23 July 2008

Kipling Part 2

So following on from Part 1 of yesterday, I re-read some of the poems in Barrack Room Ballads and came across an old favourite (still pertinent today by some peoples standards). So for all of the lads and lasses serving in Her Majesty's Forces whether it is on foreign climes or English sod.. to you I reprint this here.


The publican 'e up an' sez, " We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, go away " ;
But it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, wait outside ";
But it's " Special train for Atkins " when the trooper's on the tide
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's " Special train for Atkins " when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap.
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, 'ow's yer soul? "
But it's " Thin red line of 'eroes " when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's " Thin red line of 'eroes, " when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's " Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's " Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! "
But it's " Saviour of 'is country " when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An 'Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

22 July 2008

Kipling Part 1

When Zeltus made a comment on a recent post, where I mentioned Kipling; a quote was left which I thought I had come across before... having got a copy of barrack room ballads many years ago... when I checked it was this :

The Young British Soldier

WHEN the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts -
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts -
An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

When the cholera comes - as it will past a doubt -
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An' it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it's beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

Now, if you must marry, take care she is old -
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em - you'll swing, on my oath! -
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are - you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

What I like about Blogging

The internet is a wonderful thing, it can put you in touch (and keep you in touch) with friends and family, work and colleagues but the new revelation is social networking software aka Blogs, wikis etc.

I was thinking about how much fun I get out of tracking, following a trail from a comment left on a blog to the owner and then following a link from their blog to another one and ending up who knows where. I have ended up at sites that have made me laugh, cry and am full of admiration at the courage and conviction of the authors.

It is like catching up with old friends and making new ones, sometimes at home and sometimes abroad; always fascinating and addictive and the different styles of writing make me hunger to jot down my own rambles.

Finding out that life in Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa is like life in England just that the seasons are different but the concerns are the same. The credit crunch, the spiralling food costs, the awareness and the levels which bloggers are going to change their own lives and their families to make a small contribution to the ecology of this planet.

I have been inspired by my blogging friends, and you all are friends, to do things I wouldn't have done; to try new recipes, to visit places; for that thank you and please continue I enjoy my visits.

For those blogging friends who are no longer active, thank you as well, your journey may have come to an end but I keep checking back in the hope that you will rise again like a phoenix from the ashes.

21 July 2008

Home from Home

Buying the trailer meant only one thing, we could get a bigger tent than could be strapped to a seat on the bike and therefore I present the new WiseHerb home from home :

Total weight: 11.25kg
Pack size: 64 x 30 x 22cm
Pitching area: 590 x 390cm
Pitching time: 15 min

It apparently comes with a dvd to show how to pitch it.. did the manufacturers not know that it is normal to be at the campsite in pouring rain trying to do it the first time :-)

It sleeps 5 people comfortably but when you are camping with motorbikes you tend to have quite a lot of outer wear that needs to be in your tent so that is why the two of us are having a big tent to ourselves, that and being able to stand up to get dressed is useful.

My old tent is a 3 person vango gamma and that was just for me. It was a squeeze to keep all my gear inside the tent and climb in and out of the sleeping bag in the middle of the night when the most you could manage was a crouch.

All being well we should have the tent this week and I guess we will try putting it up in the garden this week for a trial run.

oh... just to mention SOH fancied the Grape variety colour of this tent as illustrated up top...sure to be a stand out on the camping ground, but we won't know what we have until delivery so keep your fingers crossed for us. Me I'd like the Sage/Laurel combination but it's a girl thing.

Update : it arrived this morning... it's the Grape one.. SOH will be pleased and we will put it up tonight (if it doesn't rain) and take a photo

20 July 2008

Welcome to the world

Congratulations to The Greenwoods on the Birth of their new Baby Bear aka Bluebell Liberty who made her way into this world at 4.57am on Saturday 19th July and weighed a nice healthy 7lbs 7oz.

Overdue by just about 2 weeks, it's nice to say welcome to the world.

19 July 2008

Normal Service resuming

I have taken a couple of days off from my normal mode of blogging, having posted a couple of jokes in advance as on Thursday I had the distinct unpleasure of having a chalazion (or Meibomian cyst) removed from my right eyelid; and not being able to focus in on anything except in a blur until today.

