Wednesday 19 Mar

The Kings Head panel


kings-head-01
Click on the pictures for larger image.

Recently I was asked by a brewery if I would come out of retirement to make a panel for one of their public houses. In the past I had done a lot of work for them in various pubs and restaurants in the south of England. I didn’t really want the job because I retired ten years ago and now have other interests. I told them that all my tools, paints, and kiln were now stacked in an outhouse gathering dust and cobwebs awaiting disposal.

The pub door has a plain leaded glass panel with a green border. The reason for this was at a time when they thought that some drunk or vandal might smash it, and if that happened it would be easy to make another one quickly and cheaply to replace it.

front_doorIt’s been twenty years since I made that door panel and it’s never been broken or even cracked, so the brewery thought it was time to jazz it up a bit. I agreed, under duress, to make a roundel and fit it into the middle of the window. I should mention that the pub is called “The Kings Head”, if you haven’t spotted the name already!

This will involve taking the door panel out, stripping it, and rebuilding it with the new roundel in place, because this work cannot be done in situ. It has taken me three weeks to design, paint and fire the individual pieces and lead them together. Not working all the time you understand, just in between my housewifery chores!

The next stage is to take out the existing panel and board up the door. I shall bring the panel back home to work on it, and then return and fit it. We agreed on a payment for this; 25 Free Sunday lunches, including a pint, at any one of their pubs on the Sundays I decide on. (Income Tax dodge!)


Old Git Wit: Be kind to your kids, they’ll be choosing your nursing home!

Monday 17 Mar

 

Pre-Blog Years


I found and old CD-ROM disc dating back to 2005 in my achive box. I put it into my laptop drive fully expecting it to fail, but no, it worked and revealed lots of old photos I had used in the pre-blogging days when all you got was a personal page hosted by various ISP’s like Yahoo, MSN and a few others.

I had a page with Geocities onto which I put articles of interest to myself and possibly other people. I don’t know how many people read it because there were no comment boxes or Hit Meters then. If someone wanted to comment they had to send you an email. Space on those pages was very limited, if I wanted to add something I had to clear out something else to get enough space for the new post.

GeoCities was an important outlet for personal expression on the Web for almost 15 years, but was discontinued on October 26, 2009, when it was taken over by Yahoo.

It was about 2005 when I did my first blog that was hosted by “Meonline” then I switched to “Blogger” and subsequently to “WordPress”. In 2010 I bought my own domain hosted by “OneCom” and moved my WordPress blog to it and set up some additional non-blog sites.

When I was with Geocities I was keen on photographing peoples front doors and putting them on my page. I did this secretly without asking permission of the house owners, naughty I know, but I was careful not to reveal the location of said doors. I didn’t put a copyright watermark on them, and even now I occasionally find one one somewhere on the Internet. Amazing.

Here are a few of them, and if you look closely you will see that all the pictures have one thing in common, see if you can spot what it is and tell me in the comments.

door-07door-16door-29door-34

Left to right: Dublin (?), Galway, Cornwall, Cornwall.

Don’t say “They all open inwards”, or I shall be annoyed!

Tuesday 14 Mar

 

Where have my friends gone?


I’ll tell you. France, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, etc! The reason? No, it’s not because they want to get away from me, it’s because they all said they want a better life for themselves and their children.

This country is finished they told me. My young nephew, together with his wife and three young children are the latest of my relations to go. They bought a house by proxy in Auckland, New Zealand, three months ago and moved. Before they even got there he was offered three good jobs and now he’s working as a cabinet maker and French polisher [his trade] for a well known hand-made furniture company. Whereas he was unemployed in England, because people here now buy more flat-pack cheap furniture than good quality goods. He was finding life here was increasingly awful and difficult. He couldn’t even get a job sweeping the roads because of all the cheap labour that this Government is importing.

ExpatsEarly last year two families from our little town moved to France and bought a run-down farm in Normandy between them and are now busy renovating it. In one of their emails to me they said, “The world is not a very happy place today but here in rural France, lost in the woods and surrounded by very kind people, deer, beautiful birds and countryside, we live a happy and contented life”. He also mentioned that the children enjoy going to school over there, whereas it was a difficult job to get them to go to school here.

Already this year I have been to the farewell party of another couple from my married days, he was my best man, who are moving to Bavaria, Germany, to be with his wife’s relations. She is German by birth.

