Thursday, 16 May 2019

Tyneham Village

This is a village lost in time, a ghost village that was taken over just before Christmas 1943 by the war office for use as firing ranges for training troops. 225 people were displaced, the popular belief is that the last person to leave,  left this note on the church door.

Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly. 

Since then the army has formally taken this village and surrounding area of land over as a firing range and training ground. They will never come back, many have tried to get the army and government to fill full their promise that they would be allowed back once the war was finished but to no avail. 

Originally it was said they had 48 hours to leave the village but I found a letter from the War Office that is dated 17th November, explaining what is going to happen and giving then enough time to find alternative homes or getting assistance from the government to settle somewhere else. So they did have roughly a month, even that is quite a short time to be uprooted and have to start a new life somewhere away from all you know.

Arriving at the village we were meet by Dan and Alex, Dan wanted to take JB and Alex wanted what Susan always takes with, a picnic. Claudia commented that they had been around the village twice and were ready to go to a local pub, they were starving. We had a walk around the deserted school and houses before braving the single track lane out of the valley. Quite an extraordinary village that is truly lost in time. The school has examples of the children’s work on the desks and homework on the blackboard. The pen and ink on the desks did bring back memories of my days gone bye. 

Talking of Gary, he played his first cricket match for Broadstone CC yesterday. Father and son played in the same team and Dan scored a good few runs while Gary was exceptionally economical with the bat. Gary did take a good catch and his fielding was above average, he is young, he is keen, let him play, he will mature.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Bank Holiday Cricket

Is it just my imagination or are these weekends getting busier? Took Friday sort of off in preparation for a quiet bank holiday weekend and it is now Sunday morning and frankly I am exhausted. 

We went to the Breeze VW and had a look at the T-Cross and Susan loves it. The journey begins again, hopefully it all ends in smiles. Now in  Nero’s, calming down, with a double espresso and a pastry. In all fairness the T-Cross is just a little bigger than the Polo and would be easier to park than the T-Roc. 

Apart from the car looking and admiring, Saturday I walked Jenson on a very cold beach,  5 deg C and a brisk breeze, maybe packed those winter willies away too soon. All family breakfast at Sandbanks Cafe, well excluding Susan who was with, you guessed it, Vivien. Claudia, Kate, Alex, Michael, Gary and I enjoyed a very leisurely full English breakfast, except for Kate, dry scones and orange juice, being her breakfast of choice. 

Amongst all this activity we also went to Boots and ordered some sunglasses for me and made and appointment to try contact lenses. Gary has said it does take a day or many to get use to touching your eyeball, but I am open to new technology and this form of technology has been around for a while. 

A blast from the past, Dan was asked to play in his first adult cricket match for the Saturday 2nd team. Packed the folding chairs, dog, jackets and enthusiasm and set off just after 2pm. The game was at Delph Woods, an idea venue for cricket. The field is in the middle of the woods and surrounded by old tree and wood vegetation. With Michael and Robert we played many a game there. We watched and clapped and hoped he would do well, he must have been a little nervous but he came through with flying colours. Did not drop any catches and batted for about three overs, scoring a good solid 9 runs. Unfortunately the top order collapsed and they lost by about 100 runs in the end. 

Michael and Gary enjoyed a fine pint or two later on in the game and I do believe they tried to get a Mexican wave going but as there were only a handful of spectators it was doomed to failure before it started. They enjoyed it, which is what an afternoon watching cricket is all about. 

Now we are off to Lulworth Cove, very picturesque, fishing village just an hour down the coast. All piled into the Zafira and took off just after 12:30. Well, it always was a 11am start, so not that late. More in the next blog.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Piccadilly Station

Now you might ask, what about Jaffa cakes, are they biscuits or cake? The Jaffa Cake is my daughters favourite. The simplest way of knowing if it is a biscuit or a cake is to work out if it gets hard/stale when it gets older or soft? Cakes generally get harder the older they get but biscuits get softer. To answer your question about Jaffa cakes, they are cakes as they do get harder as they get older. Kit Kat is also a biscuit, I always thought it was a chocolate.
Well it felt a bit like that last night. I was expecting Gary to come around for a beer while Dan was at cricket practise, beats standing in the cold. Upstairs changing when I heard someone arrive, well it was probably Gary, no, Michael and Kate. Their washing machine does not work, so ours is the closest and the best. Strange that, they have just moved into a new build and already the washing machine has gone on the blink. The lift did not work when they moved in and now this. 

They put their washing on and then left for La Lupa, Italian restaurant on the quay. Next to arrive was Susan, missing her son by a few minutes. Another knock and Gary arrived, drinks poured and Susan left for Yoga. My dinner was ready so I carried on, Gary left and Michael and Kate were back. Then they took Jenson for a walk and Susan arrived. They came back and then they left. All this over a 3 hour period, exhausting but fun. Just left enough time to watch the end of a Movies 24 film.

