Somerset Rural Life Museum at Glastonbury


And now – Fresh from watching VerStappen win the Malaysian Grand Prix F1 one day after his 20th birthday – to complete yesterday’s events with a discussion on the Somerset Rural Life Museum

After the high octane – change four tyres and fill up with gas in 1.9 seconds – a change of pace to a more leisurely look at times of yore.

So why bother with museums at all? Come to that, why bother with history?
* We all, at least the older ones, have the ‘once upon a time….’ imbued into us on our parent’s knee. A story of what happened here 200 years ago can be riveting and stimulating to our imagination. In these green pastures, 3000 men faced each other for the battle of …..
* Our understanding of how things work now can be put into perspective by how things worked 50 years ago. To give a nerdy example, the average cost per Gigabyte of RAM was $6,328 in 1980. In 2000 it was $1,107 and now it is $4.37 Seeing historical ways of producing a car compared with the automated methods now used can bring mixed emotions but seeing the original gives a sense of perspective of how things have changed.
* History can give valuable warnings of things that went wrong and we can look with a certain smugness on those stupid people until a current example shows even more stupidity.
* The examples of the individual overcoming huge challenges can inspire us for example the Romans Conquering Britain (how did they build so many straight roads) or Hannibal crossing the alps, or Scott of the Antarctic. All these are role models that we can store away against the time when a minor problem causes us to be discouraged.
* World history shows there are many different ways of doing things. One of my fascinations is how other races utilised the power of water and its importance as a necessary part of living. We can see which ideas lasted in various forms and which inventions did not.

well, that is certainly original

The museum of rural life is just that. It was closed for complete refurbishment about 18 months ago and recently (c. June 2017) opened in a completely refurbished form after a £2.4 million spend.

These are my requirements for a successful experience:
* Make the theme clear and in time sequence is possible
* Do not overcrowd with exhibits no matter how interesting they may  be
* LIGHTING is absolutely key. How can you see something when it is half in darkness. I know electricity burns money but please allow enough to pay for such incidentals.
* Descriptors are necessary but don’t overdo or under cook the detail. Three points a work – art or historical – is about right for the attention span of the visitor
* Clear signage. Way Out signs, this way to the cafe etc is not insulting peoples intelligence. Its just than when you are wowed by so much interesting detail you don’t have much time for refocusing the brain to mundane things.
* allow room for the visitor. If it is a popular work then allow more space.
don’t try to be ‘all things to all men’. Less is more. Do you want to give your visitor indigestion?
* volunteer guides are so important as the National Trust will tell you. A welcoming smiling face is a great help if you are visiting on your own

In this case the museum had for the purposes of getting a grant to accommodate itself to the educational needs of groups of school children. There is a lecture hall come class room in a modified structure adjacent to the main building. It is worth a squint through the window.So without further ado here is my picture gallery with comments where necessary.  You can also look at the the website for more conventional images.

clever presentation see below


Now this is clever. This very large screen is divided up into sections which work independently.  One large image can be shown or several sequential images or a number of small ones which refresh at different rates. It’s a very economical way of giving an accurate impression of many themes in a brief period of time.

same screen different function

Here we were given local words / slang and their meanings. They came on one at a time so you could follow and be hungry for the next one.

a reminder of the strength of the community
the storing of wood working tools.
slightly controversial film projection

The idea was to show movies of artisans and craftspeople going about their work but the detail could not be seen with white wooden planks as a background. I liked the symbolic merging of the present with the past. The image was of ‘people working’ and detail was not required.

the Tithe barn built 1340 AD

Helen Small, the artist, has called this work ‘Stigmata Forks’. She says ” I wanted to explore the underlying tensions and contradictions betwee

n pagan and Christian rituals surrounding fertility, sex, birth and harvest. The relationships between the ten forks (in the installation) is inspired by notions of social and moral hierarchies, each farm giving a tenth of their produce to the Church in a material and spiritual exchange

baskets pleasingly arranged
an iron sculpture with Glastonbury Tor in the background

and finally here is my wife milking a cow. Amazingly, when you pull the teats, liquid comes out but alas water not milk. Very good experience for nature-deprived children who think milk comes from Tescos.

milk maid

We could have gone on to visit other artists but there is only so much you can take so we ended with a visit via the new miniature restaurant and then wended our way. I did have a slight beef. The restaurant owner said that people thought the coffee was a trifle expensive at £2.50 but ‘we do give double shots’. I replied that this was too much for me and gave indigestion. She replied amazingly that she never drank coffee.  Well the double shot seemed a good idea at the time but should be revised.

lovely clear menu

Why £x.99? – helping the disabled via art – admission price discussion


Thursday 29 September 1664

…Coming home to-night, I did go to examine my wife’s house accounts, and finding things that seemed somewhat doubtful, I was angry though she did make it pretty plain, but confessed that when she do misse a sum, she do add something to other things to make it, and, upon my being very angry, she do protest she will here lay up something for herself to buy her a necklace with, which madded me and do still trouble me, for I fear she will forget by degrees the way of living cheap and under a sense of want...

I am covering many aspects of money during these writings. This diary of Pepys is about his wife being afraid to ask for money for herself and fiddling the books to put some aside secretly. He is also concerned that she will forget frugal ways.


Off to Wells to further participate in the two week Somerset Arts event. First to a celebration of paper making and its uses.  Paper Prospects is the working name of this collaboration and the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen is the umbrella organisation founded in 1933. I wont start to discuss this ancient art and the sheer number of type of paper there are. Here are some examples of the work found therein, not necessarily made of paper.

A quilt map of Wells (Ctrl and + repeatedly to magnify the image)
these machines have not changed in decades
never seen such modelling work. very clever.
done on special paper to bring out the transcendence of the words

Off to Wells Town Hall. The majority of it is used for exhibitions and fairs. The actual council offices are small but I guess the commercial rental pays for the upkeep. Not much to see so off to the Bishops Garden wherein is an art exhibition run by SODA, the Society for Disabled Artists. The remarkable lady who showed us around told us of the life changing effect of supposedly ‘disabled’ people finding they were very good at painting and drawing. The sign on the door was a winner.

This sign warmed my heart by its humanity and clarity
somehow the girl’s face was raised up in 3D fashion
on to a stone carver in the Bishops Palace Gardens

On to Wells Museum, on the Green. I always engage with the affable and friendly volunteers. It struck me that the admission price of £3 was low and I therefore volunteered that since anything below £5 was small change, they could as well charge £4 and few people would mind. I then witnessed much hand waving and balancing motions. Some people think it should be free, comparing it with Bristol’s City Museum, and complained accordingly. They had to be informed that the Wells equivalent is a charity and has to be entirely self funded. Apparently, the complaining people quietened down after digesting that fact. I suggested that to pre-empt the complaints, on the price list itself should be the legend that “this institution enjoys no subsidy and relies entirely on entrance charges and book sales”.

We also discussed why everything is £x.99. The answer evidently lies in psychology. Shoppers attach disproportional weight to the left digit, and 99p is associated historically with discounts. I don’t know how long this BBC article will stay up but here it is anyway.


On to the Wells Cathedral School, well know known for the quality of its music, its educational standards and its sport. We arrived at the very posh Cedars Hall, a concert hall clearly, and found about 50 works. There was no signage so we had to ask around, and no one to greet us. Never mind, I found the art works produced by 17 and 18 year old pupils quite extraordinary if not a little worrisome. What are they thinking?

self molestation?
a comment on junk food?
atavistic observation?
some of the pupils
and guess who opened the building

We then set off for Glastonbury to view the recently re-opened Somerset Rural Life Museum, a stone’s throw from the Tor. Since I have so many images to show you, this will be dealt with in Part 2

Bartering – ‘doing my stint’ – more on deer – black and white photographs – diary writing

Wednesday 28 September 1664

.. he would needs carry me and another Scotch Lord to a play, and so we saw, coming late, part of “The Generall,” my Lord Orrery’s (Broghill) second play; but, Lord! to see how no more either in words, sense, or design, it is to his “Harry the 5th” is not imaginable, and so poorly acted, though in finer clothes, is strange. And here I must confess breach of a vowe in appearance, but I not desiring it, but against my will, and my oathe being to go neither at my own charge nor at another’s, as I had done by becoming liable to give them another, as I am to Sir W. Pen and Mr. Creed; but here I neither know which of them paid for me, nor, if I did, am I obliged ever to return the like, or did it by desire or with any willingness.

Pepys has a very good sense of fair play which has probably stood him in  good stead throughout his business and social and certainly his trading life. I keep a note of who has done what for me and it goes into the pot of goodwill should they require anything from me. In my personal work with people I have a good instinct for those who are unselfish and who have given lots of time and energy to others with little or no payment. To these people I am happy to give my own service without stint* and without payment. When people ask I tell them that it is the universe’s way of thanking them for their efforts.

