Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Ain't nature wonderful. It never ceases to amaze me.

A huge amount of damage was done to shrubs and plants and some trees as a result of  prolonged snow and ice last winter, not only because of the cold but because of the weight of the snow. Indeed I had a lovely shrub broken (recovered after some judicious pruning) by weight of snow.

I also thought I'd lost our Cordyline Australis which is a palm-like tree which we kept in a pot. In the UK it's probably better known as the Torbay Palm because of the profusion of these glorious trees in the Torbay area on the south coast. The vast majority of Cordyline's died this winter in the UK, both mature and smaller varieties. All that is left of mine is the rotting bare trunk.

We've had it years and I couldn't bring myself round to throwing it away - stupid or sentimental or both. It's a dead tree for goodness sake.

Well I was watering my plants about an hour ago and as I passed the dead plant in a pot, I noticed something rather miraculous. From the base of the rotting stump is new growth; a new mini Cordyline. I am absolutely amazed and stunned. I will have to look after it better this winter, perhaps wrap it up with a bit of bubble wrap - not pretty, but effective. A re-birth.

Chat soon


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Second Flowering

The spider above seems content to sit on a web in front of the kitchen window making me ever so slightly nervous and it's not even in the house! Have you noticed what hairy legs it's got?

It's been a funny old year weather wise. Hot spring, wet summer which has proved apparently great for the fruit farmers and for the birds because of the berries on the trees and shrubs. Not sure what this has meant for arable farmers but there is something a bit odd I haven't seen before.

There is a second flowering for some of our trees even though they have fruit on and some of the leaves are starting to take on an autumn hue. This includes my brother/sister-in-law's cherry tree next door - and here's a pic taken today to prove it.

My rose trees have got a fresh set of flowers and the geraniums, normally well past their best are producing lovely flowers too!

Can't complain, they do add to the lovely colours around. I'll be taking the flowers out by mid October and by early November, the garden gets a shave with the trimmers.

I hope the week ahead is a good one for you.

Chat soon


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

For a change, quite a bit happening in the last couple of days, nothing earth shattering, but it keeps life moving on.

Welcome to new follower John Gray from Wales. He says about himself "Going on 50 and feeling it. A previous career nurse manager who moved to Wales in 2005. My life now is centred around life in a tiny Welsh village, a field full of animals and a pack of dogs" His blog 'Going Gently' is very entertaining, have a look...

I've been to see another phenomenal move Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Anyone who remembers the exceptional BBC series adaptation of John Le Carre's novel will understand that this movie is different and Gary Oldman's portrayal of George Smiley is equally as different as that by originally played by Alec Guinness (below). However, it is also as good and I never thought I'd say that.

A mole is operating in the highest echelon of British Intelligence and information is leaking to the Russians in this time of the Cold War in Europe. George Smiley was forcibly retired from 'the Circus' but is soon brought back unknown to the management to track down the dastardly spy! It's a complex story brilliantly brought to the big screen in a two hour seven minute film (take a cushion!). 1970s London and Budapest is wonderfully captured and the atmosphere and emotion of dark deeds shines through. 

There are no whizz bangs, CGI or anything else in the way of explosive action - this is one you have to listen to and follow meticulously. This will put some people off which is a shame - it is what it is, top quality production. It's rated 15 for a couple of scenes of violence and one sex scene (seen from across the road through a window) but don't be put off by that either, it's not gratuitous.

Some excellent performances from Gary Oldman who had a big act to follow and an unexpected gem from Tom Hardy as Ricky Tar, the man who does the services' dirty deeds. Mark Strong was a very good Jim Prideaux, an agent set up and captured by the Russians and Benedict Cumberbatch  (BBC's Sherlock Holmes) was a very credible and wonderfully portrayed Peter Guillam, Smiley's sidekick. My final word for John Hurt who as the dying 'Control,' head of the service, suspects a mole, but is marginalised and forced out  when his fears are dismissed as nonsense. This was the sort of performance that makes you shiver and makes you realise what a superb actor he really is.

This is highly recommended, especially if you like a good story.

There are dozens of variations of "Tinker, Tailor..."

