Sunday, 23 December 2007


A few posts ago I had decided that I was grumpy. Now I've been home for a few days, I decided that I am getting into the Christmas Spirit. Our house is full of large young men. They have come home from university and reoccupied the spaces they had before they left. They consume everything.

However, the main reason I feel less grumpy is that my wonderful wife has stocked up with the most wonderful looking (and smelling, now that some of it has been cooked) food. The first meal as a family will be tomorrow evening and all we men here are salivating already at the prospect. The only threat to this enjoyment is someone allowing our Siamese cats access to the meat. Should this occur, then the cat or cats involved will die, and any human complicit in the crime will probably also die the most horrible death. As you may imagine, dear reader, we are all be most diligent in ensuring the relevant doors are kept closed.

I've bought a present for everyone, so that element of the festivity is taken care of, and I've even wrapped them up already and put them under the Christmas tree. And, because I have not put a picture in the blog for ages, I've taken one with my mobile phone and here is our Christmas tree and the presents in the sleigh under it. Many thanks go to my beloved wife for getting the tree and getting it decorated. I think No. 2 son actually put the decorations on (but I may be wrong about that), but I guarantee that his mum found the correct decorations and made sure he had enough hangers to get all the decorations on.

Knowing him as I do, I suspect that No 2 son still has to go to the shops and buy the presents he plans to give people... then he'll be on the scrounge for wrapping paper, sellotape and labels... Planning ahead is not his strong point!

One of the other contributing factors to my improvement in mood and temper is that we have passed the shortest day. The nights will start to draw out from now for six months as the weather gets warmer and summer approaches.

Best Wishes to anyone and everyone who reads these ramblings.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Being Home - our home

Home. I arrived last evening after a drive from Cornwall. I stopped for an hour and a bit to see a friend of many, many years standing and she looked wonderful. As I expected, I drove straight past her house, and had to turn round and come back to it, but it was wonderful to catch up after not seeing her and her family for 10 years plus.

My family seemed genuinely pleased to see me when I got home, and boy it is good to sleep in your own bed. There were loads of Christmas cards to read and a letter from the Bank holding our mortgage with a redemption figure. So today's headline is that we have paid off what remains of our mortgage. Our home is now really ours. It is a slightly funny feeling after all these years...

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

I can't wait

Boy, am I looking forward to going home tomorrow. I feel as though I've been away from home forever. I know the house will feel crowded with the students and some of their stuff back in the house, but I'm longing to see them all.

In other news, I've decided that I really am very grumpy. There isn't much in the world that I really like at present. It is to be hoped that getting home will bring about a change in this attitude. Otherwise, I suspect I will be sent to spend Christmas in the garden shed.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Time passing

Another week has gone by. I've spent longer than I'd have liked in hospitals this week, and I'm really looking forward to going home. I have actually managed to purchase some presents, so my family (who let's be honest, are the main readers of this) will have something to be pleased or cross about on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007


For those of you who have not heard of Connect2, I'm pleased to say that it is the project that has won the Big Lottery Fund People’s £50 Million Lottery Giveaway. It is a project consisting of 79 separate projects and you can see more details here. I looked it up on the web before the voting had closed and watched the celebrity endorsement by Lorraine Kelly. It just seemed such a sensible thing to do - increase the ability of people to walk or cycle. Some of the examples quoted were just mind examples of wanting to put right mind numbingly dumb decisions taken in the past, bridges that just stopped in mid air, a path between two towns which has no centre section ("Well, we did our bit", you can just hear them saying...) and the like. The good news is that Local Authorities will match the £50 million, so a total of £100 million is available.

In the voting, this project (one of 4) secured 42% of all the votes cast, which reinforces my belief that the British public know a good idea when they see it. Well Done Sustrans and well done British Public.

Let there be light......

...and there was the hall that is. For two weeks, I've been gently chiding the local electrician to give me an estimate for putting an additional 2 ceiling lights in Mum's hall. While I was away in London, he came and put them in. The result is wonderful, we can see where we are going and anything that might be in the way. I've no idea what the bill will be, but it will be worth it.

My trip to London went well with only one hiccup. The Northern Line of London Underground was completely chaotic yesterday morning, so every other line was packed as people found alternative routes to work. Quite how our major city's most used piece of transport infrastructure can be so delicate is beyond me. Sorry, Londoners, but I think you are going to have to cough up some more money to make the whole system a bit more robust.

Friday, 7 December 2007

I'm back!

To borrow a word from my son James, YAY! Our internet service has been restored.

Last Saturday (1st December) the pole supporting a load of telephone cables here in Gerrans had a direct hit by a bolt of lightning. There were several other strikes in the area surrounding the two villages too. Result.. we had no electricity for most of Saturday and the poor old engineers were out replacing transformers and switchgear up the poles for most of Saturday night and Sunday.

The pole that took the direct hit is in the grounds of the telephone exchange. It is less that four feet from the exchange itself. As a result, most of the village has been without telephones for a few days. My BTHomeHub was fried, along with all of the ADSL filters. I'm pleased to report that BT have been very prompt in replacing all of these items. Our phone was fixed on Wednesday afternoon, but somehow, while replacing all the broadband equipment in the exchange, our line was missed and it was not until this afternoon that it was finally fixed. A big thank you to those at BT who have worked so hard this week.

Apparently some dozen or so people have had the TVs expire as a result of the weather, so in a good example of community, one kind soul loaded them all into his car and has taken them of to be repaired.

Mum had her eye operation on Wednesday, and is feeling no ill effects. I must go for a walk tomorrow.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

A good new game.

One of the pieces of advice from Mum's physio was "Stride Out, take bigger steps". In an effort to provide some walking practice, I took mum to Sainsbury's in Truro. The floor is smooth, and flat, and there is a trolley to hold on to. Mum was doing OK but was using very small steps. She then complained that the trolley was getting heavy, and would I please pull. What a good new game.... towing Granny round Sainsbury's. I made the pace just fast enough to make sure she had to take reasonably big paces to keep up and just slow enough to avoid a complaint. All we need now is sole use of the place for a couple of hours... I suspect that in the run up to Christmas, that is one favour that the Sainsbury management will not grant us.. Shame.

Watching a professional

It is one of life's great pleasures to watch a really expert professional do whatever it is they do. Whether it is sport, music, medicine or whatever... I had such a pleasure yesterday having been present during an assessment of my mother by a senior physiotherapist. Slowly and gently without raising her voice, she coaxed all the answers she need from mum. (It has to be said here that most of us have raised our voices after the first question).

Having got all the answers she needed, she then proceeded to identify the major issues with mum's mobility and recognised that it was all a matter of confidence. Within minutes, she had mum striding up and down the physiotherapy room using big strides and with her head held high. What a change from the slow, small shuffling steps we are all used to seeing.