  • Stint is a lovely word that I do not often hear. It is from Middle English stinten, and Old English styntan, to make blunt, dull. It is cognate (related to)  with Old Norse stytta, to shorten.
    The verb ‘to stint’ means to supply a very ungenerous or inadequate amount of something. Also, we can use the word to describe a fixed period of work “I did my stint as a washer up”. As in the above  example “I indulge my fascination for antiques without stint” (or without stinting myself)


I shall be writing to the lady who asked me to do gardening. It is a wild space on a slope next to a forest which has been inhabited by nature for millennia. In order to tame it and use it for cultivatory purposes, continual attention is required. Keeping off deer requires structures of considerable strength and height, the more so because deer jump over obstacles if they see a tasty mortal. We must also not forget rabbits, who love leaves but have a custom of burrowing (though they may jump) so you need quite a fortress to construct something in this environment. There is a question whether it would adversely affect the appearance of the area.

According to a source in Google “One of the most hunted animals in the country, white-tailed deer will eat almost any plant including saplings, shrubs, grass, fruits, nuts and leaves. Because of their size and makeup, deer feed on plants close to the ground, making blueberry bushes an ideal food.

The prognosis on my offer of help is not good. Unless we barricade the garden area there will not be much left after the deer have had their feed.


I have always been fascinated by black and white photography. I feel that colour does the work of imagination for you. While we are on this retro theme, I note that a new TV channel has opened called ‘Talking Pictures (343 Sky) where they show 24/7 classic old films most of which are black and white. What a lovely way to pass a winter evening or any evening come to that.

I also noted that there is an exhibition coming up at the National Museum Cardiff entitled “Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection

This exhibition celebrates the major gift of photographs from David Hurn’s private collection and marks the opening of Amgueddfa Cymru’s first gallery dedicated to photography.

come and see more at the Museum of Wales

Throughout his career as a documentary photographer and member of Magnum Photos, Hurn has been an avid collector of photography. Remarkably, he has amassed his private collection by swapping works with other photographers.

The collection comprises approximately 700 photographs by leading 20th and 21st century photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Sergio Larrain, Bill Brandt, Martine Franck, Bruce Davidson and Martin Parr, through to emerging photographers such as Bieke Depoorter, Clementine Schneidermann, and Newsha Tavakolian.

The exhibition presents a selection of works that reflect on Hurn’s own career and influences, his eye for a good photograph and the friendships he has developed with photographers along the way.

It is on until March 2018 so what more ideal excuse is there to go and view the best of the best.


I had the idea today of starting a diary group for those who are writing diaries or have written them. It would be fascinating to hear fresh first hand accounts of personal experiences of the war, of childhood, of anything with personal significance. With the coming of instant fame and instant reproduction I do feel the significance has gone out of our own history and growth. It should be taken seriously as should each and every individual with a combination of characteristics unique on the planet.

There are at least 638 primary personality traits so if they are present in us in varying degrees the number of combinations would easily exceed the number of people on the planet. Everyone therefore will write a unique diary. No one will even approach the way we look at things. Is that not a bit exciting? That is why MASS stimulus including ‘entertainment’ is so damaging to this feeling of uniqueness and is the only way to control our minds. <cough>

Once again – WE ARE ALL UNIQUE. Got the idea?


This evening we watched two programmes on the Community Channel. The first one was about the history of boat building on the Thames with emphasis on Eel Pie Island and Richmond itself. The second was on the history of London buses. Both programmes had one thing in common. They were filled in their entity by witness statements from either the boatman or the bus drivers and conductors. No sudden scene changing, no gimmicks, no sudden music just good old conversations telling a story. So refreshing. We shall spend more time with this channel. I call it “The Real People” channel.




Limbo dancing – greedy deer


Tuesday 27 September 1664

To-night Mr. T. Trice and Piggot came to see me, and desire my going down to Brampton Court, where for Piggot’s sake, for whom it is necessary, I should go, I would be glad to go, and will, contrary to my purpose, endeavour it, but having now almost 1000l., if not above, in my house, I know not what to do with it, and that will trouble my mind to leave in the house, and I not at home.

Surely they had banks at the time although the banking system was by no means developed so why did Pepys keep money at home? I must investigate this some time. 🙂


So, my letter of resignation as Patient Representative to the Hospital Trauma Unit was sent. Before sending it I talked with my wife about all sort of mitigatory circumstances that would undermine my decision. In view of the fact that I had volunteered 8 months ago and there was not even a suggestion of a remit indicated to me a lack of will, and possibly a threat from an outside person who might expose weaknesses in the system. On balance we decided that as there had been so many problem before a start was made, this did not auger well for the project itself. It may or may not have been the ‘right’ decision but I cant hang about for ever waiting for people to respond when I do not sense the will. In other words I am not begging for someone to take notice of my offer to work voluntarily.


Off to another meeting this afternoon. I offered help to a community in the form of newsletters, maintaining websites, and gardening. I was asked to focus on gardening. Alas, the local deer feel that they own the property and all that grows on it, so when you grow anything with leaves you are more or less feeding them. If I were to take on that job I would have to commit for at least a year and I don’t know if I can do that.
In general, volunteering for anything is fraught with problems. What do you get back for your efforts apart from the warm glow of satisfaction? I am happy to work for nothing for a charity, but not for a business. The venture I visited was a scrap metal and recycling business albeit with a large emphasis on the use of scrap metal for art installations and works.

There is a slight vacuum left by my resignation this morning but since there was nothing on the table, the feeling is a lack of aesthetic result only. I do not feel bad as I worked my socks off to demonstrate my abilities including making a brand new web site (and paying for it), designing and printing an invitation card, and making copious analytical notes as to how patient support could proceed post-discharge. I shall think twice before throwing myself into something in the future. I hate not being able to trust people.


My bank, the Co-op has been down all day today so no online activity can take place. One thing you cannot do is to save money through hiring inexperienced people. Three million customers cannot be let down. If this happens again I shall look around for another bank. I hear First Direct is very good.

I give the day 6/10 and – there was sunshine for at least three hours.  The next band of rain is due tonight. Blame the precocious Jet Stream.


What is a safe space?


Monday 26 September 1664

….So I have looked a little too much after Tangier and the Fishery, and that in the sight of Mr. Coventry, but I have good reason to love myself for serving Tangier, for it is one of the best flowers in my garden….

I love the idea of ideas as flowers. They bloom and they die. Alas the idea of being Patient Representative for the Bristol Hospitals has today pretty much died. After eight months – about the time I started the diary – nothing has been forthcoming terms of a working relationship, terms of reference etc. Without a certain minimum level of chemistry I cannot see a way forward with the NHS so a ‘I have to regret to have to inform you….’ letter will going out, but not before I have written to the principle person asking if there is any progress. In any event I am not downhearted as I have done my best. The NHS is so ‘committee and rule’ bound and so does not fit my temperament that maybe parting is the best thing.


What is a safe space?  A recovering alcoholic discovered he had a fear of crowds and a trust problem in general. He found he felt more able to discuss sensitive matters in the open air, in a field, in a garden.  He became enthused with he idea of nature as a healer and a refuge and subsequently took up gardening enthusiastically.

Psychotherapy and neuropsychological assessment office – would you consider this ‘safe’ or ‘safer’?

Retreating whether to bed or via alcohol only avoids the issue. ‘Safety’ in terms of avoiding any matter that will disturb or make us feel uncomfortable is encouraging us to revert to being a baby – reference the wave of Political Correctness that is sweeping our universities as well as the campuses on the USA.
Do you feel safer when you are in familiar territory?
What makes us all feel safe?
What do people need to say to make us feel safe?
If we felt safe when young, what caused us to start feeling unsafe?
Is the feeling of safety an illusion?

I have nothing else to write today so I will leave us all with these questions.

To me, fear is associated with mental or emotional situations, or the likely outlook of something. Being scared is more about the physical life. “I am scared of my father hitting me”, “scared of spiders”. The two words are related but scared seems to me a more immediate problem. ” I could not speak to her because I was too scared”
In the leaflet that came through to me from Centrepoint, stories of youngsters that are too scared to sleep out at night. A young lady is scared of what two drug addicts in the same room would do to her.

Works of art being exhibited in Frome, Somerset


There are few things I enjoy more than talking to artists and looking at works of art though I do not have formal art training. I believe and try to live out the ideal that we are all mobile art installations, instantly responsive to others, claiming the moment and making the best of it as we shall probably not meet in the same circumstances again.

Ref: Eckhart Tolle ‘The Power of Now’.

We are so busy obsessing over what we did, might have done, should have done, could have done differently that we don’t see what we did right.

Anyway enough of this philosophy, for now (ha ha) today’s topic is…..

not sure how old this photo is

Hans Borgonjon (sculptor) and Rosalind Robinson (painter) are working colleagues whose works appear in the show.
Hans has lived with his partner Liz Kozlowski for the past 10 years in Frome itself. Liz has curated the music side of this exhibition and is playing in some of the music performances, apart from being a natural therapist and healer.
The posh art web site  can be visited here.  Rosalind is an associate member of the Society of Women Artists. I am hugely impressed by her observation of the human eye as the window of the soul

Rosalind is the one in the middle.

as the following examples will show you.

