An unexpected request + churches in full bloom


A lovely blue bright sunny morning. I have an appointment with someone in Timsbury who wants me to attend to his garden. I had initially felt a little  resentful in spending the time since the value of the job as I quoted was rather small but this was soon dispelled when we met the customer. He was a very tall man at 6 foot six, who had served in Iraq and Syria. He was commuting to London to work. He and his wife moved to Somerset because she, a teacher,  had received an offer of assistant head at a local school. We had a very pleasant chat and we agreed a sum for the garden work.

On my return, I was called by a lady, Mrs Ball. I noticed a certain air of desperation in her voice saying that she had not been able to find a gardener to do her mowing and she was desperate because the lawn looked so untidy. I first of all said I would call back later. Then I decided that since she was in some distress I would go and help her straightaway. We packed our tools in the car and off we went. 45 min later the job and been done. The lady said “you’ve no idea how grateful I am to you for coming.” Such thanks make my job very satisfying and in a way makes up for all the miserable customers and potential customers who have no idea what’s involved and what we do.

After thinking that my car has been repaired of its difficulties, again the car starts to stall and just cut out.  Fortunately, it started straightaway if I turned the key off and on again. I came to discover through the day that the problem appeared when the revolutions were reduced at low speed so I decided to keep the car in the third gear thus maintaining the revolutions. Of course, this is only a temporary plan and on Monday I must try and find someone else to sort it.

This is the time of year when flower festivals are held, to celebrate the harvest, and open the church to a wider public. We first went to Buckland Dinham. Below, a poor quality image from a slide show of workers in the very early 20th-century when everything was done by hand and horse power.

This was a local duo who sung folksongs for our entertainment. They remarked that the acoustics of the church was so good that they could actually hear themselves singing.

For such a tiny town it was a shock to me, seeing the percentage of the male population that must have been sent off to the First World War. It is interesting that members of the same family were involved, leaving the wife and young children bereft of support.

Do I sense National Heritage money somewhere? Pews have been removed from the rear half of the church to enable room for the well attended coffee mornings. This was a very neatly designed kitchen when the doors were closed you would think it was just a panel.

We then went on to Mells Church, definitely one for the tourists.

I love the dedication and care of people who painstakingly conceive and present these set pieces. I love the symbolism of a little bucket of flowers at every place in the pews indicating that everybody is valued and welcome.

Later on in the day, we visited an art venue that I can only describe as unique and I shall write this up in tomorrow’s diary.

An afternoon exploration of Shipham


Shipham is one of those delightful places nestling in the Mendip Hills, where everybody knows everyone else, the butcher sells newspapers and the local pubs are very expensive and trendy. We decided on impulse to take advantage of the beautiful afternoon and make the half hour car journey and take a break from the electromagnetic fields that are creeping up now and also just to have a lovely walk.

We arrived at the village square and were puzzling over our map when a passing local asked us if we needed help. We were having difficulty in finding the starting point for a recommended walk so decided to listen to him instead and we were glad we did. He gave some instructions and within half a mile we found ourselves in the middle of a lovely wood. He said “you will know you’re there when you see a land Rover that never goes anywhere”.  Only in the country could you get such a marker for directions. Sure enough, we found it with the assistance of two jolly dog walkers. It seems that every other person has a dog and fair enough it’s a lovely environment for such an animal to take you for regular exercise.

a rather strange retro building reminiscent of the 1960s, a council flat writ large
This was the Landy that didn’t go anywhere. Closer inspection revealed that this was probably a good idea
this wood is perfect for bikers. good instructions given in several languages
entrance to the open moors
lovely light effects
a stream that made a delightful noise, almost tinkling
four buses each way is not bad for such a small village
an old telephone box with a library in; most of the books seemed quite current
Terribly twee darling. One of those that opens when the owner feels like it
the village green with festive tables where we sat and ate cake

We got lots of FREE hazelnuts courtesy of the wood.They are lying in profusion on the ground at this time of year.

We then drove to a local pub by the name of The Swan. I made a big mistake, forgetting my stomach condition. I had a glass of white wine. Within 10 minutes I had the most terrible bloating in my stomach. I had not bought my medication so I had to suffer the drive home, clutching at my stomach to try and minimise the pain.

So it looks like from now on, no cakes no alcohol.

On the way home we listened to the five o’clock News on BBC and heard about all the Extinction Rebellion people that were holding meetings all over the world. I think this must be the first completely fact free movement. I might even start a website to counteract some of the garbage that is being talked or at least assemble existing information under one convenient cover. It’s more like a cult for well-to-do young people and gullible children coached by their even more gullible teachers.

Varying reactions to giving a garden quote


I don’t think any two people react the same way to being given a quotation, be it large or small. At the moment, I think everyone’s brains are being fried by Brexit and I don’t know if anyone is capable of rational thought. I won’t mention the mass hysteria which is called Extinction Rebellion, which is a cynical campaign by those who stand to gain from the enormously profitable carbon credits system. I intend to write a blog just about this subject fairly soon. Samuel Pepys commented on the political situation so I am following in his footsteps.

The biggest problem as I see it, apart from lack of money is the naivete on the part of those who want a quote for their beloved garden, in some cases not so beloved. I did a very carefully constructed quote for somebody who had a three level garden, the bottom part of which was full of brambles, as was the common path at the bottom. There was no access through the house so we would have to drag any spoil up a flight of concrete steps and take it to the local recycle. He was a tenant so the landlord obliged him to maintain a certain amount of order in the garden. He wrote back to me saying that “your sense of humour has got the better of you” thanks but no thanks. I just wonder if people put on a show of bravado because they don’t have any money but in that case why ask someone to call and spend their time and energy giving a quote.

On the other hand, today, we did a clearing job for a charity that rescues greyhounds. It was necessary to clear an area of stinging nettles behind the property and also dispose of some accumulated rubbish. As soon as I entered the scene, I felt there was a richness of human nature and caring. Everyone was dedicated to looking after dogs and respecting them, so necessary because of the mistreatment that the dogs have had to suffer. Some of them have never been in a home before would you believe.

We got paid peanuts for the job but I was glad to do it because I felt we were contributing to the greater cause. I discovered a way of enhancing the speed at which a bonfire burns because we don’t like to leave lighted material when we leave even though it looks safe. I use my leaf blower which jets out air at an enormous speed and makes a total blast furnace effect. 5 minutes of that will increase the rate of burning of the fire about 10 fold. Very satisfying. The lady was very grateful and when she paid us said “thank you from the hounds and humans.”

The fact is that the lady who gave us the job was very nice and happy within herself. She asked us to come and quote for her own private accommodation which we will be delighted to do. She was prepared to go that extra mile to make us feel valued.

A third quote which happened a few days ago resulted in the customer writing to me saying that unbeknown to her, her son had decided to do the job himself. So thank you very much.

I think I still have to learn to boundary myself from any negative experiences or wasted time because I’m experiencing in a small way human nature in all its wonderful forms. . Thank goodness I don’t have a statutory remit to deal with people who I don’t get on with.

This is so different from last year. I can’t believe then the rate of change of consciousness on the planet is also so great, probably tending more towards insecurity and fear, that I must not grumble although of course I do grumble.   All we can do is to put it out there and do our best to respond to what comes back.

Dare I drive a car? – Why walk out of a lecture?


A lovely day today with a cloudless sky. A true Indian summer.

After my sister and brother-in-law departed for their home in Croydon I set about clearing out my man-shed. Very frequently, I know that something has to be done but I need a trigger to actually do it. The trigger was yet another special offer in Lidl, a set of plastic transparent drawers of varying sizes just suitable for things like screws, plugs et cetera. Funny, when the time has come you do it quickly and efficiently as if propelled by the wind.

To collect my car, the one that stalls without reason. Unfortunately, the garage  could not find the reason for it, having tried to recreate the problem without success. Although I’ve got the car back  I now feel I’m living with a time bomb. It would have been much more relaxing if I knew what was going on but now, so far as I’m concerned, we could be driving along a motorway at 70 miles an hour and things could cut out suddenly. I shall always keep in the slow lane until I’m quite certain that the car is performing well.

To a talk this evening by a local horticultural group on Indoor Plants. The man told us that he had been interested in this for 45 years and my goodness did it sound like it. We met in a community hall. The acoustics were very bad, and the fan from the projector was between us and the speaker. He spoke in a monotonous voice. I could only hear about half of what he was saying and that didn’t seem to be very interesting. He showed us a slide, said what the plant was an under what conditions it grew.

