Sunday, 31 January 2010

Winter's Sunday afternoon walk

Horses munching in a Hessle field with a vista of Hull in the background

Her indoors is not well today, woke up with a frozen shoulder and for no other reason that she must have slept awkwardly on it. I exercised for the first time in a week this morning because of my cold and it felt fine. My wife and son went visiting the out-laws this afternoon and considering I was going to be on my own, I thought I would go out for a walk on this glorious winter's day.

All wrapped up like Nanook of the North with thermal gloves, thermal hat, padded jacket, scarf, robust boots, within 50 yards from the house I was boiling! There has been no breeze today and in the sun it's been great. My walk took me through Hessle and through the residential area. North facing roofs still had a full covering of frost and the remnants of the snow is everywhere wh
ere the sun hasn't melted it, and where it has, frozen pools of water lay undisturbed and a reminder we are in the middle of winter.

There were very few people about today walking, but the roads were very busy with traffic. I walked through the mostly deserted shopping streets one of which is a pleasant pedestrianised road to see some empty shops and one or two with 'closing down' signs. It's a while since I've walked there and I noticed how many fast food shops there are operating now. I bought my lottery tickets from the paper shop (don't forget, the Euro Millions is worth £85,000,000 or Euro97,750,000 this coming Friday - get a ticket, and if you win, don't forget who reminded you!). I also bought some Fisherman's Friends which cleared my nasal passages within seconds.

The start of my gentle climb up this country path toward the west and home and within a few yards or so, this is the start of the Wolds marking the divide between the flat lands of the Holderness Plains and the Wolds

Turning north, I passed through a cul de sac, then a passageway and spotted the house I used to live in between 1980 and 1996 where we lived when the children were born and where they were brought up in their formative years. Strange to see it close-to again, it hasn't changed much at all.
Footpaths here that never see the sun in a winter were treacherous with ice.

Back to the main road and out towards the edge of the village took me to the public footpath which starts to climb to the west and back toward home. This is a rugged path between fields and there were some dog walkers way in front of me heading in the same direction. The path was a little rough which didn't do my knee much good but apart from being
a bit slippy in the muddy bits, a steady climb to the horses field at the top saw the gentle climb come to an end.
Looking into the low late afternoon sun toward the end of the gentle climb with the horses in the distance.

The fields still have bits of snow spotted around in the furrows not touched by the sun. The horses were literally steaming in the cold, but they seemed happy enough and some of them were chomping on freshly deposited straw (or is it hay?) They did trot towards me and unfortunately, I didn't have any nibbles for them and I didn't think a Fisherman's Friend would have gone down well! Next time I'll take some carrots.

There was an unusual weather vane (pictured right against a clear blue sky) I spotted on one of the old houses in the quaintly named 'Jenny Brough Lane' and then after two hours trekking, I arrived home to a welcome cup of tea and a hot soak in the bath.

Don't forget (I always seem to be saying that - sorry) say 'white rabbit' three times for luck tomorrow, the first day of a new month.

Chat soon


Saturday, 30 January 2010

I smell a rat...

Rats are very interesting creatures but mostly vilified by myth and legend – often portrayed in fiction and cartoons as the long nosed villain, the baddy, someone not to be trusted.

I heard a line on a film the other day when an actor said, in a very French accent, “I don’t give a rat’s ass.” Hmmm – not quite sure what that refers to although I get the gist. I suppose the most famous thing rat’s are responsible for is the plague. Plagues, over the centuries are said to have killed 200,000,000 people and the infamous Black Death plague of the 1300s killed a quarter of the population of Europe and came about through infected fleas from rats originating in the Gobi Desert. Of course today, although plague still exists, very rarely is it fatal and can be completely cured by the use of antibiotics.

If you 'rat' on someone, you are supposed to 'dob them in' or inform on them, hence the negative connotation in the criminal world and on celluloid.

There are many fictional rats, some bad, some good and all, frankly, ugly: the author James Herbert wrote about a very aggressive species of mutant rats in his Rats Quadrilogy. There are some good ones though, Roland Rat is a puppet from British TV – fairly friendly I think, and there’s the relaxed Ratty Rat, friend and mentor of Mole from Wind in the Willows.

The Rat King from the Mutant ninja Turtles, remember him? Was he good, bad or neutral – I guess it depended on his mood? Even the Care Bears had a couple of nasty rats with the Rat King as well as the villainous Sir Funnybone.

Everyone did James Cagney impressions, shrugging shoulders and snarling, “You dirty rat!” and we remember Ernie Wise’s dreadful impersonation. In fact, Cagney always said it was something that he had never said in a film. Sarah Jessica Parker once said, and how correct she was, “A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.”