Use Ctrl and the + key repeated to enlarge the images

We two together
“Ready when you are”
Moment of doubt (left) and Moment of uncertainty (right)
mischievous boy?
The venue, the Silk Mill, 5 minutes from the centre, BA11 1PT The show is called ‘Outside Insight’.

Now follows some of Hans’ works in oak, using special paint including gold. The work draws inspiration from his Flemish roots.

The Kiss
‘Squeeze’ am I going mad?
three studies of the face (not the exact title)
work outside the studio in the open air

There are many other centres where work is being shown. The one below is by Fiona Campbell whose work reminds us of the neural connections between trees and also between us and nature. It is almost impossible to photograph; you really have to see this installation in the flesh. I love the use of birch trees. I am going to put in two examples taken from different angles.

angle one
second angle
Look like its from the same artist, this time on the exterior of the building.
yes its a real post box


Quaint and quirky Frome, Somerset – pictorial essay


Sunday 25 September 1664

(Lord’s day). Up, and my throat being yet very sore, and, my head out of order, we went not to church, but I spent all the morning reading of “The Madd Lovers,” a very good play, and at noon comes Harman and his wife, whom I sent for to meet the Joyces, but they came not. It seems Will has got a fall off his horse and broke his face….


We rose early to complete a gardening job for Margaret a lady who had lost her husband two years ago. He died of a heart attack. “One moment we were chatting together and the next moment he was gone”. Two years is not long enough to get over the loss of a person that you have lived with for 50 years. After breakfast, on to Frome where my wife has an acupuncture appointment. We dumped three large bags of cuttings at the recycling centre on the way. Blessed be it is so close to our house.


There are some things you cannot concoct. The history of a town or city is unique, Frome included and when I visit there is always something of interest to photograph. John Wesley visited Frome several times in the later 18th century but he described it as a ‘dry, barren and uncomfortable place‘ One wonders why he even made a return visit.  Currently, there is also an Art Festival going on at the moment until early October 2017.

Take a deep breath and scroll down for many images.   (don’t forget to do Ctrl and + many times before doing so. The image will double in size).

Someone has thoughtfully provided a weatherproof cat kennel. I assume a grateful recipient is sitting on top of the wall.
Am old and battered slogan in someone’s front window
This is a shop on the famous Catherine Hill, a must see for all tourists.
Retro shop
there is competition between the shops for design appearance.
St Catherine’s Hill. Ask where it is if you are a visitor
A knitted picture
a lovely autumn themed range of stock at the bottom of the hill
If you are thinking of moving to this area you can tell a lot from looking at the notice boards. This is a LIVELY town
old fashioned baker
the baker, interior
and a retro music shop
very good bargains in the basics – the main shops are here. Iceland, Sainsbury’s, Lidl
and some tourist shops for the imaginative ha ha
This is the germ of a good idea but alas, empty for the moment anyway. See link for info.
This was a public toilet at one point. Nice conversion
and what could this have been I wonder
graffiti on the side of a shop

Well if that has not given you a taste of Frome then nothing will. Come and check it out and remember you can start a conversation with anyone if you are with someone or on your own.

My 26,683rd day on earth – kangaroos and self-drive cars


Saturday 24 September 1664

..a recounting of Pepys’ business matters.. then… So home and to my office, and business being done home to supper and so to bed, my head and throat being still out of order mightily.


What I really enjoy is that I only have the slightest clue what is going to happen today. Actually, it would take all the fun out of life to know what was going to happen. I suppose you could take all the risk out of life by staying in bed (how boring) but is anywhere the ‘safest place to be?’

I know what my plans are in general but as the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote in 1785
“The best laid schemes of mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley”

nothing is risk-free.

Poor old mouse. He carefully built a winter nest in a wheat field, only for it to be destroyed by a ploughman.
Another mouse, pictured, has had an ingenious idea but that may not help him. Full credit for trying though.

I would not survive in prison or should I say, I could only survive by switching off any desire for freedom otherwise the conflict might tear me in half. I would just live day by day, hour by hour. Franklin D. Roosevelt has a point when he says “men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds“. Horrible to be in kept in prison indefinitely without charge, as is the case in many countries.

So, on with the day. I positively like it when I do not know what is going to happen. This coming Wednesday my diary will have it’s first mention in our local Journal here in Midsomer Norton. I don’t think our local population is literary orientated but the idea might catch on with one or two people. I have had site visitors from all over the place – Dublin, Andover (UK), Copenhagen, Helsinki, Lucerne, Wichita Kansas and Menlo Park California. I am unlikely to meet them but I love the idea that someone is reading my stuff and possibly being influenced by it or maybe even being challenged to write their own diary.
NB Site stats can be skewed by the visits of robots and spiders but fortunately there is software to eliminate most of these.

Menlo Park (above) is a government computer which scans and stores all web sites attempting to spot subversive information.  The amount of information that ‘they’ have on us is quite formidable in depth and breadth – browsing habits, telephone calls, travel plans, purchases. Have you ever wondered why an item that you searched for pops up when you are browsing for something else? Amazon, Ebay, Google  and Youtube are efficient at this. This profiling is quite brazen but most people do not seem to mind and regard it as a fact of life. I have long taken the view that ‘privacy’ is an illusion albeit comforting for some. We are all in the same boat, so writing about my personal life is no big deal. In publishing it I do not feel invaded but rather that I am taking part in a sharing, one human being to another.


Anyway, it is now 7.15 in the morning and the sun has yet to make any impression. Time for a second coffee before I creak into gear. creak creak. Amazing what a second cup does.  This is destined to be a quiet day which I have assigned for recovery from the wonderful weekend we had. Quiet is relative of course.


I saw a lovely article in a paper about the Swedish car maker. “Marsupials vs. Volvo“… Volvo has gone down under to test its autonomous vehicles and has found that while their AI navigation systems can cope with most eventualities but bouncing kangaroos confuse the hell out of them “.  I sometimes think that I affect people like the marsupial affected the AI.  When I get inspired I leap around like a teenager and produce all sorts of florescent language, as the artist Sally found out yesterday (see previous). Poor dear, she was suffering from a bug and was unable to enjoy her own open show at her home.  The trouble is that if I suppress my spontaneous remarks I become frustrated and have a feeling of not ‘being me’. It is like trying to stop a spring of water by blocking the outlet with a towel.

Can’t be done, not with me anyway.


Today I visited my dentist in Bath for the 35th session of the treatment to reconstitute my teeth. 12 dentists have done their best over the years but there was no choice but to have a root and branch reformation, go private and stump up (pay up, fork out, shell out – your choice). David is meticulous and will not allow any work to go through without it being 10/10.  We get on well so I don’t mind.


I went to pick up Francoise from her AgeUK centre volunteering work. I saw a leaflet on the wall which shows  trend of the times. I thought Cruse Bereavement Care was only for widows to recover from death of a loved one but now they are diversifying. I don’t like the acronym SOBS but it will do I suppose.

Sunday Pt 3 – the artist Sally Bradborn – identifying reality using forms


So we are within a two week event, Somerset Art Weeks Festival 2017,  starting yesterday 23rd September where the artists display their finery and the public can meet them in their homes.  One such was Sally Bradborn. Interestingly the surname originated from the village Bradbyrne in Derbyshire. The name comes from two old English words; biad, meaning broad or wide, and burna meaning stream. I derive from this the term ‘streaming broadband’ but that’s just my left brained take, being a mere male.

Sally moved away from the metropolis with her lawyer husband the while producing three children. The focus on the art suffered somewhat but art is like riding a bike – you never forget it, indeed a rest or a pause can enhance growth on the subconscious level. She and I have one thing in common apart from the fact that she has read the same book by Claire Tomlinson on Samuel Pepys. We do not know what is going to happen when we sit down, she with her ceramic materials and me with my keyboard.

I commented that Barbara Hepworth waited for her stones to call her. I believe that we are not originators of creativity but the receivers of harmony or otherwise.  I am very sympathetic to all artists which is why I forgive them for what they have done, are doing or might do sometime in the future. They are seeking to reach into base matter and produce gold, rather like the alchemists of old. This is not possible without INspiration. NB it is not EXpiration. In order to do so the psyche needs to be held in a space between matter and spirit, or half way between heaven and hell if you want to be fundamentalist.

This is why artists are so often ‘oddballs’ as if they to interact with normal (compromised) people they lose the very essence of what they are trying to achieve. Same with musicians I guess. I get very excited when I recognise a kindred spirit and nothing stops the flow of what appears to be inspiration coming out of my mouth. There are so many DEAD people around that it is such a joy to find a live one. Artists often have difficulty in marketing their work. They are either too greedy and try to monetize everything or they give their work away. This is why an agent should be sought to give an unbiased second opinion.

