Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Morning Bike

The old railway line was becoming busy as I made my way back from my exercise run this morning.  The delight in watching men struggle up the slope knowing that they have a days work ahead of them and are rushing to be at work by eight o'clock leaves me quite satisfied.  Very satisfied that I no longer require to do this.  Better to travel to work this way mind rather than on a commuter bus or train where you have no control whatsoever over the running of the transport.  Nothing but punctures and women with dogs can annoy you as you race to work.  For me of course the women and dogs often mean a few words exchanged, Fifi keen to rub her head into my knee although the dog was less keen for some reason, and then a few words with a retired man and his close to retirement dog, 'seen it done it, just lets walk and feed me' type dog, and all this while trundling slowly down the slope and not struggling upwards.

Six thirty and I was heading into the old railway line.  The mist was dissipating quickly from the dip in the land as the sun rose majestically (what does that mean exactly?) and soared into the sky.  I tried to stop it and told it to wait until I was in position but it did not listen to me.  As Jenny noted fields like this, somewhat enlarged in recent times, contain no birds.  Those that exist do so in the areas off the old railway where trees and shrubs have arisen since the trains ceased forty years ago and wildlife has increased.  The Rangers control the area well and yet if we relied on the farmers much would be lost.  It must be said that many farmers do cut corners when harvesting and allow larger areas at the ends of many fields to go wild.  Some have dropped fields altogether, possibly for EU money, and encouraged wildlife in this manner.  The man here just wants to sell this farm and plant 3500 houses but the council said 'NO!'  Good for them, this is the wee towns one real country area, a link between town and village with no reason to bring the two together except money making.  Three area on the other side of town will have housing, more appropriate in my view but not popular with all.

This was supposed to be an interesting image of the sun hitting the mist as it hung over the trees.  No matter what I did, no matter what I fiddled with nothing like the actual picture I saw arrived in my camera.  Still it's OK as an image.  It does however make the pylons look like they are the stars of one of the 'Star Wars' type movies, pylons ready to march across the earth dominating the land, although some would say they already do that.  Mind you if they did not march those who object could not communicate their objections as they would have no electric!

One thing I love about this time of year is the bright early morns when I can get the bike up the old railway and take a picture or two, even if they don't work out right.  The sheer brightness of the sun over the fields brought to mind those who had to work those fields in the days of long ago.  The harvest would be cut by man and scythe, heaped by women into stalks and only late in the 19th century did a man, usually a grumpy self important one from the north, arrive with a machine and thresh the crop for the farms.  I did read an item about this that Thomas Hardy put into one of his books.  I got the impression he had read it also and made use of it but I could be wrong.  Even with the machine to help this was hard work from morning till night and the pay was not good.  After the harvest there comes a time to plough and sow and start again all the time watching the sky as country folks know the weather required watching all the time.  The sky hinted at slight red this morning as I rose and I suspect the old agricultural labourers would tell what the day held even from that, though they would be working by six in the morning to tell the truth.  Hard work all day for what?  Possibly seven shillings a week?  Maybe more for the ploughman or cowman, but nothing at all when the crop fails.  One of the first acts of the Cameron government was to drop the protection given to farm hands, not that many exist today.  Country people vote Conservative and they are important to the Party.   

This old fashioned type of signpost has been removed in some areas but Essex keeps them and I think this right.  There are enough modern tin signs on main roads and these add a wee bit of character to the area.  One, standing in town since long before the war had become a wreck yet the council replaced it with the same type of sign, not a modern one.  Good for them I say!

The 'Crix Green Mission' looks like a hall grafted onto the back of a typical Essex farmhands house.  The hall roof has a Dutch inclination to it but I am afraid as this Hamlet comprises a mere 13 houses it does not have much use.  Services led by St Michael's occur but how often I know not, and the hall is used during elections for voting purposes.  At one time it must have had a full time member who know ll the people round about, and there would be many more farmhands then, but today while the house is occupied the hall clearly does not have a full time staff today.  Imagine living in a  Hamlet of 13 houses, most of whom are now quite pricey.