Why am I talking of rats?

Rattus norvegicus, the name for the brown rat seen mostly anywhere humans live in this part of the world is what we have in our garden right now. Three in fact. My other half is going to ring the council on Monday and ask for some assistance in getting rid.

Daddy rat photographed through the living room window on Saturday 30 January 2010, (actually, I never got close enough to look, it may be mummy rat - in any case this is just the largest of three that have suddenly appeared over the last few days that emptied my low level bird table.)

We had a cat once a few years ago that was an excellent rat catcher and we once found three headless rats on the lawn one morning as a present. On that occasion, an old large rambling mansion had been demolished a hundred or so yards up the road and clearly the rats had been displaced from there.

Shortly after the cat died, we then had a family of rats in our greenhouse tunnelling under the pavers inside and so extensive was their ‘rat run’ the pavers subsided when you stood on them. The council got rid of them for us on that occasion too!

Do I like them or hate them? In a comic book they’re fine – in the garden – absolutely not. Weil disease and infections from rat urine is a real hazard and as I spend a lot of time in the garden, I don’t want any additional risks over and above others that present themselves through being bitten, stung, scratched by thorns, shit on by careless birds and other general diseases and nasties that can be found in dark, dank corners.

Sleep well!

Chat soon


Yes dear, whatever you say dear...

What a glorious if somewhat 'brass monkey' day! Freezing cold, clear bright sunny day and a fresh dusting of snow. My friend Barry who lives in Hornsea, on the East Yorkshire coast reports three inches of fresh laying snow this morning.

In an earlier blog in October I told the lamentable tale of Citibank and their dreadful customer focus in taking two hours to not answer the phone when I was trying to activate the account and deposit a few quid in what was a new account I had previously just opened on line. After I eventually activated it after yet another interminable wait listening to recorded messages about how important the call was, I couldn't access the account on line. I rang the helpline and a very patient woman from the other side of the world tried to get me into my own account and couldn't explain why she couldn't. A new PIN was ordered to hopefully 'reset the system' and I would have no problem. Guess what? The PIN duly arrived and I still can't get into the system to access or work with my cash.

I have written a letter this morning using old fashioned method of snail mail to cancel the account and transfer the money to my normal bank account which I have been using on-line for years without a hitch. It's only a relatively small amount of cash, but I would have used the account for what little savings I make because the interest rate is good.

I was going to go into the garden today to do some pruning ready for the spring, but the frost and snow has stopped me doing that although I have got the bug to get out and get it done because some bits and pieces have started to arrive from plants and stuff I've ordered on line for the summer. A small bay tree has come and it's in the conservatory waiting for the worst of the frosty weather to go before I can put it out in a sheltered spot. My last one died as it reached about three feet tall, so I hope to have better luck with this good looking little specimen.

The problem living 'up north' is that stuff that isn't fully hardy can't be risked outdoors always unless it's really well sheltered. My trouble this year is that I'm replacing bedding plants which I put in the borders and tubs with shrubs because of the squirrels digging everything up so choosing stuff that is interesting and has colour has not been easy. J Parker's catalogue and Sutton's seed catalogue have been very useful in planning and I've spotted some interesting plants for the shady spots I need to fill as well some good advice in the BBC Gardeners World magazine.

I haven't told her indoors what it's cost! and I still need to source some suitable soil to replace the old multi-purpose compost I normally use in the tubs.
I have relented and I'm going to have some flowers in baskets hanging from brackets on the walls, so at least I'll have a few bright colours and I've gone for a pink collection of flowers and a red collection.

I hope you enjoy the weekend, my cold is still hanging on so I may just use the excuse for taking it easy for the next couple of days. A trip to the council tip this morning was partly successful except they will not take shredded paper into the paper bin and they insist in me putting it in the general waste hopper that is not recycled - WHAT'S THE POINT!

I thought I would muse about marriage and relationships again but don't blame me... perhaps this one is more biased toward us guys this time (I do try to be balanced and neutral but it's sooooo hard) it's the way it is - honest guv!


A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from M&S.
The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337 (according to a daily newspaper but then it does have a red top!)

A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

A woman has the last word in any argument.

Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.


A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.


A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.

A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.

A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.


Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favourite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.

A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.


A married man should forget his mistakes.
There's no use in two people remembering the same thing.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

I'll have a tuna sandwich for my cold please...

Headline news: Iraq Inquiry? No. UK limps out of recession? No. Rich-poor gap widens? No.

The truth of today's news is: Someone has given me a cold.