About 15 minutes into the lecture I resigned myself to being bored out of my mind, thinking of all the other things I could do. To my surprise, Françoise turned to me and said, “shall we go?”. I needed no second invitation. Out we went into the night. Françoise will sit through a film because she wants to see what the ending is even though the film is boring but this example, this event, took the prize for being positively irritating. As we were learning nothing. I thought it better that we leave.

To home, another edition of Grand Designs, a mountain of ironing to do and the watery results of defrosting a fridge.

The few spoil it for the many


I had cause to go to my garage and claim a courtesy car because my normal vehicle is not functioning. .There was one available, but the lady receptionist told me that from now on the charge was £.30 a mile. This is not an insubstantial amount and I asked her why. She said that the firm was losing money because they had given out cars without charge and people returned them in a less than pristine condition. One person went to Glastonbury for the Festival and returned the car full of rubbish in the boot.

Another lady bought a car in, was told that it was unserviceable, and spent six weeks apparently driving around for no cost trying to find another car to buy. She was difficult to get hold of on the phone and eventually the company had to report the car is stolen. The woman eventually returned with the car but again it was in a mess.

They also run the car completely down to an empty tank and do not compensate for the fuel they have used.

I consider these people selfish and anti-community minded. Because of idiots like this, people like myself cannot have a car for a few days while I wait for the car to be repaired

We went to a talk this evening by a scientist talking about James Watt, the Scottish engineer. He ended up with a talk on climate change, full of the usual nonsense about the demonisation of carbon dioxide, the usual fake charts, the usual avoidance of discussing the middle-ages warm period not to mention the Roman warming period. I think people sometimes lose their brains. Has it not occurred to people that the main cause of global warming or cooling could be the sun. NASA showed that the rise and fall of temperatures was due to the perturbation of the Earth in its orbit. I read that people are being asked not to eat meat, not fly planes, and such nonsense.

I felt like challenging him but I felt that he was so closed minded that it was a waste of time plus the fact that at the particular group,the Radstock Scientific Society, it is not considered good form to criticise a speaker.

There are some occasions when it’s not worth getting involved.

Living a spontaneous life – it works


On Sundays, I don’t have a fixed idea of what should be done but just let places float through my mind until one jumps at me. En route, the same thing should happen. When I feel like jumping off the intended route and going to investigate something. We always meet interesting people and it is a very stressfree activity.

So, with my sister and brother-in-law, we have another cloudless day so we think a visit to the oft mentioned Cheddar car boot event (search on this site for many references) would be a good eye-opener for them.

If you’re interested in getting used baby clothes, often rusty tools, DVDs, cutlery and crockery, outdated electrical items, this is the place for you. And I believe good bargains can be found. Although there were hundreds of exhibitors, I walked up and down the rows in search of a decent garden fork, the sort that have very thin tines which actually do a digging job well, but could find none.

Off to the garden centre nearby about which I have written many times and then we decided to go to WestHay which is on the Somerset levels. We went to the visitor centre but before that we went to the curious Sweets cafe and Museum, beloved of walkers and bikers everywhere. Here are a few images of this idiosyncratic place where the service is  somewhat amateurish but the atmosphere is wonderful.

there is a definite comradeship amongst cyclists
part of the quirky interior to the cafe
A piece of architectural equipment being reclaimed by nature

To home, Country File on BBC1, Antiques Roadshow to follow, a rather lazy evening watching the television. Our hire car, a Hyundai I10 hire car is amazingly economical on petrol. If and when I stop my gardening activities I would definitely downsize. We did 60 miles today and the petrol needle barely moved.

My beloved Priston music Festival, and a disappointment


Priston is an affluent village close to Bath, about 5 miles away, which is very attractive to the well-heeled because it is close to work and yet far away from main roads, motorways, etc so it provides an idyllic setting and a very good place to bring up children. Once a year we attend the Priston music Festival with a very full programme run by an enthusiastic group of volunteers and most important – lots of lovely public.

We nearly did not get to it. At 10 o’clock in the morning I was informed that I would not be able to get a replacement car for one gone into the garage for service (see yesterday’s diary). I went through all the usual search engine rituals, looking at these sites plus the aggregation sites which looked like they are actual car hire centres but are actually just agencies for car hire companies. You start by saying which country you are interested in. I found that in two or three cases, either the prices were very high or the software did not work.

Finally, I found a garage and rental centre about 4 miles away called Practical car hire Service. I had a direct line – a blessing in itself-  and spoke to a chap called Ben who said they had one last car available, small but perfectly formed, and I took it on the spot. Thank goodness I did because he told me later that a quarter of an hour later someone else rang up, in precisely my position, saying that their car was in the garage and could they help. Timing is all.

I thought I would have to go to Bath but fortunately for an extra fee they were able to deliver to my house which was an enormous saving time and energy. So midday saw us with a lovely car for which I paid a very good price. Off we went on a lovely sunny day about 20°C with a clear blue sky.

The event itself is very well organised. My brother-in-law is unable to walk long distances for example the Frome Cheese show which was on at the same time which would have been totally beyond him because even if I could have obtained a wheelchair, the ground would have been too bumpy to make it easy to push around. I enclose an image of the map that you can see what a cozy geographical area it is enclosed in. I have written about the Festival before on two occasions, one on 16 September 2017 and one on 17 September 2018. You can gather that we are fans.

The very kind and efficient organiser left a wheelchair for the use of my brother-in-law by the organisers tent and this was gratefully used.

redolent berries by the side of the lanes
I love being nosey and peeping at people’s gardens. This one was a delight what with the sun falling on the main features

There are musical activities on two stages, in the further reaches there is a child’s play area where entertainers and storytellers work their magic. What I like most is the atmosphere created by the villagers. Most of them have nothing to prove. They are competent, literate, expressive, secure in themselves, and are a very friendly bunch. There is absolutely no problem engaging them at a useful level of intellectual acuity. Also as a bonus my normal humour is understood. Most people don’t quite ‘get it’ in my home town.

At this event you can just sit there and watch people passing and entertain yourself watching human nature at its best. It’s nice to see two-parent families looking after their children, indeed nice to see well-behaved children who’ve got a sense of identity. Some young children were sitting listening to stories and become involved.

It is fair to say that public service transport is limited (timetable below) and thus the area is secluded.

children having a lovely time climbing the trees

My wife and I had a number of conversations, together and separately, with people who have very interesting lives. You must never know who you are going to meet.

I talked with a lady about her use of the phrase ‘very wonderful’ and told her that I thought it was tautological. She said that something is ‘full of wonder’. Wonder is an ‘absolute quality’ and cannot be ‘very full’ of that quality. It is superfluous. She told me how she got her sense of words from I think it was the Saturday version of the Independent. I love this sort of banter that should not put people on the defensive.

There was a lady who was going to give a talk on climate change who had the unfortunate experience of meeting with me. I told her that the planet is quite capable of controlling its own affairs, that carbon dioxide is only a very small proportion of the atmosphere and that nature itself controls 97% of any change that may occur. She made the mistake of saying that if all scientists everywhere agree then there must be a case. I replied that this was not true, since 30,000 scientists’ views had been stifled. I explained about the rule, “follow the money” and said that the lie must be propitiated to justify the enormously profitable carbon trading credits. At that point she got a little bit miffed and went off to give her talk.

My sister and brother-in-law were quite happy to sit round and watch everyone do their thing. I commented that it was better than watching TV. Foodwise we have a ritual. We start off by having a very nice quick snack in the pub and then the tradition of tea with cakes served from 2 PM to 4 PM.

18 different varieties of cake, plus scones, jam and cream to boot

A really good performance by URSA (above), a solo project by Bristol-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Helen Stanley

The musical stage was in action from about 12:30 PM and there was a enthusiastic and responsive audience as you can see.

We were looking forward to hearing the Fantasy Orchestra, which was due to appear on the main stage at 6 PM. As soon as they started, I realised that all was not well, certainly compared with the experience of previous years. They were not singing together. The leader was making a virtue out of the fact that they were just practicing for performances in the future, both in Bristol and for a tour of the French coastline next year.

The various sections of the performers were not really listening to each other namely the choir, the trumpets, the strings, the percussion. It’s all very well having people doing their spontaneous best and having fun (nothing wrong with that), but I think the audience deserves better than this frankly amateurish performance.


Returning home via the allotment where the Dahlias  grown by a young tenant are ready to be exhibited (below)

We picked enough runner beans to feed a small army and also a few courgettes.

