Saturday, 27 June 2015

The past recycled...

I so wish I had written this. I was only discussing the other day with my neighbour Barry and on Facebook how we now have four huge plastic recycling bins instead of the small galvanised bin I remember as a boy. Those bins, whilst necessary today block up my urban lane, but Hey ho.

Of course the world has grown since I was a boy, billions more people with a lot more wealth to create their own waste. Some of them can even afford meat now with all the greenhouse gases that brings with it – but that is another rather smelly story.

Anyway, what changed? Read on...

John Wiley wrote this:

Anyone over the age of 32 should read this, as I copied this from a friend... Checking out at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own carrier bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. I apologised and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days." The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations." She was right about one thing -- our generation didn't have the green thing in “Our” day. So what did we have back then…? After some reflection and soul-searching on "Our" day here's what I remembered we did have.... Back then, we returned milk bottles, fizzy pop bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day. We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator or lift in every store and office building. We walked to the supermarket and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two minutes up the road. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day. Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me -down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day. Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of England. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used screwed up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right. We didn't have the green thing back then. We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then. Back then, people took the bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24- hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then? Please post this on your Facebook profile so another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smarty-pants young person can add this to their CV.

Friday, 26 June 2015

On the shortest day...

And that is that the longest day and shortest night; I hear the spirits in the trees as birds settle from flight. Smell the air and watch the moon, this night of faerie spells. I sleep a sleep of dreaminess and all that they might tell.

Late June borders...

I think late June is the best time of the year for the garden. Things are full of life, but not so full of life as to get heavy and wallow. It hasn't turned to full-blown lushness just yet, and that is the way I like it best I think. My pound shop bulbs and cuttings from last year's plants have been a big success and the bright reds and oranges have completely changed the feel of the garden.

Between two worlds...

Sometimes when I lie in bed at the cottage I feel so enclosed. It's a tiny room with a window front and back and wide views from both. To the front I look across the fields to the sunset, to the back I see garden, distant mountains, and sunrise. It's a dusty comfortable place, a place to read, a place to sleep, but most of all a place to dream.

Front and back ten feet between,
 encased in perfection, 
a dream.

Parked from Wales...

So I've been across in Wales again. When I am there I don't do much but enjoy doing nothing and when it is sunny, well, how I like to rub it in on Facebook. Of course I snap whatever is going on at that moment and post and I really don't want to lose the memories - after all, who knows when I might need them. Anyway here are a few of the pics I snapped whilst I was away - from sheep and our new chickens, to flowers in my garden, to the sunshine. Yes it was very sunny, not that I want to rub it in.

And my Elderflower Fizz

It was a nice break with a good lunch at Dylans, a couple of barbecues, and plenty of sushine.

Friday, 19 June 2015

With a sleep...

I’m not sure that contentment is good for me. Sometimes I am so content I feel asleep, sometimes I actually fall asleep. Other times it feels like my life is a dream and I am just dreaming it away.

Who knows, perhaps I am, as Shakespeare so eloquently wrote (well almost), such stuff. As dreams are made on; and my little life. Is rounded with a sleep.

I've been dreaming the past a lot recently, I thought I was over it but it's back. Perhaps it’s time to reinvent myself again, maybe that’s what I need to make me awake. These days I'm not scared to completely fail, it allows me to try things that I have no experience of and find out if I like them. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but at least I don’t have to worry how it looks on my CV. Anyway, I really don’t have an active CV, I have no need of one; and what does it matter what others think of me?

What could I be? Should I be Prospero drowning his books? I could be. Sometimes I feel like an exile living on a remote island singing madly away to myself - merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. And if I’m dreaming, then maybe the people around me are the ‘stuff’ that dreams are ‘made on’, just two dimensional characters, players that plays are built from. Maybe my life is a play playing in somebody else’s mind, my little life just a brief dream in something else’s sleep. And what if they awake? Will I cease to exist or move on into a truer dream – one of my own?

And will I dream about them? After all, they will be my past.

Yes, I need a truer dream. I’m not ready to wake up yet... Or to fall asleep.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


Aquiligia Lemon Drops.
I have no words other that beautiful.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


My garden this year has turned out pastel, something I planned for last year but seems to have been late arriving. It's a mixture of pale pinks, whites, subtle blues, and pale violets - mauve as the used to call it. of course there a few splashes of colour from the warmer end of the spectrum, but these seem only to emphasise the delicate nature of the planting and of course there are still lilies and then suflowers to come.

I can't take credit though, it seems to have happened organically all on its own with minimal direction. This year has been an experiment with my pound shop bulbs and cuttings from last year's daisy Chrysanthemums It's worked though and I am astounded just how well the iris, lilies, anemones, and begonias have done.

Boring aren't I.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Luna and a Zen moment...

It was hot today, sunny and hot, the clouds coming and going and when they were gone it almost sizzled. Luna, sensible cat that she is, decided to take to the shade and as I watched her in my peaceful front garden surrounded by the pebbles I have collected and the symbols I choose to believe are important I thought 'Yes this is her place. She is really at peace in this moment'.

A Zen moment for she and for me.

At one with my cat. Peace and breath.

Magna Carta...

Where was it signed?
At the bottom.
When was it signed?
Damn. I missed it by half an hour...