The modern version is 
Tinker, Tailor,
Soldier, Sailor,
Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar Man, Thief
In 1475, William Caxton used a variation of the above using other 'professions,' and AA Milne in 1927 wrote:
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief,
Or Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.
Or what about a cowboy, policeman, jailer, engine driver, or a pirate chief?
Or what about a ploughman or a keeper at the zoo,
Or what about a circus man who lets the people through?
Or the man who takes the pennies on the roundabouts and swings,
Or the man who plays the organ or the other man who sings?
Or What about the rabbit man with rabbits in his pockets
And what about a rocket man who's always making rockets?
Oh it's such a lot of things there are and such a lot to be
That there's always lots of cherries on my little cherry tree
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Sailor, Rich man Poor man, Ploughman (not Beggar man), Thief also features in a poem by Jan Struther in a book "A Pocketful of Pebbles."

Our new carpet is down and looking good. My other half is just making the curtains which will just about round it all off. We are starting to return to some semblance of normality. 

My eldest has just returned from a weeks holiday with his friends and has come back to a warm balmy day and after watching the BBC weather forecast, it seems we are in for an Indian Summer with warm air coming from the southern European continent for at least most of next week when we all get back to work! Shame we didn't have this during the summer.

Writing this, I am having a rest having spent four lovely hours in the garden tidying, cutting the grass and sweeping up the first of the autumns leaves.

Chat soon

Thanks to Wikipedia for some of the sources.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Junction Boxes

Apart from the television ("you can't touch the television - there's programmes recording") the lounge is empty and a lonely bin and side table remain as we wait for the new carpet to arrive in the morning. I'll be sorry to see the old one go, it has done sterling service and deserves better retirement than the tip, but the council are collecting it tomorrow, for a fee of course.

The bare boards are not good enough for sanding and varnishing so we had no choice really and I wasn't keen on laminate flooring although I admit, generally it looks quite good and is cheaper.

The fish have a temporary new home in our 'back room,' and the budgies will have to sleep in my computer room for the night until the carpet is down. The cats are just not sure. Curiosity was the order of the day while we were moving the furniture, but now they are fast asleep. I wish I was.

Now please, someone tell me I am imagining things.  I don't take drugs, drink rarely but I think I must have been hallucinating when several different people told me that they had heard a news item on the radio saying we were going to have snow in October. This is not funny. I know snow of a decent quality came very early last year in November, but October? The sun tan lotion has hardly dried off! 

I hope you celebrated 'International Talk Like a Pirate Day' yesterday? Of course you did!

I hope you've had a great week so far, I am hoping to pick up a few bob on the roll-over lotto tonight.

Chat soon


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Mixed September

We've nearly finished decorating. The carpet is being delivered on Thursday and we are nearly all prepared. We just have to shift the furniture ready for them to put the carpet down and then we have to put it all back again. I'll be glad when things are back in place; I hate untidy, not that I'm the tidiest person on earth, but I like some assemblance of order.

What an odd day weather wise today. I went to see my son play football this morning and take a team picture for them so they could give a copy to their sponsor. I stayed a little while and I had other things to do, but his team won 5 - 0. The weather was glorious - sunny and warm with no breeze, good enough for shirt sleeves. He plays in goal so he was happy keeping a 'clean sheet'.

In contrast this afternoon saw black skies bubble up with heavy rain showers and the occasional rumble of thunder. It looked spectacular, but felt sorry for the many cyclists who had clearly gone for rides to enjoy the weather who ended up battling through rain.

The next phase of my son John's photographic hobby has arrived. We've obtained some copyright free photographs from the local history library in Hull of historical photographs of Hull and we are going to take some modern pics from where the original photographer stood and then meld the two together to show old and new. I'll take the modern pictures but the genius is in the photographic manipulation. We are putting the photographs on exhibition in the Hull History Centre in November.

Hull has much history to it. The town as is stands goes back as far as 1215 when salt was carried to the river for transport abroad. Over the years the town expanded and because of its proximity to the Humber became an internationally important port in centuries past.  Fishing was the important most recent trade, all but gone now, but it shaped the culture of the town and it remains even now fiercly proud of its history earned in the most part by the hardship of trawling the sea for our food.

The very successful docks east of the city are now handed over to freight, timber, coal, passenger ferries, petrochemicals - a place which wouldn't be recognised by the trawlermen of yesteryear.