Sally’s studio

Alas due to the peculiarities of my humble camera (or was it the shaking of my hand) the photos made in her studio – a converted garage – were not as clear as I would have liked. I quite like the ethereal look.

My wife talking to Sally
All work should ask a question. I am fascinated by the nuance of the face and what is behind it.
this model does not have a point to prove. She is asking questions but falling short of interrogation.
this example shows how important the lighting of the work is

I almost feel I could use this as a Rorschach Ink Blot test and see what people see in it. Such an interesting psychological study. I found with Sally’s work that a group of her works would have considerable interaction power or should I say ‘presence’.  We both agreed that space and being alone was an essential ingredient for inspiration.

I love Edward Hopper’s quote “If I could see it in words there would be no reason to paint” and Francis Bacon’s quote “the job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery“. We should not do the viewers work for them but ask questions, then more questions.

I know we shall be seeing many good things coming from Sally and I can’t wait to visit her first one woman show. Watch this existential space.


Back to Rockaway studios (see yesterdays blog). I wanted to see Marta the wife of Mark the owner to offer to do some voluntary work. She greeted me with a lovely smile although she was rushed off her feet. I think I could really do a good job of helping with the web site, a newsletter, and the garden which for such a place needs to be something special.  We agreed to talk in the week.

Meanwhile my camera was out, itching to make more photos so here are a few:

Richard and Joyce, who is supporting traffic cones on her head.
an intricate design made by cutting up a tyre.
children soaking in the atmosphere wile a band plays in the background.
A worker building up the heat to forge metal
The creativity bubbles up from the word go on his website.
speaks for itself

Oh and I put this image in because I think it is funny. If you are doing or thinking exactly the opposite of the majority you must be getting something right.

Lots of love and good night

Sunday Pt. 2 – the local Cider and Ale Barn


We discovered this jewel about four years ago and it is now part of our Sunday routine when we go to the boot sale in Cheddar. (see previous entry). It is not a ‘pub’ but an ‘import’ from somewhere like Australia. The Cider Barn is presided over by the ever characterful Jason who works the most horrendous hours and is universally liked by the mixed clientele that appear at the door.  Cyclists, tourists, local colourful characters, farmers – you name it.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

BS27 3RU don’t drive too fast or you will miss it.
the bar area as seen from the door
side wall (use Ctrl and + to enlarge)
one of the most unpleasant physiognomies I have ever seen.
NO chemical produced rubbish beer
and many local groups
free library
The Guinness campaigns were masterly “Guinness is good for you”
another seminal ad. situated in the back room of this establishment

Oh and they do offer a selection of hot food. It is cooked on the premises and microwaved. The dishes are served with a very large doorstep of bread. There is an outdoor sitting area for smokers and sight seers. The ciders are to die for.

My wife insisted on driving us onward afterwards even though I only had a pint.

Sunday Pt. 1 – the pictorial low-down on the Cheddar Carboot


Friday 23 September 1664

…Pepys writes….My cold and pain in my head increasing, and the palate of my mouth falling, I was in great pain all night. My wife also was not well, so that a mayd was fain to sit up by her all night….Dined with little heart at noon…So home, and late reading “The Siege of Rhodes” to my wife, and then to bed, my head being in great pain and my palate still down.

You certainly needed to be tough to survive without the medications that we take for granted today. Average life expectancy was just under 40, but this is heavily skewed by the high rate of infant mortality. Over 12% of all children born would die within their first year of life.
I love the fact that Pepys reads to his wife. We do not know if she is literate. My wife enjoys being read to. I enjoyed being read to when a child. ..just one more chapter, dad……


Today is day two of Somerset Art Weeks ‘Prospect’ Festival 2017. We plan to visit a few centres but before that, to celebrate breakfast with two duck’s eggs which we purchased yesterday Saturday at one of the events. They are about a fifth bigger than large chicken’s eggs. <later> they should be cooked for seven minutes. They are very rich so one egg at a sitting is enough.


Cheddar Carboot and market is one of the larger events of its type in the UK. This is my first in depth report, and probably my last unless something extra ordinary happens. I do TripAdvisor reviews and to date I have done 671 written reviews and offered up 1,340 photos from 42 countries around the world. You can say I am fairly used to doing them.

History of Cheddar Carboot- started by a local farmer in 1996.
Location – Winchester Farm Wells Road BS27 3RP
Layout – at least 150 grass pitches, about 60 hard ground pitches, a large indoor area with many wet weather pitches.
Car park – large enough! You pay £1 per car but can walk in free.
Facilities – toilets, restaurant, cafe.
Hours – Sundays from 6am to 2pm ; the public can arrive after 7 am
Cost of stall or space – from £8 to £20
Contact Mr Ashley Hann – 07831277327

That’s the mechanical bit over, now the detail. The majority of the spaces in the grass area are families having a clear out of their children’s’ clothes, toys or removing from their house unwanted bric a brac. I can say that if you don’t mind buying second hand clothes there is no point in spending more than 50p an items for clothing your new child. People also try and get rid of books and rather old Hi Fi sets.
A few plant and flower stalls (normally good quality grown locally) can be found. Sweets and drinks are always of low quality, virtual sugar bombs with added chemicals. Garden tools, normally second hand, are available and are of good quality but beware petrol driven mowers and chain saws. People keep them in their sheds for years and swear blind they work well. Ask when they were last used. If they cannot answer you then take a chance but don’t pay more than a tenner.

An old fashioned look means that the model is well out of date and spares impossible to get. Paintings and photographs are neither well stored (been in the attic for years) or of ‘popular’ quality. Anything over a fiver and you are paying for the frame. There is normally a good fishing equipment table in the main hall. Cheese is available (and yes it is fresh). The star of the show is the amazing butcher who has the most convincing chat I have ever heard. For this reason he is popular with Chinese and Indian restaurants who stock up for the week. He piles on steak after steak, chops after chops, chicken after chicken and says ‘who will give me £20?’ and goes on piling the meat on until someone says yes. You only have to move an eyebrow for him to register it as a sale. See video here.

Having given all the caveats above, you can get some amazing bargains. My wife purchased five art books for £2.50 from someone who was clearing her mother’s house. As I left I saw a chap walk away with a Stihl strimmer, lightweight, new cost £230 + for which he paid probably about £40. Their Chinese equivalents are well built but weigh a ton and you need to wear strapping in order to carry it.

As the day goes on and stall holders are getting tired, the price of everything will come down. What was sold for £1 comes down to 50p. Anything to get rid of them and save having to pack them up again. When you leave, expect a queue to get out. If you are at all civilised you will move on to the Cider Bar about a mile east along the road. Part two will cover that noble establishment. And now, to the photos in random order…

why pay full price for a childs new bike?
the jam and marmalade woman is always here rain or shine
skeletons taken out of their cupboards
dog and some cat food
cheap and cheerful tools
good quality plants
sugar bombs
potted flowers
typical grass space – take it off me or it goes to the recycle
very good tools normally at the far side of the indoor hall
tools – detail
fishing stand – you name it…. they are regular attendees
the indoor hall – full when it rains
army stuff
a sad and unloved mower. Don’t touch it.
£3.99 for an item costing 50p tops to manufacture.
The amazing Garry Davies. He ‘performs’ high speed selling for up to 5 hours. Hypnotically amazing.
this mannequin needs a head and shoulders massage

click here for next part of day

Rockaway Park – back to the 60’s in full 3D

for the broad minded  – Ctrl and + key repeatedly for larger images

I thought I had been in a Dr. Who police box and been taken back 50 years. This place called Rockaway Park was BLISS. I love love love installation art and things that are way out there. I had no idea that such a place existed, unadvertised and unmarked. If I say to locals that it is in Eastcourt Road, Temple Cloud, you still could not find it.

I met the partner of the owner Marta (still with a slight Polish accent) and then her very approachable and extrovert partner and the owner of the land Mark Wilson. Some hint of what you can expect is to be found in the names of the artists that work at the place, an abandoned quarry. Rowdy, Joe Rush, Filthy Luker, Shangrila, Mutartis Boswell as well as on-site blacksmiths and woodworkers.

First there is a converted single story property with a few B and B rooms which they feed with AirB&B clients. There is a huge kitchen / eating area which is as big as some flats I can think of. ALL the  following pictures are from within this one room.

three messages in one
VERY ancient juke box
not maradona or a prima dona
the huge 15′ long dinner table
take your pick of condiments and spices
the relaxing corner

and now, outside this room but inside the building.

Mediterranean feel
many influences here
more panoramic view of the room. I noted that it had no wood fireplace and would benefit from one in the centre of the room. They use space heaters in the winter (pricey)

and now, some shots of the pathway outside this residential building.

well that’s clear and plain
looks out over a valley

Now, you may have thought you have seen everything but the main part is yet to come.  No image does justice to the extra ordinary melange of art that I saw before my eyes.   Ready?

