29 April 2012

Experiemental tray bake recipe

I had a moment of experimentation today in the kitchen. A friend who suffers from gallstones and is on a lowfat, lowsugar diet wanted/craved something sweet. So I decided to have a bash at finding something even she can enjoy and after talking to her about what she could/couldn't include I have come up with the following.

Rosie's Recipe
75g Oats
100g Wholemeal flour - or Riceflour
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Chopped apricots
1 chopped apple (peeled and cored)
2 mashed bananas
1 dsstsp dried milk
3 tbls olive oil
2 tbls honey (can be replaced by apple puree)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

put all the dry ingredients in a bowl including the chopped fruit, mash up the bananas in a separate bowl and warm the oil and honey up on the cooker - not too hot.

once the oil and honey are more liquid add it and the banana to the dried mix and stir well.. you could add linseed at this stage if you so wanted.

I put plain chocolate drops on the top, but you can ignore this one if you like.

Turn into a silicone baking tray and put in the oven at Gas Mark 5 for 30 mins..

Leave in the tray to cool before cutting into slices and enjoy.

These originally started out as cookies but I decided to carry on experimenting and make it a tray bake but small drops on a tray would probably be nice and would take a lot less cooking.

28 April 2012

Saturday Satire : The Text Message

A wife texted her husband at work.

Windows frozen at home, what should I do?

Reply. Try de-icer or hot water.

A few minutes later.

Done that, computer won't work at all now!!!!!!!!!!!

27 April 2012

The Dandelion - not just a weed

The official flower of the MILITARY child is the Dandelion.


The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it's almost impossible to destroy. It's an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It's a survivor in a broad range of climates. 

Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military,......... planted swiftly and surely. 

They're ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Experts say that MILITARY children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. 

MILITARY children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world and in every color, and that education doesn't only come from school. 

They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.

I am definitely a Dandelion child

25 April 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Max, my motorbike has been sitting quietly in the garage but with one thing and another the weather, or the amount of work I have I haven't been out as much as I would have liked this year - personal situation and upheaval hasn't helped and I have to make a long term decision about whether to keep him and deal with the costs or to bite the bullet and pass him on to someone who will be able to look after him and ride him like he deserves.

With the economy the way it is and the increases in petrol, I am having to justify each and every journey in the car never mind the motorbike.. although the job changes afoot at my location mean that parking is going to be even harder may provoke me into using the bike rather than the car for work - that or use the park and ride scheme.

Unlike the Back of Beyond, the nearest meeting here at the Edge of the World is about 80 miles away and infrequently too; with many events requiring longer rides which while I don't mind riding alone I also have to think about the Pond Boys too.

One option is the Helston Bike Night which is on a Thursday.. it is local, I will get to meet fellow bikers and perhaps make new friends..

Decisions, Decisions....

24 April 2012

Complaint about Godolphin House

I received a typical response to my initial complaint, yes we have received it and passed it onto the local team to reply but in the meantime accept our apologies.

I have since then received a more thorough response from the manager at Godolphin House who has nicely apologised for the incident and has stated that he will ensure that the volunteers concerned discuss membership appropriately. He has also offered by means of compensation a personal tour of the house with him and I hope to take this up in the near future as I was disappointed with the last visit and don't like unhappy memories.

23 April 2012

Comments from Police Officers

These are actual comments made by 16 Police Officers. The comments were taken off actual police car videos around the country:

“You know, stop lights don’t come any redder than the one you just went through.”
“Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they’re new. They’ll stretch after you wear them a while.”
“If you take your hands off the car, I’ll make your birth certificate a worthless document.”
“If you run, you’ll only go to jail tired.”
“Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that’s the speed of the bullet that’ll be chasing you.”
“You don’t know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?”
“Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don’t think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I’m the shift supervisor?”
“Warning! You want a warning? O.K, I’m warning you not to do that again or I’ll give you another ticket.”
“The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?”
“Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy and corn dogs and step in monkey poop.”
“Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven.”
“In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC.”
“Just how big were those ‘two beers’ you say you had?”
“No sir, we don’t have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we’re allowed to write as many tickets as we can.”
“I’m glad to hear that the Chief (of Police) is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail.”

“You didn’t think we give pretty women tickets? You’re right, we don’t. Sign here.”

