Thursday, 31 December 2009

What did you do in the 'Noughties' daddy?

Well here we are at a milestone in the year - the last milestone of 2009, the last day; I've eaten the last breakfast of the year, enjoyed the last salad of the year for lunch, left work for the last day of the year and sitting down, unless something extraordinary happens, writing the last blog of the year of our Lord two thousand and nine.

Fellow blogger AuntieGwen has written a little bit of a review of her life over the last ten years which is a great idea and it's inspired me to do something similar. I don't keep a diary and life has been, shall we say, fairly routine without major trauma and upset, and I am certainly not complaining, but I can't offer spice, scandal, intrigue or anything remotely interesting for your delectation (pleasure and delight - I've just bought the PC version of the Oxford English Dictionary).

The Millennium is a good place for me to start this review because I was working for the public sector, planning for the time when the whole world would come to a grinding halt because no-one knew if the computers would turn over from 1999 to 2000. The planning I was leading or co-ordinating was in relation to informing the public what they would do to access public services should the phones go down, electricity would fail etc etc. We produced a magazine which the local rag distributed to around 800,00 people in the area. Of course nothing happened on the night and many say that all the preparedness was a waste of time. I know for a fact of course that the public and private sector worked so hard in the run up to the Millennium night in making sure that computer systems were upgraded and tested that the reason for the big fizzle was that it was prevented. So started the decade with success.

My busy life in media relations work in the public sector was plodding along nicely and several major events happened at work which turned the world upside down for our organisation, and things were never quite the same again. We came through that albeit battered and bruised but stronger, wiser people, and I retired after thirty happy, busy and fascinating years in 2006. I still work for the same organisation today but in a totally different capacity and heading in a totally different direction.

My other half drove ambulances throughout most of the decade having gone into that profession from caring and she has now started to work on job-share.

We have been in the same house for the 'noughties' and that has seen transformations with double glazing installed, new boiler, new kitchen, new bathroom, paved drive, conservatory and re-engineered garden. We've had some major water leaks and we still have a leaky garage roof and that is the next big job for the 'tens.'

We've had the dog throughout the 'noughties' and we lost our much loved grey cat Misty whom we had bought from our previous house, who died of liver failure aged about 16 years.

I think I can recall all the cars I've had since 2000... let's see, Ford Escort, Vauxhall Omega (that was a fabulous car), Honda CRV, and right up to date the Honda CRV (new style). As small or second cars, we've had a Volkswagon Sharon, Ford Fiesta, and a Fiat Punto.

Our children all left school in the 'noughties,' my eldest is earning money at a medical practise, my middle lad is a post graduate from Nottingham University and my youngest is now at Liverpool University. They are all fit and well.

We paid our first and I hope not last trip to the USA in 2006 for our summer break, and we have holidayed in the UK, France and the Canary Islands. My wife and eldest son went to South Africa one year as well - lucky them.

I started with my Spiritualism in earnest around 2002 and that is now a big part of my life. My other half does not share that with me. But then I don't share her religion either so the balance is restored to a small degree.

I started this blog in 2008 and I gave up Facebook in 2009. My family history research has taken me back to the early 1700s and has over 800 people are now on my ancestral tree. I gave up my love of youth football in 2009 which ended up me being an administrator of the sport, an interest which started before the noughties in around 1998 when my eldest lad signed for Cottingham Eagles football team. I became a director of the local County FA around 2008.

Health and contentedness is with us; wealth is still elusive but life is okay. Both sets of our parents are still very much with us and although old age is starting to take its toll, I am delighted to say they are all as well as can be expected.

As for the next ten years, who knows what that will bring but what I do know is that I'll work harder for me, my family, friends, workmates and my community and in doing that will hopefully support a safe, prosperous and happy life as best I can bearing in mind the untold number of influences that may try to interfere at any time.

Hobbies and beliefs are also very important to me and I will try to fulfill some unachieved ambitions like some substantial progress in writing my novel, progressing the family tree to find some elusive answers, enhancing my spiritual skills particularly for the benefit of others, and not wasting too much time on the computer.

Any New Year resolutions will wait until I write my first blog entry for 2010.

If you are celebrating tonight, reflecting quietly tonight or simply ignoring the significance of the night, I wish you all well for 2010, let's hope for a better world for us and our children.

Have a good one.

Chat next year,


Monday, 28 December 2009


The last Bank Holiday today and it's all passed so quickly. Hope you had a good weekend and for those of you suffering because of the unseasonably cold, snowy winter weather, keep warm and cosy, there's more to come apparently.

For most of us in modern houses, open coal fires are a thing of the past, gas (in my case) is so convenient and clean. I can remember at my childhood home having an outhouse with two doors, with an outside loo on one side and the coal bunker on the other side had to be divided into two to cater for the different types of fuel. This was because the posh front room was coal fuelled and the back room fire in the Victorian three storey house we had would only run on coke fuel and would take ages to get going with a gas poker. Eventually, that fire was replaced with a gas fire.

Black filthy sacks of coal were delivered by a soot faced man on the back of flat back lorry which pulled down the back tenfoot.

Sacks of logs were bought from wherever we could get them from at about ten shillings or 15 shillings, (50 to 75 pence) a bag, in today's money, about half a Euro. The dog grate was cleared out in the morning and the ash scattered over the tenfoot which was a mud track, not metalled. A mixture of newspaper and kindling sticks were laid out and pieces of coal strategically placed. The paper was ignited with a match and you hoped that it would catch. Occasionally it needed a hand. A huge piece of newspaper (a broadsheet in those days) was placed over the fireplace and the draught it created was phenomenal - many is the sheet of paper that ended up disappearing up the chimney!

The fires were always great to watch and picture in the fire was a favourite pastime. Logs crackling and coal spitting meant the carpet in front of the fire had a few burn marks in it despite having a spark guard. The trouble is that they did create dust, mainly from the cleaning out in the morning.

Mr Jones was the chimney sweeper; he was also the council street lighting man. He would lay out his dust sheets all over the room, get his rods out and the one with the big brush at the end and set out on the very physical job of bringing all the soot down. It was always hard work for him, pushing a brush up three storeys and it was my job to go outside and tell him when I saw the brush poking out of the top of the chimney. We even had a cat once who sat on the ledge at the back of the fireplace up the chimney, when it wasn't lit of course, presumably because it was nice and warm.

The daytime weather isn't too bad today, clear, chilly but thawing slightly, but the road still has ice on it. Off to the tip this afternoon so I can make room in the garage to get access to the treadmill which is under several black bags of something I have to take to the council depot to recycle. I noticed that Sainsburys car park was absolutely chocker-block this morning, I don't think I'll do any shopping until tomorrow when it's hopefully quieter.

Well that's my rabbiting done for today. Here's a list of unusual words and their meanings from the past for people who like to rabbit on. Thanks to 'The Wonder of Whiffling' by Adam Jacot de Boinod.

