Sunday 28th May 2017
I suppose you could say that last week lady luck did play her part in getting us to Ibiza and back as we flew British Airways from Gatwick and all aspects of the flight were without incident and my response to their questionnaire was 10 out of 10 in all departments. If it had been this week it would have been 0 out of 10 as BA has (as I write) had to shut down all its operations, globally, because of another computer glitch. What a farce. As it happens my ancient lap top is performing beautifully so perhaps I should have offered it to BA? Not funny if you are one of the poor buggers caught up in the chaos, I wonder if we will ever find out who or what caused the problem? Don’t hold your breath, it was probably Sam nodding off at the keyboard and hitting the ‘Control’, ‘Alt’, ‘Delete’ buttons with her cheese roll – again. Sorry Sam, we love you madly.
What a game. I don’t take much interest in football but I secretly wanted Arsenal to win as here in Cobham Chelsea have their training ground and often the entrance is blocked by hoards of fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their idols as they drive in (in their flashy cars) impeding my progress to the dump – they’ll have to widen the road but that would mean pinching a few allotments and that would never do.
Escaping to the Country I’ve decided is not an option as a neighbour has recently bought a few chickens which surprisingly make chicken noises all day long drowning out the sound of the M25 which is great, I’m thinking of buying a few Belted Galloways to add to the scene, what do you think Sam? Are you awake yet? I shouldn’t be too harsh on Sam as, I think I should explain, that she is a fictitious character who advises me on all sorts of legal implications of what I write and can’t write and so far I haven’t blotted my copy book – I hope. I’ve forgotten what blotting my copy book means but I think it means I haven’t upset anybody – yet. Lucky!
My Google Analytics are telling me that there are a few people in Brighton who read this rubbish so if it’s who I think it is John then thanks for introducing me to my wife, if you hadn’t have done I would have continued down the slippery slope to an early demise – so she tells me! And that wouldn't have been lucky.
Tuesday 30th May 2017
I feel a bestselling story coming on today but I’ve got another trip to the dump to make so it’ll have to wait – sorry. In the mean time you can check back on page 13 for May 23rd as I’ve added another photo of me at the age of 14 when I was optimistic.
Friday 2nd June 2017
Well I did write a story but it was so rubbish I binned it so I thought I might tell you about my philosophy of life instead.
Here is my take on the situation. As an individual we are motivated by feeding ourselves, keeping a roof over our heads and keeping warm (or cool depending on where you live). For all these things we need to exploit others, you might not like the term exploit but in essence as soon as we are born that is what we are programmed to do, as are all other living things. Think about it.
As a country, in order to have an education system, a health service, a benefit system, a care system, security, defence, infrastructure, institutions and all the rest that is required for a civilised society we need cash, you may not like the term cash but that is what is required and it can only come from selling our goods and services to other countries. As is the case for all other countries. In other words competition and exploitation would seem to be essential for survival.
Like it or not it is poor old planet Earth that is in the firing line for all our greed and exploitation. Now I have every confidence in science and technology solving all the problems but in the meantime cast your vote wisely.
Vote Democratic United Monster Party or The Real United Monster Party, no prizes for working out the acronyms!
Monday 5th June 2017
I can't think of anything to blog about today, all too depressing, so I thought I'd drop you a line and cheer myself up. Today we took Henry once again up to Polesden Lacey, now you might think that there is nothing new in that but despite the lack of rain there is a magnificent field of green corn (wheat actually) waving and swaying in the wind. Henry was so overcome he rolled over and waved his legs in the air echoing the swaying and the waving. There were very few doggie walkers today as no doubt the weather stopped all but the hardiest from venturing out. I am always hopeful that somebody will mention a visit to the cafe for a cup of tea and slice of Victoria Sponge but nobody ever does. Yesterday I offered to re-roof a neighbour’s rotten garage/shed with green roofing felt, I did a bloody good job, even though I say it myself, but today the bloody wind got underneath the corner I hadn't nailed down and took the lot off. I have now nailed it back on and entered it into a competition for Grand Designs of roofing felt. I'll send you a picture someday. I've decided to offer my skills at hanging curtains and blinds as I have had a lot of experience recently so if you need any help with your curtain track or your rufflette tape then you know where to come, I charge a Bottle of Whiskey per job - preferably Jamesons............................stay safe. Bob.