Changing the subject completely but did you know ‘biscuit’ get its name from the Latin “biscoctum”, meaning “twice cooked.” Bread was cooked twice to dry out all its moisture and then, once hard, it would keep for months. The biscuit was born. Actually it was in the 19th century that the first biscuits became popular.

The first world war saw the mass acceptance of biscuits and our love for a good biscuit has not diminished over the years. I have a few favourites but if I had the choice I would go for a Romany Cream biscuit every time. Sadly, not available in the UK.
Trust the Americans to be different, they have a type of cake and call it a biscuit (left) and a bourbon, a variety of British biscuit (right) – the American biscuit is soft and flaky like a scone; whereas British biscuits are drier and often crunchy.

Burger night last night was slightly changed to Mexican fare. Middle Smiths arrived too a banquet of soft tacos and enchiladas, baked in the oven with loads of cheese. Amicable banter flowed like the red wine and before long, Claudia let her guard down, must have been the red wine, the poo word was mentioned. Would not be quite the same if we did not discuss poo at the dinner table, sort of breaking with tradition. Bless her, she is my favourite daughter-in-law, and the mention of poo at the dinner table I think is an Italian thing.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Easter Sunday

Woke to a sunny and warm day, Easter Sunday, beach weather for most of the family. Michael took the paddle board to the beach yesterday and now the bug has bitten the Middle Smiths. The water is still very cold but the lure of the board has a greater pull, the added incentive, to stay on the board and out of the water, just adds to the challenge. I do believe many a story will be told.

Claudia, being from Italian and Catholic decent, has organised a great Easter feast for early afternoon. Roast lamb, cauliflower and broccoli cooked in a creamy cheese sauce, roast potatoes. Yep, you guessed it, a true Italian/Catholic celebration, that is set to rival Christmas. 

Everyone is at the beach, enjoying the warm weather while they can. Hot weather without a breeze is rare and they are taking full advantage of the sunshine. I have put the lamb in the oven and now find myself enjoying a double espresso at Caffè Nero, calm before the storm. Poole is quiet, being Easter Sunday, most places are closed. Anyway I have half an hour before I must get back to finish off the cooking as bathe first to arrive will be there by 3pm.

Quite an occasion, present, will be, Claudia, Gary, Mika, Dan, Alex (the Middle Smiths), Michael and Kate, Robert and the two of us. We are expecting a Visit from Viv and Michael but not confirmed. 12, what a gathering of the clans. Pity the Dickens Clan decided to go camping, they would have enjoy this celebration of food and Easter cheer, no problem, they will be here for New Year and then we will do it all over again.

Easter Celebration was pandemonium, Easter egg hunt with Alex and the rest of the family spurring him on, so many eggs, so little time. In his excitement he was walking passed many eggs, not really seeing the wood for the trees. The Italian flair comes in and it is not just small Easter eggs but great big Cadbury eggs the size of a rugby ball that were placed in full view around the garden. A different take on the traditional Easter egg hunt, we normally just hide the small eggs and then give the bigger eggs out as presents. In all fairness, it was great fun and between Alex and Dan, all the eggs were found and stacked high. 

Needless to say copious amounts of ale was consumed and I did see a few G&T’s being happily put away. The table groaned under the weight of all the food, two roast legs of lamb and all the accompaniments were eaten in a festive mood, much must be said for the roast potatoes from the lady herself.

That was not the end to this extravaganza, Chocolate Easter cakes and Milk Tart, a traditional Italian desert made with milk, ending off this lovely, family gathering. Well done, Claudia for the inspiration and drive, we must do the same next year. In parting I must add, poo was not mentioned once, well that is if you ignore the fact that Alex thinks the Easter bunnies poo the Easter eggs, I did explain that the correct term is lay the eggs, but then, is that not what the hens do?

Kingston Lacy

Michael asked me when they built Kingston Lacy? I said it was built before they discovered South Africa. Actually I was a few years out but it was in that era. The house was built between 1663 and 1665 by Ralph Bankes, son of Sir John Bankes, to a design by the architect Sir Roger Pratt. The gardens and parkland were laid down at the same time, including some of the specimen trees that remain today.

The Bankes family have lived in Dorset at Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy since the 17th century, actively participating in 350 years of eventful history. In 1981, when Ralph Bankes died, he left the 16,000 acre estate to the National Trust; it was the largest single gift that the Trust has received to date.

I thought Kingston Lacy was trusted to the National Trust, they had to manage it and make sure it remained a working estate. Seems I was wrong and they now own the entire estate. The National Trust must be one of the biggest land owners in the UK. They certainly own some very big, wealthy estates.