This isn't just an ordinary cold, this is an M&S cold. I've had the odd sniffle and sore throat recently which is what you'd expect this time of year but this is a full blown head cold, sore throat and blocked konk. Fortunately, it is not swine flu but frankly it is man flu - the proof of which is I am writing about it because it's the only thing in my life worth talking about today.

I now deserve shares in Beechams. I have loads of those ball shaped rhinovirus thingies running about inside me - yuk! (picture from here) Now then, as an alternative to purchasing highly expensive cold remedies, as a Yorkshireman allegedly careful with his cash (a Yorkshireman is often described as a Scotsman with the generosity surgically removed) I could have tried a natural remedy and there are many to choose from.

Firstly, the only preventative measure available know to mankind other than cutting yourself off from the human race which is not a bad thing now and then is to wash your hands and then that only works in 16% to 20% of cases - how the hell do they know that?

They say 'Feed a cold, starve a fever.' Feed it with what - steak and chips, spaghetti bolognese? Loads of vitamin C through fruit and suchlike is not a lot of use it seems and there's little scientific proof that anything else is much good either. Starving a fever by the way is also bollocks according to Internet research which indicates the body needs nutrients and liquid to fight off colds and fever.

So, how do I ease the symptoms? Analgesics are the best bet because apparently cold remedies don't work any better - paracaetamol is probably as good as anything to ease the uncomfortability.

Old wives tales suggest lemon and honey (honey may well ease a cough) but there are so many combinations, here's handful and I wouldn't suggest you try any of them:
  • Coltsfoot in boiling water sweetened with honey;
  • Ground ginger mixed with honey (for a cough);
  • Gargle with cider infused with red peppers;
  • Inhaling steam from water that has rosemary leaves or Vick, hawthorn leaves or hawthorn berries.
Lets face it, I'll just have to sit it out.

I met a friend recently who'd had a dreadful cold. I asked if he'd done anything about it.
"Oh yes," he said with a sniffle, "I went to the doctors a fortnight ago, but he wasn't much good."
"Why not," I asked.
"He told me to drink a jug of freshly squeezed orange juice after a hot bath."
"It didn't work?"
"I dunno, I'm still drinking the bloody bath"

Chat soon


By the way, if you're suffering from a cold or a fever, don't take a blind bit of notice what I've written here, take your own advice or that of a medical practitioner.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

For you, the war is over...

A little remembered fact was posted on the BBC history site today and it's about a special moment in the life of a Japanese man.

On the 24th January 1972, Shoichi Yokoi, a Corporal in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War Two was found fishing on a river in Guam, army issue rifle in his hand. Whilst he realised that the war was probably over, he was too frightened to give himself up. Indeed, amazingly, Yokoi wasn't alone. Two years later in 1974 a Japanese Imperial Army Lieutenant, Hiroo Onoda was arrested in the Philippines on the island of Lubang and had refused to stop fighting his continuing WWii battle until he received orders from Japan.

On the face of it, these are funny stories until you think about their wasted lives and what makes it worse, it would seem that the Lieutenant killed local people right up until 1974 when he was captured.

I have a real feeling about this year for me. I think this year will be a year of small changes and opportunities. In what direction, I don't know, I just feel that positivity and optimism that's hard to put my finger on exactly.

Writing this blog means so much to me, I can't describe it. Reading other people's blogs is also a pleasure and it's opening up my perspectives on life - there are some really good people out there - you know who you are.

I have already chatted with a couple of friends about resurrecting the paranormal investigation group I once helped run on a personal and private basis - what I mean by that is it wasn't a group open to the public to join and I already have a firm offer of a lovely old building to check out.

My son is applying for jobs and I'm sure one will present itself with his hard work in making applications. For the first time this year, I am having three holidays (I've never even had more than one in a year before): a week at a college in Essex doing psychic work, a week in Portugal (never been there) and a fly/fly holiday to America visiting Las Vegas and San Francisco. I'm fitter now than I've been for donkey's years and feel there are opportunities that will open that I've never explored because I was never happy that I could physically cope - stupid things like walking up hill or for any distance. My glass is still half full and I am so grateful to be in this mindset.

Yesterday, by an odd contrast was my very, very rare miserable and quiet day, but I've got it out of my system now.

I was chatting to an elderly relative the other day on the phone and he was clearly in a reflective mood. This was what he told me: "I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes and I'm half blind. I can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded and subject to blackouts. I have bouts with dementia I'm told, have poor circulation and I can hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. I can't remember if I'm 89 or 98, have lost all my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driving licence."

Never had an accident - caused thousands!

