When a cow farts the earth moves

Bob arrived at sparrows fart today so, to celebrate, we had a lovely discussion which included the power of farting cows. Using human intelligence as a measure, we decided it wasn’t as bad as vegans make out. We also decided going to Mars was silly.

For some reason, Bob loves landing at Heathrow at around 5am. Poor Carol, I assume, had a very early start to her day as she headed off to pick him up. Hopefully she had a granny nap before hitting the school run.

Having arrived and taken up residence on Emma’s recliner, Bob settled back while I headed to the gym and shopping.

Actually Emma is not happy with Bob. She keeps giving him scathing looks. We don’t know why unless it is because he keeps sitting on her chair. This is entirely possible. She does think she owns four chairs in the house.

Eventually, Bob went to the Bush to check in and have a shower. He also had a lie down but insisted he didn’t sleep.

Mirinda, in the meanwhilst, had a day full of very important phone and Skype calls. This was instead of going into town. Given the ridiculous strike, it was preferable to do it from home.

I took the girls to the park after lunch and ran into Kate, Daisy and Harley who I’ve not seen for ages.

Bob returned for dinner (sea bass on Mediterranean veg) and for more evil eyes from Emma.

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How about I pay you NOT to do it?

A month ago I accidentally went to the Talking Newspaper studio in order to record the Monthly Magazine Edition. I’d forgotten that I’d swappd with Judy. This morning was the session I’d swapped into so, once more, I set off.

Given it was such a great success a month ago, I went to the gym first then to Neros for a latte before making the journey through Farnham. The traffic wasn’t bad and the air was not as toxic as it is earlier in the day. Actually, because I take as many back lanes as I can, I tend to miss a lot of both.

I only noticed one example of inconsiderate parking.

Builders are allowed to do anything

The truck is parked across the dropped kerb which means anyone with a wheelchair or stroller or small children…actually, everyone coming from Bear Lane…has to walk around and step up from the gutter. There’s no reason he couldn’t have moved backwards or forwards in order to free up the access. Well, apart from the fact that he clearly doesn’t think of anyone else.

Still, apart from that minor inconvenience, my trip in was delightfully unimpeded.

And the weather was beautiful. Cold, crisp with blue sky and sunshine. A delight.

The Monthly Magazine is a bit different to the normal newspaper recordings. The Presenter prepares everything and the readers just read. Generally the readers are presenters. It’s a doddle and, to be completely honest, I rather like the lack of responsibility. I was asked once if I’d like to be one of the magazine presenters. My head was shaken vigorously at the suggestion.

Today it was David presenting and John E reading with me: The Three Wise Men, as David introduced us given it was the Christmas magazine. He amended it to four when he realised that he’d left out Charles, our engineer.

David had given me three stories (and a couple of poems) two of which I rather enjoyed. The other one, titled Ring of Red, had me fuming inside. I read it sympathetically but I thought it was a horrendous idea.

It’s a group of motor cyclists who, each year, get into a long convoy and ride around the M25. They wear red, the idea being to create the world’s biggest poppy. The fact that they are just burning fossil fuel and making a right racket at the same time seems to have escaped them.

Not that the charitable work isn’t worthy. It’s for service personnel via various organisations. No, it’s the idea of pointlessly riding petrol driven vehicles that make a lot of noise around in a circle that annoys me.

Still, my other two stories were good. One was a historical one and the other about a woman who trains dogs. She trains dogs to go into schools and be there to help kids who may have behavioural issues. The piece had some delightful photographs of caring puppies.

When I told Freya about it, she wanted to send an email off to get into the programme.

Smart dog

A very worthy thing indeed. I don’t mean Freya’s laptop abilities.

On the way home I decided it would be an excellent idea to pop into the Nelson’s Arm for a sneaky pint. I texted Mirinda telling her I was having one. This obviously had the effect of negating any sneaky aspects to it but still…

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Strikes, strikes, strikes, stupid annoying strikes

On Friday I was happily researching the final names on the Walton on Thames memorial when I had an urgent email from Eurostar. It seems there’s going to be a huge, unpleasant general strike in France next week. It’s going to last until December 8 which, unfortunately, was the day we were scheduled to return from Paris. But no, there will be no trains.

