Saturday, 25 May 2019

Cottage Life.



What makes living in a 'cottage' so different to living elsewhere?

Well, a cottage is usually quite small and cramped; like ours.

It's also usually quite old; like ours (250-300 years?).

It usually has a few old fruit trees dotted around, and a small area where vegetables are grown; like ours.

It probably has a few Hens scratching about; like ours (used to have).

A cottage will be dusty on account of its open fires; like ours.

It will have dog footprints and hairs everywhere; like ours.

It will be cluttered on account of the lack of space; like ours.

The cottage itself will probably have lumps, bumps, and cracks; like ours.

There's bound to be a Cat or two wandering around; ours once did.

It will have ancient low beams holding up the floor and roof; like ours.

The flagstone floors, or quarry tiles, will be freezing cold; like ours.

And if you are lucky enough to live in a cottage which is anything like the above, it will have been offering a wonderfully cosy place for families to live for centuries; just like ours.



Friday, 24 May 2019

Child Poverty in Britain.



With all the child poverty we hear about, I find this Chelsea Flower Show garden, with child's house, rather worrying.

With 4 Million children 'apparently' living in abject poverty, how on earth could they afford this charming wee 'Wendy House'.

For just £30,000 this playhouse could belong to little Piers or Penelope. It is loosely based on a weekend holiday house one might own in Hampshire. It has a roof made from 300 year old reclaimed tiles (very eco), a mini-Aga inside, floral wallpaper, brass fittings on the doors, a mini Fortnum's hamper, and lead-lighted windows. All perfectly normal; I hear you say.

Well yes, but had it been priced at a more realistic £28,500, we would now be seeing them popping up in gardens from Glasgow to Glastonbury, but they are overpriced; and unless the little dears go without their gold-leafed designer trainers or ski trips to Klosters, they'll have to wait another month (or even more) in order to afford one! I know; that might be asking too much.

In these difficult times of 'Austerity', maybe a government grant could be offered to those families who cannot quite afford this simple garden addition for their offspring. In today's world; every child should have one (the Beehive is extra).


In comparison, this small house (above) can be yours for £12,500. It's in Peterlee, Co Durham.



Thursday, 23 May 2019

Venice Biennale 2019.


Here's a small selection of what's on offer in Venice this year, much of it rather pretentious.




Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Luxury Hotel and Spa.



Many of us dream of spending the occasional weekend being pampered in a luxury hotel and spa (not me). My own mother used to unwind at Champneys on occasions, in the days when such things were still quite a novelty.

33 year old Luke Jewitt (above) is one such dreamer. He often spends his weekends, along with his mother, at a hotel and spa in Birmingham, where for a mere £140 a day, it allows them the luxury they both hanker for. Nothing particularly special in that, but HIS time there IS rather special.

In fact Mr Jewitt is currently in prison for his part in importing 3.6 tons of Cocaine and Cannabis into the UK.

He was jailed in 2016, and is just 3 years into his 10 year sentence, but the caring (and very considerate) UK prison authorities have given him permission to stay at the hotel, and use its spa, at the weekends providing that he promises to return to the slammer afterwards.

Well I do think that's very nice of them. No doubt if he asked for a couple of weeks away in Marbella, they would grant permission for that too!

It's a great life for criminals in the UK. If you don't get caught you can make a fortune, but if you do get caught, you usually keep the loot and spend some time in a reasonably pleasant secure 'hotel style' prison, where almost everything is available (including regular visits to a spa). 

He even has time to pose for photos; you would hardly believe that he was actually a jailbird.

Welcome to 21st Century Britain. Eee, it's a grand life!


Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Promises, promises.




I'm sure I'm not alone in enjoying a good noisy storm.

Imagine, then, that we were promised a belter on two successive days, and nothing happened (as was the case this last weekend). I almost felt like suing the French Met' office.

I would rather they said nothing than get my hopes up, and, anyway, the Western sky will always tell me if a storm is imminent. It didn't.

Noise and water do little damage, unless on a gargantuan scale, but large hailstones at this time of year can wreak havoc. I remember experiencing a serious hailstorm in mid-May a few years back. The ground was thick with golf ball size ice cubes, and I feared for my young plants at Haddock's. In fact nothing was touched; not even one hole in a courgette leaf. St Fiacre had done his work.

The anticipation of a good storm is always exciting; its failure to arrive is dire.

p.s. Meanwhile in the USA, I hear it's tornado season in certain states. HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS!



Monday, 20 May 2019

An everyday story of country folk.



People tend to think that nothing happens out in the countryside. They imagine people sit about on walls, chewing on sprigs of hay, discussing manure and mangel wurzels; nothing could be further than the truth.

Firstly it is surprising how many extremely talented, interesting, and intelligent people one encounters, the idea that country dwellers are all six fingered yokels is a myth (except for a few). Country people are no different to town people, they simply choose to live a quieter, and healthier, life.

However, life is never really as quiet as one imagines. Just recently we have encountered two upside-down cars in roadside ditches, a row of PINK hay bales, and a suspiciously broken wall. All far more interesting than stabbings, political elections, or preparations for war, that commands the attention of most town folk.

I didn't photograph the two unfortunate young ladies who'd obviously been driving much too fast, but I did stop to offer assistance.


I was half expecting to see Katie Price driving her silly 'Essex Girl' pink car when I saw these bales (above), but in fact I believe they have something to do with Breast Cancer awareness.


The broken wall we found much more baffling, but it seems that the two events are tenuously linked.

A local man was driving up the hill towards the church, with a large round bale of hay (not pink) in the back of his pick-up. It managed to come loose, and rolled down the road and ended-up hitting our cemetery wall and part-demolishing it. It must have given it a helluva smack; that was one very solid stone wall!

It's nothing but excitement out in The Styx.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Making an Entrance.



An entrance can make all the difference to a garden, one's home, or even a Football ground. No matter where it's found, it gives you advance warning of what is to come.

At age 13 I saw the above 'entrance' (The Porta) for the first time, and frankly it filled me with serious foreboding. I can remember that moment even today.

I was making that great leap from Prep' school to Senior school, and had been summoned to meet my new prospective headmaster prior to sitting the dreaded 'Common Entrance' exams, but seeing that austere building made me wonder if I'd chosen the right place. Even Dartmoor (below) had a more friendly appearance; not that I've visited it.


At my current school I'd been a senior boy, partly in charge of my juniors; but here, once inside this great arch I suddenly became a mere quivering junior again, with the senior boys looking more like grown men or angry prison warders than fellow pupils. It was a shock for which I wasn't prepared.

Luckily I passed my exams and was offered a place; surprisingly complete with a very small Latin Scholarship bursary. The ancient buildings all soon became familiar, and I quickly forgot the feelings of doom that had originally beset me.

The Porta is actually a much younger building that the others that surround it. Built between 1396 and 1417 it was originally the entrance to the monastery where fellow 'old boy' Edward the Confessor had learned his ABC. Later it became the location of a 'Bishop's Court', and even contained a small prison. Personally I remember it mostly as a venue for theatre and music events; it's where my thespian talents were discovered and honed! My interpretation of 'Mortimer' in Arsenic and old Lace was legendary..... legendary darling!


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