22 April 2012

Sunday fun - insurance claims

"I was driving along the motorway when the police pulled me over onto the hard shoulder. Unfortunately I was in the middle lane and there was another car in the way.." (Thanks M Robson)

"Going to work at 7am this morning I drove out of my drive straight into a bus. The bus was 5 minutes early.." (Thanks N Bradley)

"I was driving along when I saw two kangaroos copulating in the middle of the road causing me to ejaculate through the sun roof." (from an Australian claim form - Thanks N Shepherd)

"The accident happened because I had one eye on the lorry in front, one eye on the pedestrian and the other on the car behind." (Thanks Sharon Burrows)

"I started to slow down but the traffic was more stationary than I thought."

"I pulled into a lay-by with smoke coming from under the hood. I realised the car was on fire so took my dog and smothered it with a blanket."

Q: Could either driver have done anything to avoid the accident? A: Travelled by bus?

The claimant had collided with a cow. The questions and answers on the claim form were - Q: What warning was given by you? A: Horn. Q: What warning was given by the other party? A: Moo.

"I started to turn and it was at this point I noticed a camel and an elephant tethered at the verge. This distraction caused me to lose concentration and hit a bollard."

"On approach to the traffic lights the car in front suddenly broke."

"I was going at about 70 or 80 mph when my girlfriend on the pillion reached over and grabbed my testicles so I lost control."

"I didn't think the speed limit applied after midnight"

"I knew the dog was possessive about the car but I would not have asked her to drive it if I had thought there was any risk."

Q: Do you engage in motorcycling, hunting or any other pastimes of a hazardous nature? A: "I Watch the Lottery Show and listen to Terry Wogan."

"First car stopped suddenly, second car hit first car and a haggis ran into the rear of second car."

"Windscreen broken. Cause unknown. Probably Voodoo."

"The car in front hit the pedestrian but he got up so I hit him again"

"I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment."

"The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intention."

"I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way"

"A truck backed through my windshield into my wife's face"

"A pedestrian hit me and went under my car"

"In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole."

"I had been shopping for plants all day and was on my way home. As I reached an intersection a hedge sprang up obscuring my vision and I did not see the other car."

"I was on my way to the doctor with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident."

"An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished."

"I was thrown from the car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows."

"Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have."

"I thought my window was down, but I found it was up when I put my head through it."

"The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him."

"I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident."

"As I approached an intersection a sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before."

"To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front I struck a pedestrian."

"My car was legally parked as it backed into another vehicle."

"I told the police that I was not injured, but on removing my hat found that I had a fractured skull."

"I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him."

"The pedestrian had no idea which way to run as I ran over him."

"I saw a slow moving, sad faced old gentleman as he bounced off the roof of my car."

"The indirect cause of the accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth."

"The telephone pole was approaching. I was attempting to swerve out of the way when I struck the front end."

"The gentleman behind me struck me on the backside. He then went to rest in a bush with just his rear end showing. "

"I had been learning to drive with power steering. I turned the wheel to what I thought was enough and found myself in a different direction going the opposite way."

"I was backing my car out of the driveway in the usual manner, when it was struck by the other car in the same place it had been struck several times before."

"When I saw I could not avoid a collision I stepped on the gas and crashed into the other car."

"The accident happened when the right front door of a car came round the corner without giving a signal."

"No one was to blame for the accident but it would never have happened if the other driver had been alert."

"I was unable to stop in time and my car crashed into the other vehicle. The driver and passengers then left immediately for a vacation with injuries."

"The pedestrian ran for the pavement, but I got him."

"I saw her look at me twice. She appeared to be making slow progress when we met on impact."

"The accident occurred when I was attempting to bring my car out of a skid by steering it into the other vehicle."

"My car got hit by a submarine." (The Navy informed the wife of a submariner that the craft was due in port. She drove to the base to meet her husband and parked at the end of the slip where the sub was to berth. An inexperienced ensign was conning the sub and it rammed the end of the slip, breaking a section away, causing her car to fall into the water. The Navy paid the compensation claim.) (Thanks Jay Kuivinen)

The English comedian Jasper Carrott has used funny insurance claims in his stand-up act for a long time, including some featured above. Here are three others, kindly suggested by Andrew Moignard.

"I bumped into a lamp-post which was obscured by human beings."