Chat soon


Friday, 22 January 2010

Londinium via Petuaria and Danum

Sorry I haven't posted since last weekend, but business drove me to London during the week and today is my first day back to myself, so having taken the day off to recuperate, I thought I would record my musings for posterity. Despite the hotel's claim that there is free wifi connections in the hotel, it isn't true and I wasn't prepared to pay extortionate sums of dosh to connect.

I've just returned from a lovely lunch with two work colleagues and friends Gill and Rachel who also have some time off.

My trip to London was for my professional development in my area of business. Two days spent at a very nice hotel close to the Tower Hill tube station on Pepys Street in the City was a pleasant experience. The course was good and I learned much in company with some good people from around the UK some of whom were ‘learning their trade’ as it were, so I was able to help with some experiences of my own.

The hotel is modern with modern London prices with bed and breakfast over £300 if you book direct, but with delegate discount the price came in at less than half of that -thanks goodness. The diet didn’t suffer either with good food and healthy options available. For evening meal on Tuesday after a great journey on Hull Trains straight into Kings Cross and a tube journey to Tower Hill, I found an Italian restaurant run by and staffed by Italians in the Regency district of London. I had a tuna steak, medium cooked and it was the first time I have ever had a tuna steak (I normally get it out of a tin) and it was to die for: meaty, tasty and lots of it.

The hotel was the location for my evening meal on Wednesday and I tried duck breast. Again, I’ve never had it so as the portions were small and the accompanying vegetables healthy again, I gave it a go and it was delicious albeit fairly delicate and I’m not sure I would go out of my way to have it again, but it was nice. None of the staff in the hotel were English (that I came across,) but all were so helpful, friendly and accommodating.

Apart from the professional highlight, as you’ve probably guessed by now, I am a people watcher and let me tell you there’s lots of opportunities in London. I suppose the first chance I got was the train journey from Hull sat in a four round a table. I was first to sit at a seat which was reserved and a woman sat opposite me and the first thing she said was, “perhaps you don’t need to wear your ID.” I looked down and I had forgotten to remove my company ID badge so that was hastily removed. She was very posh with a ’southern’ and refined accent, around 50 years old and had with her a catalogue of Vogue and a Dell laptop which she tapped on for half an hour. She made a call to ’Sandra’ at her office and asked Sandra to do several tasks, politely but firmly and after further tapping on the keyboard, she decided to have a nap. This professional well dressed woman then proceeded to snore and dribble and make strange noises whilst she napped which I thought was amusing. Not another word was said between us as I listened to my ipod.

The tube was packed, but quiet of chat as people of all races, sizes, genders, either read books, magazines, played with their mobiles or listened to their music on headphones. They all did this, with few exceptions. Later that night on the more sparsely populated tube trip to Pimlico via the Circle Line and the Victoria Line, a couple of long haired business suited Australian guys in their mid twenties were having a conversation about shooting melons in the outback -’back home’ and the difference between shooting a melon with a small round, which went straight through it or a large calibre which made it explode. Fascinating!

My final observation on the people score was seen through the hotel restaurant window on a couple of occasions as rush hour hit the streets in the morning and at tea time when there was an extraordinary ant like constant line of people walking to and from the tube station. Again, there was almost a stereotype commuter: dark coat, knapsack, backpack or holdall; kids around twenty with woolly hats and the guys with scarves. Few smoked and all walked at the same pace. No conversations, just head down determination to make the tube in time to get to work.

Even the down and out was polite, when a Rastafarian asked me for the price of a cup of tea and I politely declined, he smiled and responded, ‘No problem dad!‘ Cheeky bugger.

Although the Tower of London, which was a stones throw away is a normal sight for the Londoner (and I'm not sure what it means to them), the sight of the Tower lit after dark was a lovely sight for me and I took a couple of photographs on my small digital camera which frankly doesn't do it justice. I had a great commute back home and on the train back, I met someone I hadn't seen for a year who I used to work with, so there was a nice three hour natter catching up.

The day is dreadful here, hard and persistent rain and parts of the garden are pooling with water which is not a good sign.

Hope you have loads planned for the weekend; if the weather lets you enjoy it - go for it.

A three year old little boy is being bathed by mummy. He looks down at his testicles and says, "Are these my brains mummy?"

She responded, "Not yet son, not yet."

Chat soon


Sunday, 17 January 2010

What's in your little black book?

The sun is shining - thought I was in a dream. As I wrote this line, I looked out of the window - and yes it wasn't my imagination.

I had a fascinating day yesterday on a course and as a result I now have a certificate in Reiki to the first degree (there are three degrees). Pronounced 'ray-kee,' it's an old and simple method of hands on healing. Roughly translated, Reiki is 'universal life force energy' and helps to heal at all levels: mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and helps the body heal itself.

