Saturday, 13 October 2012



Oh yes, we have all been there! Looking on this website or that one, comparing the premiums, what they include, what they don't cover, the things that they say are essential (most of them unnecessary, but are sure to get the seller an enhancement to their salary in the way of commission) if you choose to talk to an "advisor". Who can blame them? Not me old chum.

Well now, I have lately had to sort out some insurance for Lady Perry not just for her vehicular transportation, but also our main residence, lots of bedrooms, but nothing of real value, except my paints, I am sure you understand.

So, being of a modern nature and a total skinflint, (no offence to all you skinflints out there, just mutual admiration) I looked "on-line" at all the offers available. Having checked numerous sites, wasted hours of my life putting in details for a quote, I awaited the results. Some quotations seemed very agreeable, until I looked at the small print and found that this or that was added, a little extra for "peace of mind", oh right, so you think I am am imbecile, (no offence to all the imbeciles out there, you know who you are). Mistake number one, my dears. Then you receive a telephone call from the people that cannot wait to get a better job than trying to sell over the 'phone and meet their targets. Again no offence to all that have this thankless task, I admire you all for your perseverance.  Whilst talking about these lovely people, I would like to say that I normally try and inject a little friendly banter and humour into these talks and I urge you all to do the same. It doesn't get me a cheaper deal, but what it does do is lighten the day for a poor salesman sitting in front of a computer screen, headset on, wishing he could win the lottery and tell the  boss to stick the job where the sun doesn't shine!

I informed one eager young thing that had the audacity to telephone me, rather than the other way round, that I had only just stopped laughing at the ludicrous quotation and thanked her for small moment of joy this had made upon my life. This was received with some dismay and even a little consternation, especially as I informed her that I had already beaten that quote by over eighty pounds. (For those of you in all the other countries that follow my blog, it was GBP). "Oh, we couldn't match that" she replied. I then indicated that it would be a good idea for her to get off my private telephone line and not to contact me again, unless she could not only match that, but give me another 10% off. In a thoughtful and kindly manner, of course.

Did I get a good deal eventually? Oh yes, us skinflints know how to save money for the important things in life, such as good food, good wine, my art materials and holidays in the sun. Until next time dear readers........ Take care of each other, all the best, Grandad.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Creation, Evolution and Wine-making!

Creation, Evolution and Wine-making!

Oh, are you ready for this? My dear and faithful readers, I do not think so! Read on dear reader, but be open minded, but first get  a cuppa and then sit down, this is a bit of a long one, apologies in advance....

There are those of us that believe that God created all that we are, the Universe as we know it, all that we understand (so far), everything in the heavens, black holes, imploding stars, exploding meteors, taxes, Mondays, Sun spots, blackheads, bad hair days, "computer says no" days, times when whatever you do it all turns out wrong days, times when whatever you do it all turns out to be a fantastic time day, why does this always happen to me days, etc. A bit flippant, but you know what I mean.

There are those of us that think that natural selection, Darwin's thoughts and opinions are true. That somehow, all of this amazingly diverse life on this planet that we are inhabiting, without thought, most of the time, just happened by evolution, all from the same "Big Bang" and primordial soup. Well, perhaps.

These  two schools of thought seem, on the face of it, to be completely opposed to each other. Not a bit of it my dears. All of you are missing the point. They are both part and parcel of the picture as I see it.

Compare these thoughts to wine-making. Take certain ingredients, let's say fruit, water, sugar, a little tannin, some glycerine and mix well. Then add yeast, an absolutely amazing organism that multiplies rapidly in the right conditions. At the start, the mixture is totally different to what it will eventually become. Let's call it our primordial soup. After a period of time, the yeast multiplies, initially rapidly, consuming the sugar and making alcohol, carbon dioxide and other various chemicals. As the alcohol content increases, the yeast finds the conditions too difficult to endure and eventually dies. Are you with me so far dear reader? Good, then I will continue. A change seems on the cards perhaps. The "wine" will start to take on a different look. It will have a sediment on the bottom of the container, consisting of dead yeast, fruit pulp, etc. This is then racked, (strained, to the uninitiated) and the resulting solution will, if left for a while, become clear and ready to drink. If left even longer, it will of course mature and taste even better. Evolution at its most simple. This, I am sure you will appreciate, is a very condensed version of events and will forgive me.

So, what has wine-making got to do with it all, I hear you ask? Well, God is the wine-maker, putting together all the necessary ingredients and then steps back to let things happen. He watches the changes and reactions that he knows are going to happen. Before I receive some pathetic comment saying "How do you know God is a he and not a she", just don't, don't. I told you before that I am a PC free area and don't concern myself with such trivia.

If you find it difficult to consider any of the above regarding creation opinion, I would ask you to consider this. How, on what has always been an island, Australia, did the Aborigines inhabit that amazing land for at least the last 60,000 years? More on this later, if you are good enough to comment, as I am sure those of you with strong opinions will!

Until the next time, look after your loved ones, all the best from Grandad......

Monday, 24 September 2012

Page views and comments.

Page views and comments.

Wow, I never expected the page views that I have had! Well over three thousand since I started my ramblings, only  just over a couple of months ago! They have come from England (expected of course), America, Australia, Ukraine, Germany, France, Africa and others. I thank you all for taking the time to read what an old git like me has to say. For those of you that do not understand "old git" please be kind enough to Google it!

But, there is always a but isn't there? So many of my friends and family that read my rants/opinions do not comment! Why? Please, please, feel free to add your own views/comments/opinions. I love it!

I will never take offence at what you say or how you feel, as all who know me will testify. Even if I were to do so, I can moderate or eliminate your reply if it is offensive. Believe me, it has to be seriously offensive for me to do that. If in doubt, look at my previous posts regarding PC correctness, I am a PC free area, (note area, not zone, no apologies to our American cousins, once again). So, please read, enjoy, but above all comment! That is what life is about, having alternative or corresponding views, a little something to add, an anecdote or just something you want to get off of your chest! Do it, NOW!

Please pay attention, ANONYMOUS! 
Your comments have been very well received and hopefully responded to by myself in the same manner. You have not posted a comment for some time, which I must confess I miss (when I get bored, LOL!).

I thank all of my readers and hope that you will continue to read my rantings/ advice for a long time to come. Until the next time, I wish you well, regards, Grandad.....

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

What can I say? Who doesn't like good old fish and chips? Not those sad and sorry excuses for chips that are served in fast food outlets which are as thin as a pencil and about as tasty, nor the seemingly re-constituted bits and pieces of fish coated in breadcrumbs that also seem to abound. No, I am talking about the real thing dear reader, do you have a moment?........

A fillet of Cod or Haddock, lovingly dipped in a very light coating of batter and cooked to perfection in seriously hot fresh oil, resulting in a glorious combination of tasty fish and crisp batter. The chips, no less important should be freshly prepared. Now, let me tell you about the size, because size really does matter here. They should be as thick as your thumb, (no less), be approximately three to three and a half inches long, (that's about 75mm to 87mm for those of you that have been metric converted) as far as possible. But do not dismiss the little chips or the slightly misshapen ones as these will instantly show that the chips have been prepared in the prescribed manner. As for the looks, they should be golden and crisp on the outside and when bitten into should transport you into a revelation of delight with the soft and fluffy texture inside. 

What should be served with this inspired culinary combination? Salt, yes. Pepper, yes, (black peppercorns freshly ground, no other kind will do). We are agreed then. The dish is nearing perfection. What of vinegar? Only one kind will do, and that is onion. It imparts all the necessary sharpness needed, without the undertones of the malt variety. Am I educating you here dear reader? Changing your previous views on this important matter? I hope so. But the greatest debate of all remains. What kind of sauce? Tartare (please note the correct English spelling as opposed to that of our American cousins) is quite lovely, adding a delicate piquancy due to the capers used. A little of that then. But now, the real great debate.......

Tomato or brown sauce. The camp is divided on this one methinks. Personally, I prefer tomato, for the subtle sweetness that this brings, rather than the sharpness of the brown, which has already been included by the use of onion vinegar and the tartare. There will be some of you who might disagree, but once again you would be wrong. Trust me, I have made fish and chips a life long study (one of many) and I know what I am talking about here.

For a considerable amount of time I thought that I had found the perfect fish and chip restaurant/take away ever. It is about five miles away from where we live and run by the most charming Chinese couple. We are well known there and have green tea to drink from their own supplies, lovely. Very reasonable prices and cooked to order as it should be. However, we had a mini holiday recently. We found the local fish and chip shop/restaurant which had a steady stream of customers from opening to closing time. Closing time was nine thirty in the evening, very civilised as the area is rather more sedate than the city. It was as close to perfection as Lady Perry and I could expect to find. Batter so light and crisp it defied belief, the fish perfectly cooked and tasty. The chips were another delight for the palate, crisp, golden and plentiful. The prices were very reasonable and the service excellent, a cheery greeting on arrival and a thank you on departure. We would love to eat there again soon, but a hundred miles each way might prove a stumbling block. So it will be back to our old faithful, now relegated to number two in the fish and chip shop hall of fame. Until next time, keep well and warm, all the best from Grandad.......

