Monday, September 28, 2015


When over in Australia visiting my daughter I was completely smitten with the blossoming Jacaranda trees (they also come in white). Not indigenous to Oz, they originally came from South Africa but enjoy the similar climate in Australia and have flourished.

Although they will not tolerate an English winter I was determined to try to grow one here. I picked up a seed pod underneath one near Perth, W.A.

Later on my daughter sent me a small wooden box with some of the seeds in it. Shades of The Lord of the Rings when Galadriel gives Sam a similar box:
"For you little gardener and lover of trees," she said to Sam, "I have only a small gift." She put into his hand a little box of plain grey wood, unadorned save for a single silver rune upon the lid."Here is set G for Galadriel, but also it may stand for garden in your tongue. In this box there is earth from my orchard.......there will be few gardens...that will bloom like your garden if you sprinkle this earth there. Then you may remember Gladriel and catch a glimpse of far off Lorien that you have only seen in our winter...."

Over the years I have planted seeds and nurtured a tree. It has to be "portable" since it must live indoors when the first frosts come. I have pruned it and steadily reduced the root size in the hope that it may "bonsai". The sorrow is that it will never blossom at such a small size, but it is a memory of Oz and my daughter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


For most of my working life I was a  Road Safety Officer. My work was mainly training and publicity, but some accident investigation was involved and I thought I would post the following report to show the types of thing we got up to:

The Highways Agency found over 200 dead crows on the M4 motorway near Bridgend and there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu.

A Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone's relief, confirmed the problem was NOT Avian Flu.

The cause of death appeared to be from vehicular impacts. However, during analysis it was noted that varying colours of paints appeared on the ...bird's beaks and claws. By analysing these paint residues it was found that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with lorrys, while only 2% were killed by cars.
 The Agency then hired an Ornithological Behaviourist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills. The Ornithological Behaviourist quickly concluded that when crows eat road kill, they always have a look­out crow to warn of danger. They discovered that while all the lookout crows could shout "Cah", not a single one could shout "Lorry"


Wednesday, September 09, 2015


A morning spent cleaning out the garage (it needed it). A pleasant afternoon meant I could take the e-bike out for some relaxation.

(Click on images to enlarge for more detail)

St. Rumswold Churchyard, Bonnington was a good destination for a short ride (about 12 miles) and a stop for coffee. It is a favourite spot, where one day (not too soon, I hope!) my ashes will be scattered. My seat there is courtesy of Steven Cross, in whose memory it was erected. The Robert Louis Stevenson quotation carved on the back is most apt, for an avid yachtsman. (Home is the sailor/Home from the sea)

Close by is his grave with an unusual "stone" made of good English oak. His wife Cynthia, a "passionate horsewoman", who died a bit later, is buried beside him in her own grave - not side by side, but with their memorials facing each other. Poignant. Both had short lives, I see.

The church stands on the boundary of Romney Marsh. It is the oldest in the area being first constructed in 796. It would once have been on the banks of the ancient river Limen which wound its way over the Marsh from its Channel estuary near Hythe and was probably a point for unshipping  goods for the old road northwards.

But the local topography is steeped it history. When Napoleon Bonaparte threatened invasion it was decided to construct a defensive Canal across the Marsh, feeding it from the local rivers which were diverted into it. The photograph below shows the old river Limen bed to the right at the field's edge with the later Military Canal running behind it through the trees.

Interestingly there is a relic of a later war, a machine gun observation post, when, in 1940 Hitler's armies again threatened this frontier of Kent.

A little afternoon meditation encapsulating history -  796, 1806, 1940 all from a country churchyard

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I continue to make good progress after my stroke some 8 months ago, but have needed to make a few changes to my vehicles. A shame, but necessary.

Before the stroke I ran a rather nice SAAB 9-5 estate car 

however it had a manual gearbox and was a large and heavy beast (as well as fairly expensive to run).Also  I was not using it much since my second retirement, relying on my wife's small Kia Picanto, with her reluctant forbearance.

