Friday, 28 October 2011

I May be Some Time...

This will be my last post for a while. I'm going away to the Arthur Findlay College in Stansted in Essex for a week on a Mediumship, Training and Development 2 course and as I haven't mastered the art of blogging from my mobile phone, if that's possible (I've only just learned to Tweet and upload pictures to Facebook for goodness sake) I'm having a break from the Internet for a whole week.

It is amazing how I've become to rely on the Internet for news, catching up with friends catching the occasional programme on the iPlayer on some of the BBC TV's more obscure channels and blogging of course. I now bank on line and order most of non food shopping things on-line too. But there'll be a week without it. I'll listen to the radio, BBC Radio 2 in a morning and on tea time to catch snippets of news and life in general. I'll text family and friends but other than that, I'm on my own with my own thoughts and oodles of reading (including a Tommy Cooper joke book, bought for me by a dear friend which is hilarious) to catch up on.

As always, I'll blog you with the adventures once I surface at home.

Catch you in a week - have a good one.

Chat soon


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Blank Canvas

What a lovely pleasant day today. It's been sunny and, for the time of year, quite warm. I managed to have lunch with an old friend, Ian, at a local Italian restaurant and it's great to catch up. Friends are so important.

Today is the first time I've had a look at the new fence because when it was finished yesterday, I arrived home after dark and couldn't see much. It looks good but there will be a lot of work in the spring to start to build up colour and life to work with the new fence. After a request - here's a pic of just part of the new fence.

The flowers are now in the compost after being bitten by the frost and are now contributing towards making the soil rich for next year's flowers and plants.

Thank you to all those fellow bloggers who made some comments on yesterday's blog on the issue of Gaddafi.

Chat soon


Friday, 21 October 2011

Garden in Need of TLC

I hope you've all had a good week. Work is busy as always   and plenty happening to interest the brain. On a night time my interests have kept me busy with a psychic circle on Tuesday which I ran on behalf of my tutor who was visiting relatives and had a lovely annual dinner on Thursday for the East Riding County FA of which I am one of their directors (of marketing and communication.)

Now my poor garden has been in disarray all week. The longest fence which abuts the road was just about knackered.   It consisted of wooden panelling, most of which has been there at least 20 years and although I've replaced a couple of panels, the wooden posts were becoming rotten and it was only the extensive ivy that was keeping it up. We employed a local man and his two worker to rip the old out and replace the new with concrete posts and tanalised wooden planks. They worked very hard indeed all week in very cold conditions.

The new fence has a ten year guarantee and next spring, I'll be able to paint it with wood preservative before I pick plants to trail along it. Perhaps some roses, clematis and other climbers - any suggestions (no ivy allowed)?

Now this isn't particularly a subject for a light hearted ordinary man's blog but I have been witnessing, along with the rest of the world, an endless showing of the bloody body of Muammar Gaddafi being towed around Libya. Now between you and I, I have had the dubious role of having seen and witnessed some of the most unpleasant things mankind could imagine over the last 36 years in my former life in public service. Most people wouldn't see it once in a lifetime.

However there is need for debate over the graphic and gratuitous showing of these distressing images. For example, my son was at work eating his lunch when the images were broadcast at lunchtime. He found them distressing and highly unpleasant. He's 24. How many children and other sensitive vulnerable people will have witnessed these images which, in truth, could have been shown (if it were necessary) with great discretion and only very late at night to an adult audience. 

The ordinary Joe doesn't need to see graphic photo of a mutilated and bloody body to a) prove Gaddafi is dead - because the Libyan NTC have said so b) to understand the message that dictators will end up summarily executed as he clearly was and c)  to underpin the joy of most (but not all) Libyans at the news.

I'm just pleased they can start to rebuild and hope that tribal differences don't get in the way of what will be a difficult few years for Libya.

Times move on - I know. But we, the public, have always relied on the media to be self censors. In my former life as a press officer, I was never worried about the media taking photographs of bodies being recovered or scenes of carnage or road accidents where there were still people trapped or the like because I had faith that no news editor of any pedigree would ever show them to the public - they never did on my watch. It's insensitive, undignified and unnecessary and the public would rail against it. It satisfies of course morbid curiosity and a minority who revel in seeing such images, but they are the tiny minority in truth.

I had written a little more on the subject but I've deleted it because it is too deep politically and this is not the forum. Suffice to say that the west should now be happy that as Libya produces 2% of all the worlds oil output, the capacity is rising now to a quarter of former production levels and the oil industry infrastructure there is barely damaged by the troubles.