Quite an accident
droll social commentary
the eyes have it

This is a clever art installation. The whole is a decorated rubber ball or bell. It is inflated and then deflated. When the latter the pressure is reduced and the eyes close.

two scrap aircraft engines
a whole car compressed into 6′ x 2′ x 2′ wheels and all
from the art studio
Paintings by ‘Dave PanIt’
cars parked on high
an amazing all terrain ‘vehicle’ built by one of the residents. It works as well but what a noise.

Guys I have made so many more pics. but you will just have to come and see. It is open until 8th October 2017.   I met some called Aemon? (I must write down peoples name when I meet them). He was an ex school teacher who resigned out of stress of various sorts and is now working for his board and food but ‘has no need’ for money at the moment. He was so full of enthusiasm for this creative place and wanted everyone to feel that they could come and make a contribution by doing something or by just enjoying the environment.

A cafe had just opened the day before at which moderately priced good food will be served.  This place is bursting with possibilities and I shall be visiting them again to offer my services.


Priddy Rural fun day – a Thai massage – back to the 60’s in full 3D


On to Priddy with its annual Rural Fun Day. The triangular Green offers a  natural environment for stalls and entertainment of all kinds. At first glance the layout seemed ramshackle and lacking in features but I soon started to be impressed. There were a number of ‘car boot’ type stalls offering tat with varying degrees of age and usefulness. I walked past them with hardly a glance.

the Green
The child showed no fear. impressed.

We then went on to the green itself. I noticed that one of the most popular attractions was a sled run which looked as if it had been designed in the 1950’s (no criticism but a compliment).

One feature I really appreciated. The public address speakers were playing very laid back 60’s and 70’s music and it made just the right atmosphere.

the kids loved it and were drawn in.
a very docile (bored?) animal
one of two historic cars
two children making a glorious mess
natural building methods should be applauded and encouraged.
see text

Now this was a sight to behold. Three young women aged about 20 I estimate were walking about and were invited to build a wall from the stones provided. They obviously thought that was a cool thing to do and they approached the challenge without hesitation. This would NEVER happen in a big city.

I noticed a stand devoted to Thai Massage. The lady doing it had such a winning smile. I thought that the offer was worth the £3 asked for a ten minute demonstration.  She had been doing this type of work for many years and is managed by her English husband , an ex-policeman called Neil. She has an intuitive knowledge of where the tension points are and I jumped and wriggled with pain though she was only applying gentle pressure. Subsequently, Francoise and I decided to invite her to our home for a proper session of one hour. Contact barnesorathai @ gmail . com

putting me through my paces
the full massage is quite demanding as you can see from the images (use Ctrl and + to enlarge)

I walked off or should I say floated off to a large tent of arts and crafts. I came across a stall which intrigued me called ‘All Four Paws’ another English pun. ha ha.

type of canine problem addressed.
dogs with challenging problems

He is a good dog but …..  Ian Francis has had over 40 years experience living and working with dogs, and over 8 years working with dogs with problems. AllFourPaws visits and works at the home of the owner. Such niche markets are very important and although I have no dog I wished him the best of luck. PS I never ask for compensation for what may be considered an advert. If I think the person is the real deal I will tell you.

been coming here for years.

I have never had a so called Welsh cake before so I, forever adventurous, had a go. What have you got to lose for £1.  It is basically a bread mix with raisins added and coated with sugar if you wanted. Mine was a little under done but good enough. I would not have another. The old chap who was running the stand talked of the old days where the Green was ‘heaving’ with people and the sheep were ‘over there’ he said waving his arms and the horses ‘over there’. I felt he regretted the decline of a great event.

Little did I know that the highlight of my day was yet to come and to save you endlessly scrolling down I will write part 3 of my diary separately, and can be found here.

a sighting of Michael Eavis – a Thai massage – back to the 60’s in full 3D

Thursday 22 September 1664

To the ‘Change at noon, and among other things discoursed with Sir William Warren what I might do to get a little money by carrying of deales to Tangier, and told him the opportunity I have there of doing it, and he did give me some advice, though not so good as he would have done at any other time of the year, but such as I hope to make good use of, and get a little money by….

Very much my ‘thought for the day’ BBC style.

We may have a pressing problem and we call a friend or colleague for help. Do we ever pause to consider if the timing is good for them? Were they waiting by the phone for your call, all other matters cast aside or were they half way through dealing with at least four pressing matters with children screaming in the background the while?
When I need help I always ask ‘do you have time for a conversation on ….’.  People who say ‘have you got a couple of minutes’ normally raise matters that take half an hour. It’s your call as a receiver of a request to decide what can be handled on the phone or what could really benefit by a face to face conversation (and I don’t mean Skype). Sometimes I call ahead to book a time to talk. The respect of people’s time is appreciated.


My goodness, I did not realise what a rich day was in front of Francoise and myself when we set off for a round of art exhibitions, preceded by a visit to the historical museum in Radstock. Michael Eavis of Glastonbury fame was due to open an exhibition, the last of five temporary exhibitions in 2017,  devoted to the historical side of Westfield, one of the three districts Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Westfield.

The event was due to open 11.30. We arrived well before and took the opportunity to look round the permanent exhibitions which tells the tale of old Radstock with particular regard to normal home life, and to coal production. We decided to join for a year. For around a fiver you can come in as many times as you like. Is that a bargain or what. I could have become a member for £12 p.a.

There was a system of canals to enable the taking away of the local production of coal. Use Ctrl and the + key to view enlarged images.

canal system
Radstock Station of old
a kitchen and eating place in a miner’s cottage c 1900
a grocer

So in comes Michael. I get the impression this is not the first time he has opened an exhibition or a facility. Here is the video of his talk and the response from the museum committee.

Michael with his trademark shorts and sandals.
Michael waylaid by friends

The poor old Mayor of Radstock was trying to explain aspects of the exhibition to Michael but he was obviously far more interested in talking to the people, to the Mayor’s frustration of his carefully prepared plan.

a friend called John

On his way out, Michael saw an old friend and went over to give him a big bear hug. They chatted animatedly for some time.  Michael is quite obviously a community man totally centred in people. He gives his time unsparingly and greets complete strangers as if he has known them all his life. This is a gift indeed. His laugh is infectious.


On the way to Priddy where there is a fun day, we visited Midsomer Quilting  which is shortly to move a couple of miles as the crow flies to a unit adjacent to The Holy Cow, a trendy but noisy restaurant in the most unlikely spot. I wanted to go there to mourn the passing of the lovely intimate outlet which has done so much for quilting world-wide through sales and courses and the like. I was not alone.

sales assistants chatting
Chris who is the manager with the silver hair
the room where quilting takes place.
the community area

Everyone remarks on the warm and welcoming atmosphere of this establishment. This is where free coffee and biscuits is offered with a donation tin to Dorothy House by the side. It is the unspoken rule that you can chat to a complete stranger with complete confidence knowing that you have something ‘safe’ in common, namely a love of quilting and design. Next Monday 25th September it will close and will re-open supremely optimistically the same week on the Thursday. No pressure then. Watch this space.


the day continues in part two of this journal……

How much money is ‘enough?’ – My GP – global warming


Wednesday 21 September 1664

….But it is a strange thing to observe and fit for me to remember that I am at no time so unwilling to part with money as when I am concerned in the getting of it most, as I thank God of late I have got more in this month, viz. near 250l., than ever I did in half a year before in my life, I think….

So called ‘primitive’ tribes exist with very little money; they mostly use barter and free exchange. A millionaire feels hard done by because his brother has five million pounds. A successful business man is frugal about spending money on himself  because he remembers the time that he was poor and had to struggle.  Another one I read of does not wear socks to remind himself what it was like to be poor as a child.

50% owners of Walmart, the Walton family.

The American owners of Walmart, the Walton Family Foundation gave 0.04% of their personal fortune to charitable causes, vs. the average middle class earner with a salary of say $75,000 pa contributes 6% of their discretionary income to charity.

Well, this is not rocket science to discuss. There is pure and simple greed. There is the accumulation of money out of material insecurity, or the desire to ‘own’ more than others. For most of us the solution is to live within our means, not to rely on the lotto, and to focus more on things that money cannot buy such as friendship, trust and be trusted you could say, and community minded people.

So, how about winning the lotto?

Winners mostly report ending up about as happy as they were before winning with some notable exceptions such as the couple who won £150m and could not agree how to spend it. They divorced. Maybe they were going to divorce anyway.

A classic 1978 study on this compared 22 lotto winners to 22 control-group members (who didn’t win any money) and to 29 people who were paralysed in accidents.
In general, the lottery winners reported that they were happier than the paraplegics and quadriplegics – a 4 out of 5 instead of a 2.96 out of 5.
The control group averaged 3.82 out of 5, not significantly different from lotto winners. However, lotto winners reported getting the least enjoyment from what researchers called “mundane pleasures” – enjoyable aspects of everyday life like eating breakfast or talking with a friend.
Researchers were surprised that lotto winners didn’t report being significantly happier than non-winners, and that accident victims reported being above the scale’s mid-point (2.5).
Overall, winning the lottery didn’t increase happiness as much as others thought it would, and a catastrophic accident didn’t make people as unhappy as one might expect.