We were given two choices: cancel or book something after the strike is over. After a bit of soul searching, and considering the fact that Mirinda was unavailable for comment, I decided to opt for an extra night. I figured she’d not want to miss out given it’s (sort of) to celebrate her graduation. So, now, rather than returning Sunday we’ll be back on Monday morning.

But, while the French national strike is annoying it’s not as bad as the stupid South Western Railway guards who are having most of December off because they think they are more important than the people who pay their wages. That’s the people who use the trains.

The traffic strike starts tomorrow, Monday. Today was beautiful by contrast. The weather was delightfully bright and crisp. The world was a joy of autumn chill.

And to celebrate, we decided to go and visit the Midhurst Craft Fair, something we first went to years ago but then never returned. It was on this weekend so we decided to forego a visit to a garden centre, instead heading off through the glorious countryside to Sussex.

For starters we indulged in a cheeky lunch at Fitzcanes Ice Cream Cafe.

The view from our table

We didn’t have ice cream. Instead we both had eggs (Benedict & Royale) though there was some confusion over who wanted what. No confusion with my hazelnut latte, though it could have had a little less syrup.

We were lucky to find somewhere to eat. Fitzcanes was rammed so we, ever hopefully, reserved a table for ten minutes in the future. We then went for a stroll up the main road.

It was on our stroll that we discovered that everywhere in Midhurst was equally full. After five minutes we turned around and headed back.

Oddly, by the time we were sat eating our eggs, the place was almost empty. Clearly we had arrived at the Midhurst Sunday lunch peak hour.

Last time we attended the craft fair it was in Dawn’s old school (directly opposite Fitzcanes). This time, however, it was in Rother College where they name their classrooms after poets. (I mention that merely because Mirinda’s place has names for rooms rather than numbers.)

The fair was fantastic. Lots and lots of beautiful handcrafted pieces in all manner of materials. Many things that we wanted to own but resisted.

I would have loved some of the bowls but couldn’t work out where to put them. These days, like the t-shirt rule, if I buy anything for the kitchen I need to remove something to make room. I have to justify it. Sadly, I can’t.

Mirinda was very strong in resisting some truly beautiful jewellery but did not resist a stunning little wooden box. It looked very Japanese with an unusual lid. Perfect for the display cabinet in the library.

Having wandered all the way round we then headed back to Max for the drive home.

After such a gorgeous day, the weather was turning a bit steely grey. There were some sharp little showers which felt like tiny shards of ice but were never enough to make anything wet. In fact, the weather could not be described as wet by any stretch.

Back at home I made pork with green butter and played fetch with Emma along the extension to the front door. While obviously not as good as a walk at least she had a bit of a run.

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The amazing floating aerodrome

The first successful landing on a moving ship was performed on HMS Furious by Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning in his Sopwith Pup, during trials in early August 1917. This followed the first successful landing on a stationary ship by Eugene Ely in 1910. Before that it had been mostly balloons rather than aircraft.

Mind you, while Dunning’s success no doubt heralded a great feat in aiming, flying and sailing, it was, after three goes, banned. The fact was that to land on HMS Furious a pilot had to not just negotiate a ship moving on choppy seas but also dodge around the massive flight deck. In fact, poor Edwin managed it a second time then died trying for his hat trick.

Given my love of all things maritime (I do like a good anchor) I was, frankly, amazed at discovering that I’d never heard of the amazing HMS Furious. I’d heard of the extraordinary Bermuda Floating Dock so why not the Furious?

Originally launched in August 1916, she was a converted Battlecruiser. While not that extraordinary, what she was converted into was. She was to become a launching pad for air raids on the German coast.

