Sunday, 10 September 2017

A new one on me

The weather on Friday was decidedly naff, windy and with a fair amount of rain - oftentimes really heavy. Nothing compared to what people have been facing in the Caribbean or those southern states in the US, but a bit off for this part of England. Here in the south-east corner we have enjoyed a very fair summer - indeed, the weather has been very good for the most part and better than in other parts of the country.

But that is all by the bye and has little to do with what was new to me.

I had taken Fern for her post-breakfast walk - and got rather damp. In fact, very wet. There was very heavy rain late morning and I had pretty much decided that the afternoon walk would not happen - but the weather cleared. We set off across 39 Acres, through the wood at the top of Wild Park and on to the deserted golf course. And that was when it happened.

You can, perhaps, imagine my astonishment when I saw a crow looking for all the world as though it was about to land on Fern's rump! It's legs were outstretched as it approached the unsuspecting dog. I yelled at it and it moved away - only to come back a second and even a third time!

But it was then that the crow's avian nemesis appeared in the form of a first-year herring gull. The gull flew at the crow as if it was attempting to drive the bird away - and it kept doing so!

I don't know what surprised me the most: that a crow should attempt to land on fern; or that a gull should come to Fern's rescue; or that we got home dry after the better part of an hour's walk!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Squirrel alert!

It's that time of the year again. The time when the pears are getting near to being near to being ripe - if you follow my meaning. They are really starting to thin themselves out, which means they are ripe enough for the squirrels. Indeed, I watched one taking a few bites just the other day, but the fruit was apparently not quite ripe enough. But it very soon will be!

And if the squirrels don't damage the fruit, the jackdaws almost certainly will. There are jackdaws around all year, but when the pears are very nearly ripe they descend on the tree almost like a horde of locusts. And there doesn't seem to be anything we can do to stop them - other than tie the dog to the tree, to which she would most certainly object vociferously.

If all goes well, we might get a few undamaged pears.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Just updating

I haven't posted for a week - and what I have posted recently hasn't been anything of my own. But as Skip said, life has just been getting in the way. What with barbecues with the family, a visit from my daughter, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner with friends (not all the same friends and not all on the same day!), there has been little enough time for me to grapple with the complexities of my brand new iphone. Yes, I finally decided to retire the old Nokia. It has served me faithfully for many a year but I felt I wanted something more sophisticated, something that would just give me more that simple phone calls - and horrifically difficult texts!

Throw in Lions work - transport for stroke patients and the blind, shopping for food banks, dealing with bookings for PSA tests while another Lion was away, planning the fireworks display and putting together the proposal for relieving fuel poverty in Brighton and a couple of business meetings. I have also had fun dealing with various bits of software such as Survey Monkey, Jotform and even PayPal. Still, most of it has been fun. Of a sort.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Why Brexit?

At last, the UK's 500 year plan and decision to vote to leave Europe is explained in full. ("Yes, Minister" was a British TV comedy series, this episode dating from 1981!)

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Glen Campbell, RIP

I remember many of his songs, but this one was new to me when I spotted it on the Tube o' U today.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Feminine logic

There follows the gist of a conversation I enjoyed had yesterday with the Old Bat. I was ironing a t-shirt of hers but was unsure were she would want me to put it later.

Me: Where does this green t-shirt of your live?

OB: In the t-shirt drawer.

Me: I am never sure which of your t-shirts go in the t-shirt drawer and which go on hangers in the wardrobe.

OB: All my t-shirts go in the t-shirt drawer. Except those that go on hangers.

There are times when it seems easiest just to keep quiet.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

A hundred years

I am always slightly surprised when there are large-scale (well, largish) events commemorating something that happened a century ago. I'm reasonably sure I would remember if there had been anything done to commemorate the Crimean War (battle of Balaclava, Florence Nightingale, the Charge of the Light Brigade) when the centenary occurred in the 1950's, but perhaps it is just that the Crimean War didn't leave such a mark on the hearts and minds of my fellow countrymen as did the First World War.

There are, I would suggest, two major battles from that war that are deeply etched into our consciousness: the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele, in 1917. Indeed, the centenary of the start of that battle occurs next weekend.

Briefly, Passchendaele is a small village a few miles from the Belgian town of Ypres, also spelt Ieper and known to the Tommies of WW1 as Wipers. It was considered vital to the war effort to capture the ridge on which the village stood. the attack was launched on 31st July, but it was until 10th November that Canadian troops finally captured the village. The weather was appalling, as can be seen in this photograph, and there are reports of many men drowning in the mud.

Australian gunners on a duckboard track, 29 October 1917. Photo by Frank Hurley.
The number of casualties is still a matter of controversy, but the official figure of British and allied losses is in the region of 250,000.  Many of those men have no known grave - and Belgian farmers still find human bones from time to time. The Menin Gate at Ypres was erected after the war as a memorial to the men who died and on it are carved the names of those who have no known grave.

The Menin Gate. Photo Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

When the memorial was finished, it was found to be too small to contain the names of all those who had no known grave so a cut-off date of 15th August 1917 was imposed. There are, nonetheless, 54,395 names inscribed. A further memorial at Tyne Cot Cemetery has the names of the remaining 34,984 UK soldiers missing. The names of the missing New Zealand and Newfoundland soldiers are on separate memorials.

One of the main roads out of Ypres passes through the gate, but every evening the road is closed while buglers of the local fire brigade play the Last Post.  The Last Post Association web site states:
Every evening since 1928 the Last Post has been played under the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper at 8 o'clock sharp. This evening the ceremony will take place for the 30747th time.
In fact, that is not quite correct. The ceremony didn't take place while Ypres was occupied by the Germans during World War II, but on the day the German army retreated, the ceremony was reinstated. It regularly attracts considerable crowds, as can be seen in this video taekn only in April this year.