Macrology (1586) much talk with little to say;
Clatterfart (1552) a babbler, a chatterer;
Chelp (Northern and Midlands 19th century) to chatter or speak out of turn;
Blatteroon (1645) a person who will not stop talking;
Clitherer (Galway) a woman with too much to say.

Chat soon


Friday, 25 December 2009

Fairy Nuff

A very merry Christmas to all ye who enter here.

So far (her indoors is at work) I've hoovered and tidied through, set up the table for tonight's Christmas dinner, done the vegetables, been next door to take the twins birthday cards and had a coffee, turkey is in the oven, pigs in blankets made, it's just about lunch time and the kids are not even out of bed!
Just me, chirping budgies and the drooling dog (the fish make very little noise - they are no trouble at all.)

Ho hum.

Traditions are an important facet of Christmas, and there's a tradition of having a Fairy on top of a Christmas tree you may not have known the background to.

Santa Claus, many years ago had a meeting with the Chief Fairy and decided that having a Christmas tree would be a fine tradition. Santa gave the Chief Fairy millions of trees and told him to distribute them to bring light and cheer at this dark time of year and to remind people of the Christian celebration.

The Chief Fairy came back and told Father Christmas that there were still loads of trees left. "Take them to the hospitals," he instructed with a smile.

The next day, the winged wonder came back and told Santa that there were still many many trees left. "For goodness sake, take them to all the orphanages," he said, slightly irritated.

The following day the same thing happened - lots of trees left and Santa scratched his head pondering where to take them. "The old folks homes!" an annoyed Father Christmas said having to do all the thinking himself.

The Fairy came back and said to a now, angry Father Christmas, "We've still got loads left, what on earth do you expect me to do with them?"

And Father Christmas told the Chief Fairy what to do with them and that's why today, you always see a Fairy on top of a Christmas Tree.

Have a good one

Chat soon


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Tale of the Unexpected 5

Yesterday, dressed like Nanook of the North in good quality winter walking gear, and feeling as warm as toast, I was looking to have a rest because the snow hadn't been cleared from the country road I had joined just off the main route. I was heading toward a 'tea shoppe' that I had seen signposted earlier and I was ready for a hot drink.

Perhaps it was a mistake because the road had not been driven on or trodden on, except for rabbits since the snows came and I stupidly realised too late that the cafe probably wasn't open.
Nevertheless, as there was an access bridge over the railway line marked on the map in the direction I needed to go, I thought I would have a sit down at the railway station where I imagined the cafe to be and have a rest there.

The station was quaint to say the least if not a little run down, with the palisade fencing in need of a good lick of paint. The signs were probably replicas because they were enamelled a reddy brown colour with the station name in white letters, somewhat similar to the old British Rail signs. Amazingly, there were still red battered fire buckets full of sand hung on the wall - not taken by vandals which is a miracle. Gas lamps flickered waiting their turn to be switched into full use when darkness arrives. Someone had clearly taken a lot of trouble to preserve this old place - no doubt it attracted a few tourists when the weather was in a better frame of mind.

Sadly, no footprints spoiled the virgin show blanketed
on the platform so I thought there was none running the cafe, however, there was a wisp of smoke coming from the chimney above the waiting room and booking office building which had dark sooty windows. I trudged over and pushed the door opened which creaked alarmingly breaking the silence of the day. In fact I had only just realised, I hadn't even heard any birds or other country sounds for the last many minutes. The creak reverberated round the old building which had the smell associated with coal fires about it.

For the first time that afternoon, even though I had been walking for about two and a half hours in freezing snow, my nose felt very cold and numb and I couldn't feel my top lip.

There was nothing in the waiting room. The open fire was dead, the floor dusty and the posters on the notice board were yellow and some of them were missing a pin in one corner and the notices bent over as if in protest making them difficult to read. My breath shot out clouds of steam in this densely
cold room.

"Where do you want to go?"

My God! I spun round, my heart thumping away to see the small round bespectacled face of an old man peering at me through a hatch in the wall. "Hell fire," I remember spluttering, "I was miles away, I didn't expect anyone to be here."

"Where do you want to go?" he repeated.

"Erm, well nowhere really, I came for a rest and a hot cuppa, but I think the cafe is probably closed."

"This is for passengers only," he growled, "You need a platform ticket if you ain't catching the train. Two pence, over there."

He nodded toward an old red machine on the wall opposite the window.
"Right, okay, well is there any chance of a drop of hot water so I can make myself a cuppa?" He clicked his tongue and the hatch slammed shut, the echo of the sound of wood on wood again echoing around this dismal place. I'm sure the cold was getting more intense.

The door by the side of the hatch into the booking office slowly opened, and presuming this was an invitation to enter I walked to the door and peered cautiously through. I was met by the smell of polished linoleum and indeed the floor was shining and a small fire crackled in the grate. Old wooden painted desks were around the place, some with tickets neatly arranged on them, some with boxes of rubber bands and stamping machines for parcels. Oil lanterns were hung on the wall ready for lighting the signals for the darkness and shiny wooden chairs were placed neatly in front of the desks. A signalling machine sat silently on the huge desk with two brass bells ready to announce an approaching train. But there was no sign of the old man.

I warmed my hands by the meagre fire waiting for the man to reappear. A porters black peaked cap hung on a hook behind the door and a pair of flags, one green and one red which I remember as a kid, the porters used to signal to the train drivers when they should set off. A brass whistle on a lanyard lay beside the flags, lay silent and polished.

I picked up one of the old tiny grey cardboard train tickets when once more, the silence was shattered by the signalling machine ringing, once, twice short sharp rings, then after a pause, a third. My nerves were certainly on edge and jangled, but no hand responded to the unseen signalman sending his message of an impending train. I called but no one responded. The toilets were empty, the platform devoid of life and the only prints in the snow were mine. The waiting room was empty still and no sign of the porter could be found.

I switched the lights off, put a spark guard in front of the fire and closed the office door behind me. The waiting room was shadowy now as the light began to fade - all was still. I crossed the footbridge and began to walk down the lane on the other side when I passed a woman walking a fussy old black Labrador dog. She greeted me warmly and after fussing the dog whose name was Rex I asked where the nearest cafe was because the railway cafe was closed.

"Yes it certainly is closed," she laughed out loud.
I remarked that the weather had obviously prevented anyone coming in to open it up.

"No I don't think so. Since Lord Beeching closed it in 1968, it's laid empty and forgotten really. No one uses it any more and there hasn't been a train through it since the early seventies. Shame really."

I looked at her for several moments. "I've just been in there and there's a fire in the main office and there was a porter or someone there who asked me if I wanted to go somewhere." I described the old man in detail. Her expression no longer showed amusement.

