Sunday, 30 August 2009

Desperately seeking...

I'm hunting, seeking, praying for a new source of Whortleberry Jam. My friend Linda brought me a jar she found in a shop in Taunton, Somerset whilst she was on a week's break down there, the last of the stock they had.

'What,' I hear you say, 'is Whortleberry Jam?' It is my discovery of the decade, well in food terms anyway. In short, it is jam made from wild bilberries from the genus Vaccinium. According to Wikipedia, in folklore it used to be thought to improve night vision which is uncertain, but it is thought to help macular degeneration (going blind in the middle of your line of sight?) and prevent heart disease.

Who knows, but I'll tell you what, it is the most sweet tasting, smooth jam I have ever had and knocks all the traditional jams into a cocked hat.

If you know of a source near you, please let me know.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Chat soon


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Berries for the birds

Whilst pottering in the garden tonight, filling the fish ponds, clearing a bit of excess oxygenating weed and watering the pots, I noticed what a lot of berries there are around already, most of which are red and ready for the birds. Below is a honeysuckle berry and a second flowering is going on.Of course locally, the saying is that the more berries there are is nature's way of preparing for a bad winter, so I thought I would look it up on the web and in fact nothing could be further from the truth. According to one researcher, Holly Hayes from Leicestershire, plenty of berries is in fact a sign of the good spring we had that allowed plenty of flowers and therefore more berries to set. Hmmm that's logical.

Chat soon


Friday, 28 August 2009

Here is the (extraordinary) news...

Where's the month gone - and summer hasn't arrived yet? We're promised a decent Bank Holiday weekend (public holiday to those not in the UK) with up to 26 degrees of warmth; I'm not holding my breath.

What an extraordinary day for news today which has kept me occupied during my breaks at work. The first story was about the 13 year old girl from Holland Laura Dekker who wanted to sail round the world on a solo voyage. I am absolutely delighted that the authorities have stepped in to stop it, well at least temporarily. The BBC reported: "Miss Dekker had planned to spend about two years aboard her 26ft (8m) boat, Guppy, to break the record set this week by a 17-year-old UK boy. Mike Perham tackled 50ft waves, gale force winds and technical problems during the 28,000 mile (45,000km) circumnavigation, which took him nine months."

I suppose there are two things for me, firstly the emotional and physical capability to succeed alone at that age make the odds of success low and serious injury or death high. Secondly, to justify breaking a world record (that's what it's about) she would miss two years at school at one of the most formative times of her life missing education and development of social skills. Miss Dekker reportedly told Dutch television, "Since I was 10 years old, I've known that I would like to sail around the world. I want simply to learn about the world and to live freely." Erm... yes dear - you'll certainly learn a lot about the world spending two years at sea and the odd stay in foreign ports.

The second extraordinary tale to come out, this time from across the pond is the remarkable story of Jaycee Lee Dugard who walked into a parole office in Concord California on Tuesday this week with the man who abducted her in 1991, 18 years ago. This has stark similarities with the incarceration in secret of Elisabeth Fritzl in Austria, kept a prisoner in her own home for 24 years.

I suppose the triumph and tragedy of this story is the heartache and stress her disappearance must have caused to her family and friends who must have mostly come to terms with the fact that they would never see her again set against the immense shock of discovering her alive and well and now having the need to rebuild their lives. The tragedy is that a woman and two children could be kept secret from society for so long and the luck they must have had to avoid injury or serious illness and all the other things that would put them in contact with the various social services available that we all take for granted. Amazing stuff, but glad she is back with her loved ones and again, an opportunity for those including her two children, with proper support to start to live a normal life.

And finally... a dead piranha fish has been found in a river in Devon (south west England) just off the River Torridge. Fortunately, the Environment Agency says it must have been put there as an unwanted pet (it was 14 inches long rather then the 6 - 8 inches it would have grown in a tank.) I know climate change is marching forward, but piranhas in Devon!

Time for a weekend list, haven't done one for a while. This week it's about political correctness, a pet subject, but without discriminating, thanks to Geoff Tibballs here are some phrases to ponder...