I don't live in Hull, I live outside it in the East Riding of Yorkshire, but most of my working life has been in and around Hull and you either love it or hate it. It has its good points and bad like any city. Its been badly in need of high quality investment, but its like being in a town at the end of a cul-de-sac (M62). Hopefully, if the contractors for new wind farm equipment come here to one of the underused docks in the town, it will give it a massive boost which, to be fair, for the people of Hull, it deserves.

I hope you have a great week ahead of you as nights close in and as I finish this blog (7.30 pm ish) it's dark outside already and the street lights are on.

Chat soon


Friday, 16 September 2011

Jane Eyre - Cinematic Surprise of the Year

It's a woman thing. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice. Love, romance; the dominant male to be won over by the affectionate charms of the wily attractive younger woman. I've never truly watched any of the many TV programmes with these period dramas with well known characters nor have I read the books which I know are classics and it is remiss of me.

But I relented and I went to watch Jane Eyre at Cineworld in Hull last night and I am a convert. Not necessarily to the author or the story which in truth was fairly simple but for the sheer stunning brilliance of this production. I kid you not, I was blown away by this BBC produced film with truly exceptional acting, incredible sets and atmosphere you could cut with a knife. How many more positive adjectives can I use with this.

Jane Eyre, a young girl cast aside by her adoptive parents is brought up in the school of hard knocks - her "tale of woe," to come out of the other side as a governess in the household of Mr Rochester. The scenes as a young girl are truly harrowing without in any way being graphic.

You would expect a BBC production to have good values and this indeed did, but I have to admit, it is undoubtedly better on the big screen and that's where the atmosphere comes from - the richness of the colours, even in the darkness of the stately home and the subtle sound effects which gave it a rather supernatural feel at times is second to none.

The locations were excellent, bleak and beautiful, rural and isolated.

The part of Jane Eyre as a young girl was played by Amelia Clarkson - look out for this one - she was excellent but the Jane Eyre young woman was Mia Wasikowska - this was an Oscar performance from her.

Michael Fassbender, who some might remember from X-Men as the young Magneto was a ruggedly handsome Rochester who is living, unbeknown to everyone, through a dark secret. His performance was also absolutely riveting. The cast was ably supported by Dame Judi Dench, the housekeeper who as an actress I find underplays everything and comes out much the stronger for it.

I can't say enough good things about this film; my plea to you is to go and see it before it leaves the cinema. Two hours long and rated PG (for a nude painting on the wall) this is a must see film.

Just as an aside and not as exciting, I did my second mediumship demonstration at John Street Spiritualist Church in Hull on Thursday afternoon at their service with my good friend Shirley Ann Chessman and it went so very, very well.

I hope you have a good weekend.

Chat soon


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Good to be Around

What a glorious morning. Warm, wall to wall sunshine with damp on the ground from last night's rain. One of those mornings that make you glad to be around really. I took some leisurely photographs around the garden (including the two on todays blog)  before everyone else got up accompanied by two cats who were full of energy and mischief. The morning sun really lit the place up with plants glittering with the sparkle of sun through raindrops balancing precariously in the gentle breeze.

Of course it's the tenth anniversary of a great atrocity against humanity in the US. Can you remember what you were doing on that day when you heard the news? I was stood in my office when someone ran in and said I had better switch the TV on. Outside my office building it was usually bustling with students in the city centre park. It was a lovely sunny day, but the world was quiet. Even the traffic seemed to stand still.  I hope those that were/are affected by those dreadful events will find peace.

But today? My thoughts are closer to home, for my family and friends for their health and well being, for the repair of our environment, for peace in the world and my best wishes to you all on this wonderful day.

Chat soon


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sweet Dreams

We're decorating. More accurately - my other half is decorating. We've decided to move away from traditional patterned wall paper and moved forward with plain wallpaper painted with lovely colours - Sweet Dreams* for the chimney breast (a delicate light plum) and Alfie (a rich light grey). This looks really good in contrast to the white glossed paintwork and brilliant white emulsion ceiling. 

Today more money spent and savings depleted with a new carpet bought - a lovely aubergine colour; new curtains and matching cushions for the settees. This will be so much easier to maintain in the future.