"Mr Fulford was the last porter here. On the day the station closed, December 1968, he threw himself in front of the 6.15 to York. He couldn't bear the thought of not seeing another train or looking after another passenger no doubt. Man and boy, 46 years at this one station. He had no-one else, just him and his beloved station. I must go, good afternoon."

As she trudged off, I could see in the slowly thickening mist the chimney at the station no longer had smoke issuing out of it. I turned to go when I distinctly heard the deep resonant whistle of a steam train in the distance. I realised I still had the ticket in my hand I'd picked up from the desk. I examined it closely.

The ticket was a single fare. The date stamp was 24 December 1968. The cost was four shillings and sixpence and the destination... was Fulford.

Chat soon

Story intellectual property of Rarelesserspotted.

Picture from here.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

When's Santa Coming Mummy?

It's all getting a bit exciting, colleagues at work are feeling dizzy with undisguised anticipation and muted but obvious excitement of the magic of the weekend to come. The snow is still hanging around and it might get worse with rain and minus 4 degrees forecast for tonight - interesting combination!

I've picked up the turkey crown from my mother's today with some streaky bacon which will sit over the top of it while it's cooking away (don't you love the smell of Christmas Day cooking wafting through the house?) Eighteen home made mince pies are nicely stashed away because if they weren't, they'd be eaten NOW. All the veg is in and there's nothing to do but relax and wait.

There were some great quotes today listed on the BBC Sport on-line from our famous sports personalities from years past - superb athletes, managers and great people, but often not the brightest tools in the box.

The brilliant and late Sir Bobby Robson once said when asked what his dream job would have been outside football, "I'd give my right arm to be a pianist." Good man.

When Geoffrey Boycott was taken on to coach young Pakistani batsmen, legend Ian Botham dryly commented that, "This can only help England's cause."

Football pundit Gary Linneker asked Scot Gordon Strachan
this searching philosophical question, "So Gordon, if you were English, what formation would you play?"
Strachan replied, "If I was English I'd top myself." Bet you didn't see that one coming Gary.

Keep calm, try not to get too excited.

Chat soon


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Brass Monkey Weather & Today's List

Sun rise 20 December 2009 by RLS

In keeping with this bright crisp day (at 10.30 whilst writing this) it's minus 5 degrees and last nights snow is crisp and hardened by a cracking frost. There isn't a cloud in the sky and the atmosphere is great. I got up early, before dawn, had breakfast, took some pictures, cleared the car, filled one of my fish ponds which was very low on water, made sure the other one had a hole in it for the fish to breathe, crashed my pc, restored it and made two cups of tea - and they say men can't multi task (well to be honest of course, I only did one job at a time - but it sounded as if I was busy.)

Well its list time, it's ages since I've done one so here it is on one of my favourite themes, men and women. It's absolutely non PC but I really don't care because I'm taking the mi
ckey out of poor, emotionally devoid, misunderstood, vulnerable weaker sex - men!

I take no credit for this list, it's from an e-mail circulation and it's been edited slightly to save blushes but here goes.

Men Are Just Happier People Because

Your last name stays put;
The garage is all yours;

Wedding plans take care of themselves;
You can never be pregnant;

Car mechanics tell you the truth;

The world is your urinal;

You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a n
ut on a bolt;
Same work, more pay Wrinkles and greying hair add character (certainly true in my case);
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them;

New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet;

One mood all the time;

Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat;

You know stuff about tanks and engines;
A five-day holiday requires only one suitcase;
You can open all your own jars;
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness;
Your underwear is £9.50 for a three-pack and lasts ten years;

Three pairs of shoes are more than enough;
You never have strap problems in public;
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes;

Everything on your face stays its original colour;

The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades;
You only have to shave your face and neck;
You can play with toys all your life;
One wallet and one pair of shoes - one colour for all seasons;
can wear shorts no matter how your legs look;
You can 'do' your na
ils with a pen knife;
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a
You can do Christmas shopping for 24 relatives on 24th D
ecember in 24 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.

Snow 10.30 pm 19 December 2009 by RLS
Chat soon


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Weather for Keeping Wrapped-up

Welcome to a new 'follower' - Wheelie. His blog,, is entitled 'Stroke Survivor' and it's good to read with appropriate dry humour befitting someone from God's Own Country - Yorkshire, albeit the south, but I don't hold that against him! You are very welcome sir!

The youngest is home for the festive break from Liverpool University - welcome home son and my wife says a particular welcome to his mountain of washing.

Diane Parkin in her blog talks about the snow and has a great method of detecting the seriousness/heaviness/snowiness of the fall they have had - she says she can see the grass [poking through] - spot on Diane - just a dusting then? The point is she quite rightly the country still comes to a grinding halt. I've debated this before and it's a jaded theme every time we get a hint of the white stuff so I'll leave it there.

I went on a works 'do' last night; a pleasant couple of hours in a bar, a lovely two hours in a very good Chinese Restaurant followed by another couple of hours in the bar. There was some excellent company including a surprise visit from fellow blogger Middle Aged Gapper; there was Caroline, Kirsty, Diana, Julie, Sheila, Lucy, then Alan, Alan S, John, Phill, Ian, Trevor, Bryan and brief but very welcome guest appearances from Nichola and Tracy.

Oh My Goodness - the diet - I was very restrained during the meal I have to say but there was a feast of delicate starters: some pork minced with vegetables curled in a Cos lettuce leaf which was lovely. I think there was duck in some delicate little pancakes and loads of seeded breads, spring rolls, skewered bits of chicken and seaweed. I'm sure there were other starters too. The main course was sweet and sour all sorts of meats , beef with black beans, lemon chicken, egg fried rice, noodles and probably some other stuff I never even got round to. All you could eat for £15 and it was good value. This is the first but won't be the last time I've been to a Chinese restaurant and had this type of help yourself menu with the food brought to your table and kept warm on candle fired heaters.

I have come to realise however that my hearing is definitely faulty in some way. The bar was absolutely full and the noise of talking and background disco music meant that I had real problems hearing what people were saying to me - even when sat close to me. My lip reading is improving but far from perfect; I just hope to God I was nodding and shaking my head in the right places.

I was only waiting outside for a few minutes waiting to be picked up by my other half and I was frozen stiff and that was with a woolly thermal hat, thermal gloves, quilted jacket and scarf. My nose was NUMB.

I intended to do all sorts today but once out of the Rise, whilst the major roads were okay today, traffic was backed up all over the place so I couldn't get to the garage of my choice to blow a tyre up. The second garage air pump was out of order so my third garage cost me a quid to use the airline because I had no change and there was a huge queue at the till. I didn't feel like queuing then saying to the suspicious assistant, "I haven't bought petrol, can I have change for the air pump?" I'm never quite sure if they believe you about the petrol when they begrudgingly give you change despite the inevitable comment, "We haven't a lot of change." Well it's their bloody pump and they are charging me for using my fresh air.

I gave up all thoughts of shopping and came home to the warmth.

Keep wrapped up.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Glad Tidings of Comfort and Joy?