A man is not 'stupid - he suffers from minimal cranial development.
A man is not 'impotent' - he is procreationally challenged .
A man does not 'snore' - he is nasally repetitive
A man does not 'hog the blankets' - he is thermally unappreciative.
A man is not 'lazy' - he is energetically declined.
A man doesn't have a 'beer gut' - he has developed a liquid grain storage facility.


A woman does not have 'a moustache' - she is in touch with her masculine side.
A woman is not 'hooked on soap operas' - she is melodramatically fixated.
A woman does not have a 'sugar daddy' - she is a recipient of parental asset infusion.
A woman does not have 'PMT' - she becomes hormonally homicidal.
A woman is not 'dumb' - she is on a detour off the information superhighway.
A woman does not have a 'bad hair day' - she is suffering from rebellious follicle syndrome.

And just to make sure kids get a look in too...

A teenager has not got 'detention' at school - he's merely one of the 'exit delayed'.

Have a great weekend

Chat soon


Thursday, 27 August 2009

Sailing through calmer waters...

I hope the week finds you all well and enjoying this 'summer' of ours. During the rain and wind from the remnants of Hurricane Bill on Wednesday, it felt positively cold and autumnal at one stage.

My book about our family reunion has come back from the printers at last and I'm just about to send it out to the extended family. I put some old family photos in it and pictures of the event itself and it looks pretty good. The picture above is my amateur creation that went on the front page as a cover. All you creative souls among you could have done a better job, but the there is a certain satisfaction of doing something yourself?

My youngest has put his ticket in at the local Boots store as he pops off to University on the 19th August. Amazing, we have been trying to get hold of the student finance people for over a week and, surprise surprise, we can never get through on the phone despite waiting for literally hours for someone to answer and the web site doesn't answer our question. Most of our spare time seems to be hanging on to phones waiting for responses, [sigh!]

The week has settled down to a steadier pace and we are recovering from a hectic weekend but one piece of good news is that Honda have found a new car just out of the factory that someone else has cancelled, so we'll get our new car sooner rather than later.

Three men were sadly killed in a car crash and went to heaven. St Peter gave Eric a clapped out old Ford Transit van to drive round Heaven with because he had had four affairs whilst he was married. Raymond was given a rusty but usable Toyota pick up because he had only had two flings whilst he was married. Andy was given a brand new top of the range executive Range Rover because he had led a clean blameless life.

Eric and Raymond were very jealous of Andy's Range Rover until one day they found him parked on a cloud sat at the wheel of his car crying his eyes out. "Whatever's the matter Andy?" Asked Eric, "You've got the best car in Heaven, how could you be sad?"

"I know," sobbed Andy, "But I've just seen my wife go by on a skateboard."

Chat soon


Monday, 24 August 2009

More haste, less speed...

What a weekend - never been so busy and feel exhausted and it's only Monday!

Saturday was a busy day looking at cars - we want to update our three year old car before its MOT is due and we've found a nice Honda. The trouble is that when Honda closed their factories down during the early part of the recession, they got rid of all their stock, so the new car we want is not even on the production line yet and we will have to wait until October, still, at least it will have the new 59 registration. As a bonus, Hull City won their game in the Premiership, and whilst I'm not a supporter, I'm glad to see them getting a victory and the first at home for
some time.

Sunday was hectic but got the grass cut, blog written (albeit brief) family party in the afternoon, psychic demo in the evening and to underpin all that England won the Ashes!

Monday on the way home, I bought a second hand car that we spotted on Saturday for my middle lad to replace his ageing Fiat. I need to catch my breath!

The psychic demo was held at the Old English Gentleman, a quaint pub in the Hull City Centre. This is a bar that the luvvies from the New Theatre across the road gravitate to for drinkies after the show. The pub is black wood panelled inside and is full of photographs, signed by the visiting stars going back donkey's years, (click the picture to enlarge it and see if you can spot any of the old stars in the pics on the wall)

The history of the pub is brief and thanks to Paul Gibson for the facts: The pub first served beer around 1840 as an extra income for the grocer who ran the premises. It wasn't named the Old English Gentleman until 1872 and has survived numerous wars and still goes strong today.