I'm not normally squeamish about many things, but people poking sharp objects in my eyes.. uh uh but this little chap (and truly only little but the cause of intense pain on occasion) was a pain in the proverbial so needed to come out.

I duly presented myself, ok so I was dragged to the local hospital by SOH, at the appointed time and after a wait in a hot waiting room (thankfully) with windows I was called to the appointed room. They put anaesthetic drops in your eye, which stings, and when that has taken affect they then inject a local in the outer part of the eyelid which is affected. I was a complete and utter wimp, holding on to a nice nurses hand (have I said how much I admire nurses recently? no, my apologies you really do make a difference) while the injection was put in which was eye watering and it hadn't recovered after the drops.

They then braced the eye open and shone a very bright light in your eye while getting you to look up into it... near impossible for a mole like me who hates bright lights all of the time. However it was over and done with in minutes and soon I was patched up and sent back to SOH with some goop to put in the eye 3 times a day for the next 7 days.

All I have to do now is to manage the condition that caused it, namely blaphiritis. I don't have it bad but up until then I thought my itchy eyes were due to hayfever symptoms.. you live and learn.

18 July 2008

Diversity - a joke

Recently, a large corporation hired several cannibals, to increase the company's diversity.

"You are all part of our team now," said the Human Resources rep during the welcoming briefing. "You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please don't eat any employees."

The cannibals promised they would not.

Four weeks later their boss remarked, "You're all working very hard, and I'm satisfied with your work. We have noticed a marked increase in the whole company's performance. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?"

The cannibals all shook their heads, "No."

After the boss had left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others, "Right, which one of you idiots ate the secretary?" A hand rose hesitantly.

"You fool!" the leader continued. "For four weeks we've been eating managers, and no one noticed anything. But NOOOooooo, you had to go and eat someone who actually does something!

17 July 2008

I can't remember if I did or not...

Now that I'm 'older' (but refuse to grow up), here's what I've discovered:

1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.
2. My wild oats have turned into prunes and All Bran.
3. I finally got my head together; now my body is falling apart.
4. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded...
5. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded...
6. All reports are in; life is now officially unfair.
7. If all is not lost, where is it?
8. It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.
9. Some days you're the dog; some days you're the hydrant.
10. I wish the buck stopped here; I sure could use a few...
11. Kids in the back seat cause accidents.
12. Accidents in the back seat cause kids.
13. It's hard to make a come back when you haven't been anywhere.
14. The only time the world beats a path to your door is when you're in the bathroom.
15. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
16. When I'm finally holding all the cards, why does everyone decide to play chess?
17. It's not hard to meet expenses... they're everywhere.
18. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
19. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter... I go somewhere to get something and then wonder what I'm here after.

I received this from a friend... too good not to post here, enjoy.

16 July 2008

Free Books

ok no catch, free books it is here

I managed to find Kim by Rudyard Kipling, and it has a lot of american novels and Shakespeare as well..

How to feed my book addiction without spending money, though it does mean downloading it or printing on to paper for reading elsewhere.


15 July 2008

A Tribute

When I started blogging a few months ago it was a playground for me, turning 50 this year was a milestone I wanted to celebrate not hide away from.. I didn't really expect to have people come to read my random jottings.

Olive Riley didn't start blogging until she was 106, sadly she died aged 108 on Saturday 12th July in Australia; peacefully in her sleep. She was able assisted in her computing by close friends who will miss her wit and memories. God rest Olive you are a credit to the Victorian generation.

Will my blog still be going in 58 years time? I have no idea, can't even begin to think that far ahead and technology may well have changed by then anyway.

Beans, Beans, Beans

SOH proudly displayed the beans which he picked last night, enough for the both of us to have a small portion with dinner yesterday evening.

These are the first beans to be ready, and tasted so much nicer than the ones you get in the supermarkets or from market stalls as they were only about 1 hour from the plant to the table.

We had them with savoury mince and new potatoes, we both wiped our plates clean afterwards - a sign of a satisfied customer.

So we are just waiting eagerly for another batch to be ready, and then the gluttony will start in earnest. Will any of them make it to the freezer? probably not this year, but it will depend on how many become ready all at once.

