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.