Plenty on this weekend - shopping, lunch with an old friend and garden restoration and winter preparation for the rest of it. Enjoy yours whatever you are doing.

Chat soon


Sunday, 16 October 2011

Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers, from the book by Alexandre Dumas has a rare pedigree in the world of film. So far there have been 23 film versions (including the latest) and seven animated film versions. This doesn't include TV series and sequels. You don't make that many films if there isn't a good story to back it up.

I went to see the latest offering at Hull Vue cinema on Friday night (14th October.) It had a big act and big actors to follow. It succeeded in some ways and failed miserably in others.How do directors bring something new into the story to keep it fresh? This director brought old fashioned air ships. Air ships!

The design for an airship was stolen by the three musketeers from the Italians.  Lord Buckingham in turn stole it from them. Lord Buckingham comes to France in the airship to negotiate peace. The Musketeers, this time with D'Artagnan on board steal back Queen Ann's jewels from Buckingham and steal his airship to get back to France in time for the ball at which Ann must produce the jewels. I won't spoil the story but this part of the film spoilt it for me. It was made in 3D for 3D rather than the story in places I suspect.

Firstly, the acting was okay. D'Artagnan (with American accent) is credibly played by Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief)  and the lead as Athos was the excellent Matthew Macfadyen. Milla Jovovich was Milady and whilst a beautiful woman - was a little too much Ninja/Bond in some of her dark and mysterious double spying adventures. The surprise was the Planchet character (the Musketeers servant) originally played by the brilliant late Roy Kinnear and this time played well by comedian James Corden and not overplayed either.

The disappointment was Christoph Waltz who I admire tremendously. His Cardinal Richelieu lacked the spark of deceit and power that had been given it in previous versions, most notably by Charlton Heston. His quiet threat was more of a grumble than a poisonous bite. The other actors were credible enough but Orlando Bloom, someone else I admire was out of his depth as Lord Buckingham. He lacked charm and statesmanship and quintessential English upper class presence.

My final disappointment was at the point in the film where Athos realises Milady is a double agent and decides to finish her off.  The scene between the two (former lovers remember) lacked any sort of emotion or depth whatsoever - a huge opportunity missed.

The sets were lavish and the special effects were okay even though I didn't like the airship bits. The fencing was very good in parts and the choreography in the big fight scenes was superb. The director kept the movie moving along nicely and on the whole was faithful(ish) to the plot. At 12A the film was appropriately certificated and the 3D was good on the whole although some scenes lingered just to show 3D effects.

Verdict - wait for the DVD.

Just part of the stall (I couldn't get it all in the picture!)

Another milestone in my life appeared on Saturday (15th) in the form of running a stall with my good friend Linda Lee at the Hessle Town Hall Spirit, Body and Mind Fair. We sold Angel related goods and trinkets and it was a hugely successful day on our first and certainly not last attempt. Thank you Linda and a mention for Helen and Phil who dipped in and helped. This was a nervous time in the run up to this - would it work, would it bomb? The signs were good, the planning careful and it worked. Plenty of interest and plenty sold.

Have a great week ahead of you...

Chat soon


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Law of Attraction

 How's the World Treating You? Not only a polite enquiry but a very funny play by Roger Milner (as well as a song I think.) 

I have a friend who has been in some dark places in life and has pretty much taken a lot of hell from life. At the moment, life is a fairly level playing field with some consistency. However, the friend also has some faith. This faith is held in the care of angels and spirituality, but more in the way of angels. My friend has the odd dip and frankly is entitled to have, and despite not feeling well and going for some tests, my friend is coping well and improving all the time. My friend does not, thankfully, hold back on the detail.

So. Your response to my question might be, "I'm bloody awful thanks." Or it might be (my favourite phrase,) "Absolutely average thanks," or it could be, "Smashing thanks, can't complain." I appreciate honesty and I guess I would rather I know you are not right than go on in ignorance and not being able to offer to help.

It's nigh on impossible for most of us to feel positive in such circumstances. A blogger friend has had an issue which is whistling round the mind and is causing stress for my blogger friend for example. Understandable. Completely. But again, there has been the courage to come out and say so.

That give me the opportunity to support where I can within the limitations of my life, time and knowledge about the human condition. I'll be honest and say I've been there and done that and although I haven't suffered dreadful traumas some have in their lives, I've seen so much and felt the tremors in the aftermath.  Because I haven't felt it and experienced it directly involving me personally, it doesn't stop me from helping. What I can't do is offer any clinical advice or highly technical advice using psychology because I don't know anything about those things. But I can listen and murmur words of encouragement and love for my fellow human being.