The medium on the night had been drafted in because the originally booked medium was ill. This guy had only done one to one readings for people in his own home and had never held a pub audience before, but he was very good despite his nervousness. I was the only guy there in the audience and it was very interesting indeed. I received a message from my late grandfather Cyril and what he said, through the medium was very accurate. Everyone else seemed to find him good as well, so a success.

Off for a bath to relax despite it being very late, have a great week.

Chat soon


Sunday, 23 August 2009

Places to go, people to see...

Just a short blog today to keep in touch; busy, busy, busy - places to go, people to see and it's SUNDAY for goodness sake! (BTW, if you are reading this Auntiegwen (fellow blogger) - good luck and keep your head held VERY high.)

Father in law is 80 and the family and his five children are having tea together this afternoon. After that I am going with a good friend to a psychic demo late this afternoon in a quaint pub in Hull city centre near to the New Theatre where the luvvies sometimes go after a performance. I've just been on the treadmill on a fat burning exercise and I have to cut the grass and have lunch all before 2 pm.

My other half must have had a rush of blood to the head yesterday. I had tea with my fellow blogger and good friend Middle Aged Gapper on Friday afternoon at Luciano's Restaurant in Hessle, East Yorkshire on the terrace on a lovely afternoon and we had a great Italian meal washed down with iced sparkling water. During the meal we discussed many things including his use of a Lumix camera while on his exciting adventure holiday. I got a very practical discourse about the pros and cons of the camera and have been thinking about buying one to supplement my Canon 40D, something I can slip in my pocket.

Well the rush of blood led to my other half saying "Yes" on a whim while we were in Curry's getting a new set of earphones for the iPod last night (my wife has commandeered mine!) So, I'll give you the results on here soon. Thanks for the advice (and the excellent fayre) MAG.

There was a young girl from Madras
Who had the most beautiful ass.
But not as you'd think
Firm, round and pink,
It was grey, had long ears and ate grass.

Chat soon


Thursday, 20 August 2009

'A' level frenzy

In the UK it's 'A' level results day. 'A' levels, the right of passage between school and University or college or a life working and earning hard cash. As always, the press seem to have a field day in rubbishing the results saying it's too easy and the simple and flawed argument they use is that it must be easier because more are passing. Doh! They would of course hate to admit that teaching standards might be improving through Governmental or local policies and controls, better head teaching and direction, committed teachers, kids getting brighter, parents more supportive etc.

My youngest lad has received his results today and he got what he wanted, a B and two C grades. He would have liked a couple of higher grades, but like me, he has to graft to learn, nothing sticks photographically and to achieve them he worked damned hard and even resat his interim exams (AS levels) to improve his grades. Long hours, hard work and determination got him his reward, a place at Liverpool University. I have told him in no uncertain terms that the hard work will start once he gets there and this last year will seem like a picnic compared to what he'll have to do, but he'll give it his best shot. My motto with all my children is simple: 'Do your best, work hard and you will get the best results for you.' I ask nothing more. Well done son!

I was so relieved that he had been accepted by his University, I was more nervous than him waiting for the results and on the prospect of trying to find another one if he wasn't accepted at such short notice and in such fierce competition for places.

I have joined up with two good friends to do a week's course at the Arthur Findlay College in Essex next year on 'The Spirit, the Psychic and The Artist.' My good friend Shirley Ann is an exception psychic artist and her partner Barry is also a great psychic medium and both are good experienced artists in their own right so I'll need to do a little catching up and do some serious drawing practice. Drawing people I always think is the hardest thing to do, capturing a likeness, capturing character, the unique smile perhaps, the distinctive jaw line, unlike the equally as challenging but docile and well behaved apple and orange still life. What is best to use - pencils, charcoal, something else and what is the best paper to use? I'll find out of course unless you have any suggestions.

I asked my other half for permission to go, although I had already made my mind up because she doesn't believe or more accurately approve of this spiritual 'mumbo-jumbo'. Her only concern was the cost, but for full board it seemed extremely reasonable. Anyway, approval was tacitly given so I need to save a couple of hundred pounds but I think it's a good investment for my personal development.

