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 In the year 2018

20 December 2018
Literary Awards.

More news from Ben about the launch party for ♉Singularity and ♉Twisted the anthologies with two of his stories in them.

Ben had a great night at the book launch and was thrilled to recieve two awards for his story, "Pondlife". Picking up a joint second prize in the 'Best Story' category and the 'Best Character' award for Janey also in "Pondlife".

We last heard from Ben back in ♉   November when his stories were first selected for publication and again in ♉   July when we heard that his short film ''Rock.Paper.Scissors' was to be submitted as part of the Impact50's feature film project.

48372719_10161124418070534_690745854910267392_n.jpg 48385044_10161124418005534_7202064018226282496_n.jpg
  The Awards

Links in this post:
♉   Rock.Paper.Scissors

15 December 2018
People's vote.

  Proud to add another badger to my jacket.

Went to Cambourne to canvas for a people's vote on the brexit shambles. Can't say that I was able to sway many towards the cause but one guy said that he was waiting for May to return from Brussels with her piece of paper before he decided what he would do. Well she has come back and the piece of paper is as nebulous as the last one brought to these shores. She continues to prevaricate and could fillibuster this thing to something even worse.

We were a small but determined group of people appalled by the failure of parliament to come to a decision that represented anyone and felt it was high time that an informed populace should be allowed to give its opinion of the so-called deal. Heidi Allen, the Conservative member of parliament for South Cambridgeshire was there.

  a small but determined group of canvassers.

   Heidi Allen joins the group for a photocall.


  We gave out leaflets because we are not buying it.

Links for this post

♉Chamberlain another prime minister.
♉Peace for our time at Wikipedia
♉theGuardian on nebulous May.
♉Heidi Allen Heidi Allen.

♉People's vote People's vote
♉Not buying it Not buying it

12 December 2018
Murmuration IV.

We met up with our friends from Oakley to go over to Otmore RSPB reserve to watch the evening's starling murmuration. The usual collection of 'blurry duck' photographs I am afraid adding to those taken on previous visits in theBlog 2013 Mumuration I theBlog 2013 Murmuration II and theBlog 2017 Murmuration III.

  The merry crew, well wrapped up though we didn't feel as though we were by the time we left.

  Early arrivals.






  Great clumps of starlings clinging to the reeds.

  Starlings are not the only birds, coot.


Links for this post

♉Otmore at Nature conservation.
♉Otmore at RSPB
♉Otmore at Wikipedia

Starling Murmuration:
♉starling from Earth matters.
♉starling murmurations at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
♉murmuration from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
♉starling at Wikipedia.

♉   theBlog 2013 Mumuration I
♉   theBlog 2013 Mumuration II
♉   theBlog 2013 Mumuration III
♉   blurry duck photographs

25 November 2018
Bread oven.

  Pizza peels ready.

Soon after we moved to Banbury, I discovered Nextdoor and thought what a good idea it was. Then having had so much fun with our old Oakley neighbours who have driven up here several times for baking sessions in the bread oven, I decided to run an 'event' for Banbury locals. Didn't really know what to expect but suspected that there wouldn't be need for police crowd control of a queue reaching to Banbury Cross. In the event, we had two takers consisting of five people in all so that worked out rather well.

It was great to meet new people and share in the preparation of food together. In chatting, we came to realise that in fact we had come across Lisa before as one of the guests for the tTs wedding party had stayed at her airbandb and had been full of praise for it. [At the moment, she has a single and a double room, her email is lisa.armadillo@outlook.com for up-to-date information on availability.]

One thing I have learnt about cooking in the oven is the importance of timing both the bread rising and the oven heating. In the summer I got caught out a couple of times by the speed with which the dough rose in the summer temperatures ahead of the oven temperature. Then when the season changed found I had a hot oven but sulky dough reluctant to prove and not ready for baking.

When other people and social interactions have to be added in, the timings become even more difficult. A heady brew indeed!

Baking bread as a social event also presents a few difficulties, the yeast needs to be got going, the dough needs to rise and be kneaded and then risen again. The fire needs to be lit [and stay in], the oven to become heated through at high temperature and then allowed to cool to baking temperature. Each of these activities takes about 90 minutes, but not the same 90 minutes. So there can be some stretches of time with not a lot to do and others where something has to be done however interesting the conversation. [Normally, I would occupy these slack minutes with a few beers or a glass or two of wine but then this adds a further complication!]

I got things going in our kitchen at about 0830 by starting off the yeast and assembling my 'Batterie de Cuisine' as I call it although in my case this includes both the tools and the ingredients they are to work on. Had already decided that the pizzas would be simple ones with chopped fresh tomato, mozzorella cheese, bacon bits and pineapple. Prepped up the bacon bits from a bulk 'bin ends' pack from Steve Betts in Banbury along with a turkey drumstick for the potje. Decided to leave the rest for the visitors to prepare as I know people like to be given things to do and there should have been plenty of waiting time.