We ended the evening was perfect day by watching the Last night of the Proms (For readers from other parts of the world, this is an annual series of promenade concerts of classical and other music which takes place in London in July through September.



Why bonding between men is so important


In the United Kingdom if not elsewhere men tend not to wear their hearts on their sleeves at least the older generation. I attended a Christian men’s group talk in Frome, at the rugby club no less, together with about 30 other men. We normally start off with a curry after having been refreshed at the bar,  then a word of prayer followed by the speaker.

At the moment I landed in the car park, my PAS (power assisted steering), packed up and I learned the hard way how difficult it is to steer a car unassisted, especially when you are hardly moving, and when the weight of the car is so significant. The Volvo V70 is about one and a half tons. There was nothing I could do about it, so I thought to myself that I would not spoil the evening for the sake of a malfunctioning car.

Ironically, the last Volvo I had broke down, just at the time I entered a church car park for a funeral service. Maybe there is a lesson somewhere.

We sat down at tables for eight and amazingly I sat at a table with four people who were from South Africa. In view of my love for that country this is extraordinary. Sometimes you can’t make it up.

Last evening’s speaker was a management consultant who assured us that people who work in the position of CEO’s most definitely do not know what they are doing most of the time and feel lonely because there is no one they can turn to.

He started his talk on the surprising topic of gadgets, particularly his own beloved  robotic mower that he had bought and which mows the lawn automatically at 7 AM each morning. He and his neighbour are in a friendly rivalry to see who can produce the best lawn. The topic moved to how to sell a service to other people. You most certainly do not say to someone “I have got what you need.” It has to be through the asking of questions, the curiosity, of the possible client. The client needs to feel that you are speaking to them for the sake of speaking to them and not for some ulterior motive. In a way, ‘selling’ Christianity, for that is what it is, is educing a change in mindset of someone else where you have to follow the rules just like selling anything else.

On five occasions, the speaker asked us to stand up and move to speak with someone the we had not spoken to before. He gave us a particular question to discuss, for example ‘how did it feel to acquire your latest gadget?’.  This is 1 million times better than having people sitting in separate rows listening to material, however good. I think the human impulse to take part in something is very strong. That is why I think the prime duty of a speaker is to put himself at the service of the audience. I think that at the end of a busy day, concentration is very limited so people don’t want heavy stuff. We were given information in byte-size pieces – easy to digest.

When I went to check my car and possibly to call the AA , it started and drove without complaint or murmur so obviously some temporary thing, maybe a combination of speed, braking, ambient temperature, caused a mandatory dysfunction but when I tried it this morning, it seemed perfectly fine.


Today, more excitement. I’m taking my friends to see Tim when suddenly the whole electrics of the car cut out again. The engine went off when I was driving at about 20 miles an hour. The brakes did not work, the steering became heavy. Fortunately, the destination was at the bottom of the hill so I just made it down but was only able to stop the car with vigorous pulling at the handbrake.

Enter the RAC man, a jolly young fellow with a back problems so it turned out. He could not find a problem because it started for him the first time. Françoise, however, lost confidence in the car because she does not like the thought of it breaking down when she is in control. We asked for the car to be taken to the garage to sit over the weekend and be given attention next week. This is the most inconvenient weekend of all. We hope to go to a traditional country fair tomorrow, Saturday, but alas the garage has no spare car at the moment.

Anyway, we count our blessings. The car did not break down when we were going at speed and everyone was safe and my brother-in-law had a very good session with Tim.

To home, enjoying the hot sun, make a meal and sit and watch TV.

Neighbours- Less is more?


Françoise has made a great effort to transform this hitherto rather scruffy aspect of the garden. Our Buddha,  instead of being hidden behind weeds, is now centre stage surrounded by nature.

Today, my sister and brother in law are coming to stay for a few days. I have taken the unusual step of arranging for the brother-in-law to see Tim, my genius magical body worker, as a type of birthday present because Tim has the sensitivity to help his body, hitherto tense and out of order, to restore itself so he can walk better. If anyone can solve the problem it is Tim and I have great faith in him.

We do not enjoy very good relationships with the neighbour next door. He does not like the fact that I have trees in my front garden. Every time we meet, he goes on about the trees, what bad neighbours. We are, how his light is being excluded, and any thing else he can think of to grumble about. He has been widowed twice, and it is in his 80s, so I have to make some allowances for him. But even so it is irritating.

Although I know I can tell him to mind his own business, the fact is that my nearest  tree, a Common Lime,  sheds leaves on his front lawn with gay abandon during the autumn season. The best time to prune such trees is in the winter so I’m going to write a diplomatic letter to say that we intend to prune but until that time I will make sure that his lawn is regularly cleared of leaves.

Today’s topic is about reading and retaining. My long-time friend, Richard, tells me that he is a slow reader and me thinks this is a very good idea. I listened to a program from Trans World Radio about a pastor who remarked on the way that people read things without absorbing them. He said that if he had asked his congregation what he had preached on, very few of them would have been able to recall in any detail, apart from a few headlines (I paraphrase here).

There is a definite technique to reading, both newspapers and volumes, which I think I have yet to master. With newspapers. I tried to decide whether the subject matter is of interest to me before even starting it. The writing is for all age groups and interests so I don’t expect to find that all topics are relevant. I normally read or should I say finish off my newspaper, the Independent, in bed at night.

Books are another matter, there are some lightweight volumes that you can pick up and put down without any loss but others of a more serious nature  cannot be treated this way. I am currently reading a book about the persecution of Christians throughout the ages. I thoroughly recommend it for anyone with the slightest interest in religion. It is called “Hatred without a reason.”  . It is a real page turner. It’s not just that all the disciples of Jesus met grisly ends up those who promulgated the gospel did as well. John Wycliffe, the brave soul who translated the Bible into English and had it printed, was eventually imprisoned and strangled to death. We do indeed take the availability of this wonderful book for granted.

My problem is that I get excited when I read about a new idea and I can’t take any more, my brain goes into overload. I think that only with the aid of valium would I be able to sit down for say an hour and read a book of this nature. I’m not quite sure, even at my stage of life, how to attend to this matter. I’m convinced that just reading isolated facts without integrating them with the knowledge that I already have is for the most part a waste of time. The ideal book should change, modify, or refine the mindset and increase the amount of wisdom at least if the book is any good at all.

I could even claim mitigating circumstances from the fact that I’m a Gemini. We love to know a little bit about a lot of topics. I’m not sure whether a lack of concentration is an intrinsic trait of my star sign, but maybe it is just an excuse and with the correct motivation I could impact correct this. There are some books that I can concentrate on, biographies being one, and novels by John Grisham being in another category. On reflection I think the best thing is to get a sense of priority and to lay aside certain periods of the day, during which reading will take place. I can sense that an enormous amount of self-discipline will be required but it will be a great triumph if I could achieve this.

Good food, junk food


I had quite a bad day yesterday with my stomach. It started well enough, but I made what was obviously a mistake to eat Digitalsome fried salty bacon, from pork, one of the acidic foods. Before I knew where I was I was on a helter-skelter of stomach pains, eating more fruit to compensate, adding some bicarbonate of soda, vomiting up,  and it was no fun at all.

I’m the sort of person that needs to be hit on the head several times before I realise something and this is certainly the case with my food intake. When I was young, I could stuff anything into my mouth and swallow it without chewing, and not suffer the consequences. Now this is not possible.

In your average supermarket, the foods are contaminated with glyophosphate, additives of dubious origin, tasting agents which make you feel that you’re eating the real thing when in fact it’s largely a chemical derivative. Even sacred cows such as milk (ha ha) are vulnerable since what cattle feed on in terms of grass could be contaminated by chemicals. Have you noticed how many non-dairy variations there are  to milk are on offer?. Oat Milk, Rice Milk, Oat Milk, Any Other Sort of Milk. You name it. There is a shelf full of it.

I cannot drink dairy milk at all now without vomiting or at least having it repeating on me. The effects start within about 15 min and carry on for about two or three hours. I often get a bloating of the stomach.

I also love cakes. These are often full of preservative to prolong their life. I tend to go now for home-made cakes which although they may contain sugar, which is on my banned list, they are made from pure ingredients. See the image of the top of this page which I bought from the blessed Women’s Institute stand that I referred to a few days ago. It was lovely and I got no repeats from it. I find that anything containing oats particularly when mixed with dates, is a  rewarding and calm experience. If I just stick to the right foods I’m all right. If I disobey then I’m not all right.