Being a Royal Navy ship in 1917 meant that the planes were part of the Royal Naval Air Service up until April 1, 1018. Then both the Navy and Army arms of fly-boys were amalgamated into the all new Royal Air Force. By this time, HMS Furious was being used to successfully annoy the German Zeppelins and the sheds in which they resided.

Then, on 19 July 1918, seven Sopwith Camels took off in order to raid Tondern, a German Airship Base at T√łnder on the Danish coast.

By Photographer not identified. “Official photograph”. – This version : U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.Source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-fornv/uk/uksh-f/furis-6.htmAlso :This is photograph Q 20627 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 2700-01), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=395624

(Originally there were to be eight planes but one of the pilots was ‘called away’ beforehand. It left no time to train another pilot so it was down to seven.)

The idea was for the planes to fly off in two raiding runs, bomb the hell out of as much of the Zeppelin stuff as possible then fly back. Unfortunately the day it was planned for was too stormy so they put it back 24 hours. Then, the next day, in the wee small hours, they took off for the coast.

The raid was only a minor success and if you factor in the loss of planes and one pilot, not so much. Still, for whoever had the idea of using the Furious as a floating aerodrome, it was a major success.

The pilot who died was Flight Lieutenant Walter Albert Yeulett. While some of the planes headed north to land in Denmark the others headed back to the Furious. Yeulett was in the latter group. However, he had difficulties with his plane and ditched in the sea. He died as a result of the crash. His body was recovered and buried in Denmark. He had only just turned 19 a month before.

Walter (Toby to his family and friends) was posthumously awarded a DFC for his great bravery. Small consolation but at least a recognition.

The whole HMS Furious Tondern Raid is a fascinating episode in a ridiculously pointless war. It shows the ingenuity brought out in times of military need.

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Mr Stabby and the Brave Ones

London Bridge (as opposed to Tower Bridge which Americans seem to think is London Bridge) is pretty unlucky. For some reason, dickheads like to kill people on it. They like to strap knives to their hands and slash and vent until as many innocent people as possible are lying on the ground. They like to keep at it until some kindly police officer puts them out of their misery. It’s a good thing there’s no afterlife because they are so awful that they’d probably keep doing it there too.

At least at today’s outrage a group of normal, ordinary people jumped in and immobilised this freak, disregarding their own safety in order to kick a bit of shit out of this poor excuse for a human being. It’s nice to know that he possibly suffered before being dispatched. He deserves nothing less.

I can’t help being angry about terrorist attacks. However, what also makes me angry is how, at a time when we all seem to hate each other in a country divided by stupidity, we have to be attacked in order to work together. Why can’t we do that anyway?

Two normal people died on London Bridge today because a maniac with a blade and gaffer tape decided he wanted to take their lives. Apparently he was on early prison release for terrorism offences. He deserves nothing less than the swift death he received.

And on a day during which I completed the Walton on Thames memorial, researching the equally pointless deaths of young men who were brainwashed into thinking the enemy was not human. It’s all just a bit too depressing sometimes.

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Melting moments are not just biscuits

Today was another great morning, crappy afternoon weather type day. I had a Talking Newspaper for Haslemere so half my journey was lovely while the other was threatening a drenching. As it was, I didn’t get rained on.

Lovely morning

Oddly enough, my team was almost identical to the other week when I was presenting the Farnham edition. Even more odd was the fact that both sessions were a swap with another presenter. Mind you, I do rather enjoy working with Lindsey and Penny so it was good.

The other reader was Mike who I haven’t seen for a long time. I thought he’d given up. His wife also reads and she’d been saying how he’s been unwell. Then, today, Mike said how he’s trying to give up but, until the end of the current roster, Tony can’t do it.

I kept an eye (and ear) on him in case he needed rescuing but he managed okay. The poor man. He’s a lovely fellow but does not look well. Mind you, as he told me today, he and his wife are probably the longest serving Talking Newspaper volunteers so retirement has definitely been earned. He remembers recording at the Maltings onto cassettes which was many years ago now.