Nothing for it but to run back down the line and head for breakfast.  My knees have had enough exercise this week but none tomorrow as I am on my last Thursday at the museum, I think.  With local kids back at school on Thursday I suspect we will be quiet for a change with only normal people arriving.  I may have to just sit there quietly all day and read a book....fat chance!

For those who don't understand 'Brexit' and such stuff, here are a couple of Irish Comedians to explain things in a simple and clear manner, sort off. 


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Routine Tuesday

As expected no-one cared that I was dying after my bike ride.  i did however have to listen to their holiday stories, look at their pictures and eat the Danish (Jam tart) Pastry provided even though I explained about my diet.  I had to listen to worries re the kids event, which were not worries at all as those kids who attended enjoyed it immensely, sell £50 worth of sale goods and survive on one cup of tea only as Peggy ran off to listen to the holiday report and left me on my own.  In spite of this, and the strange creaking from my knees when I stood up, the morning went well bar forgetting to buy ice cream for the girls on my way back.  They will remember that!  

It is interesting to note how little coverage has been given to the recent bomb in the Yemen that has killed between 60-70 people.  The war, between Saudi Arabia and Iran via Yemen, has killed almost 7000 that we know off and has displaced around 2.5 million people.  
Still, they are only Arabs innit?
had such numbers been killed by IS in Belgium or Italy they media would be full of this 'outrage,' crowds would gather in the streets waving the nations flag, that flag would appear on facebook posts and 'fellow feeling' would fill the air.
However it is just that Arab war, innit?
The media, well most of it anyway, are not too keen to talk about this war.  After all we get billions from the Saudi's for the aircraft we sell them let alone the bombs they drop on Shia rebels in the region.  We don't want them to buy French arms do we?  Imagine if the bombs were French, even the left in this country might be less interested!  However the right wing media, which means most of them, are not keen on upsetting the present Conservative government, any cash brought in might help the workers buy those papers.  
This bomb killed mostly those training to fight IS and the rebels, other bombs, from both sides, have killed anyone who was in the way, mostly civilians.  The war in Syria gets lots of mention, the war in Yemen is forgotten.  Maybe Syria would be forgotten if we sold Assad arms?   What?...oh!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Black Notley Churchyard

I took a mad turn this morning.  No, not the usual type, a real mad turn.  Having ridden the bike on both Saturday and Sunday mornings I decided at 6:30 this Bank Holiday morning to ride the rusting beast up to Black Notley, see some countryside and explore.  It was indeed a mad turn for someone as unused to cycling as I, someone as patently unfit as I, and someone who forgot how steep the hill is!   Who put that hill on Notley Road?  What was the point of that? I am convinced it wasn't there last time I came this way.  However, wheezing like an old man I made it to the top, continued without falling off, turned up Buck Hill, struggled up there and dragged myself over the road into the churchyard.  I considered just lying down as I wondered if it was worth trying to go back home again!
Silence, only the grouse grumbling as I passed them by (Grousing grouse?) a few birds flapping in the distance and an occasional car or van hurrying past on the now distant road.  Sun, silence and occasional birdsong, sounds good to me.  

St Peter & St Paul, Black Notley was begun in the early 1100's by some Norman overlord and it is situated next to Bocking Hall.  This would be built by the new Lord of the Manor at the same time as the church building, although it is possible the Saxons had already created a wooden church on the site.  This solid edifice would impress the peasants in their rough homes.  Interestingly Castle Hedingham is a Norman Mott & Bailey castle built by the De Vere's, clearly to impress and possibly suggesting a fear of rebellion.  What made this Lord happy to build his Hall here without a castle defence?  Possibly his early house was fortified I expect however later works have lost the original building and the present one appears to date from the 15th century but has obviously been upgraded as and when.  The church would have been run by him and his man would have led the services, as long as he obeyed.  Such arrangements were found all over England, much less so in Scotland and is one reason for so many empty redundant English churches today.