"The accident was caused by me waving to the man I hit last week."

"I knocked over a man; he admitted it was his fault for he had been knocked down before."

"A house hit my car." (A house was being moved by a large truck. My friend had his car parked on the side of the road correctly. The house began to tilt off the truck and eventually fell off the truck, landing on my friend's car. He eventually had the insurance paid, after lengthy explanation and the moving company confirming the story.) (Thanks Ben Keirnan)

21 April 2012

Saturday Satire : A Scottish Romance

A young Scottish lad and lass were sitting on a low stone wall, holding hands, gazing out over the loch.

For several minutes they sat silently.
Finally the girl looked at the boy and said, "A penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Well, uh, I was thinkin'... perhaps it's aboot time for a wee kiss."
The girl blushed, then leaned over and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
Then he blushed. The two turned once again to gaze out over the loch.

Minutes passed and the girl spoke again. "Another penny for your thoughts, Angus."

"Well, uh, I was thinkin' perhaps it's aboot time for a wee cuddle."
The girl blushed, then leaned over and cuddled him for a few seconds.
Then he blushed. And the two turned once again to gaze out over the loch.

After a while, she again said, "Another penny for your thoughts, Angus."
"Well, uh, I was thinkin' perhaps it's aboot time you let me put my hand on your leg."
The girl blushed, then took his hand and put it on her knee. Then he blushed.
Then the two turned once again to gaze out over the loch before the girl spoke again.

"Another penny for your thoughts, Angus.."
The young man glanced down with a furled brow.
"Well, noo," he said, "my thoughts are a wee bit more serious this time."
"Really?" said the lass in a whisper, filled with anticipation.
"Aye," said the lad, nodding.

The girl looked away in shyness, began to blush, and bit her lip in anticipation of the ultimate request.

Then he said, "Dae ye nae think it's aboot time ye paid me the first three pennies?

With many thanks to SB who provided me with this joke

20 April 2012

Water, Water everywhere....

Discussions on the radio today on saving water, included the following

1) if is yellow, let is mellow ie. if it is only urine then don't flush after each visit
2) using bath water to flush the toilet
3) using bath/washing up water in the garden
4) installing a dual flushing system

I try and conserve money and water, wherever I can.. but I am not certain about 1) whether it is just me or my need for hygiene

What about you? how do you conserve water and reduce water bills?

17 April 2012

Sunshine and Showers

A typical April day, sunshine, showers of rain, hail and thunder... the pond boys get to go out in between a lot of showers.

The loft insulation team arrived today, the loft insulation was about 60mm deep and is now a nice cosy 200mm thanks to the team who offered to do it for the grand sum of zilch.. I know I can't believe it either and I was certain it was a scam but no it is to do with a sum of money the council had to insulate houses and therefore save energy.. however it came about - I thank you.

Some more tidying up and hoovering, the guys having left a bit of a mess and then finishing off a book I was reading MM Kaye - an old one but a good one The Shadow of the Moon, about the uprising in India and is quite insightful as to why and how it came about but written in a novel form.

Dinner tonight is three way chicken, take one chicken, dismember it and curry the legs in Jalfrezi sauce, the breasts shoudl be cut up and together with leeks, wholegrain mustard and a cream sauce and the carcass in a pot with vegetables to create a chicken soup or stock for future use. Five meals one chicken... thrifty and good cooking.

Enjoy your evening

16 April 2012

Sunny Sunday

It was lovely and sunny here at the Edge of the World, although there was a cold edge to the wind at times. The garden was sheltered enough to enjoy the sun while the washing blew around on the line to dry beautifully.. now all I have to do is the mound of ironing I have although a good film will see me spin through it.

Yesterday I made oriental salmon, marinated in soya, honey and chilli, then baked in the oven the sauce turns rich and syrupy and served with plain rice makes an interesting and healthy meal. Unfortunately I also baked an apple and blackberry crumble, although I made it tart rather than sweet and had it plain rather than with cream or icecream/custard.

This morning saw me put the last of the rubbish I have sorted out into the dustbin. I am still looking for the watercolour set and paintbrushes I know I had but haven't yet found and I am positive that I didn't dispose of them but as it was three years ago now when I packed up the Back of Beyond I can no longer remember clearly.