My middle lad has just brought me a welcome cuppa so I'll finish that off and think about an hour on the old treadmill.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Terry's Old Geezers

I like the radio on in the car although I'm not a fan of CDs because I end up concentrating more on skipping tracks I don't like. "Why did you crash sir?" "Because I was giving George Michael the old one-two officer."

In a morning on the way to work, I am treated to a lesson in how to broadcast trivial nonsense with such style and panache so as to be nearly untrue. I am of course talking about 'Wake up to Wogan' on BBC Radio 2, which I catch between 7.30 and 8 am ish. The quality of his prolonged discourse in bollocks coupled with his sardonic irony and sarcasm (enough adjectives?) is unique. I pity the poor 'traffic wench' from the Valleys Lynn Bowles who is the butt of many a jape and witty comment from Terry and his many and varied correspondents (like Chuffer Dandridge, Ivy Noidea, Anne Tique and Ernie Oldiron for example). The innuendo from rhymes sent in from his listeners are subtly cut off before they become bawdy with reference to her parts rhyming with 'bits' or 'flickers'.

Finally the 'Janet and John' series broadcast every now and then with the host Wogan himself reading a story in the genre of Janet and John fully resplendent with characterisations are surely more brilliant and intelligent than the best 'Carry on...' - innuendo of the highest calibre. Many's the time I've laughed so much, I've had to stop the car to wipe the tears from my eyes.

So what is a TOG (Terry's Old Geezers)? I got a 'I am a TOG' car sticker from him once to put on my rear windscreen so traffic wardens would take pity and clampers would hang their heads in shame at the very thought of clamping one of Terry's TOGs. Other bewildered souls seeing the sticker used to bib their horns and put their thumbs up in embarrassed sheepish recognition of a fellow TOG.

Well I suppose a TOG is someone of a certain age with a bewildered air about them and perhaps whose love of common sense and ideals leave them feeling somewhat isolated from the modern get up and go world, ('My get up and go got up and went.')

I suspect if you want to know more, tune in and have a giggle to start the day.

Here's some 'do it' car stickers examples starting with the topical one:

Broadcasters do it with frequency.
Snooker players do it bending over.
Lawyers do it in their briefs.
Disc Jockeys do it on request.
Photographers do it in a flash.
Acupuncturists do it with a small prick.
and finally...
Travel Agents do it in lots of unusual places.

Chat soon


Monday, 17 August 2009

Mixed bag...

Hi bloggers to this new week with some good news and less good news. Firstly, I would like you to do me a favour please. I would like you to read this blog by one of my regular blogging correspondents Magnumlady (Val) in Sligo who is experiencing a lot of frustration through the ineffectiveness of their local health service and the plight of her son Jonathan as a consequence. Let her know what you think by leaving her family a message of support. Thanks.

The diet is going on apace and today was 'weigh day'. The treadmill has been a big help I must admit and my other half has been very supportive of its use and indeed has started to use it herself. The sweat has been pouring off (yuk) in this warmer season - note I didn't say 'hotter'. In the last four weeks, I have lost over 12 pounds (5.6Kg). In her efforts to support me, my wife has been eating the same food and exercising herself, although she does have a job which involves a lot of walking and lifting and therefore is reasonably fit already. She got weighed herself and she has lost 19 pounds (8.6Kg).

In total then, since the end of February - I've lost 76.78 pounds, or 34.9 Kg, roughly five and a half stones.

Ironically, the picture above is my great grandmother who had this'fun' picture taken whilst on a trip to the seaside, just over seventy years ago (July 1939) - she looks a bundle of laughs!

My good friend Middleagedgapper will return in the next couple of days from his exciting adventure holiday in Turkey and I look forward to reading his blog with all the news and pictures. I am meeting him for a spot of tiffin on Friday this week. Welcome back. I wish I had the guts to do something like that, but it'll take me ages to get fit and I can't afford it (that's my excuse)! I would like to go and visit my ancestors First World War grave in Belgium one day and that might be a short break we'll take in the late autumn - in the car and across the North Sea ferry.

