Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Paper Review

I don't have too many pleasures in life (all say 'awwwwww!') but one of them is to occasionally review the papers on BBC Radio Humberside's Breakfast Show, hosted by the indefatigable and talented Andy Comfort. I was pleased this morning to meet someone I met a few years ago when she then worked at a rival commercial radio station, Andy's new producer Christine Dexter.

I chose five stories on what turned out to be one of the quietest news stories of the week - unless that is you are interested in Ed Milliband, Tiger Woods not having a WAG with him or celebrity shagging. The stories were:
  • Smoking at work and a council's plan to make smoking workers clock out to have a fag;
  • Army 'bandsman' having to wear earplugs to comply with health and safety rules so they don't damage their hearing from their fellow musicians noisy instruments;
  • Theft of copper wire putting train services at risk;
  • Emma Thompson's tirade at the quality of teen use of the English language.
  • The deputy Chairman of the Bank of England asking the public to spend their way out of a recession.
You can listen for six more days on the following link for two spots at 7.20am (after 50 minutes) and 7.40am (after 1 hour 12 mins) BBC Radio Humberside. Pic above shows yours truly and host Andy Comfort in the studio.

Chat soon


Monday, 27 September 2010

Eat, Pray, Love - Julia Roberts

I went with a friend to see Eat, Pray, Love the new Julia Roberts film at the cinema last night (Sunday). I don't normally read the critics before hand, if I like the look and feel of the picture, I go and see it. Sometimes I'm disappointed, sometimes I'm really pleased - and this time?

I enjoyed it. Julia Roberts is a very versatile actress who entertains with a range of emotions and where appropriate, the occasional gentle comedy in this one. I won't put any spoilers in here at all, because I recommend you see it.

Julia plays Liz Gilbert, a writer who actually doesn't know what she wants in life or a relationship - she needs to 'find herself'. She leaves her husband and sets off on a series of adventures firstly at home after her split and then seeing the world, in Italy, in India and in Bali.

The cinematography is visually interesting and it's well directed at a gentle old pace with a rather romantic view of Italy and Bali and perhaps we get to see just a quick snapshot of the chaotic life in India before she spends time in a retreat learning to meditate.

The critics generally don't like it - but when you get under the skin, these are paying critics who put their cash into the cinema to see the film and it seems they are mostly women! They don't like the arrogant selfishness that they see the character portraying - although this isn't obvious to me. They forget this - this is based on a true life story, recently published in paperback. Real life doesn't pursue obvious and clear cut paths or provide expected or stereotypical behaviours. Everyone is different and just because the critic doesn't see this woman exercise constraint, patience and observe 'normal' standards (whatever that is) they don't like the film.

Well done Roberts, good solid directing, great locations, adequate but not demanding story, I'll give it 7/10 - worth £4.70.

Are you 'enjoying' the same dull, dreary, drizzle laden weather we are here in East Yorkshire? In this part of the world, it's known as 'Hull Fair weather.' I'll be away whilst the fair is on this year, so I won't be reporting on it, but it's one of the great calendar events of the year in the city attracting over a million visitors in a week.

Have a great week

Chat soon


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Something in the Garden Creeps...

Now, I'm not a wuss (mild coward) generally, I can cope with creepy things as long as I don't have to touch them; I would never invite a spider to dinner as it were, but this thing was spotted today on the lid of my blue recycling bin is definitely in the 'do not touch category'. I have no real idea what it is and what's more, Collins Complete Guide to British Insects doesn't have it in their extensive catalogue. In fact whilst the picture shows it to be a formidable beast, it's only one centimetre long - although in it's world, you might not argue with it. Although indications are it might be a Ladybird larvae (coccinellidae), can anyone help for certain?

We've just experienced quite a storm over the last couple of days with persistent rain on Thursday night through to midday on Friday. This strange looking
blue/grey cloud which was shielded from the late afternoon sun against a background of white cloud approached menacingly from the south east and a storm followed shortly thereafter. According to the BBC News online weather website, this is a cumulonimbus cloud (nimbus meaning rain apparently).

What have you got on for the weekend? Today is a garden day for me, well cutting the grass at least if the showers hold off and Sunday is a visit to a Spirit Body and Mind fair near Harrogate followed by a trip to the pictures (cinema) with a friend in the evening to see the new Julia Roberts film, Eat, Pray, Love.

Have a great weekend

Chat soon


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Can I Help you 'Love?'

Something happened twice today which really stood out as quite unusual in this modern day and I wonder if anyone else has noticed an emerging trend?