As you would expect that by seven in the morning I was looking for gravestones, military ones, which I found and the grave of the family killed by Zeppelin bomb in 1916, which I failed to find.  One grave that cannot be missed however is that belonging to John Ray, the father of natural history.  Born just along the road from the church Joy proved to be an intelligent young man and eventually spent time in Cambridge University.  From his childhood he and his mother, a herbalist, much valued in the days when medicine was so limited, had walked the area and John learned much about the plant life from her at that time.  He then continued this study, classifying plants and researching them.  In time he became a 'fellow' at Cambridge lecturing in Greek, Maths & Humanity.  However he lost his job because he held on to the truths of scripture rather than follow the 'flow' of the day and spent time travelling in Europe and the British Isles during which time his collection of specimens, both botanical and zoological grew.   Much of this learning was expounded in his 1691 book (available at the museum shop for a reasonable fee) "The wisdom of God Manifested in the works of the creation."  His many such works had a great influence on all who followed from him.  Not bad from a wee lad who's father was the village Blacksmith!

There are four WW2 graves in the yard but I doubt these are Black Notley people.  It is likely one of those found there is however the nearby hospital took in many during the war and not all made it back to their homes.  The CWGC site is down and Ancestry does not appear to know this man so I can tell nothing from his stone regarding how he came to be here.  I hope his family got to know, and Glasgow is a long way from here.

The church underwent some degree of renovation in the past and those involved were keen to make their mark in 1680.  Putting a date on a building seems a good idea but for the first fifty years it looks a bit daft.  Such dates only really matter several hundred years down the line.

On the night of March 31st 1916 Braintree suffered heavily. That night Kapitanleutnant Alois Böcker brought his airship ‘Zeppelin L 14’ to Braintree, arriving around eleven in the evening. He dropped a bomb which landed on Number 19 Coronation Avenue. Inside Ann Herbert was killed while asleep in the back bedroom. Her daughter and two children survived even though they crashed down from the first floor to the ground. Next door the chimney collapsed into the house killing the sleeping Denningtons and their three year old niece Ella, while the entire street suffered concussion damage from the explosion. (Taken with permission from 'Into Battle' available at the Museum shop)
The Denningtons and their niece were buried in Black Notley but I could not identify the grave.  
The small graveyard reflects much of the village.  Most down the years would be buried here and the population was small, with few being able to afford gravestones the vast majority over the years would have a paupers grave, somewhere at the back of the church grounds.  Most churchyards would be the same but I wonder how many ended up in those unmarked graves? 

The modern manner of commemoration for those cremated is rather more caring I note.  Many churchyards now include such a remembrance, cheaper for those who have lost someone and a place to remember also.

Trying to be clever I attempted to picture the John Ray grave through the doorway but failed miserably, twice!  The window is a little like my own, it needs cleaning!  On the way out a sound heard in the distance came very close.  A young couple walking their three big gray dogs came past.  The dogs were keen to have me for breakfast but being well controlled we bade one another good morning, the dogs rather too loudly for me, and I hastened the other way.

At this time of the year there are many taking the early morning balloon flights across the county.  Two were seen today, offering Champagne Breakfasts and occasional tree top hitting.  With Harvest having been mostly completed there are plenty of emergency landing grounds available if required.

There will be a heck of a bang if he hits those wires!

This is the house John Ray lived in while writing his many books and other works.  It is just as well he lived here as it says 'John Ray Cottage' on the gate outside so he had little choice in the matter.  His studies and his writing continued in spite of ill health and having a family to bring up.  The road outside, then a mere dirt track in summer and a mud bath in winter, now offers the usual local madmen plenty of opportunity to kill themselves as they race past at all hours of the day and night.  One reason I went there today was the Bank Holiday which meant few were out on the roads bar those who had to be.  A nice little cottage still in spite of the traffic, thankfully hidden by a tree or two, but probably costing a buyer around half a million today.  