Wednesday 7th June 2017
Dear Reader(s) (there might be more than one Sam),
Not sure where the inspiration for writing letters comes from but my last letter sounded a bit unhinged, I could easily delete it but at some point down the line I might like to remind myself what it’s like to be unhinged. Now the point of today’s letter is that this Saturday June 10th there is the Annual Abinger Common Medieval Fayre which is well worth a visit. You will find a jolly bunch, many dressed up in medieval costume enjoying the pig racing, bashing the rat, maypole dancing and many more medieval goings on. You will probably find me there along with many of the characters who have appeared in this blog so if you are in the vicinity of the beer tent I might buy you a pint. If you wish to find out more then click HERE, there is a chance of course I might be hiding inside a Monk’s Habit so keep your eyes open! Bob.
Saturday 10th June 2017
Just for the record within the last few days the UK has once again been plunged into political chaos producing scenes of wild hysteria and utter dejection in equal measure. This time last year it was the same. Once again we are seen as a country of headless chickens on a train going at 100mph and the rumour is spreading that the driver is dead. Pass the marmalade Sam.
Monday 12th June 2017
Abinger Medieval Fayre
The sun shone, the flags flew, the children paraded, danced, raced and looked resplendent. The pigs leaped over the hurdles, the rat got splatted, the terriers yapped and the cider was disgusting.
And if it’s your birthday today then many happy returns to you Dan.
Thursday 15th June 2017
I don’t suppose the sight of a couple of old codgers perched on a log at the highest hill in Surrey would move the average blog reader but to the old codgers it was the highlight of a magnificent (probably the most magnificent) hike so far. Starting at Abinger Common in brilliant sunshine with temperatures nudging into the high twenties Celsius above the leafy lanes but cool and very pleasant inside the leafy lanes. The pair (the others declined the invite) set out on the gentle climb to the summit of Leith Hill via the South Col route.
The location of the summit in the final assault can be a touch difficult to determine but with the sound of what seemed like hundreds of children enjoying themselves echoing in the trees enabled the old codgers to home in on the Latte shop at the base of the Tower. The views all around are also magnificent adding to the pleasures of the contents of the lunch box; however a hard log eventually becomes uncomfortable so following another glance at the map a course of 350 magnetic was called for following the Greensand Way towards Friday Street. A gently descending leafy lane through lush flora, bird song, deafening silence and at times pungent nettle odour brought the old codgers out to a small hamlet where another study of the map was required. At this point a local resident emerged from a cottage ‘are you lost’ she enquired ‘absolutely not Madam we know exactly where we are and where we are going thank you very much’ well says she ‘suit yourself but that’s not the way to Friday Street’ and disappeared. She was right.
A short steep climb and another gentle descent brought the old codgers out to the pond at Friday Street decorated by colourful young ladies enjoying a picnic. The watering hole was to be the Stephan Langton Pub which fortunately was open and seemed unchanged since last visited by Bob back in the 50’s, apart from the menu of course. The dog friendly bar surprisingly was populated by friendly dogs perched on all the bar stools, get the picture? Should have taken one, sorry. Suitably refreshed by a pint of AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) the old codgers once again set out up another short steep slope emerging into a primeval forest which was negotiated with unerring accuracy assisted by the overhead cable running from Friday Street to Abinger. A guide for this hike can be hired by contacting yours truly. Price one bottle of Jameson’s.
Monday 19th June 2017
It just goes to show how vulnerable we all are when a power cut strikes, last night right in the middle of Antiques Roadshow everything went phut. Neighbours emerged from their little boxes wandering up and down the street wondering if others were similarly afflicted. The next half hour was spent contemplating how the hell we could cope without a phone charger and thoughts of life without electricity demanded serious consideration. No fridge, no freezer, no washing machine, no dishwasher, no TV, no radio, no kettle, no cooker, no phone, no broadband, no shaver, no toothbrush, no music, no lights and worst of all no Poldark and Demelsa. Fortunately halfway through Poldark a cheer echoed up and down the street heralding the return of life as we know it. Phew! Air conditioning as well Sam - stay cool. Its nudging 35 Celsius here in my back garden, Henry our Chocolate Labrador is trying not to melt – again.
Now let's face it most of us could do with losing a bit of weight, as you can see from the picture above I happen to have the good fortune to have a fantastic body! But, nevertheless there are areas that need a bit of attention. So, what I recommend is rather than worry about your weight in stones, pounds, kilo's or whatever, think of the problem in suitcases. By that I mean think of that bloody great suitcase you try to lug out of the car at Gatwick Airport, well, that weighs 20 kilos and despite my lithe looking body I weigh nearly 4 suitcases, for God's sake, 4 bloody suitcases, think about it 4 bloody suitcases. And despite your trim body Sam I'm willing to bet that you weigh 3 suitcases. Do you really want to be lugging around all those suitcases every day? No, so all you have to do is to think about your poor old toes, feet, ankles, knees, and hip joints lugging about all those suitcases and tell yourself every day 'I am a flight bag'. Job done.
