Thursday, 29 April 2010

Throwing the Chalk

Am I alone in thinking that Mansfield (UK) schoolteacher Peter Harvey was driven to hit a pupil under what now appears to have been proven to be extreme provocation? What I am pleased with is the jury of 'twelve good men and true' (excuse me ladies - it's from the 1630s when equality was not heard of!) absolutely recognised the behaviour of the children involved should be taken as completely abhorrent and responsible for pushing this man over the top.

Whilst he was cleared of attempted murder, Peter Harvey admitted grievous bodily harm without intent and the Judge, according to the
BBC made these very telling comments:

Judge Michael Stokes QC said: "Common sense has prevailed now we have heard all the evidence."

Turning to Harvey, the judge said: "I'm not going to send you to prison for this offence.
I'm not even going to impose a suspended sentence.

"That would be wrong given that you have already served a sentence longer than can be lawfully suspended."

He added: "This court is looking to impose a community order which will assist you with the problems that you have had."

Grievous bodily harm without intent would normally attract at least a five year prison sentence - in this case, justice has been seen to be done - in my view - thank God.

Teachers have a hard job and like all professions there are good, bad and average. Harvey reacted badly and unlawfully and should have left the room. The question is now, how many of the pupils responsible have been or are going to be taken to task over their involvement in this?

Teachers deserve the support of the public at large, parents in particular and Government in protecting them from lawless pupils who don't give a shit and think they are above the law. Get rid of bad teachers - absolutely, but firmly deal with pupils who disrupt; make life easier for the vast majority of kids who want to succeed.

Chat soon


Sunday, 25 April 2010

Three Coins in a Fountain

Woken to rain this morning, and after I had spent a whole night watering the grass (with a sprinkler!) Perhaps I should have watched the weather forecast.

I thought I'd attach a picture of the new fountain now I've got the splashy bit working at the top and some plants in so it looks something like now. Once I get some red geraniums planted round the little border, it'll look the part.

I was walking through a shopping centre in Hull the other day and spotted a machine which said it would give you the correct answer to any question.
It's worth 50p, I thought so I gave it a go. I asked the machine "Where is my father?"
The machine replied, "Your father is fishing in South Wales."
Well, I thought, that's daft for a start because I just left my dad and he was at home just round the corner. I thought I'd try another tack. "Where is my mother's husband?"
Back came the reply, "Your mother's husband is in Hull but your father is still fishing in South Wales."


Chat soon


Saturday, 24 April 2010

Britain's (allegedly) Got Talent

A very pleasant warm balmy day today allowed me to spend some leisure time in the garden potting some plants up that had come through the post, replace a well worn, split garden hose that's been in the family for thirteen years, finally put a pump in the fountain, water the weed and feed into the grass and pump up the wheelbarrow tyre. I know how to have a good time!

The local football team in the Premiership, Hull City have been relegated today. I'm surprised they lasted so long, but they have been poor of late and that's an understatement. Dogged by poor management, under performing and, in some cases, obscenely overpaid players as well as financial problems, it was just a matter of time. I don't support them, but I am still sorry to see their demise from the top flight.

The fish are unwilling to come to the top of the pond and take the food I'm putting in for them which is a little puzzling, but perhaps they will become hungrier as the temperature rises. They look healthy enough if not a little lethargic. The pond plants are looking really good after I re-potted some into new baskets having spilt them and the picture above is the first plant to flower, a beautiful marsh marigold.

As I type this, my family are watching Britain's (allegedly) Got Talent. I want to go out for a looooong walk when this sort of stuff comes on. Sorry if you like it - it makes me cringe. There are some real strange people on there but I suppose you have to give them credit for having the bottle to go on knowing they'll be laughed at and ridiculed. Perhaps their loved ones should also have the courage to tell them not to humiliate themselves on national TV if they really haven't got any talent.

My sister in law came round about half an hour ago and brought a bottle of wine - I've given her three clematis plants I have in pots that I no longer have use for and she's put them up against a fence. I'm glad they have been put to use and I'll enjoy the vino. She's a star!

There's no-one on Facebook, MSN or Skype, so it's an early night with a good book and a drop of that Shiraz I think.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Birds, planes and automobiles... boyo!

