I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


House trained and eager to be part of the family, she has settled in well and made this her home almost at once. She sleeps on her bed most of the day and this is placed on the upstairs landing at night, where she stays quiet until we get up in the morning. (I am not a fan of dogs in bedrooms)

When she arrived she was so excited at being set free from the rescue centre that she pulled a good deal on the lead. But using a special lead  I overcame this within 5 minutes of her wearing it. It is an incredible piece of kit which I would recommend to all dog owners. Now she is quiet and well behaved on walks but dislikes the wet and steps daintily around puddles (she is a lady, after all).

The vet reckons she is probably a cross between a terrier and a lurcher so, when I have fully trained her to return on call, I expect her to be pretty fast off the lead. The local squirrels better watch out!

She may be totally different from my previous and much loved German Shepherds, but she is a great addition to my life.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I am not hoping for a similar Christmas present to the one I received last year (a stroke), but did treat myself to a little something:

Roxy is a medium size little bitch, cross breed, about 6 years old, in residence at the local  RSPCA kennels. She had been taken into care because her female owner had to seek sanctuary in a refuge centre where pets are not allowed. My wife and I spent some time with her and became good friends. The inspector came to look at her new home yesterday, pronounced it "ideal" and we pick her up on the 28th December. (It did not seem fair to take in a new dog until after Christmas day when we shall have about 8 people in the house).

She is a bit different from my previous, large/male GSDs, but I no longer have the physical/mental strength to control such dogs, who need strong owners otherwise they can "take over" and become pack leader.

I have had dogs in my life for over 50 years, but did wonder, when my last one was put down, whether I should get another, particularly after the stroke. But the wound of loss never quite heals over. Even after 18 months I still expect a dog to welcome me home as I open the front door.

 I was looking at dogs at rescue centres on the internet. Many appealed but  Roxy had something that said "take me please" so take her I shall. It may have had something to do with her colouring, reminding me of my last black and tan GSDs. It may have been the expression on her face. But my dog-friendly daughter (HHnB) has always maintained that " when the right dog needs you, it will find you".

May I wish you all  a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy 2016.

Monday, December 07, 2015

HHnB or Daughter-in-Oz

Since a number of you seem to remember with affection "HHnB", sadly no longer blogging,
and RR comments about the second "H" (i.e. "Him" of Her, Him and Bryn) I shall risk her approbation and show the latest image I have of them. It was taken at his company's annual dinner, a light hearted event as the photo implies, and typical of relaxed Australia.

Saturday, December 05, 2015


I tend to change my blog-head image in line with the seasons. I like to reflect aspects of this "Little Corner of the Earth". Hence you will now find a snowy landscape looking towards the scarp which defines the limit of Romney Marsh.

I know, I know….the weather is at present pretty clement for December but in my book the winter months are December, January & February and that means snow. I quite enjoy snow, more so now I am retired and can choose when to enjoy it and when to leave it alone.

 I am 76 (very nearly 77) and I can only remember two white Christmases; that clich├ęd description of an event often described but seldom happening.

To be out in the snow by purpose is to become an adventurer, a lone individual. Motorcycling can be difficult in snow although I can remember, when young, some joyous occasions when it was done by choice. 

and others, when commuting to army camp, when my frozen, set knees would not let me get off the bike and sheets of ice fell from me!

But cycling, provided the roads are not iced can be most pleasant. Floating through an unpeopled, silent landscape. It’s good when you leave off, too. To sit somewhere, unhitch the flask of brandy-slugged coffee and perhaps the odd mince pie or two, gradually feeling warmth returning to frozen extremities as the liquid does its job.

My daughter, of old blog signature HHnB (now sadly no “B” as Bryn the Australian Blue Heeler succumbed to old age last year) and her husband are returning to the UK from Australia to spend a month with us over Christmas. She is so hoping for some snow. An English girl, she remembers snow with affection – even rain and mud will be a pleasure!

She copes (just about, with air con) in the Perth W.A. climate but always longs for British weather and this will be the first time in some 15 years that they have returned in winter. So we hope for a little of the white stuff to “please a lady”
When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Anyone can do it......"

I had occasion to give the attic a clearout the other day and came across a battered, hard briefcase used before my retirement. As I picked it up it rattled. Inside were these:

They stirred memories of about 25 years ago. We were caravanning in one of my favourite areas - Wiltshire, the "cradle of the British race". One day my wife dropped me and the dog (the glorious Sabre) off so that I could walk the ancient track over the Pewsey Downs and across the fields down to Silbury Hill and the 5,000 year old cult centre of Avebury. As we walked we passed through the ancient hill-fort of Rybury Hill 

and I reflected that the track we were on must have been used by those original occupants to go down to  festivals at Avebury, just as we were that sunny day.