You may recall Ive been doing my family history for about thirty years now and I keep getting correspondence from all round the globe enquiring about the family and rarely are they connected - the enquiries are little more than a shot in the dark usually. I have however in the last day or so been corresponding with a lady in Kent - Janis who may well be connected to a great, great, great, great, great grandmother of mine, born back in 1769 in the sleepy hollows of Lincolnshire. Good to meet people from around the globe - like visitors to our blogs.

My story today concerns our favourite profession, bankers.

Two women were walking through the woods one morning when they nearly stepped on a frog on the path. "Help me, help me," croaked the frog. "I'm a banker, but a witch put a curse on me and turned me into a frog. If one of you gorgeous ladies would like to kiss me, I'll turn back into a handsome hunky banker."

One of the ladies picked him up and put him in her handbag. "Didn't you hear what he said?" Enquired the friend, "Kiss him and he'll turn into a handsome banker."

"Listen," her friend replied, "These days, he's worth more as a talking frog than a banker!"

Chat soon


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Perseids come, Perseids go...

Pic above was taken on a Canon 40D on a tripod with an 18mm lens on f5.6 for 4 minutes on 'bulb' about 10.30pm at night 12 August 2009, looking north, north west from Brantingham Dale, East Yorkshire. Click to enlarge.

The Perseids came and the Perseids went, with a bit of a fizzle rather than the spectacular light display we were promised, but then when we went out to see them, thin high cloud took the edge off the brightness that meteors normally give out.

My brother in law, my youngest lad and I went out in the car with our cameras, he with the additional lap
top so we could see what results he was getting with the very unpredictable method of opening the shutter with the 'bulb' setting for minutes on end for every exposure. The results were okay except I never caught a meteor and I ended up feeling very cold indeed by midnight with numb ears and hands and nose. There was a fair old breeze which spoilt it a bit. Never the less, I'll share a couple of pictures with you which I took when we drove out into the high, isolated and dark countryside which overlooks the Humber basin.
Pic above was taken on a Canon 40D on a tripod with an 18mm lens on f5.6 for 10 minutes on 'bulb' about 11.30pm at night 12 August 2009, looking east, south east from Brantingham Dale, East Yorkshire. Click to enlarge

Attractive area by day, eerie by night. Being rural and isolated, there were several parked cars on this particular road with 'couples' doing what couples do in cars on dark isolated roads in the country. 'There's a few here looking for meteors,' my son said innocently. 'I don't think they're here gazing at the sky,' I replied. My brother in law quipped, 'perhaps there'll be some mooning!' I'm not sure whether or not that went right over his head.

We did see a few meteors flashing briefly across the heavens and it's difficult to imagine that the burning of something the size of a grain of sand could produce such a bright effect, many miles high up in the rare atmosphere. I look forward to the Leonids in November - reminder to self - 'get wrapped up!'

I'm now going to disappear and put a shelf up in my son's bedroom.

Chat soon


Sunday, 9 August 2009

What's in a weekend...

Hope you're having a great weekend, although, sadly, it's nearly over.

It's been a warm balmy day today, not too hot (unless, like my friend Middle Aged Gapper, you were running in a 10K race) but pleasant never-the-less. The question is, where has the summer gone? I turned on the goggle box this afternoon before taking my other half a cup of tea in bed around 4 pm (she's on nights) to see football! Football! Football is a winter sport - allegedly. The Ashes series, now finely balanced hasn't even finished yet and on BBC 1 tonight was rugby league - a hitherto winter game now played in bright warm summer sunshine instead of cold, wet muddy parks.

My mother and father say that one day is like another and weekends for them (retired) are the same as any other day. Shops are open on a weekend, a lot of financial services are open now on the phone throughout the weekend and they are absolutely right about the fact that Sundays are no longer 'special'. For people like me who work Monday to Friday nine to five (I've done my share of health damaging shift work thanks) weekends are precious, so precious in fact that I have started to become slightly more lazy, deliberately doing things on a weekday evening, like shopping and cutting the grass in order to take advantage of two days off.

As a kid, I can remember the need for a half day closing of shops in the village (Wednesday afternoon if I remember) and most factories and other places of non retail work would finish on a lunch time on Saturday and the men would get their pay and go to their Saturday afternoon winter pursuit of football, or rugby or other sport or shopping etc., leaving them just one day off per week.