14 July 2008

Book Club Choice - A Suitable Boy

The read selected by the members of my book club this time around is Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy - it is going to be quite a challenging read I think with over 1400 pages and only 7 weeks.

NB still no news of the latest edition in the Greenwood Bears house, now overdue by 8 days and counting :-)

I was lucky, this copy had been resting on my shelves since 2001 when I brought it for a hospital visit which lasted for 5 days and I only ever managed to get to page 200 so perhaps it is good to have another attempt at reading it.

I would like to have read another book with an indian theme, Kym by Rudyard Kipling. He is one of my favourite authors, I love his book of short stories Plain tales from the Hills; short stories about the English in India. He draws such a vivid picture in my mind, the heat the dust the colours really make it a film in my head.

The last book, Light on Snow by Anita Shreve, was discussed by the group last night and well thought of. She was likened to Joanna Trollope, my view was that she painted a very good mind picture of the story for me and I could almost taste the snow. Left lots of questions at the end and also hope for the characters that they could finally move forward.

Anyone for Tea?

SOH and I brought a trailer for the motorcycle, so camping will be more luxurious than the current trend as we will be able to take more things (like chairs and the like) with us to camping events with the club.

Trouble was that the trailer was up in North Yorkshire, Harrogate to be precise. Well I had heard of Betty's of Harrogate before and figured that if we were going to drive all the way up to Harrogate then the least we could do was to visit Betty's and sample some of their wares.

We left home at just before 6.30am yesterday and arrived in Harrogate about 10am, the traffic was light and we shared the driving so it wasn't too much of a chore. We managed to find a parking place in Parliament Terrace, close to the tea rooms; mind you the road was a steep hill, see in the photo, I had visions of coming back and finding the car sliding down towards the wall at the bottom.

Betty's was all that it promised, good quality food and service. We were offered a prime table in the window so we could look out onto the green outside and the sun shone obligingly. I had a pot of Betty's tea room blend with a Yorkshire fat rascal, while SOH had a cappacino and a toasted tea-cake. I hadn't had a fat rascal before, but it was like a cross between a fruited scone and a rock cake - if anyone can point me to a recipe that would be good.

We later visited the shop next door where I purchased some of the tea for home, a yorkshire tea cake and some chocolate for a friend; unless my addiction to it gets the better of me and I eat it first.

If you every decide to visit Yorkshire, then I can recommend Betty's to you; unfortunately they don't have shops outside the county, but they do have an online shop.

The sat-nav unit played up trying to get the location for the trailer, we think this might have had something to do with the hills that Harrogate sits on but your guess is as good as ours was.

We managed to find the location where the owner of the trailer lived and handed over the money, he was a Goldwing rider but was giving up the camping side of things. We lifted it into the back of the car, wedged it in with some weights for and aft of the wheels and drove away heading back home.

It needs a little tender loving care, and possibly a lick of paint, but these can be remedied in due time. An order has gone in for a tow bar for SOH's bike and by the middle of August we should be ready to go camping in style.

13 July 2008

Zen Guide to Life

Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either, just sod off and leave me alone.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a flat tyre.

The darkest hours come just before the dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbour's milk and newspaper, that's the time to do it.

Don't aspire to become irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

Never forget that you are unique, like everyone else.

Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

If you think nobody cares whether you're dead or alive, try missing a couple of mortgage payments

Before you judge someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you judge them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

Have you ever lent someone £20 and never seen that person again? It was probably worth it.

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

Some days we are the flies; some days we are the windscreen.

Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

There are two theories about how to win an argument with a woman. Neither one works.

Generally speaking, you aren't learning much if your lips are moving.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

When we are born we are naked, wet, hungry, and we get smacked on our bottoms. From there on in, life gets worse.

but most of all

The most wasted day of all is one in which we have not laughed

12 July 2008

Inner Peace

"The way to achieve inner peace is to finish off all the things you have started"

So I looked round the house to see all the things I had started and hadn't finished. I was amazed, and felt determined to rectify this situation, starting right now.

So before leaving the house this morning I finished off a bottle of red wine, a bottle of white wine, the Baileys, three Bacardi Breezers, the Jack Daniels, the Prozac, some Valium, some cheesecake and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how good I feel hic...

11 July 2008

The way the world wags

Is this the way that we will end up, or by finding new alternative means of transportation?