I would love to move away from this country that I once loved in my younger days. It has now become a crime ridden hell-hole. Along with other people I know I dare not go into the city after dark because of the gangs roaming the streets.

I left it too late to emigrate. Most countries wont accept old, burnt out people because we would just be a burden, not being able to contribute to their economy we would be just be a drain on it.

AFTERTHOUGHT: It seems that hundreds of Brits are moving to France now, in particular to the Dordogne valley. According to the papers some ex-pats are getting together and buying whole villages that are derelict and setting up their own communities (Ghettos?). They are all seeking the laid back life style that France is so famous for, but I think if they don’t make the effort to integrate with the indigenous population and learn their language and culture, then they are going to destroy the very thing they went to France for.

The ex-pats should realise that they are the foreigners in another country now. I spend a lot of time in France (I have family there) and I can see the resentment in the faces of the French when a crowd of Brits stand chatting in English in the bars and shops. The French accept you if you speak to them in their own language and join in with community events etc.

When I’m there and a Brit ex-pat asks in English if I’m British I just shrug my shoulders and say “Moi? Je suis français. Je ne vous comprends pas”. and walk away, sniggering.


Old Git Wit: Once you have accumulated enough knowledge to get by, you are too old to remember what it was.

Saturday 8 Mar

I haven’t written in my paper journals for several years now. I always made a point of writing about my days adventures(?) every night.

One day, just after my partner died in 2004, I picked up my pen to write about the lovely times we spent together, but something stopped me. It was just as if something or someone was holding my hand back from making the first mark on the paper.

I must have sat there for an hour with all the memories of those few short years going through my mind. I tried repeatedly to write, but I just couldn’t do it. For the first time in my life I was at at loss to find the right words to describe what I wanted to say.

I knew then that my journalling days were over. Without Pat life was so empty and lonely, so I closed the book and fastened the buckle for the last time. I put it in the large cardboard box in the box-room with all the other journals dating back to 19 hundred and frozen stiff!.

Yesterday I was searching through some other boxes full of old photos, diaries and some of my childhood books (Beatrix Potter, I could never bear to part with them!) looking for some drawings I made during a field trip to the wilds of Wales when I was a student because a friend asked me if I had anything about travelling through “Wild Wales”. Apparently his son is doing a project about the said country for school.

journalI came across an unused green leather bound blank journal, still in it’s wrapper. The strange thing is that I had never seen it before, and I don’t ever remember buying it! How it got there is a complete mystery, it wasn’t even in the right box with the others.

I completely forgot about the drawings I was looking for and took the journal downstairs for a closer look. As I unwrapped it the smell of the leather was very strong, almost as if it had been made yesterday. As I run my hands over the beautiful leather binding I suddenly had the urge to start writing again. It seemed such a shame that this book was lying empty and unloved just waiting for someone to fill it with happy thoughts, so I decided there and then I would be the one to share my life with it; not that there is much of it left!

Monday 24 Feb

 

My Grandma’s Cheesy Scones


 

Ingredients

scones-krs8oz self-raising flour
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper (important!)
1 tsp baking powder
2oz butter, cut into cubes
2oz mature Cheddar cheese, grated
3fl oz milk

Method

1. Sift together the flour, salt, cayenne pepper and baking powder. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture (or do this in a food processor like wot I do).

2. Mix through the grated cheese.

3. Add the milk a little at a time (you may not need all of it) and mix with a flat-bladed knife until the dough starts to come together.

4. Once you have formed a smooth dough, press it into a ball with your fingers. Pat or roll it out until it’s around ¾in thick. Cut into rounds with a 2½in cutter.

5. Arrange on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10-15 mins at 400°F, gas mark 6 until risen and golden.

Sunday 16 Feb

Today would have been the 52nd anniversary of my sons birthday, and I feel that I can never let the 16th of February of passing year go by without some sort of tribute to him. Glenn was not only my son, but also my best friend.

Glenn died in the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in October 1990. He was only 28, with so much in life to look forward to. We thought that he was recovering from bone cancer when he suddenly developed secondary lung cancer, which was the actually the cause of his death.

We shared a lot of interests and passions in life, such as a love of the countryside and wildlife. Glenn would walk all the local footpaths through the fields regularly to ensure that the farmers and landowners were not closing then illegally. His favourite haunt was the Lake District where he and his other young friends would go to spend weekends and holidays.

Another interest we shared was Amateur Radio, sometimes referred to as Hams, and electronics. His callsign was G8SUM and mine was G8AFY. After his death I dropped my own callsign and took his on as a tribute to him and to keep his radio station alive.