The recording went well and fun was had by all (I think) including Tim our engineer – he’s new but fitting right in with the usual Gaz Mayhem.

Of course, on the way home, I was astounded by the degree of inconsideration shown by motorists as they did whatever the hell wanted through Farnham. This guy, for instance, decided he could take up most of the footpath because he had to visit the newsagent just around the corner to the left. Probably buying a Daily Mail.

Total arse parking!

Then, probably my favourite for a while, this huge lorry had come down Castle Street to turn into the Borough. Naturally the driver was so important he was allowed to completely block the road and encroach onto the footpath without regard for anyone else.

Rude truck pig man!

Speaking of inconsiderate arseholes…The Leaders Climate Change Debate on Channel 4 tonight featured two ice sculptures which slowly dripped away as the heat of the studio lights warmed them up. The ice sculptures were imprinted with maps of the world indicating the state of the planet.

At the bottom of the ice sculptures were two logos; one each. They replaced the two leaders who aren’t interested in the planet, the fate of their children or anything but themselves. One was in place of the Conservative leader while the other was for the Brexit Party.

L-R: Nigel Farage, Jo Swinson, Nicola Sturgeon, Adam Price, Jeremy Corbyn, Sian Berry and Boris Johnson

I understand the Brexit Party no-show because they only have two policies: Leave Europe and make Nigel Farage wealthier than he already is. I don’t understand why Boris Johnson didn’t attend given he’s supposed to be the leader of the country as well as the Conservatives. Unless he’s scared or, possibly more accurate, has to do whatever the Trump acolytes dictate.

Maybe both because he’s quite good at putting his foot in it and is just a Populist Puppet.

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Alice Day 2019

Following on from yesterday’s diatribe…today, Jeremy Clarkson said that Greta Thunberg is an idiot because she’d ruined this year’s car show. How pathetic is that? He claims that since she started going on about climate change and greenhouse gases destroying the planet, young people had lost interest in cars. More likely because he’s a dinosaur that has yet to die out. The last sentence is mine.

In an interview with a muck raking rag, he said “Everyone I know under 25 isn’t the slightest bit interested in cars – Great Thunberg has killed the car show.” That’s pretty amazing for a 16 year old and she’s probably quite proud of her great power and influence. Also, of course, his services will no longer be required and he’ll become a sad, old man without a job, rather than a sad, old man who is paid great wads of money to burn fossil fuels and make lots of noise.

Apart from that annoying bit of news, there were three big deaths today. Clive James (who regularly updated his own obituary), Gary Rhodes (chef and all round nice guy) and Jonathan Miller (described as a ‘…theatre and opera director, actor, author, television presenter, humourist, and medical doctor.’) Most unexpected was Gary Rhodes who was only 59.

But enough of world affairs…here in Farnham the weather was beautiful at first then went into the kind of decline I’m becoming increasingly used to. In fact, walking to the gym was in bright sunshine, under a blue sky and, by the time I left, it was grey, wet and miserable.

There was a bit of change for the better at around lunchtime so we took the opportunity for a bit of a ball chase in the park which was enjoyed more than yesterday, particularly by Freya.

Most of the day was spent doing our tax, something I always put off until it really HAS to be done. How much easier it would be if I devoted a little bit of time each day to it rather than a mad dash at the end of the year. I guess that’s what happens when the tax office gives you so much time to get it in.

It’s not even winter and there’s already truck marks in the Dell

Mirinda had a particularly rough day at work and was glad to get back to the flat. She put on the flashing fairy lights and settled down in front of the telly for a bit of Star Trek: Voyager. I, on the other hand, have started watching a particularly poignant German TV series about climate change activists taking on the world…at least as far as episode two anyway.

And, in case the title isn’t clear enough, Alice in Wonderland was published on this day 154 years ago, which is way better than Jeremy Clarkson and his childish nonsense.