I generally use the basic Law of Attraction. That's not about how good your make up is or how good you look to a potential partner, it's about mindset. Like attracts like - what you wish for, you get. 

For example, if you constantly say to yourself and to others, "I really don't want to be ill," then the word that sticks in the mind is "ill." This is what you think about and concentrate on. "I'm fed up with being poor," is another example. "Poor" is the driver to how you are feeling.  "I really want to well again" and "I would love to have a bit of spare cash," might be better ways of thinking and so it goes on.

This is, albeit just a couple of words, much more positive and forward looking - looking to the day when you are "well" or have a "bit of spare cash" and the fact that if that is your mindset, you might think about doing something about it.  You've set yourself a goal without realising it.

Easy to say and difficult to do. I know.

Anyway - I hope you are keeping dry. It's rained very heavily here today - all day. 'Sprinkles' the forecast on the Internet said.  Slightly understated. This is a view probably familiar to you of the Humber Bridge which I use as my banner picture at the top of the blog - today at 3.45 pm, it looked like this:

Enjoy the second half of the week - only two days to the weekend!

Chat soon


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Weekend in Liverpool

Liverpool Pier Head (left) with the Liver Building to the right and a murky River Mersey to the far left. Taken from the 2nd floor Museum of Liverpool.

I hope the weekend has treated you favourably?

I've just come back from Liverpool having visited my son Ben at University in his final year. I was with my parents and my wife and had a pleasant weekend in a lovely city. I've waxed lyrical about Liverpool before, so don't intent to again, but the place is so full of life. It did rain and drizzle a lot which made it not so comfortable walking around which was a shame. 

The rain followed us home along the motorway making for hairy driving.

M62 near Manchester, Sunday afternoon

We had to visit Albert Dock again and we bought a painting for our newly decorated front room called Triptych Wave by L Mace. A black and white painting of a beautiful seascape. We also visited the brand new Museum of Liverpool which was under construction when we last visited and it's just adjacent to Albert Dock next to the Liver Building. Just to emphasise, all the museums in Liverpool are free and they are both modern, expansive and highly informative being visitor-friendly in every way.

The modern (and delightful) Museum of Liverpool building with one of many Super Lambananas that you can find in this city (all decorated differently).

We visited one or two other spots we'd been to before but which mum and dad have never  seen (they've never been to Liverpool in all their years) including the statue of Ken Dodd recently unveiled at Liverpool Lime Street railway station and had a night in playing cards at the very nice hotel which was, in part, a converted water mill.

This morning (Sunday) we went to the Williamson Heritage Centre which is one of the strangest things I think I've ever seen as an attraction and forgive me if I spend a couple of paragraphs explaining. Joseph Williamson Born in 1769 was a self made man in the Liverpool area in the tobacco industry. I think it's fair to say he was a philanthropist but also highly eccentric. In the 1820s and 1830s he had built a series of extensive huge underground tunnels (many hundreds of metres long) underneath the Edge Hill area of Liverpool that exist to this day. Some of the tunnels have been recently reopened and are maintained by a local society. 

 One of the shorter tunnels, with Keith our guide in the forefront showing the selection of crockery discovered in the spoil of rubbish exacvated from the tunnels.

Most of the tunnel system has yet to be rediscovered because after his death, the tunnels were filled in with the area's rubbish. The huge mystery is - why did he have them built. He employed men who were previously unemployed, some recently returned from war, along with their families to excavate the tunnels and make bricks for the vaulted ceilings. We had a guided tour with 'Keith' accompanied with hard hats through the tunnels looking at some of the items that have been discovered from the rubbish they've taken out from their excavations. Well worth a visit to this place maintained by volunteers. However it is neither safe nor accessible to wheelchair users.

Just a picture for fun with some more Super Lambananas

For our last meal of the visit together, we went to the Philharmonic Dining Rooms in Hope Street for lunch. This building is the height of Victorian opulence and extravagance. Built in the style of a gentleman's club with panelling throughout, it was used as a meeting place for and complimentary to the Royal Philharmonic Hall just opposite. 

The main dining room which once held billard tables

I hope my photographs do it justice and the men's toilet is a sight to behold, never seen anything like it!  I don't normally take pictures in men's loos, but this had to be the exception! 

Have a great week ahead!

Chat soon


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Reviewing the Papers

Today I went on one of my quarterly jaunts to the local radio station BBC Radio Humberside to review the papers for the breakfast show hosted by the experienced and long serving senior broadcast journalist Andy Comfort. The atmosphere is relaxed and it ends up a bit of a natter really and very enjoyable. 