Now, being familiar with strangers can be achieved quite easily or used to be before the often pathetic politically correct austerity of recent years. Not that people shouldn't be treated with utmost respect, of course they should be. However, the first young lady (around 22 ish) called me 'love', more than once, it seemed quite deliberately as she served me at a well known food chain today. At Sainsburys, the assistant tonight (around 40 - ish) called me 'hunni' as she handled my bread loaf.

This is not the first time in recent weeks where calling someone 'love' in the service industry seems to have come back into vogue and appears to be acceptable across the age range. Now this is fine with me to a point. I guess I've become used, in my politically correct workplace not to being called, 'love' so that's why it sort of stands out. I wonder if this form of familiarity is now acceptable company policy?

Now if you come from Northern Lincolnshire, just across the river from me, you might get called 'ducks' as a familiar term, 'pet' if you come from the north east of England, and 'my lover' if you come from the south west of the UK. My fellow blogger Auntiegwen in her blogs you can find the expression 'hen' (is that from Scotland Auntie?) and my favourite current familiar phrase to those I know very well is 'hunni,' or 'hun' in text speak.

Derek Trotter uses 'pal' all the time, 'governor' is common round here as is 'my mate.' One I don't like is 'darl,' short for darling.

What do you use?

The other thing I need advice about is the ending of texts on the phone and comments on here for example. To women I always use 'x' which is a representation of a kiss I suppose, not literally you understand but a term of endearment or respect.(As a family or with close friends, I always use a formal kiss on the cheek as a greeting or as a goodbye.) What do you do for someone of the same gender particularly blokes on blokes?

Chat soon


Monday, 20 September 2010

Top Ten Questions... and the Answers!

Ask Jeeves website has made a list of the top ten questions it's been asked since 2000 from billions of queries and the questions (if not the answers) are very interesting. Here they are:

1. What is the meaning of life?
2. Is there a God?
3. Do blondes have more fun?
4. What is the best diet?
5. Is there anybody out there?
6. Who is the most famous person in the world?
7. What is love?
8. What is the secret to happiness?
9. Did Tony Soprano die?
10. How long will I live?

I wonder what would possess someone to ask the question 'is there a God?' and I also wonder what sort of response they were looking for? They're very subjective questions and the answers are complete imponderable conundrums. However, I might have some answers which could address some of the challenges of these universally fascinating issues.

1. What is the meaning of life?
See Monty Python film of the same name; John Cleeses' sex education lesson using his wife is one of the great comedic sketches of film history - who needs to know more?

2. Is there a God?
This is a false question. The question is usually asked by insomniac, dyslexic, agnostics who lie awake all night wondering if there's a DOG.

3. Do blondes have more fun?
Clearly the two blondes who went duck hunting were having fun when they hadn't caught anything after two hours. The first remarked, "Perhaps we're not throwing the dog high enough."

4. What is the best diet?
With a view to making us into what? For example I asked my wife how I could lose 25 lbs of ugly fat. "Chop your head off," she suggested.

5. Is there anybody out there?
This particularly relevant when we're in the shower and the front door bell rings and when we get downstairs, there's nobody there which is when we normally shriek the question out loud so everyone in the street can hear. Even the aliens at number 14 can hear us!

6. Who is the most famous person in the world?
Of course it was the Polish inventor who discovered the meaning of life but as no-one could pronounce his surname, Wonpczcyczazck, the story got spiked.

7. What is love?
Ah love, love was a marvellous invention, but then so was the bicycle puncture repair kit. A man knows when he's in love, it's the most glorious two and a half days of his life and he even temporarily loses interest in his car (generally for just less than two and a half days.)

8. What is the secret to happiness?
Happiness, something a married man has surgically removed through his wallet. In truth, it is the agreeable sensation of contemplating the misery of another.

9. Did Tony Soprano die?
Tony who? I never knew he could reach that high. The tax man and Reader's Digest will definitely know if he's alive.

10. How long will I live?
Well the thing is, life is like a sewer. What you put in is what you get out. Wealth and luck might have something to do with it of course. What would we do with immortality? We can't even decide what to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Hope you find that informative. Today, Blogspot - tomorrow, Wikipedia!

Chat Soon


Sunday, 19 September 2010

Shiver me Timbers

What started as a joke between two friends, John Baur and Mark Summers in Oregon, USA in 1995, is now a well known international event for some people, an event I saw for the first time last year. I couldn't believe it when I saw it either, International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Of course, close to me is the fishing port of Kingston upon Hull, so there is an affinity with the sea in this part of the country, but let's concentrate on the lighter side of the subject of Pirates.

