16 June, 2010

http://oscaranddoris.blogspot.com is the home of our new family blog, Giddy Up Oscar and Doris.

Thank you for your curiosity.

07 May, 2010

on hiatus

we're regenerating the blog at the moment. cheers

27 February, 2009

Old and New Music

These two albums have pretty much hogged the stereos for the last few weeks. Bruce in the car and Alela Diane on the computer via spotify. Listen to bruce here and Alela here.

Our shared considered opinion of Bruce's album is that it is a solid 3 stars out of 5 album. There are 2 classic tracks on there, Working on a Dream and The Wrestler, there's a lot of good solid songs and a couple of clunkers, but even they have their endearing qualities. I think the key track is Queen of the Supermarket, if you like that track, you'll like pretty much everything on the album but if you think it's rubbish, download the tracks mentioned above and move on.

Alela Diane is currently getting lots of excellent reviews from broadsheets and music magazines alike. She has a great voice which fits well with the folky/Americana-y soundscapes that she creates. Best track on the album is Lady Divine, but everything on the album is worth listening too.

Here is the video for White as Diamonds.

The House of the Dead - Dostoyevsky

One of the things that both Alex and I wanted to achieve in 2009 is to reinstate time in our lives for serious (and entertaining) reading. And I just finished up today on a novel by Dostoyevsky, The House of the Dead, which I have been reading for the last six weeks (slow work!!!)

My previous encounters with Fyodor have been through trying to read The Brothers Karamazov and aborting. I'm interested in him because he is recommended by Eugene Peterson, and that kind of recommendation gets my interest.

I actually loved this book, even though it's a bit hard to follow in places because of it's deliberately meandering and unstructured structure and is unremittingly grim in others. It is a fictionalised account of Dostoyevsky's own time spent in a Siberian prison before he became a writer for political dissent. Although it is one of his lesser known works, House of the Dead is noticable for its observations, particularly on the character and worldview of the convicts (which can be applied into our own culture), it's honesty, but also the life which Dostoyevsky manages to capture in his language. I would imagine that is in part due to the job of translation made by David McDuff. You can read the first few pages of it here.

So, now the plan is that I'm going to spend the run up to easter with my copy of the new Eugene Peterson, as well as perhaps a bit of Shakespeare, before spending the spring immersed in the world of James Joyce. Hopefully, I'll survive all that in good enough shape to revisit some more Dostoyevsky in the summer.

16 February, 2009


We've been to Buxton before. Back in 1999, we went for a romantic weekend and had the most amazing meal i think i've ever eaten, and got the best advice about wine too for free (if the bubbles go straight to the side, it's ok to drink).

It's partly those nostalgic memories that made us want to go back again this year. Buxton did not disappoint. It's a great example of the kind of laid back small town place that we can imagine that we'd find ourselves in if the pace of city life ever became a bit too breakneck. 

As a place to visit, Buxton has a great centre. We found two different charming coffee shops. (One attached to a mental health charity and one to a local church who are clearly committed to bringing heaven on earth in the form of reasonably priced chocolate brownies) and a great chocolate shop who can match anyone in the country in a truffle off.

However, the jewel in the crown is the lovely, lovely, deeply lovely Scriveners. A second-hand bookstore spread across five floors, it is full of charm. The staff are all really helpful and polite, and it didn't harm them in our opinion that they took a shine to Rocky, even though he was taking book after book off the shelves. Their selection of books is fine and the overall effect is that you feel like you are in a treasure trove. We went in there 3 times. I bought some James Joyce and Helene Hanff and we got a couple of books for Rocky with a contribution to the charity box. If there are bookshops in Heaven, they will be a bit like Scriveners.

Beyond the shopping and town centre, there is a lovely park that we walked in a couple of times, as shown in the photo. We also took advantage of the good transport links to Manchester which helps keep a place like Buxton in touch with the outside world.

Holiday snow

The day after we arrived in Buxton, the snow came. The picture above was taken when the worst snow came on the monday morning. You can tell it is an indoor shot because the camera is reflected in the mirror.

It was very cold. We were in an apartment with only night storage heaters. While things got better over the two weeks there, if you're renting a cottage in February, we recommend going for proper central heating. 

As the snow eased off a bit, we could get a sense of how deep it was. It was about 3-4 inches deep. We were fairly unprepared for this turn of events. We didn't expect we'd be living out of our walking boots on holiday, but we did. 

The big bonus was that Derbyshire council seemed to do a really good job at keeping the roads clear. Although the locals were a bit disgruntled at the lack of clearing for side roads to villages, we were happy that we could get everywhere we needed to go. However, we didn't want to risk trying to get up an icy slope to the parking outside our appartment. So we parked further down the road.
The highlight of the holiday, and what made the snow worthwhile, was the multitude of splendid views that we were treated to as we explored the peaks. Here is a view from down the lane from where we were, a view that changed a number of times due to the light, snow levels and cloud cover. But we come home with memories of spectacular drives wending around the A6 under snow covered forests and over glacial panoramas.

15 February, 2009

Holiday - Reaffirming a travers adventure

We've just got back from spending the last 2 weeks holidaying in Buxton. There's too much to talk about in a sensible post, and in one blogging sitting, so i'm going to update it all over the next week.

However, I wanted to take the first post on this to share something personal. The reason that there is alot of fluff on this blog is that it's very difficult to try to explain what is really happening in our lives without being deeply boring when much of what happens in our lives is about the mundane details of each day. Sometimes it's hard to see the life for the weetabix.

Being away though has helped us remember why we have this sense of life being an adventure though. It wasn't an average holiday. We went to Buxton the day before the start of the worst snow storms that they had seen in 20 years. We slipped and slid as we saw the sights. Our car constantly complained about the cold temperatures we took it through to reach Sheffield and Tideswell, Rawtenstall and Matlock. We drank mild ale and talked religion with the locals at the pub that still has a sticker up celebrating it's inclusion in the 1977 good beer guide. We fed llamas in the snow and taught Rocky (mostly by accident) how to roar like a tiger.

We had a great time. I doubt it would be what everyone would choose for a holiday, but it suited us fine. We are contrary people. We don't necessarily do things just like everyone else. Some of that is just the way we are and a shared upbringing in the arts of stubborn determination. Much of it is also that we are very much a part of a wide community of people who don't tick all the boxes because we are sold out on living out and sharing our love for Jesus. And getting away up a hill for two weeks helped us to remember that this is our bigger picture, which we love to weave the details of our life into. We're against the odds, we're friends of the random, we're the Travers family and we're on an adventure..


I don't trust twitter. I'm not sure that level of blogging is healthy or interesting, but the new internet craze, www.spotify.com is brilliant and is very much worth your attention and time.

This year's national anthem

I'm not sure what it is about this time a year, but just like last year, a pop song comes along that just sets the tone for the year and encourages alex and me and gives us vision. Last year, it was I keep faith by Billy Bragg, but this year, we have fallen hard for Working on a Dream by Bruce Springsteen, watch it here.

The mood here in Plymouth is that we've had enough of just getting by. Last year, getting by was an achievement, but this year, we're getting on and we're working on a dream. It feels good.

And we'll probably buy the album very soon so you can expect more jabber about this in the next few weeks.

25 January, 2009


It's been twenty years since i first videoed a superbowl. I was into american football before that game, but it totally cemented my love for the sport. I can't believe it's now twenty years old. It's still one of the best ever superbowls mostly because of the tightness of the finish.

Here's some (fairly poor quality) highlights. Superbowl 43 is next week and my beloved Steelers are playing. Go Steelers!!!