Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Red sky at night.

They said that a red sky at night is a shepherd's delight.  By which I assume, like everyone else, that it augers a good day.

They lied.

After spending all day in Hove Park - well, from 10.00 until 5.00 or so, having been at the Lions' store to load the van beforehand and then going back again to offload all the beer we didn't sell - then taking the dog for a walk and finally eating dinner, this was the view from the bedroom window last night.

Beautiful or what?

It had been cloudy all day, with a strong, cold breeze, and, as a result, we didn't sell anything like as much beer as we had hoped.  Still we covered all costs and now have almost enough stock for another session!

Anyway, this morning we woke to a howling gale and lashing rain!  So much for a shepherd's delight!

Friday, 27 May 2016

There's more!

Well, the OB and I decided to go out last night.  We do, every so often; but never as late as we left home yesterday evening.  I felt quite the young thing leaving home to go into town at a quarter to ten at night!  The reason for this was we wanted to see the son et lumiere (sound and light) production, Dr Blighty, that I trailered yesterday.

As it says on the 14-18NOW website, "Created by award-winning arts company Nutkhut for Brighton Festival, which is celebrating its 50th festival this year, Dr Blighty throws a spotlight on the Indians who travelled across the world to fight for the Allies, bringing to life the experiences of the injured Indian soldiers brought to recuperate in Brighton and the locals who came to know and care for them.

"Between 1914 and 1916, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate was used as a hospital for Indian servicemen who had been wounded on the Western Front. The focus of Dr Blighty is an immersive walk-through installation in the gardens of the Royal Pavilion capturing the essence of the hospital, animated by actors and enhanced by a specially created soundtrack. The hospital installation will be complemented by a series of related performances and participatory outreach activities, drawing parallels with contemporary events while bringing back to life this moving episode in Brighton’s history.

"For four nights, a spectacular after-dark production will incorporate video projections on the Royal Pavilion, evoking memories of a very distant home for the soldier convalescents."

I was astonished just how many people there were thronging the Royal Pavilion gardens and surrounding streets to watch the 10 minute presentation.  It ended with flames, as you will see if you watch the following video to the end, which possibly represented the funeral pyres which were lit on the Downs in accord with the religious requirements of Sikh and Hindu soldiers who died here.

The Chattri is far across the Downs.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Royal Pavilion . . .

. . . as it's never been seen before! All part of Brighton Festival.

I wonder what the prince Regent would have thought?

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

'Nuf sed!

Borrowed (or stolen) pic

Monday, 23 May 2016

Ladies Mile

"They" say that one of the best ways to meet people is to walk a dog.  Well this afternoon I thought that saying was coming true - and my luck had changed!  There I was, walking the dog in the ladies Mile Nature Reserve when a rather attractive young lady (who was coming towards me) made to stop.  As I say, I thought my luck had changed - but she merely made a fuss of the dog and went on her way.

Ah well, I can dream.

Anyway, Ladies Mile.  My approach is along a stony track through banks of nutty-smelling cow parsley.

There are possibly hundreds of hawthorn trees, not much more than bushes really, towards the far end.  Some of them are so smothered by blossom that it's difficult to see any leaves.

It looks from a short distance as if the trees are sprinkled with snow.  I was up here last week on a dull afternoon - and without a camera - when I noticed that the grass in front of  a group of well-covered hawthorns was almost smothered by cowslips.  Despite the crap forecast, today has been warm and bright and I thought this would be my chance of a photo - but the cowslips I wanted had mostly faded - although there were plenty of others in full bloom still in other places!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

It never rains etc

Why is it that everything has to come to a critical state at the same time?

Somehow - and I really don't know how this happened - I ended up doing almost all the preparation for running the beer tent at Hove carnival last year.  That was the first time the tent had been run by Brighton Lions, taking it on after Hove Lions Club closed.  And because of a family wedding that weekend I wasn't even there!  Once again this year, I seem to have the job and have been trying to work out from incomplete records how much stock to buy and go out to buy it.  And take care to see that the tent will be lent to us by a local Scout Group, who will also pitch it for us.  And sort out the license and necessary signage and equipment.

At the same time I'm trying to put together the combined menus and place cards for our Charter Night.  These are all produced individually to show the menu selection of the named guest - and each has to be printed separately, one page at a time.  A time-consuming task.

And the Lions Housing Society is getting near to completing the purchase of a plot of land which is involving to-ing and fro-ing between us, the solicitor acting for us, the Council (from whom we are buying the land) and the bank, who are lending us some of the purchase price.  Meanwhile, we are dealing with a firm of architects who are acting as our agents in a planning application for another site where we have bought a large house.  We hope to gain permission to redevelop that and the neighbouring plot, where we already have six bungalows, with a block of flats.