Although based on a more ancient form of healing, Japanese Kiko, this was the result of a quest by Dr Mikayo Usui born in 1865, a Buddhist monk who was studying healing and realised that the problem with Kiko was that the healer's energy was completely depleted during the healing. The resulting Reiki method allows the healer to tap into the body's own pool of life force energy to facilitate healing.

I now have to keep a diary, for the next 21 days at least, outlining my experiences at cementing Reiki exercises into my every day lifestyle and self healing in preparation for the next degree which should be interesting. I've never kept a diary although my youngest children do - well done them. This blog I guess is a sort of public diary of musings, laying bare the private soul and giving away secrets of thought, but I would never have the patience or perhaps time to do one on a daily basis and I'm not sure what the benefit would be other than recording a life for posterity for a time after my death.

I don't think I've done anything that warrants being in someone's little black book, but if you keep a diary, let me know why you do it - I would be fascinated to know.

Diaries have made people lots of dosh over the years. Anthony 'Tony' Benn has kept extensive diaries some of which he has published but then he has had an interesting, active and busy life. Alan Clark wrote a very revealing diary of his life in the Thatcher governments and of course there are the famous Anne Frank diaries; the short diary of a life of incarceration of this young displaced German born Jewish girl awaiting inevitable capture by the Germans in 1942/44 Amsterdam.

Looking on my bookshelf, the only diary I have is Kenneth Williams posthumously published diaries (edited by Russell Davies) and I can imagine why he wouldn't have wanted them published during his life time. This was a man in emotional turmoil living a dark and lonely life and his comments were vitriolic and often confusing and gives away the difference between his public persona and what he really thought of his colleagues in the world of show business. Yes there is plenty of evidence to show his intelligence, wit, observations of humour, life and people, but by goodness he told it as he saw it.

Soup for lunch today because despite the sun, it's still very chilly and we need internal warmth, then it's off to Sainsbury's for some shopping. I'm in London for three days next week, so I need some provisions and toiletries for the trip.

Hope you've had a good weekend so far, enjoy what's left of it.

Chat soon


Friday, 15 January 2010

Haitians in our thoughts

Hello to new follower Twiggypeasticks, a vintage button addict, but a Yorkshire dweller, so all eccentricities accepted and you are very welcome... Read her entertaining blog (with great choice of music) here.

I was very sorry and saddened to see the devastation in Haiti and the destruction, death and misery that has come with the earthquake on Tuesday this week. I think the swift response by the international community, particularly America is to be welcomed although for those left in Haiti, distraught, some injured, many bereaved, and all bewildered by events, it obviously can't come quick enough. I am sure our thoughts are with them and I will send out remote healing in my meditation tonight.

This is a direct lift of the UK TimesOnline dated today 14 January 2010:

"British people wishing to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake are being advised by the UK government to donate money to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal.

"Donors can call the DEC's dedicated Haiti Earthquake appeal line which is open 24 hours a day on 0370 6060 900, or go to the website and follow the simple instructions.

"Donations can also be sent to the DEC by post, with a cheque made payable to DEC Haiti Earthquake and addressed to DEC Haiti Earthquake, PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA.

"Donations can also be made on the High Street, by calling into any bank or post office and quoting Freepay 1449, or at branches of any of the DEC's member charities. The DEC is composed of 13 major UK aid agencies: Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision."

Have a good weekend

Chat soon


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Who can remember the day when...

What is it about random memories that occasionally come into mind from left field, without any common sense or connection to present events or thoughts; memories that go back donkey's years and have no real context to what's happening in front of you?

For some bizarre and inexplicable reason, I have been thinking about a time when I was about 15 or 16 when a friend of the family, Peter Charlton took me and my dad fishing one winters day in an orange coloured Mini van (like a Mini estate with rear doors - picture from here).

I can even remember sitting on a river bank in the intense frost looking at steep muddy banks and drinking tomato soup from a flask to keep warm on that winter's day when the temperature never rose anywhere near above freezing point. No I didn't catch anything either.

I can sometimes recall distant memories, going back 50 years in rare cases, especially when I am meditating and some of those memory recall moments have appeared on previous blogs. In other cases, I am sure that I am prompted to think of such memories from a spiritual aspect, and that happens regularly, but how does that item of data get retrieved from the old grey matter having lain dormant and totally irrelevant for all that time and how and why does it come back?

Then there's the randomly recalled memory worthy of cringing - something said that was inappropriate or some act done that was embarrassing - been there, done that and no, you can't turn the clock back - you just hope that the other party never remember the event.