Eventually, as we approached Silbury we came to the prehistoric long barrow of West Kennet

 a burial chamber which, when excavated was found to be packed with dis-articulated skeletons of the ancient race which occupied the Avebury area. It is able to be accessed so dog and I went in to look around. I have a deep "sense of place" (the genius loci) and found the atmosphere affecting. But Sabre was absolutely fascinated and I could not get him away. Of course there may have been some dead animal tucked away in there but I like to think that dogs can feel things we don't.


This is all by way of introduction to the event which then took place. A small old lady was standing outside by the massive entrance stones and doing something with two metal rods that she held in her hands. I watched her whilst waiting for Sabre, then politely asked what she was doing. When she could see I was a genuine enquirer she explained that she was dowsing with rods and that when they encountered an "energy field" they would cross in her hands. "Try it", she said, "anyone can do it".

I did and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck when the rods crossed as I went between those entrance stones. She said that people spent a lot on dowsing rods but that she made hers from old metal coathangers. "It is the dowser, not the equipment that matters", she said

Well, I was sufficiently interested to make my own and had some success with them finding the courses of lost Roman roads and prospecting archeological sites. These were what I found it that old brief case the other day.

Why it works I don't know. How it works I have no idea. But work it does. I am not, nor ever have been, some "New Age" hippy, but will accept that there may be "more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosopy"

Dowsing seems to be in the news at present with Russell Crowe's new film, "The Water Diviner" so I thought this warranted a post.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


A fellow blogger of many years is Kay (older bloggers may remember her as "Chief Biscuit"), a published poet who lives on the South Island of New Zealand.

She has just posted a marvellous letter which seems to sum up the current state of blogging. Trouble is (Catch 22) it will only be read by active bloggers! See it here under her post "Keeping Track".

Thursday, November 12, 2015

CARS. Or transport through the ages

Now that I am probably on the last car I shall ever own  I got around to thinking of the cars I have had in my life. Overall I suppose I have owned about 25 cars. I won't bore you with a complete list, but some are worth a mention for specific reasons.

Like first love a first car is always remembered. I was in the army, age 18, and needed transport to get home on weekend leave. My parents were against motorcycles and suggested an old car. This was the time of the Suez Canal crisis (1957) when petrol was scarce and learner drivers had special dispensation to drive unaccompanied. I found a 1934 Ford 8 Model "Y" for about £80. I applied for a driving test which was a disaster. The nearside passenger door had a faulty catch and was prone to fly open on corners. I wired it up and asked the examiner to enter from my side and swing himself over into the passenger seat (it would not be allowed these days). He looked a bit doubtful but did so. Of course the door misbehaved on the third right hand corner and flew open. The examiner stopped the test. I offered to take him back to the test centre, but he said he would prefer to walk!

It was an awful car, very hard to start. A case of pulling out the choke button, weighting the accelerator pedal with a brick (kept in it as essential kit), going around to the front, inserting and churning the starting handle and praying....
After a couple of months I was so fed up with it that I sold it at a loss (story of my subsequent car life) to a sergeant at my camp. I well remember seeing him being push-started by a bevy of squaddies and me hiding behind a building whilst he passed!

I then bought my first motorcycle and a life's passion was formed. But that's a different story.

Some years later, married with children, my first decent car was a Morris Minor Traveller (the famous "woodie")

Then came the first car of which I was proud (and have mentioned in an earlier post). A 1952 Austin A70 "Hereford"

I sold this and for some reason, which must have seemed good at the time, I bought a Morris Minor open tourer

actually this was probably the most fun I have ever had with a car. I fitted a klaxon horn (think the diving alarm on a submarine) and it was used as a family car, hood usually retracted, for about 3 years. Three children, a wife and a dog (under wife's legs in front seat) would cram in and off we would go to Cornwall. This was about 350 miles before motorways and involved a start at about 5.00 am with arrival at 5.00pm

The first car in which I managed 100 mph, overdrive engaged, on the Hog's Back dual carriageway, kids shouting "go for it dad", was a Rover 80 (the view down its long bonnet was magnificent)

My love affair with SAABs started soon after, initially with a "99" model of which I had three consecutively

Then came employer's lease cars, which were available to "essential users" at a reduced rental in return for taking a smaller mileage allowance  and I chose to lease a succession of Vauxhall Carlton estates with their comfort, vast capacity and ability to tow caravans well ( rear wheel drive) for about 20 years

Came retirement and still caravanning, we decided to try our first four-wheeled drive car a Nissan X Trail

for some reason I and every driver who tried it found it was most uncomfortable for our backs. So it was a return to the only car I have ever felt really comfortable in, the SAAB. To settle in and relax in one was wonderful and drives of over 600 miles in a day were possible and enjoyable. I had 3 SAAB "9-5" estates in succession.

Oh... and the worst car I ever owned? A very expensive Mercedes E200 Estate in which I needed 3 motorway stops between Kent and Gloucester to alleviate back ache. Sold at great financial loss after about 6 months