Saturday, 20 October 2012

Damp Squibs

A steaming hot cuppa on a chilly bright autumn day in the garden
I am coming to the end of my week off work. I haven't had any summer holidays this year, so a week off now was to help me chill and do a bit of uninterrupted gardening and decorate (which I don't normally do) the new garage-to-bedrooms conversion.

However, 'the best laid schemes of mice and men' don't always work out right - Robert Burns was so right when he penned that poem in 1786 - nothing changes.

Firstly the weather has conspired against me for doing the gardening, not necessarily because it's been bad unlike some parts of the UK, but simply because it's been so wet, the grass is sodden. You can see from the picture of the leaves that they are wet through due to overnight dews, fog and the odd heavy shower that seem to pass through with annoying frequency. The grass hasn't been cut for about a month, mind you it hasn't grown either, we've had a couple of first frosts already.

However what it has allowed me to do is to compost the flowers which have been very disappointing this year, even the sturdy geraniums have flowered poorly, the heads have rotted very easily and the petunias have been a total waste of time. I know my blogger friend Wheelie has had a number of vegetables rot in the ground this year. The roses, what few I have, have been okay this summer and where there is greenery, that has been okay too. I managed to clear away some pots, clean the big fish pond and net it to stop leaves from falling in it and have a little tidy, so some progress.

Leaves do provide beautiful colours this time of year
That just leaves me with a general cutting down of foliage job which normally takes me a couple of days sometime in November. There is an argument from gardeners that foliage should be left and we should enjoy seeing the decay, colours etc., as stuff dies off. I am not in that camp and think its harder to clean up that way in the spring and there is less opportunity for unwelcome bugs and decaying material to spread disease the way I do it. In fact, I am told that there is a bit of tree disease going around at the moment and good solid frosts will kill some of that disease off. I'm a big believer in nature doing its job.

The second issue that hasn't gone entirely to plan is the conversion from a garage and morning room into two bedrooms and utility/store rooms. The issue has been one of timeliness in that the work has gone on a fortnight longer than it should. The builder who has done the brick work and knocking down and building up has been superb and has grafted so hard. He has been let down by other craftsmen who have not kept promises to turn up and do what they were supposed to do. However, after some complaining and wittering, the main builder in charge of the project finally got some reliable people in and the joiner and new electricians have in turn come in and grafted too and got the project nearly finished albeit late. So, time I put aside for decorating the new build has not taken place. 

The two bedrooms were for two of my younger sons who have tiny bedrooms and are still at home and show no sign of leaving. Having said that, my middle son John is now leaving home to live in a rented place a lot closer to where he works, so rather than an hours journey to work, it will take him twenty minutes. That means that one of the bedrooms will now be a lounge and allow me to have a bit of space for my spiritual work away from her indoors who is not a fan of anything like that at all. That's a story for another blog.

I hope you enjoy your weekend, whether you are working or not.

Chat soon


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Bright and Breezy Mere

Looking west along the Hornsea Mere
 I met up with good friends Barry and Shirley Ann  Chessman today in Hornsea, their home town on the east coast of East Yorkshire. It's just over half an hours drive away on a good day so I visit as often as I can but not often enough. Hornsea is a lovely little town, quite compact and self sufficient and although the railway was closed down many decades ago, roads to Hornsea aren't too bad considering they are rural.

Like most coastal resorts in Victorian days, Hornsea was very popular indeed and on good weather days, it still attracts many visitors and it has a local market on a Sunday which brings people in. In some ways, I suppose I have an affinity with Hornsea because I have ancestors who come from that part of the county. The local family names were Usher and Hillerby and there is a Hillerby Lane in Hornsea today. Nelson Usher, my third great grand uncle, born in 1824 was the coxswain of the local lifeboat and a painting of him in watercolour resides in the Hornsea Museum today.

Feeding time, the swans are most vociferous
Apart from the attraction of walking along the promenade in Hornsea and experiencing the bracing sea air from the North Sea, the town has a mere. The word mere is Old English but has a place in the language of many countries and means 'an arm of the sea'. Although not connected to the sea, this huge inland freshwater lake is less than a kilometre from the sea and is fairly shallow and provides a habitat for wildlife and leisure facilities for sailors in leisure craft. 
A variety of birds on the water's edge
Owned by the Wassand Estate, the mere covers 476 acres and is the largest lake in Yorkshire. The owners of Wassand Hall bought the lake, used today for fishing and bird watching too, for a mere £50 in the 16th century (forgive the pun.) Something I have learned about the history of the mere is that it was formed by glacial activity and today it has a Special Protection Area status because of the diversity of the fen area surrounding the mere which includes much flora and fauna.

Sunday afternoon jaunt on the water
As I finish this brief blog, I have just watched  Felix Baumgartner live on YouTube jump from a capsule suspended from a helium balloon a total height of more than 120,000 feet and at freefall speeds at over 700 miles an hour at higher levels. Well done him, I got vertigo just watching him jump!

I hope you've had a good weekend.

Chat soon


Friday, 12 October 2012

Make a Friend Happy Today!

A slightly angry Humber
I was visiting a local large DIY store on the outskirts of the city today which has a grand view of the River Humber. As I pulled up, the wind was rattling along the river and white horses rolled on the top of the waves which is not a particularly common sight in the Humber on such a bright sunny day.