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Courtesy, Respect and a Smile.

Courtesy, Respect and a Smile.

Three lovely words, you must agree dear reader. Lady Perry and I have been on a mini holiday, one that was needed to re-charge the batteries after a period having to deal with just a little too many of lifes demands and complications. We decided to go to Dorset and stay at a superb bed and breakfast (4*) in a lovely area known as Broadstone, not far from Poole. (More on Poole later).

We arrived at our accommodation, unpacked and decided to take a stroll around the area. Within a few moments we were totally amazed. When needing to cross the road, motorists stopped and waved us across! They did this with a smiling face, presumably at the incredulous looks on our own faces. This was not a one-off, but happened on numerous occasions, one motorist actually reversing a little at a junction, in order to make it safer for us to cross. What a difference from city drivers whose main aim, it would seem, is to either run you down or shout obscenities at you whilst blocking your path, just for the offence of being a pedestrian.

We continued our  stroll, entering various shops and receiving friendly greetings. When was the last time that happened to you in a shopping centre? Exactly.

We then walked along a purpose made, wide path, flanked by tall trees, adjacent to the main road. This path was used by cyclists and pedestrians alike. Stand by for the next amazing incident.....

Two cyclists approached us from the opposite direction. They slowed down when nearing us, looked over and wished us good afternoon whilst smiling, then continued on their way. We could scarcely believe it! Again, what a difference from city cyclists and Lycra clad loonies hurtling along at great speed, narrowly missing you and generally scaring the living daylights out of you, again, just for the offence of being a pedestrian. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against cyclists or motorists, I am both. But what I am trying to illustrate here is the courtesy and respect shown to us in this small town, compared to the city.

Now, time for more on Poole, as promised. If you thought the city that you live near or perhaps, even more unfortunately within, was unfriendly to just about everyone, go to Poole, or Bournemouth. We have the good fortune to live about six miles away from our nearest city, a couple of minutes walk from being on the South Downs (smug mode entered). But on the rare visits to that city (only from dire neccesity) it is like entering a hostile, alien and forbidding place. But, it lacks in numbers (fortunately), that which Poole and Bournemouth do not. Roundabouts. Not just one or two, oh no, there must be hundreds of them. Not little ones. Some of them are so large as to require a map to try and navigate across them. One after another, so that if you are driving, it seems as if you are on a constant merry go round, except that the music is replaced by the constant drone of traffic noise. We could not get away quickly enough, but then, we like a quiet and friendly life. Which leads me on to the last word of the title. Smile. 

Wherever Lady Perry and I find ourselves in the world, when speaking with someone (we get by in a few main languages) we always smile. Why? Because it is disarming, charming and the universal language of getting a helpful response. We once spent two weeks in the company of a lovely young lady who was half Brazilian and half Italian. At that time, she did not speak English, we did not speak Italian or Spanish. We spoke French and German, she did not.
But we had the most entertaining time, because we all smiled and with various gesticulations and facial expressions (again, universal) made ourselves understood. Also, by us all showing courtesy and respect. It leaves a lasting impression. Try it, you have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain. Until the next time, all the best from Grandad.......

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Last Night of the Proms! OH, YES!

Oh Wow, do I love this. So does Lady Perry. Forget the Olympic opening/closing ceremonies, they pale into insignificance compared to the last night of the Proms! Fabulous music, played by people that are so talented that it is beyond my comprehension, but give so much pleasure to so many other ordinary people like myself. I and Lady Perry are often reduced to tears of emotion just having the privilege of listening to music of such quality.

Elgar, Land of Hope and Glory, (when WILL that become our national anthem instead of the dreary dirge that is God save the Queen) and Jerusalem, absolute magic! I tell you, Land of Hope and Glory is such a magnificent and inspiring piece of music, you could make me go to war for you on that, (anyone that really knows me also knows how peaceful I am)  but God save the Queen? No, I would just turn around and go back to bed!

However,..... read on dear reader, if you would be so kind.......

The sea shanties, always popular and funny, we love them. But, the tenor, a Maltese chap, (absolutely wonderful people, we have been to Malta, had fantastic holidays, food and hospitality and will go again and again) Joseph Calleja, was amazing. If you, (as did I) think that Pavarotti was the master, (forget Carreras, Domingo, they are just supporting players in my opinion). Joseph, I predict, here and now, will be the King of opera for many decades. He sings with passion, notes held for so long I get out of breath just listening, awesome power and completely effortless singing, he just seems to enjoy every moment, as do I and Lady Perry. I thank him for making me cry with the build-up of emotion, just from hearing his wonderful voice. I must now state that I do not cry very often, being a hard hearted and life hardened old sod, but some people, (very few) can make this happen. Yes, this means you my lovely old mate, you know who you are.

But, back to the old post/blog. Classical music has stood the test of time and will always do so. Why? Because it is created by the best composers that have ever existed in the world, played by the best musicians in the world and  sung by the best singers in the world.

I ask you this, compare a modern piece of crap called rap, (does that stand for repetitive, antagonistic, puke?) Oh yes, I believe you are with me there, dear reader, to the music of Beethoven or Berlioz. These today’s pathetic "wannabes" (apologies, modern word, forgive me, Mr. Walsh) have no talent, no voice and can not, nor will be anything other than a manufactured studio rendition of what ? Yes, you have guessed it crap.

Of course, there are some of you that might readily disagree. It is not your fault. It is because you have not been exposed to the true majesty of real music, live orchestras, opera at its best, (try La Boheme, it always makes me cry) it is one of the most famous and best love stories in the world.

Please comment, I look forward to it......

Until the next time, Grandad

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Getting Older, Getting Better!

Now some of you might think that the title is a bit of a contradiction. "Au contraire", as my loveable French associate Mr. Marmery might say. Allow me to enlighten you dear reader. As everyone knows, when we get older, some things get taken away from us. We become a little slower, weaker, less confident in dealing with what were once minor problems, etc. But, unlike the athlete that has reached his peak at say 30 years of age and then it is all downhill from there until you are completely useless at 40, artists reign supreme!

I wish I had a quid for every time someone has said to me, "But you have a gift, a real talent, you are so lucky, I could never do anything like that". I would have enough to pay my bus fare into Brighton (Yes, it is that expensive and I haven't got my bus pass yet as some twit decided that although I am well over 60, "There are rules and guidelines, we can't give them out just like that". So I have to wait another few months because my birthday is after the official date. Who decides these things? The ESN? No, I mustn't answer my own question, my solicitor is busy enough at the moment! But I digress.

Some people say to me that my ability to paint is a gift, but they haven't seen the blood, sweat and sometimes tears that have been expended over the years in order to get this far in doing something that I love with a passion. It seems the more I practice, the luckier  and better I get at it! That is what I am talking about, the older I get, the better will be my painting. It doesn't depend on strength, youth, income, or any of the things that we lose as we mature. It depends on me "seeing", learning what colours will be best in a painting, how they react with each other and using the knowledge already gained to make the next painting the best one. Then after that the next, then the next, etc. I have also been fortunate enough for various people who have appreciated my work  to have purchased my paintings. The first one I sold was a small watercolour of a mouse reaching up to investigate a ripe blackberry, that was a long time ago for me now, and I have sold more that I can remember, but believe me, you never forget the first one you sell!

If you are thinking of starting with this wonderful hobby, I must strongly advise you to never stop. Never give up if you have a "failure". Keep those, for when you look back at them in years to come, you will be able to see just how far you have progressed! You may also be able to rescue some of them because of your new found knowledge. Then, one day, you will paint something that really pleases you and hopefully someone else, so much so that they want to purchase your work. As I said, you will never forget the first one you sell.

I shall leave you with something to ponder.

Artists do it by design
Artists do it expressively
Artists do it with creativity
Artists do it with emotion
Artists do it with flair
Artists do it with longer strokes

Remember, paint, paint, paint!

Until the next time, all the best, Grandad.

Gut Feelings, Excuses, Plus the Unexplained

Well, there is a title! I will say that I learned to trust my "gut feelings" from a very early age. I give you my word, they are never wrong. The only times in my life that I have ever regretted, have been when I have ignored the feeling that something is "not quite right", not all as it seems so to speak. You all  know what I am talking about if ever you have experienced this more than once. I was in a job where most people that I encountered would lie to me as a matter of course. Not your normal "Joe Bloggs" member of the public who was almost always eager to help or assist in one way or another, but the other side of human nature was regularly encountered. This involved any amount of excuses or trying to blame other people rather than themselves for what had happened. Gut feeling gets engaged. It becomes second nature, after a while to just "know" that someone is lying to you. Either by body language, avoidance of eye contact, tone of voice, whatever it is, you just know.

Now, I am going to tell you the truth, dear reader, but you may not believe me about an event in my youth. Read on......