There's a sort of buzz around the workplace as people talk about Christmas, or rather, exclusively their preparations for the event. Some have wrapped presents, some have yet to buy them, "I've been sooooo busy." Some are having their families round to share a Christmas meal, others "nice and quiet, just the two of us." Some are having turkey, some "Can't stand the stuff, we always have steak." One or two are panicking that the cards will need a first class stamp now because they've only just got round to writing them.

Some have a heavy calendar of social events (generally but not exclusively, the younger set,) others just have the one special 'do,' and some don't do anything.

None of them have talked about the reason for Christmas.

Yet in their own way, there is something of the ethos of the day about their activities. My line manager said today that he enjoyed giving presents more than anything else and seeing the joy on his children's faces. Others have families visit for the day and cater for those less able to do it themselves. People send prezzies to the troops fighting abroad and others give to charities to help those most in need. There is a general air of goodwill, fewer crimes are committed on Christmas Day and there are thoughts of those no longer with us but who live in our memories.

Yes there is hardship and that's the flip side with pressure to buy things, pressure on finances, unhappiness for those alone or in combative relationships, depression as years move along at a pace, sadness at opportunities missed, missing any hope of things improving - a world apart from what they would like to experience and a huge contrast to the commercial view of an ideal Christmas and what should be a wonderful and joyful time of year.

Christmas with my family and children (my other half doesn't celebrate Christmas) is very important for me. I do all the prep: cards, buying, decorations, cooking etc., and it's worth every second of effort.

Ghosts and shadows of Christmas Past for me are not like those experienced by Ebenezer Scrooge, rather they are full of happy memories living in our large (tall) Victorian house with my parents, frustrated that I never got out of bed early on Christmas morning. Lovely presents, simple, inexpensive (they hadn't much money) nevertheless lovingly given with coal fires in the background, a real tree and paper chains, glass baubles, tinsel and old fashioned wall decorations of silver and gold coloured leaves.

We always had turkey, sometimes quite a large one and I can even remember one being cooked upside down one year (it still tasted good) followed by Christmas pudding cooked with sixpences covered in silver foil in the middle. Home made mince pies with real cream really completed the stuffed experience. Afternoons were listening to the Queen's speech, a walk if it was crisp and cold and them a buffet tea followed inevitably by Morecambe and Wise shows.

This year, my mum and dad are round and we'll all stay in all day with an afternoon film, with tea around 5 pm consisting of a traditional turkey roast, followed by playing board games and NO television unless there's something VERY special.

Looking forward to the snow in the next couple of days, forecast by the BBC which will give the Christmassy feel.

I had the good fortune of being asked to day to do a Tarot reading for someone at work (who I know hardly at all) which went very well indeed and I have another one planned for Sunday afternoon. I trained about three years ago and have just renewed and refreshed my acquaintance with the cards, something I really enjoy doing. A charitable donation of the sitter's choice means the reading was not only done for a good reason but a charity benefited as well.

Hope the rest of your week goes well; don't feel too stressed and take care with the white stuff.

Chat soon


Sunday, 13 December 2009

3D Animation at its Best; a Must-see

Christmas Carol picture from here.

I went to see Christmas Carol last night, the Disney Pixar 3D animation of one of the best known tales of all time. It had a hell of a challenge following in the footsteps of some of the most famous adaptations including versions with some famous Scrooges for example Alastair Sim, Albert Finney, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart and now, of all people Jim Carrey.

I have to say that Carrey and Disney have produced an all time classic and apart from one or two scenes designed for the purposes of entertainment and showing off the 3D, it was fairly faithful to the book. Carrey's interpretation of Ebenezer Scrooge was subtle, slightly underplayed as it should be and had shades of sounding like Alastair Sim. I truly believe that even though we only experienced his voice, it has at last showed him the mature actor he can be. Interesting that like Johnny Depp, here's another American who has mastered the art of 'English' English. He was wonderfully supported with the voices of Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins and Gary Oldman, but the winner is the exceptional animation which was not in any way over the top.

The 3D experience is great. I first saw decent 3D when I took the family to America in 2006 at Universal and Disney studios where characters came right off the screen at you and this animation made you feel almost inside the scenes.

Highly recommended, even though you may not like this traditional and predictable story, just the 3D experience is enough to pay the entrance fee.

Like the cold bleak weather in the film, December wet weather has arrived, squally showers off the North Sea are buffeting us this afternoon making the day a raw one. Sky News weather forecasts wintry showers proper with snow etc., from Thursday next week, just in time for my works night out!

I had a whiskey and ginger last night, the first for a while, so I thought we'd have some drinking stories today.

A group of fonts walk into a bar. "Get Out," shouted the landlord, "We don't serve your type in here."

A priest, rabbi and a vicar walk into a pub. The landlord says, "Is this some kind of joke?"

A man walks into a bar with a lump of tarmac under his arm. "What'll you have?" Enquires the barman. The man replies, "I'll have a pint and one for the road."

Shakespeare walks into a bar. The barman says, "I can't serve you. You're bard."

And finally... A man walks into a bar and orders ten double whiskeys and lines them up on the bar. He drinks the first glass, the third glass, the fifth, seventh and ninth and he's just about to walk out having left the others. "Where are you going?" Asks the barman, "Aren't you going to finish the rest?"
"No," says the man, "My doctor said I could only have the odd drink."

Have a great week

Chat soon


Friday, 11 December 2009

Tonight is the Night of the Demon!

I've borrowed the picture from this site!

I think I've heard it all now, on the BBC News Online service today is the news that a film is being made based on an adaptation of the 2009 book
Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies! This means apparently that Jane Austen's classic has a new subplot that the story takes place as the dead rise from the grave! The five Bennett sisters will all be trained in the deadly martial arts. This is hilarious - I have to see this.

Perhaps Austen's original chapter ten lines:

"Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger."

Might turn into this in the film plot:

"Elizabeth, thinking she was going to defy him, noticed his green pallor and peeling flesh around his once handsome jawline and because she was such a sweet innocent thing, she felt something towards this deranged beast. He was bravely stumbling up the road against all odds of nature as his left leg was hanging precariously by a mere sinew. Darcy was so intent upon slaying her and bringing her into the band of Zombie brotherhood, he smiled as sweetly as his missing front teeth would allow in order to charm her. Clearly, she was just a common bit of crumpet that no-one would notice was missing after she had been indoctrinated into his dark, evil realm of half life. Oh how he had underestimated her ability in the noble art of Shaolin Kung Fu."

Hmm, doesn't have the same ring somehow.

I remember staying up and watching the late Friday night Hammer films on ITV at home in the 1970s, Dracula, Frankenstein etc etc with my all time favourite actors of that generation Christopher Lee and dear old departed Peter Cushing. When they ran out of those Hammer features, they ran some of the earlier horror films with the older stars, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. But those old doyens and trailblazers in the black and white art of the macabre descended into farce as they teamed up with Abbot & Costello for example in Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and (this is a gem) Mother Riley Meets the Vampire!

