Friday, 29 April 2011

Put your Pinny on Dear

I didn't watch the royal wedding today, I wasn't interested in 'that dress,' but I wished the couple well and I watched them while I had my lunch as they left the cathedral to Buckingham Palace and then the fly-by of the Second World War Memorial Flight. It looked a great day weather wise for those hardly Londoners and those who travelled from further afar and all seemed to go well. I'm pleased for the couple.

And a seamless transition to a new subject: I have no idea why I am inspired to write about 'pinnies.' Pinnies to keep your dress clean while you cook, wash and do the housework. I have one, but being manly, I like to think of it as an apron. 

Looking back, both my grandmothers, my mother and her sister wore pinnies, ones that tied round your waist. Only they never just wore them during domestic chores, but most of the day. It was habit. 

I 'borrowed' the picture above and I accidentally closed the site down before I had chance to record the link - so if you see this pic and it's yours, let me know and I'll acknowledge it. (Sorry!) The pinnies were usually floral, pale colours (to hide the stains I wonder?) and usually a pocket for the hankie or a packet of fags. But then as my grandparents were 'housewives' and not having a huge wardrobe, there was less incentive not to wear them often.

And yet another well planned seamless segue: Although the people who put fertilizer down on my lawn say that there's no need to water grass, it'll do very nicely without and will recover if it goes brown, I have relented. My sprinkler is on. My grass got a cut while the nation was glued to its televisions this morning and it was noticeably browning in places. 

It looks okay and neat enough although my strimmer did run out of the little plastic wire so it's not trimmed all the same. Doing it with an old fashioned pair of long handled shears which is how I finished it off is a lot neater.

I've even put some grass seed down on a few little bald patches. 

A day of domestic bliss tomorrow, shopping and other 'interesting' things. NOT

Chat soon


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Steak and Mushroom Pie - Yummy

I love food. I can't help it. I chastise myself over it. I succumb to it too because I am weak. But my two lads come up with new recipes on a weekend from books or on-line which has been a really interesting experiment over the last few months and we have had some great meals.

So, we try new things and this... is a home made steak and mushroom pie.

My goodness, this is the food of angels (mind you if it was, they'd all be twenty stone and unable to fly!) This w
as a stunning and tasty meal, as stunning as pie can get, made more so because we rarely have it.

I'm not going to give you the recipe on here, it's boring, but if you would like it - I'll send you it. There's no secrets for all those cooks among you, all bog standard stuff (except the puff pastry was bought in). I'm looking forward to the weekend and a few days off beyond. It's busy right now at work but then you'd expect me to say that working in the public sector. But there is grass to cut, garage to sort out, my priorities are to keep her indoors happy of course.

I'm taking bets on the biggest spi
der we find in the garage. Interestingly for the first time in many years, we haven't had a mouse in the garage.

Last day at work tomorrow... whopppeeeeeeeeeeeeeee (I must add that to the spell checker.)

Chat soon


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Thornton Abbey

Above, the impressive gatehouse facade and barbican leading to it from the car park.

Easter Sunday – if you celebrate tradition, Happy Easter. I do miss not having an Easter egg – send me one in your thoughts.

Today I thought I’d take advantage of the sun and, with a friend, drove across the Humber Bridge into sunny North Lincolnshire and paid a visit to Thornton Abbey. This is an English Heritage site so it cost a couple of bob to get in but for a local, it’s worth every penny.

Thornton Abbey - sounds like a BBC drama series!

Now this isn’t Alton Towers, no rides, no attractions nor is there anything to do particularly; this is a place of tranquillity, peace and quiet in the middle of lovely countryside.

Thornton Abbey these days consists of a huge and unique gatehouse, lots of green field and a ruined Church. Nice weather was a big benefit today because it’s a popular spot for visitors to have picnics on the lovely grass in amongst the ruins of the Church.