I was about to continue my education in life, transferring from my primary school to an unknown, but highly recommended, secondary school in Brighton. My Mum (God bless her) said that it might be a good idea if we found out where it was and perhaps took a look inside before I started the forthcoming term. Enlightened for those days, I believe!
Well, armed only with the street name, we duly caught a bus to somewhere we thought was near to the school and alighted. Now, you must remember that in those days, there was no satnav, we had no Google, no maps of Brighton (there was more concern for putting food on the table than of buying maps in those days). We searched for a long time, asking passers by for directions, but to no avail. Then, someone said "I know it, you go up there, turn right and it's on your left". Deep joy! I must just remind you that neither my Mum nor I had been here before, either in this road nor in the school. That is very important for you to remember, because I can not explain what happened next, but I assure you that it is completely true.

We found the entrance, an imposing pair of beautiful iron gates, one open, inviting entrance to one and all. We both entered the open area within. I immediately turned left through some more doors, followed by my Mother. There we entered a long corridor, with large classrooms to the left, all with closed doors. On the right hand side were cloakrooms, open to the corridor. I then turned to my Mum and told her that the canteen was straight ahead, that the serving hatch was to the left, the cutlery drawer and plate cupboard straight in front of us and the Masters eating area to the right hand side. How I knew this, I will never know, as neither of us had gone further down the corridor more than a couple of steps and the entrance to the canteen was not only out of sight, but was later discovered to have the door closed, thus preventing any view of the interior from where we stood. I have, nor offer any explanation for that knowledge, which proved to be totally accurate when we entered the room. It has amazed me ever since, as it did my Mother. Explain that one my dear reader, for I can not. Had I been a pupil/master in a previous life? (Another post to come, be patient), de-ja vu? An over stimulated imagination? A guess? But to get it that accurate, to know where the cutlery was kept, even the plates. How, how did I know? You might think that I would have been rather perturbed, scared perhaps, but this was not the case at all. Unexplained to this day, perhaps forever, who knows, not me, that is certain.
Until the next time........All the best, Grandad.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Job Applications!

Well, dear reader, here I am, just a few day away from my birthday! How old will I be? That is not important really, or is it? Having resigned from my last job and finished with them earlier this year, I felt that I needed a bit of breathing space to assess my options as is said in popular parlance. Having a lot of experience with many aspects of life and work, well, you would have at my age wouldn't you, I thought that it was perhaps time that I might be ready to once again join the happy throng known as the workforce. Yes, I decided to apply for jobs that would make use of the social and life skills, education, abilities, insights, maturity and wisdom that I had amassed over time. How should I start I thought. I decided to look on the internet. Now, I am fairly well versed in this new technology and felt confident and happy to complete on-line applications and e-mail them to the recipient. This state of mind was not to last. Read on, dear reader......

I applied for three jobs with one organisation, forms easily completed, sent off, confirmation of my applications received. Brilliant! A great start. Having saved all my details  so that it would make the completion of the necessary forms on line with other potential employers somewhat easier and quicker for me, I applied for other jobs. This is where it all goes wrong. Now, I don't know who is responsible for setting up these on line application forms, but there are great ones and there are the abysmal. I started to enter the realms of the abysmal ones. The very worst, I found were the ones set up for various Councils. About as user friendly as a great white shark with toothache. I laboured to fill in the form, cutting and pasting into the various columns my carefully saved details, taking nearly an hour and a half, wisely clicking on "save" each time I entered some important data. Then, having almost finished entering my education details which needed more than two pages, (smug mode entered), the form had no further space to enter any more! So I went to the ubiquitous diversity form. Being happy to provide the information, I duly tried to click yes or no as appropriate. But, the response on the form was nil. Nothing happened. I tried the keyboard method, my trusty mouse, but all to no avail, not a dicky bird, not my fault as no one else could do it either! So the person that designed the form had got it badly wrong. Now, what does this do for my impression of the organisation. I will tell you. It makes me think that they are not worth working for, because if they can't get this right what else is in need of urgent attention within the workplace that may be of vital importance, like tea and coffee making facilities. I eventually sent the form off anyway, minus some of my achievements (remember, no more room). Another job I looked at was with an educational establishment which proudly boasted their commitment to excellence, advertising for a "permanant" position. I wept with laughter both at the advert and for the poor souls that would be "educated" there.

The thing is, on all these application forms, they require you to state your date of birth, yes, I have returned to the question at the start of this post! I may be wrong (I rarely am, but I will concede sometimes) but what employer would want to give a job to someone who has only a few years of working life left, as in me? I have an absolute wealth of knowledge and experience, I am reliable and honest, but also aware that my age will count against me, even though they will all say that it has nothing to do with my application. (Yes, right, what is that smell? Oh, bullshit again).

So rant over for now, got to get back to filling out forms designed by the inadequate, led by those promoted beyond their ability, all encompassed within a PC environment where everyone is scared to say "Good morning" just in case it gets misinterpreted as some kind of insult. Until next time dear reader..........

Saturday, 25 August 2012

First Day of the Blitz, London bombed!

First Day of the Blitz, 07/07/1940 My lovely Mum's 22nd Birthday!

Well a bit of a way to celebrate her birthday! Especially as she had my brother who was only about five months old with her at the time, along with her sister, Mum whilst her Dad was out doing his duty as a police officer. Her brothers of course were either enlisted or waiting for call up. The bombing started in late afternoon/early evening and the bombers had turned around and were on their way home by about a quarter to six. 965 enemy aircraft took part on this day, not all of them bombers of course, fighters and other escorts were involved, but within the space of about an hour, London's docklands and the East End were ablaze. The London Fire Brigade classified a fire requiring 30 pumps as a "Major" fire, yet in the early evening of the 7th September, the Fire Brigade were tackling nine fires which were officially rated as "Conflagrations", in that they required more than 100 pumps each. The largest was the Surrey Docks, where the fire was too large to classify, and it was arbitrarily rated as a 300 appliance fire.

Just after eight in the evening, the next wave of 318 bombers began to pour down tons of incendiaries, 306 civilians died in the bombing, and 1337 more were seriously injured in the City, with 142 more killed in the suburbs. An enormous pall of smoke hung over the capital, and the fires burned on.

Thankfully, my Mother and brother survived, as did the rest of her family. They had another close brush with death though, and if it were not for the quick thinking of another, neither they nor I would be here. But that is a story for another time. Surviving all that and eventually being bombed out of their home, unfortunately, my Mum died far too young just over a quarter of a century ago. Happy birthday on the 7th Mum, I just wish you could have had many more of them. May your soul fly in Heaven.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Football is Back!

Football is Back! Oh joy beyond words, the Premiership season starts today, Lady Perry and I can once again wear our team shirts, listen, watch and support the very best of the best. Now, what is our team you ask. Get real chummy, as if I am going to tell you just so that you can post silly comments and have me remove them from my Blog. I might be old but stupid I am not! It's like this face-book and twitter stuff, or farce-book and shitter as we call them. Used by many people to tell the world that they have just had a hamburger and fries (chips, to you and I dear reader. Another blog post on chips soon, really exciting stuff!) as if anyone is remotely interested. Do I use them? Now you are really insulting me! But back to the real subject.....

Footy, how Lady Perry and I love it! I still remember my lovely wife's face when I first took her to our old stadium, (bit of a give away there dear reader) walking up the steps, standing at the top and she just stared and said, "Oh wow". I knew then that she was hooked. So now we are in the realms of team-shirts, with numbers, visits to the shop, etc.
do I mind? Not a bit! My wife now very nearly understands the offside rule (unlike a lot of referees and linesmen). I like using the term linesman, that is exactly what the chap does, runs the line. Now, I am not going to criticise referees too much as I personally know one and also used to work with him. He is a thoroughly good egg and not biased in any way, as far as I know. I shall try and get him to wear our team shirt under the official garb, but really don't hold out much hope of him doing so!

The sun is shining, the radiogram is tuned into the football news, our team shirts are clean and ready, tea is being enjoyed  contained of course in official team mugs, the time is fast approaching that of the first kick-off, oh joy, what more could a chap want, except that we give our opponents a lot of work picking the ball up out of their net and we keep a clean sheet. Come on lads, three points for us please.

Until the next time, all the best, Grandad .........

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Never Bullshit a Bullshitter!

Bit of a title that one, dear reader, I hope that I haven't caused you to be too distressed by my plain speaking or overcome with "the vapours" as our ancestors used to say. If I have, hard cheese as they also used to say! 
So, you are waiting for the story then, it goes like this.......

Recently I took it upon myself to view a property for sale. Accompanied by my good wife, Lady Perry, we arrived in our vehicular transportation at the appointed time to meet with the agent. Now, as all of you that know me, I am NEVER late. Early, yes, by a few minutes or so out of old fashioned courtesy and consideration, (thanks for that lesson Mum) but I repeat, NEVER late.
The "agent" was late however, by about ten to fifteen minutes. Now I had driven approximately fifteen miles to view this property, but he had driven about two. Good start then old son, I am not amused already.