To cheer myself up, I printed out the image below obtained from one of the acid stomach groups on Facebook.

So life is perhaps not so bad.

I feel, rightly or wrongly, that if there was something wrong with the architecture of the stomach, I could not take any food. It’s just that I am allergic to certain types of food and it’s as simple as that.

Oh that life itself were that simple.

Slave labour as a psychic


I’m quite keen to develop my business as a personal counsellor, psychic etc. Someone pointed me in the direction of a Sky television company. “Psychic Today.”   This is featured on Sky Channel 650.  I was quite intrigued by this because I enjoy working ‘remotely’ in other words completely blind with people I know nothing about. I applied to go on the system and received a standard docket of information, the rules and regulations they had to apply, what you can and cannot say or promise, sticking to the broadcasting standards and all that.

I then came to the page on payment. The idea is that people prepay, or use the premium rate phone number typically £1.50 per minute. For a call lasting up to 10 min I would get £.25 per minute. If the call lasts over 18 min it goes up to a £.30 per minute. If my mathematics is right, the system takes £1.20 and the psychic or adviser gets the balance. The client pays 80% to the company including the telephone firm that provides the communication, and 20% to the person who does the work.

I remember when I started doing psychic readings in 1970 I charged £20 for an hour. I’m now charging something around £80. The most I can earn with Psychic Today is from one continuous hour – £18 – which I personally would find exhausting.  I can well and truly call this slave labour or exploitation.

There is another type of problem that absolutely anyone can ring in and inevitably they will want to know what their future is without being prepared to do the work to make a good futur. For example “will I meet someone?”  or “will I come into money?” These people have not got the first idea about the laws of living and think you can have something because you want it. It is almost impossible to filter out this type of questioning and I would have a very short fuse with these people so that’s the second ground for my being reluctant to take part.

I understand I’m going to be called in a few days to discuss my application and I know what my first questions will be. I think the conversation will be short.

Children’s entertainer ‘removes’ my wife’s bra


Driving along yesterday Friday we saw a sign saying “Chew Stoke Harvest” so we thought we’d better investigate it. This is a very small village of I would guess about 1000 souls (on checking 998 in the 2017 survey)

It was advertised to be held on Saturday 7 September 2019, 12.30 onwards. On arrival at the village the most annoying thing was that there were no signposts. Presumably because the organisers thought that everyone would know where the event was so we had to drive around a little bit.
We finally found the venue, a field to the east of the town, paid £3 admittance and found a very jolly group of people all intent on enjoying themselves, lots of dogs (well, there was a dog show), lots of children, lots of screaming, lots of running around.

As I have remarked before, you can detect a farmer a mile off. He is big boned, obviously healthy, and quite tall. You don’t mess with these people. If they are used to dealing with harvesters or bulls they have learned to be survivors and wont take any nonsense from anyone.

This was my first opportunity to pick up the ‘jaws of life’ as they are called. There are two versions. One is to prise metal apart, for example the doors of a car and the other one is to cut metal columns. These models are powered by compressed air but new ones are being introduced, so we are told, that will be powered by batteries.
You have to be physically fit to even pick them up.

The Women’s Institute, an organisation I believe to be about 150 years old, make cakes like no other organisation and I joked with the very nice lady that the world would end before the Women’s Institute, so unfailingly friendly and reliable are these purveyors of cakes. We bought some jam, some chutney, some cakes.

Ooops I don’t know what has happened to the code from here on. I must have removed something without realising it.

I totally approve of local buying and selling activity. It keeps a sense of community. It keeps the countryside alive and takes that little bit of pressure off people who otherwise would find it difficult to survive

This was the van of the children’s entertainer that has been completely covered with artificial grass, and a very nice job it was too

The entertainer had a great rapport with the children, but a slight difficulty with controlling them but everything was done in good spirit. He took a liking to my wife and decided to dance with her and then appeared to run off with her bra. He had secreted a bra in his pocket beforehand. Very clever and unexpected and totally inoffensive

We found the brass band to be of very good quality and you can judge this yourself with the above video.
And now, off to the fruit, vegetable and flower marquee. The standard was of a very good quality and I can only give you a small insight here.

The whole lot was very unpretentious and unassuming. It is churlish to talk about value for money but it cost three pounds to get in, which was probably used on the numerous expenses that people are not necessarily aware of, are a small price to pay and we had a lovely couple of hours.
I did not get any particular contact with anybody though Francoise did. It is a very local area and I won’t say they were inward looking, but their attitude to strangers was polite but somewhat distant, perhaps guarded.

A lovely sky scape – cool but pleasant – autumn is coming

I started taking my new folic acid pills this morning at the recommendation of Tim – as I wrote yesterday.  I have been hammering down all sorts of food today and yet the acid stomach has not reappeared. This is an enormous relief. We shall see how long this lasts.

A full day from a bad start


Last night I suffered a lot from a frozen shoulder and upper arm and decided to write to my genius of an acupuncturist come physio therapist, come healer, Tim. I wrote to him early this morning and asked for an appointment as soon as possible.

About 8:30 AM I received a letter from a good friend saying they would like to pop by and would we available.

About 9:00 AM. I received an invitation from a 5G colleague to appear on an international video chat on ZOOM. This will happen next Tuesday afternoon and I asked for written confirmation, log in details etc.

About 9:45 AM I received notification saying that I could have an appointment with Tim from 11 AM to 1 PM

I wrote to the friends that they were welcome to come at midday and see Françoise and then I would join them later.

The therapeutic session I had with Tim was amazing. I thought I had torn muscle because I could scarcely move it but actually it was a tight muscle in the shoulder that made the arm feel bad. He worked on it for nearly 2 hours, and produced a 95% benefit to my sore limb. We discussed how memories could linger from childhood and he noticed how my body went into defensive mode when it was touched. I was not aware of this until it was drawn to my attention. The ‘alert mode’ started in the shoulder. I came away feeling a new man as they say.

I arrived home to find my friends in conversation with Françoise, we had a very jolly time. It does help I find if people have a similar sense of humour. One person can spark off another one. They stayed for a couple of hours, during which I showed them my blog of last Wednesday and we agreed that all four of us would go off to Avebury, weather permitting, and see prehistoric Britain at its best or should I say one manifestation of it.

We then had a visit from a friend of Françoise who has had a difficult life. She was brought up in care, and finds it very difficult to assert herself. As a result, she married a man who expects her to behave like a servant, who will do no work around the house and expects his meals on time. Worse than that, he and his son spend all the time in the loft on their computers. Father and son back each other up so there is nothing much she can do.

The friend is afraid of showing emotion to her husband, for example crying, for fear he will shut up or turn away from her. She is about 70 years of age and although she is starting to stand up for herself, she has a long way to go before she can call herself independent.

I have decided to stop watching the news because the state of the government at the moment is so embarrassing. Much better watching decent videos, writing this diary, maintaining my 5G site, and reading the pile of books sitting half read on my bedside table.

Tim gave me some pills that would stimulate the digestive juices which I have to take with meals hopefully obviating the need to take Omeprazole.

I have more or less accepted the fact that there will not be much more gardening work this year and will simply live off savings for the moment. If I had to survive just on a pension. I don’t know how I would manage.

I went to Sainsbury’s this evening to get a few things. The woman at the till has a sense of humour. She wished the previous customer a good evening and a good weekend. I remarked to her teasingly that why limit it to the weekend. Why not wish him a good month or even a good year. she got her revenge on me by wishing me a happy Christmas.

Today was as good as yesterday was bad. A result.

The time of plenty


At this time of year, we can sustain ourselves for the most part on what we grow on the allotment. Not everything performs the same way every year; no two years are the same. We have had good supplies of onions, potatoes, beetroot, spinach, runner beans, nasturtiums (which we eat), and blackberries. The damsons on the right were given to Françoise during a garden visit.

This means that I don’t eat as much meat as I normally do and frankly I don’t miss it. On the other hand, I notice that if I don’t eat meat twice a week. I feel I’m missing something.


This evening, off with the Garden group to a house called Whitewood Lodge which is near Bristol, but unfortunately under the flight path from Bristol airport so they are disturbed from time to time, even though by the time the planes pass over they are about 20,000 feet up.

The couple whose house moved in 30 years ago and have basically transformed a field into a very intimate informal space.They have put themselves on to the National Gardens Scheme which means they open a few times a year, collect five pounds a head, and pass the income to a good cause connected with gardens.  She entertained us with very good home-made cakes and tea. Unfortunately, I had to accept normal milk which I thought I would get away with, but alas within about 20 min the stomach acidity started again.

