Sunday, 30 May 2010

'And a little more cider won't do us no harm...'

A wee shout out to the Rudsambee guys in the post title there...just for the record, it isn't my philosophy on life; rather, it's a song lyric - answers on a postcard if you know which song. That said, D and both sampled a bit of south English cider at the Beer festival yesterday. We drank a couple of fairly palatable brews while listening to local folkie band Treehouse (D knows the lead guitarist). We even tried 'Perry' which is cider made of pears. Apparently calling it 'pear cider' is akin to homicide in these parts. There was a very insistent (nay threatening) note to this effect at the cider stall. A jolly time had by all.

When we got home we watched Waiting for Guffman which is the last in our Christopher Guest (of Spinal tap fame) trilogy . This time it was a satirical look at community theatre which is, of course, right up my street. Their were a couple of truly hilarious moments, none of which would be even mildly amusing if I tried to describe them here. Give it a watch.

Today was Sunday (just in case you missed it) and we went to church. Really appreciated the Pastor's sermon this morning. He preached on a passage from 1 Corinthians 1 about God not calling the wise but the foolish just so no one can boast in themselves. Particularly interesting given that just this morning this had been a Warden topic of conversation. Our musing? 'Goodness, Christians are a strange lot!'

When you look about the average church you really do see a mixed bag - rather amazing to think that God calls each and every one of them. I've always thought that Jesus' decision to go with impetuous fisherman Peter at al for disciples was an odd one, particularly given all those highly intelligent pharisees that seemed to hang about. But it seems that when you look back through history God chooses the most unlikely sorts - I mentioned a particular wrestler of note in the last post, but how about James Hudson Taylor, a small, ill sort of chap who devoted his life to the good folks in China or sweet hymn writer Fanny Crosby who was blind from a young age. In the nineteenth century this was a big deal! If I were choosing disciples I'd go for strong, good-looking types who could speak well in public. Shows what I know! A great sermon, as always.

We've had a very peaceful day topped off by some delicious asparagus bought from Doddington Hall cafe (we went on Friday night for their fish night - pretty spectacular as usual).

So tomorrow is the start of holiday week. I am working for a couple of days prior to departure but D is as free as a bird. I think he'll probably see what the weather is doing before he commits to anything. I'm busy working on a paper for a big conference hosted by Lincoln Uni English dept. It isn't until the middle of July but time is just going to fly by and I want to get on top of it. So that's tomorrow's job. Given all the Shawn Michaels' DVDs currently scattered over our lounge floor I will probably make a cuppa and watch another match before bed. HBK, HBK...


Thursday, 27 May 2010

Good friends coming to England

And now that Em has made it official (it was all I could do to not include it in my post of last night!) I can say how glad I am that the Luehrmanns are moving down to England. Leeds isn't so far from Lincoln and we are excited for the whole family. Great news guys!

Had an enjoyable night at prayer meeting this evening. Our church had a break in last night but they only stole the DVD player and (randomly) a jar of coffee. Unfortunately no Bibles were missing ;-) They certainly chose the wrong place to rob - the good folks of Lincoln Evangelical are so generous that there is nothing worth nicking! D and I went for a drive afterwards as the moon was just so beautiful and we decided it would be best seen from a quiet country road. We drove through some sweet wee villages.

Good news of the day was that the University of Lincoln has continued its steady rise up the Good University rankings and now lies in 62nd place. Not bad for an institution that is barely ten years old. It is the highest mover in the table so everyone is patting themselves on the back.

Anyways, D has one day left at work before his holiday starts. I thinking he's hoping to get some golf in. But on Saturday we are going to a beer festival of all things...just the day out for a couple of (almost) non-drinkers. I'll fill you in on Saturday evening.


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Marking is finished!

After a pretty late night last night marking has now finished for another term. I have a bit of second marking to do tomorrow but otherwise the university year has officially finished. There were some really good essays. A mixture of music kept me going last night from the beautiful folkie melodies of Knopfler et al (inevitable listening given last Friday's concert) to the bombastic soundtrack to Modern Warfare 2. MW2 is, apparently, a computer game (this computer game thing is just not on my radar although we do have a Wii which I enjoy when we have mates round - a competitive game of bowling is about my limit!). Well, either way, the music is written by Hans Zimmer so I'm not complaining. The soundtrack is also 8 hours long so plenty of repetitive epic chord sequences to get me (and keep me) in the zone.