The evening's horror film always started with an eerie foggy scene on the screen and the continuity man saying the immortal words... "Lock your doors, bar your windows, for tonight is the night of the Demon."

Makes me shiver to think about it. Talking of films, I'm going to see Jim Carey in 3D Christmas Carol on Saturday night. I also need to find time to go and see Paranormal Activity, but this is a go-alone film I think, because no-one will go with me!

What's a Vampires favourite fruit? A necktarine.

Have a great weekend - get wrapped up!

Chat soon


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Games People Play

Calmer, colder, drier weather on the way for the weekend - at last!

Now, there's a great BBC Magazine article on line called How Stranger Danger Changed the Way Children Play. This is a thought provoking and interesting insight into the reasons why our children play less in the streets, parks, "bomb sites" and other places, not least of which is the danger from strangers. Road traffic accidents are as much of a danger, but either way, there may be a generation of children who don't know what playing in the street is like.

We had a tenfoot at the back of our house that was a dead-end and it was very safe to play I suppose. My mates and I would play cricket in a summer and footy in the winter down it kicking the ball against Mr Kirknesses wooden garage door. We occasionally lost the ball among his chickens in his garden or it went in any one of the gardens along the tenfoot when we hit a six (and you were out automatically which taught us to hit the ball close to the ground.)

We played all the usual games, tig, hide and seek, we joined the girls when they tied their skipping rope to the lamppost and generally hung around doing no harm.

As I got into teenage years, games became more physical, and the street near my grandmother's house was a cul-de-sac so it was relatively safe to play British Bulldog, more sophisticated hide and seek, and a letters game where you all lined up at one side of the street and when random letters were called out and if that letter was in your name, you could progress across the street one step for each letter you had until the first person crossed the street and they won. Cricket against lampposts for wickets was normal and coats on the road for goalposts made a makeshift soccer pitch.

Chalked hopscotch pitches were easily drawn on the pavements and marble rinks were fun. We made our own home made go-karts out of scrap wood and old pram wheels and had races down the 'slope'; mind you, if you didn't stop in time, you hit the brick wall at the bottom! There weren't as many cars then of course and the street was always half empty, not like now where every inch of kerb is used for parking. But then I suspect people were more tolerant of kids then than they are now which doesn't help. Shame.

Ah fun indeed.

Psychic circle night tonight so have to crack on with tea early so no story, but have a great week.

Chat soon


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Appeal for all Missing Single Socks

What is it with scissors? All I want is a pair of scissors to cut something and I go to the drawer and guess what - not there!

The routine is that I will eventually find them in an obscure place that I definitely didn't leave them and I'll put them safely in the drawer only for them to disappear again. A few weeks ago I even bought a pack of three different sized scissors from Sainsburys and two of those pairs have gone walkabout. The kids say its not them and that must be true. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

I have decided that what you see at the movies must be true and that we have a Scissors-Stealing Elf (SSE). This Elf who's 'elping hims'elf is obviously from the same family as the Single Sock-Stealing Elf (SSSE). Although I've never worked out how they do it, the socks definitely disappear between the clothes basket in the bedroom where I put them and the clothes basket in which we put clothes that come out of the tumbler. The only place the socks are left unattended is in the garage whilst waiting to be washed; perhaps they sneak in under the garage door in the dead of night?

A mystery indeed.

As I look out of the window, the sky is clearing and the sun is shining after two days and last night of heavy persistent rain. If all this rain continues and gets turned into snow when the weather gets really cold - we are in deep trouble - literally!

Christmas cards have started to arrive - well two anyway so I must really get on with sending mine - but so much to do. The other half is working today so I am hoovering, emptying bins, tidying and cleaning the kitchen and to boot, the house is generally untidy because we are decorating and the rooms are full of furniture and other bits and pieces from the room we've emptied. The good thing about it is we can have a good de-clutter and clear out of rubbish accumulated over the years before we put it back - the shredder will be working overtime.

And that's when we find bits of paper and other things we have mislaid and lost over the years and wondered where they had gone! We might even find a stash of socks and scissors!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Complex December

Did you remember to say 'white rabbit' at the beginning of the month? Welcome to the month of December. This is a really complex month to describe, with the Christmas season around the corner, yet a month of miserable cold damp weather, the end of the year nearing and for some, sad memories of events and happenings during Christmases past and those loved ones no longer with us. I hope you have as pleasant, relaxing and safe a festive break as possible.

Although December is the well known twelfth month, in the old Julian calendar, it was the tenth month hence the 'Decem' at the beginning representing 'ten'; the inclusion of January and February pushed all the months back two months.

There are too many events and celebrations to list them all really, but if I would pick out a couple, there is the winter solstice (in the northern hemisphere) around the 21st December; and Nobel prizes given on the 10th, on the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel. Most of the other celebrations, apart from Christmas belong to individual countries.

December birthstones are turquoise, lapis lazuli, zircon, blue topaz and December's flower is holly, narcissus and euphorbia pulcherrima.

We've already had our first decent frost Tuesday morning and it took me ages to clear my car of ice. Now I have a diesel, it took a long time for the car to warm up and clear the condensation on the inside. My old petrol car was so hot almost immediately, it took just a couple of minutes to clear; I just need to get up earlier which is NOT good news.

My next job is to start writing Christmas cards. I bought the stamps yesterday, queuing in the post office for twenty minutes with everyone in a last minute rush who were buying car tax a day late!

I love people watching and of course you can't examine people too closely for fear of being spotted staring, but all of life's characters were there: harassed mother, disinterested office junior, reluctant car tax payer, concerned auntie sending parcels abroad, sniffing wrapped-up executive (next to me) who'd rather not queue with the hoi polloi, two friends who were catching up with life after not seeing each other for a while - one excited because her temporary job was made permanent "which will see me through to retirement" and the other who is looking after a sickly husband with "that flu thing - poor love." Despite being very busy, the assistant was cheerful and made polite conversation - even though she gave me two dozen first class stamps instead of second class - I never spotted it until I got home and she charged me for first class as well to so no advantage there; hey ho.

I've printed all the address labels from an MS Excel worksheet which I've had years and update every now and then when people pop off, move house or just drift out of my life (not many of those thank goodness,) so I have saved myself some writing.

But which pen to use, fountain, ball point (black - very formal or blue - relaxed), silver or gold gel? Decisions decisions. I even send little notes of the family's story of 2009 for those I don't see from one year to the next. I wonder what happens to them - put in the bin, in a drawer? I don't mind.

Chat soon


Sunday, 29 November 2009

Minerva's River Views

The entrance to Humber Dock, looking west at sunset today (29th November) from Minerva Pier in Hull - click the picture to enlarge it.