The Ancient village of Avebury, Wiltshire

a beautifully designed and loved shop “The Henge” in Avebury

Today Wednesday was a bit of a sad day because the gardening job I had looked forward to doing had been taken from me on the spurious pretext. Since either of us have anything much to do with decided that it was time for a walk.

We need a pleasant day to counteract the dreadful shenanigans going on in the houses of Parliament where the government seems set on a process of self destruction. How on earth can we leave the European Community cleanly when there is so much infighting and where no party has a majority.

Since we are both members of the National Trust it would make sense to go along to one of their properties, so I skimmed through the Handbook for 2019 and, as things always seem to do, one property jumped out at me, Avebury. It is some time since I have been there and I thought it would be nice to go along and see how it has changed.

The properties are most definitely controlled by planning rules and regulations. I did not see one sky TV aerial site so I don’t know what they do for reception

It is in fact a miniature village consisting of a couple of streets at the most. You could almost say it was a hamlet. Due to fairly draconian planning rules the whole appears almost frozen in time for the most part very carefully managed by the National Trust. It was a joy to go round. I was very glad to visit at a time when there were no schoolchildren because they had gone back to school so us adults and particularly those of pensionable age were allowed to roam without impediment.

Françoise giving an impression of Anne Boleyn, trying not to look as she is suffering too much.
an 18th-century kitchen

I was very impressed by the motivation of people in Avebury Manor. As soon as I entered a room, be volunteer host step forward and gave us a miniature description of the room with great enthusiasm that they must have said the same thing hundreds of times before. They obviously love working there. there is a hands-on approach where you can lie on Boyle beds, dress up in the clothes of the time and generally touch things. Heaven for children but a nightmare for the staff I would have thought.

The Manor  is a building where many different historical periods are represented in the rooms right from Tudor on to the beginning of the second world war. In other words, it was a bit of a set piece but nonetheless charming for that. I love looking at huge old kitchens with gleaming brass ware and everything done by manual labour. Against one wall there was a huge cooking range fired by coal.

Our National Trust membership saved us about £37 in terms of car parking, entry to Avebury Manor, and entry to a museum. I’m not paid to say this but frankly the National Trust membership pays for itself many times over. The day was lovely, white cloud scudding across the sky, about 20°C just right for walking.

The National Trust are investing in this very popular place including doubling the size of a very small cafe which should be opened later this year. I shall make the effort to return and view
every feature is well signposted and explained

Finally, we went round the stones which are huge, it makes you wonder how they managed to get them there after having transported them long distances then we can say that about the pyramids. Some say that the pyramid stones were moved by the power of sound i.e. resonance.

hundreds of sheep do a very good job including the grass and fertilising the area
there is a lot to learn about these enigmatic ancient stones and you can find books about them in the Henge shop
I was most amused to see these cars with similar registration numbers. Evidently they belong to a husband and wife who live just around the corner.

The village itself is so small you can miss it if you blink. There is an excellent second-hand library run by volunteers and a little post office, amazing for such a small conurbation. I suppose they make their money mainly from tourists.

This is harvesting time which in Wiltshire is quite spectacular due to the large size of the fields. Everyone seems to store their hay in a different way, some are in circular rolls, and some like this just stacked up

We stopped at a flight of locks in Devizes. They never cease to impress. Two years ago some lazy person left a lock open after passing it and the resulting slide caused £3 million worth of damage on a nearby housing estate.

Carbon Dioxide, how to listen – the stomach (once again)


<rant mode on> Part of my psychology is involved in sorting out the truth from falsity. I resent the fact that most of what we are told – about everything – by the main stream media is either a lie or a cover up for a lie.

On the topic of ‘Extinction Rebellion and the carbon dioxide ‘debate’  Have a look at this video by Patrick Moore PhD from the website ‘Conversations that Matter‘. or his campaign site.  Spot the difference between this authoritative interview and what passes for news on the BBC. We are in dire need of impartial facts. <rant mode off>

Whilst we are on media matters, and as a very good follow-on from the previous paragraph I’m a great fan of Jordan Peterson and about the topic he covers here which is very rarely faced. He makes enemies and friends in equal measure and I do invite you to watch this video, which lasts less than 5 min, which is called “how to really listen to other people”. I think if the whole world followed this  model, it would be a much better place.


Bad news today. Yesterday I was contacted by a lady in Timsbury who had a garden clearing job. It was just up my street, small, compact and untidy with a tree to be taken down. Because of my skill set I was able to offer this for a reasonable price. Today I received a text saying that unbeknown to her, her son and a friend had agreed to do the garden so my services were not required.  What happened was (my theory) that her son had been promising to do the garden for ages and when she telephoned him to tell that I was going to do it, his conscience was tweaked and he said that after all he was intending to do it any way. I will believe it when I see it but then not much I can do after she has said “no”.


A restless day during which my stomach did not perform well. I did not make many demands of it. I joined the Acid Reflux/GERD/LPR support group on Facebook.  It’s good to know there are fellow sufferers. Diet has a lot to do with it. Cancer cannot thrive in an alkaline stomach so that should give a clue.  I can consider myself lucky. Samuel Pepys, the inspirator of this diary suffered from a young age from bladder stones in his urinary tract—a condition from which his mother and brother John also later suffered. He was almost never without pain, as well as other symptoms, including “blood in the urine” (hematuria). By the time of his marriage, the condition was very severe.

Still miserable about losing my garden job.

Sensuous things that I really enjoy experiencing


Are you ready for a list?

Painting – Taking a brush, daubing it with paint and putting it on fresh wood and making sure it is evenly spread

Eating – wiping your plate clean after a delicious meal; having an ice cream on a hot day and finding it doesn’t give you indigestion

Printing – receiving a brand-new printed version of what you requested on the Internet be a business card or leaflet and seeing that it is exactly what you wanted

Partners – when two people have the same thought at the same time (it can be annoying though – who claims authorship)

Gardening – using a sharp chainsaw, cutting down a tree and seeing it crash to the ground; hearing customers say that they are really happy with the job that Françoise and myself have done.

Drain cleaning – using a hose or rod, unblocking a drain and seeing the water flow freely again

Bank accounts – reconciling my accounts with my statements

Allotments – digging potatoes and finding nice big tubers with no disease

Driving – being aware that your automatic gearbox is doing its job so smoothly that you can scarcely hear when the gears change

Parking – driving along the road looking for a space and seeing someone leave just at the moment you had given up

Bedtime – getting into bed between newly aired sheets when you are really tired

Travel – the satisfaction of seeing a petrol station selling pas at six pence per liter cheaper than another one just when you need to fill up.

The morning – drawing the curtains on waking and seeing a clear blue sky on the very day we want to go out

Winter evening – sitting in front of a log fire and enjoying its warmth. Much better than sitting in front of central heating. The fire lives.

People – seeing and recognising someone you haven’t met for ages; receiving correspondence from someone you never expected to hear from

Intellect – getting the aha moment when you realise something for the first time or shall we say ‘connect the dots’.

Strangers – meeting a stranger in the street or public place and having a wonderful conversation with someone you have something in common with

Motor car or machine – finding an engine starts first time after months of disuse

The seaside – Spring tides crashing over the promenade

The tides at Richmond, London – a special form of satisfaction when the Thames has the very high tides in March and September. The path adjacent becomes flooded and people can easily get caught, including having parked their car on what they thought was a safe area.

For me in particular – doing a psychic reading and hearing someone say that the reading was very helpful and spot on.

Shops – seeing something you really wanted for sale at half price.

Tax – receiving a tax rebate notice in the post

As they say, the best things in life are free

The beauty of nature- going the extra mile


Altocumulus lenticularis clouds spotted over southern Chile by Jennifer Chiang. This is from the Cloud Appreciation Society, a wonderfully quirky organisation that collects wonderful and innovative images of clouds. Look them up.


I have just gone to buy some milk before Sainsbury’s closes. On the way, I saw a woman struggling to cross the road, apparently almost blind, with her guide dog. She stopped halfway across the road because the dog stopped, hesitated a bit and then rushed across the rest of the road. I thought to myself, what a hopeless handicap this is and how much courage it must take just to get up and go shopping. We must not forget people who have no voice.


