Monthly Archives: June 2018

A Lack of Undiscovered Places

What happened today? Ate bacon, eggs and sausage, couldn’t park outside the shop, packed parcels, sorted coins and saw customers. Not a bad day but not exactly adventurous. It’s the sort of day that used to get explorers in the mood for travel. Thanks to generations of bored explorers there are now no things left to discover, so I needed something different to do.

I thought I’d try feeding poems into on-line translators and see what happened. I used Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas as it’s quite short and he’s been dead for a hundred years so it’s out of copywright.

TALL nettles cover up, as they have done 
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough 
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone: 
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now. 

This corner of the farmyard I like most: 
As well as any bloom upon a flower 
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost 
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower. 

I translated it into Welsh, because it’s quite a poetic language. Then I translated it back.

TALL BALLS pay for a length, as they have done

these in many wells, the rusty oblique,

the Long digestion curve, and the roller make of stone:

Only the lamb stomach is at the top of the breathe now.

The corner of the yard I like most:

As well as any flowering on a flower

I like the dust of the flame,

never losing exclusion to experience shower mimster.

No, I couldn’t find “mimster” in the dictionary either. Next I tried Italian.

TALL nettles cover, as they did
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plow
Long worn and stone roll:
Only the bottom of the elm is on top of the nettles.

I like this corner of the farm:
As well as any flower on a flower
I like dust on nettles, I’ve never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

It seems to have stayed closer to the original.

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Nettles in the Woods

 

Then, of course, I had to try Xhosa. For a language that includes a lot of clicks it stayed reasonably close to the original.

RULE is issuing sticks, as it does
These many sources, the riding horse, the farmer
Long term, and stone roller:
Only elm butt elevates fat now.

This farmhouse is my favorite:
Together with any bloom of flowers
I like dust in the ministry, never lost
Besides showing the enjoyment of a couple.

I know what some of you are thinking…

TALL is cut short, as it does
The many creams, the rusty crest, wing
Long-term value and stone:
Communication is too late.

This clogfe bag would like more:
Add any flower to the flower
I love the dust with fat, and I do not lose it
In addition to trying to eat food.

Yes, it’s Welsh, Italian and Xhosa, and no, I can’t find “clogfe” in the dictionary, which is a shame.

So, apart from teaching us to ignore exercises in poetry books, what does this tell us about the nature of poetry?

Let’s be honest – nothing.

It does, however, give a possible insight into the difficult nature of international politics and the role of translators.

And it’s a good argument for keeping computers out of the hands of men with time on their hands.

 

A Short Note on Pies

We had a bit of a mixed day yesterday – got off to a good start but ground to a halt on the Doncaster bypass. Got lost trying to get round it, more queues near York then made the mistake of relying on the satnav in Whitby. Switched it off, engaged brain and ended up in a parking space directly outside Mrs Botham’s tearooms.

Those of you who have been there before will know that the banner isn’t outside the teashop, it’s outside the bakery/cafe as you leave town for Scarborough. There’s a reason for this – mainly a queue in the tearoom and the realisation that we were going to be waiting ages.

We didn’t have to wait as long at the cafe, though it has to be said that the crab sandwiches at the tearoom would have been better than the prawn sandwich at the cafe. Julia’s decision to ask for salad proved to be a bad one as the onion swamped the flavour and the beetroot had no place in a sandwich. Beetroot, in fact, has no place in civilised society. Vile purple abomination.

We selected some pies – two for lunch and two for lunch next day (which was today).

We ate the standards pies for lunch and can report crispy crusts, flavourful fillings, excellent jelly, great texture and spiciness and an all round great eating experience. I’m a great fan of Mrs Botham’s pies.

The pork and apple pies we had today were crispy and well flavoured but had too much stewed apple in them. They could have used more texture and a little more acidity in the apple. And more meat in the pie.

I wasn’t as keen on the pork and apple.

But I preferred the pork and apple pie to the prawn and salad sandwich.

Beetroot, carrot, red onion, cucumber, sweetcorn, tomato, lettuce…

Not many prawns and a distinct tang of salad cream.

Basically it was a salad sandwich with a couple of prawns thrown in.

Pies good.

Sandwich not so good.

The Cream Tea Diaries

We had an excellent cream tea at Clumber Park on Monday – our second visit of the year. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

There are many things I could say about the National Trust, and they wouldn’t all be compliments, but they do know how to put on a good cream tea. At Clumber they may have staffing issues, as we’ve found on both visits, but the teas, when you eventually get them, are excellent.