I reckon living is about giving daily thanks and being content for what you have (think of Bangladesh, Solomon Islands, Puerto Rico, Texas and all the people who have lost everything in the hurricanes). It puts our ‘difficulties’  into some perspective.


Off to the doctors surgery. I forgot something that my doctor, Dr Shepherd, told me during the last telephone consultation. Once again I was asked by the receptionist the dreadful ‘what was your name’. I am now alert to this so I said, “no what IS my name. My name IS Brian Snellgrove” <cough> Present test? Past tense? I almost got a dirty look.

There is a new booking system. Appointments cannot be made via the Internet or by phone to reception. You call the surgery and your doctor will call back within 2 hours. He or she will decide if you need to see them in person, or otherwise prescribe or give advice on the phone.

Why the new system? Obviously the increased pressure on the NHS due to the completely absent Jeremy Hunt is one factor. Research shows that on average, 80 patients are DNA (did not attend) a medical facility each month. Missed appointments, according to BBC research, cost the NHS more than £600m per year. This new system will no doubt  cut this number down as if you have agreed verbally with the doctor to attend you are less likely to forget.  My dentist sends me 3 reminders, one when the appointment has been made, another E-mail a few days before the appointment and a text as well two days prior.

It should be noted that at St Chad’s, our local surgery, patients’ notes are combined so the doctor or secretary or anyone with clearance can see at a glance who said or did what and when.

amazing to see this – pinned on the wall in receptiion

Do I see this as less than a ringing endorsement of allopathic medicine? Well done Tris of Year 3 for this perception. As mentioned previously the body has a perfectly good immune system and it does not help to inject the body with chemicals when the immune system has not even had a chance to develop. It starts at about 2-3 months and needs exposure to ‘foreign’ challenges to help it develop.


I was so glad to read in the Natural News E-zine that ‘global warming’ is a total hoax. I am sick of reading that carbon dioxide is the great evil when without it we would not be alive. The trees need it! Why bother reducing the emissions of the motor car when one belching volcano will release more in a two week burp than all the cars on the planet. As the article says “if greenhouse gases are so bad for the planet, why do greenhouse growers buy CO2 generators to double plant growth?

The current alarmism is I suspect similar to the schemers behind weather control (175 patents granted by the US Govt) in that it can be used as ‘pseudo warfare’ but then I would be called a ‘climate denier’ and ridiculed accordingly. will provide further background information.


We advertise “Jungles cleared” in our ad in the local paper. Business is a bit slow this year but as the mayor said to me “for many people the tide is going out” so people only spend money on essentials.  However we are doing a garden in Farrington Gurney, the home of the famous Farrington Farm Shop. The customer said she did not want her jungle cleared but ‘tamed’. So be it.

Before work
After work. Border cleaned (makes a big difference to a garden)

Anyway, my left knee is burning so I am seeing the good Dr Hubbard next Friday. Meanwhile his instruction to “keep taking the tablets” for pain relief will  be heeded. I never realised how important knees were.  🙁

QR codes, Chinese version – Are machines frightening? – Flu


Tuesday 20 September 1664

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, at noon to the ‘Change, and there met by appointment with Captain Poyntz, who hath some place, or title to a place, belonging to gameing, and so I discoursed with him about the business of our improving of the Lotterys, to the King’s benefit, and that of the Fishery, and had some light from him in the business, and shall, he says, have more in writing from him. So home to dinner and then abroad to the Fishing Committee at Fishmongers’ Hall, and there sat and did some business considerable, and so up and home, and there late at my office doing much business, and I find with great delight that I am come to my good temper of business again. God continue me in it. So home to supper, it being washing day, and to bed.

Ha ha I am not sure what going home to supper has to do with washing day. I reckon Pepys must be dog tired* when he writes his diary, so I am amazed by such coherence and written by candle light to boot. I wonder if he fell asleep sometimes.
* a phrase used in the time of Alfred the Great who used to send his sons out with his extensive kennels of hunting dogs.


Maybe this will be scanned by a satellite

Reading the papers in the morning (or any time come to that) is not a particularly joyful experience but the image above cheered me up. 10/10 for imagination and lateral thinking.


aimed at de-frightening children (Ctrl and + key for enlargement)

So, off to RUH for a knee X ray. I signed in at 12.40 and out by 12.45. The open door no appointment X ray Dept was deserted save a sweeper. Whilst waiting I noticed a poster, above. I am quite used to machines but when you are attached to one or inside one that’s quite a different matter.

Clinical cutaway diagram of this $150,000-$400,000 range of machines. In USA the prices for a scan are stratospheric hence the high cost of travel insurance. A typical scan would be $500.  26,000,000 MRI scans are performed in USA annually.

I remember when I was subjected to the MRI machine when I had my accident in October 2016. I felt nervous and overwhelmed in spite of being drugged up with morphine. You move slowly but surely down inside it as we have all seen so many times on TV and that is scary. You are asked to keep completely still and that adds to the poignancy.

In general people have fears of one thing or another. Fear of going under (somniphobia), fear of seeing knives (aichmophobia), fear of injections (trypanophobia), of pain (agliophobia), of blood (hemophobia), of water (aquaphobia), even of doctors (Iatrophobia), fear of possible permanent effects of the insult (Nosophobia) which bought the patient into hospital or fear of hospitals themselves (Nosocomephobia).

RUH does a great job in informing people about their condition and attempting to de-stigmatise them, dementia  being one such.

And now to the next installment in the ever changing photo and painting exhibition that adorns the corridors of RUH.

“Hare’s dream” by Vicky Yeates, Oil pastel and lino Ink. I like the thoughtful look of the hare on the left. He is very much aware.
“Smallcombe Farm” Elizabeth Hughes. Photo art print

To the big city dweller such pictures are very much a siren which some of my readers may not know as meaning “a partly female creature in Greek legend whose beautiful singing lured sailors to their deaths.” This type of place probably needs more maintenance and upkeep than you might imagine. It will certainly be socially isolated and your nearest friendly co-op will be at least a 20 minute drive away, not an attractive proposition on a dark winter’s evening when you have run out of milk. If you are considering an ‘idyllic’ life try staying a few nights in a B and B and just walk around, talking to the locals. Oh, and don’t forget the frost on narrow muddy winding lanes.

a display table outside the main restaurant at RUH

Back to the hospital for a moment. There is an annual flu brain washing campaign talking the usual alarmist scare tactics about flu.

Remember folks:
1. the body has its own immune system which if kept healthy will fight off most bugs given half a chance.
2. the flu virus like all others mutates to survive so it is one or two steps ahead of the vaccine that has been prepared for it
3. The effect of vaccine on people over 65 is very small
4. many vaccines contain thimerosal (mercury, a toxin) and aluminium.
5. many of the studies on efficacy and safety are paid for by the pharmaceutic companies that stand to benefit from sales.
6. Oh, and ANY medication that has been available for less than three years is using the public as guinea pigs, certainly in the USA.
7. PS Read medicine labels with a magnifying glass as the key giveaways are hidden in para 34, page 3.

If you want to be really brave, do your own research on the relationship between NMR vaccine  and autism then just type in – maybe on YouTube – those three key words.  557,000 references in Google and 5,790 returns in Youtube.  Check it out for yourself, folks. (stats correct as of 21st September 2017),


How to get donations – canal boating – engineered weather


Monday 19 September 1664

Up, my wife and I having a little anger about her woman already, she thinking that I take too much care of her at table to mind her (my wife) of cutting for her, but it soon over,… So home to dinner, my wife having put on to-day her winter new suit of moyre, which is handsome, and so after dinner I did give her 15l. to lay out in linen and necessaries for the house and to buy a suit for Pall...

This seems an era when the husband was in charge of the purse-strings. Pepys seems considerate of his wife (when he is not angry) and has allocated some money to her. In the days before cheques and credit cards the wife would have been much more reliant on her breadwinner for any luxuries.


Towards a miniature approach reminiscent of a Japanese style

My own wife is keen on building miniature gardens and I enclose phase one of her latest effort.There is no limitation to what can be achieved using simple materials save the limits you choose to put on your imagination.


On my way along Redfield Road I happened to glance left towards the playground of St. John’s C of E Primary School. There was a girl of about 5, smartly dressed in her new uniform, crying her eyes out. Three fellow pupils stood around her awkwardly, unsure of what to do. Not one of the three fellow pupils made any body contact never mind a cuddle. They probably have not seen their parents cuddle. The poor thing was not able to speak for her tears.

Had I been there I would have instinctively given her a cuddle or at least squatted down to try and ascertain what the matter was. In this paranoid society I as a single male would have instantly been ‘identified’ as a potential child molester. I wanted to record the incident on my camera but feared that this would be the subject of the same mind set.