For anyone interested the word wags means "to get along; travel; proceed"

10 July 2008

Getting The Abbey Habit

Our BMW Motorbike Club National rally was held at Kelso, Scotland in 2005 the Reivers Rally. We had blazing hot sunshine over the August Bank Holiday weekend, though the journey up from Back of Beyond (some 350 miles) was made in torrential downpours and thunderstorms.

When you travel by bike, there is a limit to how much you can carry, and we were camping as well so as well as clothes, I had a tent, sleeping bag etc all on the bike; thank heavens for hard luggage.

We stopped at a travelodge just outside of Durham on the first day, after having travelled up on the east coast, stopping for a break and a cup of well earned hot chocolate at Scarborough. To my regret though we saw Whitby in the distance, we didn't go closer to it and I would like to go back and visit one day.

It was a great rally and we had time to go out and about, so we visited Kelso, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Melrose Abbeys while we stayed at Kelso, we stopped at Scott's view and although it was a hazy, misty sort of day you get the picture as it is very beautiful. Another day we walked up to Floors Castle and did the tourist thing. I remember having a great piece of cake there :-). On the day that the rally broke up, the August Bank Holiday (England) we travelled across country to Newton Stewart where we were going to stay bed and breakfasting at a small place just on the edge of town.

We stopped for a picture of the bikes at the Megget reservoir, the road was very quiet and we didn't meet very much traffic on the way to Newton Stewart.

The owner knew we were on motorbikes so it was no surprise when he showed us to our rooms and suggested where we might like to visit and take the bikes along roads we might not have found otherwise.

Certainly we had plans to take the coast road all the way round to the Mull of Galloway on one day, but we had planned to visit some more abbeys in Scotland before we had to leave.

Dundrennan, Glenluce and Sweetheart abbey joined our ever growing list of places we visited and it is strange how peaceful they are even though many of them are in ruins. Along with the abbeys we managed to get visits in to Culzean and Caerlaverlock castles, the book shops in Wigtown, take the Queen's road across the Galloway Forest and stop at the Grey Mare falls for this stunning picture.

The day we went to the Mull of Galloway was the day before we were leaving and we had the most stunning sunshine of all the week, it was positively baking and dressed in all our bike gear it was unpleasant when we stopped.

We rode through a herd of cattle, some with calves at foot, and though they looked at us they left us alone as we rode up to the lighthouse.

As you can see, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and from the top you could see the Isle of Man, the Cumbrian coast and I thought we could see the tip of Ireland but it was hazier out to sea.

We stopped at Port Patrick for an evening meal, as it was unlikely that we would get back to Newton Stewart before dark, and in any case had heard good things about the food there. This is a memorial of the disaster of 1953 when the crew and passengers of the Princess Victoria were lost at sea.

I took an amazing photo of the sunset which I had written about earlier, but I also took this one earlier in the evening of a rainbow above the harbour.

My main reason for posting this is at the end of August we have another National Rally to go to in the Cotswolds but though there will be plenty of things to do and see I don't think anything will match the sheer beauty of this particular holiday.

09 July 2008

Memories of Scotland

I was lucky enough to join the staff who helped look after HM (and the rest of the family) at Buckingham Palace from 1977 to 1980 when I left to go and work in IT. I joined not long after the major celebrations of her Silver Jubilee, just before the trip to Balmoral. In fact I joined on a Monday morning and the following evening found myself on a sleeper up to Aberdeen along with four other staff who were being transferred up there for the shooting season.

This was my first experience of working away from home, and though I had a fair amount of independence it was still a culture shock to be hundreds of miles from home. My job was to work alongside the chefs in the kitchen, helping to prepare food and clean up afterwards, the porters did the bulk of the heavy work but it was still a long day when you sometimes didn't finish until nearly 11pm even if you had a few hours off in the afternoon it wasn't always enough to switch off.

Balmoral was a good introduction to working in service, yes it still happens even today, though I think many of the perks we had are much more restricted now. We were only charged a nominal rate for breakfast, lunch and dinner with free tea and coffee and a subsidised bar which I believe they got rid of after I left and no I don't think there is a connection to that fact either.