The Church was founded as long ago as 1139 for Augustinian Canons and indeed on the front of the gatehouse is a surviving statue high up on the wall of St. Augustine himself. William le Gros, Lord of Holderness and Earl of Yorkshire, the founder is buried in the Abbey grounds.

What is impressive about this place is the incredible, unique and imposing 14th century gatehouse as you enter the site via a barbican, a sort of causeway from the car park. I can honestly say I’ve never seen such a strange construction and you can enter the gatehouse and move up to the upper floors up spiral stone staircases.

Above, one of the many twisting passageways on the upper floors

Hidden everwhere are hundreds of carvings, gargoyles, faces, weird creatures, green men, statues, some weird, some frightening, some benign, some weathered beyond recognition but all entertaining in their own way.

Uneven brick narrow passageways is the only way to visit the first floor great hall which is now a sort of history of the Abbey which is very informative. This used to be the Abbot’s court room.

Up to the second floor and there is a large hall; wooden floorboards, bare and expansive, it is atmospheric. It was probably divided into smaller rooms centuries ago. Leaded windows provide a dusty view onto the outside world. Sadly, I guess that for severely physically disabled people, a trip up to the upper floors of the gatehouse is not possible, even if you could get up the narrow spiral staircases; there are multi levels and steps in the passageways. (The grounds offer no such obstacles.)

Above, the second floor hall, which was probably sectioned into many rooms, centuries past.

Leaving the gatehouse you wander across a lovely meadow and grassed path with earthworks either side demonstrating evidence of centuries of activity in the grounds behind the security of the gatehouse.

Above, on the grass path looking back to the inside of the gatehouse

Arriving at the derelict church, the chapel still survives and on a rainy day, you can get a small amount of cover to keep dry which I think is in the surviving parlour. The outline of the church is still there and very clear and there are gravestones which are protected by plastic sheeting which is a shame because they can’t be read. The nave and cloisters can be seen in the walls that remain.

Above, the northern nave wall looking back toward the gatehouse

The atmosphere in the grounds is wonderful. No sound of traffic, sheep bleating in a nearby field, skylarks twittering high above the field, a heron floats lazily by toward the Humber and a swan passes by in the opposite direction toward nearby ponds. Crows, ravens, swifts, pigeons, finches flit and call; insects, bees, butterflies go from dandelion to clover to lilac to chestnut tree flowers all of which provide a heady scent on the warm, sunny, spring breeze. Trees and bushes are dotted everywhere surrounding the site. I watched for ages a tiny, tiny bee with legs laden with pollen looking for more in the microscopic plants hidden in the grass.

Even if you don’t believe in God, it can’t be denied that nature is bloody wonderful.

If you have to travel a long way and don’t have an interest in the history and can’t marvel in the elaborate buildings, then this is probably not for you. But if you ever end up near Scunthorpe or the Humber Bridge and have a couple of hours to spare – go for it – you won’t be disappointed.

It’s open 10am to 6 pm most days; it has a car park, very small shop and excellent toilet facilities. The sat nav will take you straight there with ‘DN39 6TU.’ If you need any more information, contact English Heritage on

I hope you are enjoying all this lovely spring weather in the UK although a lot of you have had rain and a few thunderstorms – nothing like that here although we do need the rain.

Chat soon


Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Sun has got it's Hat on...

There are so many blogs popping up on my favourite reading list, I do read them all and promise I'll pay a visit and hopefully make some comments. Everyone's creative juices must be on the move.

What a lovely spring day with wall to wall sunshine after a foggy start. Finningley in Lincolnshire, just a few miles south is 23 degrees Celsius this afternoon.

I've taken an extra day off today and got some quality gardening done. Some of my little plug plants that came from the seed catalogue arrived over the last couple of days and I've potted over 180 plants up this morning. It doesn't do the back any good but wow, now that they are potted, I can look forward to nurturing, watering, protecting, ready for planting out in about 3 to 4 weeks time toward the middle to end of May.

