the ultimate mobile coffee bar


This afternoon I took my friends to the Kennet and Avon canal. Since this fact is probably of little interest to you I have taken a series of pictures to give the feel of canal life and how it differs from everyday life.

We met a chap who runs a coffee and ice cream bar from his 55 foot boat. His only official mooring is in Huddersfield. For the last 10 years he has cruised the canal system presumably making a living from selling tea, coffee, ice cream and soft drinks. He can only stay in the same place for two weeks due to the regulations but is quite happy with this and has adapted to it. Cleverly he has a little serving hatch on either side of the boat so someone can stop their own boat and buy a coffee, or order one from the tow path. He lives on the boat.

Francoise asked him if it was a safe mode of living and he said that it’s like going back 35 years. He claimed you don’t have to lock your boat but having said that, the only thing that the occasional opportunist person steals is bikes. He seemed very happy to be of service to us and and I thought that was a lovely way of earning a crust. He said with a smile that customers lean over from the tow path to order something, and their mobile phone falls out of their breast pocket. Once it is down there in the murk there is nothing you can do.

The only difficult part of walking along the canals is that people ride their bikes at quite a speed and some forget to ring their bells, or don’t have one in the first place, and it may be a good idea to walk along one side or the other of the path and look behind you before changing your position. Why not a sign saying ‘walkers to the right’ or walkers nearest to the canal’

If you want a starting point for this canal walk both ways East and West, type in BS15 2HD. You can also start from Bradford on Avon which is about 2 miles to the east. This is a particularly lovely spot because you can see the confluence of the river, railway line, and canal they going over each other. There is also a cafe open Thursday – Sunday called Number 10.

an excellent pub and restaurant overlooks this area. To find it, put in the postal code mentioned in this article, but beware that the parking is not always easy. Weekdays are better.
there is always more going on in the country than you would imagine and you need to look at local flyers to find out what is going on.
I’m not quite sure how a swan can whistle but never mind it does attract attention
a branch line miraculously spared by Dr Beeching
plenty of ingenuity in making use of your roof


how many different types of vegetables can you spot
Yours truly doing an impression of a tree spirit


this was a scarecrow competition that seems to have developed into something more than that, on display at an adjacent village
an original scarecrow indeed










dealing with pain – terrible baking


2 June 1664

Pepys writes : Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and then to the ‘Change, where after some stay by coach with Sir J. Minnes and Mr. Coventry to St. James’s, and there dined with Mr. Coventry very finely, and so over the Parke to White Hall to a Committee of Tangier about providing provisions, money, and men for Tangier. At it all the afternoon, but it is strange to see how poorly and brokenly things are done of the greatest consequence, and how soon the memory of this great man is gone, or, at least, out of mind by the thoughts of who goes next, which is not yet knowne. My Lord of Oxford, Muskerry, and several others are discoursed of. It seems my Lord Tiviott’s design was to go a mile and half out of the towne, to cut down a wood in which the enemy did use to lie in ambush. He had sent several spyes; but all brought word that the way was clear, and so might be for any body’s discovery of an enemy before you are upon them. There they were all snapt, he and all his officers, and about 200 men, as they say; there being left now in the garrison but four captains. This happened the 3d of May last, being not before that day twelvemonth of his entering into his government there: but at his going out in the morning he said to some of his officers, “Gentlemen, let us look to ourselves, for it was this day three years that so many brave Englishmen were knocked on the head by the Moores, when Fines made his sally out.”

Here till almost night, and then home with Sir J. Minnes by coach, and so to my office a while, and home to supper and bed, being now in constant pain in my back, but whether it be only wind or what it is the Lord knows, but I fear the worst.

I must admit I’m not very good at dealing with pain. The only way I can think of surviving it is by being driven with a vision that is so strong that all else seems minor. We can think of Jesus on the cross who had changed the level of his consciousness to speak words of forgiveness to his persecutors whilst in such an excruciatingly painful situation. I think of Bernadette of Lourdes, who had a very painful growth in her knee, probably cancerous, and yet her mind was so focused on God that she did not complain and only showed the deformity to a sister when specifically asked. I’m struck by the fact that millions of people go around doing their daily tasks uncomplaining, with neither acknowledgement nor thanks. The human spirit is an amazing thing is it is only species where we see sacrifice for others although elephants and dolphins are probably a glorious exception.

Last evening after I returned from the Bath and West show, I sent a photo newsletter to all the people in my allotment group of which I am the secretary. I do like to share good things and I encouraged people to go to the show, tomorrow is the last day. My stats show me that 80% of people to whom I send the bulletin read it. My stats for this website do not pick up everyone who reads it for some reason but irrespective of the numbers, I will still produce good quality material to the best of my ability. This applies to everything I do including this diary which I regard as a work of art. If you think of the work of an artist, they do the work for its own sake irrespective of the number of people who will see it. It is the same with a musical performance. If you are playing for a small crowd, a large crowd, or even to one person you play  your best because that is what the work deserves.

completely dreadful composition and baking. It will never win any prizes.

Last evening I baked the worst-looking loaf of bread I have ever done. the crust separated from the rest. We had to hack the body out of the tin. My wife attributed this to the fact that I let it prove in the oven and it started to cook. I was tempted to throw it away but then we tasted the rescueable portions and they were absolutely delicious.  So much for appearances.