After a good talking to, Mum had grasped the basics, and had been given some exercise sheets. There is enough nagging material here to keep me going for months. I've turned in into small posters which have appeared on all the walls of the bungalow, so my poor mother has no escape. However, if she is ever to get anything like mobile again, it is what she needs. Can't wait until we go back for the next session.

Monday, 26 November 2007


Usually, I am not a big fan of Mondays, but this one is different. I've had an opportunity to genuinely help someone with an aspect of her job and it was satisfying to do so.

The weekend passed in a lot of travelling and a visit to the theatre in Guildford. The piece we went to see was a monologue by an Irish actor. It is the story of a theatre critic's interaction with vampires. It is certainly a memorable piece of writing and the story will stay with me. When I see and hear such a piece of work, I realise that my creative powers are minuscule in comparison with the intellect that thought this up. Entitled St. Nicholas by Conor McPherson, may I recommend it, provided you do not want easy-going entertainment....

Friday, 23 November 2007

Birthday Walk

Today is my Birthday, and so far it has been fine.

I had to be in the chiropractors at 8:45. I have been letting John twist me, push me and jump on me for years and I always feel better after his ministrations. Today, I explained he had to be nice to me as it was my Birthday, and he gave me the consultation as my present.

My lady suggested we go for a short walk this morning, so we went to the Burton Dassett Hills Country Park near Gaydon. The sun shone and the wind blew and it was COLD! We had a good look in the church there which was very beautiful, but Jeez it was cold.....

I've had sketch pads and a special pencil that I wanted for my presents, and I think Robin may have something when we see her tomorrow. And I've got fillet steak for dinner tonight. A glass of red wine will help it go down.

I really am very lucky.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

It's only a game.....

Following the almost inevitable failure of the England football team to qualify for Euro 2008, the media output has been illuminating. There has been an analysis of the FA, McLaren (always the wrong man for the job), the players, the effect on the economy, the effect on the population at large (apparently the leisure industry might be one of the few to benefit as we all look for something to fill the time when we would otherwise have been watching football), and just about every other aspect. No-one has conducted a study to confirm the effect on my beloved wife who can't stop grinning and giggling - she thinks it is wonderful and is as happy as Larry.

Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a GAME. We lost. We deserved to. Let's get over it and start worrying about more important things.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

My walking mate

My Walking mate and I went for a walk today before the rain started hissing down. Her name is Holly and she stood still just long enough for me to take the picture. She gave every impression of enjoying herself and she was hugely pleased to see me, so I hope I'll be allowed to take her again.

New versus Old

Flipping through the TV channels last night, I came across an edition of Fifth Gear which really got me thinking. One of the items was a staged crash, virtually head-on, between a J reg Volvo 940 Estate weighing one and a half tons and a two year old Renault Modus. The Volvo was known as a safe car when it was on sale, and the Modus is the first small car to score 5 in the NCAP safety programme. The cars were crashed together at a speed of 80 mph. We viewers were asked to choose which car we would want to be in, together with a loved one, at the time of the crash. The presenter explained that the experts on the site were not at all sure of the outcome. Being a big believer in technology, I plumped for the Renault, but this was a decision I took with my head. My emotions told me that the much bigger and heavier Volvo was the place to be. The tension was rising (not helped by the obligatory commercial break) and then the crash was shown. The story is here.

I for one was amazed at the outcome. The Modus's structure dissipated all the energy and the cabin remain more or less intact. The door still opened. The crash was staged so that the drivers were facing each other at the time of the impact. The right hand front of the Volvo was completely stoved in, and the right front wheel was in the drivers footwell. The Vovlo's dashboard had deformed badly and the dummy's legs were trapped and crushed. It was pointed out that with no air bags, the drivers head had probably hit the middle of the steering wheel, causing head injuries.

The little Modus had fared much better. The airbags had all gone off, the dash was still intact and, more or less, in place, and the drivers footwell was barely damaged. The airbags had prevented the driver's and passenger's head hitting anything, and they could both, probably have walked away from the crash.

A big lesson is that a newer car with a high score in the NCAP tests is going to protect you a lot more than a big old one.

Monday, 19 November 2007


I don't like Mondays much. Today has not been too bad for a Monday. Sainsbury's was empty, the traffic was slight and Homebase had what I went there for.

No photos today. I have confirmed that Holly can be borrowed tomorrow for a repeat of yesterday's walk. Let's hope the weather is better than it was this morning.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Lazy Sunday

Sundays can be lazy days here. My aunt invites us to Sunday lunch which means that catering duties are suspended for a day. I get up late, take mum to church and then have two hours to read the paper.

Today an ample lunch was followed by a walk. I have noticed a footpath in the village and never walked down it, so I rectified that omission. Being completely ignorant of the exact nature of the path I found myself going down a very sleep and very wet path. It then leveled out a bit and I saw a sign for Percuil which is a hamlet I know as a sailing centre with a boat yard.

The distance quoted at this point was 2 miles which surprised me a bit. Normally I drive there and it doesn't seem that far. I forgot, of course that the path follows the edge of the creek which winds and twists around.

In thinking about the distance, it occurred to me that Cornish miles might not be quite the same as a standard mile.... then, as I was clambering over stiles and through several gates, I was struck by the variety of these barriers. Perhaps we shall see the imposition of a European Standard Stile?

As the light was fading slowly I decided to test the camera in the new mobile and the results are on the left here.

En route I met various forms of wildlife and some cattle who seemed mildly surprised that anyone should enter their field, but not a single person. The only real sound was that of birdsong and jolly pleasant it was. I wish I could name the varieties of birds doing the singing, but I can't. Another gap in my education.

In all the walk that I though might be thirty minutes lasted seventy five, and I enjoyed every one of them. The cup of tea at the end was most welcome.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

New look

My regular readers (are there any?) will notice a new look to the blog. I'm afraid I was just getting bored with the old template and so chose a new one.

Like my son-in-law, I too have a new mobile phone with a camera in it. So, I thought "Anything he can do, so can I". Hence two pictures taken with my new phone are below.

Paul's photos which can be seen here are probably more artistic since Paul was faffing about with the "effects" on his new device, but mine show the Cornish coast off Falmouth in the sunshine this morning. It was pretty cold and windy standing outside to take them, but I'm reasonably pleased. (By the way, it is only fair to point out that the "Anything he can do, so can I" aspiration above is definitely not true. Paul understands these devices in a way that I never shall. He even hosts his own cat's blog...... How sad is that?).

Our outing this morning was to find somewhere Mum could walk, and despite the wind we managed to find a lake with ducks and swans on it. Mum managed quite a decent walk and the ducks were in feisty mood as quite a lot of the male ducks were scrapping with their neighbours. One small child watching suggested they were dancing, and his mum didn't hgave the heart to enlighten him. I wonder what misleading information we gave our children when they were toddlers?