Sunday 25th June 2017
When I am even older I hope to have the facility to relive a few ‘sparkly moments’ by reading my own blog, which is the only reason I am writing this riveting rubbish anyway. A couple of years ago I treated you to my story of a working trip to New Zealand in 1982, well I’ve just re-read it and re-lived it and wondered how the hell I survived without my usual home comforts, must have been confidence in decision making, pulling the right levers and pressing the right buttons. So there you are – a reason for writing your blog dear reader.
Apart from that nothing to report except that Father’s Day came and went and produced three cards announcing that I was ‘the best father ever’ – which is lovely but when one of them is now over 50 it must mean that I am not 18 next birthday?
Tuesday 27th June 2017
It seems that the BBC’s programme Escape to the Country is now more popular than ever, I try not to watch it but will admit to glancing at the odd one now and again. It does seem to appeal to those of us that have an urge to seek solitude and a more rural life amongst the birds, the badgers and the Belted Galloways. Some of the participants even request ‘no neighbours’ on their wish list. Personally I couldn’t imagine living without the distant rumble of the M25, the near constant grind of the turbofans clawing at the air overhead, the leaf blowers, the hedge trimmers, the edge strimmers, the yappy dogs, the occasional 1000cc motorbike at full throttle, the emergency vehicle sirens, the helicopters, slamming car doors, irate road users every time you open your front door, dog walkers who chuck their little black plastic bags anywhere, weekend firework parties ……… excuse me Sam how do you spell Zoopla?
Wednesday 28th June 2017
Another cyber-attack in the news today renders large parts of the globe without container ships?
Thursday 29th June 2017
I’d just like to apologise for all the bad language used in this blog, I hope I haven’t upset anyone, sometimes you get carried away don’t you think and strong language from the start seems appropriate but definitely not appropriate before 9pm so don’t read this sh*t before 9pm.
I would now like to introduce you to my promised retirement home for when I become incapable and start dribbling. It is located in my daughters back garden behind the apple tree and has far reaching views over the railway line. It is constructed of heavy concrete panels held together with dodgy looking concrete beams which could collapse at any moment. It lacks a large kitchen diner, living room, log burner, conservatory, master bedroom, bathroom and toilet but does benefit from a boarded up window. It has a sunken south facing wall which lends a certain ‘quirkiness’ to the east and west elevations. I have been to view the property but had difficulty getting out as the lintel dropped while I was in there and jammed the door. I will be going along for a second viewing so if you don’t hear from me again you will know what happened.
Saturday 1st July 2017
According to the BBC’s Horizon Programme in a few years’ time we will all be driving driverless cars, which as you will quickly realise, is a contradiction in terms. My question is where does that leave road rage? Not only that those dozy Dutch Engineers have been at it again, this time they have come up with a biodegradable car which they reckon you can eat when you’ve finished with it, the mind boggles. But before it gets too boggled……
If you find Bob’s Blog of any interest whatsoever please read Fayes Story and if you care to donate please do. Faye is my eldest granddaughter Hannah's best friend; both of them are training to be midwives and are part of ‘the team’. Thank you.
Love and hugs. Bob.
Friday 7th July 2017
This morning I took this picture of a cloud formation from my back garden, I decided it was good enough to send to the BBC’s Weather Watchers so I became a Weather Watcher. I sent the picture and out of all the pictures sent in today this was the ‘Editor’s Pick’ so there you are, at last, recognition - no prizes just recognition. I also achieved 9½ out of 10 as a result of filling out an NHS survey called One You. You tell it how old you are, what you eat, what you drink, what exercises you do and whether or not you are ‘full of beans’, I decided I was full of beans following beans on toast for breakfast? I also recorded that I was calm, relaxed, confident and in control – despite the beans and all the provocations. How did I achieve that? How do you achieve that? Drop me a line and I’ll tell you.
Tuesday 11th July 2017
Before I continue with another terribly boring story I would just like to record that we had a Smart Meter fitted yesterday. It is another piece of kit which all households are required to have fitted at some point. It comes with a yet another touch screen pad which allows you to monitor your electricity and gas consumption in great detail. The idea, I guess, is to make us all more aware of energy usage and not least of course, the cost. It will appeal to the anoraks amongst us who wish to know exactly how much it costs to charge your phone or cook your Sunday lunch, personally I couldn’t give a monkey – excuse me I’ve just got to check how much it costs to write a boring story.