It's a while since I posted for which I am sorry, anyway hoping you have enjoyed your weekend. It's been so wet and cold here; very wintry minus the snow - we've had everything else! I've been waiting to get in the garden to do a major pruning job, but its been too wet these last few weekends.

The computer has a new home, temporarily anyway in the main living room whilst the other half decorates the room in which the computer normally sits, once called (but not used as) the dining room - the Internet connection is sooooo slow since I had to put an extension line in.

It's a shame, but I've had to watch football on Sky this weekend instead of the gardening - a mucky job, but someone has to do it. It means I can watch TV at the same time as I am writing my blog (OHHH WHAT A GOAL!!) Anyway I can still concentrate - now what was I saying?

I went to see a friend this afternoon who was working today at his hobby of taking results of the local boys football league. He spends Sunday afternoon on his own doing this unenviable task at the league office on Minerva Pier in Hull which overlooks the mighty River Humber. Although the views are magnificent along the river, there were were very few people about today on this bitterly cold afternoon. There were the hardy fishermen hoping to catch a few flatties fishing from the pier, but apart from that, the seagulls were the most predominant of living things on the riverside.

I didn't have my camera with me today, but the mobile phone managed to capture some decent views of the river from Minerva Pier. This one, looking east shows The Deep to the left (a massive aquarium - the outside of which represents a shark) and in the distance, a huge plume of steam rising into the air from the cooling tower east of the city of Hull. Click the picture to enlarge.

Minerva was a Roman Goddess of all sorts of things, but I suspect it's her connection to commerce that gives the Pier in Hull its name. The City and County Borough of Kingston upon Hull (pre 1974), historically is most famously linked to fishing, but in the early years of its existence, it was for import and export of wool and wine it was so well known.

Today's story is topical.

One day three fishermen were out in a boat in the Gulf of Mexico. They hadn't caught a thing all day when suddenly, one of the fishermen's rods started jerking. He grabbed it and started reeling in his line and shouting,"I got something! I got something!"

He had caught a nice fish, about ten inches long. The fishermen were about to revel in his catch when the fish shook the hook out of its mouth and transformed into a being, half man and half fish, sporting a crown and holding a trident.

"Who are you?" said the frightened fisherman who had caught him.


And with that, he dived back into the waters. As soon as he was gone, the fishermen's boat had sprung so many leaks they were forced to swim to shore.

To this day, they never forgot Neptune's eighteen-hole Gulf curse.

Chat soon


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Ceiling down (and up)

First of all, a warm welcome to the latest follower to these simple musings, to Rachel from Arkansas in the USA. She describes herself as a "happy, proud, spastic, clumsy, blonde, sometimes funny and very unorganized mother to two wonderful kiddos." Her husband is Kevin. He works away from home frequently, so that makes her, she says, "a pseudo-single mom." You can follow her blog here Just Another Day in Paradise which is a celebration of her family life in the 'The Natural State' (of Arkansas).

In the 13 or so years we've been at this house we've had a total of four major water leaks - all in different locations, all sufficient to have us take part of the ceiling down to get at the cause. Only two have been bad enough for the insurance company to have to sort out - fortunately, the latest is not in that category and as we were decorating the room anyway before Christmas, we've carried the relatively minor cost.

The cause? The cowboy plumber who put our bathroom shower in didn't fully seal the cubicle and left a small gap round the door hinge through which water escaped. Eventually after about three years, it was big enough, when the water was directed at a certain location in the cubicle to come through and left the ceiling wet and ruined the ceiling paper.

Just don't need it really - but hey what can you do about it, at least the ceiling is in the computer room and not the main room like the last one. It's small fry compared to what others are suffering in other parts of the UK as we speak. Anyway today the ceiling looks like this - a captivating picture of exquisite composition and depth of meaning:
More rain expected tonight then it seems gale force winds before calming down to quieter showery weather before night time frosts and wintry showers by the weekend. Since losing weight, I've become noticeably more susceptible to the cold so I managed to dig out some thermal gloves and hat, in which, I look very fetching - NOT.

No psychic circle tonight, my mentor's partner has swine flu! So a bit of reading, quiet meditation (because my other half is out) and an early night I think.

Chat soon


Sunday, 22 November 2009


"I wear the chain I forged in life,'' replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?''

Scrooge trembled more and more.

"Or would you know,'' pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!''

This is Jacob Marley's revelation that since his death and the ending of his partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge seven Christmas Eves past, Scrooge has continued to increase the burden he will face in the afterlife through his unkind attitude and deeds in this life.

This may sound overly sentimental to you dear blogger, but since the early nineteen eighties, every year, without fail, in the run up to Christmas I have read Charles Dickens Christmas Carol. I don't know what it is about the story and sentiment of what Dickens wrote about in difficult early Victorian times back around 1843, but it is evocative of hardship, inequality, hopelessness but in the end gives rise to a certain hope that things can be changed with simple good deeds, good intentions and kindness. Either way, it is an addictive story, beautifully constructed.

Of course these days are like a Sunday afternoon picnic compared to the England that Dickens knew and cared desperately about, none-the-less lessons can be learned and people can make a difference.

Last night I went to see 'Scrooge' a musical at the Hull New Theatre starring Tommy Steele. Although the script took liberties with the original because it had to be adapted to become 'easier on the ear' family entertainment, the story was not lost. It was fun with good effects, sound, singing, acting and sets all in top form and Tommy Steele at 73 still has the most extraordinary voice.

If you can't get the book or don't want to buy it, you can read it online for free. Click here to get it.

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

In the dead of night, a Navy Captain saw a light dead ahead on collision course with his ship.

He sent a signal straight away which read, "Change your course ten degrees east."

The signal fired straight back, "You change your course ten degrees west."

Infuriated, the Captain sent another signal, "I'm a Navy Captain, you change your course."

The reply came straight back, "I'm a seaman second class, you change yours Sir."

Now incandescent with rage the Captain signalled, "I'm a battleship - I'm not changing course."

The reply came, "I'm a lighthouse, please yourself."

Chat soon


Friday, 20 November 2009

Mixed Emotion Day

I have a mixture of emotions as I write this blog this evening. I have returned home having spent a delightful and convivial (a lovely word) two hours with my blogger friend and ex colleague Middle Aged Gapper in a local Italian restaurant/cafe in Hessle in East Yorkshire. It was great to see him and catch up with his busy life although things have taken a sad turn with the death of his father recently.

The second emotion today I experienced today was upon hearing the dreadful news of the police officer killed in Cumbria whilst on duty helping the public cope with the awful weather that has devastated the north west of England and the south west of Scotland and parts of Ireland and Wales. My thoughts go the family and colleagues of Constable Bill Barker who died whilst acting in the best traditions of the British Police Service, helping the public in a dangerous situation, leading a stranded motorist off a bridge which then collapsed with him on it.