If nothing else, all this helps to keep my mind active!

Friday, 20 May 2016

The blues

It was more than half a century ago that I bought the girl who was my wife-to-be a ring, a beautiful sapphire surrounded by diamonds.  Mind you, if she were to stand beside the Duchess of Cambridge and compare her sapphire to Kate's...  Well, there is just no comparison!

But this week I have learned of a ring to put even Kate's into the shade.  This ring is not a sapphire but a diamond, a rare, blue diamond weighing in at an enormous 14.62 carats.  The Oppenheimer Blue was sold this week at auction and fetched very nearly £40 million!  I really cannot imagine spending that much on a ring - and i don't know any woman who would dare to wear it outside the house!  Come to that, few women I know would dare to wear it INside the house!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Lilac time

It was a good many years ago now that the head of Brighton Parks department decided to plant dozens of lilacs of different varieties in Withdean Park.  This ended up as the second largest collection in the world with over 250 different varieties.  It was designated by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens as the National Reference Collection for the species and cultivars of the genus syringa (lilacs).   Regrettably, the Parks Department has been unable to allocate sufficient funds to maintain the collection to a suitable standard, and the National Collection status was lost in 2009.  However, at this time of the year, when the remaining lilacs are at their peak, the scent is almost overpowering.

I can't get that scent onto the blog, but here is a picture showing some of the varied colours of both the blooms and the leaves, along with a photo-bombing horse chestnut tree!

Monday, 16 May 2016


Somehow I never got round to posting yesterday, which is probably just as well.  If I had done anything I would probably have moaned about the not very good meal and the lousy service we suffered on Saturday at a function held at one of the big seafront hotels.  The entertainment wasn't up to much either, although the speeches were, on the whole, amusing and satisfactorily short.

Yesterday evening we watched part of the Queen's 90th birthday bash at Windsor Castle.  This featured 900 horses, plus a few humans - and led to another moan.  One of the artistes appearing was the Welsh songbird, Katherine Jenkins.  It is totally unfair that anyone should be able to sing like her (what a voice!) AND look as gorgeous as she does!  I've spent far too much time today trying to find the best video of her and have finally settled on this one.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Ne'er cast a clout

That's what we are told, with the qualification, "Till May be out".  Well, the may is now out, although there are still some very tight buds.

 It has really only come into flower this week, probably due to the warm weather we had.  Earlier this week, a day or three before it could really be called "out", the OB and I cast off a clout or two - only to put them back today now that it is in bloom!  Turned right chilly today, it has!

As the dog and I go into the Ladies Mile nature reserve for a walk we pass an apple tree which is now full of blossom.

There is also plenty of blossom on the one and only crab apple tree, but most of it is on one side! Still, it bodes well for the OB wanting to make crab apple jelly later in the year.

I was also very pleased to see a flock of swifts on Thursday afternoon, the first this year.  Mind you, it was a very small flock - just three birds!  But it reminded me of one of my summer delights, sitting at an outdoor table for dinner at one of the restaurants in the square in Chateaubriant and watching (and listening to) the multitude of swifts swirling and screaming around the church tower.  With luck, just a few weeks away.

Friday, 13 May 2016

If it's not one thing . . .

I doubt anyone in the UK who is compos mentis can be unaware of the forthcoming (I refuse to use the non-word 'upcoming') referendum.  We have been subjected to diatribes and arrant nonsense from both the Remain and the Leave camps and - fortunately - a certain amount of sense from both sides as well.  What does irritate me (and, I suspect, many other voters) is that both sides state as facts what will or will not happen after the referendum.  Whatever the result.  For goodness' sake, not one of those absolutely certain people has a crystal ball!

One thing in particular disappoints me.  The Prime Minister promised quite specifically that if his negotiations failed to bring about considerable change, he would lead a campaign for us to leave the EU.  Well, either his definition of 'considerable' is considerably different from mine or he has broken his promise.  That is what I find disappointing.  I expected better of him.