I suspect the small garden in John's day was full of flowers and herbs recommended by his mother.  These would be alongside vegetables to help feed the family.  John did have two other famous local men as friends, Benjamin Allen and Samuel Dale, both local worthies who participated in the running of the town and other organisations.  One told the story of how he went to London and while there one of his patients went to the other for medical advice, he died!  On hearing if this the first thoughtfully said "It served him right for not waiting for me."  Ah friends, who needs them?

John Ray showing himself to the world.  This type of decoration is very much an Essex thing.  It has been done elsewhere but a great many aged houses in the locale have a variety of such decoration. 

I came across this on the way home, what an annoying sign to offer a cyclist who is wondering if his legs can get him home.  He is not too concerned about breaking the speed limit, he fears he may be breaking his bones or his bike chain first.  30 MPH indeed, I canny do that downhill on a ski slope!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Sunday Post

Yesterday, in a fit of early morning zeal, I got the bike out and cycled around for half an hour.  This was yet another attempt to lose weight and get some degree of fitness.  Today, I cycled the five minutes to church, ten minutes coming back against the wind and traffic, and see myself as ready for a long cycling adventure tomorrow, if the wind drops, it's quite strong at the moment.
Yes indeed I might rise early and race slowly up the old railway until my knees give way.  That should not take long.  The advantage is the Bank Holiday Weekend, this means many people are away and the last dregs of the school holidays begin to come to an end.  This week the schools return to be filled with happy cheery children, and miserable adolescents.  At the museum we have one more week of the kids, two days actually, then it is the grandparents and parents coming in to see what they missed when they came with the kids.  
As I intend to drop one day and work only Tuesday mornings for a while, so I can do the other things for the museum that lie awaiting on this computer, i will also be able to take more time on the bike and on the bus pass.  When the holidays are over I can get a holiday.  Or at least a day out on the bus!  How I need to be out and about a wee bit more, my mind needs refreshment and my body needs the following rest.  Already this week sees an improvement as I eat better and sleep more.  

I do, as some remember, like portraits.  This one here dates from the 1850's and I winder if it is from the USA?  Something about it speaks of east coast wealth, maybe that's just me.   Possibly because of the somewhat long exposure time the lady in the picture cannot avoid offering us a face full of stress.  However I note what looks like two wedding rings on her finger and wonder if she has been bumping off her men?  The outfit looks black, it is of course impossible to tell from the picture what the colour of the dress actually happens to be, but the dark beads round the neck, the crucifix and the general demeanor speaks of sad times.  Her dark bracelets also add to the doom laden image.
She appears to be no more than thirty years of age and it is perfectly possible in the 1850's to lose two husbands in short time, and if in the USA possibly through gunfire of course!  Her men may have gone west to make their fortune and failed to return, it is likely disease carried them away. 
Poor lass, if my guesswork is correct she will have had enough problems and need no more.  I wonder who she was, I wonder if she is just a model, I wonder if her husbands were rich and I wonder where did the money go....?  

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Friday, 26 August 2016

Successful Trawl in Charity Shop!

 We have at least six charity shops in this town and I ventured into several of them today in my weekly trawl for bargains.  There was a lot of stuff outside the 'Sue Ryder' shop again today and on the top of the box of mugs (there is always a box of mugs they are desperate to get rid off) I found this glorious beast!  A Heart of Midlothian mug!  Clearly someone close by has an understanding of football although it is clear his woman has not.  No man in his right mind would dump a mug of such quality and representing his team at that under any circumstances.  Clearly there has been a falling out and if there has not been there will be when he discovers the mug gone!  
There was a surprised look in that I took only one mug, I had not noticed the price, and when I indicated that having more than one means washing more than one the man accepted this without hesitation and the woman looked at me askance!  She then charged me 30 pence, that's six shillings in real money, and being gracious I offered 50p and told them to put the change (4 shillings) in the offering box.  
What a find, makes me glad to be alive.