Of course it was Tony Hancock, in Twelve Angry Men, who said, "Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain? Brave Hungarian peasant girl who forced King John to sign the pledge at Runnymede and close the boozers at half past ten! Is all this to be forgotten?" 

Confused? Well you are not alone.

Ask people under the age of 25 what the Magna Carta is and most will tell you an ice cream apparently. What it really is though is the document that allows me to get away with writing what I want in this blog without being imprisoned by the state. The Magna Carta was signed into law by King John I of England. This charter was the first legal document that limited the power of the monarchy and ensured that kings and queens would be bound by the law. It didn't make us all equal, but it did mean that we should all be bound by the law - even the king. 

I'm not sure that it applied to bankers or politicians though.

Although the Magna Carta did not guarantee freedom of speech, it began a tradition of civil rights in Britain that laid the foundation for the first Bill of Rights and, more than 400 years later, did grant freedom of speech including the right to say nothing.

I've never been good at that.

Of course in these days of government surveillance - listening in, reading mails, tapping into phones, banning terms and words - we are increasingly losing the right to say what we think and, with the PC brigade making it even harder, even think what we think. I often find myself thinking something only to tell myself that I can't think that - which of course I can - after all this isn't 1984 is it? Wasn't that over thirty years ago?

Now many of you think I say nothing very much with my blogging, and many of you would be right. But what I do say I have every right to say, even if it is nothing. All of this is thanks to the Magna Carta and, even though I am very concerned that those rights are being chipped away, you can't say that about an ice cream.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Shhhhh - jaggers and taggers...

Yesterday was World Gin Day. Isn’t it great when you get an excuse to drink gin at five in the afternoon, not that I need an excuse really. There’s nothing like a good G and T to set you up and, although I don’t really mind which brand of gin is in it, I am far happier when the tonic water is made by Shhhhh - you know who.

I fondly remember listening to Hubert Greggs taking about his Jaggers and Taggers from the square chair as we drove down to Wales on a Friday evening after work. For a couple of years we left after picking Holly up from Brownies which meant that we would often arrive after 9 pm by which time I was ready for a couple of fingers from the dark green bottle with some Shhhh and ice and lemon.

Anyway, as I said yesterday was World Gin Day and it seemed tardy not to have a couple, particularly as it was warm enough to sit in the garden to drink them. Well, you know how it is with Gin, they don’t call it Mother’s Ruin for nothing and before we knew where we were we were half a bottle down with the rest of it looking to go the same way.

At some point I broke my glasses. I have no idea how; the arm simply fell off before my very eyes as if by magic. Of course I couldn’t see to fix them (what with the lack of my glasses), I simply couldn’t find the hole - as the Bishop once said.

Maybe it wasn't the glasses after all.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Little garden snippets...

1. I'd forgotten that I had planted some Sparaxis bulbs in this hanging basket. Glad that I did now.

2. Blooming when I got back from Wales, the strangest freaky foxglove flower I have ever see. I wonder if I could cultivate it.

3. In one of my flower pots. Are they minions?

Friday, 12 June 2015

Black dogs and naked ladies...

Sometimes I think I see too much when really I should be trying to see nothing at all.

I remember some kitchen tiles in my past which were a green rippled pattern. After a while, as I looked at them closely, I found a chicken emerging. After that first chicken I found another, then another, and before I knew it all I could see was chickens. There was a chicken in each of the tiles and eventually it got on my nerves so much that one day I replaced the tiles with plain white.

It’s a curse and a blessing this seeing. As a child I’d see pictures in the shadows on the ceiling. Grinning faces, a racehorse, a monkey eating nuts. Sometimes it was funny, other times I had to bury my head beneath the covers to hide from the demons. 

Of course the upside is that I see Rubinesque naked ladies kissing me on my nose in the clouds, and dragons, and elephants too. But when you are looking at a stone wall at four in the morning and see the lost souls in hell, well it sets you to thinking.

A smear of paint, a scuff on a shoe, that trickle of rain on the window; they can all become a picture if I want them too. Maybe that is what the abstract in abstract art is all about. You see whatever your subconscious wants you to see.

So this is just an inkblot. It isn’t a black dog despite what my mind is telling me, it’s just an inkblot that, over time, will fade. Maybe then I can get back to seeing naked ladies in the clouds kissing me again.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


So today my wife and I reached 25 years married; and they said it would never last. The big bash is planned for Barbados in August, but to honour the day we took ourselves off to Dylan's, a recently opened restaurant in Criccieth.

We shared a seafood platter to start - shell on prawns, smoked mackerel pate, smoked salmon, potted mussels, trout and some of the best bread I have ever tasted. We followed that with half a lobster each and washed it down with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

The building that the restaurant sits in was designed by Clough Williams Ellis in the late forties/early fifties. He was the chap that built Potmerion. It was going to have an observatory on the top but he ran out of money. It has been all sorts over the years including Billy Butlin's tea dance rooms, but last month it opened as a restaurant after years of cafe's and a period of emptiness

It was a good and very simple day. A lovely lunch in a great restaurant overlooking the sea then back to the cottage to sit watching the birds and sipping champagne. later Gaynor surprised me by playing our song and dancing with me to it in the kitchen - She makes my day by Robert Palmer, our wedding dance - and I thought she would have forgotten. 

Have to tell you that my eyes watered and I was not chopping onions.