Thursday, 15 November 2007


I'm now back to the Cornwall "To Do" list and one of the things we have had to do is post birthday cards. No1 and No 2 sons are twins and today is their 20th Birthday. The time has whizzed by. Every time I see a mum pushing a pair of twins in a buggy, my mind goes back 18 or 19 years to the little lads who occupied our every waking hour (and quite a few of our sleeping ones too).

Having twins is a gift not given to many. It is also one of the biggest developmental experiences one can have. We have a fund of stories of the exploits of our twins, and I don't suppose they were particularly evil or mischievous. Simply, two will get up to things that one won't. They egg each other on and where a single child will get bored, twins will keep going to amuse each other. A twin has a ready made, ever-present friend, collaborator and audience.

From a parent's viewpoint, there is much more than twice the fun and pleasure. Simply watching them interact with each other is a great pastime. One learns to live with the outcomes quickly, it is simply too much effort to try and control everything they do when they're little.

The photo shows No. 1, No 3 and No 2 sons from left to right respectively. To look at them you would not think Nos 1 and 2 are brothers, let alone twins. It certainly fooled their school in the first few weeks.

This is a reasonably recent photo at the start of a 60 mile cycle ride they did one day simply as part of an exercise to prove me wrong. I'm pleased to report that at the end of this particular day, they had the grace to admit that I had shown wisdom in dissuading them from tackling a 60 mile ride on two consecutive days with a nights camp between. Another victory for old age and experience!

As they come to the end of their teens, we are immensely proud of them and what they have achieved, and have no doubt they will go on to great things. I just wish they'd ring home now and again.

Have a great day chaps.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Being Home

Life at the moment is alternating between two To Do lists - one for Cornwall, one for at home. Most of the things on the "At home" one have been ticked off and it is back to Cornwall tomorrow.

On Saturday for the first time in ages, I washed a car. I made an awful job of it, so Prestige Valeting of Acocks Green have nothing to worry about. Saturday was also for taking lanterns to Leamington, for some show or other that No. 1 son is involved with.

The weekend was enhanced by the arrival of Firstborn and her spouse on Saturday afternoon. We went for a cold and windy walk yesterday, followed by an interesting show at the Midlands Art Centre last evening entitled Futurology Live. Highly amusing and great fun. If Johnny Facade is in your area, do go and see him. Details of the show are here.

Today was a lie-in followed by cooked breakfast and then a trip to Compton Verney. This is a gallery we've been meaning to visit for a while. Details of the place are here and it is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Coming Home

Gosh it is nice to come home. The technology works well, and I can talk to, and even see my family every day for no real cost, but nothing beats seeing them in the flesh. Both my beloved wife and no. 3 son have been unwell with the flu. The look on their faces when I meet them again makes the travel worthwhile. They are both very understanding about my absence, but it is clear they miss me. I realise just how much I miss them too.

No. 3 son is off to Dublin on Friday for 10 days, and he is really excited about it. Provided I remember to get him some Euros tomorrow, he will have a wonderful time.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I spent a good proportion of yesterday at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske, Truro. This hospital trust was recently adjudged to be the worst in the country. Well, I'm no health care expert but three things struck me.
  • The Good. The people I met were wonderful. They did everything they possibly could to help, including bending some rules.
  • The Bad. Since this hospital cares for many disabled old people, you would think they would have a large stock of wheelchairs. They don't. Together with at least four other people I met, I spent the best part of an hour trying to track down a wheelchair. The system there is that they use a supermarket trolley system and you put a pound coin in a slot to release a wheelchair, and get your pound back when you return it. Please, Royal Cornwall Hospital get some more.
  • The Ugly. There were hospital workmen all over the place. Judging by the water sucking vacuum cleaners and very large fans they were cleaning up after a flood. One lift did not work, and the next one along was struggling to cope with the volume of traffic. People muttered and mumbled, but their good nature remained.
For the life of me, I just can't think of any reason why the Bad and the Ugly situations described above were allowed to continue. I bet any manager from Tesco's would have had both sorted out in double quick time.

Monday, 5 November 2007

A day of visitors

Some days mum and I get no visitors and then we have a day like today when we get loads.

The first was Julie, the lovely lady who cleans for mum. She regaled us with tales of getting ready for her move and the actual move. It sounds like it was something of a nightmare, in the middle of which someone stole her garden equipment. Then came two foals that were not expected. Julie now seems to be in that stage where she is in a new house with lots of boxes of stuff for which homes have to be found.

Next to appear was Peter the gardener. He has given one of the Leylandi a good trim and it looks much neater.

Joan and her dog Holly came to tea at the same time as Colin the Social Services handiman came to fit the key safe and shower seat. The kettle was working overtime making fresh tea and the biscuit tin took a bit of a hit, but the shower seats works well, and Holly enjoyed the biscuits. Christine, our wonderful next door neighbour appeared, and over a cuppa, the world was put to rights, village gossip swapped and plans for future activities finalised.

At the end of all this mum has to drink a pint of water in which some chemical which shows up on a scan is dissolved, and I have to cook supper (Cauliflower cheese tonight)

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Too tired

I'm just too knackered to think up something sensible today.

Saturday, 3 November 2007


Cornwall is lovely. My mum lives in the Roseland peninsula which is a most picturesque part of the world. The people are friendly - they say "Good Morning" and "Good Afternoon", whereas in Solihull people just walk past one - and the weather is very mild. However there are some aspects that make me think I could never live here. In no particular order they are:
  1. Everyone stays in after dark. No-one goes out, the roads and streets are just about deserted.
  2. There are almost no take-aways of any sort. The nearest Fish and Chip shop is in St Mawes which is some 8 miles away and the nearest Chinese restaurant is 12 miles distant. I have not found a curry house yet. Contract this with Brum where there are take away food establishments everywhere.
  3. One has to drive to get anywhere.
  4. More or less no nightlife, so young people get awfully bored.
  5. The local shops have a huge range of stock, but no choice for any one product. e.g. the village shop stocks a wide range of food, toiletries, stationery, papers, hardware, booze,soft drinks, dairy products, etc. etc., but if you want shaving gel, it has got to be Gillette. The shops are open all hours, and do everything they can to help there customers, so it is not really a complaint.
  6. There are no coffee shops.
Having written and reviewed that list, I can see that I'm being very picky, and if I was forced to live here, most people would say I was very lucky.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Not what I expected (twice) and just what I expected.....