To be fair, if you take scones, jam and cream it should be hard to get it wrong. On both visits the food has been excellent but the service has stuttered a bit.

 

There is actually a Cream Tea event coming up –

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More Cream teas at Clumber

Skies and Disappointments

Last night I took No2 son to work. It was just after 10pm and the sky was a fantastic shade of saffron. As usual, I didn’t have the camera with me, though it wouldn’t have helped much – all the best views were from roadworks and dual carriageways where I couldn’t have stopped anyway.

This morning, at around 4am, on the way to the bathroom, I noticed the sunrise was similarly colourful. This time I did have access to the camera and I didn’t need a parking place. I did, however, manage to ignore these advantages and went back to sleep. That’s why I’m using the pictures fron last Wednesday.

I’m not cut out for the hurly-burly of high-level blogging. I’ll leave that to Derrick Knight and Tootlepedal – they are like blogging machines. Me, I’m more of a dormouse.

After a hard half day sorting parcels and pennies I went for a cream tea with Julia. We’re thinking of blogging about cream teas.

I’ll show you the pictures later.

Have to go now- Julia says it’s time for me to cook.

Derrick and TP don’t have this problem…

Sundays and Self-Improvement

I’m currently reading yet another self-improvement book. I can’t recommend it as I’m currently wondering whether to carry on reading it, and one of the few things that I have learned from it is that extremely successful people say “no” more often than people who are merely ordinarily successful.

So I’m close to saying “no”, I won’t waste more of my life on this book. It’s strident in tone, doesn’t really explain the concept of being extreme and isn’t giving much in the way of insight.

Fortunately, being a Kindle book, it was cheap, it hasn’t killed a tree and nobody else will have to suffer as I can’t pass it on.

It’s even worse than the last one. I decided I would benefit from a book on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. So far, I haven’t. I kept falling asleep when I read it. This probably isn’t the fault of the book as I have a habit of buying psychology books despite knowing that they have a soporific effect on me. I’m going to persist with this one as I think it has something for me.

I can finish most books, including the one about eating frogs. It isn’t really about eating frogs, but it does offer an extended, and overdone, metaphor. It was irritating but useful.

For some reason the writers of self-improvement books really have it in for frogs, as do Victorian scientists.

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a radio programme on self-improvement and research suggested that by the end of a self-improvement book you feel worse about yourself for failing to be the person the book implies you should be.

The strident book mentioned in the opening paragraph is a bit like that, and tells you that you should write all your failures in a journal as this helps you get over them. I’m currently failing to make the change from self-employment to employment, and did wonder, momentarily, whether to write it all down. I’m not sure, but if I do you will be the first to know.

The picture shows a cream tea that came off second best when it went head to head with me on Wednesday. It wasn’t the greatest cream tea, but it does have a link to self-improvement and failure in that one of my long-standing self-improvement targets is to lose weight.

That cackling sound you hear is 2,000 calories laughing ironically.

And that concludes my thoughts for Sunday morning.

Fun with Stamps

We get offered a lot of stamps in the shop, and turn most of them down. The stamp market is such that there is no real call for First Day Covers, schoolboy collections or, indeed, most stamps we are offered. We even turned away a Penny Black the other day. As you can see from the link – they printed 68,808,000 of them and many used examples were saved. They were hand cut from unperforated sheets and only ones that have been well cut, with four even margins, are really worth anything. They frequently sell for under £30 on eBay, with several under £20. It’s not much for a cultural icon. (On the other hand, Stanley Gibbons have a nice one for sale at £250,000. Well, I assume it’s nice for quarter of a million.)

The ones we buy are the Presentation Packs. We then break them up and use them on parcels. As long as they are priced in decimal currency you can still use them. You can even use the ones priced in 1/2p denominations even though we stopped using the 1/2p coin in 1984.

It can take a while sorting all these stamps and working out the postage, as you can see from the accompanying pictures. It’s good for your mental arithmetic, if nothing else.

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Bluebells and Winnie the Pooh

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A very orange stamp

The first perforated stamps were Penny Reds. They were originally issued to replace Penny Blacks in 1841, and continued until 1879. In the beginning they needed cutting like the Penny Black but in 1854 they were issued perforated for ease of use.

1854 – we couldn’t run an efficient army nursing service but we could perforate stamps…