We are planning on going to Kingston Lacy over this coming Easter weekend. They have planted thousands of bluebells and for a short time the woodlands walk is just a carpet of bluebells. They remind me of the Cosmos in South Africa, another natural occurrence that humbles you with its beauty.
Another good walk is at Pamphill. Park at the Pamphill car park and it is all sign posted. The route takes you down Cowgrove road and then left into Abbott Street, with the forge below, turn left down All Fools' Lane. You are now in bluebell country like no other. At the bottom of the road you turn left into Sandy Lane and that takes you back to the car park. 

Enjoy your Easter weekend and remember to follow our story of the Little White and Little Grey.

Go Paper

Another day, another session with my morning emails and a quick check through the BBC news. I do get inspiration from the news and also that backstop, Facebook. 80% of the posts are pure rubbish but it does give me  ideas.
I open Notes, and start a fresh document, and begin committing my thoughts to words – at least 500 words of undisturbed, free writing, where I note all of my ideas, questions, thoughts, or concerns. This will also prompt my best creative thinking.
My paper notebook is also packed full of ideas, observations and thoughts. I still love the feeling of a sharp pencil in my hand and a blank page open. The sensation of the pencil putting my thoughts into words, hand written words. Reading them back, I am taken by the simple pleasure of seeing those thoughts delivered in my unique scribble. This brings me to my feeling of late, that I should do more writing by hand. Because, according to experts, handwriting provides a range of benefits, from boosting creativity to enhancing memory formation.
At my age, memory formation, is not something we should take lightly. 

Onto this Easter and have you noticed that something inside us makes us look to the sun. Easter weekend is about that time we look to the sun. Our body clocks are craving warmer, longer days of sunshine and the freedom that brings. This Easter weekend is just that time. The weather predicts 23 deg C and a light breeze. Our beaches will be packed, the roads jammed full of holiday makers and chaos will prevail for 4 long days, then calm will be restored as everyone travels back home and children go back to the structured life of formal education. 

We are lucky to live in this beautiful part of England, the beach, a short walk or drive away. For 9 months of the year, life is uncluttered and uncomplicated, then the summer holidays erupt, more than trebling the population and that brings all the horrors of people on holiday without the restraint of their own environment. We endure and after the holidays, we breath a collective sign of relief, life returns to its normal pace, roads are free and you can see the sand on the beach again.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

The Word Silly

The original meaning was: Blessed with worthiness. Reminds me of Susan. Silly hasn't always meant somebody who acts in a daft manner. It originally meant something far more serious. The word's journey started around the 1200, then it meant 'pious'. That changed quite quickly and by the other end of the 13th century, it meant ‘someone to be pitied’.
From my research I notice it changing again in 1570, it was defined as 'feeble in mind and lacking in reason'. It did take 300 years to get there, things did take time to change in those pre iPhone era.
Jumping another 300 years, 1860, the newspaper would have a 'silly season'. This was when the news was slow and they invented silly articles each summer. Thinking about it, those silly stories would have turned out quite different if the original meaning had stuck.

Talking about ‘Blessed with worthiness’, Susan is off to Iceland to support the team that will be releasing two Beluga Whales into a protected bay as part of the Merlins policy of not having performing animals at their Sea Life centres. The staff of Sea Life Trust have been preparing the whales for their 30 hour journey to Westman Island in Iceland
The is a challenge to transporting two  beluga whales by air, land and sea. The whole operation is being carefully planned by a team of global experts with experience in transporting marine mammals. The 6,000-miles journey will take around 30 hours to complete - from the time Little Grey and Little White leave Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai and arrive at the sanctuary on Westman Island. 

They leave by truck for the airport and then they are flown to Iceland by a specially prepared cargo plane. They then have a long journey in another truck and finally into a ferry that will take them to the ocean sanctuary. Merlin Entertainments owns the Sea Life aquarium chain and recently bought Ocean World, do not believe belugas and other cetaceans belong in captivity. 
This will be the first time that captive beluga whales have ever been released to an ocean sanctuary.

Let’s all hold thumbs for these two beautiful whales as they will soon start their epic journey to unknown waters. 

Piracy Crimes

Steven King and Lisa King were given a combined total of 9 years for internet piracy, one of the longest sentences ever for piracy crimes. The couple denied all charges and are appealing. They also received a fine of £35,000. They have a B&B in London and claim they cannot police their guests that use their Wifi. The judge sympathised with them but reminded them that the law clearly states they are responsible for the piracy, as their provider had already warned them and had given them software to stop the illegal downloading of film and games from the internet. 
Steven King was given 6 years and Lisa King was given 3 years suspended sentence on condition the fine is paid within 30 days.