I refer to above “going the extra mile”. I had cause to meet the estate agent who sold us our current home in Midsomer Norton. He is called Sam Chivers. We met outside his office and he immediately recognised me, though we had not met for at least five years. He greeted me warmly and I asked him how things were going. He said that he and his wife, who started the business were working up to 16 hours a day when they first started but now things have settled and become more stable. He says he goes the extra mile by asking people not just what they want in terms of accommodation but a little bit about them as a family, where they lived before, something about their job, and as a result he builds up an accurate profile which enables the company to target the offers much better.

He certainly did that with me. I remember being called about 11 o’clock on a Monday morning when I was living in London. There was absolutely no question that we accepted his recommendation to view the property and on a horrible rainy Wednesday morning we arrived. By that time, five other people have made offers. There is something about a cul de sac and something about a bungalow that is very attractive to the market. When there is no passing traffic, anyone who visits the close is scrutinized carefully. In other words, you cannot arrive at the close without being observed by somebody. This is very good for security reasons. During the time we have been here, I don’t think there have been any burglaries touch wood.


I had to rest last night after a stomach problem which I think I have solved. I have to completely cut out dairy products. In other words, milk, cheese, butter and also alcohol. These substances cause my oesophagus to become inflamed and caused me to be physically sick as well as giving a horrible acid feeling to my stomach. It is called acid reflux. It’s all to do with pH value which has to be kept within certain limits in order for the stomach to its stuff without pushing acid up into the throat.

I finally realised that there are specific causes, irritants if you like, and in general there is nothing wrong with my stomach as such. It’s just that I have become allergic. Remedy – self-discipline. Touch wood as I write today at 17:28 my stomach feels fine. For breakfast I had a Weetabix, oat milk, berries and a cup of ginger tea. For lunch I had a steak pie with salad. Fingers crossed I have contained the problem. Much better than taking pills which don’t really get to the root of the situation.


Anyway, we decided to go to visit Chew Magna and the lake adjacent to it, which is owned by Bristol Water. There is a lovely sailing scene there and we decided to go on a walk for an hour or so.

bright sunlight making dappled patterns on the path
this was a tree that had fallen over and nearly broken its root but the residue was able to feed the tree and help it to grow again
nature in full action. Air, Earth, fire and water. the tree is dying and its residues are going in to the water to other young life

We had a nice meeting and chat with a lady who enjoys traveling around. She had just returned from Ireland and told us of all the beauty there. She told us how much she enjoyed making photographs with her iPhone and shared some of her pictures of magical places with us.


On the way home, we stopped off at the Book Barn International, one of the largest repositories of second hand books in England.

someone has elegantly carved the words BOOK BARN into a book and made an artwork out of it

Françoise decided to look for books connected with essential oils. I decided to take the opportunity to have a cup of coffee and a croissant in the restaurant section.

They claim to have over 1 million books here all of which are catalogued so you can look them up on their computer. Most of them cost £1. I have bequeathed my books to the Book Barn as appropriate. I cannot bear the thought of my lovely books ending up on the skip (dumpster to my American readers) and would rather they found a good home.

this establishment attracts people from a very wide area. It is not in the same category as the Hay on Wye Book Festival but it is vast.


I’ve been listening to the interesting series on 5GDanger. Many of the videos’ topics are about danger to the human being. There are two types of approaches that scientists can take; one is to the energy field or aura as I would call it and the other one is a more mechanical examination of how the cells behave. Red blood cells are damaged even if someone has a mobile phone near their ear for say 15 minutes.

One phrase of the speaker, who is a Ph.D. rang in my mind

Where the mind goes
Chi follows
and flesh and blood follows that

Can you guess someone’s profession from looking at them?


Today we went to a local picture framing company who was celebrating 10 years of trading, of which five years had been in the premises on an industrial estate part of which is shown below.

Outside I spotted a very flashy car with the logo “Greenplanet” I was intrigued by this and wondered whose car it was.

I asked the chap who was helping serving drinks and he pointed to the singer on the right-hand side of the duo that had been hired to entertain us. Lo and behold, the owner of the car was the lady on the right. I would never guess in a million years she was a professional car tuner. I went up to talk to her after the set. She specialises in high-performance diesels. She plugs in some equipment to see the performance of the diesel, sends the report off to a company in the North of England and receives a ‘setting report’ showing how the car can be tweaked for better performance and greater economy.

So, as they say, you can never tell.

We decided to go to the tiny village of Stanton Drew where there are various ancient stones. We find it a very peaceful place to just ‘be’ in except if the cows who are allowed to graze on the field show too much interest.

It was a lovely blowing day and if you look very good eyesight right in the middle of the image you can see an EasyJet plane flying south from Bristol airport.

enlarge to read. CtrlC and + on a PC

Back to the village and I could not help noticing the ad for a Bavarian evening by the Village Hall, It sounds fun.

A lovely view of the inside of the local Norman church.

So, a nice blow on a perfect day for walking and being out in the fresh air. 21°C and wind blowing from the south-west.

A strange day – a great example of speaking your mind


My digestive problems continue and I can hardly eat anything without being  troubled with acidosis. I have joined a Facebook group on the subject and it seems I have plenty of fellow sufferers. The answer is diet for the most part. Acid suppressants such as Omeprazole are not the answer, because we do need acid in our stomach to digest food.

I find myself extremely allergic to dairy products, including milk, cheese, even I suspect butter, but I can put away a traditional English breakfast without any problem at all. As my readers will know this is an activity not entirely unknown to me. I was considerably ‘down’ this morning and decided to go to bed and stayed there for about two hours. When I arose, my appetite had returned and I felt somewhat easier with myself. However, this trend cannot continue, and I shall make of another attempt to contact the doctor on Monday to have a scan.

I’m a little bit concerned about cancer and the possibility of it.  My sister Marigold and my mother both died of it. I want to make sure that it does not visit me.  I know I’m 75 years of age but I do want to enjoy a good few more years of physical health.

There is a huge amount of educational material to watch this week. There is an exposition of talks on 5G given by 42 experts and as each is one hour long it is very difficult to encompass them all when the impact given by even one is so great that it takes me most of the day to recover from its implications and absorbed into my system.

I gave a quote for a job recently, a lovely job working to tidy up a hedge that got overgrown and put light excluding material on an area which needed to be kept clean. I have a horrible feeling, though I may be wrong, that the people concerned who run a centre for rescue dogs have no idea how much things cost. I charge £20 an hour per person, so in this case the bill was £500 for the labour. They will probably draw in their teeth and think it is too much.  I do wonder whether the uncertainty about Brexit has caused everyone to draw in their horns and be more careful about money.

I received a request for a reading from someone who I last met three years ago in Finland. He asked about the reliability of a potential job hire from Russia and asked me what I thought. He also asked about the condition of his mother. This is much easier to do then you may think but you do need discipline and focus. We are all connected together at a higher level though the education system does its best to bash this knowledge out of us.

We spent two hours this evening watching a video of a most remarkable chap called Mark Passio who lives and works in Philadelphia in America.  He has perfected the art of plain speaking. His video lasted for two hours and if you have never met plain speaking before you might like to watch this one. It’s about the fact that were too scared to see the world as it is. ***Just put up with the liberal use of the F word*** .

I can only say that I can agree with him point after point.

An imaginative scheme by the Rotary Club


Today we had nothing much to do and the weather was favourable so we decided to go on a bus tour of the area, Bath via Frome, starting with a breakfast at Wetherspoon’s. The best time to go is 10:30 in the morning after the breakfast rush hour and before the lunch. We are used to spotting the regulars. There is one particular woman who always has a half pint glass in her hand. I’m not sure if she even bothers with breakfast. She is there every day. Wetherspoon’s supports a variety of lifestyles I must say.

There is a bus to Frome every hour or so which picks up at the small villages along the way. But in spite of that it delivers us to that town in about 50 min and we being pensioners don’t pay anything.

We were a bit late for the bread but never mind.

A disused church has been converted into a bakery. The acoustics are perfect for conversation, not overwhelming, very friendly to young children and presided over by a very cool gang of young people who deliver superb bread as well as coffee, croissants and cakes.

Standing at the servery is one of the local characters which this small but trendy town has plenty. I had a pain aux raisins with a rather small latte.

Off to the town centre, here is a small sample of the delightful traditional or should we say trendy or retro material.

a new coffee bar that has sprung up recently
not sure whether this is in jest or what
a well used noticeboard is always a good sign of the cultural activity and Frome does not disappoint

And so to a second-hand charity shop run by the Rotary club. They do a huge amount of good work throughout the world and I only realised this when I saw two of their posters, below. The club rent out the space and give it over to various groups on a week by week basis. The stock in the premises is contributed by customers coming in the door, but also by the Rotary Club itself.  The idea is that in return for manning the shop the charity gets all the income from the people for its own funds. Those who are aware of the difficulties of managing volunteers will see the elegant simplicity of this scheme.