There is a debate on Twitter at the moment concerning Scots delicacies.  Two lines of thought, one asks what do you call the evening meal?  Is it 'dinner' or is it 'tea?'  Obviously those in the east of Scotland who have been educated correctly refer to the lunch as 'dinner,' that's why school employ 'dinner ladies' who are not employed after five in the evening, and the evening meal is called 'tea.'  Snobs tend to pretend they are among the English higher orders and deliberately act the 'Toom Tabard' by calling their evening meal 'dinner.'  The effrontery of it indeed! 
The second delicacy is a real delicacy, fish suppers.  In the chip shop you order the fish supper, usually Haddock & Chips in Scotland, Cod & Chips in grubby England, and in Edinburgh the sixteen year old (maybe) lassie will ask if you desire "Salt & Sauce?"  The correct answer is "Yes."
In lesser places, such as Glasgow, the 'not quite sure of her gender never mind her age' lassie will give you Salt & Vinegar, polite lassies might ask but don't argue if she/he/it doesn't.   
The Brown Sauce, pronounced 'Broon Sauce' is a mix of broon sauce and vinegar.  It makes fish suppers delicious and has kept a great many Scotsmen from starvation.  The fact that far too many indulge after a night in the pub and forgot the rules of healthy eating does somewhat contribute to Scotland having one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world, only Ireland was higher last time I looked.  A lack of variety in the diet, too much beer and smoking combined with no exercise kills.  However fish suppers occasionally in Edinburgh, and from one of the better chip shops, is indeed a delight not to be missed.

 C4 News
Elsewhere in the world conflict continues.  The picture above comes from Twitter, Kareem Shaheens picture for C4 News, is of Darayya a suburb town of Damascus that has been fought over for four long years siege.  Now those remaining are being allowed to leave, the civilians moving elsewhere, the fighters dropping their arms and going separately to another rebel held part of the country near Turkey.  I wonder whether the rebel fighters will make it?  
The picture is a marvellous insight into the kind of warfare we hear about but fail to take too much notice of.  After all it is a far away country about which we know nothing, except they are Arabs and always fighting one another.  Sadly this fight need never have happened and the news reports even on C4  appear to be somewhat biased against Assad in my view.  This irks me as the whole world is told Assad is a bad man yet few mention that in the middle east he was comparatively gentle in comparison to others.  There are as we know NO good side in the middle east, they are all bad!

Trying to read between the lines it seems to me Sunni Saudia Arabia feared nuclear Shia Iran and was none to happy with Obama's nuclear treaty with Iran.  Syria, Iran's only friend in the region, was a stable state, one in which visitors could travel around much more freely and safely than they could in Saudi.  There were pockets of trouble as in all other middle east nations yet the nation was stable and most were reasonably happy.  The troubles that arose in Darayya surely were encouraged by Saudi & Sunni Qatar, another nation wary of Shia Iran, and these protests met with typical Assad type response.  Tanks soon took to the streets.
Since then the understandable reluctance of Obama to get involved, both Saudi & Qatar are our oil & money rich 'friends' after all, has led to the fall out from the Bush/Blair war in Iraq leading to IS appearing and joining other extreme groups fighting Assad, Turkey, and anyone who happens to be in the area.  With no powerful nation forcing them to stop and Iraq falling apart the fighting increased and the suffering of the civilians, if indeed any are civilians in such a war, increases.
What is the answer?
Now Russia has begun to support Syria Assad has now won two of the three main towns leading the opposition.  Some degree of peace here.  Aleppo will be the next point of attack, unless some other horror intrudes, and the sieeg, the killing, the finger pointing will continue for another year or two.