My mum is not very well. She is now old and lots of bits of her seem to be wearing out at the same time. Yesterday morning, I was in a bit of a state about what I was going to do to ensure that she continues to be safe and well, and that if assistance was needed it would be provided in a timely fashion. Her neighbours, friends and my uncle are brilliant, but I thought that something a bit more structured was needed. Last week I had made a phone call to Social Services and yesterday morning a young (well, he looked young to me) man turned up and did a very thorough assessment of mum's needs. He discussed his findings with Mum and me, and explained that in his opinion the best thing would be to arrange for a carer to call for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening to check that she is OK, can get dressed (or undressed and ready for bed), and has taken her pills. He also thought that he could provide a handle to help her get out of bed safely and a device to help with the putting on of socks. He left us at about 1:30. At 4:00 he phoned to say that he had sorted the visits and they would start on Saturday and he would be round today to deliver and fit the equipment. He was as good as his word. He arrived when he said he would, fitted the bed handle and left the sock device after showing Mum how it worked.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, a big hand please for Mr Chris Gibson of Social Services in Truro, who is an absolute hero. Thanks Chris, you handsomely exceeded my expectations.

Another organisation which really impressed me today is the Just Perfection hairdressing salon where Mum and her friend get their hair done. Rather than wait, I booked a haircut - "I can just squeeze you in" said Sarah the owner - and off we went to arrive for 2 p.m. We could hear gales of laughter and noisy chatter emanating from the premises before we got the car door open. Mum was treated like Royalty, while I was treated as any man would be in such an establishment - as something of a necessary evil. I got a good haircut and a nice cup of tea. In a discussion over my hairstyle, I was advised that if it was any shorter it would be "Choppy", but as I didn't really understand that term (and still don't, if I'm honest), I went for it anyway. I'm pleased with the haircut and the treatment I got was a joy. Thanks to Sarah and her colleagues.

The one thing I did expect was a piece of really prattish driving by an old boy in a Saab estate, who looked very much as though he was sitting on where his brain lives. He couldn't have made life more difficult if he had tried (perhaps he did, but I doubt it). I really wanted to get out and bludgeon the pillock to death with a wheel brace, but I'd left it at home. Lucky man.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Walking Sticks

On Thursday while Number 3 son was taking his driving test, I took a bunch of ex British Gas Managers to make walking sticks. It was an event run by the parks service of Warwickshire County Council. A park ranger provides the sticks, the tools, the expertise and the deer antlers which make the handles. The session lasts two and a half hours and the group seemed to enjoy it and be pleased with the sticks they made. I forgot to make explicit the fact the the session took place out-of-doors and there were a couple who looked distinctly aghast when they found out. Fortunately, enough coats could be found and coffee provided, so the cold was kept at bay. The walking stick I made is shown in the photo on the right. It just needs to be varnished and it will be finished.

We then decamped for another splendid lunch at the Wolferstan Arms at Shuttington which raised everyone's spirits.

Having reversed into the house on Thursday, Number 3 son gets the car on to the drive and then stops (some 40 feet from the house) for fear of hitting something. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Dogs and kites

I like flying kites and spent an hour and a half doing just that this afternoon. The kite I chose was a small Revolution 4 line kite which is very, very maneuverable.

I quite like dogs too, I just don’t want one of my own at the moment. However a kite is a jolly good way to wind up someone else’s dog. While I was flying, two dogs appeared and chased the kite all over the place, barking furiously. By making the kite touch down now and then, I was able to keep them interested for around fifteen minutes, after which they were knackered and cross. Stupid animals. Their owners were not best pleased, but hey, that is their problem..

Friday, 26 October 2007

What is it that comes after Pride...?

Oh yes, I remember. A Fall. Having passed his driving test, number three son reverses into one of the columns holding up the front of the house, and breaks the rear bumper. He is horrified at the total cost of repairing the damage, and is profuse with his apologies. He clearly feels rotten about his misjudgement. It looks like another (slightly expensive) lesson in his driving learning, which really starts now. Negotiations will be conducted to agree what his contribution towards the restoration of a pristine little car will be.

Having done a rather similar thing just after I passed my test (way back in 1966) I have some sympathy, but not much.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Swap one worry for another

Much to my relief, number 3 son passed his driving test today. He was desperate to drive himself to places, and I was fed up with practising with him. We (he and I) are both relieved.

He has now taken the small car to hockey training and there will be no peace until he gets home, safe and sound.

Monday, 22 October 2007

I knew it would be like this.

Our children are wonderful and a source of great joy and pride. They lead busy, social and (more or less) independent lives. With two at university, one married, and one still at home but with a hectic social life, I am now trying to organise a family phone conference. It is like trying to herd cats.

To find a day and time that is convenient for everyone is proving difficult. One of two things happen. Two of the four offspring instantly respond that the proposed time/date is inconvenient (and to be fair suggest alternatives) and two (Thomas!) don't respond at all.

I was obviously too nice to them when they were little, and I'm afraid it is too late to remedy that now.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

People on holiday.

After publishing my post yesterday, I went for a walk. Portscatho is full of visitors and most of them seemed to be walking yesterday afternoon too. My walk was not a walking boots job of 3 or 4 miles. It was at most a mile and a half to explore a previously unexplored footpath. I was struck by the indecision displayed by my fellow walkers - people got to stiles or gates and then dithered for several minutes. "Shall we go on, or shall we go back?" was a question I heard probably five times from different groups. These people were all adults, and they obviously had no plan before they set out. I certainly would not want to take a serious walk with any of them.

Fifteen minutes into the Rugby World Cup Final (Hard Luck England!) I went for another short walk to post some letters. There were no cars and no people about. I guess the viewing figures for the match were mind boggling.

This afternoon, a visit to the village struck me for another reason; the number of people in the art galleries. There are three in the village and they were all full. I trust Chris who drew the sketch of me (see below) sold a few pieces.

Strange to say that with all these visitors in Cornwall, Network Rail have decided to cut the county off. The main line from Plymouth to Penzance is closed all week for engineering work, so all train services have been replaced by buses. I shall see the effect of this for myself on Wednesday when I go home.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

What have I been doing....?

A week has gone by since my last post, and I don't seem to have done anything. Last weekend and the beginning of this week was spent in the passenger seat of the car while Chris practised. He is quite a good little driver, so I do hope he passes on Thursday. On Wednesday the car was serviced, passed its MOT test and was cleaned too. I also managed to fill it with petrol, so it is now all ready for the big day.

Thursday was the trip to Cornwall by train, which really went quite smoothly. My uncle, in common with most of my older relatives, obviously believes that "Road Closed" signs don't apply to him, as he waited on the wrong (i.e. closed) side of St Austell railway station. Luckily, I thought this might happen, and so went and looked for him. That meant I did not have to take a taxi.