We still get late frosts here in the north of the UK until the end of May but if they do come along, they are unlikely to be severe and plants can be easily protected with newspaper.

Talking of days off, here in the UK as in many parts of the world, it's Easter but we also have some extra national events coming up such as a royal wedding etc.
So this means that workers can take three days holiday entitlement but actually get eleven days off in a row! My colleague has done just that and I think she heads up to Edinburgh for a three day break very shortly; a beautiful city.

How does this work? Here we go:

Friday 22 - Good Friday (Bank Holiday)

Saturday 23 - Weekend

Sunday 24 - Weekend

Monday 25 - Easter Monday (Bank Holiday)

Tuesday 26 -
Take a day's annual leave
Wednesday 27 -
Take a day's annual leave
Thursday 28 -
Take a day's annual leave
Friday 29 - Royal Wedding (Bank Holiday)

Saturday 30 - Weekend

Sunday 1 May - Weekend

Monday 2 May - (Early May Bank Holiday)

So there you have it. I'm off the week beginning the 2 May for a week
, so it costs me four days leave entitlement for 9 days off, not quite a bargain, but I'm not complaining.

Last night along the east coast of the UK in parts was a sea fret, a sort of creeping fog from the North Sea over the warm and still land. The sea is still cold this time of year despite the warmth in the sun. The UK
Meteorological Office describe the sea at 8 degrees Celsius. Chilly if you were to spend a lot of time in it considering the core body temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius depending on where you take the temperature.

Despite the heat - roast pork for tea, the smell wafting through the house is sensational!

Chat soon


Monday, 18 April 2011

Put it all in the Mix

Tonight is an eclectic mix of musings: crows, sand, cardboard boxes, my garden fountain and 'best before' dates.

What a glorious day it's been here in East Yorkshire with wall to wall sunshine and clear skies, but just as if to act as a warning, the breeze later this afternoon has been quite chilly in the shade. I am reminded of the saying which I've blogged about before - 'Ne'er cast a clout till May is out.' In other words don't start to shed the clothes until June when the last of the frosts have gone.

The temperature today in Linton-on-Ouse, just a few miles away in North Yorkshire was 19 degrees Celsius today according to a Tweet by the local BBC weatherman
Paul Hudson.

My friend
Sharla from Chicago has stated on her Facebook that despite the Spring there, it is bitterly cold in the Windy City (allegedly named from the breeze on Lake Michigan.) On the BBC weather site, Chicago is just 4 degrees Celsius today. Brrrrrrrrrr.

When I came home today, my wife decided to wash her car which had become very dirty, but when examined closely, it wasn't road dirt or mud, it was a dusting of sand which was spoiling its looks. I have known sand cover cars, its been happening for years, but research shows that sand storms from the Sahara desert comes to the UK about twice a year and dumps sand all over the place.

I can recall the days as I guess we all can, because it's not too long ago, that when we went to the supermarket and bought our shopping, we could usually find loads of cardboard boxes they gave away for us to take our purchases home with. That stopped for some reason a few years ago, I'm not sure why - however I learned today that if you ask for a box, the larger supermarkets will give you one.

Box manufacturers however report an increase in box sales in the UK of between 500% and 600% to the public because people still want them for storage and transportation of goods. The cardboard box has been around for over 1
00 years, and it looks like it'll be around for a while to come. I guess because we take most if not all of our cardboard to the tip for recycling, it's cheaper to manufacture?

I have had to laugh tonight. There is a bungalow that we can see from our lounge window and in particular their roof - it's about thirty yards away. There is loads of thick moss on the roof and is a playground for two crows that we have had around for a couple of years. The slightly larger one has taken to bringing bread onto the roof, hopping down from the chimney or apex and hiding the bread by burying it under the moss.

Tonight, the other one spotted the hiding and came and discovered the piece of bread and started eating it. The larger one then pinched the bread back and buried
it again. Hilarious, I'm hoping to capture it on video for you.