On investigation the police found only 4 computer IP addresses which had downloaded the films and games, 2 of the computers were on the premises at the time of their arrest. The prosecution argued that they belonged to the Kings and must have had knowledge of how to find these illegal sites.
"The message is clear really - you will go to prison if you commit crimes like this," Kieron Sharp, the Director General of anti-piracy organisation Fact told reporters.

I am all for it, today they just watching movies or playing games but tomorrow they could be going deeper into cyber crime and ultimately become hackers. 

Talking of crimes, war crimes actually. It is often the case that the crimes of a few are shouldered by the large community. Take the German Nazi for example, the Germans became the enemy to the rest of the western world. Even though comparatively few committed the war crimes, we all blamed the Germans and it took the world a long time to forgive them for something the average German had no control of. 

Similarly the Muslims are experiencing the same tape of hatred. The New Zealand shooter shows the lengths some will go to, targeting those who, on the surface are law abiding citizens, as the enemy. I am afraid this will go on and on until the radical Muslims are taken out or sorted out by the Muslim community. We have Muslim preachers who are radicalising young people, all in the name of some religion, only they believe in. Tolerance works both ways, if you are radical, then do not be surprise when other radicals turn against you.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Art, Oi Yoi Yoi

Came across the story of Rose Hilton, the artist who put her career on hold to support her husband, but gained recognition after his death. The daughter of a rather strict family who believed girls should stay at home until they married. She secretly applied to the Royal College of Art and was accepted with a full scholarship. Her parents were horrified and would not let her go. Her brother took her side and told them he would not see them ever again if they did not let her go. He was obviously quite persuasive and they let her go. 
Rose - Relaxed

Exceptional gifted painter she excelled and was showing and selling her work very early in her career. She met her future husband Roger Hilton, who put a condition on them getting married, only he would paint. 

Roger Hilton CBE was a pioneer of abstract art in post-Second World War Britain. She decided to start painting in secret after their two children were older, the inevitable happened and he found out. He was very angry and she decided to teach him a lesson, to show him what real painting was all about. She challenged him to paint her dancing naked on their balcony. She was a very beautiful woman, by all accounts and the balcony faced the park below. On the day there as a hay stack on fire in the park below and he painted her dancing and shouting Oi Yoi Yoi, with the backdrop of a burning haystack. Must of been quite a distraction for the firemen below.
Roger - Oi Yoi Yoi

He called that painting Oi Yoi Yoi, I can understand why. This turned out to be one of his best work and after that he encouraged her to paint and also listened to her ideas. They both were into painting nudes in various shapes, positions and stages of undress. Must say the paintings all look a little out of focus but maybe this was just the type of work they did. Her work has been described as abstract, with an erotic charge. Really! 

I do not know much about painting, so will hold off judging their work but do feel a little more attention to detail would have made the paintings more appealing to my untrained eye.

Mothers Day

This weekend has been rather interesting,  breakfast with friends, foray into the dark world of car buying and then the clocks moved forward for British summer time. Waking after losing an hour overnight, it was Mother’s Day. 

Car buying is fraught with danger. Beginning with the price, they tell you what the price of the car is, making a big deal out of them offering £1000 off. Is this what it will cost? They advertised as starting from £18500 and now they want £24500 after you have chosen your colour, engine, transmission and trim. Where, you rightly should ask has the other £6000 come from? Anyway the negotiations go on and on, first you ask for more discount, they have a quick discussion and offer another £1000 off, that was too easy so you ask for a little more and they have to speak to someone. Pity I cannot just speak to that someone directly and then this process will take much less time. Finally they have reduced the car to £21300. 

Now about the part exchange, you know your car is worth at least £1000 more than they are offering. On this they are not prepared to move. Finally they discuss the monthly payment. This is were we stopped. Beautiful car, the VW T Roc, really bold and chunky in the grey/white and they have one in stock, we could have it by Monday but only if we commit today. Decisions, decisions, finally decision made, we walk away from the deal, exhausted and in need of a stiff drink.
Mother’s Day and we started with a walk on the beach with JB and then a quick breakfast before going to see Michael's new flat. Big, spacious and modern, just like he is I suppose. Also right next to a rather nice pub, The Grasshopper, no need to drive for him and anyone with him. I left Susan with Michael as they are in the hunt for a television. Susan did come up with a classic expression. 

‘Is it alright if I hang here?’ Now that is such a new expression and also one she must have used in her youth, or she heard some one saying it and being in such a trendy flat, she went native.
I am sure the television has now been bought and after some installing they will be back. We are off to the Middle Smiths tonight for dinner and I would imagine we will talk about the virtues of wide screen television, high definition colour and the size. All important points after you have bought your television.

