Wednesday, 27 September 2017


I just can't bring myself to do it. Almost everyone who send me emails starts them, "Hi" and although it doesn't grate on me, it's not something I can bring myself to do. Which - I have to admit - is just a little odd as I have no difficulty in ending my emails "Regards" - or even, sometimes, "Kind regards".

Language, I am very well aware, is a living thing; it moves, it changes, it develops. And that is how it should be. After all, Old Bill the Bard is venerated for having introduced (or even invented) goodness knows how many words. Infinitives I can split with the next man, despite knowing that a split infinitive is a grammatic abhorrence - but there are times when sandwiching the adverb just seems to give it a bit more punch.  As in "to boldly go", for example.

Back in the day, I was firmly instructed (or instructed firmly) that business correspondence opened "Dear Sir" and closed "Yours faithfully". If one was well acquainted with the correspondent, the salutation could be the less formal "Dear Mr Smith", in which case the closing would change to "Yours sincerely". Of course, letters to family and close friends would open with "Dear Jim" and close with "Love from". There would then be numerous permutations of opening with things like "Dear Prime Minister" and ending the letter of resignation with "Yours truly" or even "Yours ever" - although both the salutation and either closing would perhaps be somewhat tongue in cheek.

Of course, we have all seen examples of letters from the first World War trenches ending along the lines of, "from your affectionate son, Jack" - which simply goes to prove my point about language being a changeable commodity. but I still can't open an email with the word "Hi".

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.