Every week there was a staff event, which was either a scottish country dance down at the stables hall, attended by the London and the local staff as well as the police/soldiers in attendance (the first year was the Black Watch and I still like their tartan) and usually very well natured even though there was plenty of alcohol consumed. The alternative was a filmshow or a team quiz, and the cliques of staff became apparent when the different branches wouldn't allow people on their teams but it wasn't a big problem.

We each got a day to go on the staff outing, two of those was to the Bells whisky distillery (and as a whisky drinker I enjoyed seeing how it was made even though it isn't my favourite brand of whisky; in fact now I enjoy drinking Jamesons Irish Whiskey as it is very smooth (apologies for my heresy) though there is still room for Laphroaig in the drinks cupboard. Please note it didn't stop me accepting the free half-bottle they gave us at the end of the tour the first year, and regrettably wasn't repeated on our return visit.

Another year we went to the Baxters factory/farm (my memory of this is not strong after a gap of 30 years) and after the tour of the production line we were treated to tea with Edna Baxter and her sons before being given a sample of jams and other products to take away with us. While the Fochaber's shop is open to visitors I can't be certain this is where we went.

The third year I was there, we got off work from 4pm but had the evening off every other day so could get out and about, whereas before you just got time off between 2pm and 6pm and just had enough time to take the bus into Ballater. One memorable occasion, a member of the kitchen staff arranged a hill race; I am not athletic at the best of times as I can't remember to run and breathe (it's a sprint mentality or so my school gym teacher said) so my version of this was to jog/walk round the 4 miles. After a quick shower I caught the bus to Ballater only by the time I got their the poor abused muscles refused to let me off the bus so I sat on there by myself until it was time to go back to the castle and it took me ages to live the embarrasment down.

One of the perks of working there was that if the hill ponies weren't required, and you could prove you could ride then you could go out onto the hills for the afternoon. I enjoyed doing that but just spending the time with the ponies was a pleasure, the jawing around in the tack room cleaning the saddles and bridles and having some of the family drop in whilst doing so.

I will try and scan some photo's in of my time there as it was too many years ago for digital cameras.

08 July 2008

The mind plays tricks

Elaine wrote something on her blog this morning that triggered this memory..

Many years ago, when I had just moved into a flat in a local town in December 1984, I had taken a few days off work to do the move and on the Sunday night set the alarm clock to 7am as I had to be up and out by 7.30am to get to the bus stop for work by 8 and it was about a good 20 mins walk.

Well December is very dark, and the flat wasn't well lit from outside so when I heard the alarm go off I shot out of bed like a rocket.. ah the enthusiasm of youth for work; where does it all go I wonder...

Shivering in the cool air, as there was no central heating in the flat and not going to be needing the fire on for such a short time, I got dressed quickly before heading down to the bathroom for a wash and then breakfast in the kitchen adjoining. It was while I was tucking in to a bowl of porridge that I noticed the kitchen clock said 4.30am; at first it was with incredulity that I saw the time.. I had heard the alarm clock, I knew I had.. yet this one was stating it was 3 hours behind. Time to check the radio.

Needless to say my overactive mind was responsible for convincing me that I had heard the alarm clock going off and even went as far as thinking I had reset the alarm but when I checked it became quite clear that this was all part of the dream state and the stress of needing to be up on time and not oversleep.

So I did the sensible thing and got undressed and back to bed for a couple of extra hours; never had the same experience twice but it has tricked me on different things since then notably mobile phone ringing even though switched off. Still even now I can smile at the memory.. priceless.

ps - a good post methinks for my 100th...


When I got home yesterday evening I watered the plants in the polytunnel (the one's outside were not going to need any more after the downpours of yesterday) before SOH got home.

The beans are running riot with more than a few beans starting to form and growing in length - just need them to fill out a bit more befire they will be ready to eat.

I decided to thin out a few carrots, we have two varieties Autumn King and an Early Nantes variety; the latter looked distinctly weedy in terms of bushyness of top etc compared to the Autumn King plants.

I pulled out a couple of the Autumn Kings and you can see how stubby they are, not a flaw they are a longer term carrot and take time to reach their potential.

They needed to be thinned out anyway so I pulled out some to reduce the row and allow the others to grow thicker and reduce the risk of carrot fly though touch wood, haven't yet had any sign of that so perhaps growing onions in between the rows does work.