In the UK, 'Best before' dates on food which we are all used to is about telling us about quality, in other words, you can go beyond the 'best before' date, but the quality might deteriorate or not be as good.
By contrast 'Use by' dates is for food that goes off quickly, like fresh food, meat, dairy, fish where it might be harmful if you ate it beyond that date. The reason I mention this is because reform of these warnings is on the cards because of the massive and often unnecessary waste of food that is being thrown away when it is in perfectly good condition.

The controversy comes when some, including the British Retail Consortium says it is not the case that the dates are responsible for the waste of food. In my house, any food past the relevant date is put in the bin.
Perhaps we need to be better educated?

Finally, my fountain base is now full of soil instead of water because I can't stop it leaking. The top bit still works with the water, so we still have the luxury of listening to gargling water but instead of fish, we'll have lovely flowers to look at.

Enjoy the week,

Chat soon,


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Trousers on the Line

There are few delights in life, well my life anyway, than to spend a warm balmy sunny day in the garden. Gardening, reading, chatting, watering, weeding, feeding, cutting, tidying, drinking tea, composting, cleaning and drinking more tea.

Looking up into the rays of light between the trees to see thousands of insects and other things drifting slowly along, back lit and highlighted by the sunlight gave me a sense of relaxation along with the smells of spring and the warmth - wonderful and hopefully a sign of things to come.

We do, however need some rain. Ironic isn't it that after the worst winter for years and all that water from melted snow that made everything mushy and sodden, we now need some rain.

To boot - I even found time to prepare and cook tea - chicken breast stuffed with chopped mushrooms and coated with apple and sage and onion stuffing. Ah what a day.

I am reading one of those - 'don't want to put it down' type books, a novel by Diane Setterfield called The Thirteenth Tale; so far, and I'm only a third the way through, it has everything you could wish for in a good book. It was a choice for the book club I follow on Facebook.

The weather was even warm enough to put washing out on the line today.

I mentioned that I went to a wedding yesterday in Beverley, East Yorkshire which went very well. A short registry office service followed by pictures in the attached garden. The reception, held a few miles away in Hornsea (on the East Yorkshire coast) was super: short speeches (excellent), superb buffet, table magician who was very good, a singer and a saxophonist accompanying him were fantastic. A great afternoon all round.

The funny bit, and this is what nerves do for you, the bride had a fit of giggles. This came about after an ever-so-slight but definite pause from her when the registrar asked if she knew of any lawful impediment why they shouldn't be married. Comic timing to perfection.

A great weekend, shame it has to finish, I hope you all have a great week. It's a short one for me, working three days, Thursday off flexi-time and then the Bank Holiday Easter weekend.

Chat soon


Friday, 15 April 2011

Smell of Spring

Spring has its own unique smell doesn't it? Particularly now with the blossom flowering across the countryside, new leaves, freshly mown grass and pollen in the air. The dampness and cold mornings just adds to that sense of freshness and renewal.

We trimmed our cherry tree last year and raised its crown to give us some more light and its absolutely full of blossom - more than I've seen for years. The only thing is most of it falls into the small pond, but it's easily fished out (excuse the pun) with a small net. I have noticed that the magnolia trees everywhere this spring are magnificent.

Its a shame that the air freshener companies can't bottle 'spring.' Sure they can do fresh; they can do fragranced fresh, but they can't replicate 'spring'.

I was minding my own business at work today having a pleasant conversation with a young woman. I happened to be noshing on a banana between sentences and the banana became unexpectedly crunchy.

My crown had fallen off. Fortunately, I managed to rescue it and apart from a gap in my teeth, all is well. My dentist will try to re-cement it next Tuesday. The moral of this story is don't trust bananas despite the fact that look and behave all innocent and coy!

I'm going to a wedding tomorrow afternoon in Beverley in East Yorkshire. The groom is Barry and the bride is Shirley Ann and I wish them well and I am looking forward to the wedding and the reception. They fly to Vietnam for a trekking holiday on Monday - lucky them. It's the second time Shirley has been after going there to find her son after the terrible tsunami a few years ago (successfully thank goodness) and I'm sure they will both love it.

