPC Bangers & Mash with a range of sausages, all cooked to perfection (even those hurriedly done in the pan by the Minutes Secretary immediately before arrival) and with labels declaring what may or may not be contained within the crisp brown skins. Well, the labels might have been legible had they not been left on the barbecue but it was a good idea nonetheless. The sausages were accompanied by a choice of traditionally squashed and bashed potatoes topped with cheese or not-really-mashed-at-all potatoes with broccoli (I think) and doubtless other interesting flavouring which was a fascinating variation on ‘mash’ and encouraging to all of us who occasionally get fed up with pushing the old masher thing up and down and serve up lumpy mash.

Stationmaster Steve, who had been strangely quiet for most of the proceedings was most taken by the potato dishes, however and wanted to share with members how heat and kinetic energy can both burst the walls of the starch grains in the potato, releasing amylose, which traps water, imparting an undesired "gluey" consistency in the same way that starch adds thickness to foods such as gravy and custard. To avoid this, he said, potatoes must not be cooked at a high temperature for too long. Whole or chunked potatoes receive considerably more heat on the outside by the time enough heat penetrates to cook the centre, overcooking the outside; thinly slicing the potatoes allows a consistent amount of heat throughout. Heston Blumenthal recommends cooking the sliced potatoes for 40 minutes at a controlled temperature of 70°C. To avoid the need for temperature control, the sliced potatoes can be boiled until just cooked (10 to 12 minutes), testing constantly. America's Test Kitchen recommends rinsing potatoes halfway through cooking to remove excess amylose, and pressing potatoes through a potato ricer to avoid unnecessary agitation of the starch grains. If a food processor or similar is used for mashing, it will mechanically break the starch grains, releasing amylose and giving an unpleasant gluey consistency. Potatoes are best mashed before adding butter, etc., as the butter or liquid lubricates the lumps of potato, making them more difficult to break up. They are, however, an excellent source of dietary fibre, he added, before taking another mouthful.

Both dishes were masterpieces and to have such limited choice at the Annis Emporium was most rare but, in this instance, thoroughly appreciated. Seconds and even thirds were consumed with large helpings of port, approved by Stationmaster Steve as LBV.

The evening was also marked by the arrival of a Top Gear Chocolate cake and the rendition of a familiar tune to celebrate the Minutes Secretary’s forthcoming birthday. He agreed to take it away and deliver chunks to members in a while, if there was any left after children had spotted it.
AH to distribute cake

Date of next meeting


Thursday 5 August – all able-bodied men on parade for de-pooing, grass-cutting, wood-chopping and erection and electrical equipment-checking. Will decide then whether to do tents then or Friday.
Available bodies to paddock on Thursday

[i] that should be ‘barbie’ as in barbecue. I blame AutoCorrect.
[ii] the extension to the Astcote line has hit a few snags so may not be operational until after the event and the children’s rides idea will have to be cancelled
[iii] a new guy who followed Sue to the meeting but seemed a nice chap so we carried on regardless
[iv] Commonly known as Adrian and SarahB, previously referred to as ‘them two from No.5’, parents of Jet

Friday, July 23

Where in the Village? Photos

You can try and identify where these are in the competition form here where you can add comments or, more simply, just indicate whether you know or not on the form included on this blog (probably just below ▼ or listed in the archive list on the right ►).

Entry form for the 'Where in The Village?' competition.

Friday, June 25

In the conker tree

Looks like Kirri will have to wait a while before he goes climbing his tree again!
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Thursday, June 24

Addendum tra la

Only six weeks, then
Good Friday's here,
When the boys make tents
And talk no sense
Over a beer
And get it up again.

Hands on poles,
All in a row,
Await the order 'Lift'.
'But mine's adrift!'
'It's on my toe'.
'Just fit them in the holes'.

Commands are issued
Loud and clear
'It's looking good'.
'We knew we could'.
'Have no fear'
All well and truly screwed.

Pegs are banged in
Ground quite soft,
Mallet swinging,
Sarah singing,
Arms aloft,
Demanding 'Retha Franklin

Like 'I say a little prayer'
Or 'Something-E-C-T'
For her greatest hits
And whatever else fits
On a USB
Or Graeme's iPod player.

Wednesday, June 23

865th Meeting of the Paddock Party Committee

Also available as for download and scribbling all over with groovy action points at this link.

Held at Astcote High Street Station 2pm, Sunday 13 June 2010

Graeme (Chairman), Maggie, Steve, SarahD, Kathie, Amy, Richard, Penny, Sue, Andrew (Minutes Secretary)
Members were informed that SarahB is still writing an essay which has now become such a vast and authoritative tome that Adrian had been lassoed on his way out in order to assist with what all students seem to want to do, namely place each sheet in a ruddy plastic wallet, much to the later annoyance of tutors who moan like mad at having to extract every sheet in order to correct them. Members were divided on the subject of this remarkable three month effort, the majority concluding that it was The Life And Times Of A Garden Gnome. Steve quietly hoped that she wouldn’t insist on grabbing the microphone and reading it out at the party. The Minutes Secretary had serious doubts about whether she would have completed it by then.