I stayed away from the main story of the Conservative party conference - too much rhetoric, not enough substance for me so I reviewed and said a few words about the following stories:

I started at 07.21 with The Sun: The front page had a story about the arrest of a Coronation Street actor for an alleged serious offence. He has not been charged but when he was arrested, the case became 'active' in the eyes of the law and to protect a miscarriage of justice and to prevent him not having a fair trial, the media is very restricted as to what it can say at this stage. This, in my view was the paper committing contempt of court and said so in no uncertain terms. Only a matter of opinion of course, but it was there to be said.

My second story in the second slot after the news at 07.41 from the Independent: TUC urges the Government to be flexible over the pension cuts. Listed was a huge number of public sector professionals who are going to go on strike on 30 November and I made comment about the story and the fact that I could remember the winter of discontent of the early 1970s and how uncomfortable a time was that.

The third story from the Yorkshire Post revolved around the Football League Chairman's view that football was about to go bankrupt if it wasn't careful. I agree and commented that perhaps wages  and the recent court case over satellite fees for football were a serious issue for the game.
The next story was from The Times about the pending announcement about BBC cuts and stated that BBC were planning repeat programmes and cuts including selling off buildings and making staff redundant. How right they were. I discussed, among other things that I wondered (although I don't like it) whether or not the BBC should consider advertising.
The final story is always a light one from me and as reported in the Daily Telegraph, it concerns a group of motorists from Cumbria who were in a car park but because of some unknown electrical interference, could not get into their cars because their car key fobs couldn't transmit the signal to unlock their cars. My point of this story was that when I first got a car in the mid seventies, I serviced it myself, changed the plugs, altered the timings and the distributor cap points and changed the oils etc. Just a key in the lock then, not even central locking! Now of course the ability of the ordinary car owner to service their own car is no longer possible because of the car's complex computer driven systems thereby leaving us at the mercy of garages.

I then travelled to Leeds for a meeting and I am now weary at the end of a long day. Going to see my son in Liverpool this weekend. I'll report on the trip.

Have a great weekend

Chat soon


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Brantingham Village

It looks like today, in East Yorkshire, the last sunny day of this glorious Indian summer draws to a close with increasing cloud and although it's still warm, it is now raining.

However this afternoon, with friends, I managed a last foray into the beautiful gentle green countryside that surrounds  the Humber basin before the autumn proper arrives and walking becomes too difficult in this rural setting of hills and small forests.

The village of Brantingham lies on the north bank of the Humber west of the City of Kingston upon Hull but far enough away to have its own uniqueness. This is almost a picturesque chocolate box village at the foot of the rising Wolds with its own dale and church, its own village hall and pub and a pond.

It's popular with walkers because its surrounded by woods and farmland rising steeply on each side of the dale. There are panoramic views of the Humber basin nearby and today Red Kites were circling in the air, often harried and harassed by smaller Kestrels. Rooks in flocks were flying hither and thither among the abundance of trees.

The Brantingham church, dedicated to All Saints is a delicate Norman and Perpendicular revival church last rebuilt in the late 1870s but there have been vicars and priests recorded in the locale since the thirteenth century. The registers go back to 1690. It is lovingly tended with a neat graveyard just to the north of the village. It was a lovely still place to sit and contemplate for an hour.

You may remember the story of the Sykes family of Sledmere House which I visited a few weeks ago - well the Sykes are here in this village too and have wielded their interests, mainly benevolently. 

The pond sadly is in desperate need of water for the few ducks that reside there permanently.

There are lots of circular walks in the area that dissect the village and there is a nice pub which offers good food and hospitality.

Early this morning, before the majority of the citizenry was awake, I was in the City of Hull taking some photographs of the old town with my son John when I happened to notice a huge line of geese flying by, heading west. They were making a hell of a racket which was a rather rural sound for a city still asleep.

By the way, you remember that bug I spotted yetserday and posted? I looked on the blog Donegal Wildlife suggested by fellow blogger Weaver of Grass - an excellent site, and the bug is called a Hawthorn Shield Bug - Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale.

I hope you have a great week ahead.

Chat soon


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Warm Again!

Welcome to October and welcome to the weekend. In the bulk of the UK (I'm in the north east) it's been an unseasonably hot day and Gravesend in the south hit 29.9 Celsius today, an all time record for October. 

I said 'white rabbit' three time in the early hours of the morning to greet October and give me luck for the month. The picture on the top is the cat fast asleep on his head in the dappled sunshine.

The picture above is an insect we see quite a lot at this time of the year (about half an inch long) and I have no idea what it is. What is remarkable is when you magnify the head end, blimey what a creature! Anyone know what it is please let me know.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Chat soon