The early Nantes variety was next and I was surprised when I pulled them up as the greenery at the top didn't give an indication of how well the carrots had grown; this was half a row and within the next two hours they had been scrubbed clean, cooked and were eaten along with some new potatoes and steak patties.

It is very satisfying to eat your own produce, I can see why Dad used to like gardening as much as he did; I just wished I had paid more attention to him back then.

07 July 2008

She flies like a bird in the sky...

It was good to see the vulcan bomber XH558 flying once more at Waddington airshow; the last time I saw her fly was in September 1992 and she flew over my house, with her bomb bays open and 'Goodbye' written in the doors, clear to see along with the RAF display team.

Picture above is courtesy of a colleague.

She flies like a swan, elegantly (if a little noisy when close up) and I admired her then rather like concorde it seemed a shame to mothball her but keeping aging aircraft airworthy not only costs a fair amount of money but parts are hard to come by and skills are lost.

She was so loud when she flew over the house that she scared Sam who was only a youngster at the time and he clawed his way up my leg and into my arms trembling with fear; never much of a braveheart but he was loveable.

I didn't think we would ever see her fly again, but it was nice to see that 16 years of work and people pulling together to make it happen actually metamorphised into a living piece of history. Yes it isn't something that should be brushed over, these are tools of war however they are an important reminder that even tools of war can be ambassadors of peace.

For more information go here

04 July 2008

Which way for you?

Thanks to Zeltus for sending this to me, humour on a friday that makes you laugh is always a good thing.

Delia's Way

Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice-cream drips .
The Real Woman's Way
Just suck the ice cream out of the bottom of the cone, for God's sake. You are probably lying on the couch with your feet up eating it anyway.

Delia's Way
To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.
The Real Woman's Way
Buy Smash and keep it in the cupboard for up to a year.

Delia's Way
When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking tin, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white mess on the outside of the cake.
The Real Woman's Way
Tescos' sell cakes. They even do decorated versions.

Delia's Way
If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a potato slice.
The Real Woman's Way
If you over salt a dish while you are cooking, that's tough sh!t. Please recite with me the Real Woman's motto: 'I made it and you will eat it and I don't care how bad it tastes.'

Delia's Way
Wrap celery in aluminium foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks
The Real Woman's Way
It could keep forever. Who eats it?

Delia's Way
Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.
The Real Woman's Way

Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and drop it in 8 ounces of vodka. Drink the vodka. You might still have the headache, but you wont give a sh*t?

Delia's Way
If you have a problem opening jars, try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.
The Real Woman's Way
Why do I have a man?

Finally the most important tip

Delia's Way
Freeze leftover wine into ice cubes for future use in casseroles
The Real Woman's Way
left over wine???? Helllloooo

Lavenders Blue, dilly dilly, Lavenders Green

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,
When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.
Who told you so, dilly, dilly, who told you so?
'Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly, that told me so.
Call up your men, dilly, dilly, set them to work
Some with a rake, dilly, dilly, some with a fork.
Some to make hay, dilly, dilly, some to thresh corn.
While you and I, dilly, dilly, keep ourselves warm.
Lavender's green, dilly, dilly, Lavender's blue,
If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.
Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly, And the lambs play;
We shall be safe, dilly, dilly, Out of harm's way.
I love to dance, dilly, dilly, I love to sing;
When I am queen, dilly, dilly, You'll be my king.
Who told me so, dilly, dilly, Who told me so?
I told myself, dilly, dilly, I told me so.
Busy working on some lavender recipes for the other blog, as I have been asked how it can be used in recipes (and not just for things you eat) and it reminded me of this song which I remember from my childhood and thanks to Zeltus I have a copy of this song by the City Waites which is a great folk band though I haven't been lucky enough (yet) to hear them play live.

Lavender is a multifunctional herb, can be used for sensory (smell) purposes and is supposed to be calming; I certainly find it useful when I have a headache and it does seem to help but it is also a culinary herb and can be used in recipes for cakes and biscuits; though a word of warning not all lavenders are the same. The Stoecheus variety are not suitable for cooking, stick to the english lavenders like munstead and hidcote instead.