My Mens’ group put on a canal trip on the Avon and Kennet Canal, a place where my wife and I go often. Spring, summer autumn or winter it always has something to offer.  The canal boat was made available by the Canal Ministries.   They have 10 boats and offer a listening service plus advice and Christian Outreach. They also offer food parcels , dental and medical advice.

Five of us squeezed ourselves into a car and were driven to the Dundas Aqueduct. I love the theme of this website which relates to this part of the canal system “We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape”. Our group chatted away about every subject under the sun, often interrupting each other in our desire to make our point. The reason what that the environment was conducive – puttering along at 3 mph is mildly hypnotic and succeeds in bring out all that is best in human nature namely the desire to share experiences in an atmosphere of good humour and respect.

a crowded and noisy restaurant and bar – what is the pleasure when you can only make yourself heard by shouting.

This is what restaurants are bad at. Background music is so called because it should constitute background ambience not foreground noise. Geddit?

Edging our way slowly out of marina
Christian material left lying around for those interested
King of all he surveys plus attentive ducks ) Ctrl and + for more details)
You can only see this type of scene from another boat
some of our crowd chatting with the boat owner

The Mens’ group subsidised the cost of the trip. Donations were invited. This brings up the controversial subject of whether you put pressure on people to give donations. There is a certain pressure on entrance fees for the National Trust for a ‘Gift Aid’ of say 10% and it is your choice to refuse to pay thus being made to feel mean or thrifty. I call this sneaky opportunism. I am not talking about E-mail campaigns or anything of the Internet, but about corralling money from real live people in the same room.

* If you can make an announcement then be unapologetic and clear. “We are glad to provide this free service and would appreciate a contribution towards the expenses of this event including .... (give details but don’t overwhelm people).
* Avoid the begging bowl syndrome … ‘can you give something no matter how little’ can sound  cheap.
* There is no harm in having more than one contribution plate in the room or space but it must be clearly marked and supervised if possible.
* Humour by the collector can help if it is not banal.
* Passing the plate round as is sometimes done in church may be resented.
* Collecting in a hat or fairly voluminous object by the entrance (exit!) is quite tactful as the donation remains private.
* Give people eye contact and make sure to thank them even if they do not give. This will maintain the dignity of the situation.
* Don’t look at what they have given (important)
* Well dressed people will be more trusted than someone who is dressed too informally or scruffily.
* If the money is for a good cause make quite sure that people know what the cause is.
* Definitely no pressure as that produces resistance and embarrassment.
* Do not ask more than once
* If someone wants to give £5 but only has a £10 note handle this discreetly.
* giving is a private transaction and therefore no one else’s business.


In the evening we went along to Ston Easton (yes that is really a place not a hiccup) for the monthly meeting of the garden club. A botanist spoke about the flowers of the Mendips.  Her content was good but her technical presentation was poor. No one had explained to her how to give a talk. Alas, she had no pointer, laser or otherwise, and was continually pointing at the image and trying to reach up with her hands. She spoke far too fast in her great enthusiasm and this combined with the echo in the room reduced our level of comprehension to about 40%. Such a pity as her knowledge and  love for her subject was considerable.

I went up to her and said I had some spare laser pointers and would she  like one? She stuttered and said that ‘perhaps I should buy my own’. She was not able to say ‘thank you how kind here is my address’. She also mentioned that she did botanical walks. I asked her for her web site (I don’t have one), her Twitter or Facebook account ( I don’t do that sort of thing) but she said brightly ‘you can write to my e-mail address’. I realised I was making her flustered and uneasy so I walked away. Maybe she relates better to flowers than to people. Part of me does not blame her.

We drove back through the country side on a dark and blustery evening. No moon. Dark. A fox ran across our path. This seems like the first day of autumn. Goodbye summer.


I read a shocking article on these hurricanes that are battering Puerto Rico and neighbouring countries written by one of the most reliable investigator Mike Adams, the ‘Health Ranger’. The weaponisation of weather is well known amongst those who choose to do the most elementary research. The US Government have granted 175 patents for weather control. This is irrefutable. Weather wars are far more effective than atomic wars – seen as rather crude weaponry these days. Weather systems can be steered towards intended targets. Check out Climate Viewer News for many references.


As I write, a black night with the sound of rain spattering on the windows. Sounds like BED is a safe refuge.




Toilet twinning (yes really) – a headless person – Send a cow charity


Sunday 18 September 1664

(Lord’s day). Up and to church all of us. At noon comes Anthony and W. Joyce (their wives being in the country with my father) and dined with me very merry as I can be in such company. After dinner walked to Westminster (tiring them by the way, and so left them, Anthony in Cheapside and the other in the Strand), and there spent all the afternoon in the Cloysters as I had agreed with Jane Welsh, but she came not, which vexed me ….

There are few things worse than waiting for someone who does not turn up (show up, rock up, pitch up depending on the slang in your country). Vex is a word not used much these days except in connection with litigation – ‘vexatious’ means picking on trivial points and using them as an excuse not to take notice of the major matter in hand. I can be ‘vexed’ by flu symptoms when I get aches and pains, or ‘vexed’ by the behavior of someone who lets me down as in Pepys case above, or being ‘vexed’ by a difficult crossword puzzle. There is no point in using a word that few understand but is that an excuse for not using the word at all. People can ask if they don’t understand.



The word ‘carceral’ was searched for when journalist Sarah Jaffe used the word in a tweet which drew widespread attention. It means “of, our relating to, or suggesting a jail or prison”.


view from the servery. We get about 60 people every Tuesday

Off to do my monthly duty serving in the kitchens at the local Midsomer Methodist Church. The ladies do the cooking and us men do the pot cleaning and anything else that needs doing. We get fed for our pains and the old people who come enjoy the social side as well as the food. Again I make the point. There is always a jolly atmosphere among us volunteers, teasing and joking etc and it is a pleasure. I could not do it for a full day though so hats off to volunteers who work full time say in charity shops.

And now for more photos. Keep your eyes open and try not to do ‘tunnel vision’ because you miss so much. Have you EVER seen an award for a twinned toilet. Towns are OK but toilets?  “Flush away poverty” is their slogan. It even has its own web site.

This is a ‘first’ for me. Who came up with this bright idea. Clever though.
Strange choice of name but a good idea.
drinking milk not sugary poison. Yes!
just before I could make the picture he put his hand up but otherwise it looked really spooky.

Evening – off to a talk by a scientist on LED light under the umbrella of the Radstock Scientific group. I got into trouble for taking issue with the speaker on the validity of his statistics. I understand that sometimes you rely on the same old PowerPoint collection. He evoked my wrath because his stats were last updated in 2012 and were given in US dollars. They were therefore unreliable. For the dollars he gave the excuse that American stats are easier to find. When I heard that I gave up. Then I wanted to say but did not – if US figures were easier to find is it so difficult to update them. Five years is a long time in science, as Harold Wilson (previous PM) would have observed.

The woman next to me, who turned out to be the secretary, hissed at me that she would give me my money back. She said she was embarrassed by my behaviour. I did not bother to respond that I myself was embarrassed by the lax standards of the lecturer who also apparently had never heard of either a laser pointer or a remote control for the slide changing. He did make one mitigating point that certain wavelengths of light killed certain bacteria and I told him that this contained exciting possibilities for biology and possibly healing. He responded by relaying information about the use of light to inhibit growth or the ripening of fruit. So much for communication then.

A large whiskey later and I was on my way.


We are undertaking a journey shortly for which I have to purchase tickets. I pride myself on attempting to outwit the complex algorithms used by travel companies to maximise income. The absolute worst thing you can do is to turn up on the day. You will pay the maximum price. One-way plane tickets home to UK from Europe and beyond can be £500+ as recent clients of Ryanair have found to their cost. Point to point distance itself is not the key factor; it is the perceived urgency of travel for which you get hammered.

We do coaches wherever possible. We also use discount cards which give a third off the fare and can pay for themselves in one journey. A single journey by coach to London from Bath is £23 when bought same day but £5 when bought 2 weeks in advance. I got two return tickets involving two coaches to and from an airport for £43.67. Same day it would be about £110. Point made?



No-Dig gardening – Wayne Rooney – Iris tubers

Saturday 17 September 1664

Up and to the office, where Mr. Coventry very angry to see things go so coldly as they do, and I must needs say it makes me fearful every day of having some change of the office, and the truth is, I am of late a little guilty of being remiss myself of what I used to be, but I hope I shall come to my old pass again, my family being now settled again.

No harm in admitting a short-fall, though Pepys gives the excuse that his family affairs have  been bothering him.

A busy day today. Ryanair have shot themselves in the foot by inconveniencing 400,000 passengers through suddenly deciding that pilots must have holidays. I feel for those stranded abroad having to pay lots of money for a single fare to Blighty (war slang for UK)

I called the firm that supplied me with a hedge cutter. They sent me the wrong replacement part. I took great pains not to seem to be blaming the customer advisor but – good tactic this – got them to read their notes about my case. I was discussing ‘the situation’ not a person and said “is it me going mad or you” to which she replied “probably us”. We ended with a laugh and a promise that a new part would be on its way today Monday.

you have to hack at them with a spade or pick axe to cut them out of the ground.