What a superb subject and for those of us of a certain era who grew up with Robert Newton's stunningly brilliant Long John Silver, the phrase 'Arrrrr Jim lad,' said with a growl is everyone's attempt at becoming a pirate.
So, you should start the day with ''Ahoy shipmate' or how about a quick 'Avast there!' or something similar. No? Go on, just for a laugh.

Robert Newton (from here)

The 'patron saint' of pirates, Robert Newton was a
n actor most kids today wouldn't recognise I guess. He played Silver in Disney's Treasure Island back in 1950 and Blackbeard in 1952 and Long John Silver in 1954. Who would forget his Inspector Fix who followed David Niven's Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days in 1956. In all his life, Newton never shook off the pirate character and his death at the age of 50 in 1956 was alcoholism related.

Perhaps you have to be wacky to be a pirate character. Typically west country (UK) accent if you are an English pirate, fearless, cunning and somewhat of a rogue. Johnny Depp created the masterpiece of Captain Jack Sparrow in
Pirate of the Caribbean series of films (the actor says, based on a famous English rock and roll star.

There have been other pirates on celluloid, Errol Flynn played swashbuckler Captain Blood (brilliant but too debonair and posh accent for me) way back in 1935. Peter Pan struggled against arch rival Captain Hook and Charles Laughton played Captain William Kidd in 1945. Even Warner Brothers pitched Yosemite Sam as Captain Hareblower against his old adversary Bugs Bunny in 1954, voiced of course by Mel Blanc.

And what would be the point of being a pirate if you didn't have a treasure map where 'X' marked the spot. Who hasn't drawn a treasure map? Own up.

Even further back, Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirate of Penzance, a band of orphans terrorising the Cornish Coast of England is a well known musical story which still entertains some of us today.

So there we go, so how about a quick chorus (nobody's watching - go on) of 'Fifteen men on a dead man's chest.' Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this chorus for
Treasure Island and left the rest to our imagination:

"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest...
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

Drink and the Devil had done for the rest...

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum."

Have a great day me hearties...

Chat to ye soon


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Summer a Memory Already...

Greeting fellow bloggers from a wet, windy, chilly miserable East Riding of Yorkshire, but brightening up my day is the opportunity to welcome another follower. Welcome to ChrisJ an ex-pat from Southern California but hailing originally from the UK with a special interest in East Yorkshire and the Bridlington area particularly. Her blog FLAMBLOGGER is fast moving, no holds barred views, history of the East Riding, highly readable and she's a bit of an artist to boot! FLAMBLOGGER is a reference to Flamborough in East Yorkshire. Welcome ma'am.

Indeed autumn can definitely be judged by the weather forecast which clearly indicated a frost by Friday night into Saturday morning. The flowers are looking decidedly bedraggled and even the hanging basket outside the front door is looking tired. What a time for the news too for odd stories to continue: although the Pope is not visiting my part of the world, his visit as Head of State has caused both controversy with non-catholics (and a few catholics), and delight generally by catholics (with one or two exceptions). I aren't going to get into any religious arguments or debate here, but I'll watch his visit and the reaction with interest.

I read with amusement the new government's dismay at the BBC union BECTU planning strikes which will hit broadcast coverage of the Conservative party conference and the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Oh, how I love to watch arrogant, hypocritical politicians become angry and observe them trying to keep their cool.

The kids are back at school and there's one or two tell tale signs: Internet speeds mysteriously slow down until ten o'clock at night during term time; traffic in a morning is now horrendous compared to two weeks ago; litter has increased substantially on the road outside where the little darlings tramp to and from school.

The holiday to the USA gets closer as a visit to Las Vegas and San Francisco beckons. We've never been to that part of America and I hope that it will give us the opportunity, in San Fran at least, to see the real America. Four years ago, I took the family to Florida and we spent most of the time in theme parks for the benefit of the kids who had never done that sort of holiday, which looking back was, in part, a big mistake. If you were to ask me who the real Floridians were, I couldn't really tell you at all. It was a regret we didn't spend more time in the towns and countryside around Orlando where we stayed to see and meet the real America.

Chat soon


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Stand (or Walk) and Deliver!

The famous Green Dragon pub at Welton, East Yorkshire

Keeping a close eye on the weather helped me to pick a great day, the best for a few days to go for a walk with a friend. This is not the first walk I’ve put on the blog; many of those I follow put their day’s outing on for the benefit of others and I think that’s great just in case we fancy a day out. I would heartily recommend this one!

