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


Thursday, 5 November 2009

Remember, remember the fifth of November...

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

As I sit here trying to catch my breath after walking uphill at a fair old pace for 45 minutes, I am listening to a cacophony of bangs, booms, whistles of every imaginable pitch and even inside, sulphur rends the air. Although it's a clear chill night with a breeze, there's a misty atmosphere about the place emphasised in the mercury street lights. The dog, who is deaf and almost totally blind is oblivious and sleeping soundly next to my son who is reading Armadale by Wilkie Collins in the conservatory.

I haven't done the memory test for a while and I thought tonight might be good, being in a reflective mood and when I was trying to recall memories of bonfire night, I remember an incident at school as if it were yesterday and I would be about 9 or 10 year old. It was the morning of the 5th November and we were sat on the shiny floor of the hall at Hallgate Junior School in Cottingham in East Yorkshire in morning assembly. I was sat next to a boy called Martin Davis and I remember turning to him and saying how excited I was because I loved fireworks and that I couldn't wait for the night to come. He turned to me and said of course he could wait, I shouldn't be so excited, I was being stupid. I'm not sure why I remember that so vividly but I also recall being embarrassed and slightly shocked that someone didn't share my enthusiasm.

Never-the-less, the rebuke did not dampen my enthusiasm and although the kids are grown up now and don't set off fireworks anymore, I still get a thrill out of seeing them in the sky and smelling the spent 'gunpowder' in the air, even the next morning as I walk to the car the smell hangs in the air and I smile on finding the odd spent rocket in the garden too among the damp leaves.

I lived down the road from a lad called Christopher E++++ during my school life, a bright lad, a bit of an adventurer and fun to be around. He had a coal bunker made of brick in his garden that the family didn't use for coal any longer and it made an ideal den. We collected spent fireworks from our respective gardens from the previous night, hid away in the den and scooped grains of what we thought was unspent 'gunpowder' that remained into a spent firework tube like a Roman Candle, made a fuse and tried to set it off. We never succeeded, but we tried it several years running. Sadly as a young man, Christopher died of aids, a shocking and unique event for the community in which we lived, probably one of the first cases I had ever heard of - indeed I didn't really know what aids was then.

When I first started work I remember buying a huge firework because I could afford it, which gave a warning (only read when I got it home) that you couldn't set it off with 100 metres of a building. My mother and father were with me and we decided to put it on the grass verge in the street and set it off. Looking back, we were only about 25 yards from the house. After the first big flare went off into the air and literally deafened us all with the unexpected explosive bang, it fell over. In our panic, unable to do anything for fear of serious injury in case we tried to right it, we could only watch helplessly as it set off three more huge flares which shot off down the road at ankle level like a tracer bullet and exploded some 50 yards away. Thank God no-one was driving down the road or walking past. Needless to say we slid quickly and quietly back into the house hoping nobody had noticed!

We all had the penny bangers which we let off in the back tenfoots (we weren't vandals and didn't put them through letterboxes or tie them to cats tails), and we threw Chinese jumping crackers at each others feet in the dark and jumped about trying to avoid them. Sparklers were lit, our names written in the darkness and then thrown into trees as we imagined them to be fairies dancing in the branches. Looking back - stupid things to do, but I can't remember realising it was at all dangerous - ah the innocence, or was it foolishness of youth.

I know not everyone enjoys Bonfire Night for a variety of reasons, but if you had a party or attended an organised event, I hope you had a great time.

My final thoughts tonight go to a friend whose dad passed away earlier this evening.

Chat soon


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Official: 'Good to be Grumpy'

It's official because it's on the BBC and we believe everything published in the media - it's good to be grumpy!

Now I'm not one to be grumpy although I have my moments but an Australian expert Joe Forgas who has been studying emotions told a magazine "...that being grumpy makes us think more clearly." In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed. While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking.

I can now properly explain to my boss when I'm in a grumpy mood, it's because I want to think straight.

The picture above is my first attempt to follow in the footsteps of the great photographer and fellow blogger Magnumlady from Ireland. I was about to clean the mountain of leaves off the lawn on Sunday despite the dreadful heavy rain when there was a brief lull so I thought I would start looking for some abstract colours in the fallen leaves to photograph when I spotted this lone maidenhair tree leaf from next door's tree among all the maple, sycamore, beech, birch oak and lime leaves from everyone elses garden. I couldn't quite get the droplets of water as sharp, but it's a start.

Have a great week.

Chat soon


Sunday, 1 November 2009

Amazing Mugenkyo Drummers

White rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit, welcome November the ninth month in the old Gregorian Calendar hence novem, Latin for nine.

I have had an extraordinary experience last night (Saturday) at the Hull City Hall watching the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers. Two and a quarter hours of stunning entertainment with drumming of the most incredible timing and dexterity from the performers producing a unique sound I will never forget. If you get chance to see this troupe wherever you are in the country, please don't hesitate if you want to be royally entertained.

Six drummers and one dancer provided unashamed theatre with a hint of fun as well as a spiritual edge, deeply embedded with culture of the far east, particularly Japan. The audience was spell bound and were rewarded with a quarter of an hours worth of encore before leaving me exhausted and thrilled to make my way home.

The set was simple, uncomplicated and the varied drums, large and small as well as their ancillary instruments were moved about by the performers themselves to make room for their athletic performances throughout the night. The drumming represented 'traditional' drumming music as well as modern and audience participation toward the end was encouraged by the use of hand clapping and feet stomping. Breathtaking brilliance.

Visit their website at (for some bizarre reason, I cannot for the life of me make the link work through this blog, please type it in your browser.)

Have a great November as we look forward to St Andrews Day (30th), Advent (last Sunday), Remembrance Day (11th), All Saints Day (1st), Thanksgiving in the USA (fourth Thursday), as well as the month long awareness campaigns for pancreatic cancer, Alzheimer's, lung cancer, national youth homeless month and dedication to Holy Souls in purgatory in the Roman Catholic Church.

Chat soon