Jeremy Clarkson would rather this was full of cars
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Short sighted tunnel vision

The more the impending election creeps forward, the more I begin to wonder why we are governed by a bunch of old people (mostly men) who have no idea what is really happening. With the world either in flames, underwater or without clean air and water, they are arguing about religion.

This morning the head of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis claimed that the Labour Party was riddled with anti-semites while the Muslim Council of Britain claimed that the Conservatives were all Islamophobic. How long, I wonder, before the Catholics and the Protestants start arguing over the politics in Northern Ireland? Then the Hindus can have a go regarding…whoever. It’s just ridiculous.

Unfortunately it’s all grist for the mill as far as politicians are concerned because they don’t care about anything but their limited tenure in power. At least when we were a monarchy, it may have been a dictatorship but the monarch had to think in longer terms than five years. (Or two in the present couple of Parliaments.)

It really, really pisses me off that the world is almost completely fucked and yet these twats are allowed to play stupid games. There won’t be a lot of point in religion when we’re all extinct. (To be fair, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no point to religion anyway but still…)

And, because of stupid, idiotic, self destructive Brexit, I have to vote tactically rather than for the best placed candidate for saving the planet. (It could be the same person of course but I doubt it.)

And when anyone mentions Climate Change, the politicians merely parade their list of ‘achievements’ for yesterday, today and tomorrow. I have news for them, the ‘tomorrow’ is unlikely to actually happen given their record of inaction ‘yesterday’ and this self servicing, power hungry, shit storm election of ‘today’.

But enough of that. Okay, it really annoyed me listening to the news this morning but the small things are what should keep me happy. Small things like the poor person who lost their glasses in the park today. I don’t mean that someone’s misfortune made me happy.

On the contrary, I think the fact that someone found them and placed them on top of the bin in order to help the person who lost them rediscover them, is cause for a smile.

For the short sighted

As the above photo indicates, we had a bit of rain today. As opposed to quite a few days so far this November, I did not escape getting wet.

Walking to the gym made me wet, walking home from the gym made me wet, taking the girls to the park made me wet and, possibly the worst, planting about a million bulbs in the garden made me wet. And muddy. In fact I think I spent more time wet than dry today.

Of course, Freya was a bit perturbed with having to walk in the park in the rain. Everytime we had a wave of rain she’d look at me with her plaintive look full of wonder and disgust. I eventually gave in to her and we cut the park short. Emma didn’t seem to notice.

The little white dot is an annoyed Freya
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Reinstated access

I have to hand it to Gardener Dave and Matt, they work whatever the weather. Today it started a bit damp but steadily managed to get wetter and wetter until they sloshed around the garden looking like a couple of Scottish fishermen just home from a fruitless trip out to sea. Just goes to show how much better working indoors can be. Well, except in the summer when it’s mostly too hot.

It’s interesting because when I worked on building sites, if it rained, you stopped working and sat in the shed. This was, apparently, for safety reasons. It was also, I think, something the unions had fought for and gained for the workers. Of course, it only applied to people working outside. If you were one of the (un)lucky ones whose job entailed working on a dry and covered floor, you’d be slaving away while your mates played cards.

Things here seem different though because the people working outside the Swain and Jones development were working in the rain this morning when I walked by. Maybe they’re on a tight deadline…which surprises me given it’s been years since it started.

One thing that made me very happy, though, was the fact that the footpath has reopened after a number of years. You wouldn’t think it would make a lot of difference but it really, really does. On the other side of the road the footpath narrows to almost less than the average human width, making things difficult for groups and people with strollers, not to mention wheelchairs.

Now the path is back and newly made.


Of course it won’t be long before cars and trucks and vans are half parking on it so the lovely smooth surface is merely a stopgap. Still, for a while anyway, it’s going to be lovely. Of course, what you can’t quite make out from the photo above is the sign.

To make sure that pedestrians are still inconvenienced, someone has put a sign in the middle of the footpath informing all drivers that the road will be closed at some point in the future for some sort of essential work. I think they need a second sign warning pedestrians that they may have a brand new footpath but they’re still shit compared to vehicles.