Monday, 25 March 2019


Some may ask where I get the time to write? Normally as I have an idea I just grab the iPad and let it flow out. Seems easy enough, but today proved the exception. Really needed a coffee, so made my way to Caffe Nero, as one does. My iPad seriously needed to be charged so I am embarking on this coffee and writing experience with my Android tablet.

I have just fired up my android tablet, 11 minutes later I am still trying to get a Wifi connection and it wants to do another update. It is at times like this that we marvel at the simplicity of the iPad and Apple in general. I have completely forgotten what I was going to write, I feel for all those out there that have to deal with these dark age machines on a daily basis.

Sorry but I need to go as it has now taken me 47 minutes, it decided to update by itself and that took a while. Will pick this up on my iPad when I get home.

Now I am back in safe hands of my MacBook, let writing be my focus.

We are thinking of moving, actually buying a small house to be more accurate. Age is one of the difficulties in securing a mortgage. Most lenders will give a house loan until the age of 75, seven years away for me. This does make the process a challenge but not insurmountable. The Middle Smiths will be moving again, the flat they are renting has been put on the market to sell. Hopefully they will find a place where they can settle down for a while. By now their children must think they are on the witness protection program.

Talking of moving, Michael is about to move into his first home. Exciting times but in all fairness he has been living with people for the last 2 and a half years on his travels. I would imagine it will be a relief to have a place almost to himself. Jess, his cousin is sharing with him.

Robert is renting a house with one of his friends in Colchester as well. From the photos we have seen, both houses are new and modern, with plenty of space.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Rain and other friends

Today I asked someone to tell me how they started their business. Good question, as his business is very successful. I do wonder what I would say if someone asked me why I love writing so much. Well, I can say only this. Writing always feels like a safe place. You can invent stories that have nothing to do with your real life, but it is taken from real life and usually the good guy does not win but the stories I write, ends with the good guy winning. 

For example, someone I know well, thinks of everyone, all the time. What she can do to make their lives happier. The small things and the important things all count. Do they consider her, absolutely. She has a close group of friends who look out for each other, no one counts the favours. She looks outwards and those people are rare. Her friends and colleagues are remembered on their birthdays, when they bake her a cake and for all the times, she bakes or buys a cake for them My point being, she cares about her friends and colleagues and that takes commitment. 
People who are that considerate are quite self focused, self centred and are the most challenging of people to please. They are so focused on pleasing those friends and colleagues, they forget themselves. 
My advice, love them for who they are, you will be loved in return.

Rain, it swirls around the glow of the street lights, creating its own world. It is a pity I cannot hear the symphony of rain drops on the roof when I sleep. Although, rain on our conservatory roof does make talking a challenge, as it is perspex. Still you do feel the strength of the storm. This last two weeks the weather has been all over the place, from a day of a mild breeze to the next day of 50mph winds and driving rain, even hail on two occasions. Today is no exception. We had breakfast at the beach and could enjoy watching the wind and rain from the comfort of the cafe. I did not envy those people walking their dogs, I pity the dogs as well, they are closer to the ground and the sand blows into their eyes.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019


Susan and I have had the best times, a lot of it just walking and talking, it has been extraordinary journey, I hope will never end. 
 Susan's laughter at me watching reruns of Movies 24. Should really be called Love Films 24, as they are all love stories. My favourite is ‘Lovelocks’.  A story of two people meeting up again after 20 years. They were in love then. She has returned, bringing her daughter to study at the same university she went to. Lovely story but the dialogue is amazingly beautiful, the best character is the Old painter. He says to a lady, who lost her husband a while ago, that he is going to paint her.
“You have a sadness in your eyes and a joy, I tried to catch both.”

He paints her and they grow attached, two older people finding another time for happiness. Love locks are actually locks fastened to bridges in Paris. A couple will lock the padlock to the bridge and throw the key in the river below. A symbol of the couples love. I suppose as long as the lock is locked to the bridge, so their love is strong. Love locking has been classified an act of vandalism. The french authorities have started taking them down as there are now millions of locks attached to loads of bridges and the weight of the locks are damaging the historical bridges. As in all Movies 24, the couple do get together again and the end is always a happy one. He owns a hotel and she use to paint, the story sees her get back to painting and her daughter falls for Jean-Paul, another student at the university. The daughter says to her mother.

“How can you not fall in love with Paris when Paris is the city of love.”

Talking of girls, I remember a very obnoxious little 10 year old, who when I bent down to give her, her birthday present, shouted, ‘Oh yack he has hair in his nose, look at his nose.’ Everyone in the room laughed, not lest her parents. Small things are easily laughed away, I never made the mistake again of ever allowing myself to go near that girl again. It made me think of how life has changed and also stayed the same. I saw that little girl again, now a grown up version, still the same. I also trim the hair in my nose. Lessons are learnt.