Who really is the bad guy?  The media tends to point at Assad but he did not start the conflict, others did.  The terror, the torture, the nasty use of weapons occurs on both sides, no innocent party here.  The US & Russia have say some an agreement as to how far both can go even if outwardly it may appears conflicts occur.  The Saudis, in between cutting off hands and crucifying 16 year old's, say little possibly too busy obtaining British bombs to drop on Yemeni children.  David Cameron would not intervene in the 16year old's crucifixion because the 'Saudi's pay us a lot of money.'  Money and oil and self preservation come to the fore here.  Let the Arabs kill one another but let us remember the money they give us also.
What is the answer to this war?  I don't know.

Last week Celtic played an Israeli team in the European Champions League.  At this game many Celtic fans waved Palestinian flags (something none of them did while in Israel itself I noted) and made out they shared support for the beleaguered Palestinians.  
It's nonsense of course.  Celtic fans like to portray themselves as victims.  Victims of sectarian abuse, victims in work, victims in play and the support for Palestine Arabs has nothing to do with Palestine but everything to do with self pity and encouraging a 'victimhood' they can all gather under.
Not one fan from any other Scots side will sympathise with them, all have suffered from the hordes of yobs coming from Glasgow's east side, all have listened to their sectarian songs, all have seen them attack locals, destroy local areas and frighten men women and children.
Self pitying Celts will be better attempting to change their attitudes and the attitudes of their bigot brothers along the road at Ibrox Park.  Just remember Scotland does not want either of you! 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Trapped Happily by DPD

Trapped all day I have been although I was not too despondent about this.  For one, I was waiting on a parcel being delivered and for another the weather was too hot for my weary bulk.  
I got an e-mail informing me my latest expensive buy (£2 each) was on it's way and that by just downloading the 'app' I could follow the van drivers progress.  This interested me as I recall the days sitting in the van driving around London (before today's van driver was born) using the high tech available at the time, namely one sheet of grubby paper with deliveries written thereon and a pen, unless that had been nicked by a comrade.  Today, they said, the 'app' allows you to trace the van as it reaches each delivery (I was 29 in the list and he would arrive between 12:06 and 13:06) and I considered this a marvellous idea remembering just how many times we arrived at closed doors.  Our best advice was the driver working out his route and scribbling whether we would be 'a.m.' or 'p.m.'  If traffic occurred, as it did do in London, then we could be late.  
There is a problem here however, I attempted to download said 'app' and discovered that 'DPD' doing their best omitted to generate an 'app' that worked on laptops.  Being a mere grumbling pensioner I canny afford a mobile phone costing £300, especially as I have no friends to call, and lose out on such things.  However I e-mailed back to DPD and within a short time the display arrived on my screen.  I strongly suspect that this was clear enough on their website but daftie here could not see it.  So I relaxed as I made my lentil soup, with far too much cayenne pepper, did some (for some read 'little') work on one of my projects and generally lazed around in the heat.
In the cool of the day the temperature is still in the 80's, that is around 27 to those of you out of kilter with the real world.  It was much higher when I opened the door to the van driver at precisely 12:06 would you believe.   I am much impressed with this system I must say, well done DPD.  
Global warming is no myth, in spite of what the naysayers naysay it is real, the temperature and the weather in general is shifting whatever the reason.   I sat here exposing my beer belly to the windows, er no I mean sat here working near the windows to get what air there was as it circled around.  It was too hot for me, much as I like this, but once the parcel had been opened and satisfied my desire for shiny things I remained happy to sleep rather than walk the streets.