So take your lavender (NB it must be chemical free) and harvest it, keeping it in a warm dry location and then beat the lavender heads off the stalks.. then I just keep it dust free if being used for lavender bags/baths/creams/lotions etc.. and the best heads I ensure are clean and dry and put them in containers (in my case kilner jars) to be used for cooking.

If you want the real scent of lavender to come through as a room freshener, you can do no better than to buy the essential oils but this should never be used directly on skin as it is far too strong; instead use a carrier oil such as almond oil to dilute the properties.

Happy Independence Day - 4th July


Just to wish any American's who drop in a Happy Independence Day today.. keep it safe and have a good celebration with friends and family

03 July 2008

a new acquisition

I brought a copy of Herbal Remedies - A practical beginner's guide to making effective remedies in the kitchen by Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw; this was from an on-line book company. I had seen it recommended on another blog I read (and when I remember which one I will give it credit I promise) and put it in my want to buy list.

It arrived yesterday, and I admit to scanning through it during a rivetingly dull presentation during the conference yesterday, and found quite a few things of interest, notably :

  • a recipe for ginger beer (which I know will interest Zeltus)
  • another recipe for calendular cream; it is far more satisfying to make it yourself rather than getting it from the chemist (and cheaper)
  • lots of ideas for the herb section in my garden in terms of potions, cooking and massage oils and old fashioned treatments such as vinegar and brown paper.

Will keep you advised as to how I get on with some of the above and I just need to collect a few ingredients before I can get going. Need some beeswax, anyone know of any sources?

02 July 2008

busy, busy, busy

Today is a conference on teaching and learning.. very interesting and keeping me from my desk and other important pieces of work.. but they can wait. I was in at 7.30am this morning trying to get a system of recording the sessions live, but after 2 hours we had to give up and just listen instead... slightly disappointing as it would have been the first real live use of the system and what better start could we have had.

So far we have covered, Personal development Portfolios, Gaming as Learning, What is the difference between a first and post-graduate degree and quality assurance vs quality enhancement.

More this afternoon ... on Internationalisation (not to be confused with cultural diversity - unlike the question which implied they were one and the same) a session on developing on-line support tools was interesting as it covered the concept of sharing (something which doesn't seem to work very well here at this particularly University as people like to protect their own work from being 'borrowed').

The gaming as learning is an interesting subject, particularly as many students are engaged in computer activities from an early age; but this was specific to project work and they (a team of 5) had 'bots to assist them in the process of manufacturing. This sounded fascinating and something I would like to experience particularly after the team building event of yesterday.

01 July 2008

Team Building

I was out of the office yesterday on our 'annual' team building day. This is the second year of it, and unlike last years' session this one was held at a local country park with ponds, wildlife and lots of green space even better a couple of the sessions allowed us to go outside and 'play' (Constructively of course).

Well after a slow start, we moved outside to the first of the physical tasks (not too demanding) just to put a series of planks together to form a shape as on the diagram provided to us. Our team lost ;-( and not just by a bit of time but by a whole heap of time (something like a minute longer than the other team - never mind) however, we were smiling to the end as we stated that ours was quality controlled and checked before dispatch.. not certain how convincing that argument holds but not a bad word was said about the task or any of the members of the team so even in adversity we held our own which was really good as apparently the facilitator had known other groups to have kicked the planks in disgust.

The second physical task was to walk on planks (ski style) from one end of the course to the other, we succeeded in winning the first round with a slow but sure style (we only cheated twice) as the other two teams fell off and having been noticed were sent back to the beginning. Once again we attempted but lost by quite a big margin, note to employers we are definitely a quality team only going for premium performance not speed) and eventually we were dismissed.

We were then asked to commit industrial espionage against the other two teams (namely putting a plank in front of them they had to get over) this was fascinating due to the responses of the team who when faced with this obstacle became quite vocal.. I had to admit to laughing so hard that I let go of my plank end and nearly tripped over my own two feet. It all ended with lots of fun and laughter and no recriminations.; perhaps we are more mature than we sometimes give ourselves credit for.

The day was a good mix of physical and class activities and I think next year might even be better.

I do wish we had some of the nice features that the country park did, namely a lake and some wildlife as even here it can be stressful and I found it very relaxing I just wished I could have taken some time out to myself to read some of my book.