I could write so much more about him, but I think that it’s best left until another time; suffice to say that I still miss him so much.

People have told me that time is a great healer and and I would get over his death. That is a fallacy. Time may soften the blow, but you never get over it or forget.


Glenn

Goodbye, My Son

How can I say goodbye to you, my son,
Now that for you, tomorrow cannot be.
Where shall I find the strength to carry on?
When all that I have is going away from me.

As these last fleeting hours speed by,
And I sit at your side and hold your hand,
My eyes so full of tears that I cannot see.
I know that you, my son, will understand.

These few years we spent together, you and I,
It seemed so short a while we had to spend,
And yet we shared so great a love
That Death itself can never end.

So very much as we are, that now
We find no need of words as others do,
Both knowing so well within our hearts
That a love like ours is granted to so few.

So rest now, Glenn, until the very end,
For soon it will be time for us to part.
For soon I will close your eyes, and kiss your cheek.
Then you will be gone, and with you goes my heart.

– Dad.
burningcandle

Friday 7 Feb

Today I was on a bus travelling to Leicester, the nearby big city, to do some shopping.

Sitting opposite me was a respectable looking gentleman, smartly dressed with highly polished shoes looking for all the world like he had just stepped out of a high class tailors shop. I noticed that he was totally engrossed in his book.

It was the book that caught my attention, I just couldn’t believe it. It was “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler with a picture of said gent next to a swastika on the front cover. He glanced up briefly whilst turning a page and saw me looking at him “Do I know you?” he enquired. “No”, I replied,”I was just wondering why you were reading such a controversial book in public, that’s more than I dare do!”

He left his seat and crossed over to sit next to me. “It’s not what it appears to be,” he said softly, “I’m actually reading ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov and I don’t want people to think that I’m just a dirty old man, so I stuck this cover over the lurid picture of Lolita on the front of the book. I would rather people think that I’m a neo-Nazi instead!” He showed me the text and sure enough it was the book he described; I know because I read it when I was at school.

miss-tiggy-winkleWith that he smiled, returned to his seat and continued reading.

I thought that was a brilliant idea and planned to do the same thing next time I travel on the bus. I could stick a fake cover, like ‘Das Kapital’ by Karl Marx complete with the hammer and sickle on the cover of my favourite book and read it quite openly in public without the people knowing that it’s really ‘The tale of Mrs Tiggy Winkle’ by Beatrix Potter.

Monday 27 Jan

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day in the UK. Our local church is organising a remembrance service and this evening there is a dinner with a speaker who claims to be a survivor of Auschwitz camp.

Although I don’t doubt that there was a Holocaust, but there are one or two things that puzzle me about it. We all know that the Germans are very methodical in everything they do, good or bad, and in Nazi Germany they kept records of practically everything to do with the time they were in power and during the WWII.

For instance every Jew, Gypsy, Dissenter, Jehovahs Witnesses and other undesirables were documented either before or after they arrived at the concentration camps. All the Jews had to give details of property and money they owned, what their trade or job was, family details etc. These details were entered into ledgers and other documents against a number and the number was then tattooed on their arm. Now if the Nazis intention was to gas them or kill them anyway it seemed a bit pointless to document them as this could be used as evidence against them in the future, and was. This is true because the Russians released all the paperwork they had managed to retrieve before the Germans had time to destroy it. Some of this paperwork is on display at the Memorial Museum.

There is a lot more about the Holocaust I cant get my head round, but I wont bore you any more with this topic. It happened, and now it’s over and just another part of history. Like so many things in the past, we will never know what really happened.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today I decided to clear out all the rubbish in the outhouse to make room for all my new rubbish, sorry, junk. Junk is useful, rubbish is not.

I took several carloads of black bin bags to the local rubbish tip “Refuse and Recycle Unit” as it is now called. It’s an amazing place, there are huge containers marked “Garden Waste”, “Domestic Waste” (for landfill), “Electronic Equipment”, “Scrap Metal”, “Paper & Cardboard”, “Flat Glass”, “Recyclable Waste” (?), and the most appalling one, “Organic Waste”.

waste-foodThat one was overflowing with waste food, some of which still looked perfectly edible. My guess is that it came from local supermarkets, because a lot of it was still in those plastic containers they use. There were bananas, apples (still in plastic bags), prepacks of potatoes. onions, carrots etc. When something goes a day past it’s estimated ‘use-by-date’ it’s considered unconsumable and thrown out. I couldn’t get close enough to read the labels to see which supermarket it came from.