This week, the volunteers were from Open storytellers activities. They work with “physically and emotionally disadvantaged people, those who are marginalised because of learning and communication difficulties. They do this through varied work around telling and sharing stories, including personal narrative as well as classic stories using a collaborative approach based on 15 years of specialist research and innovative practice.

Their fundamental principle involves telling stories with people rather than to them using a collaborative approach that maximises personal engagement and ensures that individual abilities and needs are recognised and supported”. Further details of the organisation are here.

I needed reminding of the nature and scope of the Rotary International aspect

.               Suitably impressed, we continued our wander round the town.

this is another great idea, staffed by volunteers, that people can borrow tools they may only need for a few minutes or hours instead of going to the expense of buying a new product.
I find the poster below very apt, because the greatest cause of death among men under 40 is suicide.

Anyway, a very satisfactory visit so now we hop on the bus to Bath, again a delightful country drive.  I have written about Bath so many times but I merely mention that at the city Art Gallery there is an exhibition entitled “before, during, and after the Second World War” displaying various harrowing and haunting images portrayed by artists.

Being roasted by two community police


Off first thing to my local hospital to have a preparatory session for my forthcoming hernia operation. It is linguinial hernia i.e. near the scrotum and I was told that the after-effects of the operation are not without pain.  The nurse who spoke to me was obviously very experienced in sizing me up and getting information out of me. My blood pressure is a trifle high, 150/71 and she said that it should really be a maximum of 145 and that I would bring this down to this level by not eating cheese which is often full of salt, going for regular exercises and so forth. If the high level continues I should speak with my doctor.

The hernia operation itself could be up to 8 weeks away. I have to be at the hospital at either seven o’clock or 1 PM. I’m informed about this nearer the date. Nil by mouth for two hours before the operation. I was hoping it would be done earlier, but I’m in no pain and it is benign insofar as it will not do any damage but it is merely inconvenient. I wear a belt which stops it flopping all over the place and it seems to work all right.

I went to All Saints Paulton for usual coffee morning which is every Tuesday at 10 AM. Sitting at the end of the room were two policewomen.  I decided to talk with them since they were sitting a bit uncomfortably on their own. I forget her name but one of them was 25 years of age, she had studied criminology at University and lived in Westfield, which is the southern side of Midsomer Norton.

She had grown up in the area, she enjoyed her job particularly getting to know people and getting their trust. She and I were on the same wavelength, so we talked a lot about how thankless the task is but how everything you do is important, and how the sense of community is something that must not be lost. As police do not get a very good rap these days  I felt it my responsibility to give her some encouragement – which I did.

You may be asking why I said I was roasted. Police wear a variety of equipment including cameras. They have a communication system called TETRA which was blasting out radiation at me and after about 10 minutes I was getting pains in my head and experiencing general itchiness all over. How can these people can be desensitized enough to wear it all the time beats me. Maybe they are getting ill without knowing it. I know my local doctor sees plenty of them. Time will tell.

So what’s so important about our weight?


I’m aware now that the more fat I carry around with me the less healthy I become, the more work the heart has to do, the more my clothes will cease to fit and maybe the less comfortable I feel. At my age I am not concerned about ‘being attractive’. The main thing is to avoid frightening small children.

This is my body mass index calculator result. I like this particular calculator because it is friendly and easy to use. Sometimes I forget my height in centimetres for example.  I like the fact that the website includes real stories of people who have tried to lose weight so some people who are conscious of their weight might benefit from read this.

Obesity is becoming a bigger problem in this country. I don’t think it will ever get to the stage of America but we are up there among the most overweight in Europe. One thing I find unattractive about men is the beer belly. However, I have a particular dislike of very fat women. Some are so obese they cannot even walk without waddling. I wonder why no one has drawn this to their attention. They didn’t suddenly wake up one morning to discover they are overweight. I do not see how they can be comfortable. There are many things I don’t understand about the female of the species and I admit that this is one of them.

To finish off – Carbon Dioxide nonsense.

CO2 is nature’s natural fertilizer.
Increased CO2 leads to ‘greening’.
CO2 levels are lower than they should be at the moment.
CO2 comprises 0.04% of the atmosphere
97% is generated by nature itself
The balance, 3% (of the 0.04%), is generated by humans
of this 3% of this 0.04% (1/100 of a percent)
1.3% is created by one country (Australia) and the rest in proportion around the world.

oh – and the sea levels are stable in the mid hemisphere but going up by a maximum 1 mm a YEAR in the Northern Hemisphere.

See one of the many videos if you want.

We need a Carbon Dioxide Appreciation Day and — without this gas we would be — dead.

Another visit to a very sunny and warm Wells



an absolutely gorgeous day on the green. To add to the flavour, there was a wedding going on in the Town Hall and everyone was dressed to the nines.

We recently renewed our season tickets to the Bishops Gardens which is a very good investment. We paid for the two of us £52 for a 12 month membership starting on the day of the purchase. Admission is £8.05 per adult. Our visit last week, also our visit today would have cost us £32.20  which takes a healthy cut out of  the £52 for the whole year. We will have almost paid for our membership on the next visit.

Two swans and one surviving chick which have made themselves at home in the moat surrounding the castle grounds. The swans are new on the moat and first time parents – They nested well and had one chick to the surprise of all the carers of the wild life.

We now going to visit the 32 allotments in the Bishop’s Palace. I can’t imagine how long the waiting list will be for this. I would guess a few years.

looking at the main avenue bisecting the allotments
Apple is near to being ready
lovely corner of flowers and a courgette
surprisingly, a pond
labelled herbs
nature’s richness and diversity
nice place to view the Cathedral sitting on a shaded bench looking over the lake and springs at the far end
In the gardens, an attempt at a modern design. The idea is that the design and the different plants represent the stained glass of the cathedral.


On our way back home we went to a wood and enjoyed the dappled sunlight through the trees and discovered the first ripening  blackberries.  This in an unspoiled woodland area 200m east of the A37 on the Old Frome Road, Beacon Pond is a nearby feature. 51 deg 12’41.43″N  2 deg 31’11.61″W


Harvest flower celebrations + The world’s best situated allotments


We felt that today was the day for getting out and about, so what better place to start than a harvest flower celebration which Church of England churches do very well. People do not realise what a lot of effort goes into to the whole thing. The church concerned was St. Giles of Leigh on Mendip.

This church is in remarkably good order considering it was built in the 12th century. It has been renovated thanks to generous amounts of English Heritage and National lottery money. We are visiting a three-day event with the theme “what a wonderful world”. A more apt antidote to the misery that is going on I cannot think of so please come with me through the displays.

I want to call this one “small is beautiful”

Look carefully at this one. This work is made out of cost of plastic, paper, eggshells, other items that would go into the bin without a second thought.

I was particularly struck by the thoughtfulness of the words, almost amounting to poetry.

I find this almost alive and note how the backdrop has enhanced it.

Surely, a very good plug for having an allotment.

A lovely tapestry in the church hall.

An artwork made out of local and from 16th, 17th 18th & 19 th century – archaeology sites in & around the village.

This was a lovely church environment, comprising the church and the church hall. This has been extant for seven centuries; you cannot fake a feeling of history and indeed of peace.

If I continue this diary it will be such a long page that you would find it inconvenient to scroll down so now I’m going to cover my trip to Wells in what will be part two of this diary.


A holiday weekend spent at home


That’s the plan anyway.

For non-UK readers I should explain that this is a bank holiday weekend, the so-called “late summer bank holiday”  which means that next Monday is a work free day, a national holiday.  I was originally going to Manchester to see a friend but he was not available. So basically we decided to spend most of the time here in Midsomer Norton. There are certain advantages of not “doing anything.” First, you don’t get stuck in endless traffic jams which will definitely be on the M5, M4, A303, and also you don’t get caught up in situations such as pubs and restaurants where lots of young and enthusiastic children are running around all over the place while their parents sit staring at their mobile devices.

Someone said today that the letters that comprise ‘listen’ are the same that the word ‘silent’. There is a certain poetry about that.

The good part about holiday periods is that no one expects you to be in or available so the pressure is off. I might spend some time reading. The good news is that the weather forecast is excellent. So no rain forecast, may be plenty of time to go walking but most of all the possibility of staying at home doing nothing. I’m writing this on Friday morning, so being a Gemini by nature I may well change my mind (nature abhors a vacuum).