  Two batches of dough rising nicely and the other ingredients waiting their turn.

  The neighbours arrive, Lisa, Gordon and Josh.

  Soon joined by Charlotte.

  and Suzie.

  Something must be going on in that oven.

  But not fast enough for those who had to rush off to play football.

  After the pizzas the bread, Lisa's currant loaf, two bread loaves and the potje.

24 November 2018

After son-in-law Ben's success with his short film Rock.Paper.Scissors, he has just published two more of his short stories this time in print media [Also downloadable as an ebook.]. You can find his story 'Pondlife' at Singularity and 'Milly and Max go trick or treating' at Twisted.

You can buy copies at:
'Pondlife' on Amazon
♉ 'Milly and Max go trick or treating' at Twisted

Ben tells us:

This week I become a published author with two short stories being published in different anthologies. The first, Twisted Volume 2, a selection of contemporary horror stories and the second, The Singularity, a selection of visionary future tales, leading to the point when AI overthrows humanity . Both light and dark.
A great project to be involved with and looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. The process has been very cool and the book launches in a couple of weeks. With all launches comes a plea to friends and family. To buy a copy and/or share the link with someone who might. I'll even sign it! Get me. For the record, I don't get free copies. Have to buy my own in fact! So don't wait for friday to buy black. Buy something darker today.

twisted.png singularity.png
  Twisted    Singularity

Links in this post:
♉   Rock.Paper.Scissors

30 September 2018
Deddington Pest House

A consequence of our move to Banbury is that Rosemary is now at the geographic centre of her Oxfordshire 18th century smallpox outbreaks a major component of her PhD thesis. This has given me a chance to have a tangible look at an aspect that fascinated me about the 'vile distemper', namely, the pest house.

Pest houses or isolation quarters were built in many areas during disease epidemics as a means of limiting their spread. Our local parishes of Aynho, Adderbury and Deddington all provided purpose built structures well away from the village for this same purpose.

As far as I know, none of the local pest houses have survived to the present, the one at Aynho being demolished and its stone used to build the new village hall in 1928. The one at Deddington survived, in ruins, until 1980 when it too was demolished and its materials dispersed for other buildings. All I know of the one at Adderbury and Adderbury[so far] is that it gloried in the name of Carthagena.

As this is all so close by I decided to take a trip out to Deddington to see if there was any vestige of the pest house remaining. Simple answer, not a lot, but you can see some largish rocks in the hedgerow at the edge of what is still called pest house field at the spot where the ordinance survey map indicates that it once stood. Also a couple of other intriguing items.

One interesting snippet from the Deddington history Society informs us that:

15 April 1838, Risley writes: "Mr Davis the Guardian called to say that he understood there was a man about to be brought into the parish with Small pox by boat from Birmingham named Matthews & that they were going to prepare the pest house."

This seems a little odd as they most likely had to pass the Adderbury pest house one on their way from the canal to Deddington which could indicate that by 1838 this one was no longer in operation.

  The pest house probably shortly before its demolition in 1980.



  All monochrome pics from Deddington history Society

  you can see some largish rocks in the hedgerow


  My pic taken from where I think the pest house was located.

  Compare with the pic above.




A couple of other intriguing items.

I picked up a crumpled old bucket and the bottom of a glass bottle made from very thick glass. I make no claims about these items other than to observe that the handle fixing are riveted to the body of the bucket and the seams appear to be soldered. Not modern manufacturing techniques.

The glass of the bottle is of varying thickness being 4.1mm at its thinest and 6.78mm at its thickest and it gets thicker towards the bottom of the bottle. It is green in colour and has included air bubbles. Its bottom is recessed and it has a horse shoe symbol moulded into the glass.

  Also a couple of other intriguing items.

  I brought the bucket home as well as a piece of broken bottle. Notice the thickness of the glass.

  The bottom of the bottle.

  Horseshoe insignia.


  Included air bubbles.

  Thick glass varying from top to bottom and around the rim.

3 July 2018
Rock.Paper.Scissors UPDATE!

Back in April we posted news about son-in-law Ben's short film 'Rock.Paper.Scissors' being submitted for possible selection to be part of Impact50's feature film project.

Ben tells us that he is:

'Delighted to be able to update you that Rock.Paper.Scissors has been picked to go through to the final film! I'm thrilled for the whole team. It's among some really fantastic films from all over the world.

There will now be a phase 2 with other films to be added so I may even try to get in another script ...though unlikely we will be able to produce it as it's been a huge, but awesome, task to do the current one. We have also tightened up the edit which can be seen via the links above and below.'

See the latest edit, read comments from others or submit your own comment via this link: Rock.Paper.Scissors, Ben Marshall

19 April 2018
Thomas and Tanya, Tanya and Thomas wedding. [the tTs]

A quick first post about the wedding until I can gather a few more pics from other folk who were there as well. Expect a full write up in the Family and Friends section in due course.

Thanks to Gregor for these, which define the day well I think.