Changing the subject somewhat, peas, they are a noble vegetable. I cook them with chilli and garlic. Bring the water to the boiling water, add the peas, crushed clove of garlic, a whole chilli and then you cook the peas as you would normally. Once cooked, drain, add a teaspoon of butter, season and serve. The subtle flavour of the chilli and the hint of the garlic, lift the peas. Peas remind me of my mother and my grandmother.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Topics of Interest

I have seen the comments with regards to not having blogged for a while. I can blame the pressures of work but alas that will not pass muster. To be honest I it was a combination of work, the weather and some writers block. Thank you to my brother, The Right Honourable Russell Smith, entrepreneur and a thoroughly nice chap, who sent me a gentle reminder. I must talk to his dear friend, Tamacgor S Bald, maybe he knows when Russell is coming to the UK again, would be lovely to see him, now that he is all grown up. Must be 3 to 4 years since I last saw him.

Come to think of it, Russell is launching another Game lodge, this time in Kenya. Great Expectations Hotel and Resorts, I think it is, cannot find it in the search engines, maybe someone will steer me in the right direction. Did find a Russell Smith in South Africa but he is a photographer and lives on Cape Town. 

Maybe this is one of the best kept secrets in Africa. If you think you are not getting your name or message out there, get hold of Cirrus Design Studio, I do hear they are the best. They are giving their website a freshen up so bare with them while they work their magic.

Talking of Africa, I hear the government is slowly bleeding the country dry with corruption and zero experience in running a country. My advice is to hand the day to day running of the country to Nestle Foods. Put the present civil servants to work fixing the roads and lockup all the members of parliament. That would be my advice, but then I cannot really talk, we have a government who is incapable of getting a simple Brexit deal.

Saturday, 16 March 2019


Quite a few people might not know this but I started my working life as a typewriter technician. Yep I repaired typewriters. Well, to start just clean and serviced them. Later on, once I had done the courses, I did fix a few. I mention this because I have just heard a news talk on the popularity of old typewriters.

Tom Hanks  has a collection of over 100 and liken typing on these old machine to works of art. 
As you can see I am typing on one at the moment, just makes it seem more personal. 

Talking about news items, this one really interested me.
Ngisti wakes to what is one of the most challenging days she will have to face in her lifetime. She gave birth to her son 40 days ago and now her belief dictates she must baptise him. The problem is that the church is on the top of the mountain and to get there it is a climb of 400m up a sheer cliff. Difficult at the best of times but with your baby strapped to your back, it is a very dangerous climb. 

In Ethiopia, belief in a higher power leads villagers in the Tigray region to climb a huge mountainside to reach their church. They believe it's vital and beneficial for their children to be baptised here, despite the obvious dangers. Just 40 days after giving birth, Ngisti must climb 400 metres to have her new son, Dawit baptised.
It is a BBC documentary and really worth a watch. they also showed how they positioned their cameras to film the climb by the mother and her extended family.

On another note, it seems as if the traditional burger night has seen the last burger served. A tradition that started when Angela was about as old as Lilly is now. Must be over 25 years now. Change is inevitably, new minds, new tastes, new traditions will be born. Will let you known what we do this Friday. Michael suggested Pizza, Susan seemed to like the idea of a pub dinner and Gary was interested in trying a pub in Wimborne. This is one of those times I will go with what is decided by the majority, for now, let democracy have its way but I do fear it might all end in tears. Sometimes changes are for the good and other times they akin to a chocolate teapot.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Snow and the stillness it brings

Why is it that whenever it snows you know it is snowing solely from the quiet. A stillness born from the snow gently settling on the grass. We have had a good dusting for f snow over the last two days and it brings cold but also such fun and excitement for all those who are still children. Have to admit but I was tempted to throw a snow ball at GSP this morning while she wiped the snow off her car, hold me back I want to throw a snow ball. Reason prevailed and I called JB inside, resisting that almost uncontrollable urge, for another time, maybe when Gary arrives.
With the snow comes the photos, all slightly out of focus because we are trembling from the cold but fun none the less.

Moving on to more pressing matters. Singer Kelsy Karter had a tattoo of someone else who sings tattooed onto her right cheek, no, not that cheek, on her face. The photo says it all and I did listen to one of her songs and did not really take to her young voice, maybe it is aimed at a younger audience, 8 to 12? I did read an amusing comment on her social media page.

She looks like she spends more time getting plastic surgery than actually working on music. If you haven't heard Kelsy yet let me spare you the trouble. Imagine if you gave a pig the ability to sing and threw a wig on it, while giving the pig lip injections? That's Kelsy Karter. Anyone who actually likes this girl must be braindead.