I have no regrets about leaving, it wasn't the right place for me and I love living here down in Cornwall despite being so far away from the little family I had, but after Dad died I briefly considered moving to Australia until I worked out the costs involved but this was a happy compromise.

14 April 2012

Saturday Satire : Italian Wedding Test

I was a very happy man. My wonderful girlfriend and I had been dating for over a year so we decided to get married.

There was only one little thing bothering me..It was her beautiful younger sister, Sofia.

My prospective sister-in-law was twenty-two, wore very tight miniskirts, and generally was bra-less.

She would regularly bend down when she was near me. I always got more than a nice view. It had to be deliberate. She never did it around anyone else.

One day she called me and asked me to come over. 'To check my sister's wedding invitations' she said.

She was alone when I arrived. She whispered to me that she had feelings and desires for me. She couldn't overcome them anymore.

She told me that she wanted me just once before I got married. She said "Before you commit your life to my sister".

Well, I was in total shock, and I couldn't say a word.

She said, "I'm going upstairs to my bedroom.If you want one last wild fling, just come up and have me".

I was stunned and frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs.

I stood there for a moment... then turned and made a bee-line straight to the front door. I opened the door, and headed straight towards my car.

Lo and behold, my entire future family was standing outside, all clapping!

With tears in his eyes, my father-in-law hugged me. He said, 'Sergio, we are very happy that you have passed our little test. We couldn't ask for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family my son....’

And the moral of this story is:

Always keep your condoms in your car.

11 April 2012

Red Lentil Jalfrezi

This is so simple to make and so delicious served with Naan bread (which I will learn to make)

Two small red onions chopped roughly
Two teaspoons of Jalfrezi curry paste
50g of red lentils rinsed in cold water
cold water added until lentils cooked (I added this as and when needed, rather like a risotto) and the desired consistency is attained.
Tablespoon of tomato paste

Simply cook the onions in a pan together with a small amount of oil
When cooked, add the curry paste and let the heat bring out the aromas - don't have the pan too hot for this otherwise it will burn and be unpleasant.
add enough water to cover the onions and cook for two minutes before adding the lentils, the tomato paste and more water - stir well and let it simmer gently on the heat. Add more water as the lentils cook until the mixture is at the required consistency. Don't let it dry out too much or add too much water at once.
When it is done, remove from the heat and grill some naan bread on both sides. Serve in a bowl together with the naan bread and a tomato salad.

Serves 2 as a light meal

10 April 2012

The deluge

Yesterday was a deluge from beginning to end... but not a complete waste of time as it allowed me to finish decluttering the study/craft room and finally I have space to use my sewing machine.. hurrah. All my craft stuff bar a few items is now all in one room and in two plastic containers one for materials the other for projects - easy peasy.

I, now, no longer have any excuses not to finish those outstanding tasks which I have to date not finished due to time and machine constraints.. so expect updates on the refitting of curtain liners forthwith.

I managed to declutter some 8 bags of rubbish, it was so lucky that the bin men were due to visit yesterday as that made a huge difference to me and meant that once it was gone it was gone forever and could not be retrieved.

Some of the stuff was temporarily put into the spare room, however this is not the long term home for this and it will be sorted and rehomed as soon as possible as guests are booked in to stay and therefore it needs to be done before they arrive.

Other stuff needs to be put into the garage awaiting someone to pick it up, and others to the recycling points and charity shops.. I even went through my remaining books with a hard head and these will be recycled to the book swaps and charities as I have read them but won't be reading them again.

After another afternoon swim with the pond boys, I left them to dry off while I prepared a red lentil jalfrezi which I had with some naan bread.. and it was lovely, hot and spicy just what I needed after a dry dusty day on my knees which today are sore and aching.

I am still looking for something, without much success although I know I packed it I have no idea of where it might be.. but I have one more cupboard to look through and it can only now be in there so that will be what I am looking for next week while I am on holiday.

The garden didn't make too much progress, after the lovely sunny day on Friday when I managed to dig over a yard of the border and remove about a sack of stones I decided to enjoy the sunshine and read a book while the boys had fun running around. My lettuce leaves are now seedlings, and my lavenders have also taken root while I am just waiting for the sweet peas to produce. I love spring and the idea of growing things don't you?