Over the past few days three wrestling DVDs have dropped through our door from the good people at Amazon. All three are about The Heartbreak Kid Shawn are evidently for me! D at his present-buying best. We watched the first documentary last night. One of the reasons I really like Michaels (other than his unbelievable wrestling skills...seriously) is the change he has seen in his own life since he became a Christian. Given his party animal reputation, drug problem and his ability to really get on people's nerves, he probably made a fairly unlikely Follower of Christ. But his commitment is unwavering and, by his own admission, the Holy Spirit has really transformed him. He is still (or was until he retired - boo hiss - earlier this year) one of the most talented guys to ever enter the ring, but he now has something greater.

So I've begun the research. It always takes me a little while to move from teaching mode to research mode. This has certainly been the case today, though I got 600 words down. They probably aren't very good words mind you. Lots of 'ands' and 'thes' as Mum likes to remind me.
I have a couple of conference abstracts to write and two full book chapters.

And still enjoying all of the ins and outs of the British political scene. It seems like universities are going to face some real cuts. The relationship between David and Nick is becoming ever more jovial and brotherly. My colleague and I are teaching a collaborative module in 'politicising the theatrical space' next term, and we are trying to source a couple of those wicked 'I agree with Nick and Dave' t-shirts. Ah, good times.

So the next couple of days are dominated by second marking, reading and research and watching a terrific HBO (them again, if only Britain could have such a magnificent purveyor of televisual genius - sigh) series called John Adams that we have in a box set. I know nothing about this period of American history and I'm learning a great deal as I do my ironing (for those unaware of the Warden tradition, I do the family ironing while D buys me box sets on Amazon to watch as I do it). Today the 13 states (actually 12, apparently New York abstained) signed Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and all that. And Laura Linney (who I love) does a great turn as Mrs Adams. Well worth a watch if you can catch it.

Enough! A cup of tea beckons.


Saturday, 22 May 2010

A night at the SECC

So while my dear friend Bec is celebrating her hen do (hey Becs if you are reading - I was sad to miss out) we were off to see Mark Knopfler in concert at the SECC in Glasgow. Now, we booked the tickets in August from the sunny climes of Portugal and have been looking forward to it since. I'm a bit unique in that I can take or leave Knopfler's Dire Straits stuff (except for Money For Nothing, of course, which has a crackin' riff - incidentally it is the only Knopfler riff I can play) but I love his more recent rock-inflected folkie stuff. He has got an amazing band behind him which includes a number of top folkies. Even the great Phil Cunningham turned up on stage last night (he received a big 'whoop' from me).

They played a terrific set including my favourite, Sailing to Philadelphia and D's favourite, Telegraph Road. And to top it all off, who should be sitting in front of us but former Scottish Labour leader, Wendy Alexander and her husband, Professor Brian Ashcroft. This caused quite a bit of excitement for politics buffs D and his friend, Coops who came with us. D's only concern was that she'd charged her tickets to expenses. Professor Brian seemed to enjoy it very much. Not sure about Wendy...

We then spent the night in Glasgow with our dearest Matt and Daisy and their wee son Matthew. Arrived last night and had some happy chat. The four of us can talk late into the night about all sorts of things. We generally arrive at theology in the end. When we awoke this morning wee Matthew was all ready to play trains with Uncle David and Aunty Claire. What fun! It was boiling hot so we went for a walk in the park. There was a family fun day and we ate candy floss (man, that is seriously sweet stuff) and played a bit of footie.

We drove back through to Edinburgh and stopped at Kevin and Kat's (bro-in-law and wife) to pick up a chest of drawers and enjoy a Diet Coke in the sun of their garden. Both D and I are a little pink. Proper Scottish weather!

Looking forward to a visit to Carrubbers tomorrow and will be travelling back to Lincoln on Monday for a week of meetings, marking and getting on with research. This week in the National Library has been really productive and, though I was never going to get everything done, I do feel that I've got enough material to at least start the next two chapters. Can't wait to spend a bit of time only concentrating on that.


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Where have I been?

Yes, it has been nearly a week since my last post and I've been busy running about ever since. First it was a lovely trip to London to visit Bec. I spent an hour or so in the British Museum. I always find this place incredibly overwhelming and generally just wander about like a little girl looking for her mum! We then had a fabulous Mexican lunch. It was great to see her and to wish her well with her upcoming wedding.