I was able to smile again at the delightful story of Auntie Gwen in her blog which made me laugh out loud. If you want to have a giggle at her descriptions of her family's visit to the dentists, you have to read this.

Tonight is
Children in Need on the BBC and although I will only watch parts of it here and there, I enjoyed the concert on the BBC last night (Thursday) which had a multiplicity of talent to entertain us all organised by the great Gary Barlow.

I don't feel it's appropriate to post a story today, I'll let Auntie Gwen brighten your day with her true life story and you can feel good that Children in Need is helping those in our society that really need help.

I'll leave you with a quote instead from William James, an American philosopher and psychologist about emotion. "Emotional occasions, especially violent ones, are extremely potent in precipitating mental rearrangements. The sudden and explosive ways in which love, jealousy, guilt, fear, remorse, or anger can seize upon one are known to everybody. . . . And emotions that come in this explosive way seldom leave things as they found them.”

How true. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Chat soon


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Thick-Skinned Wall

We've sort of missed most of the rain and deluge being suffered by Ireland, NW England and SW Scotland, but it's as windy as hell here. The good thing about a strong wind this time of year is that the trees are bare now, whereas I'm usually picking up leaves in mid December!

Here's a little story I picked up from these e-mails that do the rounds, and this one is from good friend Tammy who has been at home nursing her swine-flu suffering son. I have no idea whether it's true or not although there is a Rebecca Smith working for CNN, but makes me chuckle.

A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time. She went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site. She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

"Pardon me, sir, I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. What's your name?"

"Morris Fishbein," he replied.

"Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"

"For about 60 years."

"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop. I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man."

"And how do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

"Like I'm talking to a f*cking brick wall!"

Weekend's a comin' whooooooooohoooooooooooo

Chat soon


Monday, 16 November 2009

Would love to be 'normal'...

As I write this blog tonight, I'm just catching my breath after having my back manipulated - the cracking heard coming from my back and neck was extraordinary.

I was weighed to day and I have lost another 3.6Kg in the last four week (7.9 pounds) bringing my weight down to 17 stones exactly. This means I've lost seven stones since 23 February 2009.

Being 6' 1" it means my Body Mass Index (BMI) is down to 32.1 which is still classed as 'obese', but I'm close to becoming 'overweight' instead and although that's not good either, it's much better. The next target may be unobtainable, who knows, but 'normal' would be lovely, but perhaps a step too far. My blood pressure seems normal for my age 130/70 which I am told is okay.

I am so grateful to my fellow bloggers for their encouraging comments and to Angela at work in occupational health for her sage advice and encouragement, colleagues who are very supportive at work and of course to my other half without whom, I would never have got this far.

Have a great week.

Chat soon


Sunday, 15 November 2009

Ever been Inspired?

Hi fellow bloggers. When I have five spare minutes, I sometimes press the 'NEXT BLOG' button at the top of the Blogger blogs and have a fly around the worlds blogs and I've picked up some gems. There's also some dross and just lately a plethora of advertising for drugs and more recently some pretty objectionable Russian pornography. Regrettably, Google do take some time to get rid of these things and I would urge you to report this rubbish if you ever come across it to keep the bloggesphere for us bloggers as clean as possible. There are alternatives you are looking for something more racy.

I did come across this little snippet from YouTube tonight and I would be interested whether or not you would be inspired or have been inspired or moved by a speech you've seen at the cinema.

I've shed a few tears over the years at some scenes on the big screen, most recently in Gran Torino when Eastwood's character Walt Kowalski seems hopelessly at odds with the world about halfway through the film. I remember crying when John Wayne's character in 'The Sons of Katie Elder' stands on a hill top, looking down at his mother's funeral, an event he cannot attend because he is a wanted man. Inspiration, though is something else - I've racked my brain and can't say I have been inspired for sure. At the end of the day - movies are entertainment and it's easier to tap on the emotional drum than to inspire you to go out and do something, or change the world or inspire you to be different. Please tell me if you've been inspired at the pictures

I get weighed tomorrow, so I'll post an update as soon as I can.

Have a great week; whatever you are doing, be safe, be successful, be happy - and be INSPIRED!

Chat soon


Saturday, 14 November 2009

Eonverye taht can raed tihs rsaie yuor hnad...

I realised tonight I've just gone past 150 posts which I missed and would have had a mini celebration, well a glass of scotch anyway.

I like weekends and although the weather has prevented me doing what I want, it's been a relaxing day. I thought I'd share with you this conundrum, something I've seen before, but hopefully, you'll find it interesting.

About half of people can read this strange script which, on the face of it, looks like gobbledygook.

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too.

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

The explanation is in the text of course and if you can't read it, the answer is this: As long as the first and last letter are in the correct place, as long as all the letters are there, it can be read because the human mind reads the word as a whole and not the letters in turn.

You leran sonehtimg new erevy day.

Chat soon.


Friday, 13 November 2009

Unlucky for some...

It's an unlucky day for some and frankly, I've been keeping my head down.

I've had some real shitty things happen to me on this memorable day of general unluckiness, Friday the thirteenth: I've had a car written off by a bus - fortunately it was parked at the time and I wasn't in it, and I had a garage blown over in the wind and again I wasn't in that either at the time thank goodness. There have been many other little mishaps and one year, about 15 years ago, I remember having taken the day off and spending it in bed to reduce the risk almost entirely. I say almost, I could have sprained myself putting my socks on I suppose, but these days, I just keep myself to myself and don't do anything crazy or risky.

My superstitious nature comes from my mother's side of the family and I have written about that before and it can be funny to others but it can be serious to me, especially when I forget to do something to ward off the hex like throw salt over my shoulder or touch wood or pass my respect to the lone magpie..

The origin of unlucky Friday the thirteenth is, apparently firmly fixed in western folklore and thirteen means little if anything to anyone else around the world. I always thought it came from the thirteenth disciple of Jesus who betrayed him, and that has merit, but why Friday? Well, if you believe Dan Brown, he wrote in his novel the Da Vinci Code that Pope Clement V arrested the Knights Templar to steal their wealth and break their power, and that was ordered on Friday thirteenth. Although Friday 13th was the day that happened, that apparently was not the origin of the legend because the unlucky nature of the date didn't become popular as a superstition until the 1900s if you believe Wikipedia.

There are also other bizarre claims to its origin each lost to the mists of time and therefore it must remain a mystery, but nevertheless it remains a powerful influence over many people.

Anyway, as I type this at a sedentary pace so as not to strain something and prove the legend of the day, I can hear the rain belting against the window as the first signs of the predicted storm approaches. I was hoping this weekend to do some serious pruning in the garden, but although it should be dry tomorrow, the ground may still be unfit.

The picture above shows a whitebeam tree having been blown down during a storm at the back end of 2006 in the back garden.

Have a great weekend. Take EXTRA care.

Chat soon


Thursday, 12 November 2009

Who's a pretty boy then?