My other half had visitors tonight so I disappeared to the supermarket to get a couple of cards and went and sat at the Humber Bridge viewing site for half an hour writing the cards and listening to the excellent 'Friday Night is Music Night' on BBC Radio 2. The poorish picture at the top was taken with my little Lumix resting on my rear view door mirror.

I haven't heard any good jokes lately, so I'll pinch one from the comedian Jimmy Car. "The makers of Persil, have been fined £93 million, for price fixing. Price fixing? Surely that's money laundering."

Chat soon


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

358 - Mean Anything to You?

Welcome to blog 358. Nothing remarkable about that I guess; not a number which readily sticks in the memory for anything special. It might however be special for those who catch the 358 bus from Orpington to Crystal Palace in Greater London: workers, schoolies, signers on, lovers, shoppers and visitors to sick, lame and lazy.

The 309 passengers and crew of flight
358, the 'miracle flight' from Paris to Toronto which crashed on landing in 2005 and disintegrated will never forget that event - they all survived the Air France Airbus A340 disaster leaving behind nothing but tangled unrecognised wreckage.

Finally, in the year
358 (CCCLViii) Nicaea in Turkey suffered one of many earthquakes; the Franks in Belgium capitulated to Julian, Roman Emperor and Princess Duan, formally Empress Chengzhao of a now non-existent state in northern China, died. She was tortured having denied charges of witchcraft.

Tonight is one of those rare lazy nights watching the goggle box, but not broadcast television which I have come to get more and more switched off by, but a film Citizen Kane recently bought on DVD by my son John. The film, an early 1940s classic is directed by, produced by and stars the extraordinary Orsen Wells. It's that long ago since I've seen it, I actually can't remember what goes on at all (old age and stupidity=bad memory.) Now where was I?

Oh yes - off to lounge about for an hour and a half with a cuppa and good company.

I've got a day long diversity meeting at work tomorrow which is always fun and achieves a lot with great discussion and fascinating topics.

Hoping that Lottery tickets bought tonight will bear some fruit (or cash would be preferable.)

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Chat soon


Friday, 8 April 2011

Cn u txt me bck?

The late afternoon sun today has provided a welcome respite to the cut and thrust of daily trials and tribulations and I've managed to cut the grass and have a general tidy round. I even sat in the sun for half an hour and my goodness - it's warm. The Pieris 'Forest Flame' is absolutely magnificent with its new red shoots and white trailing flowers.

Now today's blog is unashamedly inspired by a BBC News Magazine Online article about Internet language. I've probably talked about this before sometime ago, but I'm fascinated by the argument that its devaluing the written language and making kids (and some of us) lazy in the way we communicate.

The furore was started by the acronym LOL being included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Now for me, LOL means 'laugh out loud,' meant to demonstrate a response. However, confusingly - and I've never used the acronym for this, it also means 'Lots of Love.' Imagine the hurt this caused when, as the story goes, a mother sent her son a message, "Grandma has passed away, LOL." I don't know if that's true or not, but you can see the confusion.

I hate acronyms because they make assumptions that you know what they stand for, but other phrases, like text speak has come into use in our communications, and I'm afraid I am also culpable. I often use 'Thx' for thanks for example in e-mails which require a one line informal answer rather than 'Dear Fred, Thanks you for your recent e-mail of the 7th inst." It's what most people expect these days. I occasionally stray on e-mails by using 'u' for 'you' - I use 'u' in texts.

Is the argument that as long as I know what you are talking about, it doesn't matter how I spell it? Does it demonstrate a lack of intelligence if I don't know the difference between where and were (I do by the way) or is it just laziness? I would no more think of using that kind of language in this blog than flying to the moon, but I wonder if it makes people so lazy that when it come the time for writing formal documents which we all have to do now and then, we actually can't remember the difference between 'their' and 'there' etc., or how to spell difficult words?