09 April 2012

Godolphin House

I will admit to not enjoying my visit yesterday, I was harassed to join the National Trust as soon as I entered and when I said not today I got an intensive sales pitch which was quite aggressive. National Trust shouldn't behave like that in my books, yes encouragement and persuasion but this was more than that.

The house, where it has not yet been 'restored' was lovely, and very atmospheric but the house is used as a holiday home for up to 12 guest at between £1500 and £3000 a week and it is available for letting 3 weeks out of 4 and has a long list of people waiting to stay but the interior has been modernised too much and has lost the historic feel in many of the rooms which is a shame.

They are planning to restore the cider press house, which was out of bounds, currently covered in plastic and one of the guides stated that when they had the money they would restore it.. I would suggest that with the admittance charges of £4.20 just for the garden, and £7.50 as well as the high holiday rentals that money wouldn't be an issue but I am not sure how the restoration would be done.

I came away disappointed, I had looked forward to visiting an ancient manor house with lots of history and while there were a few features in some of the rooms, the overall restoration had too modern a feel and could have been handled more sympathetically in the kitchen/bathrooms particularly. The furniture was all supplied by the National Trust and some of it was more in keeping than the rest but overall I don't feel it had a lot to offer the person who loves history more than houses.

07 April 2012

Saturday Satire : The Gynaecologist's Assistant

A man went to Harley Street in London, having seen an advert for a Gynaecologist's Assistant.

Knowing that nowadays, job advertisers aren't able to discriminate against the applicant's gender, He was very interested, so he went in and asked the Clerk for details.
The Clerk pulled up the file and read:

"This job entails preparing ladies for the Gynaecologist. You will be responsible for helping them out Of their underwear, laying them down and carefully washing their private areas, applying shaving Foam to the necessary parts and removing all unwanted foliage, and finally, you'll be required to rub In soothing oils, in preparation for the Gynaecologist's examination."

Then she told him "The annual salary is £65,000 and if you're interested, you'll have to go to Manchester."

"My goodness!", exclaimed the man, "Is that where the job is?".

She answered, "No Sir, that's where the end of the queue is..."

05 April 2012

Excellent Paraprosdokians

Here is the definition: "Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation." "Where there's a will, I want to be in it," is a paraprosdokian.
1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear 
bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting
it in a fruit salad.

8. Evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening,' and then
proceed to tell you why it isn't.

9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many
is research.

10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a
train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

12. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, 'In
case of emergency, notify:' I put DOCTOR.'

13. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the
street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a
successful man is usually another woman.

16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

17. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way.
So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

18. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a
parachute to skydive twice.

19. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live

20. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so
they can't get away.

21. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.

22. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

23. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever
you hit the target.

24. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

25. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

26. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than
standing in a garage makes you a car.

27. A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way
that you look forward to the trip.

28. Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you
wish they were.

29. I always take life with a grain of salt. Plus a slice of lemon,
and a shot of tequila.

30. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire
Department usually uses water.
I like number 14 myself, what's your preference?

04 April 2012


The drum set and guitar have finally gone, releasing the spare room from storage ability and usable for guests. I am going to put Dad's leather chair in there, which was brought down from the loft yesterday and was covered in mould, but leather is good and a good go with saddlesoap will sort the problem out followed by a healthy dosing of leather polish to bring it up to a shine.

I have a futon sofa which turns into a double bed, with some cushions on it. I am debating getting rid of this and putting a double bed in there instead but I kind of like having a room which I can relax in without a tv in it.

My mum's camphor wood chest is in here too, as it is a north facing room and hence it is perfect conditions as no sunshine to lighten the wood. I have a picture somewhere of Mum lying across this chest in Malaya, she was so proud of it.. and I inherited it after they had both died and it was one of the pieces of furniture that was well wrapped before it was transported to the Edge of the World.

The built in wardrobe has my bike gear, and coats in because I have a pine wardrobe containing the quilt and pillows to go with the futon in it and it is then empty for guests. The nice thing is that it has two draws at the bottom and I plan to get a hanging insert akin to draws for inside too.

Plans are afoot for Tre Agan this year, keeping me busy but not too busy that I can't enjoy the sunshine in the garden as I am going to create a border this weekend.

