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!

Sunday, 1 July 2012


OK, second posting. I must first of all say that although this is called "Grandad's" Thoughts...... I am not a Grandad. I may well become one in the future, but that is for others to decide and when. I called this blog "Grandads" Thoughts.... as it was a nickname given to me by a younger colleague at work a few years ago. It seemed to stick, not as a detrimental meaning but as a term of friendship and fun. I no longer work there or anywhere else for that matter, as I chose to retire early, for various reasons which need not be expanded upon here. Suffice to say I worked with some great people, made numerous friends and had some good times as well, which leads me on to a thought.....

Regarding friends, it seems that the younger ones among us believe that they each have a lot of friends. Well, that may be true for some, but others think so because of this social networking era. There is Face-book, Twitter, on-line sites, etc, on which many people have many contacts. Now, let me tell you, these contacts are not all your true friends. A true friend is made over a good deal of time, sharing good and bad experiences, highs and lows, agreements and arguments, but always being ready to say things to help and give that help, rather than waiting to be asked. In my more than six decades of life I have been fortunate to make some true friends, but I can count them on the fingers of one hand. I won't name them here, they all know who they are. By the way, Kevin is one of them. So is "Great Mate" (he knows who it is!).

My definition of a true friend? Well, when the soft stuff hits the fan and you are up to your neck in it, a true friend is seen walking towards you with a damn great shovel in his hand.

To be continued........