I don't know if you've noticed that now the little darlings are off school, the Internet connections are now somewhat slower than usual, particularly as the wet weather is keeping them indoors. Today's story has a computer theme.

The Army installed a new computer. As a demonstration of its capability, an officer asked the computer's new voice recognition programme, "How far is it from these headquarters to the nearest coast?"
The computer answered in a millisecond, "Seven hundred."
The officer, somewhat confused asked it, "Seven hundred what?"
The computer responded, "Seven hundred, SIR!"

Chat soon


Thursday, 6 August 2009


Today is a sad day for me in some ways, a day of reflection and thought. Through the drizzle and rain and dark sky I want to remember two extraordinary characters who have passed from this life into the next to join millions of others who they have represented in the last years of their lives with dignity, honour and quiet reflection.

I want to think about and pay tribute to the late Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, 113 and 111 years of age respectively at the time of their death, the last of the soldiers of World War One, fighting for freedom, defending their country against tyranny and who fought among those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us - for me and you.

Harry Patch, in his later years talked about peace and reconciliation and the horrors of what he saw, faced and lived through in the dirty, wet, blood soaked, body ridden trenches of foreign fields.

He said that any soldier who walked in line to the front who wasn't scared was a liar, and I believe him. The terror of going over the wall with nothing but faith as a shield, knowing that any second, your last breath has just been expended is just too much to bear to think about. Yet they did it time and time again and amazingly many survived.

My great grand uncle Herbert Stanley Joseph Jones died in the trenches in Belgium on Monday 19th November, 1917 as a 28 year old Lance Corporal in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. Although I haven't visited his grave, it does exist and one day I will pay my respects to him as I do in my thoughts occasionally, and I will tonight in my prayers.

The 'Ode to Remembrance', or part of it by Laurence Binyon from his poem 'For the Fallen' is for remembrance of all those who fell.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Harry Patch was right of course about the need for peace and reconciliation. Reconciliation means to be no longer opposed, to become friendly with or re-establish relationships with someone. Is war ever justified? This isn't the place or time for the debate, just thoughts about sacrifice tonight is enough to become sober and rational about war and its consequences. But war is about people, combatants and civilians, heroes and victims, innocent and guilty isn't it? And that is my priority tonight - people.

I have mentioned Rupert Brookes before in my blog, but perhaps it's worth thinking about his words carefully and their meaning from his poem, 'The Soldier:'

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Natural born killer at large...

As I drove up to the house tonight after work and parked up, I was greeted by my nephew next door hanging out the window saying a hawk had just come down in my garden and everyone was watching it eat a pigeon.

I nipped round to his garden and over the fence with my brother in law watched in awe as a Sparrow Hawk devoured the bulk of the unfortunate victim of a lethal and dastardly crime. This natural born killer was systematically and calmly, indeed with no conscience at all de-feathering the pigeon and ripping its flesh and I wondered if it would turn its attentions to the squirrels or the yob who drives along the road at 75 mph every night? I'd pay!

Joking apart, this true spectacle was amazing and although no-one actually saw the kill itself, to have this rare and wonderful bird in the garden was something I will remember for a long time.

Thanks to my son for having the presence of mind to take a picture (above - click on the image to enlarge it,) which I must share with you good bloggers.

Chat soon


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Oh Mr Porter...

White rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit.

As I sit down to review the day, it's only 7.20pm and as I begin typing, the street light is on outside, a full two hours before it would normally come on. Bring it on August! The third test at Edgebaston (Birmingham) has been wiped out and the outfield is under water.

Time for a meditation tonight to clear the mind of the junk on the TV I've sat and watched in the vain hope the cricket would start sometime today, and I thought it was time to do some memory testing again, something meditation can help you with making it easier, for a reason I don't know, to bring back the memories you want to bring back.

We were talking the other day about kids hanging around in gangs. Well I hung around with a group of lads but we never considered ourselves a 'gang.' We played in the street, even as teenagers but never caused trouble. British Bulldog, hide and seek were just two of many games; we went into the park after it was closed to sit in the shelter and we had a few bottles of beer (Indian Pale Ale or Nut Brown Ale) , but we never got drunk, committed vandalism or any other anti social crime.

