The Pig Yard

January 2012

A cracking start to the year with some superb cultural experiences. It was our intention to keep warm and to fight off winter colds and flu, well we didn't get the flu which we're both grateful for however Jane was the first to get a cold and then kindly shared it with Steve who resisted turning it into "man flu" but still made a mountain out of a molehill whilst Jane continued getting up early in the morning and going off to work.

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Steve read the Stieg Larsson trilogy about a year ago and after a bit of a struggle to get past the sheer number of family members that are part of the main plot, he really enjoyed the books.

It’s always a challenge for film scriptwriters to interpret a well read and popular book into an equally good film and we think this has been achieved here. It’s a film with an excellent combination of character development, plot exposition and dramatic action. Jane asked at the beginning why it was rated 18 and it wasn’t too long before the degrading rape scene was tastefully, if brutally acted out. Without this scene the character of Lisbeth Salander would not have been fully understood and was fundamental to not only this story but the subsequent stories yet to be translated, hopefully, into film.

So, it isn’t a film for the feint hearted or the easily offended. When Lisbeth appears from her bedroom, having spent the night with another girl, wearing a T shirt emblazoned with “F*** you, you f***ing f***ers” you know this is a harsh environment and not for the squeamish.

We enjoyed the film very much and are looking forward to the next one which won’t be until next year but it will give Jane time to read the trilogy. Highly recommended *****

Measure for Measure - RSC at Stratford

We booked this last year as part of our resolution to experience more live events. Although Stratford on Avon is only an hour’s drive from home we decided to stay in a B&B that we’d used before. On arrival we were greeted like long lost friends so it was a good start. After a wander round Stratford we had a pre theatre meal at a Wetherspoons – good on value, you get what you pay for but atmosphere is sadly lacking.

We had great seats in the Swan Theatre and were ready for a play we knew very little about other than what we had read in the programme whilst we waited for the curtain to go up. Not that there is a curtain at the Swan. The audience sit on three sides of a projecting stage and actors are just as likely to make an entrance from behind as they are from the front.

Shakespeare for us mere mortals is always challenging because you have to concentrate on what is being said in such a prosaic style. The story is a complex one and depicts the issues around outwardly puritan values struggling with the fact that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. All this corruption is centred on sexual favours in Vienna at a time of increasing debauchery. There is, as in many Shakespeare plays, one character deceptively playing two people and if the subject matter wasn’t so dark it could be considered farcical. It had the dark side but also a strong element of humour some of it not totally contained in the original script which for us was very funny but I’m sure the purists would be cringing. The production has received some damning reviews for various reasons but I think it demonstrates that we definitely should not listen to critics because we don’t share the same highly critical values.

We enjoyed it very much and the experience confirmed that we should do this more often in the next twelve months.

Measure for Measure at Stratford 

House Project Progress 

House Project Progress

At long last the vendors have agreed to sell the land without any specific provisos on the designs that we use. They have asked to minimise where possible the windows that overlook their garden however this is almost impossible.

Our next step is for each of the couples to visit the house designers and it is very likely that we shall be using Potton as our house manufacturers. Once we are happy with our design then we have to go through a planning application with West Lindsey District Council. As there is already planning permission for 4 bungalows we hope our 3 properties will not cause too many problems.

The timescales are guesswork at the moment but it is likely that plans won’t be submitted until the end of March. Planning applications can go through the system in about 12 weeks so the earliest we would be ready to start the build would be June. We don’t think everything will go smoothly and therefore we believe we won't be moving until sometime in the summer of 2013, approximately eighteen months time.

We met with the house builders on Monday. They manufacture the house frame and we have to get the foundations, services, and the second and final fix done ourselves. This doesn’t mean we are literally going to do this ourselves, it means we will be employing someone to do it.

Tom at Potton, the frame makers, was very helpful. We took along plans of our design and some living requirements and he helped us to develop our ideas. After 3 hours we had agreed a final plan, with a roof structure that would make an aesthetic statement as well as give us cover over the balcony off the master bedroom and over the front entrance. We came away very excited and felt quite proud of this endeavour. We will be devastated if this doesn’t come to fruition. Now we wait whilst Potton produce the first draft of our plan and our partners in crime are seeing the designers over the next two weeks.

Keeping in Contact

Keeping in contact with friends is so important and maintaining friendships has to be worked at. If friendship is neglected then it soon withers and dies. It seems we have latched onto, later than everyone else, Skype. We have "free" calls to our friends and relatives in Australia and USA so there's we've never considered Skype as worthwhile however it really helps to keep in contact with our people in remote areas like Bulgaria and Kenya.

We've been "Skyping" these places at least once a week and it's great to settle down in front of the netbook with a cup of tea to share events with people who are 5,000 miles away and at least two hours apart in time zone. They could be in the room with us.

We love Skype, despite it being owned by Microsoft.

Skype Logo 

Log pile in barn

Logs in Barn

At this time of year our home depends upon the log fire churning out sufficient heat to keep the living room warm. To maintain it there needs to be a constant supply of well seasoned wood. We have to thank a local farmer for allowing us to go onto his land and remove any fallen trees. Usually he keeps the best wood for himself or sells it so we tend to get the willow which is very wet and then light once seasoned. It burns quickly and doesn't have a high thermal value.

Recently we got our hands on what we think is a fallen, seasoned, elm tree and Steve has spent a few days in the barn chain sawing it into usable lengths, splitting the logs and then stacking it by the front door. This month we have enough by the front door to last a few weeks and sufficient in the barn to take us through to the end of the month.

We enjoy cutting the wood and as we frequently tell people it gives us three lots of heat - first when we collect, second when we cut and stack it and finally when we burn it. Great!

Planning Our Year

Life is what happens when you're not looking! There is a serious risk that the more time we have to ourselves with Steve retired and Jane only working two days a week (as if) we could just fritter it away and before we know it the year has gone by and we've not had any adventures. To counteract this risk we've been busy planning holidays and events.

So far we've booked: Chris Addison; Chris Rea (Hammersmith Apollo); Trip to Scotland; Stewart Francis; Hedda Gabler (Royal Theatre); a trip to Bulgaria and much more.

Our philosophy is moving towards experience rather than acquisition.

Calendar Planning

Next Month...

  • Dave & Lucie return from Kenya
  • Review first draft of house plans
  • Visit from Tony & Jude
  • Spend a couple of days in Market Rasen
  • Visit David Hockney Exhibition at Royal Academy
  • Jane's Birthday
  • Martin & Kate return from Bulgaria

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