Disgusting, when you think that nearly half the world are on a starvation diet. To make matters worse, most of the dumped fruit and vegetables are probably grown in the third world countries and then imported here for us to waste.

Sunday 19 Jan

~~~~~~Very early, about 10 am ~~~~~~

Today I decided to do a few odd jobs around the house that had been pending for quite a while. I am one of those people who keep a “To Do” list on the kitchen notice board, sick I know, but with a brain like mine you need something to remind you.

Now, where was I, oh yes, I was going to catch up on the more urgent jobs like washing the cat’s dishes; I should imagine she’s fed up with the dried up remains of last weeks meals stuck all over them.

Then there’s “Sweep the chimneys”. No, I don’t think so, maybe some other day. “Repair the ironing board”, noooooo, I don’t think so, then it would mean I would have to iron the enormous pile of shirts, sheets, unmentionables and socks. “Clean out the fridge”, well, it doesn’t smell too bad, and after 4 years it can’t get any worse; I’ll leave it until the cheese walks out in protest.

I know! I’ll make something to eat, like a nice salad and some bread. There’s some tomatoes in the fridge, a bit elderly though, and some onions if I cut off the long green shoots, a wrinkly cucumber, and some fresh parsley on the windowsill.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Later ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It didn’t turn out too bad (1). Then I made the bread (4) just to try out some wholemeal flour (3) my friends had brought back from their holiday abroad; the rainy and windswept Isle of Wight. I can’t say I was impressed with the quality, because I wasn’t; it didn’t rise properly. I think it must have been well matured before she bought it because it tasted VILE. Groo!
montage
1) Tomato, cucumber and onion salad with fresh parsley and a French style vinegrette.
2) My everyday white bread, made as a ‘bunloaf’*.
3) The wholemeal flour my friend brought me from the Isle of Wight.
4) The bunloaf, or sample if you like, I made from the wholemeal flour.

* ‘Bunloaf’ – Bigger than a Bun, but Littler than a Loaf.

Saturday 18 Jan

Yesterday I was reading about obesity in this country, it seems that most cases of obesity are caused by a person eating more calories than they burn off, and the unused calories being turned into fat. Apparently modern lifestyles do not help, as there is now easy access to cheap, high energy food that is often marketed aggressively, just look at the adverts from McDonalds, Burger King etc. Well, it saves slaving over a hot stove and cooking something doesn’t it? The nice takeaway delivery man brings your whopping great pizza right to your door, so all you have to do is sit on the couch and stuff your face whilst watching the Jeremy Kyle Show or whatever.

Jobs are much less active than in the past, most people now work in offices and sit at computers all day, or even working from home where it is easy to sit watching television, playing video games and just browsing the Internet.

People drive around or use public transport and tend to walk a lot less than they used to. I used to walk a lot, rather than get the car out for journeys of less that two miles. I never used public transport because the fares always seemed exorbitant to me. I would walk to the local supermarket (2 miles) and catch the bus home only because of carrying the heavy bags of booze groceries.

I can’t walk far now due to arthritis, but I do try to walk as much as possible because I think it is essential to keep moving for as long as I can.

Anyway, I digress. Several weeks ago I found a page, see here, which gave tips on how to reduce your food intake. Pay particular attention to the video on the left hand side of their page. They suggested using a smaller plate for your meals; assuming of course that you still know how to cook ‘like what I do’.

dinner-platesSeveral years ago I bought a modern dining set which included dinner plates, side plate, cups and saucers and I have used it ever since, thinking nothing of just filling the dinner plate with loads of my super-delicious home cooked food. In fact the plates are so big that if I put one in them in the microwave slightly off centre it catches on the sides and back.

When I read about the size of modern plates I remembered that I had some dinner plates stored in the outhouse under my workbench. They were in a box of stuff I had salvaged from my mothers house when she died. I thought that the things might come in useful one day, but they have lain forgotten since 1998.

When I retrieved them I was surprised at their size compared to modern dinner plates. I remembered eating of those plates in the 1940’s and early 1950’s. Since retrieving them I use them all the time now, not because of nostalgia but I find that I do eat less because those plates always look full, but with less food on them. I suppose it’s physiological really, but I do feel satisfied by eating less.

What’s more, the gravy doesn’t spill over the edge of these old plates onto the carpet when you pick them up!