This circular four mile, two hour walk began and finished in the village of Welton in East Yorkshire, population 1,560 souls. This is a picturesque village set in glorious easily accessible English countryside and its history goes way back. It has a nice small church of St Helen, a mill pond, beautiful old buildings and the Green Dragon pub at the centre of the village. I used an old easy to follow walking map, produced by the now extinct Humberside County Council, but it’s still valid and up to date. If you want a copy of this map, let me know and I’ll send you a scanned copy.

Welton village green and St Helens church

Before we start the walk it might just be worth mentioning in passing that the Green Dragon pub is famous for housing one of England’s most notorious criminals, Dick Turpin. Highwayman Turpin came to Yorkshire from Essex to start a new life as a butcher, but he soon fell into the wrong way of life again. Under an alias of John Palmer, he was arrested for threatening an agricultural labourer in the nearby village of Brough and Turpin was held in the Green Dragon pub. He escaped but was soon recaptured and having failed to give a good account of his character at the court in Beverley, he was sent to York Assizes (Crown Court today). Turpin was recognised for who he was when his handwriting in a letter he sent to his brother in Essex was recognised. He was hanged in York on the Knavesmire in 1739. ‘Turpin’s Room’ can still be seen at the Green Dragon and Turpin’s cell in York is now a permanent display at the York Museum.

Welton Mill Pond

The walk began at 10.15am with bright sun and fair weather cloud and the path took us past the church, the tall mill building and the gorgeously tree framed pond. Up the grassy path in a gentle climb, easy for any walker, experienced or not surrounded by dense woodland on one side and sheep in a field on the other. The pathway is intersected at intervals with gates to prevent animals escaping. Some of the public paths go through private land but the land is well kept, solid underfoot and attractive to the eye with many species of tree. (I’ve since learned that the area was planed up in the Victorian ‘age of improvement’ and included conifers, beech and ash).

The first grass path and a gentle climb

A right turn led us along a concreted private farm path, a short walk along one of the single track roads and up into woodland with another gentle climb through mixed deciduous and pine trees. We came across a second single track road where there was a riding stable and as we passed the entrance, a couple of horses came out. We were to see a few other horses in this four mile walk.

Looking back along the private farm road which is a public footpath

Having left the roadway, this is where there was a little bit of a steep climb. This was, perhaps, only 50 or 60 yards, but it was steep and I had to stop at the top to catch my breath. Why should I have to worry, a bloke older than me passed us and he was running up the dale! Indeed we met a few dog walkers and ramblers, cyclists and runners on the walk and all greeted us with a friendly ‘good morning.’

With the short steep climb out of the way, it was onto a woodland path through which we could see the most magnificent view of the Humber basin. We paused to take this in and although the picture doesn’t do it justice, you could see the Vale of York and to the west many, many dozens of miles away were familiar cooling towers from the numerous power stations in West Yorkshire. The Humber seemed a long way away within this lovely vista with North Lincolnshire clearly visible.

Looking south across the Humber from a ridge to the west of Elloughton Dale to North Lincolnshire

A walk along a metalled narrow roadway led up for a short distance and then a gentle long descent back into the village and a welcome Lemonade at the Green Dragon pub. This is a two hour gentle walk which can be shortened with shortcuts making it two or three miles if you want it and you can cut out the very steep climb as well. There are just a handful of cars using the single track roads, but something to be aware of. Dogs can be let free, but only if you can keep them under control; there are lots of opportunities for them to disappear in woodland and into fenced off areas which would make it difficult to follow them.

Mushrooms, but not really recommended for eating, Shaggy Ink Cap - coprinus comatus

This is a circular stroll and no special equipment is needed other than sensible clothing, walking shoes and because it’s so isolated, a mobile phone would be useful. We sometimes have no idea that such land is on the doorstep and the former Humberside County Council worked hard on its footpath programme to make them accessible to the public. Some of the footpaths form part of the famous Yorkshire Wolds Way nature trail.

A small beck at the end of the walk associated with the village pond

After a quick pub lunch, I headed off on country roads to Beverley to a mind, body and spirit fair and spent an hour or so there – it was well attended with stalls and the public. I collected a plant from my parent’s house before heading home and ready for cooking the tea (chicken breast stuffed with mushrooms coated in sage and onion stuffing accompanied by fresh vegetables - YUM).

I hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend as much as I’ve enjoyed mine.

Have a great week ahead.

Chat soon


Friday, 10 September 2010

On Planet Earth (for some)

Firstly let me extend a warm welcome to The Weaver of Grass from Leyburn in North Yorkshire as the latest follower of this mundane tuppence worth of tripe and onions. The Weaver is a farmer's wife living on the edge of the Dales and her blog is entertaining, light, informative and full of great local pictures from her part of the world, please visit her blog and enjoy. Welcome ma'am.

