Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ruskin Cottage,North Hinksey

20 MINUTES walk from here on Mill Street, Oxford, along the river in Osney Island, up through the light industrial estate, then through the trees and across the little riverways infested with Japanese Bindweed, which do, however, have pretty pink flowers this time of year.

North Hinksey, Oxford

Then on, to The Fishes pub in North Hinksey. Have a beer outside and gaze at Ruskin Cottage (below).♥

Ruskin Cottage, North Oxford

Is it a dove, a rock pigeon or a feral pigeon? No. It is a terrorist

THE DOVES and half pigeons down the street from me have decided that the bird feeders in my back yard belong them.

Let me tell you something you possibly already know. These are not placid creatures – in the last week I have spotted one of them grabbing a not so little starling in its beak, and they’re always trying to peck each others’ eyes out, for a reason best known to themselves.

They chase off robins, blackbirds and everything else on the wing in a weird attempt to claim my back garden as their territory. They are very tame. I invited one of them yesterday to step into my pre-heated oven, and it was tempted.

Collins Complete Guide to British Birds has it this way: “You will have no problem seeing this species; the only difficulty will arise when it comes to trying to make the distinction between ancestral-like Feral Pigeons and genuine Rock Doves.”

Is it a dove or is it a pigeon? The jury is out....





Mike Magee’s top 10 cocktails of all time

Numbers 1, 2 and 3 in the cocktail olympicsRUPERT GOODWINS has inspired me to compile a list of my top 10 cocktails.  I provide the list below, along with the rational reasons and the sub text…. ♦

1. Gin and Tonic
Rationalisation: So refreshing, The gin eases the pain inflicted by the   mozzies, while tonic has quinine so I won’t die in service in this damn place, god damn you sir!
Real Reason: I’ve got an alcohol habit.

2. Vodka & Orange (scroogedriver)
Rationalisation:  I love to get my five a day fruits and five a day cheap vodka coupled with cheap orange juice just makes my daze!
Real Reason:  I am a cheap bastard and just want to get pissed as a fart for practically nothing.

3. Cognac
Rationalisation:  At 6AM in the morning, there is nothing more civilized than starting the day with the finest cognac that money can buy.
Real Reason: The “gentleman” is hoping that having a large cognac first thing in the morning will help him to forget the embarrassment he obviously created last night and that he couldn’t, for some reason, remember.

4. Whisky
Rationalisation: “As a true bred Scotsman I know for a fact that our “water of life” eases most pains in life and is also, I heard, called the alkahest” – Jock McFrock, the bekuilted engineer
Real Reason: He’s on mushrooms

5.  Margarita
Rationalisation:  “I started to like and love this cocktail when I met a lovely lady in a bar in Old Taipei and she was called Margarita,” An ex-pat in Taiwan.
Real Reason:  He is a recovering alcoholic.

6. Bloody Mary
Rationalisation: “The celery does me good,” conference attendee
Real Reason: Alcoholics foolishly believe that the tomatoes and celery will help them achieve their famous “five a daze”

7.  Beach Boogle Goggle Google Egboddle
Rationalisation: “It is a fact, universally known, that better code is written when you’re not drunk as a skunk,”  Dick Pick
Real Reason: “He is buying his drugs from Jock McFrock, and they’re not working”

8. Whisky Mac
Rationalisation: Och I have a really terRRRible cold, and a snifter of a whisky mac would not only provide me with the ginger I need for my RNA but prevent my nose being sore!
Real Reason:  He hasnae got a cold at all.  He’s a Campbell, nae a Mac!

9.  Strega (only a cocktail in certain parts of Italia)
Rationalisation: “I have had a lovely time being a guest at your wedding. I say, do you know a good liqueur as a night cap?
Real Reason: He is trying to pick the bar lady up, and mentioning an obscure liqueur of the region to impress her. He is a prat.

10. Rhum Plantations de St James (Martinique)
Rationalisation: “And they said I couldn’t get a drink in Marrakesh,” conference attendee
Real Reason: He refused to smoke dope, pick up a boy or a girl, but where there is a will, there is away. So there is a way…

Older Oxford embedded in Old Oxford

THIS CITY goes back a fair way. Where I lived was the site of a big abbey, Oseney Abbey, which fell at Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.  There’s only a tiny bit of the original abbey left. That’s not counting the stuff carted off from Oseney Abbey to Christ Church college, including the bells, the bells. Rewley Abbey was also trashed, but we were strolling round the area where it once stood. The photo shows some mediaeval architecture embedded into what seems to be Victorian brickwork. ♥

Fragment of Rewley

Six starlings bicker at the back

I HAVE lived here in Mill Street now for over two years. There’s a family of starlings at the back, two adults and four chicks; starlings making such a song and dance.  Starlings are the thugs of my back garden, although the doves are just great big bullies. No hot water here today, EON can’t help. Just as well it is mild. I will have a cold shower tomorrow and a cold shave but no hot tongue and cold shoulder… Woodpecker visiting regularly…♦

Oxford’s Mill Street in 1901 begins to be revealed

HERE, in the very house where I live right now, in 2012 on Mill Street, in Oxford, lived a couple in 1901, according to the census records.

Francis William Wooldridge, head of the family, lived here with his missus Ellen and at that time too their neice, Ellen aged 10 also lived in what then was a two up, two down with  a scullery space and bog outside. Francis was a railway guard, according to the 1901 census. He was a railway guard 10 years on.

The house in Mill Street was firmly established as being in Osney – not “New Osney” as the estate agents call it. Mill Street is the original Osney, see the Miller’s Tale, for example. A story of adultery in the aboriginal Osney Island, where the river flowed before the railway was built.

Next door, at number 26, lived the Quicks in 1901.  They had many sons and when I saw the entry I thought to myself the Great War (to end all wars) must have loomed large in the Quicks’ existence a bit further on.

At number 28 lived the Bowells – the head of the family was 64, Sarah was 59 and they had a son aged 19, called Mark, according to the census.

Francis and Ellen Wooldridge were still here 10 years on. He worked for the Great Western Railway and according to the census she was born in Shillingford while he had as the place of arising Worcester, Stonebridge.

Both the Wooldridges were born in 1869. The Kite pub was rebuilt in 1904 for reasons as yet unascertained…

More culture hits Mill Street club

AS A LOCAL pointed out to me in the Kite last night, Mill Street is more like Corrie Street than a village.  The Kite was full of young Americans being inducted in the ancient game of Aunt Sally, so rather than going into the back garden for a puff, I wandered outside and watched them from afar.

But we got culture here as well as a club.  The Old Power Station, pictured below, is putting on a gallery of art by a mister called John Gerrard.  We haven’t had a chance to have a dekko yet, but we will, we will…

Old Power Station