Suck on that walkers!

But back at the house, our wet gardeners toiled away in the mud and the water until it was time to go. I wished them a better rest of the day but things did not improve.

I should add that everyone was well impressed with Matt’s strength when he picked up a large wooden sleeper and placed it along the path. To show it wasn’t a fluke, he did it with a second sleeper as well. He claimed it was all the spinach he ate – he loves spinach.

Strength aside, things didn’t improve weatherwise. Mirinda’s mental health improved out of sight when she received an email telling her she’d won an award…but more about that later.

The puppies’ mental health suffered a bit, though, given the crappy weather.

“Can we go for a walk, please?”
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“I’ll paint you as you are, bonnet and all”

William Orpen (1878-1931) was an amazing painter. From London salons to the battlefields of World War One, he painted some amazing portraits. In particular a portrait of a soldier about to go off to fight, his hands clutching his rifle, his eyes showing the fear of the inevitable, is incredibly powerful.

Detail of A Grenadier Guardsman (1917) by William Orpen. Copied from http://www.sirwilliamorpen.com/

I’d never heard of Orpen before the other day when the latest Watts Gallery newsletter arrived letting us know of all the most excellent things to come. He is the subject of the latest exhibition at the gallery and today we went and saw it.

Of course I went to the shops first, marvelling at the warmth provided by the mist in the park. It always amazes me how the temperature rises when the mist descends. Even when the mist is heavy with water droplets that spray against the face.

Misty path

Back at home, Mirinda was chatting to Bob and Fi and, for a pleasant change, Lauren and Jason. The latter provided her with lots information regarding the various reasons for choosing particular Queensland universities over other particular Queensland universities with an emphasis on how much gaming you wish to pursue.

It was all very interesting…I suppose.

Then, after her farewells, we took Max for a spin up to Compton.

We decided to have lunch at the little tea room and happily tucked into Welsh rarebit (me) and quiche (Mirinda) before heading up to the gallery to partake of some mental nourishment.

Watts Gallery driveway

I’ve mentioned many, many times how I love discovering new artists and I think the reason why is because it gives me the opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Sometimes that vision is quite frightening, other times a bit unsettling, in the case of William Orpen it’s an extraordinary glimpse at the beauty of the human form.

Mind you, in saying the above, my favourite piece (the one I’d be happy to hang at home) was a scene rather than a portrait. It was The Studio (c 1910). For me, his depiction of the light coming through the French doors, wrapping the scene of artist and model in warmth, was absolutely exquisite.

Mirinda’s favourite was The Refugee (1918) which he claimed was of a German spy who had been taken away by the French and shot but was actually, Yvonne Aubicq, his mistress. He managed to get into trouble with the war office over his deception and I really have no idea why he bothered to make up the story when his portrait was stunning regardless of the story.

However, the exhibition was about more than just ‘pretty pictures’. It also delved into how he managed to create his paintings using various techniques to glimpse the work beneath the finished objects. There were also his early sketches of his Homage to Manet (1906-09) which showed, among other things, the way the finished painting evolved from the preliminary line drawings.

The exhibition also examined his early years studying at the Slade School. The whole thing was both fascinating and enjoyable.

Sneak Attack – Mirinda admiring The Grenadier Guardsman

Of course, as usual, photographs are not allowed so I had to take the rather surreptitious shot above (like I generally do) when the room steward had his back turned.

Actually, in comparing the photo above with the last exhibition we attended (John Frederick Lewis), the difference in lighting is extraordinary. I realise most exhibitions are dark because light can affect the paintings but the Orpen exhibition was positively bright.

Suffice it to say, we both enjoyed the exhibition very much, as well as lunch out.

Speaking of food, for dinner tonight I made Syrian meatballs (first time) which met with great approval and a demand that they be added to the general Chez Gaz menu. I thought they’d be a brilliant tapas dish.

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