i did spend some time on a thing called 'USwitch' trying to find cheaper energy.  I also looked at the cheaper smaller energy companies and was not impressed much.  To save a few pounds here you lose a few there.  Unless you catch a special offer I could not see much advantage in changing from one company to another, not for me at any rate.  How they rip us off!  
However the council has a place in a nationwide scheme where they say energy companies will make us an offer, possibly cheaper than that we now have.  The only thing is to register and await their offer which arrives sometime in October!  Ah well, my name is down I now await.
I also had a look at the ISP broadband and fibre packages and am interested in one or two of those.  Just what the catch is I am unsure but I am now paying £45 for this and even with BT Sport this is too much.  All BTS wish to do is watch Rangers and Celtic, I want Scottish football on my laptop not the bigot brothers.  I can watch the games on those chancer streams instead.  I don't want to do this but BT force me to.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Soldiers Mascots

The Edinburgh Festival, and the accompanying 'Fringe,' bring many illustrious individuals into a city which can boast a great many already.  One major event at this time is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in which bands and others from all over the world participate to rapturous applause, often in the rain!  This year once again one of Scotland's favourite nations, one in which ties were made stronger during the second world war, had soldiers representing their country at the tattoo.
Edinburgh Zoo is one of the most famous in the world, or at least in Edinburgh.  There are a host of animals confined here, some along with controversy it must be said, and there are also a host of Penguins, some of the zoo's favourite characters.  Each day since the early 50's a gate is opened and the Penguins, if they feel so inclined, wander out along a chosen path before being returned to their pen.  usually this occurs without incident and the Penguins feel happy enough it appears with the adventure.
One Penguin however has been Knighted!
Sir Nils Olav, a King Penguin, became the mascot and Colonel in Chief of the Norwegian Kings Guard in 1972 when the King's Guard were attending the Tattoo.  Originally given the rank of 'Lance Corporal' (Visekorporal) the Penguin was promoted each time the Guard attended the Tattoo.  Sir Nils passed away in 1987 and his successor , Nils Olav II, inherited his rank.  Sadly he too passed away in 2008 but Olav III also accepted with no hesitation the rank and position awarded his predecessors.  During the visit in 2008 Nils was awarded a Knighthood the honour approved by King Harald V.   On the 22nd of this month some 50 members of the King's Guard attended the Zoo and a crowd gathered to watch Sir Nils receive his next promotion this one making him a Brigadier!     
Such activities are not unknown, regiments often have goats or dogs as mascots, the Polish Division during the second world war inherited a brown bear cub called 'Wojtek' which not only continued with them through the was in Italy and France but was seen carrying ammunition during the Battle of Monte Cassino!  So helpful was he to morale and in carrying ammunition that he was enlisted as a soldier, reaching the rank of Corporal and having his own paybook.  With many Poles settling in Scotland after the war Wojtek entered Edinburgh Zoo where he happily ate cigarettes thrown to him by ex-Soldiers.  He ate them as there was no-one to light them for him!  He died in 1963 and I can remember seeing a Brown Bear in the zoo but I was not told this story.  A statue of bear and soldier  keeper now stands in Princess Street Gardens.
The UK, where important things happen!


Monday, 22 August 2016

Busy Day

Having wandered around the corner to Tesco's this morning I then spent the entire day catching up on those things left undone that need to be done but can wait until today when they could wait no longer and I undid them, or something.
Indeed I amazed myself with the vast amount of work that has been done today.  I even worked out my money now that I am officially old and understand just how poor I am.  Still in the past I have been on pauper level and now I am merely in poverty, that is a big step forward.  
The electric people, 'EON,'  a right bunch of crooks are demanding I pay an arm and a leg to satisfy their chairman's desire to become a billionaire.  I am now looking for alternative suppliers.  They say there are cheap folks somewhere around but I have yet to find them, maybe I can do so this week.
The next Gas bill will find me dumping 'British Gas' and their grasping directors!  Pity we canny change the water suppliers they are just as greedy.