Having met the agent, who looked as if he should have been at school, except that it was the holiday time, he weakly apologised for his lateness, did not bother to shake my hand and introduce himself and virtually ignored my wife. Bad move. His appearance was neat and tidy, but oh the shoes! Modern, long blunt toed as seems the fashion, fair enough. But, they needed a darn good clean, it looked as if he had just finished a hard game of football whilst wearing them. Now, what does this matter you might say. I will tell you. It matters a lot and I mean a LOT. First impressions are lasting ones, so he has first of all been late and then doesn't seem to care about his appearance, which he should do as he surely wants to appear professional. His errors continue dear reader, if you have a moment......

We proceeded to enter the property. Whilst viewing the house, I asked some questions regarding the alterations that had been carried out, additional works that should be officially documented, etc. This lad, (well, most are when compared to my mature years) could not answer one question with any clarity or certainty, despite being the one that is trying to sell the house on behalf on the client. I quickly realised that he had met me poorly prepared, (if at all), unable to answer the most basic and I mean basic questions, (remember in previous posts, my former life having a business as a builder) and worst of all dear  reader, he waffled and tried to bullshit. Bad move old son.

Now, in an even more previous life, I was in sales, sales management and trained salesmen in their task. I instructed them never to give out bull, one can smell it a mile off. So I know what I am talking about. First impressions in any walk of life are important. As humans, we evaluate each other all the time, on appearance, manner, speech, etc. It is said that we make up our minds whether we like someone or not within five minutes or less, when first meeting them. I believe this to be true and have always trusted that "gut feeling" when dealing with people. Now I had nothing against this lad, he was trying his best and failing spectacularly, but never, never bullshit. If you are selling something to someone and don't know the answer to their question straight away, tell them. Tell them also that you will find out and get back to them. Take a contact number so that you can. People in general respect this and will not mind, just so long as you do what you say you will and get back to them!

The moral of all this? Have respect for yourself and others will respect you, look the part and like the good old boy scout, be prepared. Remember, prior preparation prevents p*ss poor performance. As for the property? No, I don't think so lad, thank you.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

This one is for you "Gramps"

This one is for you "Gramps"

"Gramps", I remember the nickname with more affection than I can possibly say. It was the nickname of my wonderful father-in-law, a fabulous husband to "Mumsy", grandfather to our lovely sons, father to my amazing wife (she has to be amazing to put up with me over all these years, dear reader!) and quite simply a man whose qualities that I would like to have as I mature. 

Now, "Gramps", or G, as I will refer to him from now on, had an amazing life. He was in the Royal navy, came under enemy fire on numerous occasions, his vessel was sunk, he survived various injuries, oil in his lungs, but, he endured all of this to become a man that I had the privilege of meeting, knowing and becoming a part of his family.

I will always remember the times when he played with our sons, laughing, crying with laughter a lot of the time, as I did myself, taking them to his workshop, letting them cut up pieces of old wood for fun and just rejoicing in the fabulous relationship of the old teaching the young. Whenever we went to see him and Mumsy, G always had something for our young sons to occupy them. It could have been an old game previously stored in the loft, comics, marbles, wooden skittles, etc. Simple pleasures for our boys, given with thought by a chap that loved to be with them and see them grow. I sincerely hope that when it becomes my time that I am as good a "Gramps" as you were.

Thanks "G" for being part of our lives, you certainly enhanced not only mine, but all of your family, may God hold you in his arms and shower love upon you every moment.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Family and friends

Family and friends.

Now, dear reader, there is an analogy. Not all of your/my family and friends will be viewed in a pleasant or gracious light. Personally, I have family that I have not spoken to, nor seen for years, despite some of them being very closely related. Indeed, when I have had the fortune/misfortune to have met them, usually at funerals or sometimes by surprise, mostly, it was polite conversation in most cases and was ended as a relief of at least one of the parties involved. When we met, it was like meeting someone at a social event, consisting of the dreaded chit-chat, "How are things going with you" conversation (which I loathe).

Some family though, are great. I have some cousins as have most of us. One of them, I will not reveal his name, I had not seen for some while and then met quite by accident some years ago now. It was simply amazing, despite there being  about ten years difference in our ages (I am the old git) we got on straight away, it was as if we had been meeting regularly for all of our lives. We started working together on some projects, each of us having our own successful businesses, having a beer after work and chatting about bloke things as you might imagine. Great times. They were not to last.

I noticed one day that my cousin had difficulty in eating properly. I asked him what was wrong and he said that it seemed he had indigestion for some time. I enquired how long this had been going on and he said that it had been nearly a year, but it was getting worse lately. Hearing that, I knew that it was something far more serious and urged him to go to hospital to get things investigated. He did and the news was bad. It turned out that he had esophageal cancer. For those of you that don't know, it is in the throat. At first, treatment seemed to be working, despite the advanced state. We used to meet up and play pool together regularly and one day he turned to me and said these words. " You know mate, I really like being with you, you treat me as if everything is normal and you never talk about bloody cancer like everyone else!". I will never forget them. As I said, treatment seemed to be going well.

One day, we were playing only our second game of pool when he turned to me and asked if I would take him home as he had a really bad neck and headache. In that tiny moment, I knew that we didn't have much more time together. The cancer had spread to his lymph glands. I spent as much time as I could with him from that day. I have a letter that he wrote to me just before he died, one of my most treasured possessions. He was 40 years old. I visit his grave and talk to him from time to time always saying a prayer and trusting that his soul soars in heaven. A real man and one I miss more than I can say, God bless, dear friend and relative.

Rules are just made to be broken!

Rules are just made to be broken!

Yesterday I was spending the evening with my art companions who shall remain nameless called Dave, John and Rod. Sorry, I just love doing that. As usual, it was an evening filled with conversation, some imbibing of wine, painting and critiques, followed by a late supper and then home. Now we all paint in various media, but one of Johns and my favourites is watercolour. Beginners seem to think that this is an easy way to start in art, but they could not be more wrong. It is a fantastic way to paint and results and finished paintings in watercolour  are unattainable in any other media. But it is an unforgiving medium, unlike oils which can be scraped off and the painting commenced once more, watercolour mistakes are far harder to change, it can be done, but always shows in the final result. Trust me, we know what we are talking about, having probably over 150 years experience between us all!

Having said that, there are what is called watercolour "purists" that  say no white should be used, but the colour of the paper should provide this. Also, no other medium should be used, for instance gouache or body colour. In other words, they have these "rules". Well, let them have their opinion, but if new ideas and experimentation were not to take place, not just in the art world but in any creative and especially the scientific sphere, we, as a species, would probably have ceased to exist years ago. A bit over the top Grandad you might say, but once again you would be wrong.

Science has progressed beyond even the most wildest imagination over the last 100 years or so. What was not thought possible in medicine and surgery when I was younger is now an everyday procedure. Why? Because someone experimented, someone dared to try a different approach, someone believed it could be done and by using various methods achieved the result envisaged.

It is the same in art. Do you think that the old masters would still be grinding and mixing their paints by hand? Of course they wouldn't. They would use the modern paints, water based oils (sounds crazy doesn't it? But having painted with them myself, they are an absolute joy to use), acrylics, etc, with the same pleasure that we do now. But I digress a little dear reader....

Getting back to the watercolours. John painted a lovely marine scene last night using watercolour. It didn't take long (he is  very experienced and a quick painter). Now, he had also added a little streak of Naples yellow in acrylic, highlighting the water which made the painting "sparkle", together with a few, and I mean a few, (it is very easy to overdo this), white highlights. Not pure watercolour then. Not adhering to the "rules". But what a painting it became because those rules were broken. The end result was far better than the painting would have been if left "pure".

The wisdom behind all this? Experiment dear reader, if it seems right to you and causes no other person any harm then do it! Dare to be different, think in an alternative way, go against the accepted "norm". Swim against the tide, question everything. I have tried to do this for most of my adult life and it's really darn good fun! Remember, the only rule is, "If you think you can, or think you can't, then you are probably right". Live long and prosper, until the next time, Grandad.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Simple man, simple pleasures.

A long one this post, get a cup of tea or glass of wine and settle down.

I am a simple man. Oh wow, what a dangerous feed line to present to the people that know me! They would be on this one faster than a peregrine falcon, with comments that would make my hair curl, (what is left of it that is). But that is exactly what I am. A simple man. Now, I hasten to add that this does not refer to my intellect, as I was a member of Mensa (until I got bored) and had an IQ of 137 just a few years ago.

What does that really mean? Absolutely nothing in my humble opinion. It just means that on the day that I took the test (feeling very ill at the time but I stubbornly would not wait another six months to take the next available exam), I answered certain questions and problems put to me within a time limit and achieved a certain score. I sought no sympathy for the aforementioned illness, nor any favour. I was given none. But I digress, dear reader.....