Jimmy Young, the long in the tooth ex BBC Radio disc jockey and one time pop singer used it many years ago: TTFN - 'ta ta for now,' and might even have been used in war time radio comedy show broadcasts.

Anyway, O2, AYK, as I'm SOT, and as I'm writing the SOS, I'm going to check if my SIC so I can say BFN.*

Chat soon

Ta ra!

*Anyway as I've had my two cents worth, as you know, I'm short of time, and as I'm writing the same old sh*t, I'm going to check my spelling is correct so I can say bye for now.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Busy Week

The first week of the month is always busy - both at work and in my home life. In the evening this week so far included a football meeting, a Board meeting, a psychic circle and a special psychic circle and later in the week a distance healing experiment with another Reiki healer. My wife works on some of these evenings, so the impact at home isn't too bad.

This doesn't take into account work which, for the last few weeks seems to have been fairly manic with some longer hours than normal.

The downside to this is missing some meals and not eating what I should and not being home as much as I would like but the upside is I'm doing things I enjoy and can relax at - for example in a meditation tonight at my special psychic circle - I nodded off for five minutes in a power nap - it caught up on me. Thank goodness I don't snore.

I had a nice meal tonight when I got home at 9.15 pm which I reheated in the microwave - another invention that can be so useful, the shame is that her indoors couldn't tear herself away from the TV to even ask what sort of day I'd had - oh well.

So, late evening solace with the computer, reading and then bed.

I'm going to a funeral tomorrow. My occasional partner (at work) for a short while back in the early/mid 1980s, a lovely man aged only 57 died last week. The life and soul of the party and with a wonderful sense of humour and a broad beaming smile that went with it . I'll be very sad, but only briefly, the celebration of his life and what he had achieved will make me smile, easy for me of course, more difficult for his family and my thoughts and wishes are with them as they come to terms with his unexpected death.

Looking forward to the weekend as I pick up a new suit for a wedding the weekend after next and on Sunday going to a Body, Mind and Spirit Fair.

I need a holiday!

Chat soon


Saturday, 2 April 2011

Say Cheese...

A day of hazy sunshine is just spoilt by a breeze that's persisting, but it is possible to comfortably go into the garden in a t-shirt. The marsh marigold in the pond is magnificent.

I've been in the garden this afternoon, but not to garden but to help John, my middle son with his hobby of experimental photography. He's done all sorts. He's made his own pinhole cameras (out of matchboxes and sticky tape) with great results; he has a stereo camera, a 3D camera and panoramic 360 degrees camera. None of these are expensive, more for the enthusiast but the hours of enjoyment that it has brought him and will continue to bring him is worth every penny.

Today we've done two things. The first was to burst a balloon filled with water and capture the results with rapid bursts (several frames per second).

Here is one of the more interesting results (1/1000 of a second at f9.0, 400 ISO, Canon EOS 40D 17mm-85mm zoom):

The second was the old fashioned blowing bubbles and this time capturing the bubbles coming out of the blower with rapid speed.

This was one of the photos that came out quite well (1/2000 of a second at f5.6, 1600 ISO, Canon EOS 40D 17mm-85mm zoom):

My own photographic hobby started as a lot of kids did with a cheap Kodak Box Brownie. My first SLR (single lens reflex 35mm film camera) was a Russian Zenith. The Zenith was cheap (about £50 in about 1975-ish) but robust and gave great results. My first semi automatic 35mm film camera was an Olympus OM1n. This was stunning piece of kit and I even managed to afford a zoom lens. I had to sell this kit in the end because I needed the money to live.

I didn't have a camera for a few years other than the throw away cameras you bought from the chemists. Then digital came along. I bought a Canon EOS 300D which was a lovely piece of equipment although the quality of picture was fairly limited in comparison to today's digital cameras.