I did think it was a bit harsh but then so is having a tattoo of another singer on your face. 

Turns out it was all a publicity stunt and a fake tattoo. Certainly had everyone talking. I was about to go into a fine lecture on why you should not have a tattoo on your face, or anywhere else for that matter. As for body piecing, now that is another ball game and again I will spare you a rant, suffice to say I do not think it is alright to have. If you needed a hole in some strange place, nature would have given you one when you were born. Remember these are not like holes you dig in the garden, you cannot just fill them in when you get bored with them.

Robots replacing Humans

I had a dream last night about an assembly line in a car manufacturing plant and it got me thinking. What happened to all the workers who use to put the whole car together from scratch. Make no mistake, the build quality of cars are has never been better, those automotive assembly robots do the job with extreme accuracy and precision. 

We are designing robots that do the dull, repetitive work and leave the humans to do the work that requires thought and judgement. Well to a certain extent we are doing just that, except we are also designing systems to make judgement calls, this is becoming a threat to the large unskilled labour market, they are feeling inferior to the systems and in quite a few cases they are. 

The other fear they have is that manufacturers will begin to reduce all work to repetitive motion and they will slowly be replaced by robots. Such concerns have led to increasing unhappiness, and even destructive actions, on the part of the humans toward robots. As happened in 1811, by what was known as the 'Luddite riots’, when a group of workers tried to destroy the cotton looms. 

There is an ethical responsibility by the management not to demean their unskilled labour, but rather take advantage of their cognitive abilities, however challenging that may be. Sadly progress always comes with a price, normally human hardship, until we adapt.

Sunday, 27 January 2019


How do you know what’s possible if you don’t even try. 

Wise words and the action is what we tend to be wary of. There are many out there that could be making a difference but are afraid to try. 
I am at Sandbanks cafe enjoying a gammon panini and coffee, to be fair I did check the fridge and there was only cold paella from Monday. That is just one paella, too far gone for my liking. So it’s panini, chips and coffee to give me a lift to tackle the rest of the day. They are not that generous with the filling so I put some chips in, gives it that lift and everything is in one hand.

Susan is trying to sort out her mother’s affairs. She passed away early this morning and I really feel for Susan. She is being brave and getting on with it, but I am sure she is a mess inside. I did not really like her mother and I am sure the feeling was mutual, but I do feel so sorry for Susan, it is a pity I cannot take the deep sense of loss she is feeling now, away from her. Dementia is a cruel cross to bear, not knowing anything, anymore and not even knowing you cannot remember. The only positive for Susan is that, that is all behind her mother now. 

The grim reaper comes for us all at some stage and we can only hope it is not too an unpleasant experience. Be strong my darling.

The weather has turned quite cold, the wind has come up and it is one of those days the sea tells the story. I was walking JB on the beach earlier and on this rare occasion, even he stayed well clear of the water. Would take a very brave person to swim on a day like today. Strangely, even with the otherwise weather, it was good to be walking on the beach, good to feel the cold wind and look out at the seemingly endless ocean, yes, good to be alive.

Saturday, 19 January 2019


French Children Don't Throw Food

Sitting in Nero’s Caffe and noticed a french couple with their two young children. All well dressed and from the outside, a happy, loving family. While pondering their virtues, the quiet was shattered by a mother shouting at her child, who screamed back with something about wanting chocolate and then proceeded to throw her sandwich and cool drink onto the floor. 
I looked back at the first couple and the children who were all eating their food quietly and they looked happy doing it. I asked myself the question, why do these french children seem so well behaved and the normal English child a nightmare. A nightmare, not only for their parents, but the rest of those, unfortunate enough to be in the same coffee shop.

After all the screaming and tantrums, I decided that Nero’s had lost its appeal and went home. I did some research and found this book which describes almost the exact situation I have just described. This is a short extract from the book called ‘French Children do not throw Food’. 

This extract starts with this couple on holiday in Paris, they had been through a few nightmare meals with their eighteen month old daughter, Bean, who would not eat her food, would not sit in her high chair, shouted and cried and pushed her food off the table.