Cornwall is lovely, the sun is shining and as it is half term, the village is full of visitors. Long may the weather remain as good as it is now.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

A day doing nothing

Today looks like one in which I shall do very little. I got up reasonably early (for a Saturday) and pedalled off to have my flu jab. That done I bought a paper, came home and read it. Beloved daughter rang, and all the phones have disappeared into Chris's room, so it took a while to have a proper conversation with her.

Then I went back to sleep. I think I shall wash the cars in a little while. The football and the rugby will probably claim my attention later. All in all, another hard day.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Smugness is a mown lawn

Why do I always feel so smug when I've managed to cut the grass. I put it off for days... and when I get round to it, it takes about 50 minutes and looks much better for being cut.

I e-mailed the twins today asking for a response asap, it will be interesting to see how long it takes to get a reply from both of them.

How others see one..

On Tuesdays I go to a sketching group. It is not really a class, but the facilitator is a professional artist who hands out hints and tips to those who are brave enough to show him their sketches. Last Tuesday it was my turn to sit in the "Hot Seat" and act as model. As usual, our facilitator did his sketch and gave it to me. It is shown on the right here.

It reminds me of how much more I have to learn.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Other Peoples' dogs

Today I borrowed someone else's dog for a walk. One of life's pleasures is a walk with a dog, and walking someone else's dog seems to be a win-win all round. The owner is happy ("That's one walk I don't have to do"), the dog is happy ("Any walk is good, who cares who the human is??"), and I'm happy. Holly who I borrowed today is a bit of a "Bitza" dog, in that her heritage is distinctly mixed, but she is very good company. Since I am quite a bit more energetic than her lady owner (who is of more mature years than me) the walk was longer and more activec than Holly was used to. There was even some stick throwing which seemed to please her no end. Thus she ended up somewhat puffed and gave every impression of enjoying the whole experience.

The same is true of Ebony, the other dog I "borrow" who is much fitter and more energetic, I just hope she doesn't find out and get jealous.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

An Indian Summer

An Indian summer is what we're having here in Cornwall.
The weather for the past week has been unbroken sunshine and warm temperatures. People have been swimming in the sea. I hasten to add that I have NOT been among them. The photo left shows a view of Pendower beach that I visited on Friday. It was perfect. Almost all of the holidaymakershave now gone home, so the beaches are more or less deserted.

I have now found a dog I can borrow for walks, so I'll have a little bit of company on some days

I even took a picture of myself (see below)

I really only took this picture to prove that the sun was shining at the time. A pretty poor excuse, I know.

The pace of life here is soporific. I seem to spend a lot of time sleeping. However tomorrow is Monday and I have quite a long list of things to do.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Bloody Horse

I've decided I don't like Julie's horse. I was OK till it started to trot. Now I'm not. My jarred back is killing me. I've booked an appointment with the chiropractor to get straightened out, but in the meantime I'm suffering. I don't do suffering in silence. Pity my poor family.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Horses and trains

On Wednesday I rode a horse for the first time in my life. We were doing fine until we tried a trot. Somehow the horse seemed to be going up as I was coming down and my back gave me a huge warning twinge. Back to walking! That said the horse was very forgiving and I didn't feel too bad afterwards.

Thursday and today have been long train journeys. I quite like trains, I just don't like the people who travel on them. No one seems to take their own litter away, and everyone ignores the signs requesting the non use of mobile phones. Still, I played the Grumpy Old Man role to get people to tidy up and stop shouting down their bloody mobiles.

It is nice to get home - I'm just cream crackered - can't stop yawning.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Busy Day

Today is going to be a tad frantic.
I've printed off the accounts, found the cheque books and paying in book and included a letter to the auditor, put the whole lot in a box and it is ready to go.
When I've drunk my current cup of tea, it is off to collect our new car.
On our return it is take apart a PC and put it and a whole lot of other stuff in a car and drive to Cornwall.
Once there, a bed needs to be assembled and made, before I can sleep on it, and I probably have to cook supper for my mum once I get there. It might be a trip to the fish and chip shop.

I hope to get the internet working in Mum's house this weekend, so I'll be able to post and e-mail. When these facilities are not available, somehow, life is not complete.

Further to the sailing saga above, here is a photo of three of us in the cockpit of (what I regard as) Brian's yacht. Once again Talking Ballast is at the helm, but he doesn't seem to be working very hard while Brian and I concentrate on trying not to look too worried in front of the camera.

I'm ashamed to say that it was me who tucked the Red Ensign into the stern rail, 'cos it kept hitting me in the face.

My memory says it was warmer than we look too.

Ah, well, that's enough fun, time to go and get doing.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Two days sailing

After two days sailing, I currently cannot find my "land legs". Also after being blasted by the sun (most extraordinary), and the wind (to be expected) I am very sleepy. I am also distinctly red in the face. I spent two days in the company of three other Old Boys from British Gas on a boat one of the co-owns. - Many thanks for taking us Brian. They were great company and the sailing was enjoyable without being too strenuous. Brian kindly let me do a bit of boat handling and I managed to get it out of the berth and up to the fuel pontoon without hitting anything. Most of my previous sailing experience came back and I thoroughly enjoyed it

We had two Bob's on board, so one was renamed Jonesy for the trip. Here he is in all his glory steering the boat in the sunshine this morning. I think this photo was insisted upon because we were concerned that no-one would believe we had any sunshine. Bob J had me spending a while on Tuesday taking a picture of him with the camera in my phone and then sending it as an attachment to his children. His kids must be nearly as unlucky as mine.

Brian (The skipper for our trip) bought himself a new toy - a hand held GPS - with a chart of the whole of Northern Europe.

Below is a photo of Brian and Bob O poring over it to see if it would tell them where we were at the time. I'm relieved to say that it did, and having got a bit of a look at it later, it looked a most impressive device. Brian regaled us with a very frightening story about being lost in the fog and not knowing whether he was inside or outside Cherbourg harbour. He tells us he may cross the channel at the end of the week, and is sure that his new toy will enable him to avoid a repeat. While we were admiring this new GPS, Brian expressed the view that GPS was about as much as an advance as the chronometer and the sextant in their time. I am convinced that this is correct and with the prices coming down as they are, and as a percentage of the cost of the boat and all its other costs, the thought of putting to sea these days without a GPS seems the height of irresponsibility.

We managed to drink a bit and eat a bit, and even sleep a bit. The sleeping came as a slight surprise as Bob Jones and I have been known to snore, slightly. B.J. brought with him what he claimed was a miracle cure in the shape of a spray called Snoreeze. According to Bob O who was always going to be the main sufferer if it didn't does. He reported that neither snored once. I must now get some for home use!