A three hundred and thirty two miles round trip to Colwyn Bay in North Wales today to go to a meeting was a pleasant distraction. Three and a half hours each way, a four and a half hour meeting which was very informative and professionally useful was not at all boring for me. I've been travelling to such meetings and for other things for years and although I don't do it too often, I actually enjoy it - sad I know.

My hire care was a Vauxhall Zafira which was comfortable enough if not a little noisy but the day didn't start well when I couldn't get the sat nav to accept the post code or the address of the place I was going to. I must have tried every combination in the book, but it wasn't having it until it suddenly dawned on me that my destination wasn't in England. When I specifically chose 'Wales' as the country instead of the default England, it found it immediately.

Getting up at stupid o'clock isn't fun but it was pleasant enough this morning with a chilly clear blue sky and glorious sun and I hope the long day will make me sleep tonight. Road works and rush hour traffic around Manchester and Liverpool was a pain, but otherwise the trip was uneventful. There was drizzle about for a short time in North wales when I arrived there, but even at 10.30am when the sun came out there, the car temperature clock showed it as 6 degrees Celsius which was still mighty chilly.

The vista across the sea was interesting with several wind farms containing what seemed like many dozen wind turbines dotted the horizon off-shore. A folly Victorian castle adorned the hillside on the approach to Colwyn Bay. I'm not a stranger to North Wales, we had our honeymoon there in Barmouth 31 years ago. It's a lovely part of the world, green, hilly and not over populated in the main. I hadn't been to Colwyn Bay itself before and it seemed very nice, but sadly, I never got chance to take any photographs at all, there were no parking spots or laybys on the A55.

Impressively, during the journey, I spotted three very large birds of prey within a few miles, two high up and one coming in to land in a forest next to the road. This was a wonderful sight even though I have no idea what they were. The feathered edges of the wing tips, what looked like a white flash underneath two of the birds distinguished them, but I am no twitcher and haven't got a clue of the species.

Less impressively, I saw a number of vapour trails as the larger silver birds in the sky began their dominance of the skies and the air transport system starts to swing into full flow again.

Hope the week is going well for you.

Thanks to here for today's topical joke with a (tenuous) Welsh theme.

After Dai Jones got elected to the Council, he insisted on everyone calling him Councillor Jones.

Coming back late from the pub after celebrating his election he made a great noise trying to get into his house.

"Is that you Dai?" shouted his wife down the stairs.

"Certainly not", he replied drunkenly, "it's Councillor Jones."

"Well, come on up quick then, we've only got a few minutes before Dai comes back from the pub."

Chat soon


Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Dear Iceland, we said send cash, not ash!

The greenhouse heater has been lit for the last few nights and tonight is forecast a frost which just shows even though days are longer and warmer, Mother Nature comes and throws a low-baller every now and then just to keep us on our toes. I also solved the mystery of a leak in the small fish pond tonight which is fed by a waterfall. The pipe that feeds the top of the waterfall was split underneath and water was dripping away into the earth before it got to the waterfall.

A great weekend in the garden paid some dividends and it's all looking neat if not a little bare of much variety of colour - although there are thousands of shades of green.

I feel sorry, in part, for those who are stranded abroad. Some need to be genuinely home for various reasons and some are struggling with money to keep them in sustenance. I obviously wish them well. The rest however should be laughing into their suntans. Work would never dare sack them for having unauthorised absence - after all - it is a Force Majeure - an Act of God "a natural and unavoidable catastrophe that interrupts the expected course of events."

Sue the Almighty. (No, His name's not Sue - I mean take a civil litigation for goodness sake - don't be picky about my poor English!)

I wanted to do an Icelandic volcano joke, but I thought I'd wait until the dust settles.

Here are a few more that are circulating:

There’s no pleasing the English. The last time they got the Ashes they were over the moon.

Went outside today and got hit by a bag of frozen sausages, a chocolate gateau and some fish fingers. Someone said it's a fallout from Iceland.

What do Cheryl Cole and the
Iceland volcano have in common? They both chucked out ash.

Dear Iceland, We said send cash, not ash.

It was the last wish of the Icelandic economy that its ashes were spread all over Europe.

Chat soon


Friday, 16 April 2010

Funky Squirrel

The weekend is upon us and it promises to be warm and balmy on Saturday and half decent on Sunday. The youngest son is on his way back to university tomorrow and I'm taking him back first thing in the morning so I can get home just after lunch and enjoy the day. I've even cut the grass tonight (Friday) so I can sit and enjoy the fruits of my labours on Saturday afternoon before I start the task of cleaning out the fish pond.