Minutes of the previous meeting
These were approved after Maggie had run across the road to check the dog. Richard disappeared to get some port which prompted Stationmaster Steve to explain that Late Bottled Vintage, like Vintage Port, is a wine of a single year but it is not a “declared” Vintage Port. Whereas Vintage Port spends only two years in casks and then matures in bottle, LBV is aged in casks and then bottled with a light filtration at between four and six years old. At the time of bottling it has completed its maturation and is ready for drinking without the need for decanting.

The Chairman asked whether the Minutes Secretary could add action points to them. Seeing the expression on the latter member’s face, he added that it probably wouldn’t be necessary to add action points to all the previous minutes, just from here forward. The Minutes Secretary looked quite relieved.

Date and time
7 August, 6:30pm as last year

Chairs and tables
Cold Higham would be supplying a good quantity which Peter would collect. Sue was reminded yet again that she needed to check whether the Methodist Church furniture was available. Not the pews, though, and she should ensure the items we removed were not in use at the time.

Adrian and the Minutes Secretary had spent a great deal of time viewing images on the internet but needed to check a few more before selecting those that were likely to be appropriate. Bearing in mind that there would be children present and some guests shouldn’t be subjected to sudden shock the Minutes Secretary agreed to advise Adrian that none of the predominantly pink images he had come up with were likely to be approved, even allowing for the close and lengthy consideration that Richard and Stationmaster Steve seemed willing to give to them. It was agreed that a range of samples with a PG certificate would be supplied to the Chairman by 22 June (which by sheer chance happens to be the date today and I’ve just e-mailed them to him).

The Chairman admitted to having completely forgotten about requesting a licence from the local Council in order that music can be played. Kathie said that if he didn’t get it in time then everyone had an iPod these days and so they could listen to their own. Penny pointed out, though, that no-one would then be able to hear SarahB screeching “Aretha! We must have some Aretha!” Richard assured her that SarahB would not be ignored, especially if she were hurtling towards an unsuspecting Minutes Secretary at the time as would be her wont and steps would be taken to avoid a collision.

Members agreed to keep an eye out for any special offer tents. Whilst it was believed that the one held together with duck tape and with a pole up one of its tubes would serve another event without enveloping guests below during the evening, should any of them experience a sudden and massive gust of wind from an unfortunate angle then disaster might strike and it was good to be prepared.

Kathie kindly agreed to make a hamper for the main raffle prize this year. She reckoned that she had a suitable basket and Sue would give her some ideas as to what to put in it.

It was agreed that, in return for hampering, Kathie and her family would be provided with free tickets.

Ticket sales
The Chairman then broached the thorny subject of who would cover which areas to get tickets out to the people to be invited. Traditionally, he reminded members, the Paddock Party invitations were offered to Shoemaker Close residents, even if we didn’t know them particularly well, because we were likely to keep them awake and were, after all, conducting the whole thing either on the other side of their fences or within a stone’s throw of their TVs which could be quite a nuisance, especially once guests had had a few beers or glasses of wine and for more reasons than one.

Kathie agreed to do Shoemaker Close in its entirety
SarahD and Stationmaster Steve would do School Road and Suttons Walk
Penny would do next door, Suzanne up there and invite her line dancing friends
SarahB, would do the Cold Higham mob, or Adrian if she hadn’t finished her essay
Maggie & Graeme would attend to Pattishall friends and all stations East

Tickets would be distributed just as soon as Adrian and the Minutes Secretary got their act together and produced the damn things and the Chairman would ask for an update on sales at regular intervals.
Committee members could invite as many of their own friends as they wished but we did need to know numbers to ensure the pig was the right size.

The jazz quartet, Matt and Grace and Amy were confirmed as performing. Amy would do a welcoming intro on Graeme’s keyboard. She had indicated coyly that she would prefer not to play on his organ but the Chairman insisted that it was a piano that he would make available.

The Rock School had not been asked to perform.

In addition to the live acts we should also have some groovy tracks available, not just to satisfy SarahB’s Arethaic demands but also to have something to play as and when there were breaks and probably later when the performers were likely to be suffering from an excess of alcohol and liable to render versions of numbers that a mathematician might be inclined to describe as imaginary.

Penny would take the role once again of Chief Saladeer with Sue, Sarahs D and B, Kathie and Maggie as individual saladeers under her command. A request should be made to anyone offering to bring food that they bring salads rather than puddings as the saladeers took the view that there’d be more than enough excellent desserts being provided.