In many ways, when we moved into this house 16 years ago, we were very lucky that the previous owner wasn't short of a few bob and the quality of the carpets was superb. The carpet we are replacing in the living room is the last carpet we inherited to go. It is light blue and considering we've had three kids, dogs and cats, it has kept wonderfully bright and clean.

I was tidying the garden this afternoon and cutting the grass, but moving those things that could be blown over by the potential arrival of the aftermath to Hurricane Katia on Sunday night. The Met office have given a yellow weather warning which is 'beware,' but they are starting to play it down today saying that we should just expect gusty conditions.

I was sitting in the garden this afternoon with a cuppa after cutting the grass and relaxing in some rare warm sunny weather when I was moved to notice how many shapes there are in the garden. Just the variety of leaves, hundreds of different shaped beautifully designed leaves on trees, shrubs and flowers. All the berries are different shapes, some pear shaped, some perfectly round and some heart shaped. The garden furniture and the borders are angular as is the house which contrast wonderfully against the green unique shapes of nature.

That doesn't take into account the thousands of different colours to delight the eye as autumnal colours start to emerge in the trees and some of the flowers as they reach the time where they have become past their best. There are still plenty of colourful flowers which stand out in the sunlight (when we get it) which hopefully should last until early to mid October

I hope you are enjoying your weekend so far.

Chat soon


*From B and Q on their colour card 'Colours.'

Monday, 5 September 2011

Lovely Long Weekend

I have the luxury of a Monday off. Not that this ends up being leisure time, jobs seem to appear from behind the woodwork - "could you just..." take this to the tip, cut the grass, clear the kitchen, go to the shop etc etc.

So I am taking a few minutes to catch up on Facebook and my faithful blog. The reason I took Monday off was as a relaxer after a wonderful but very intensive weekend in the fabulous Peak District on the edge of Lyme Park at a spiritual development course.

About 40 people attend from all over the UK to work with three nationally recognised mediums, Tony Stockwell, Mavis Pittilla and Janet Parker. The weekend gave us the opportunity to network with like minded people who have a love of spirit, gain new experiences with some tools given to us in workshops and a chance to demonstrate as mediums in front of others.
The bonus is that the hotel was in some of the most beautiful scenery in this country in the Peak District. My photos didn't capture the beauty of it, but the hotel you can see above is nested in an isolated spot, but nevertheless was packed to the gunnels with visitors all weekend.

Click on the picture to enlarge it to appreciate the full glory of the location.

So I'm back at home feeling good, refreshed and enlightened.

If there was a downside to it, there was a Christmas tree in the foyer of the hotel. This isn't a good photograph, forgive me, it was taken on my mobile, but my goodness, it's the first week of bloody September.

Chat soon


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Spider with Saddle

 White rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit.

I'm not a coward really; well not much. I don't run at the sight of spiders for example. I can tolerate them crawling on the bedroom ceiling in autumn (even though they reckon you eat 14 spiders when you are asleep in your lifetime); I don't even mind if they unexpectedly scuttle across the floor in front of me when I'm in the living room.

The cowardice comes when it comes to handling them. I can't. My other half will handle small and medium sized spiders and throw them out of the window. Yesterday, however I saw a spider in the computer room that was even too big for her to handle. It had a saddle on its back and had just unseated its jockey!

The result is the picture above. It is now safely deposited in the garden to play with its friends of which there seem to be plenty - especially in my greenhouse.

I was reminded by a work colleague that the kids are back at school next week. It's so quiet when they're on holiday. The roads are empty in a morning and coming home at night. The car park at work has loads of space and there's no litter in the street behind my house which is on the route to school just a few yards away.

My youngest is ensconced in his new student house with his colleagues with whom he gets on really well. It's better than his last one, just across the road from ASDA and he has a study as well as a bedroom.

I'm not sure I like the new Blogger interface yet, I haven't got myself around it yet although there seems at first glance less functionality, especially for editing. The old interface that I use isn't perfect, but it's okay for a free service.

I'm going away for the weekend to a mediumship development course in sunny Manchester, so my next blog will be next week and I'll let you know how I got on.

Have a great weekend.

Chat soon