Now I have two cameras, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ65 which I carry around with me every day - this is a stunning little portable. My main camera is a Canon EOS 40D - a brilliant camera, pleasant to hold and a joy to use.

I'm not an artist with a camera, I wish I was, but I try to capture the essence of what I am trying to convey.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Chat soon


Friday, 1 April 2011

Jigging Away

The end of an extraordinarily busy week this week, catching up after a week off and then having another day off today to make a long weekend and using some time off I have accrued, I am ready for roast beef which I can smell cooking away.

I went to visit a lady today to give her a reading and she lives in one of the more run down estates in Hull. The 1960s and 1970s houses (and some more recent into the 1980s) are not particularly well maintained by the council and some even less well kept by tennants. There is a fair amount of dereliction and some properties are boarded up with vandalised roofs waiting to be demolished to be fair for a new start.

However, on the run up to the street, there are long wide grass verges which are covered in tens if not hundred of thousands of daffodils - a solid mass of bright yellow. I wish I had time to stop and take a photograph it was splendid and gave a real lift to the soul. Lunch followed with my parents and mother made a home made chicken soup (not as good as mine mum - sorry) but never-the-less, it was lovely.

I took her a bunch of flowers and a strawberry cheesecake from a well known store.
The beauty of visiting one's parents if you're lucky enough to still have them around is that being my age, the stuff you talk about from the past seems such a long time ago. I was asked if my youngest son, who is still at university is going to renew his fishing licence because he loves to go fishing with my dad. He has renewed it indeed - he will enjoy sunny days on the banks of ponds and lakes.

The subject then turned to fishing stories from the past, my past. As a young man or teenager from the late sixties into the seventies, my grandfather Cyril used to like sea fishing, jigging for mackerel in particular. Jigging by the way is not an offence, its a line with several hooks on with lures, usually feathers which you jiggle about up and down and you often catch several mackerel in one go.

We used to go out in rowing boats from Bridlington harbour in East Yorkshire about a mile out to sea from the harbour wall. Now when I say rowing boats - there was nothing sophisticated about these seemingly ancient wooden craft, just seats and oars. No life jackets, no engine, no cup for bailing out water, no flares - in fact bugger all. Thinking about it now makes me shiver because the water a mile out to sea was never the same as the calm still water in the harbour.

There were three incidents I recall, the first was fishing on the finishing line of a yacht race, that was interesting as yachts whizzed past us (I couldn't understand why someone was firing a cannon on shore every time a yacht passed us!) The second one was where grandfather caught what looked like a telecommunications line, quite thick and heavy - I have no idea how he ever dragged it to the boat, but he stood up and the boat nearly turned over (I'm sweating writing this).

Finally, I recall going out on a lovely calm day and asking grandfather where land was because a fog had come in and land was nowhere to be seen.

How we got back I have no idea to this day.
The fishing trips in our fragile wooden craft were often made with Mr Allison, my grandfather's next door neighbour - a bigwig in the council and my uncle Les - so trips were always a laugh with him around.

I've just washed the car because it was supposed to be 21 degrees this afternoon in east Yorkshire, but the wind has taken the edge of the temperatures and my gauge says its just 16 degrees. I've lost the wash leather so 16 degrees is warm enough for the car to have dried clean but streaky.

A farmer bought an old, run-down, abandoned farm with plans to turn it into a going concern. The fields were grown over with weeds, the farmhouse was falling apart, and the fences were broken down. During his first day of work, the town vicar stopped by to bless the man's work. He said to the farmer, "May you and God work together to make this the farm of your dreams!"

A few months later, the vicar stopped by again to call on the farmer. Lo and behold, it was a completely different place. The farm house was completely rebuilt and in excellent condition, there were plenty of cattle and other livestock happily munching on feed in well-fenced pens, and the fields are filled with crops planted in neat rows. "Amazing!" the vicar said. "Look what God and you have accomplished together!"

"Yes, vicar," said the farmer, "but remember what the farm was like when God was working on it alone!"

Chat soon