Of course there's the deliberately deleted memory, "I don't remember you telling me to do that dear," (rarely works by the way) and my most common memory lapse: "I distinctly remember you doing that and telling me this!" In other words, blaming someone else for my bad memory or trying to get out of trouble for something that was my fault, (also rarely works).

It is a fact that I often can't remember major issues yet can remember trivial rubbish that should have been stored and deleted as useless. Ah well - I can put it down to age I suppose.

An eighty year old couple I know were having problems remembering things, so they decided to go to their doctor to make sure nothing was wrong with them. When they arrived at the doctor's office, they explained to the doctor about the problems they were having with their memory.

After checking the couple out, the doctor told them that they were physically okay but might want to start writing things down, making notes to help them remember things. The couple thanked the doctor and left. Later that night while watching TV, the old man got up from his chair and his wife asked, "Where are you going?"

He replied, "To the kitchen."

She asked, "Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?"


Then his wife asked him, "Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?"

"No, I can remember that."

"Well, I also would like some strawberries on top. You had better write that down cause I know you'll forget that," his wife said.

"I can remember that, you want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries."

She replied, "Well, I also would like whipped cream on top. I know you will forget that. You had better write it down."

With irritation in his voice, he said, "I don't need to write that down, I can remember that." He went into the kitchen.

After about 20 minutes, he returned from the kitchen and handed her a plate of bacon and eggs.

She stared at the plate for a moment and said, "You forgot my toast."

Chat soon,


Sunday, 10 January 2010

The way we was brung up

Not one mention of the weather today - whoops - ignore that last remark!

A time for reflection today prompted by one of these e-mails you get now and then with a bit of useful philosophy rather than sickly pyramid e-mails that seem to come in bursts from friends or relatives that you feel obliged to pass on. I don't I'm afraid. If someone wants to tell me they think a lot of me - send a personal e-mail! But that's not a criticism and perhaps no-one thinks of me in that way in any case.

I suppose this is for the benefit of anyone born before the 1980s and takes a look at life as it used to be. I have edited it for content to make it less... racy and I can't acknowledge the originator because there isn't one.

Now you might think, when you read this list, that the reason we have so many laws and nanny state rules in the UK is to avoid facing some of these things on the list. Indeed you might recoil in horror at some of the tricks we used to get up to. Never the less even if we only did a few of these things, we survived. We faced 'character building' moments, some of which we may never forget, but they made some of us what we are today. It's meant to be a giggle and be thought provoking. Don't get too wound up.

First, some of us survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can. Our baby cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. Take away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds , KFC, Subway or Nandos.

Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn't open on the weekends, somehow we didn't starve to death! We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. We could collect old glass bottles and cash them in at the corner shop or the 'beer off' and buy toffees, blackjacks, salted crisps (with the little bag of salt in a blue wrapper) gobstoppers, bubble gum and some bangers to blow up frogs with (I never did!)

We ate white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because... WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!! We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. We put liquorice sticks in bottles of water to make them look like cola which most of us couldn't afford.

No one was able to reach us all day and we were okay. We would spend hours building our go-carts, made out of old prams or old wooden floor boards and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii , X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY , no video/dvd films, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms... WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones, lost teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. Only girls had pierced ears!

You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time.We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house - no MSN or Yahoo Messenger then!

Most mums didn't have to go to work to help dad make ends meet! RUGBY and CRICKET had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment; imagine that! Getting into the team was based on merit, not on who your dad was.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! Most of our parents didn't invent stupid names for their kids either which made their offspring's life at school unbearable.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And if you are one of them, congratulations!

Have a think about that one.

Chat soon


Friday, 8 January 2010

TV News Showing the Obvious

The house drive in the glow of the mercury street lighting, about one minute time exposure photograph, around 7.15 pm today 8/1/10 and about four inches of snow in the road. Canon EOS 40D 18mm on tripod.

I commented on a fellow bloggers
excellent blog today that I thought the snow was old news now and the TV news should be more helpful in giving advice about how to manage and cope and how to help others instead of reporting the usual driver struggling to get uphill or seeing a lorry jack-knifed across the main roads. Interesting but not helpful.

I always feel sorry for these reporters, sent to isolated villages and locations all over the country, stood in a foot of snow with red noses and kids making obscene gestures in the background in the fre
ezing cold reporting on what we can all see out of our windows. Still, I've been in at work early every day this week, getting up early (I am NOT usually an early morning person) in anticipation of struggling to get to work. In fairness, despite a lot of criticism of the local authorities here in terms of gritting, the roads have been great at 7 am, clear with no laying snow.