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Disappearing offspring

Our sons are starting to disappear. One has gone back to Warwick (well Leamington Spa to be precise). He has moved into his student house and is starting all his activities for year 2. Some of it might even be academic work, but most seems connected with bridge playing and music making. His twin brother is off to somewhere for the weekend - he seems remarkably vague about where he is going, but it seems to be on the Hertfordshire/Essex border. He'll go back to Durham in a fortnight.

No. 3 son has gone back to school. He is now in Year 13 (what I'd call the Upper Sixth) and is, for this year at least, king of the hill. He needs to do some work too, and will, all too soon, be grappling with the UCAS application service.

Peace of sorts will descend. Being quite a noisy person myself, I shall miss the general hubbub of having them at home. Ah well, it is a chance to make the most of the peace and quiet. Now, where did I put that book?

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Bank Holidays

The last few days have passed in a spectacular blaze of non-activity. Reading, watching TV and sleeping. About the only useful thing I've done is help to harvest the plums from the tree this morning.

I suspect that when I come to having to do something really useful, getting started is going to be very difficult..... It is just as a Bank Holiday ought to be.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Visitors and the pleasures they bring

Our guests have gone home, Thomas has returned, and for 3 or 4 weeks we shall be back to 5 in number. Thus the housekeeping will be under strain, the electricity meter will be at full bore, and the car will never have any petrol in it. Ah, the joys of the students being at home.

We took our guests to Garden Organic and to the museums of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. They were particularly astonished by the Jewellery Quarter Museum which was sold to Birmingham City Council in 1981 and looks exactly as it did in 1935 or so. They also managed to purchase the items they were looking for.

It is most satisfying to take people to places that enlighten and delight them, whether it be to look and learn, or to make purchases that mean so much.

As they had to be at Heathrow at 7:30, they rose at a ridiculous hour (and us with them), so I'm pretty sure we are in for an early night tonight.

Friday, 10 August 2007

The Great Shirt Round Up

This warm weather is great, we had another cook-out (as our transatlantic cousins would call it) this evening, and most enjoyable it was. The vegetables came from the garden, so they tasted of something, and the meat came from the butchers in Knowle, so was traceable. All-in-all, Yummy.

Today was the first day of the Great Shirt Round Up and Cull. I have more shirts than I like to admit to. I haven't actually counted them, but there are lots. (they probably number into three figures) Since I no longer work, my need for "work" shirts has diminished greatly. Many unused "work" shirts have been congregating in my wardrobe and today they got sorted. They were duly folded up and placed in the great shirt container under the bed. In so doing I unearthed some old friends and even some unworn new shirts that would suit my new relaxed lifestyle. So, I got some out (8 out v 13 in). A small amount of space has been made in the wardrobe, and some horrid old shirts have been culled. Quite satisfying really. Probably another session or two is required to get the entire collection sorted, but if I do that I'll have no unknown pleasures, or horrors, lurking under the bed. So I think I'll hold off for a while.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007


At long last we seem to be having Summer. The sun has shone and the weather has been warm. All I've been able to do is sleep. I think my body must be wearing out, because for the last few days, all I've wanted to do is lie down, and when I do, I drop off.

I feel rather like our new PM, Gordon Brown, looked on the television last evening. Apparently he came back from his holiday in Dorset to lead the efforts to sort out the foot-and-mouth outbreak. All I can say is that he should go back to his family in Dorset and relax. You have ministers for that sort of thing, Gordon, and Hilary Benn appears to be one of the better ones. Let them deal with it, you look as though you need the rest.

Similarly, Ron Dennis, head of the McLaren F1 team looks pretty shattered. I applaud his ideals and values, but I'm sure they are making his life running that team more difficult. I see he is off to Barbados or somewhere nice for his hols, so in the meantime the team can sort out their differences. I find it hard to believe that Alonso thought he would get preferential treatment, but it seems he is finding out the hard way.

With the start of the football league season on Saturday, I hope we can look forward to some really hot weather, and my wife's annual hope that several players expire due to heat exhaustion.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Week off

I spent last weekend with my elderly mother and I'm having a week away from London.
A back injury, sustained on Monday, has laid me low this week, but the silver lining was the gorgeous lady chiropractor who gave me the once over on Tuesday morning. She jumped on me to free my back, with more enthusiasm (and therefore force) than I thought was strictly necessary, but the treatment handed out seems to have done the trick. I'll remember what she told me for a long time, and I'll even do the exercises she recommended.

At long last the sun shone and we were able to have a bar-b-que yesterday. It felt like summer. We just need a lot more of it.

Having almost lost the hearing in one ear, I was sent for an MRI scan by the ear, nose and throat clinic at Solihull Hospital. I have to say that to get the letter saying that everything was normal was a big relief. Apparently to have lost the hearing in one ear is unusual, and they like to check that it is not a sign of something more serious. I guess everyone does it, but I imagined the worse until the letter turned up.

We're off to see the Proms on Sunday which will be most enjoyable.

Thursday, 26 July 2007


I can help but empathise with the camel who has got the hump - see here for the story. His keeper thinks he is depressed because of the rain, and the symptom is that his front hump has gone floppy. If I can work out how to make my front hump floppy, I shall join him.

I'm also pleased to read that the Havant killing machine is not suffering in the rain.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Today the sun is shining. Ebony's foot is better, so we shall go for a walk in the sunshine.

The train journey yesterday was only possible after a landslip which was blocking the line between Leamington Spa and Banbury had been cleared. Seeing that and watching the television pictures of the efforts in Gloucester to keep the water out of that power station, it strikes me that an awful lot of people have worked very, very hard to stop the quality of life being eroded. From one humble citizen, Thanks to you all.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Let's have some sun

The dismal wet weather is driving me nuts. I want some sun, and I want it now. I want to sit on the patio with a beer and cook on the bar-b-que.

Rant Over

Friday, 20 July 2007

Water, Water, Water

All it has done today is rain, and I mean Rain, with a capital R.

Our friends across the road were having a big lunch party for some 60 people, so it is all their fault!

Thursday, 19 July 2007

No News is No News

No news - that's what I've had from home. Which almost certainly means nothing has happened. As my sons grow older, they seem less communicative - I know less about their daily activities.
In my rather autocratic way, I left a list of things that I wanted done, and I'm guessing that none of them have been.

Oh well, guys, stand by for a tongue lashing tomorrow.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Here we go again....