Then yesterday I caught a train through to Edinburgh and have spent a happy couple of days in the National Library. The funny thing is that the more you read the less you know. I wonder if Terry Eagleton still feels like that! Then tonight I visited my friends at Rudsambee. I have really missed my friends from choir and it was mega to see them again. It was AGM night so there wasn't a lot of singing but it was nice to hear the news. Actually it felt that I hadn't been away.

So tomorrow is another library day and then D is arriving from Lincoln in the evening. And then on Friday it is off to Glasgow to see Mark Knopfler in concert. We have been looking forward to this gig for a long while. It is going to be mega (this is a word I have been using more regularly of recent times - I have no idea why). We are staying over with our dear friends Matt and Daisy and their wee son Matthew. We haven't seen them for a really long time so are looking forward to a good catch up. We're not heading back to Lincoln until Monday so hopefully we'll have chance to see everyone.

This week I have been mostly reading...Bret Hart's Autobiography. This is a continuation of my continued interest in wrestling. It is a really fascinating book. The Harts are the first family of Pro wrestling and they are a right strange bunch. But Bret's book is very nicely written and describes some of the most tragic moments in recent wrestling history as well as some of the best matches. My love for Shawn Michaels was sorely tested by Bret Hart's descriptions of a spoilt, petulant drugged out wrestler. Am very glad that the Heartbreak Kid got himself sorted out. I have his autobiography saved for our holiday to the Scillies in a couple of weeks.

Anyways, I'm off to Skype D (just like old times) and have a snooze. Had an amazing night's sleep last night and a hoping for the same tonight.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

Essays and Research

So finally term has come to an end and a summer of research stretches out in front of me. But before then it's marking time! All the fun of the fair! So I spent today holed up in my newly organised home office with pen in hand, Peter Gabriel on and tea in easy reach. Since we moved into this flat the office has been little more than a dumping ground but, after spending a good four hours sorting out those boxes, it is now a study haven. I am very grateful to have my own purpose-built office. I have a long list of projects to be completed over the next few months. In fact the latest publication (which unfortunately you won't be able to buy down your local newsagents) is coming out in the next couple of weeks.

And what of the British political scene? Well a Con-Lib collaboration has gone down pretty well chez Warden though I'm still not going to divulge my voting preferences. David Willetts, affectionately known as 'Two Brains' has taken over jurisdiction of universities...this makes a pleasant change from an unelected spin doctor. So, overall, we are contented and will see how it goes. Nearly bought an 'I agree with Nick and Dave' mug today. Genius!

We finished the second series of Ashes to Ashes this evening too in readiness for the final two episodes of series three. Terrific stuff! I am really glad I discovered this series. That, coupled with the joys of my new Shawn Michaels DVD (I know, I know...I have no excuses!) has meant some really good watching over the past few days. And, since I have now put on my research head again, it is back to soundtracks. D downloaded (legally I might add) the music for the computer game, Modern Warfare 2. Now I know nothing about computer games at all, but Hans Zimmer wrote the soundtrack and that is not to be sniffed at. It is great background music.

Am off to London to visit my friend Bec this weekend. She is getting married soon but we are sadly away on holiday (boo, hiss etc etc) so I'm going to catch up with her on Saturday. It'll even give me a chance to visit the wonderful British Museum. Sweet!


Sunday, 9 May 2010

Good films, good food...ah this is the life!

Evenin' All,

Hope everyone has had a great weekend. Two reviews for you this evening...

On Wednesday we made use of D's iphone contract and enjoyed Orange Wednesday at the local Odeon. After a 'lish tea at Nando's we headed off to watch Ironman 2. Now anyone who has followed this blog for a wee while will know that I have a bit of a thing for Robert Downey Junior so I was really looking forward to this, especially as he was teaming up with the eminently watchable Mickey Rourke. It didn't let us down. Ok, so the film is a little over complicated for its own good. It was trying to be a stand alone film while also aiming to introduce the next movies in the Marvel canon, The Avengers and Thor. There were also too many storylines vying for attention. That said, RDJ was at his charismatic best and there were some sensational action sequences. I really loved the witty script of the first film and the dialogue was equally funny and clever in this sequel. Overall, a good addition to the 'complex comic hero with issues and flaws' film genre.