I almost, but not quite, managed to do some museum work.  Some of those items have been lying around so long the things I wrote have become historical in themselves.  They must be dumped and restarted, all for the better I reckon.  Several years ago I intended, having responded to the 'suggestion,' that one page fact sheets could be produced on a variety of subjects.  I began this and got sidetracked by helping at other exhibitions and sloth.  No need to suggest the main reason.  So I hope to return to this in a few weeks when I cut down the hours spent at the museum.  I will end the Thursday morning and sit at home doing stuff instead.  One day a week at that is enough.  However I note there is a plan in the offing for me and him to work on the website photos, even though we don't know what we are doing!  So I see Thursday not working out even yet.
I need a break from this, I think I will take a break in Afghanistan, it seems to be quieter there these days...


Friday, 19 August 2016

The Day Dawns, Followed by Rain...

The day dawned with the sun climbing above the trees bringing a promise of warmth and light.  I looked forward to a day of ease, sun coming in the window as I burnt my breakfast, a foto of birdies squabbling for bread in the park maybe, green grass and blue skies ahead.
My plan was to wander to the museum to obtain three books I need for a gift, I wish I had remembered them yesterday, then wrap and post then wander aimlessly through the day at my leisure.

It is not to be wondered at that withing two hours as I left Sainsburys carrying a heavy bag of reduced price products the sky began to fall on my head.  Gray clouds covered the land, pigeons headed for better roosts and umbrellas began to be poked into passing pedestrians eyes as I trundled down the road passing glaring early morning eyes.
I noted the pigeon wondering why he lived in this country when the weather was better elsewhere and soon he flew off to sit astride a television aerial atop a house over the way.  Surely thought I this exposes him to more rain?  He ignored my thoughts.
In the shop I was attended to by the unsmiling checkout woman, one who often acts as supervisor.
The unwillingness to smile has been her main feature these past twenty years.  On occasions I have considered telling her a joke but feared she may have a stoke or something, so I desist.  Today as I went home I wondered if it would be possible to create birthday cards and the like with 'Grumpy Checkout Girl' on them?  Surely it would be possible to find appropriate reasons for her not to smile at the people around her, which to be honest would not be difficult when the store was busy.
The rain screwed everything but in between showers I obtained the books from the museum and brought them home to pack.  Naturally there are no suitable envelopes in this house, some fool threw the ragged versions out when painting recently, and now I canny get more till tomorrow!  Bah! 

One bright thing the post brought this morning was a CD.  'Ae Spark o Nature's Fire.'  This is an album of Robbie Burns songs in which Jillian Bain Christie, a soprano sings 14 of his best while my favourite, best looking and brainiest niece accompanies her on the piano.  They have just completed a wee tour of the highlands, stopping off at the 'Edinburgh Fringe' to give two concerts, including one in St Giles Kirk, to rapturous applause (at least from the members of the family who went along!).
While there my sister managed to purchase (nothing free with this lot!) two albums and sent one to me!   I await the bill that follows!  Naturally as this is my favourite, best looking and wisest niece this will be a success and a world beater!  However if Clapton releases another album he might sell more...
(I'll have to stop referring to soprano's as 'those screeching wimmen' from today.  The pianist is great however!)      

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Friday, a Day of Rest

My working week is over and I am glad.  
I appear to be tired all the time and unable to get rid off this latest bug.  It has been hanging around for weeks and still loves me, which is more than anyone else nearby does.   My mind is confused and I made several daft mistakes at work and was glad to get home.  
The day was good otherwise, the kids at the 'Superhero' activity loved it today.  They made a survival kit and this allowed them to use their imagination, which they did, and the mums and kids were delighted with the results of their labours.  The lass and her helpers running it were completely shattered by the end!   I keep out of the way of the actual work at such times.  It is good to see the kids, many are regulars, and we will miss them when they have gone, but as there is yet another week or so until they return to school we and the mums will still be hankering for the quiet times ahead.  
Then we can clear the mess that appears to litter the floor on a daily basis, it's not there when we open!  Being tired and weary today I just ran for home and left others to deal with that for a change. 

I wonder if I will have the energy to watch this weekends football....?