Sunday. A good day to take Chris for his first practice drive in our old Peugeot. First we had to find the L plates. He did OK. We drove up and down a little road on a trading estate which had a roundabout at each end. Then we drove round some adjoining roads with roundabouts and a little more trafic. Then I made him drive home. He seems to have the hang of the basics, but his hands appear stuck to the steering wheel. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to do it again tomorrow.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

On Queuing

We Brits are renowned queuers. Yesterday I had two experiences of queues. The first was in the bank to pay in a cheque. When I arrived, there were three tills open each serving a customer, and three of us in the queue. The time taken to serve each person was simply ages. This leads me to think either the staff in the Clapham Branch of the bank are incompetent, or the customers have incredibly complicated financial arrangements, or the two parties have great difficulty communicating. I've used this bank several times, and the staff seem to have no difficulty understanding me, or processing my transactions, so I conclude that people in Clapham have complicated finances. Why this should be, I cannot imagine. Any ideas why people need to spend so long at the bank would be most welcome.

My second experience was in the Clapham main Post Office. Here the queue moved forward regularly and no-one complained when a severely disabled man who fell before he could join the back of the queue was helped to the front and served immediately. It all happened without a murmur. Made one proud to be British, as did the story here about a group who restores a man's car while he was in hospital. Interesting to note that this was the most read story, which shows that people do like good news.

Monday, 9 July 2007


I don't like Mondays, but today is one and I'm feeling smug. I've fixed the three things in the garden that the head gardener wanted fixed, I've mown the lawn and I've reconciled the Friends of the Music accounts. It is now time for lunch. If the rest of the week is this good, I'll have a great week.

Thursday, 5 July 2007


Once again, I'm in Clapham. On Tuesday evening, Clapham, along with a small surrounding area was hit by a severe hailstorm. There were pictures on the news of streets white with hail. A longer lasting effect of this freakish occurrence is that all the flowers in pots, hanging baskets and window boxes have been smashed to pieces.All the blooms that were here last week have been replaced by stalks, and not all of those are intact. All the hard work and love that went into making the displays has been wiped out in a few minutes.

It just makes my spirits sink.....

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Birthday season

The beginning of July is birthday season in our house. Jini's birthday was yesterday, and Chris's is today. Both seemed pleased with the presents they've received, which is a relief for the donors. The Andrew Marr book "A History of Modern Britain" will provide many hours reading for us. I'm just hoping that I can borrow it at some point.

Chris is looking forward to the start of driving lessons on Thursday evening. All too soon, I shall find myself dragooned into sitting with him while he practices what he has been taught. The only thing to look forward to is that it will be another person who can drive us around.

Oh well, we can start saving for the twins birthdays in November.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Two down, I submit (in the sense of two submissions or a fall)....

Number one son arrived home yesterday. The signs of his renewed habitation were the same as those when number two son re-appeared, i.e. large amounts of washing and loads of boxes, bags and other impedimenta all over the house. Oh and a car that looks like a van until all the seats are re-established in positions that mean human bottoms can sit on them again.

Now I love my sons dearly, but they are large. They consume space, food and electricity in disproportionally large quantities. Just when you think you'll finish that tasty morsel you spotted in the fridge yesterday, you go to find it to find that it has already been scoffed. There is noise late at night. They need to get a job to tire them.

We have just spent a splendid afternoon looking round the open gardens in a village called Idlicote. There were some lovely houses and gardens and the people were very friendly. Not sure I'd want to live there, though. It was an awfully long way to the shops.

Thursday, 28 June 2007


Home is in a leafy town which is, in effect, a suburb of Birmingham. For two or three days each week, I am helping a church raise money for a building development project. To do this, I spend these days in Clapham, London which is a stark contrast to home. Clapham is a young people's town. It has dozens of bars and restaurants down the length of the High Street, and really comes alive at 9 p.m. when they are full to overflowing with young people. For the sake of clarity, young means under 30, as I'm a real oldie here. The poor and rich live side by side and go about their daily routine to make a living. There are hundreds of cyclists pouring along the main road into central London. Most of them ignore traffic lights, but very few seem to be involved in any accidents. Having a bike really is the easiest way to get around.

In SW4, the sound of sirens is almost ever present as the emergency services attempt to muscle their vehicles through the traffic. There are parking wardens everywhere, and owning a car looks to be a real luxury. I do like the buzz of the place, but I also appreciate the relative peace and quiet of home. I'm just lucky to be able to experience both, I guess.

Monday, 25 June 2007

One down, one to go.......

Number two son is home. I know this because we spent most of Saturday driving to Durham to collect him, because the house is full of laundry, and because one cannot move freely on the landing.

On the laundry front, the clean now seems to outnumber the dirty, but only after a long and gallant struggle by the combined forces and talents of Mother and the washing machine. The pile of ironing now grows like a spoil heap at a mine. Let us hope that the forces of Clean can overcome.

Number two son has destroyed his tidy bedroom, and it is now a wreck. He allegedly helped number three son tidy his bedroom yesterday, but other than the bookcase, there seems no great improvement. Pressure will be applied. It is time to get ruthless.

Number one son seems to have vanished from the face of the earth. No update to his blog, No texts or calls, nothing. Obviously having too good a time dirtying all his clothes in time for next weekend when he comes home and the whole process starts again.

As for me, I'm organising a walk tomorrow, and when I went for a look at the route yesterday, I discovered that a critical section is flooded. There is no detour for the flooded bit, so I'm now desperately trying to think of a way to salvage at least a short walk. Just to help this thinking process, today it is forecast to be the wettest day of the year. We shall just have to spend more time in the pub at lunch to compensate.

Friday, 22 June 2007

The Perils of Showing Off

There we were (Rob, myself and Rob's dog Ebony) walking across Clapham Common. Our attention was caught by a man flying a large kite. He seemed to be struggling to control it. We amble over and start talking to his friend. "He has only had this kite since yesterday" we are told. I offer to help. We sort out the kite's rigging, and up it goes. Four seconds later, I am being dragged across Clapham Common on my stomach.

At this point, I notice three things.
  1. The Kite is big, and I mean big.
  2. My shoulder and elbow hurt like hell.
  3. Rob (and the two guys whose kite this is) are doubled up with laughter, Rob so much so that I think he may do himself a mischief.
With my dignity completely shredded and some skin missing from my elbow, I take to flying this kite sitting on the grass. I'm still dragged around on my backside, but at least I can exert a modicum of control over the beast.

All in all, we spend an hour helping the two new kite owners, and I'm pleased that at the end they are managing to fly it most of the time. We shake hands as we leave, promise to meet again next week. and they both grin hugely at the memory of my antics.

The only one who fears for my well being is the dog who fusses round me for the remainder of the walk. Rob keeps smirking and breaking out in giggles as we walk home, and I determine to get my own back by taking a kite to Clapham next week and making him fly it.

It is a peculiar fact that despite growing older and supposedly wiser, some of us have these amazing blindspots when it comes to our own abilities. I know I do.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Don't meet the Funders

Together with a friend from the Methodist Church I am currently trying to help, I went to an event billed as "Meet the Funders". It was supposed to be a forum (rather like a parents evening) where fund raisers for organisations could meet representatives of charitable trusts who have money which can be applied for.