I've put a quick 30 second video I took today of a squirrel (with whom I have a love hate relationship) on the bird table stripping it of the peanuts I put out for the smaller birds. Fortunately there is enough wild bird seed left for the LBT (little brown things) to keep them happy.

Enjoy your weekend, wherever you are.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

What do you get if...

I hope the week is treating you well and by the time you read this I hope that I've won the triple Lottery rollover of £17,000,000. I will accept begging letters if I win to light my chiminea. How would you spend that sort of lolly - I bet I could make a lot of people happy?

I was given the Yorkshire Ridings Magazine the other day which had a section in it where you can submit a ghost story for a competition. Regular blog readers will perhaps remember I've published five on here over the last year and a bit, so I've decided to edit them properly, cut them down by a couple of hundred words each and submit them. Top prize for a published story? £200.

We've got a block paved drive at the front to replace a bit of a tatty garden in what is quite an awkward triangular shaped front garden. It's a lot easier to maintain except to say - and here's a word of warning if you intend to get one, you do get loads of weeds growing in the cracks between the bricks. Now, with a bit of effort, it takes an hour or so a couple of times a year just to go round with a sharp knife and scrape the weeds and a bit of moss. No problem.

Except my wife, who volunteers to do it as a cathartic exercise has now ruined two perfectly good gardening knives which I used to use for general gardening chores. One of the knives was a bone handled old thing which I've had since I was a teenager. That four inch blade is now worn to a one inch blunt piece of metal. The pruning knife which I bought a couple of years ago, nice and sharp with a flat end so you don't stab yourself with it - ruined.

One of these catalogues that has everything for the home and garden has come through the door today and for the princely sum of £12.95 (not including postage and packing no doubt) there's a long handled patio and path weeder. This comes with a free border weeder knife and a hand held weeder knife. For that amount of cash, it ain't going to be brilliant so prizes for guessing how long that will last. Three more implements she can ruin.

Whatever happened to spring? The days are longer but there are still frosts and there's cloud most of the day and in the breeze, it's bloody freezing.

I do try to be politically correct as you know (ahem), but I thought I'd try some riddles on you - some may not be pc, but hey!

What do you get if you cross a gorilla, a lion, an alligator and a parrot?

No idea, but if it talks, you listen!

What do you get if you cross Bambi with a ghost?


What do you get if you cross a chicken with a zebra?

A four legged dinner with its own bar code.

What do you get if you cross the moon with a monk?

A nocturnal habit.

What do you get if you cross a rooster with an owl?

A cock that stays up all night.

What do you get if you cross a philosopher with a Mafia hit man?

You get an offer you can't understand.

Chat soon


The picture is a chilly spring evening in a deserted Hornsea, East Yorkshire last week.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The sun has got it's hat on...

What a fabulous Saturday; I've just taken a break from being in the garden all morning. In fact, I've been in the garden most evenings all week and it's been great - ahhhhh fresh air and sun!

A warm welcome to a new follower. I can't tell you much about Ciara de Burca, (Ciara being a Gaelic/Irish name) - welcome indeed.

We've done some good stuff in the garden this week, put two tons of chipped bark on borders and a ton of soil to top up borders and dips in the grass which I'm trying to level. I had been given a mix of old rockery stones from a colleague of my wife's who clearly wanted rid of a mixed jumble of stones. With what soil I had left I decided to make a small rockery to put some heathers in just to cover a spare piece of garden in semi shade that's never done a lot. When the heathers spread, you won't be able to see what a motley collection of miss-matched stones they are.

The trees in the garden are covered by a Tree Protection Order (TPO) which to be honest is a pain in the ass really because I can't do anything with the trees at all unless I get permission - I can't trim them, lop them - nothing. The council have consented to me getting someone in to trim off the twigs and branches that are on the lower trunk that not only look untidy but cut the light out of the garden. Getting consent to do these simple jobs has taken all of two months! Bureaucracy gone mad.