Way back then when I had a touch more energy, but only a touch, I decided to buy a 6 month old light blue Bedford CF Crew Bus. It had bench seats each side seating 6 either side with zero seat belts so every time you stopped, or accelerated all passengers would end up in a heap at one end or the other – get the picture? However my idea was to rip out the slatted benches and remodel the interior as an all singing all dancing camper van for the wife, three children and the dog. My vision was a psychedelically painted ‘Van’ with tear drop windows, swivelling captain’s chair, welded chain steering wheel in gold, pot-bellied stove, overhead instrument panel with stereo radio and a large fitted button padded mattress. All the rage at the time.
I had just finished building the extension (single handed) so needed another project also the summer of ’76 was destined to be a scorcher which it turned out to be, so something for the outdoors it was.
Without getting into too much boring detail we ended up with a camper van without tear drop windows or a pot-bellied stove but nevertheless sported windows with curtains, button padded ceiling, seats (seat backs supported by broom handles) which would convert to a large bed, customised cushions, a cooker unit, a sink unit, storage and yes an overhead panel with stereo radio. For the next ten years or so apart from ferrying me up and down to Air Products in New Malden every day we and the dog went to many places. Like West Wittering, Shropshire, Devon, Cornwall, Norfolk, Yorkshire, Durham, and Wales. I am fairly sure that the children and the dog have their own memories of that old van some of which I hope were pleasant memories. My recollection is that the bloody thing never went fast enough but now on reflection I am glad that it didn’t. There might be a picture if I can find the slide projector and screen – remember?
Anyway the whole point about reminiscing about camping 41 years ago is that I dug out an old tent out of the loft for Lottie to play in, amazingly I remembered how to put it together and decided to give it another try – which could be yet another boring story!
And here we are back in 1978 high in the Yorkshire Dales stuck in traffic, the occupants at this time were left to right Julia (who incidentally didn’t have knock knees or a permanent silly grin but even at that age had style!), Marcia, Daniel, Mother-in-law (Eileen – bless her) and Emma. MMX 864P was eventually sold on to a couple who went off to Europe on their honeymoon; I wonder where she is now. The picture quality is great on the slides but disappointing here – sorry. Who cares? Anybody?
Wednesday 12th July 2017
Must have been a bit restless in 1976, on Aug 18th of that year I took a trip to Toronto to check out the possibilities of working and possibly emigrating to Canada. I stayed with my cousin Brian in Streetsville, met a couple of guys I knew who were already working out there, wandered around Downtown Toronto which included a ride up to the top of the CN Tower, took a Greyhound bus ride to Niagara Falls, my old buddy Chic offered to drive over from Detroit in his MGB and pick me up and blast back to Detroit in his MGB with the top down to see Lyn and the kids, took a tour round the Ford's factory and the Henry Ford Museum, caught the train back to Toronto from Windsor, Ontario, on the train there were puffs of smoke floating up from a seat in front coming from an old lady smoking in a non - smoking compartment, arrogant French Canadian guy leans over and says 'zis ees a no smoking area and I am going to be seeck' . I decided that I wouldn't be emigrating to Canada. Yes, I know it's a long sentence Sam but it was a long time ago!
Friday 14th July 2017
What a stroke of luck. While searching through the old box of slides I discovered a couple of pictures of my old girlfriend, she was a Piper Colt called Golf Alpha Romeo Sierra Victor and way back in 1964 she and I spent many a happy hour together. For £7 an hour she would whisk you up into the clouds and perform all sorts of manoeuvres that if you weren’t careful would make you want to throw up. Joking apart sitting on the end of the runway at Fairoaks (or grass strip in 1964) was for me the ultimate in something or other that is impossible to describe. Fear was in there somewhere. Having completed your engine checks, looked around for other aircraft (no radio in 1964), checked your seat belt, check the door is closed, check that fuel tap is on (no flaps on a Colt) and with your sweaty hand clamped around that orange knob you would gradually push it in wait for the revs to build to 2,400 rpm and release the brakes. She would respond slowly at first. Keeping her straight with your feet on the rudder bar she would gradually accelerate to 65 kt and with a slight backward pressure on the control column she would break free from planet earth. Fields, cows, sheep, horses, houses, roads, rivers and railway lines would slowly diminish in size and float serenely beneath you. You would reflect that you and she were now one, alone together! in the ether. She would respond to the slightest input of movement on that control column and she would rely on you to have done your homework as to where you were going and how to get back to the airfield.