There will also be more time for reflecting. For the last 20 years or so I have known someone in South Africa, who has been through the ups and downs. We visited many times and had a lovely time. I do yearn to go back to South Africa in spite of the very difficult political and economic circumstances created by reverse racialism we can say. I gave my lady friend advice that she should leave her unfaithful and erring husband and gave her reasons why she should do so. However, she lives in a rather splendid house and if they were to divorce, she would lose it because she would have to split the proceeds even though she has contributed to the vast majority of the cost of the house. The husband returned from his philandering and gave orders that she must not contact me again. She meekly obeyed. I find this hurtful but I realise I must not take it personally because it’s all down to free will and people must run their lives in the way they choose.

Sometimes, situations are just plain sad and this is one of them. You just have to let the memory go and replay the good bits in your mind.

I was invited to a job which involved clearing the area around a caravan-sized dwelling but intended for dogs who have been abused. Dogs are bought to this shelter who have had all sorts of abuse including starvation, people putting out cigarette butts on them, and yet given attention they seem to have a  capacity for unconditional love which humans certainly wouldn’t have retained given a similar level of abuse.  The job is interesting, consisting of clearing a hedgerow of young trees and preparing an area for wood chipping. but I am going to speak to the lady after the holidays so I hope I get this job. The weather today was excellent and we spent most of the time outside in the garden.

No plans to do anything fancy.

School Memories – apple and custard crumble


Custard, even better, custard with apple crumble, brings me back to my school days. I was basically lonely at my secondary school, often bullied. Comfort eating became part of my life. This was at a time when cooks prepared food in kitchens in  the school and not bought in frozen from some central supply depot. The canteen at the RUH Hospital in Bath is pretty good. I told the server lady that I liked custard and she definitely took me at my word.

I often get ideas for cooking from going out and this one was a very nice beef stew with carrots. What intrigued me was the pastry parcel – whatever it is called – which was cooked to perfection and beautifully complimented the stew. I had the main course together with early potatoes apparently cooked in butter or with lashings of butter on. So this really was a ‘melt in the mouth’ job.

Today was my day for an eye examination. Unfortunately I have more fluid in the eye than I should have and also a small bleed. I mentioned that after spending in the sunshine  I could not see detail for about 10 minutes when coming into the shade. They asked me if I had had a cataract operation. Maybe this has to come. I hope I keep my sight enough to read. My right eye is perfect at the moment and the left eye is at least stable.

There was a lady patient who must have been 90 years of age. She fell over in the corridor. She sat there, shaking, if for no other reason than shock. The doctor invited her to sit on the floor and then he gently lifted her up onto her chair. The same lady was still disturbed and when she had her eye injection she moved at a critical time and there was a small tear created in the iris. This made her more upset than ever and it took the diplomatic skill of the doctor to calm her down but she still cried and felt she was a failure and said so to her friend, who had brought her.

As you know the corridors of the hospital full of paintings which people can buy and thus contribute towards hospital funds. This image struck me. They say the eyes of the window of the soul. There is no question that this man is looking into your soul but is there love or just perception? I think there is some suffering, some empathy, some understanding, but also some distance. This person is an observer no less.

Off to the cafe for very nice latte and a peach croissant then to catch the bus. As you know I’m a great fan of the signage here at the GUH and this is a particularly good one. What about helping the helpers?

The Mid Somerset show – a truly family affair

a typical sunny periods and showers day but thankfully it was mostly dry

The Mid Somerset show, held in Shepton Mallet, is about the ideal size for maintaining a family atmosphere. It is very much helped by being free of charge to enter so more people come and the exhibitors and stallholders have a chance to make more money as they appear to do.

one or two youngsters obviously got up very early in the morning

This contrasts with the gi-normous Bath and West show about which I have written three times. It cost adults £25 a head to get in, children go free. In my previous visits to the Bath and West I didn’t managed to get round everything even after being there for six hours. In this case, there are only four or five fields. I feel that the exhibitors are under less pressure because the fees are not so great, being for a one-day show and attracting less rental fees for the whole site and less need to advertise the show, which is mostly attended by locals.

Father and daughter showing in the sheep category
minute examination of the wool by a world expert


no two sheep have markings in the same place

A competition for the best dressed sheep

Vintage cars on display


This is a very short video about an animal whisperer who has an enormous capacity to establish telepathic contact this case with a leopard. The leopard was very aggressive; Anne talking to her just changed her attitude.

This brief movie is a real tearjerker


Climate Change

I cant resist this large injection of fact (one of many attempts) concerning the hysteria over climate change. The headless chicken that is Extinction Rebellion continues, actually encouraged by the UN. Behind the scenes, millions are raked in from carbon trading. Any mainstream scientist who speaks out is removed or sacked. Remember folks, without carbon dioxide we would be DEAD. This is someone, Marc Morano, who is actually thinking. Watch it and relax. 59:02


To Wells – a scarecrow competition


The (ap)peal of church bells announcing a wedding.

Wells in Somerset should be on the “to do” list for anyone visiting the area. It is particularly attractive for those who have difficulty walking, or getting around since all the main features are step-free.  I include the market, Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Cathedral, the Cathedral Gardens, the museum for the most part, the various historical features. The radius of the main features is within half a mile so no one is going to exhaust themselves.

The allotments which I imagine are part of the cathedral grounds are a delight and a work of art. We debated whether to renew our membership of the bishops gardens which includes any exhibition that might be going on and the allotments themselves and decided that £52 a year was a price worth paying. Bearing in mind that the single visit is £8.75 . I find that the palace gardens are a break from the noise of life, and that the electromagnetic field is low, which gives me some relief.

I’m going to include pictures from an exhibition in the Palace Gallery and from the allotments themselves. As they say, one picture is worth 1000 words. we will start with the swans, who maintain their vigilance over their chicks. People approach at their peril.

This is the moat around the Palace grounds.

This is one of the helpful information boards within the grounds

the banqueting room awaits guests from the wedding going on in the Cathedral

Certainly, a scarecrow competition of some sort.



It does not get much more idyllic than this.

Illiteracy – what to do


Yesterday I had cause to speak with one of our allotment holders. He wanted to finish his tenancy. I said that he would have to put it in writing. Eventually he admitted that he was ‘not very good’ with writing.

This morning, I received a text message from a lady for whom I had given a quote ” Sorry for delay boys getting the working around no3 son price is rather to high for mr but thanks you for your Text &time.”

Those of us who are illiterate and were fortunate enough to have good education maybe take this for granted but I have known people who disguise their illiteracy by asking someone to for example  read the label on some item of food because they’ve ‘lost their glasses’.

In the USA one in six adults under 65 have low literacy – reading skills that are below those of fourth graders. Most of the 35 million affected were born in the US.  In the United Kingdom we have a literacy rate of over 99% among residents aged 15 or older.  In South Africa, the literacy rate is 94%. All of the European countries are near 100%. Bottom of the list are Niger at 15% and Guinea at 25%

Since learning these facts I have become very much more aware of the possibility that maybe people are shy of writing or having difficulty expressing themselves verbally. I am dubious about some people’s self-definition learning ability. Perhaps they have not discovered the thing that really interests them.  What I find difficult to do or should I say what I must pay more attention to is to speak in a straightforward way to make sure that the maximum number of people can understand. I don’t want to sound patronizing though. I myself do not like being spoken at, I prefer to be spoken to.

One of the things that annoys me is when you speak to someone out of the blue. They always say “pardon”. I sometimes get irritated, in fact, most of the time get irritated, because I speak perfectly clearly and I know they heard me what I do sometimes is to pause, then they seem to process the information, and then answer my question. Maybe they were thinking of something else, fair enough. Sometimes, the hesitation is because people were not expected to be spoken to. When I go around in public, I try to be as open as possible to everybody and you will be surprised how many chances you get to speak, even if it’s only to raise the famous subject of the weather.

Talking of which, this is a pretty lousy day with wind and rain. Yesterday we did two gardening jobs which although not exciting pays the rent. At the end of the second job, a lady from next door interrupted us. She obviously had difficulty in speaking because she rubbed her face. She told us that she was suffering from depression and pointed to 2 or 3 plastic bags that were near her back door and causing her upset. Our car was full enough but I decided to make space and get rid of as much as I could. She was thankful, and thanked us time and time again.

We have to remember that some people go from day to day without talking to anybody which would personally drive me nuts.