To reiterate, I am a simple man. Let me illustrate the previous statement. Yesterday, my wife and I had some precious time to spend together. It was some time since she had been on the beach, near the sea and she was missing it terribly. Aha, oh yes, Grandad has a spiffing idea!
I said that we would take a little picnic to a place that I thought she might enjoy. Having prepared the picnic, I drove only about fifteen minutes away from where we live to a lovely quiet beach. Yes, dear reader, I did check the tide table beforehand, I am not that senile yet! We parked, for free, yes for free! (Nowhere near Brighton, that pathetic excuse for a city, with a propensity for ripping off tourists and the occupants alike without mercy). Before you feel the need to stand up for Brighton, please be aware that I was born there, have lived within its confines most of my life, seen the awful deterioration and degeneration of once wonderful areas and venues (Look up the Astoria cinema) once a magnificent place to enjoy watching a film, just the experience of entering such a building was to be savoured as I did when my lovely mum, (now with God) took me there as a special treat. I escaped the lunacy that is now Brighton, some years ago, moving to a lovely suburb some miles from its centre with my wonderful wife when we were married, so I know what I am talking about. If you want to argue about it, do so amongst yourselves, I hate the damn place. But once again, I digress, I must apologise dear reader, I am growing old and ramble sometimes! Back to the point then.....

The beach. Oh yes, did I choose a fantastic place to visit? Of course, I did my homework chummy. So, we parked the car (for free), walked a few yards to the sea road, crossed safely and were on the beach.
Looking at the sea, which appeared to be a really long way away as the tide was at its lowest, (research here)  we took off our shoes and socks and put them in our rucksacks and walked across the sand into the shallow water which was now lapping at our feet. Oh, ecstasy, warm water on feet and ankles, we proceeded to walk towards a very distant pier, miles away. On our way, we stopped for a brief repast of crackers, cheese, (English and French),  home made elderberry chutney and a drink of cool orange juice. Oh yes, I know how to treat a lady!

Having re-fuelled so to speak, we wandered hand in hand towards the distant pier. I like holding my wife’s hand, I feel it is like touching souls, but then I am a bit of a tart sometimes. My lovely wife said that we have to touch the pier before we can turn around and go back to the car! I immediately agreed, (sad or what), but we both duly did as she dictated, turned around and walked back. Tired but happy, I drove us home, we prepared a lovely but simple meal together, this is a day that I will never forget and hope to repeat many times.

As I said, I am a simple man, I enjoy simple pleasures with simply the best woman I have ever met.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Great Day!

Oh , yes, dear reader, a few days ago was a special celebration for our family, as not only was my wonderful wife born on this day, but also the youngest of our two fabulous sons. Now, to describe men as fabulous might seem a bit strange to some of us dear reader, (except for those that now live in this modern world), no offence! But the fact remains that they are. They have qualities that I envy beyond all others and which I sadly lack. They are kind, thoughtful, loving, giving, tolerant, gracious and the sort of men that I wish I had become in my long life. In short, I wish I was as good as them, but that can never be. Now, don't get me wrong, they are both Alpha males, as I hope that I have taught and encouraged them to be, as I am and will always remain. If you have a problem with that dear reader, then look up Lions, Alpha males, etc on the internet. Remember Foxtrot Oscar if you disagree, because I couldn't care less, for we are talking about men here, PC free areas, especially me. Comments welcome!

Having spoken about being a man/alpha male, it is because we appreciate our superb lady companions/ partners/ wife’s, that we can be like this, for they revel in what they are, as do we. Regarding my beautiful lady wife. What can I say? How is it that an old git like me has been blessed to have a woman of such high calibre as a wife. She dear reader, has and always will be, the wind beneath my wings. It truly amazes me every day that she loves me, even with all my (numerous) faults. I am a lucky man. As on a previous post VIVE LE DIFFERENCE! Read that one, if you have a few moments and a mind to. It has made the world turn for a long time, far longer than even I can remember and it works! Live long and prosper dear reader, until the next time.....

The best four letter word in the English language!

OK my faithful readers, I have previously written a post on the worst four letter word in the English language, that leads on now to one of the best, if not the finest! So....
what do you think it might be?

Love, I hear you say, yes a good one, spread it like there is no tomorrow, one day you will be right.  Hope, pray, read, make, help, cook, draw, sing, hear, look, chat, care, all great four letter words!

But the best by far is that lovely sounding word FREE!
Not, on this occasion the greatest group that ever played amazing music, (if you haven't heard of them because you are younger than 30 or so, then look them up and listen, give your ears and senses a treat).

Now some of you might interpret this word in different ways. Is it to be free as in not to be enslaved? Free to think? Free to speak? Free to travel as and where you wish? Free from debt? Free from hunger or thirst? Free from authority or restriction? I agree with all of these, but the free I mean relates to having no cost. Free as in " I was given or offered this for free". Nice! Oops, sorry once more Mr. Walsh.

FREE! No Charge, take it, take what you want, take it all! The reason that this post is being written is because there is so much that others consider useless and give away free, because they might not have thought about another use for the item, can't be bothered to attend to it or they are just plain useless. Well, my faithful reader, only a few days ago I was at a farm shop when what should catch my eye? A trolley with some very sorry looking plants on and a notice saying all plants on the trolley are free. Oh how my heart leaped in delight and excitement. I quickly found a plastic bag (recycled of course) and filled it with a variety of these plants. Returning home, I immediately put the plants in the shade, watered them copiously and later on re-potted each one. Two days later, after receiving more water and some feed, two are flowering! All 21 of them are looking well and growing strong. All because Grandad gave a bit of love and attention to them. What did this cost? Nothing!

See, I told you, the best four letter word in the English language is FREE!

Friday, 20 July 2012

This one is for you, Mumsy.

About a Lady. 

The title, dear  reader,  is about one of the finest women that it has been my good fortune to have ever met. This lady is now of mature years, shall I say, but as bright as a button, loving and caring for her family in every way. She gives so freely, of love and herself, without any thought of return. A rare and most admirable quality in any person, but one that shines every day from this beautiful one. To protect her identity, I will call  her "K",

Now, "K", when I first met her, was busy preparing a meal for her family and myself. I had been invited to eat with them, I am not sure of the occasion, but I think it might have been Sunday lunch. I truly believe that I was treated from that first moment of introduction, as well as, if not better than, her own sons. That has continued since that day, long, long, ago.

"K", (oh, let's do without the speech marks if you don't mind dear reader), has three sons and a beautiful daughter. K's husband, let's call him, what? "B" is a good name, (again to protect the real identity), now no longer by her side in this life, but always with her in spirit and thought, he sadly died some years ago. I had the privilege to be with him in the last few moments of his life. He was amazing. He had the best sense of humour I have ever encountered, being able to laugh at himself, silly jokes, loving all of life and all of his family. On many occasions he has reduced me to a quivering wreck of mirth, crying with laughter over some silly action or remark. I miss him.

The thing is, dear reader, no matter what anyone says, you cannot beat quality. You cannot acquire, just like buying something, that which is born and bred into someone. Honesty, humility, love, understanding, a sense of purpose for everyone and everything and being satisfied with who you are and what you have. Both B and K had and have all those qualities in abundance. I know that B had a few near fatal scrapes in the war, but thankfully he came home, scathed but alive. B and K married and were blessed with children, their marriage lasting more than fifty years! How many people can boast of that nowadays. But boast is the wrong word dear reader, because neither B or K would do that, for they were and are quality.

When my Mum died some years ago, rather suddenly and a bit too early for us all, K took over her role, so to speak. She couldn't take my Mums place, nor would she want to, but she became my second Mum, giving encouragement and advice when needed. I call her Mumsy, an endearment that I hope she likes, I do.

I see K now and again, not as often as we might wish, but we keep in touch through the magic of the computer and by 'phone. Sometimes we are able to take a walk together, by the sea or in the country. Not too far because it can be tiring. I know that K loves to do this, get out and see people and places that are not always accessible to her. But not as much as I do. She's happy and fun to be with and I look forward to walking with her for many more years to come. Thanks for all you have done and still do for me K. Keep well and warm and I will see you soon for fish and chips and "walkies"!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Builder Boy!

Oh Yes, Grandad is up and rock and rolling! Well, actually, all I have done is taken down a large wall, built some fencing, made two bird feeders and put those up as well! All in the last day and a half. Hell, I am not so old and useless as you think I am dear reader, in fact, my wife thinks I am great at everything, but then I think she might be easily pleased? That's all good then, as Seasick Steve would say. (Look him up, a fantastic chap).

If I get results with the wild birds, (it usually takes a few days, perhaps a week or even more, before the birds are happy to feed from newly installed features) I will attempt some photo's, then I would be proud to share them with you. Do not hold your breath dear reader, as I am a naff photographer, the birds will probably fly away before I can press the shutter and just what can go wrong? EVERYTHING. Haha. But, I will try. I may make mistakes in doing this, but as a great man (whose name escapes my senile mind once again) once said, "A man that never made a mistake, never made anything", you can credit me with this if you like, I don't mind. The worrying thing is, that just lately we have had some really strong winds and even gales combined with rain and since then we have seen so few birds in the garden and not even one squirrel, when before we always saw at least five or six different squirrels running along the fence every day. I just hope that these little creatures are well and just waiting for the good weather to arrive. Keep feeding them dear readers, they need all the help they can get, just like an old boy like me!