On this particular flight she would head for Knaphill Tower and then turn to port and keeping her head down as she flew across the end of the runway at Wisley, hoping that a Vickers Valiant or VC10 hadn’t just lifted off and was about to suck the pair of you in to its engine intake. She would continue floating slowly but surely over Hatchford and Downside heading for somebody’s back garden in Cobham. She would rely on you to keep an eye on her height as she knew that she was not allowed below 500ft over any building or structure – Cobham had a few!
Having taken a picture (keeping one hand on the control column, no auto pilot) of somebody’s washing line the pair of you would climb back up to 2,500ft and reflect together. How is that we are up here? What was it like to be a Spitfire pilot when some bastard is trying to blast you out the sky? Having reflected for a few moments on the wonders of aerodynamics the pair of you would then desperately hope that the visibility hadn’t closed in around Fairoaks. Phew! Then a quick glance at the signals area to check the landing direction (remember no radio), descend to 1000ft on the dead side and join the circuit over the upwind end of the airfield. The next 5 minutes or so requires a delicate juggling of her power, drag, lift and weight (can’t do much about her weight) which with any luck should bring the pair of you on final approach. You should have remembered to have done your landing checks on the downwind leg – (BUMPFHH) Brakes - OFF, Undercarriage -DOWN, Mixture - RICH, Carb Heat - ON, Fuel Pump - ON, Hatches and Harnesses - SECURE. Keeping an eye on her drift if there is a cross wind and another eye on the air speed and another eye on the perimeter hedge and another eye out for wayward crows ease the control column gently backwards and let the speed decay while trying to hold her off, if you have done it correctly you should hear the stall warning buzzer just as her wheels kiss the grass.
I make no apology for banging on, again, about aeroplanes and old girlfriends Sam. Sadly Sierra Victor met a sticky end in May 1967 when she plummeted into a field near Whitchurch in Hampshire and sustained damage ‘beyond repair’ fortunately there were no casualties – cause unknown, thank you Sierra Victor.
Thursday 20th July 2017
Back to the future – or perhaps the now before the future, as I might forget to tell you about another successful trip, now in the past, to the delights of Dorset. The destination was a lonely Shepherds Hut on the top of a hill on a farm in the village of Winfrith Newburgh. The village’s claim to fame, according to a plaque screwed to a post, is that nothing happened in 1832, which I thought was significant but other people didn’t. Anyhow, following my successful attempt at erecting the old tent in the garden I decided to take it along and relive the experience of getting up at midnight to witness the incredible vista of a million, at least, stars plus a quarter moon with zero light pollution. Fortunately it was a gin (and whiskey) clear night which was indeed truly amazing, I didn’t realise that those pictures of a carpet of pin pricks of light I had seen in books actually existed over Dorset. The scene was witnessed by Elvis, Cliff and Bob (another Bob) who were in the next field masquerading as Alpaca’s.
Following a couple of nights in the Shepherds Hut the next couple of nights were spent in a rather special B and B in Corfe Castle which I would highly recommend so if you are interested please drop me a line. I can guarantee that, unlike my tent, it is storm proof, thunder and lightening proof and torrential rain proof which is just as well as that was the battering poor old Elvis, Cliff and Bob experienced up on the hill that night.
The following day the 4 mile hike from Corfe Castle to Langton Matravers was hard going, it was grey, damp, boggy, muddy, hilly, not a lot of footpath signs and too many decidedly dodgy stiles but Marcia didn’t complain – as always. Yours truly was highly delighted with his driving skills on the return journey ably assisted by Tom Tom who managed to find a traffic free route back to the future.
The Shepherds Hut and the Shepherdess
View from the master bedroom.
Elvis, Cliff and Bob,
Saturday 22nd July 2017
On the way down to Dorset we stopped for lunch at Mottisfont, a National Trust property near Winchester, which was owned during WW2 by the Russell family. Maud Russell was a High Society lady who entertained and lived lavishly but nevertheless found time to write a Diary which has been recently published. The title is ‘A Constant Heart’ and evokes powerful feelings of what it was like to be at war. She was married with two sons but fraternised a great deal with Ian Fleming (and others) writer and creator of James Bond.
Many of her diary entries are hand written on white cloth and scattered about the house, if you are able to visit you will be sucked in to the atmosphere of what it is like to be threatened by imminent invasion. Even at the age of six I remember that feeling and have tried and failed to describe that feeling, that dread, earlier in this blog.
But there is another reason for visiting Mottisfont and that is to discover the incredible artistic talent, story and tragic death of Rex Whistler. If you have never heard of him, as I hadn’t, start HERE - truly amazing.
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