The problem was, several of the funders failed to turn up. So for that matter did about half of the people who had requested places. Not a spectacular success.

Other than this, the week has been one of driving. I'm very fed up with that activity, but one more trip is necessary to collect the ingrate who happens to be no. 2 son.

More soon.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Trains (and mobile phones)

As I spend some 2-3 days each week in London, I am bowling up and down on the Chiltern Railway between Solihull and London Marylebone a fair bit. The trains on this route are reasonably new and the journey is just what a train ride should be. It is comfortable (I can almost always get the seat I want), quick, and passably relaxing. The only variable is my fellow passengers. I usually sit in the "Quiet Coach" where passengers are requested not to use a mobile phone. It is amazing how many people are so wrapped up in their own little world that they don't see these. As a result I usually let them finish one conversation before inviting them to move to another carriage. Last week there was the most graceless man who shouted at people even before they had started to use their phone. Please don't let me become like that.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Cars and Trains

Drove mum to see my cousin Mark in his bungalow not far from Cirencester. His collection of vehicles makes our drive look quite tidy. A super quiet spot with the nearest neighbour some half a mile away. Hmmm would not suit me.

Having got home and had a cup of tea, set off for Clapham. Train from Solihull packed until Banbury where lots of people alighted. What is the attraction in Banbury? Perhaps I should devote a day to going to see....
Arrived in London at 7 p.m. to find that London underground seemed to have lost 70% of their trains. Usually there is an underground train every 3 minutes, last night we had to wait 8 minutes and 11 minutes, so by the time they arrived, there was a large group of people waiting to board an already crowded train. Hence, very hot and somewhat bothered by the time I got to Clapham.

Ebony (the dog) was very pleased to see me, but found Sam watching some spin off of Big Brother. The young man (who seems otherwise fairly sensible) will have to be taken in hand!

Sunday, 10 June 2007


A trip to Yorkshire and back today to collect mum. She obviously had a lovely time with her friends Gordon and Angela and was spoilt rotten. The drives there and back were pretty uneventful, some 332 miles at an average of 54.5 mph and 56.5 miles per gallon of unleaded, according to the computer in our Fiat Panda. This strikes me as a testament to a modern small car. I have to ask myself why one would want anything bigger and grander.

I was even impressed that we didn't encounter any people who were driving as if they'd left their brains at home. Still, tomorrow is Monday and all the usual nutters will be back behind the wheel (usually of white vans).

Chris's study leave is over, and he is aghast at the requirement to get up at 07:00 to get to school in time tomorrow. What is more, he can't be late, because tomorrow is Bencher (Prefect to most of us) Training day. I do hope they nag him about getting his hair cut.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Something of a mixture

Something of a mixture today.....

James (first born son) has been cooking - one can see the results of his efforts here and jolly good it looks too. I can't help thinking from his words before the picture of the finished article, that James thought it was pretty good, and I assume it tasted as good as it looks. I just hope he'll make us all one when he comes home at the end of the month.

On a much sadder note, a phone call told me that a good friend and ex-colleague had died on Tuesday. Bob Noden was a great guy to work and play with. We used to play terrible practical jokes on each other and on our long-suffering colleagues. I shall miss him, and my heart goes out to Mo and Paul.

As someone I called to pass on the news said, it puts my troubles into perspective. I feel almost guilty that I don't have any.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007


Today has been a day of waiting. Waiting for the Church Architect to send some drawings (he hasn't), for the little Peugeot to come back, (It has, it's much nicer to drive now, but still clonks..), waiting for my beloved wife to return (another 45 minutes) and for Chris to return from his exam (sometime).

I'm naturally impatient, so waiting does not come easily. It is not the sort of thing you can learn, or at least I don't seem to be able to.

On another topic altogether, Recycling is a big target for local authorities, so I am dismayed to take a load of jars to our nearest bottle bank, only to find they are all full. Given that the powers that be want us to recycle this stuff, you'd think that the containers would be emptied often enough to make it possible.

Despite these tribulations, it is a lovely day, the sun is shining out of a cloudless blue sky. It is good to be alive.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

A view from the boundary

For the first time in many, many years I spent a couple of hours watching cricket. My son Chris was playing in a youth development team, and for most of the time I was watching he was batting. Well, to be honest, he was doing anything except batting it seemed to me. He assiduously avoided the strike . Whether this was to give his partners a chance was not clear. When he was forced to face some of the bowling, he spent what seemed like ages getting ready, swiping his hair to one side to get his helmet on, etc. I think this was all to put off the opposition. He started well with this aspect of the game - he took his initial guard as if a left hander, and then once the fielding team had moved to positions for a left handed batsman, he promptly took a right handed stance to receive the first ball and they all had to move round again. A nice touch, I thought.

Frankly it was like watching paint dry. I was slightly ashamed, but pleased when he got out, because it meant that we could go home.

It has been a lovely day, but somehow I did not manage a Sunday afternoon snooze. I wonder what the new week holds in store.

Two unchanging laws of life

As I now don't have to worry about working, a the laws of life become clearer to me. I've encountered two of these today.

First, freshly showered and dressed this morning, I got the bar-b-que out of the summerhouse and moved it to its summer location. In doing so, some small fugitive element of the last meat to be cooked on this device, leapt off and on to my clean T shirt. Thus condemned to spend the rest of the day looking mildly tramp-like, my reaction was "B*ll*cks, I've just put this on, so I'll look like a tramp, rather than go and change it"

Secondly, and I fear this may come with age, every time I start on a new job, one just gets going, only for one's bladder to indicate that capacity has been reached, requiring a stop in the work.

Tomorrow the Mothership departs for my daughters home. I've been left strict instructions regarding the watering of plants, as well as getting youngest son to some exams. A nerve racking time is predicted, if I fail in any particular, I'm likely to go the way of the plant involved and end up on the compost heap.

Watch this space.....

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Well, what are you doing...?

I'm sitting here wondering how to start this, that's what.

I've just read the blog of a man I've only met once, but I enjoy reading his thoughtful entries, and it occurs to me that writing things down in this medium might make me think a bit more. I need the practice (at the thinking, that is).

Having given up work some two months ago, I realise that I'm getting more and more grumpy. I'm helping a friend raise a lot of money for his church (he is a minister). It means I bowl up and down to London most weeks, and the people I come into contact with just seem so unaware of the world around them. Hence they are hopelessly inconsiderate, living as they are, in their own little world.
However, I do realise what a lucky chap I am - my offspring seem to be a lot nicer that most of their age.

So dear reader, let's see how this goes. I'll practice thinking and then writing down my thoughts, and if any of you want to let me know what you think, I'd welcome your comments.