The rise where I live is built on
the grounds of an old house which was turned into a nursing home then demolished in the late 1970s. All the TPO did was preserve the trees that were here for the nursing home. The trouble is they are really too close to our houses and most of them have been chopped down and replaced over the years because they were not good specimens anyway. All this work will do is give us a lot more light into the garden making a more pleasant place to sit in the summer.

This afternoon, I'm putting a second coat of epoxy paint on the fountain to seal it and make it waterproof, then next weekend I can put the centre pieces in which the water flows over and then I can fill it with water - that's if we don't have a hosepipe ban after a few days of sunshine. Brother in law next door, who is a star, is going to give me a hand in servicing my lawn mower (I'm ashamed to say in ten years, it's never had a service at all!).

Enjoy the weekend

Chat soon


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

A Yorkshireman walked into a bar...

I rang my wife at home today to tell her that I am being sent on a couple of residential courses at work. The first is in County Durham and I said this with a passable County Durham/North Eastern accent. The second course is in the Midlands and I told her this in what I thought was a passable midlands accent - she thought it was more akin to Liverpool accent to which I am mortified because I can't do a passable Liverpool accent.

The Yorkshire accent is both interesting and if you are from the Hull area, lazy and not very pretty - erm... the accent, not the people.

As an example, there's an old joke about a Yorkshireman who takes his cat to be neutered. "Is it a Tom?" asks the Vet, "Nay lad, it's in this box." (It will spoil it if I have to explain it.)

Another Yorkshireman's wife dies. He ordered a tombstone for her grave and when he went to the mason's he ordered a simple inscription, "
She was thine."

Some days later he went to inspect the stone and the inscription read, "
She was thin." "Nay lad, thou art got it wrong. Tha's missed the 'E'."

A few days later he went to inspect the stone for the final time and the mason had changed the inscription to, "
E, she was thin."

Have a great week - albeit a short one - wahaaaaaaaaaaay!

Chat soon


Sunday, 4 April 2010

Don't watch this alone...

I thought I'd do a film review for you. It's been a quiet Easter this year with poor weather and with nothing much on, I've spent more time in front of this dreaded computer writing than I intended. I've written quite a bit, some chapters of a book and a paranormal investigation report from an investigation we did a couple of weeks ago. We spent a little time in the garden between showers and shifted some bark and about a third of a ton of soil. If the weather is good on Easter Monday, hopefully we'll finish off the jobs with a trip to the tip with some last vestiges of winter debris.

Last night a friend, Tammy who is a work colleague and a fellow psychic came round for tea and in the evening myself, Tammy and two of my kids watched the much anticipated Paranormal Activity film. It's a while since I've done a film review, so here goes.

This is only one hour and 23 minutes long and filmed from the perspective of one of the two main characters, Micah who buys a film camera to solve the mystery of his live-in girlfriend Katie's paranormal experiences in the house. The action is shakily filmed and the script feels amateurish but in fact it's made to look like you or I could have filmed this with our little family movie camera - and it works well.

You remember Blair Witch Project, filmed on a hand held? Well this is more controlled and better quality. Micah captures strange goings on in their bedroom in the middle of the night which neither of them realise is actually happening at first. It starts off with just one or two strange little things and builds over a three week period of increasing activity to a crescendo and a grand finale which I won't spoil for you. There is a brief appearance of another actor, a psychic who comes to visit at the start to set the scene and a female friend of Katie who makes an appearance for support, but 95% of the film is just the two main characters.

The acting is good, the scene is inside a house in America and that's it. This works at the psychological level. There are many shadows, cute and in parts clever sound effects and at the end some very good visual effects which I'm still trying to work out how they achieved - but they look very natural.

If there is a credibility issue, it's about how long you should stay in a house with weird stuff happening to you. You wouldn't see my ass for dust, but they hang around to the bitter end despite the protestations of the victim that she needs help but still carries on living there and sleeping in the bedroom where all the action takes place.

This is an interesting film which we deliberately watched in the dark to create atmosphere, and I think it's worth watching but a word of warning, don't watch it alone and watch a comedy programme before you go to bed. MWAHAHAHAAA (that was a creepy manic laugh.)

Helpfully, the DVD comes with a 'post viewing help sheet' which is possibly unnecessary, but I guess the producers are trying to mitigate for anyone who sues them for being scared shit-less and who now can't sleep. This is rated 15 - do NOT let your kids watch this.

Sleep well.