But still, there is one benefit that we have received from all the hoohah.  The American Presidential election has been pushed off the top spot in the television news and off the front page of my newspaper!  I get terribly confused by the American electoral system with its caucuses, colleges and primaries.  Somebody did once try to explain it to me - I think it was Skip - but I ended up more confused than ever.  It's a bit like trying to understand American football.  I'm just glad that we don't have either of the presidential front-running hopefuls as potential prime ministers of this country.  Not that some of ours aren't just as bad!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

I enjoyed summer

It happened last weekend.  Saturday was a day of glorious weather - and Brighton must have been crowded.  Not only was the weather very good, but it was the first day of the Brighton Festival, which is claimed to be the biggest arts festival in England with only the Edinburgh Festival outdoing it in the UK.  The first day always sees the children's parade wending its way through the streets, with entries from every school in the city.  I rarely - make that never - venture into the town on summer weekends if I can avoid doing so and when I had to go out on Saturday morning and cross the main road into town from the north (and therefore London), I estimated that the cars would take at least half an hour to cover the remaining two or three miles to the sea front.  And then the drivers would have to find somewhere to park!

Sunday was, if anything, even better; the temperature was certainly higher.  Our local paper published a picture of the crowds waiting for trains at about 6.00pm :

Rather them than me!

Yesterday was another fine day, but today is grey and wet.  Like I said, I enjoyed summer - while it lasted!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Hoist with my own petard

Yesterday afternoon I was sifting through old photographs at the request of my son and his fiancée.  They were after pictures of our various dogs through the ages for what seemed to them a perfectly sound reason.  I, of course, became distracted and started fishing out pictures that could have been mildly embarrassing to my son, when I came across this one dating from about 1950 showing me, my father and my brother on the sea front at Broadstairs.

I'm sot sure which is the more embarrassing, that one or this from 1947!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Nuisance calls and naivete

I had one of 'those' telephone calls this morning.  The gentleman (I use the term in its loosest sense) on the other end of the line claimed to be from the Telephone Preference Service, the service to which we subscribe in order to block those unwanted cold sales calls.  I was immediately suspicious because:
a) my caller had a strong accent that originated from the Indian sub-continent;
b) it was only 8:20am;
c) the TPS are not the sort of body to make unwanted telephone calls.

My interlocutor asked if we receive unwanted telephone calls, to which I responded in the affirmative and told him that his call was unwanted, especially at that time of the morning.  he carried on talking but when I repeated - loudly - that his call was unwanted, he simply put the phone down.

I might have contacted the TPS myself to complain about this call, but the caller ID told me that the number was unavailable so there seemed no point.

I do have a modicum of sympathy for those young people (and I imagine they are young people in the main) in places like India who, desperate for a job to earn money, work in those call centres from which so many nuisance calls originate.  But I have no sympathy for the companies that employ them.  Nor do I have any sympathy at all for those people who use emails and telephone calls to con people out of money.  I sincerely hope that I am not and never will be sufficiently gullible to fall for the sort of trick I heard about only yesterday.

This involved a gang on men who telephoned elderly people claiming to be from the police.  They told their intended victims of problems with their banks and persuaded them to draw out their funds and hand them to the "police" for safe-keeping when a gang member called at the victim's house.  I find it incredible that anybody could be naive enough to fall for that - but one woman aged in her 70s drew out £130,000 and handed it over!

Monday, 2 May 2016

An English tradition

Today is a bank holiday in England.  It's known as the May Day bank holiday even though it is held on the first Monday in May regardless of whether or not that day is also the 1st May, May Day proper.  Mind you, in Oxford they still celebrate the proper May Day.  Yesterday it was estimated that the crowd on Magdalene Bridge to watch the dawn numbered as many as 25,000 people!  Meanwhile the choir of Magdalene College sang Hymnus Eucharisticus from the top of the tower.

And in keeping with another tradition, the weather today is wet (ish), dank and drear.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Darling buds of May

So here it is again - May Day.  And the Weather Gods seem to have entered into the spirit of the occasion giving us a beautiful day weather-wise.  Granted, there is quite a breeze up on the Downs, but that is nothing unusual.  I think the weather must have gone to my head as I have spring cleaned what we call the conservatory.  In reality it is not much more than a lean-to at the back of the house providing an entrance (and exit) for the dog and a place to keep wet-weather gear, wellingtons, dog leads and all that type of paraphernalia.  And the freezer and tumble dryer as well.  It really was in desperate need of cleaning but the weather has to be just right to undertake the task - and today it was.  So, for the first time in months, I cleared the cobwebs, swept up the dead and dried leaves, the dog hair and the mud and then washed the floor.

Not content with that, I took the dog for a walk round the Roman Camp.  Since my nasty bout a couple of weeks ago I have not really been 100% and so the walks have been somewhat less energetic that I would consider normal - driving to the park in the morning instead of walking 10 minutes each way and cutting the afternoon walk, quite drastically some days.

What a delight it was to see bluebells, primroses, cowslips, violets and other flowers - and to catch a snatch of a skylark's song.  But of the darling buds of may there was no sign yet.