Then last night, in celebration of a successful assessment week, we went back to Donnington Hall. We visited this lovely cafe a couple of weeks back for a lovely lunch and a walk around the farm. Last night we enjoyed their 7 course Saturday meal. It was so great and we enjoyed everything from homemade beetroot dip to fabulous ribs to battered cod (which brought a smile from a delighted D) to sweet goat's cheese pizzas to perfect sea bass to a lovely rhuharb fool. It was a really special meal. Definitely a place to recommend to anyone hanging about the Lincoln area and in need of some crackin' scran.

So the political situation gets ever more complicated and remains the source of long conversations and debates chez Warden. We'll see how it all pans out this week. My favourite headline of the week was from The Sun which announced that a 59 year old Scottish squatter was refusing to leave Number 10. Genius!

For me, a week of meetings and marking beckons. It marks the start of 4 1/2 months of research and planning. Can't wait to start working at home and getting some quality writing done. Also bashing through the second series of Ashes to Ashes. Enjoying it a lot. The year is 1982 so I'm just waiting for an Asia classic to come up on the soundtrack. Ah, the eighties...the legwarmers, the stone wash jeans and the big-haired rockers. Nothing better.


Friday, 7 May 2010

The day of reckoning

It has not only been our first year students that have been assessed this week but, in case you haven't noticed, the great British population made up their minds about the government too. In fact all the first year assessed pieces have somehow alluded to this momentous event - art imitating life and all that.

So what to make of last night? D went for a snooze at 9pm-ish and awoke at 1am-ish to stay up through the night. I finally flopped into bed at 2.30am. He came through at 5am to tell me that Lincoln had (quite surprisingly) turned blue overnight. I've watched proceedings with interest throughout the day. What a tangled web we weave! We both enjoyed voting in our new town and it's been entertaining to get a handle on East Midland's politics over the past couple of weeks.

And so on to a fairly quiet weekend, I hope. I haven't done a great deal of reading this week due to assessments so I'm looking forward to opening a book or two. Have been reading JB Priestley's Time and the Conways to pass the time between tutorials. I'm hoping it might get a mention in the new book. It's an interesting play as, although it's written in a fairly naturalistic style, it has this wonderful metatheatrical central theme. Possibly useful. Also hoping to do a bit of tidying - it really is getting out of control!

And so term has officially finished for the first and second years. Still some third year assessment to go but I can just sit back and enjoy that. I have really enjoyed my first full term as a proper academic. There have certainly been some challenges and I'm still getting my head round some bits and pieces, but largely it has been good fun. Looking forward to a new cohort in September...although I'm anticipating a long summer before then. Contrary to popular belief, I actually work quite hard in the summer break :-)

Anyways, I have the second series of Ashes to Ashes to start this evening and a cup of tea with my name on it.

Enjoy the weekend

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The day of performance

Evening one and all,

Well so much news and so little post space...This weekend we spent a happy couple of days in Edinburgh with the inlaws. D's mate Stuart was getting married. It was such a wonderful wedding and the couple looked very happy indeed. It was great to see the good folks at Carrubbers even though the Edinburgh run prevented D from finding a parking space.

So it was back to Lincoln with my mind full of Uranium 235. I slept surprisingly well last night and awoke thinking about medieval costumes! What a geek! We all arrived at uni at 9 and did a bit of tech work. The performance started at 11 and I was so impressed by the students' professionalism, enthusiasm and commitment. They did a tremendous job and I was suitably proud :-)

I have to say that since then I've just felt a bit wiped out! There is now too much space in my brain! So, after catching up on the emails that had mounted up I went for a bit of a walk in the sunshine and found a wonderful new park. It is only just down the road but we never have any cause to go that way so until now it hasn't really hit my radar. It is called Lindum arboretum and it is just lovely. There is a pond and swans and a cast iron folly and fountains and squirrels and everything. It was just wonderful to sit in the sun and not think about red and black accessories.

I have even done the ironing tonight which means that D has some shirts tomorrow. Carried on with the first series of Ashes to Ashes which I'm watching (rather confusingly) in conjunction with series three which is currently on BBC 1 on Fridays. It is always jolly to watch something interesting while ironing. And it is countdown to the election chez Warden. It is all getting rather exciting and I still haven't made my mind up.

Enjoy exercising your democratic rights in you live on this side of the Pond.