Chat soon


Friday, 2 April 2010

Come in number 214 - your time is up...

A day inside today on this Bank Holiday Easter Good Friday. I've got two one-ton bags of bark to put on the borders and a ton of top soil to get on some other borders and fill some holes in the grass but it's windy and COOOOOOOLD so I can't be doing with it today. Sunday looks a better day according to the BBC.

Rain is due, that's the dilemma but why do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Instead, I'm going to treadmill for an hour, and start to put the skeleton together of a non-fiction book I've been asked to co-write with some good friends Barry and Shirley Ann. My dearest is in bed today, she's on nights so I can't make any noise outside shovelling bark - can I? (You're supposed to say 'no of course not!')

I was at a social evening last night held at the house of a friend who is a psychic medium and she invited a number of other friends of a 'similar mind' and it was a very nice convivial evening in a huge turn of the century Victorian townhouse which had once been a hotel.

This is my 214th blog and just for fun and to pass the time this morning, I thought I would randomly Google '214'. Hmm, pick the bones out of that - Wikipedia tells me that Cattallus defeated the Goths at the lower Danube in 214 a.d., and the defences of Rhaetia were reinforced, in the form of an uninterrupted stone wall. Fascinating - thought you ought to know.

'Central 214' is a restaurant in Dallas USA, and gene:214 is an activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule - of course it is. District 214 is a township high school district in Illinois, USA and a form 214 is a discharge paper in the USA military as well as being a diesel-electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW).

Finally, and there are many other mind-boggling examples of the use of 214, it's a United Nations Resolution of 2004 relating to an International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Well I hope you feel better for knowing that 214 is being used well and not wasted as a random number doomed to obscurity.

It's 10.15 am and I can hear the first of the three sons stirring upstairs, so I guess I better start looking busy (not that this encourages them in turn to become busy - far from it), but before I go, a bit of philosophy from American humourist or as the Americans say, 'humorist', Jack Handey:

"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, pee in it and serve it to the people who piss you off."

Have a great weekend.

Chat soon


Thursday, 1 April 2010


White Rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit. Has spring sprung? Not if you're in Scotland or Northern Ireland. I hope they recover from the bad weather as soon as.

Some good news today was that after waiting for over a week for his interview result, he has got a job at last as an archivist of documents. He left Uni in June 2009 and has been looking ever since for a job, so well done son!

I haven't heard any good April Fools today, sadly. April, the fourth month of the Gregorian calendar was once the second month of the year in the Julian calendar before January and February were added. Unlike other months where the derivation of the name is fairly easy to remember, April is a little uncertain. Some say it's from the Latin aperiri, 'to open'. Interestingly, the Anglo Saxons called the month 'Oster-monath' which ancients say is the derivation of 'Easter.' Even if it's not true - it sounds good to me.

The birthstone of this month is the fabulous diamond and the birth flower is the humble but beautiful daisy.

There are lots of celebrations this month, not least of which is the traditional anniversary of the birth of Buddha, on the 8th. St. George's day is the 24th for the patriots among us and the London Marathon on the fourth Sunday. Bizarrely, in America is celebrated 'take sons and daughters to work day' on the fourth Thursday.

Well today marks the last working day for four days as we have a long weekend for Easter. I haven't had an egg for years and this year, I bought the three lads a chocolate Maltezer bunny. I've never had one, but my work colleagues say they are delicious. I might persuade one of them to let me have a nibble of the bunny's ear.

Some good news today was that after waiting for over a week for his interview result, he has got a job at last as an archivist of documents. He left Uni in June 2009 and has been looking ever since for a job, so well done son!

I've just had a local company, Green Thumb to come in and give me a quote for doing my grass four times a year for putting some powerful stuff down to make the grass green and kill the moss and weeds. The form which they popped in the post was very interesting and they told me what type of grass I have, what weeds are in it, what type of soil I have and what the drainage is like.

I have some standard weeds like daisy, dandelion, selfheal (image above), thistle (never seen that), mouse ear (what?) and the apparently difficult lesser calendine. Thank goodness I don't have other things on the list such as Hairy Bitter Cress and MYOB which I always thought stood for 'mind your own business!'

Looks not a bad price to me and I'm going to give it a year's trial.

Well I hope you all have a great Easter break.

Chat soon

*Image of selfheal from here