Hessle Square, East Yorkshire, just after dropping the prescription off, around 3.30 pm today 8/1/10 and about half an hours worth of steady snow on the ground. Lumix DMC-TZ65, wide angle

Leaving early just as dusk arrives is good as well, except tonight I left work at 3 pm and a twelve minute journey took an hour and a half. I made the mistake of dropping a repeat prescription off at the quacks on the way and when I tried to get home the normal way which is uphill, a bus had skidded broadside across the road and was stuck. I managed to detour and that was a mistake too because it took me 25 minutes to get up the main Boothferry Road in Hessle (one of the main arterial roads out of the city of Hull to the west) , a distance of around 800 metres. The snow had laid fresh, been compacted by the traffic and turned into an ice rink - literally.

The funny thing, if it can be described as funny is that all these big expensive powerf
ul rear wheel drive saloon cars, among them today a BMW, a Mercedes and a Rover couldn't make the slight incline and skidded all over the place. All the other little cars were doing great and fortunately, kind hearted good citizens walking past were helping these big cars to stay on the road and get them going by pushing... well done pedestrians. That was not an experience I enjoyed. My lad took nearly three hours to travel seven miles on the way home tonight.

A weekend in front of the fire, reading, drawing, exercising and playing with my grown up kids on the Wii is definitely on the cards, all going towards getting the New Year resolutions off to a positive start.

Heads Lane Hessle, East Yorkshire and the back of the house with cars crawling by on the packed ice. A time exposure photograph of around two minutes around 7.30 pm tonight, 8/1/10. Canon EOS 40D 18mm on tripod.

A friend told me today that his son had got a job at the bowling alley. "Ten-pin?" I asked. "No," he replied, "It's permanent."

Keep warm and safe and if you can do a neighb
our or friend a good deed in this difficult time, give it a go.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Nights are drawing out...

I think winter might be here. The above pic is a view from a door near the office which I have to say is pretty boring but the sight was pretty at the time.

The weather is set fair to continue in this style save to say that I've noticed that today there's been a stiff breeze about which has made it feel chillier. My other half has rang both sets of elderly parents today to see if they need anything and they seem to have fended for themselves very well and it's crystal clear that they value their independence and a little bit of white stuff is not going to keep them indoors. Good for them - I think!

I went to Hornsea to see friends Barry and Shirley Ann on Sunday afternoon and the weather was a bit grim but not as bad as it is today. We briefly visited Hornsea Golf Club just about dusk and it was a magnificent site looking toward the west at the setting sun behind the trees and casting a blue greyness across the virgin snow on the eighteenth green. That's the time I wish I'd had my small pocket digital camera which I usually carry around with me.

One of the disadvantages of living on the east of England is the north easterly breeze off the North Sea which, when it's in that direction normally comes straight off the continent or the Arctic - freezing in a winter. Even in a summer when the land is hot, the on-shore breeze often spoils it and takes the edge off the temperatures. But then, would I want to live in the west of the country and put up with the Atlantic weather fronts that bring all that rain? Not particularly.

Roast Beef tonight - one of the advantages of her indoors having days off in the week and with this weather a welcome meal on these cold nights. I'm just not looking forward to getting the heating bills. Having said all that, the nights are drawing out... the sun is setting around two minutes later tonight than it did last night.

What's the difference between snow women and snow men? Snow balls.

Keep warm

Chat soon


Monday, 4 January 2010

News Alert - Sore Throat Attacks Innocent Man

First day back at work today after the New Year break (of one day!) and there was more than plenty to do and several things achieved setting up work for the New Year. The only thing is I've developed a sore throat. Now for a man this is pretty serious stuff as we know. Everyone around me has had the dreaded lurgy and I've been lucky so far but I guess the time may be imminent for me to get something.

I took a couple of Lemsip Max Strength tablets today which I noticed had caffeine in them and although the sore throat has almost gone away, I am just hoping I can sleep tonight. A colleague of mine took some caffeine tablets a few years ago because she hadn't slept and she needed to stay awake - she was as high as a kite and wouldn't stop talking and had eyes like saucers.

We've only had a smattering of snow here, a dusting and the main roads are okay although some side roads are like skating rings, but the footpaths are horrendous. They are packed solid ice and in some cases near me are quite badly rutted. Clearly it's important for roads and strategic ones to be kept open to keep the country running, I have no problem with than but why don't councils (ours certainly doesn't) grit the important footpaths where people are far more vulnerable. Whats the point in keeping the roads open so goods can be delivered if locals can't walk to the shops to buy them?