As my left leg is still weak as a result of the stroke I decided to look for a smaller automatic with a high driver's seat for ease of access. I wanted something where the back was adaptable into a "van" so that I could carry my e-bike to ride at places more distant from home. The result is as ugly as sin but meets all my parameters, the back seats collapse right into the floor with the advantage that, even with the seats up, with their centre part removed, you can just slot a bike down the middle between them (after removing the bike's pedals) and it simply stands there with no securing needed.

(for illustration only - mine's green!)

 A low mileage automatic Toyota Yaris Verso - not made since 2005 but sadly mourned by the cognoscenti ( and cheap too - a mere £2000):

It is an old man's car in my book, - my wife calls it the "Popemobile"!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Roderick Robinson recently queried if the verse on my blog head accurately reflected my philosophy for life.
When I started the blog back in 2006 I cast around for what to call it. I reside in Kent, the right bottom corner of the UK which juts closest to Europe. Indeed the word "Kent" descends from ancient Celtic meaning "corner" or "angle". I live in Ashford, very close to my happy hunting ground of Romney Marsh - itself a jutting corner of the larger corner. Hence "Little Corner of the Earth".

That title rang a bell which reminded me of a verse from Richard le Gallienne's rendering of the Rubaiyat of  Omar Khayyam (less well known than the Fitzgerald version, but I prefer it). What more natural than to use that verse in the blog head.

So the last two lines of the verse had immediate appeal and meaning for my philosophy. Then, a few years later, I eventually stopped even part-time work and the first two lines became even more meaningful as I left the hurly burly and rush of the big world and had time for more reflection.

The verse was originally intended as a link to the blog title but, yes, it now does equate to my philosophy for life .
Lost to a world in which I crave no part
I sit alone and listen to my heart,
Pleased with my little corner of the earth,
Glad that I came - not sorry to depart

Friday, July 10, 2015

Old Austins (Or Transport Through the Ages III)

Roderick Robinson has recently commented on my previous post that I am "nostalgic about Austin Cambridges". I don't remember ever  having admitted to that particular nostalgia, but he brought back the memory that, in 1967, I was extremely proud to own a rather magnificent  16 year old Austin A70 Hereford. (Built before the British Motor Corporation absorbed Austin  into their deathly company)

It was a lovely, well preserved car with only one vice. At anything over 60 the front wheels would wobble so violently that steering was very much compromised. (I learnt to anticipate it's commencement and back off the speed). With later acquired mechanical "nous" I would have realized that those huge and heavy front wheels simply needed balancing.

This picture was taken during a holiday in Cornwall (Bodmin Moor, Roughtor) with my young family of 3 children - eldest would have been 8. The capacious bench seats front and rear (no seatbelts then) with the steering column gear change ensured ample room for all (wife and dog included).

I would say "happy days", but I also remember during that holiday that it experienced a tyre blowout. A new tyre was needed and these were the days before credit cards. It took a great deal of my carefully saved holiday cash - so much so that we were on short commons for the remainder of the week.

Still the kids still enjoyed the free sand and sea - which was the purpose of the holiday. Tintagel, Cornwall was always a favourite for many years with it's cliff walks and superb scenery.

Thanks for the memories, R.R.!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


Nice to be back on the bicycle once more after my "Christmas present" stroke. Albeit, the electric pedal assistance is coming in very handy at present. I bought it to use for head winds and hills but must admit to keeping it on all the time at present, even so I could toddle along at about 12 mph for roughly 70 miles (if my bottom and wrists could take it). As my muscles get stronger, so I hope to use the motor less.

It was a pleasant, sunny afternoon so I took a flask of coffee, with a soupcon of whiskey and trundled out for about 15 miles. This was taken from Bilsington churchyard, overlooking Romney Marsh

It's good for the blood pressure!