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.