Part of the Fish Trail
Last week, a friend and I went into the city for a lunch meeting and I noticed some fish brick sets in the footpath  and I was reminded that there is a Fish Trail in the city of Hull for visitors and local alike to follow. Different fish on the pavements allow the walker to meander round the old town using the fish as a guide to see some of the sights. There is an audio guide available and it takes around 60 minutes without stops for tea and shopping! Tours are available starting at the Tourist Information Centre. To book a tour, call 01482 300 300. Anyway, that's enough free advertising for the Hull City Council - they don't do any for me!

I just wanted to say a few words about friendship today without being sentimental or patronising. If you have a partner who is a good friend as well as a partner, then well done, cherish what you have. If not, friends are or should be an important part of your life creating balance and opportunities. I have only realised that in the last couple of years what true friendship means and for me, this has created balance, a different viewpoint, an ability to be my true self and to open my heart to feelings hitherto hidden and rarely touched.

Of course that comes with a large element of trust without which that friendship would probably not work and sometimes, looking around me at different people's lives, it clearly doesn't. People are let down, consciously or by accident, by thoughts, words or deeds which hurt or which are inconsiderately expressed. We don't mean to but it happens. There can be nothing worse than having a trust betrayed. Sometimes it can be mended, sometimes not. 

Either way, I am privileged to have good friends and an exceptional friend. I know that it isn't all plain sailing particularly if, as a friend, you start to play a large part in someones life, but the pathway to being a better person through friendship is important. To be caring, considerate, supportive, loving, understanding and having the skills to listen, counsel, advise a friend for the greater good for everything and everyone concerned is a worthy goal.

If all the world felt that way about a neighbour, relative, friend, people in the community as a whole, wouldn't it be a better place?   

The weekend is upon us, and for the UK, the forecast is not bad and I will be gardening, composting some bedding plants, sweeping leaves off the grass and cutting the grass if its dry enough (raising the blades somewhat because it isn't growing too much having had a couple of frosts already). I will also be working with my brother in law compiling a photo-book from the recent Diamond Wedding celebration of his mum and dad. 

Finally on this busy weekend, I am seeing an old friend for coffee to have a natter as we haven't seen each other for a while and meeting another friend to do some mediumship exercises with guides, friends and relatives from the other world.

Whatever you are doing - enjoy it.

Chat soon


Saturday, 6 October 2012

A Fair Time

What a fabulous morning here in East Yorkshire - bright sunlight, no breeze, chill and damp. Autumn is here! In this part of the world, there are many associations with this time of year and one of the local folktales is related to the arrival of Hull Fair. This is the largest and oldest travelling fair in Europe.

We don't say, "the leaves are starting to fall" or "it's damp and chilly out there," or "first frosts must be due," we say, "It's Hull Fair weather."

In 1993, Hull Fair celebrated its 700th anniversary. The first Charter granting permission for a fair  to be held was in the days of yore, 1278,  for two weeks in March. A few other Charters and date changes took place and when all the calendars changed in 1751, the locals in Hull were pretty brassed off that they were losing several days of their fair, so the official date of the fair starting was set for the 11th October or the nearest Friday to it. This year it started on Friday 5 October.

The fair is held today on Walton Street car park, adjacent to West Park and now next to the recently built magnificent KC Stadium, the home of football (soccer for my USA friends) team Hull City AFC.

Of course since medieval times, the fair was a trade show, people came to buy and sell their wares.  As time moved on, entertainment was introduced, jugglers, theatrical shows, puppeteers all plied their trade to keep the populous happy. Although there have been many sites for the fair as the city has developed over the centuries, Walton Street has been the home of the fair since 1888. Queen Victoria was on the throne and it was the year Brazil finally abolished the last remnants of slavery, Jack the Ripper was at large in the Metropolis and China's first railway began operations.

There have been marvellous and famous entertainers offering a weird and wonderful spectacle for  public delectation. With a break for the war (1939-45) where the ground was used for the military, the fair then became bigger, better and doubled in size.

As a child I remember the bags of goldfish to be won hooking a duck, or throwing a ring over a prize or by throwing darts at playing cards on a wall. The coconut shy was in full swing and the rides were tame apart from the big wheel which then seemed outrageously high and modern. Helter-skelters proved popular as did the ghost train, the extraordinary wall of death with the motorcyclists (how the hell did they ever do that?) Bumper cars (dodgems), having your palm read and the traditional bag of chips were the order of the day.

We always brought back coconuts, bags of hot chestnuts, candy floss, nougat (broke your teeth), toffee apples (which weren't toffee at all but covered in a solid sticky clear liquid)  and the most famous of all - brandy snap.

I haven't been back to the fair for many years, it hold no interests for me now the kids are grown. I would love to go and take some photographs perhaps and experience the smells of the food and sights and lights - another year perhaps. 

If you are thinking of going, then don't go by car and expect to park, it's a nightmare, but there are very effective park and ride facilities on the outskirts of the town which are cheap and very frequent.500,000 visitors are expected in the week of the fair and the experience is generally very safe and pleasurable with lots of facilities.

This is a very good little video from the 2011 fair from

Enjoy this lovely autumnal weekend, take care.

Chat soon