Penny would arrange a shopping trip at an opportune moment to ensure all the appropriate goodies and gallon tubs of salad cream and mayonnaise were purchased. Stationmaster Steve reminded the Committee that he had six drums of each in his garage already but they may be past their ‘use by’ dates. He was finding the salad cream, in particular the Crosse & Blackwell one, to be an excellent lubricant for his train. The Aldi variety was nothing like as effective, though, but had great binding properties for the gravel on the new slopes he had been building for the Eastern extension.

Any other business
Sue would produce candles and flowers to add a touch of class to the formica-topped tables. Everyone agreed that she always made a splendid job of these and it was fun watching people trying to figure out why they didn’t fall over when tables were wobbled.

The Minutes Secretary would produce a range of signs as usual. Any special requests to him as he always seems to be doing them a few minutes before people arrive and there’s nothing more embarrassing than bending over to hammer in a sign that reads ‘Please put your forks in here’

A slide show projected onto Kathie’s wall or the side of the food tent was agreed to be something that we should try this year. Shows at early Paddock Parties had been a popular distraction and the format of the evening, without a band at the end, might allow the show to be more effective as well as being seen without massive silhouettes of Tom and friends looming over them. The Minutes Secretary would see if he could acquire a decent projector and work with Adrian to set up something suitable.

The Chairman reminded members that we had agreed to have a quiz this year to keep people amused during the lighter hours. This would take the form of their attempting to identify images of things or views around the locality. He and Maggie had been taking pictures but others were welcome too and the Minutes Secretary offered to put the whole shooting match into some semblance of order and print the images and some answer sheets.

Date of next meeting
Sunday 18 July 2010 at Penny & Richard’s 3pm

Sunday, June 6

The Chairman returns

Graeme & Maggie get back from Cyprus in good time for the next Paddock Party.

Monday, May 31

Katie gets married

The sun eventually shone in Edinburgh on Sunday 30 May when my daughter, Katie, married Stuart and ventured out into Queens Street Gardens, opposite the exclusive Scotch Malt Whisky Society's premises where the ceremony had taken place.

I knew everything was going to be fine when I heard her giggling in the hotel, finally about to appear to the world in her dress. Until then more than a little nerves and panic had been evident amongst everyone at one stage or another of the process of managing people and things spread out across the city. Her brother, Russell and I were staying in York Place, close to the ceremony venue but some distance from the Hotel where most of the important people were gathering. Getting from one to the other was an interesting exercise in navigation, particularly with some new road system being developed which completed foiled any of the gadgets I had hoped to use to get from A to B. Tourists wandering around aimlessly and pipers frightening the life out me at various places en route didn't help but were quite amusing in a way and contributed to a tremendous sense of achievement in actually arriving on time.

A dimunitive but highly experienced Registrar lady grabbed Katie, her 'bridesmaid' and me on arrival at the SMWS venue and I'm sure that she took longer explaining what would happen that what actually happened took! Eventually we were all released and Katie and I ascended a huge spiral staircase behind a piper playing something I should probably have known the title of but didn't. We were both relieved that it wasn't one of those wailing and wheezing tunes and we stayed close enough behind to avoid any embarrassing views of the kilted chap ahead.

Then, into the main room where all the guests had been arranged into a nice semi circle and I handed her over to the relieved arm of her husband-to-be-pretty-soon-now and wondered where on earth I should go next. Stick around, I thought to myself, and all will become clear. The delightful service followed and in no time at all there was this almost tangible sense of relief and we could look forward to photographs and then food.

Amazingly the greyish skies cleared and the sun emerged while we were in the park opposite the venue at around 5pm. Staff had battled down a narrow path armed with bottles of champagne and glasses too which was a nice touch and how on earth they managed that without losing any on the way was remarkable.

Eventually we returned to the dining room and a series of wonderfully tasty courses arrived, beautifully presented and with abundant supplies of wine and even some very expensive-looking single malt whisky samples that I am sure would have kept me way over the limit for most the following day had I done more than smell them.

I am surprised that I managed to go up and down that spiral stairway, all 42 steps, so many times throughout the evening to see guests safely into taxis without having to stop for a rest halfway or that no-one took a faster route by tripping or sliding down a few. All was very well that ended well, however, and a really great time was had by all.

There'll be lots more photos soon but, having driven back today (another sub-5 hour run) with Russell this is about the best I can manage!
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Friday, May 28

His name is Jack and he lives at the back of the Paddock Party home . .

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Things you find up a conker tree

Kirri took the pictures above when he found a bird's nest in his favourite climbing tree. The pigeons have been coming and going since so nothing was disturbed.

I did wonder what he'd spent so long looking at.

Luckily, Matti didn't manage to get quite so high.
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Kirri eventually finds a wireless connection

After the connection kept disappearing at his spot on the sofa indoors, Kirri found a comfortable office outside.
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Green plant produces strange flower

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