Below are the photo's of the wall (taken down to level the thing, it was the height of the first fence, now attached to the house) the new close-board fencing and also our bird feeders which will hopefully be used soon.

I have to give credit to esprit cabane, a great website that gave me the inspiration to make my own bird feeders,  please take the time to visit the site. I have no connection or affiliation whatsoever, but I would like to thank them for their posting which prompted my building them!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Not equal, but different.

Not equal, but different. An unusual title for my latest thought dear reader, but appropriate. Having been born a male and have so far been very pleased to be so, I want to talk about men and women being equal. Oooh yes, I can hear the interest and your opinions already taking shape as I type. It seems that in this PC day and age everyone wants to be the same, instead of enjoying the differences. As you might know dear reader, I am a PC free area now, as I am retired and can now speak as I have always thought.

Now, some of you may have noticed that there is a difference between men and women. Good, I won't have to explain that bit then.
The Chinese have the philosophy of Yin and Yang, two opposites dependent upon one another to make the whole. Thus, I believe it is the same with men and women. Without my wife, I would be incomplete and it is the same for her, or so she assures me. Are we equal though? Answer, no. Now before you go off and assume that I am being sexist (I loathe that word) or chauvinistic (another loathed word), I am not. Let me explain dear reader.....

I am able to do various tasks more easily in this life than my wife can. Equally, (I thought I would throw that word in to keep the interest) she can do various tasks more easily than I might manage. That is the difference between us, but by both working together, we make the whole. For instance, I am physically stronger and able to work for longer at the tasks that require this attribute. My wife is perfectly capable of doing these tasks, but not as well. She however, is brilliant at taking care of our home, ensuring that we have all we need in the day to day routine of things. I could do them, but I would have to find the washing machine instructions first and then hope that everything did not turn a uniform shade of colour when it should be white. Small stuff I hear you say, not to me dear reader, not to me.

We both enjoy what we are. Let me tell you a short story, are you ready?......

Not long ago, I was in the shopping centre (a moment of utter madness, not to be repeated unless absolutely necessary) and was about to enter a large store. At the same time, a young lady approached the door. Being a courteous man I opened the door for her so that she might go in first. She turned to me and said, in a haughty voice, "I am quite capable of opening a door for myself thank you." I was quite shocked as you might imagine. After my initial surprise, I gathered my wits and replied. "OK then, do just that". I walked through the door in front of her, then firmly closed the door behind me. The security chap who was standing just inside the door and had witnessed the event could barely suppress his laughter. "Game, set and match to me then",  I said to him as I passed by. "I couldn't possibly comment", he said, smirking from ear to ear, which said everything! By the way, I always open doors for my wife, she enjoys the courtesy and appreciates the thought. What happened to the signs saying "Ladies" and "Gentlemen"? They have been replaced by "stick people" notices, truly a sign of the times. As the French and I say, Vive le difference!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Is it me, or......

Is it just me? I don't think it can be, surely? I am talking about the Olympics and specifically the torch. It is going to be in my home town, (it's called a city now, but only because of the large number of strange people that live here), yes, here, this evening. Oh, whoop-de-doo! Can I contain my excitement? Answer yes. Now, perhaps you might call me a miserable old git. Fair enough, that is your right, I have been called a lot worse by a lot better (work it out people). But for the life of me I cannot understand anyone wanting to stand in the pouring rain (when was it last sunny?), with a lot of other like minded loonies, waiting to get a glimpse of what? Someone carrying what amounts to no more than a large candle. I just would not waste my time, I have other, more important things to do, like degauss the budgie, clean the cats ears and watch the rain get worse.

Oh, it's good for the country I hear you say, makes the world take notice of us. Oh please, I really hope no-one is noticing us.  Why? The road transport for the incoming athletes is a complete shambles, security is virtually non-existent, thanks to another incompetent politician (my opinion, no offence), accommodation for the poor police officers that now have to be there to keep order, is an absolute disgrace, work/jobs that were supposed to be for local people farmed out to other poor unsuspecting souls at an hourly rate that beggars belief.

To be honest, I can't believe that all this money has been spent on this event. Why couldn't we build another hospital or two? Why couldn't we stop the appalling cuts in our Police? Why?

I imagine I might get  a few comments from my readers on this one, over to you dear reader......

Saturday, 14 July 2012


Hello once more dear reader, bit of a long one this post, so make sure you have a cuppa or glass of your favourite tipple before you start.

I want to talk to you about clutter. When you are starting off in life, you really don't have that many possessions. Just what you need, not much more. But then, you get married, get a house and garden if you are lucky and then something quite amazing happens. You start to acquire things. Now everyone does this, especially if you utter those terrible words, "Let's keep it just in case". Those of my generation were brought up with mending things, repairing items that had stopped functioning as they should. Only when something couldn't be repaired was a new item purchased. Nowadays, it is more of a throw away society, brought about in no small way by cheap imports and the ready availability of new  products. I remember one of my uncles having a job repairing small appliances like irons. He had that job for about twenty years.
What do we do if an iron goes wrong these days? Throw it away and buy a new one for about twenty pounds or even less, all with a guarantee for a year and you can take it back for a refund if it fails!

But, those terrible words "Just in case" rear their ugly head again and again. I have a confession, dear reader, do you have a moment?........

I recently started to clear out our loft. Now, you must understand that when we moved into our house just over thirty-five years ago, the loft was empty. Well, except for the dirt that had been blowing through the roof tiles for a number of years. But in the present day, until I started clearing things out, it was unrecognisable, full of stuff, stored, "just in case". I found, much to my horror, amazement and amusement, that I had kept three hoovers and two microwave ovens, "just in case". In case of what? In case the price of scrap steel goes through the roof and I become a rich man overnight? In case I can suddenly wave a magic wand and make the things work again? Then why? Why? That is the question that set me on the path of being utterly ruthless in my quest to de-clutter. Read on, dear reader, if you will, it might be good for you.

I had some simple but important rules that I followed. When unexpectedly coming across something that I was tempted to keep, I asked myself these questions....
1) Does it work?
2) If it is in the loft, do I REALLY want it?
3) Did I look for it, need it, or use it in the past year?
If the answer to any of the above was no, then it was discarded.

After I got bored/tired of sorting the loft, I started to look around the house........ be afraid, be very afraid.....
I started to look in the cupboards and drawers that had "stuff" in them. I took everything out, cleaned the cupboard or drawer and started to evaluate the items I had taken out. Using the above rules plus one other...
4) Does it serve a purpose/does it enhance my life?
Again, if the answer is no, then out it goes. Simple. Well it is if you are honest and ruthless. I filled three black bin liners of superfluous "stuff" just sorting the lounge. Nice. Oops, there I go again, sorry, Mr. Walsh!

The thing is, it has made our house much tidier, there are only the things that really belong in each room and we can find all the items we require with ease, that were once hidden behind all the "stuff".
But, the unexpected benefit is that it has also cleared our minds of clutter, we know where things are, we know we use those items and need them. The best thing though, is there are no unnecessary ornaments collecting dust and taking up room (are there any necessary ornaments?), no, so where is the black bin liner please?

Start today dear reader, take it slowly but keep on until you only have the things you use and need. Go on, there is no time like the present.........

Friday, 13 July 2012


You know, I will freely admit that I am not easily impressed or surprised by people, having dealt with the public in one way or another, for all of my working life. Now that I have retired, dear reader, that has changed a bit. Some of my friends, the ones I meet up with as often as I can, the ones I meet with on a regular basis as part of our art society (membership only by invitation and the agreement of all) have just recently surprised me.

You never know what someone thinks of you until they speak out. In the case of a friend, you will know if they are being sincere because you will have known them for a long time and therefore have the ability to separate politeness, from bullshit, from their true opinion. If I have offended anyone, then hard luck, bulls do shit as do you and I. I did say in previous posts that I have no regard for PC as I think that it is a load of, yes you've guessed it, bullshit! I do not seek to intentionally offend anybody, it is just that I am just a plain speaking old boy, so enjoy or read another blog, it is up to you. (I wonder if I will get a lot of comments because of this paragraph, well, I will wait and see).

Now, I have a couple of art mates that I have known for a very long time. I have the utmost respect for both of them, not just as artists but as men. Both of them are generous to a fault, live life as it should be lived, are both alpha males, but they would rather give something away than take it. Remember a previous post? Give freely so that you freely receive? But I digress, dear reader.

Well, one of them, I shall give him the initials JB to protect the guilty as well as the innocent, turned to me on one of our weekly get togethers and said that he had something that he must tell me. This is not good, I thought, as JB was very straight faced and serious. However, I was wrong (I am sometimes dear reader, but not often).