03 April 2012

The Garden

I fed the grass last night, doing my plough the fields and scatter approach.. Jasper thought it was funny and wanted to catch what I was throwing and eventually I had to send him inside; this was funny because earlier he had been made to stay outside for picking up my soaking forsythia plant to get to the plastic bag which he proudly dumped on the nice beige carpet.. .grrhhh

The forsythia has now been planted, this will be the second attempt as the first one got mowed by someone who shall not be named.. not me I hasten to add. But I have high hopes, one more on my list ticked off if this one takes.

I also have plans to create a border at the bottom of the garden, where the robin red bush is, between that and the pine tree, just for colour and because at the bottom of the cornish hedge it is rough to mow so it might as well be a border as anything else and I plan to plant a magnolia tree there once I find the one I am looking for which grew to about 4 ft at the Back of Beyond but everyone I have seen down here is rated at 20ft high which is too big.

My fuchias are growing on a pace, and I have lettuce leaves planted and have a chilli pot to put out when the frosts stop - as long as the pond boys leave it alone I will be happy. They had the tomatoes off my plants last year. I have a chimney pot to put over the rhubarb, when I get around to planting it, but now I am the owner of a brand new fork and spade set, I don't think that will be too long and I am looking forward to eating my own produce again. I haven't yet set any runner beans, but I will be shortly - they will grow on in compostable pots and then into a grow bag type device as that seemed to work well last year.

I am even trying to grow lavender from seed, it was worth a try for 97p but I am not optimistic but we will see what happens

02 April 2012

The Falklands

Today is the 30th Anniversary of the Falklands war, Argentina invaded the islands and Britain came to their defence. I remember watching the news reports of the war, where over 900 men died, with increasing horror. In the past little was available to keep the people at home from the horrors of the war, and even though it was edited, it was still disturbing to see the Welsh Guards after the bombing of the Sir Galahad, the field hospital scenes were just that and reminiscent of the Crimean war but with pain killers not gags.

Television had a lot to answer for, a brave new world it brought the war into our living rooms and endless sleepless nights with Brian Hanrahan commentating and his famous saying 'we counted them all out, and we counted them all back in' ringing in your ears.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have wanted it to be sanitised where the truth was hidden from the public, but perhaps 30 years ago they didn't realise that reporting from the frontline also meant that families and friends were subjected to violence that their loved ones were facing was possibly a bad thing. The only positive thing was the rallying of what seemed like the entire British Isles behind the troops fighting this war, and that was a good thing, unlike today's guys in Afghanistan who are made out to be villains; but the troops on the ground are fighting on behalf of the politicians.

I felt sorry for the Argentinian conscripts, angry at the French for supplying weapons, and saddened at the loss of so many young lives with others destroyed physically and mentally. I hope that peace will come to the Falklands, but recent news from Argentina who still believe that these islands belong to them rather than to the islanders themselves doesn't give me much hope.

01 April 2012

The Ghillie's Ball

It is tradition, at Balmoral, for the Queen to thank the staff by laying on a ball for the estate staff and servants and this is called the Ghillie's Ball. She actually holds two, as two sets of staff change over after four weeks but that is irrelevant.

The dress code is formal, long dresses for the women and smart suits for the men, although I think I remember some people in tweed and the attending army guarding the queen would turn up in kilts... mmm kilts.. I digress, I am dredging my memory back a number of years, but I think the ball would take place after dinner (which was not a heavy affair, especially with the dancing) and while drinking was permitted, you were expected to not get drunk.

The Royal family would dance with senior members of the staff to open, but my favourite dance that I recall so clearly was The Dashing White Sergeant, although whip the willow and the eightsome reel were also good. Why, you ask this dance, well myself and a friend along with a male colleague formed one line and opposite us came Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and the Queen Mother (who was sprightly and very fit  back in the day), the dancers swept around the floor changing partners and paired off. It is a memory I will never forget, and even now it seems just like a dream.

Many dances later, we were hot and bothered, the Royal family mostly had departed leaving the staff alone, but the younger ones stayed behind until the end, if you didn't know country or scottish dancing before you came, by the end of one season at Balmoral you became an expert as they were regular occurences but the Ghillie's ball was the highlight of the stay for every one of us as the traditions were upheld that we were one big family despite the upstairs, downstairs of normal day life.

ps. Black Watch kilts are my personal favourite, but they were there the first year I was and proved that a scottish kilt wearer wore nothing under the kilt but bareskin lol.