'Pretty' is not a description that I have ever had used about me and even though we say it to the budgies, I have no idea, in budgie terms, whether or not our two male birds are pretty at all. Perhaps you should ask our female budgie (the white one) but as she doesn't talk back, we'll never know. One of life's real mysteries.

The pic above is the budgies getting their weekly opportunity to have a bath in lovely warm water and they generally take to it really well. Harry (blue male) is getting wet and the voyeur is Jenny the white female making sure he washes properly. Sam, the other male budgie doesn't like washing much and is hiding away (you can just make him out far right in the cage).

I was going out one evening last summer (2008) when I saw this white thing fluttering around the drive way and then into the middle of the road. I realised it was a little budgie and asked my brother in law next door to help catch her. He got a kitchen towel and we managed to capture this exhausted little thing. She was in a hell of a poor condition, bedraggled, tired and very young indeed and had a deformed foot - it seems to me some heartless bugger had simply let this lovely little thing go because she was of no 'value.' Had we not found her, she undoubtedly would have perished through exhaustion or having been attacked by other birds.

Named Jenny, she is now the best flier of the three birds, although difficult to handle and persuade to come to hand but she is unquestionably the queen of the cage, bossing the other two mercilessly.

The birds really belong to my son who is at university and I sent him these pictures and he was delighted to see them, a reminder of home.

And today's topical story. Fred was a happily married man and he was comfortable with his life save for one thing. His wife was always taking in and nursing sick birds. One evening he came home after a long tiring day and found a crow sat on his favourite armchair with a beak in a splint. On the dining room table was a heavily bandaged red kite. In the kitchen, he found his wife putting a towel round a tiny shivering, tiny, cold wren.

"I am fed up with this, " Fred shouted. " I am sick and tired of these bloody..."

"Shhhhh," his wife responded with a finger to her lip. "Not in front of the chilled wren."

Chat soon


Monday, 9 November 2009

Only in England...

Hope you've had a good start to the working week and got over the Monday blues. My good friend Linda who is my Shiatsu back therapist (as well as my psychic circle buddy) suggested I need to massage my poorly knee (it's okay, just a little stiff when I don't use it) so she got me some massaging oil.

Imagine my surprise when I found it on my doorstep early this morning (she had taken hubby Ken to the railway station at 6 am and I definitely wasn't in the land of the awake when she dropped it off!) This is what she left:

Now then. The history of this particular product is that whippet and greyhound owners in the land of the cloth caps, Capstan full strength and half a bitter used to massage their racing dogs with this stuff to ease joints. The owners however found that they themselves never had any problems with strains or arthritis in their hands. Hence why people started using it and although it retains its quaint name, it's very much massaging oil for humans, although I'm sure a shaved animal or one with extremely short hair would still enjoy it.

The ingredients are petroleum jelly and Brassica Oleifera which I understand is similar to rape seed oil. I looked it up on the net and was somewhat amused to see that its characteristics are shown as follows: The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

If I start to grow boobs back after losing them or getting women's 'bits' where I shouldn't be having them - I'm suing (although I can see some advantages... ahem... perhaps we won't go there.)

Changing the subject slightly, although this is subject to a fuller blog in the future no doubt, there is something quaint or perhaps quintessential about being English, including the ability to take the Michael out of ourselves. I suppose the same could be said for any nationality, but there is something definitely English about our attitudes. Here are one or two characteristics of being English:

You don't expect buses, trains or planes to run on time;
You think that the weather is a far more interesting topic than the result of the general election;
When you're in Spain on your summer holiday, you seek out a bar that serves roast beef and sells Watney's Red Barrel;
You have no sense of rhythm at all;
If it's in the newspapers, it's true;
You understand the rules of cricket and particularly the LBW rule;
You actually care about the rules of cricket and the LBW rule;
You think Marty Wilde was every bit as good as Elvis Presley;
You take great delight in trying to teach other people the offside rule.

Have a great week.

Chat soon


Saturday, 7 November 2009

Toast for the day...

A warm welcome to Diane Parkin, fellow blogger and from Yorkshire to boot who has joined this small but select band of followers. Check her highly readable and interesting blog here - Diane Parkin

Great day today... lots done and what lovely autumnal weather, clear blue skies, chill and calm. The downstairs loo had to be broken into the other day because the lock had broken and we couldn't get in. A trip to the local B & Q this morning was successful in finding a new 'snick' which my other half fitted this afternoon so we have a loo that can be secured to save any embarrassment and we can now set the house alarm on a night. I also met an old friend who I haven't see for a few years in B & Q, Mark, who looked very well and we caught up with family news, his children are the same age as ours. He is a deputy head at a local 'secondary' school and he has just had a very successful OFSTED inspection.

Sainsburys was full to the gunnels and there were no small trolleys available so we took one of the big deep ones and only had about ten items, I ended up with a cricked back bending down into it. I won the Euro Millions last night. Not the jackpot you understand but got two stars and two numbers so with my £13 winnings (I couldn't spend £45M anyway), I bought some tickets for the roll over tonight - the £7M jackpot for the lotto would just about do it.

Then this afternoon after a visit from work colleague Ged who wanted some interview technique advice, my other half and I worked as a team to clear the garden of leaves and we collected a 'green' council bin full and two huge ton sized bags full as well. We took it all to the tip where we have to climb stairs to dump the stuff in a huge dumpster (ridiculous) and some dork parked his trailer right across the bottom of the stairs like no-one else mattered.

The lawn looks tidy if not a little bedraggled. The begonia tubers were parted from their tired stems and flowers and put in the greenhouse to dry and the dahlia tubers were lifted and also put in the greenhouse to dry out before I wrap them up for the winter. Bird feeders were filled up, tea cooked (wok chicken and roasted vegetables) and while my wife watches Strictly Come Dancing, to which she is sadly addicted, I am about to do some Adobe Photoshop lessons to learn to manipulate photographs to a better standard than I currently achieve.

I came across some toasts today in a book and I thought I'd share some with you. Thanks to Geoff Tibballs.

Toasts To Friends

To the lamp of true friendship. May it burn brightest in our darkest hours and never flicker in the winds of trial.

To a friend who remembers all the details of our childhood but is discreet enough not to mention them.

Toasts To Health

I drink to you health when I'm with you,
I drink to your health when alone;
I drink to your health so often
I've just about wrecked my own.

May you die in bed aged 97, shot by the jealous husband of a teenage wife.

Toast To Love

Here's to the prettiest; here's to the wittiest,
Here's to the truest of all who are true.
Here's to the neatest one, here's to the sweetest one,
Here's to them all wrapped in one - here's to you. (Awwww)

Toast To Men (by women)

Here's to men - who divide our time, double our cares and triple our troubles.

Toasts To Women (by men)

Here's to the ladies - first in our hearts and first in our wallets.

To our sweethearts and wives. May they never meet.

Have a great weekend.

Chat soon