water, ponds and canals


We went for talk this evening by someone who runs a firm that builds ponds.  We discussed how to get rid of pond weed, how to prune water lilies which you do by cutting them out at the root, throwing most away and planting one or two good specimens. The best thing for reviving goldfish is to put them in an aquarium with copious quantities of salt. All the usual things that you want to know.

How many slides make a good evening? What makes a good slide presentation? I think one to one and a half trays of slides, I mean the circular trays, is about right. It is possible to see too many images and the whole thing turns into a blur after a time. The speaker got a few brownie points from me by saying that if you want to jump in and ask a question at any time please do so and do not wait for the end. I think it’s a good thing to show slides at a fair rate and just make two or three points per slide. It annoys me when slides are allowed to linger on the screen for more than 3 or 4 minutes. it is also rather bad manners to show a slight and say something like “we don’t have time for that one”. I noticed this more in the United States where lecturers seem compelled to disgorge every last bit of knowledge in 45 min.

The  speaker talked about using clay which is one of the most difficult substances to work on and said that if you’re going to waterproof a canal or large pond you need it least 12 inches of thickness to be effective. That is quite a few tons of clay per mile. I discussed with someone the inactivity in the local Canal Society. The desire is to reclaim and restore coal canals but there are a number of problems. First of all if you want to dig the canal you have to pay someone to do with quite a large digger to do it. Secondly you have to get permission from people who own canalside properties. Some are enthusiastic but some say “over my dead body”.  The third point is politics, regulations, and squabbles between people.

I pointed out that I am a member of the local society and had given my membership fee and e-mail address in the expectation that I would be kept up-to-date with what was going on. Although we had been members for nearly a year and nothing had been forthcoming. This is crying out for a monthly newsletter with a mail client such as Mailchimp, which is free and so easy to use that anyone with the ability to type can manage. I don’t understand someone who is secretary of the society not wishing to involve people in this way. I think we get a couple of newsletters per year in printed form but the news is more historical than current.

The evening ended with some lovely coffee and biscuits, very good coffee and very real and crunchy biscuits with oatmeal in them, none of your cheap supermarket rubbish. It was pleasant to stand outside in the dark and just enjoy the arrival of more clement weather. It was actually 9°C but with no wind it seemed a little bit warmer. before we arrived, by the way, we saw two hot air balloons silhouetted against the setting sun. It rather stopped us in our tracks and caused my wife to warn me against erratic driving.

And so to bed.

how the mighty have fallen


So, Theresa May, our Prime Minister, wants to have a snap election. Quite how this will unite the party or catalyse the Brexit plans I do not know. I think the papers will have quite a field day.

I went to see Reg, the chap with one leg, for whom we do gardening. When we arrived he showed signs of bruising and he had evidently fallen out of bed the night before and was unable to get up. He tried to crawl to the phone but failed and as a result lay on the floor, having ‘given up’ For the period between the hours of 11 PM and 2 AM. Only when he eventually managed to reach the phone, did help come.  Falling is a very common phenomenon among older people. They can have their faculties about them but they’re just not as steady as they were. By coincidence, he has ordered or someone had ordered an alarm system which he can either wear round his neck or on his wrist.

He was very keen to talk to us and invited us for tea afterwards. He says he had a good number of visitors but he does get lonely from time to time. He was married to his wife Lynne for 55 years and she died two years ago. He is not interested in hobbies because he has done so many and the only reason he would go out is to visit the graveyard where his wife is buried. He in his own words, “has a fag with Lynne”  During our visit, the postman arrived with the kit alarm system and he has decided to leave it and wait for his son to come and fix it up.

He says that two years after his wife left he is now coming to terms with being on his own and he says that it is very nice to see Francoise and myself but then we will be gone and he will be lonely again.  However, he does have two family members, is two sons, who live within about 3 miles so he’s in a much better position than many people who just have nobody. if this was Japan, the older people would be looked after but here the older people tend to be abandoned for various reasons. Anyway we took a cup of tea with him and time was going on and on. He talked about his time with a Metal Detector Club in Weston-super-Mare. He very much enjoyed this and still has two metal detectors which he will never use.

Anyway we had to leave him and he told us that making the garden nice had really cheered him up. That is the sort of response that makes our job worthwhile and makes us want to go the extra mile with the customer. I charged in less than I should have done but then hey we would like to give the service.

About the problem previously mentioned with the grumpy customer I am going to make it a rule that we sign off the job only in the presence of the customer so they can have a grumble at the time. It was difficult in this case because the person lived in Box, about 20 miles away, and they visit their parents only twice a week.

The Post Office delivered my new SIM card. I put it in and it seems to work. Not bad service from O2. They are efficient because every day a person is without the service they’re more likely to defect so it’s not entirely a matter of altruism.

We did a couple of hours gardening this morning. I had to move some paving stones to dig out some particularly enthusiastic weeds. There were eight paving stones and each had a living colony of ants underneath. It took them about a minute to disappear underground so I did my business, but the stones back as quickly as possible, and apologised to them for disturbing their home.

I called the Bristol Hospital Trust Trauma Team to ask a question about their format in preparation for the meeting next Wednesday during which I will discuss my new trauma website. It is not designed to traumatise people but to free them from trauma. (since taken down).