Well the weekend is upon us with all sorts of strange things happening in the world outside of this great county. The strange Pastor Terry Jones who has a congregation of thirty in Florida USA has hit world headlines for his perverse threat to symbolically burn the Koran. I heard an interesting debate on BBC Radio 2 this lunchtime on the Jeremy Vine show where two opposing views were heard both supporting him and opposing him. At a time where world peace is in the heart of every right thinking man and woman perhaps Pastor Jones best hang up his cassock or whatever Pastors wear in Florida and retire gracefully and allow the rest of us in the world to try to get along without facing the risk of being plunged into another terrorist war!

I don't know about your part of the world, but autumn seems to have come slightly early here this year. Rain, strong winds and falling leaves are around us here in Yorkshire and I notice a lot of the berries are showing early colour to attract the birds. Is this a sign of a bad winter in front of us? That's what folklore tells us; the truth is that early berries don't signify a bad winter to come but a good spring in the past where flowers weren't killed off by late spring frosts! The picture above in my pyracantha bush in the back garden full of orange berries which the blackbirds particularly love.

Wayne Rooney has allegedly been using call girls and has now asked for privacy following red top tabloid headlines. Well I have always believed that the press are too powerful and clearly the girl(s) in question are motivated, allegedly by the rewards of kiss and tell, but here is someone millions of kids around the world look up to as a success story and a role model, so the one I feel sorry for is not him, but his wife and all his innocent younger supporters who must be totally confused by all this. This is a very sad, sorry story.

Have you noticed that the subject of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) has suddenly gained momentum in the media. This is the government's announcement in October of what the budget will be for the public sector in the next four years. My area of business has been preparing for between between 15% and 25% of cuts for 18 months, long before the election was called and this is in addition of cuts that were already being planned. The media have come to this very late and frankly have missed a trick to get an accurate measure of public opinion on what these levels of cuts mean in real terms. Watch out for a double dip recession, a couple of million extra on the dole, therefore no income tax being paid, benefits increasing instead of decreasing, no one selling or buying houses because of uncertainty and meanwhile the banks who caused this mess in the first place are making billions in profits - at the public expense. Nice one.

The BBC have a
slide show on their BBC news on line website, quote: "From back-garden enthusiasts to professional photographers - the Royal Observatory in Greenwich received hundreds of entries for its 2010 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition." The slide show is of the best photographs and is absolutely magnificent, please take five minutes to sit and relax and watch it.

Scientists have, apparently been analysing the difference between 'bad' dance moves made by blokes and 'good' dance moves in an effort to prove that 'good' dance moves make men more attractive to women. It seems 'good' dance moves give a sub-conscious psychological message to women that men are in good health and are potentially good reproductive material. That's me knackered on all fronts!

Enjoy the weekend (dodging the showers in the UK) and I'll leave you with this news story that's just come in on the wires:

"A lorry carrying hundreds of copies of Roget's Thesaurus has just crashed and overturned on the M1 motorway. The driver is okay, but onlookers were described as, 'stunned, overwhelmed, astonished, gobsmacked, amazed, bewildered and dumbfounded.'"

Chat soon


Friday, 3 September 2010

Night Time Excursion with a Camera

First of all, as is my usual protocol, I'll welcome Sue, a newcomer to the followers list, enjoy your stay and feel free to make a comment anytime you like.

It's always a pleasure spending time with my sons and tonight my middle son joined me and brother in law from next door on an evening's photoshoot on the bank of the River Humber and although chilly, it was a beautiful night, a slight easterly breeze, very high, very thin cloud and black as the hobs of hell!

The location was North Ferriby, west of the Humber Bridge on the north bank at a little country park, one of many dotted round the area and which sits on a footpath along which you can walk for many miles along the Humber Bank in reasonable comfort on well tended paths. On summer's days, it is such a pleasant experience. Flora a
nd fauna abound and there is always activity of one sort or another on or near the river or in the air.

The Humber Bridge was well lit against the dark background and the lights from the various industries on the south bank of the Humber (North Lincolnshire) were very clearly visible. The tide was out and on some of the pictures, you can see the reflections on the muddy shore and although not clear, sand bars in the middle of the river were showing.

As a bonus, someone in North Ferriby let off three Chinese Lanterns into the air as I was taking the picture looking northwards towards the village (the church spire is clearly visible) and I love how it's tu
rned out - my favourite shot of the night.

All the pictures were taken with a Canon 40D on a tripod at various bulb exposures using a 17mm to 85mm zoom lens and a remote control to reduce blurring through camera shake.
You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

Have a great weekend

Chat soon