After a few more restaurant meals, I notice that the French families all around us don't look like they're in hell. Weirdly, they look like they're on holiday. French children the same age as Bean are sitting contentedly in their high chairs, waiting for their food or eating fish and even vegetables. There's no shrieking or whining. Everyone is having one course at a time. And there's no debris around their tables. 
Though I've lived in France for a few years, I can't explain this. In Paris, kids don't eat in restaurants much. Anyway, I haven't been watching them. Before I had a child, I never paid attention to anyone else's. In our current misery, however, I can't help but notice that there seems to be another way. But what exactly is it? Are French kids just genetically calmer than ours? Have they been bribed (or threatened) into submission? Are they on the receiving end of an old-fashioned seen-but-not-heard parenting philosophy? 
It doesn't seem like it. The French children all around us don't look cowed. They're cheerful, chatty and curious. Their parents are affectionate and attentive. There just seems to be an invisible, civilising force at their tables - and, I'm starting to suspect, in their lives - that's absent from ours. 
Once I start thinking about French parenting, I realise it's not just mealtimes that are different. I suddenly have lots of questions. Why is it, for example, that in the hundreds of hours I've clocked at French playgrounds, I've never seen a child ( except my own) throw a temper tantrum? Why don't my French friends need to end a phone call hurriedly because their kids are demanding something? Why haven't their living rooms been taken over by teepees and toy kitchens, the way ours has? 
No one is making a fuss about all this. But quietly and en masse, French parents are achieving outcomes that create a whole different atmosphere for family life. When British or American families visit our home, the parents usually spend much of the visit refereeing their kids' spats, helping their toddlers do laps around the kitchen island, or getting down on the floor to build Lego villages. There are always a few rounds of crying and consoling. When French friends visit, however, we grown-ups have coffee, and the children play happily by themselves. 

Maybe I am getting too old to have a reasonable opinion on how to bring up children but someone once wrote.

The pleasures of the table belong to all ages, all conditions and all countries, and to each and every day. 

So Parents, you are in charge of your children’s education, that includes food and behaviour. 

Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Chronicle

Gary has managed to save some of my old Chronicles. I look forward to reading them, echos from the past, glimpses of life in St Michaels. That was really the second part of our journey which began in Swaziland. A factory born out of a dream to manufacture and sell a product that was truly ours. We embraced the sea, a short walk from our house and ran with the wind most days. We finally left for the UK, leaving what seemed like an ideal life to start again.
Reality was quite different and under the surface lies a darkness to this beautiful part of the world we tend to forget.

I have decided to create an online book of all the issues of The Chronicle. Also print a few as a physical presents, making the whole journey something of a tangible nature. Also a reminder of my mother, who always enjoyed them so much. Sadly her life was ended by the savageness and brutality of the countrymen she loved so much. 

Just started reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, read this book many years ago and as I start it again it holds the same magic. Brilliant book and worth a read. Talking of books, I started reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Now this is not one of those books I would want to read any further. Being a classic does not diminish the darkness and violence of this novel and I advise caution, as this is a very disturbing work of fiction. I almost think it has to be based on something nasty the author experienced in his life time.

Just to keep you in the loop with the weather, it is now moving in keeping with the time of the year. We start the day with clear skies but the temperature never really wanted to go higher than 2°. Michael will find it very cold coming from the Australian summer. Gary and Dan have been seen less and less out on the road with their push bikes.

First chapter on the oldest Chronicle I have, 31.08 1993. Printed on the first Dot Matrix printer we bought. Thanks Gary for bringing them over.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

New Year 2019

Traditions can sometimes be the worst of all follies. This year saw the traditional swim at the beach, not one of those follies but more of a coming together of adventurous, slightly insane people braving the cold water, to have what can only be termed a very quick dip. Lady Vivienne came prepared with Prosecco served in fluted glasses, to bring good cheer and a little courage. Full sunshine belied the cool, light breeze and everyone charged into the water with squeals coming from the boys and laughter from the girls. One way to kick off the New Year.

In all fairness, we all got to bed at a reasonable hour and sober. This does explain our bright and early start. Some will be feeling quite under the weather this morning, those poor souls who went to bed, after too much to drink, in the early hours of the morning. Thank goodness those days are gone, when I go to bed at 3am and then wear it as a badge of honour.

Michael is preparing to fly back to the UK to start work at the end of the month. Life will be very different for him after travelling the world for two and a half years. Hopefully when he gets back he will feel that this is home again. Sometimes it takes travelling to appreciates where you need to stay.

This coming year, remember the sunrise, that promise of a new day. Value your well earned time relaxing as the sunset gives way to night. Take time to enjoy and cherish the plants, trees and animal life. Listen to the wind, as in her travels she sees much, maybe her howls are her pain.

2019, none of us have ever truly walked this way before. But if there is no map, no route, no road to follow, there is sometimes a dream and we will make our way with those we love and some friends. As the year unfolds, we travel alone and together, sharing the shift from darkness into light. This is the birth of a new year, birth is the shortest journey we will ever make, it begins in darkness and ends, we hope, in light. But welcome and safe we will stroll on the shore for what amounts to moments before we begin the greatest voyage of them all. There's no map, no route, not road to follow, for none of us has ever walked this way before.

I hope the promise of a happy 2019 delivers for all.