When I was a kid, a man from the Haltemprice Urban District Council (long gone) used to wheel a barrow about with two steel dustbins on it and he used to spread grit with a shovel on the main footpaths. Yes it got a little slushy for a while but saved you slipping on your arse. Surely this would save millions treating people on the NHS for slip injuries? At work, the driver handymen have a little bucket on a trolley which spreads grit like a grass feed spreader when you push it along, within minutes, the whole car park and all the footpaths are done!

Anyway the forecast is really not very good across the eastern side of the UK for the next few days so I hope those of you that have suffered, particularly those like fellow blogger Magnumlady in Ireland get some respite. For some, the novelty wears off when it starts to affect life on a day to day basis and stops you doing the normal things you take for granted.

Keep warm this week.

Chat soon


Friday, 1 January 2010

Ten Things for the New Year

Happy New Year

Hope you are having a relaxing day on what is Bank Holiday New Year's day in the UK. A bright but cold morning greeted me earlier with a dusting of soft fluffy snow. I put a calendar up today in the newly decorated computer room, the first time we've had a calendar on the wall since we've been at this house in 13 years. It comes from the Gardener's World BBC magazine and it has large seasonal pictures for each month and January's picture sees beautiful swathes of white flowered cyclamen.

I like to write something about the months as they come around, to educate myself more than anything. January, named after the god of the doorway Janus is the coldest month of the year in the northern hemisphere and the warmest in the southern and is clearly thought of as the doorway to the year.

There are a number of anniversaries and celebrations in January including Plough Sunday in northern England and Scotland which I remember being talked about as a kid, but couldn't remember why. This apparently happens on the Sunday after January 6th and is a celebration of the start of the agricultural year after which, on the Monday, ploughing traditionally starts - thanks to Wikipedia for that information.

Burns night in Scotland on the 25th January is a famous night of celebration of the life and poetry of Robert Burns. An example of his work is the first verse of the poem 'To a Mouse'. There's a translation as well so we can better understand it.

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast,
O, what a panic is in your little breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.

The garnet is this month's birthstone and it's flower is dianthus carophyllus - the carnation.

I've never really entered into the contract of New Year's Resolutions: promises to oneself to achieve something or to be better at something or give something up for example, probably because I'd be setting myself up to fail. This is a very negative attitude on my part and an easy way out, but this year, using the power of the blog, I'm going to set myself some targets - personal promises, publish them here and try to follow their progress throughout the year.

When planning anything, I've been brought up in my working life to make sure plans are SMART - specific, measurable, achieveable, realistic and timely or if you are in a product industry - tangible.

My promises will be the opposite to SMART perhaps: broad, vague, subjective; I am not going to be slave to any of them, hopefully they will enhance my way of life without dominating the reason for existence.

1 Family - I WILL exert effort into maintaining a solid family base, helping the children and family, building a better relationship with her indoors and with those I don't see very often and making sure friends know I am around to help where necessary.

2 Diet - I WILL reinvigorate the diet from today, get rid of the festive excesses and plough on (excuse the pun) with helping the old body find its lowest comfortable level of weight.

3 Exercise - I WILL continue to maintain a routine of exercising on the treadmill and Wii and walking a bit more where I can, even though I may be tired after a long day or can't be bothered. In the summer, I want to get up early when the mornings are light and warm and do it before I go to work.

4 Computer - I WILL spend less time on this bloody thing aimlessly surfing and only use it for specific needs.

5 Reading - I WILL read more, fiction particularly, something I have only done these last few years to help relax more and exercise the brain.

6 Drawing - I WILL enhance my drawing skills by spending time I would have spent mucking about on the computer by doing art.

7 Meditation - I WILL meditate more and work on enhancing and improving my spiritual work through meditation as well as helping me to relax more.

8 Mediumship - I WILL work harder on my mediumship for the benefit of others, deeper meditations will help , Tarot readings where I can for charity, psychic artistry for personal enjoyment.

9 Enjoy life - I WILL enjoy life and continue to think best of others and think of the needs of others and generally make the best of what I've got.

10 Swear less, drive less, less intolerant, less lazy, less prevarication, more laughs, more fun, more entertainment, more achievement, more love and all of this might equal a better me - more or less.

Hmmmm, when I read this, I think I might have reverted to type, SMART - well there's ten items, that's fairly specific; measurable - well it hopefully will make me a better person and I know I'll be spending more time doing them; achievable - absolutely, why set myself targets I couldn't achieve; realistic - yes, this is not rocket science, it's what I already know - just do it better; and timely - I have a year to get it done, one seventieth of a biblical lifetime.

Chat soon