  They pledge their troth.

  In the company of their family and friends.




  With all the [mixed up] parents.

  Everyone else...almost including Gregor.

  The ordeal of [bio-degradable] petal confetti.

  In the evening, the communal firepit.

17 April 2018

Son-in-law Ben writes dramatic scripts and has recently had his short script, Rock.Paper.Scissors, chosen as a winner for the Impact feature film competition.

He had hoped that someone would come forward to produce it for him but when no one did he decided to do it himself. He enlisted help from film-makers James Skinner (Director, of skinnerfilms.co.uk) and Rob Campbell (Director of Photography, of ccsvideo.co.uk.) with Alex Cornish (alexcornish.com) composing and playing the music. For actors, he turned to his own family with his daughters Maya and Janey and their Uncle Ant providing the cast and his house and other locations nearby in Sheffield the set.

  The film crew.

Ben tells us that Impact provided the project premise of the screenplay which is that a meteor is about to hit earth and the president has just announced there are only two hours left to humanity. The project has just secured the Whitehouse/Oval office permission to shoot the opening scenes there. The rest of the film is handed over to the winning scripts and film-makers. The idea is not to make a sci-fi action films but to stimulate the production of short films which cover the last moments as humanity is snuffed out. Not all entries are bleak, there are some lighter scripts. The main producers then pick the final films they want to be part of the final feature. ' Fingers crossed we get picked!' says Ben.

There are loads of other short films on the site, from 2 to 4 minutes, and generally made by established film producers. It's a global competition so entries from LA to Russia. 'I feel privileged and proud to have my film entered with them.' says Ben, 'We had very little to no budget and I'm very proud of all involved, in particular the girls who you will see were put through it. Janey admitted she was half acting and half terrified by the end - the perfect result.'

Use this link to see the film, outtakes, plot notes and make comments or go straight to the film from the link below.. The idea is that films are given feedback (good, bad...hopefully constructive) so film makers can go back re-edit and re-submit before the final deadline at the end June. So this is still just the current edit.

Best watched on a big screen and headphone even better. Tut tut if you watch on you phone!

Spoiler alert
Here are some behind the scene shots from the filming of Rock.Paper.Scissors

The premise of the film is that two young sisters discover that there is one thing possibly worse than finding out the world may end. Having to wake up and tell it to their drunk and angry father.

  Tell it to their drunk and angry father.

  Too late.




  Setting up the final scene.

  The earth is about to end.

  As the cosmic leaf blower takes its part.

30 March 2018
Frog spawn

Been watching the pond here at 'The Grove' for the past couple of weeks and there has been quite a bit of activity involving much croaking and splashing but not much else. Well finally we got a couple of blobs of frog spawn a week ago that was promptly frozen solid by 'The Beast from The East' a popular euphemism for the series of cold snaps we have experienced in March. Paradoxically, these appear to have been caused by global warming making the Arctic warmer than usual and funnelling cold air from Eastern Europe our way.

At least the frogs seem to have been wise to this as the original blob has now been joined by four more now that the weather has improved a bit. Though what I took to be cherry blossom petals cascading across the lawn this afternoon actually proved to be errant snowflakes, now thankfully melted.

  The neglected garden pond, a surprise find.

  Not neglected by the frogs though

8 March 2018
International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women's Day, theBloG has gone purple a colour associated with efforts to achieve gender equality and is the ♉Pantone color of the year, though they call it violet.

Continuing the same theme, see the link below to a film produced by niece Jane Shirley at Aspect Film and Video.

♉Jane tells us that:
"For International Women’s Day we teamed up with ♉Wiper & True to drink beer and highlight the incredible female talent in the brewing industry!

Directed by the amazing Katie Freestone, produced by myself, edited and animated by Hannah Squires and Chloe Collewet (celebrating the female talent in my own industry). Big shout out to DP Tom German for some beautiful camera work, and Jack Lilley and Camilla Buchanan for focus and lighting."

♉Wiper & True tell us that:
"We brewed XX, a new limited edition Gooseberry Wheat Beer, for release on International Women's Day 2018. The creation of this beer - from recipe development, brewing and packaging to sales and promotion - was entirely the work of the women in our team. The beer celebrates the fact that women brew, promote, distribute, drink, critique and enjoy beer. It was brewed with the addition of the botancials meadowsweet and heather as a nod to the provenance of women in beer history. "

Watch the video to find out why this brew is named with only two XXs and not the more usual triple XXXs normally associated with a special brew.

Links for this post:

♉Wiper and True Introducing XX on Vimeo
♉Aspect Film and Video on Vimeo
♉Vimeo on Vimeo
♉ ♉ International Women's Day 2 links
♉Pantone color of the year
♉Jane Shirley
♉ ♉ Aspect Film and Video 2 links
♉Katie Freestone
♉Chloe Collewet
♉ ♉ Tom German 2 links
♉ ♉ Jack Lilley 2 links
♉Wiper & True

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