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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