"John" he said, "You have a talent that I do not want to see you waste." Thinking that he was talking about art, I interrupted, saying that I don't always have the time to paint every day, as I have so many other interests that demand my attention. "No, it's not that" he said. "It's your writing". It transpired that he had been reading my poor excuse for a blog and found that he enjoyed my ramblings. "I had no idea that you could write like that", he told me. I was rather stunned to be honest, even thinking that the punch line to a wind up was soon to come my way., as is our usual habit.  "You should write short stories, or something" said JB. He was serious. I replied by saying that there are thousands of people that write, struggle to get recognition (if it happens, it happens) and never get well known. I just do it for the fun of it! He finished our little confidential conversation by just looking at me, straight faced,  and said "Don't waste it, don't waste your talent."

Now, that had a bit of an effect on me. Firstly, JB, who is an artist far in advance of and beyond my efforts, whom I admire a great deal, is not known for giving praise lightly. He thinks before he speaks and when he does give voice, he means it. By the way, he has an opinion on everything in the universe, just like me, but this really made me think. It is probably the best compliment that I have ever received. Thank you JB.

As for writing other things, well, I might give it a go, sometime in the future. But for now, I will just enjoy this blog, as I hope that all my readers, all over the world, will continue to do so. Keep well and warm, live long and prosper, until the next post......

Wild Beauty!

A short post, this one, but one that might lead you another website worth a look!

I drive my wife to her place of work in the morning and collect her in the late afternoon when she finishes her part-time work. On the journey, through a very built up area, we travel along a road that has a small central reservation. On that patch of land, wild flowers have taken over, it is an amazing riot of colour. Red, blue, yellow and white blooms all with the backdrop of grasses and leaves, make it a stunning sight to cheer the heart on even the most dull of days. My wife particularly loves to see these brave wild plants growing against the odds, in this seemingly inhospitable piece of land. Which gave me a you have a moment dear reader?

Some of you might know that I love to paint. As in art, not decorating. So I thought it was about time that I painted something for my wife which she would hopefully enjoy. We both love walking in the countryside near our home and a path that we have often walked together sprang to mind. I combined this remembered scene with the wild flowers that she loves so much. When completed, I showed her the painting which, thankfully she loves. It is reproduced below, not a particularly good photo, but you will get the idea.

If you like the painting, please feel free to visit my website and look at the rest of my art, if you wish to contact me you may do so from the links, I will respond as soon as possible. There is always work in progress and more images that I should upload, so please visit the site as often as you wish. Just click on the link to view. 

Please be aware that this and any other images posted on this blog and my website, remain my copyright and may not be copied or reproduced in any way, without my prior permission. Thank you.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Frugal websites advice. Hah! I have done this all my life!

Frugal website(s) advice. Hah! Do me a favour,
I have done this all my life!

As I have recently retired, I have lately been looking at frugal living websites, as one does, in order to get some hints and tips to reduce expenditure and enhance my living experience on this fantastic planet of ours. To say that I have been amazed would certainly be true. Astounded, yes. Incredulous also. Impressed, not one bit dear reader! Oh no, not one bit!

Nearly all of the so called "tips and hints" that I have seen listed on numerous sites visited, (I say nearly, as there may be one or two tips or hints  that I have missed, I'm being generous here, dear reader)  I have been doing for all of my life, or for as long as I can remember at least,  thinking that this is the norm, so to speak, at least in my world. Don't forget, I am  a child of the very early 1950's, bananas were only just becoming available again, a real luxury, sweet rationing and all other rationing was still in force, (a dolly mixture a day from your Dad, if you were lucky) but thankfully gradually coming to an end. I can still see in my minds eye, my beautiful Mum, queueing just to get  the chance to buy very poor quality meat, perhaps having less on her plate in order to feed my brother and myself. I remember my Father and uncles hammering old reclaimed nails straight(ish) again because you could not buy new ones at that time.  Everything you could think of was re-used. To think of buying something new was almost unheard of, except of course, for the privileged few. A Fridge? Freezer? Washing machine? Microwave? Central heating? Cars? Now you are really having a laugh chum.

My beautiful sons have always made a joke of any wood that I buy. First, it is used for the intention for which it was purchased, be it shelves, cupboards or the like. When they have become tired and outlived, it gets consigned to shelves or other requirements in the workshop, garden, greenhouse, or somewhere else. After that, build nest boxes for birds, they are not fussy about the look, just as long as it is functional. (More on this at a later blog). When they pass their "sell by date" it gets chopped/cut up for firewood. Either kindling or bigger pieces for use as "logs". I hope that you are keeping up with this? So...this wood has been recycled at least three to four times, has been of benefit on various projects and ends up by keeping my family warm at the last. By the way, if you use the wood in a home built rocket stove in the garden it lasts for ages, it will keep you warm in the cooling evenings, when you are sitting out looking at the stars, (despite  the light pollution that mars our towns and cities nowadays) probably for a whole winter. Read on and learn dear reader, please read on......... To be continued.......Comment!!

The worst four-letter word in the English language

The worst four-letter word in the English language.

Not what you might think of first of all, dear reader! When I attended my first English language class at my new secondary school, way back in 1962, the head of English came into the room. As was the custom at that time, my new form-mates and I rose from our seats in recognition of a master entering the room. After being gestured to sit down again, he took the register, (always carried out before every lesson) and then proceeded to ask a question of his new, first form pupils, who were already rather nervous and apprehensive about what to expect. His opening words to us, looking back, were at first a bit of an ice-breaker, then followed by a fair warning that was always carried out, without exception. He asked us what we thought was the worst four-letter word in the English language. You might imagine what a class of about twenty or so young lads had in their minds. It was normal for a pupil or pupils to be chosen, fairly randomly by the master, to give the answer. Not wishing to give voice to what was in our minds, we rapidly thought of reasonable alternatives. The answer was always wrong.

The master, having had his fun, would then enlighten us and give the warning. The answer, gentlemen, he said, is the word nice. He continued... If you ever use that word in an essay which you submit for my scrutiny and marking, you will be given no mark at all and be required to submit another essay, to be completed and handed to me the following morning, in addition to one you were given. He elaborated. The word nice he said, means nothing at all. To describe something as nice diminishes the English language. Is it wonderful, beautiful, magnificent, dreadful, gruesome, awe-inspiring, amazing? But nice? Oh no, that will not do gentlemen, that will not do at all.

I have never forgotten those words, I fall into the trap of saying nice sometimes, but when I do, I silently apologise to that master. I have never forgotten his name either, thank you for your teachings, Mr. Walsh.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Almost all the top chefs and cooks are men!

Almost all the top chefs and cooks are men!

Oh, I just love throwing out those sweeping statements!! There may be some people that might disagree with that statement, which is, of course, your right, but I suspect that most of them will be women. They would also be wrong. You see, when a man creates food, it is usually with a passion bordering on obsession, but when a woman cooks, it is usually because it is expected of her to provide yet another meal and it becomes more of a task to be completed, rather than embraced and enjoyed. You can see my lack of political correctness showing itself here I hope, that's all good then. If it is not evident to you yet, read on dear reader, read on.

You might glean from the above that I like cooking. You would again, be wrong. I absolutely love to cook, (the creative part of my character showing itself once more). However, I will say that becoming adept at cooking, like art, is not an instantaneous ability, it takes a lot of trial and error, but the thing that makes us men stand out from the crowd is the constant search for new ideas, never giving up because a dish fails when cooked for the first time and above all, being innovative. Whoever it was that first thought of adding a small piece of plain chocolate to chilli has my undying admiration, (it was a Mexican chap I think).

Now, I remember when I tried to make shortcrust pastry for the first few times. It was quite simply, dreadful. Did I give up? No way matey. So, when I made it for I think, the fifth time, it was absolutely fantastic. The secret, is in the "feeling" of the mix, the love that you put into blending the butter (please never use margarine) with the sifted (essential, to let as much air into the mix as possible) flour and just the right amount of cold water to make it all combine. So then, the sifted flour and pieces of butter are caressed, blending together, until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. The perfectly judged amount of water is added and all is brought together into a beautiful, light pastry. You just know when it is absolutely right, simply through the feel and texture of the mixture.

I didn't just want to be able to make good pastry though. Oh no, I wanted to make pastry that melted in your mouth, stimulated the taste buds almost beyond endurance and made you giddy with delight. Obsessive passion, as I mentioned before. It would seem I have succeeded in my task, judging by the unbridled praise of those privileged individuals that have tasted my quiches. Some of them are only now recovering from the ecstasy of that first bite. A bit over the top you might say. No, not a bit of it, just creative passion dear reader, just creative passion.

As a concession to those of you that might disagree with the title of this blog, I will say that Mary Berry and Delia Smith's cookbooks have been a great inspiration to me personally. However, the number of recipe books written by men that have inspired me are almost beyond count! Please feel free to comment, just click on the link below and keep them coming!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Grandad's blog goes Global!

Grandad's blog goes Global!