Cottingham, where I was brought up was reputed to be the biggest village in England, something I don't think was ever proven. It also boasted having almost every species of tree known to man from around Europe and beyond within its boundary, mainly thanks to Victorian benefactors and a busy botanical gardens at the local University of Hull. It was surrounded by fields, a green belt which still survives today separating it from its big city rival of Hull.

Going to each other houses in turn was a regular weekly feature playing board games: Monopoly, Totopoly and other card games. We played cricket on the school field on a night against our rivals from the other side of the village, but all organised and done with fun in mind. I can remember playing cricket so late one night it was getting darker and darker but only a few runs were needed to win. I was keeping wicket and the bowler made his run (we were using a real hard cricket ball and no-one had pads) and bowled. The problem was I never saw the ball and neither did the batsman and frankly neither did anyone else. Everyone screamed and hit the deck covering their head or other delicate bits.

The bowler was the only one still on his feet, in hysterics because he had never let go of the ball!

Evenings were long and safe. I walked by myself to my grandparents house on the other side of the railway lines (Hull to Scarborough line) from being fairly young and never worried about strangers. My mother told me in a vague unspecific way that if anyone tried to grab me I was to kick them between the legs! Something a not very confident ten year old would really think of doing! The walk over the railway was well lit and the bridge over the lines was a fun place to dwell and be on it when the steam train used to go underneath it and I was covered in a blanket of steam and smoke. Diesels were never the same - you just choked! Gas lamps were lit on the station and surrounding footpaths every evening except Sunday when no trains ran and that was a spooky time when I used to run all the way there and back along the long, shadowy and occasionally steep snickets (enclosed footpaths or some call them tenfoots) that intertwined the whole area.

The old red LNER (London and North East Railway) signs with white painted lettering stood at each of the little crossings across the line warning trespassers of being fined 10 shillings (50 pence today). The main crossing gates were still open and closed by a crossing keeper who used a huge wheel like a ship's wheel to stop traffic with the gates. Signals were still raised and lowered by hand by the crossing keeper and the oil lamps were put out on the signal every evening before dark by the station porter to light the signal so the engine driver could see if the signal was red (in a horizontal position) or green (in a raised position). Red fire buckets full of sand lined the station, bedding plants in borders brightened the place up and old wooden trolleys, probably from the Victorian age still littered the platform in the hope of the carriage of luggage to the ticket office entrance. You couldn't get on the train or off it without a ticket (no purchase on trains in those days) and there were ladies and gentleman's waiting rooms.

I can still vividly recall the smell of oil on the tracks. On Saturdays I think it was, there was a release of racing pigeons on the platform, dozens of baskets opened at the same time and hundreds of birds released doing circles in the air before disappearing on the long journey toward home - one of natures mysterious miracles.

Here's today's story (thanks to Anita)

A young couple wanted to join the church, the vicar told them, 'We have a special requirement for new member couples. You must abstain from sex for one whole month.' The couple agreed, but after two-and-a-half weeks returned to the Church. When the vicar ushered them into his office, the wife was crying and the husband was obviously very depressed.

'You are back so soon...Is there a problem?' the vicar enquired.

'We are terribly ashamed to admit that we did not manage to abstain from sex for the required month.' The young man replied sadly. The vicar asked him what happened.

'Well, the first week was difficult... However, we managed to abstain through sheer willpower. The second week was terrible, but with the use of prayer, we managed to abstain. However, the third week was unbearable. We tried cold showers, Prayer, reading from the Bible... anything to keep our minds off Carnal Thoughts.

'One afternoon my wife reached for a can of paint and dropped it. When she bent over to pick it up, I was overcome with lust and I just had my way with her right then and there. It was lustful, loud, passionate sex. It lasted for over an hour and when we were done we were both drenched in sweat,' admitted the man, shamefacedly.

The vicar lowered his head and said sternly, 'You understand this means you will not be welcome in our church.'

'We know.' said the young man, hanging his head, 'We're not welcome at Homebase either.'

Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Chat soon