Wow, I can hardly believe it! I only started this blog on the 30th of June 2012. Yes, just seven days ago now and it is being read not only in the U.K. but in Alaska, the U.S.A., Spain, Germany and even over the other side of the world, in Australia! How amazing and encouraging is that to an old boy like me, or are some people easily pleased? Or was it a typing error? I hope not! No offence intended, but as my regular readers and good friends will know, I am a PC free area. If you are reading this, please be kind enough to leave a comment, easily done by clicking the button below the post. Cheers for now, JP.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Ways of communicating.

Ways of communicating. Well now, where do I start? There is so much technology available nowadays that it boggles the mind. Perhaps not yours dear reader, if you are younger than say, 30, but to someone like me, born in the early 1950's it is simply amazing and to be quite honest, a lot of it is beyond my understanding. There is Twitter, Face-book, mobile 'phones that can connect to the internet, satellite navigation systems for the car, laptop computers and Skype to name just a few.

Please, don't get me wrong, I am always looking at new ways of doing things, but do we really benefit from it all? In my last job, when we were having "refs" (lunch/dinner to you), we would usually prepare and eat our meals and then sit in comfort in a communal tv room. There might be up to ten or so people there, some silently watching the tv, but most of them would have a bit of plastic in their hand, heads bowed, furiously moving their finger over the screen and typing with their thumbs. It seemed from watching them that they were checking e-mails, connected to the internet and viewing various pages. Fair enough I hear you say, but some of them were e-mailing other people in the same room! Sitting not ten feet away! Why?

Now, those of you who know me well might say that I do a lot of talking. I would agree, but usually only when I have something of value to say (some might disagree and I forgive you). But in that room, silence reigned, except for the occasional beep or tune that signified that someone had a new message because the owner had put their piece of plastic down for a brief moment, (presumably because their fingers were aching?). They had all seemed to have lost the art of conversation, of discussion, not just one to one but with a group. Which brings a memory to mind.... do you have a moment dear reader?

I remember when you had to walk along to the telephone box (red, enclosed, some still standing now). In this box, was not just a handset and dial, but a coin slot and two large buttons marked A and yes, you've guessed it, B. Now the coin slot took one penny coins (not the silly little modern ones, but the big old boys that made holes in your pockets). So, you put your money in, dialled the number and if your call was answered you pressed button A and you were connected. However, if it did not get answered, you pressed button B and your money would be returned, landing in a little scoop below the buttons.
Exciting stuff! The thing is, we didn't know anyone that had a telephone in their house at that time so that button B saved us a fortune! Honestly, I deceive you not. My mates and I arranged to meet up somewhere at a certain time by talking to each other face to face, because none of us had a 'phone in our houses at that time, let alone one in our pockets! How times change.

Now, you might think that I seem against this new technology but you would be wrong. To my mind, it has its place, it is also very useful in various ways, but should not be all consuming of our time and attention. More on this at a later date perhaps. Until then keep reading, keep your comments coming and keep well and warm.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Grandad builds three terraced houses by himself!

Oh, yes, my faithful readers, I am building three terraced houses without any help. I kid you not. I shall be posting photo's of the work in progress so that you can see for yourselves that I speak the truth.

Well, alright then, I will own up. The terraced houses are for sparrows. They are a gregarious bird, which means that they do not mind being in close proximity to other sparrows which are nesting, in fact that does not matter to them at all. So..... I am building a house/terrace that may (hopefully) be a home to three pairs of sparrows. There will be an on-going blog about this, as I have been encouraged by various followers to include some photo's. (Wow, a bit of a challenge to an old boy like me).

I will do my best to upload a few pictures of my primitive efforts, which will  help in making things clear as to what I am trying to do and construct. If anyone would like any details regarding the construction/dimensions of the terrace, please feel free to comment and I will respond as soon as I am able. Now, hopefully, there are some pictures that you might like to view, as follows..... Please don't forget, that this is work in progress, I will post other images as my building work for the sparrows continues. Keep watching and please post your comments, they are much appreciated, not just by me, but also by my wonderful family.

Basic  box, 18mm thick plywood, screwed together, holes filled with exterior filler.
Top view.
Top view, three sections, awaiting drilling of entrance holes.

New post very soon!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Stop, Look, Listen!!

Now, for those of you of a similar age to me, the title might well evoke memories of a campaign to get children to be careful when crossing the road. This post has absolutely nothing to do with crossing a road, but everything to do with the path that you are travelling upon.
As I mature in years (grow older then!) I see and hear things that were never apparent to me in my youth. I see beauty in the changing of the seasons. Spring, a time of growth and renewal, I love to watch things grow, especially my two wonderful sons. Summer, the season I love most of all, ("Sunshine on my shoulders", special people know what that means to me). Autumn, allows me to see colour and paint with the colours that I love to put on canvas or paper. Winter, well, not my favourite season, but a chance to be with my loved ones, sit by a good fire in the hearth, cook and make good food to eat and dream of wonderful things for us all in the coming year. Also, to feed and enjoy surely the most wonderful of God's creatures, the birds.
What do they do? Just crave to live, have children, feed them , nourish, nurture, and teach them to fly! My doctrine for life, my readers!
You see, I love living, I love my wife, (who's love is given so freely to me, but I don't deserve),  my children, I love nourishing them, I love nurturing them, but best of all I love it when they show me how fantastic they are, when they fly without my help!
(I used to think of it as the young eagles/ lions syndrome, challenging the Alpha male and then surpassing him). Both of my wonderful sons have proved beyond a doubt that they have surpassed me in every way, this is as it should be, I am proud to have been their teacher and mentor, I will be there for them all of my life on this earth and beyond. I must also say that they have taught me many things, probably without their knowing, I believe that every day is a "school  day"  for all of us.
This all helps to show me that I have tried to undertake the task that my God instilled in my soul. Live, love and give everything of yourself that you can, for it is only in giving freely that you can receive freely.
So....Laugh ,Love, enjoy every glorious day that you live and don't forget to stop, look and listen to all the wonders that surround you!

Life, the most precious gift of all.

Might be a bit serious this one, apologies in advance. You see, despite what I show on the outside to other people (don't lie, we all have a "public" face), I am quite an emotional old boy. I cry at sad films, can't listen to Vera Lynn singing "We'll meet again" without eyes filling with tears (no silly comments please) and sometimes when I think of friends and relatives that I have loved but are sadly no longer alive. Equally, I laugh very readily, having a silly and rather cutting sense of humour and tend to make a joke of most things, perhaps sometimes when I shouldn't. Which brings me to the point....
I read in a newspaper, (on-line, I'm very modern like that) yesterday, or perhaps the day before, about a young man of 33, well, young to me anyway, that had taken his own life. His relatives and friends all agreed that he was a great chap, popular, excelled at his job, handsome and seemed to have everything to look forward to. Yet he chose to hang himself and tragically, his father found him. When I read this, I am not ashamed to say that I cried. Now, I have no idea what made this lad do such a thing, he must have been very troubled inside, but it seems no one knew how he was suffering. His family must be devastated, particularly his poor father who will never forget that moment when he found his son. That's the point you see, the "public face", we all have one. The thing is, if there is something troubling you that much, you have to let someone see it. Like laughter, tears, anger, joy, just don't be afraid of showing how you feel. People that love you will understand, because basically they feel the same things. No matter what we experience in life, great times, terrible times, they never last. I once read in a very famous book the words "and it came to pass". Meaning that nothing lasts forever, things change, sometimes at the blink of an eye and just when you think you can't endure any more, suddenly things become easier and the way forward clear to see. Living is full of unexpected gifts every day, but life is the most precious gift of all. Live long and prosper. Keep reading please, I will make the next post a fun one!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Bleeders and Feeders

"Bleeders and Feeders". Now you might think that this is a strange title for a blog. Not at all, my faithful readers, as these are the terms I use for two very different types of people. Now "bleeders" are the sort of people that always seem to be needing something from you, time, emotional energy, sympathy, sorting their problems, most of which are quite trivial and easily resolved by themselves, if only they took a different point of view. By this I mean that they are quite capable of sorting things out but they choose to think negatively and put their problems on your shoulders, expecting everything, yet give nothing in return. Their glass is half empty. They bleed you of energy and enthusiasm and leave you feeling drained, whereas before they spoke with you, all was relatively OK in your world.

"Feeders", on the other hand, have the same everday problems, may tell you about them, but sort it out themselves. They also have the outlook that there is always a way to solve a problem, even if it needs a bit of help and the solution is not evident at first. They will solve it. Their glass is half full.
When they talk with you, enthusiasm is there, encouragement and positive thinking. When they leave you, you feel uplifted, eager to get on with things and have a positive approach.

Now, don't get me wrong, most of us can be dispirited for a while, myself included, but the "feeders"get over this quickly and look to see how they can solve the problem. I have been told that I normally have a positive outlook and previous workmates have always commented on my enthusiasm when faced with tasks and I hope that this is still the case. A "can do" attitude. Someone famous whose name has slipped from my memory once said "If you think you can, or think you can't, you are probably quite right."

So, make the choice today, it is in your hands, be a "feeder". You will find your life becoming easier and a lot more people will be happy to be with you and share your enthusiasm. May the force be with you!