To my gardening job, digging a seemly small and innocuous bed 5m x1m but what did I discover. There was a whole tuber system of the iris flowers, innocently sticking their fronds into the breeze. The systems were solid ‘bombs’ going down about a foot into the ground. Anyway, I eventually made an impression but sweated a lot on this a scarcely warm morning. The customer asked how long I had been gardening. I said since the age of 20 (actually it was 14) so it must be 59 years. She said I should retire. I replied that I would be bored out of my mind.


To Francoise to pick her up from her work with AgeUK. I met a musician there who had been entertaining the old people. He is called Chris who has recently moved to Glastonbury. I said this was a good opportunity to try out new numbers. He thought it would take some time to adapt to Glastonbury from previously living in Peasedown St. John (locals will nod knowingly at this). I said it was a matter of wavelength. If you are on the same mental and spiritual wavelength a so called stranger could become a friend in a very short time.


The main event of the afternoon was a trip to see one of the most famous ‘No Dig’ gardeners and producers of food in the UK, Charles Dowding. His garden is similar to what I imagine paradise would be like (I hope they have gardens up there if I ever make it). He has numerous YouTube videos so just type his name in.

He grows two crops a year and the soil is completely without weeds. Even couch grass can be smothered. Here are some images.

general view
not sure what these were
not quite as romantic. £1. I cant give mine away.

My left knee is really hurting. It could be an early stage of osteoarthritis but more like some inflammation and muscle tension. F has prepared some almond oil with sage and rosemary essential oils and has given a massage.

Wayne Rooney got 2 years driving ban for being, well, drunk. Pity he goes silly when big breasted women approach him. Maybe he has not had time to develop as a person what with all the fame at such a young age.

And so, as Pepys would say, to bed.




Pepys and a contemporary diarist John Evelyn


Friday 16 September 1664

There is no way of summarizing today’s diary entry which is long and varied.  A debtor Sir W Warren gives Pepys L100 (pounds) in a local tavern, the Sun, situated at the rear of the Royal Exchange. Sir Warren was careful to be discrete with his transaction. Pepys takes a carriage home to celebrate and as an extra security precaution. Later on in the entry he writes that “In Russia it was said the poor people get into their owns, being heated, and there lie“.   The mind boggles.


The phone goes, slightly unexpectedly, at 10.30 this morning Sunday. A very Somerset voice says “are you the people that clear rubbish?”. Mindful of the Sabbath I said slightly frostily ” Yes I am but it is also Sunday morning” i.e. why re you calling me on a rest day morning. He was quite UN-phased by this and replied “Oh no I am all right with Sundays. I realised that my subtle sarcasm was lost on him. He said ” do you take away old sheds then?”. I decided for reasons best known to myself “no, sorry I cannot help you”.
If I recall, no one who has made initial contact on a Sunday has ever resulted in a job.


John Evelyn 1620-1706

Pepys was not the only diarist of his day. Credit must go to John Evelyn, born in 1620 in his family home Wotton House,  Surrey, three miles from Dorking. I find his style slightly more poetic and I assume his life style permitted him to write at any time of  day unlike our hard working employed Pepys.  He had the time to produce eight children. He is obviously a God fearing Catholic of style and substance. Many of his copious works lie in the British Library, his diary included. Evelyn’s grave lies in the church of St John in Wotton

From a review “Pepys was earthy and shrewd, while Evelyn was a genteel aesthete, but both were drawn to intellectual pursuits. Brought together by their work to alleviate the plight of sailors caught up in the Dutch wars, they shared an inexhaustible curiosity for life and for the exotic. Willes explores their mutual interests-diary-keeping, science, travel, and a love of books-and their divergent enthusiasms, Pepys for theater and music, Evelyn for horticulture and garden design”.

How to involve children – The Priston Festival


Thursday 15 September 1664

… and after dinner many people came in and kept me all the afternoon, among other the Master and Wardens of Chyrurgeon’s Hall, who staid arguing their cause with me; I did give them the best answer I could, and after their being two hours with me parted…

No faxes or E-mails in those days. People have to argue their case in person. Maybe a good thing.


This morning I went to our Men’s Christian group. Same old faces alas. No younger man seems to be able to identify with the need to show up especially with our demographic profile in Midsomer Norton  (old miners, widows of same, manual workers, people on minimum wage, commuters to Bath and Bristol). The topic was on the role of crying and emotion using various illustrations from Biblical texts. I shall revert to that at a later date.


I visited a gardening client today who is stuck in a big house on her own, is just recovering from her latest fall this time from the toilet, admits to being very lonely living alone but cannot bring herself to move house nearer her friends where she can receive support. For the last year she has been talking of moving but cannot bring herself to do it, largely because of her memories of the old house and the thought of moving and what could go wrong. We have advised her many times to move to no avail.


The main event of the day was the Priston Festival held annually in mid September over a three day weekend.

Puppeteers from Poland

The puppets arrived and I thought there was going to be a Punch and Judy type show  but no, the puppets were bought along solely to encourage the children to pay with them, and play they did. I keep on forgetting how much imagination children do have and how little it takes to involve them.

waiting in the wings to be played with
no question the children are absorbed
very good quality of mannequins
very realistic figures
so on we go to the children’s area as such
a brace of electric bikes on the way
a magician performs
togetherness and joy in the eating area behind the pub
impressive home made cakes – no chemicals here
unknown but enthusiastic artists and performers
Priston Church with a golden cockerel performing weather vane duties.
there is something about this area that produces wonderful apples.
Finally the famous all amateur  Fantasy Orchestra
rear view of the Sousaphone?
well done, organiser (flowery hat)
If you are thinking of moving to this area a) be prepared to pay a lot for a decent house b) there is no public transport to speak of


Getting the sack Pepys style; no-dig gardening; blackberry picking


Wednesday 14 September 1664

Up, and wanting some things that should be laid ready for my dressing myself I was angry, and one thing after another made my wife give Besse warning to be gone, which the jade, whether out of fear or ill-nature or simplicity I know not, but she took it and asked leave to go forth to look a place, and did, which vexed me to the heart, she being as good a natured wench as ever we shall have, but only forgetful.

None of this nonsense about giving seven days notice then.


Night radio. Radio Five Live keeps me going through the nights as I seldom sleep through. The bedside radio is always on, earphones plugged in. The night programmes are more laid  back than the daytime ones with many callers adding their 2p worth by phone or by text, not to mention Facebook or Twitter.  Early this morning there was an astronomer who interestingly told us that there is no subject more interesting to children than planets and space in general. He said that as a teacher no class was attended by more questions and more curiosity.
Another slot – was it from 2AM to 3AM – concerned all aspects of horticulture. A caller complained that badgers (a protected species) dug up his lawn regularly to feast on the grubs under the grass. Another caller responded by saying an old man had recommended to leave a radio in a plastic bag at night with a talk programme on. Badgers do not like conversations and keep away. I found that funny, but the sleeping form next to me would not have appreciated that tale so I have to keep it to myself until the morning.


Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending”   Maria Robinson (Author)
I am attracted to the gentle and ‘reconciliatory to self’ tone of this quote. There is no judgement implied. Most of us are far too severe with our own psychology, chiding ourselves on things we did not or could not achieve maybe following reasoning that may have been spurious. The quote is quite pragmatic and does not promise the reader the Garden of Eden, rather making a point about human nature.


Talking of sacking (not sackcloth and ashes*), we have sackfuls of potatoes stored in our kitchen (nowhere else to put them) and I noticed a smell. We opened them up and laid them n the ground. Some tubers nearly crawled out. An infested tuber can rot in a few days and spreads the stink of decay to its neighbours. All stored potatoes should be regularly inspected.

  • Sackcloth and ashes were used in Old Testament times as a symbol of debasement, mourning, and/or repentance. Someone wanting to show his repentant heart would often wear sackcloth, sit in ashes, and put ashes on top of his head. Sackcloth was a coarse material usually made of black goat’s hair, making it quite uncomfortable to wear. The ashes signified desolation and ruin. Reference


I was introduced to the idea of No-dig gardens years ago but thought little of it. Yesterday one of our allotmenteers drew my attention to Charles Dowding, an enthusiast and educator of many years standing. I am watching his video as I type. Definitely worth a look for anyone even mildly interested in gardening. I wrote off to him straight away, trusting my intuition as usual, and got a speedy reply inviting us around to his garden in South Somerset. We have an appointment next Monday 18th September.


Francoise wanted to go blackberry picking so I tagged along carrying a litter picker which is ideal for reaching blackberries just too far to stretch to. We like the old railway track cum cycle path from Radstock to Frome. During the weekdays there are not too many cyclists or runners. Cyclists tend to ride swiftly and many do not have bells so you have to keep your ears open because a step sideways at the wrong time could lead to a painful accident.

Francoise focusing on serious business
This tool reaches the parts that other beers cannot reach (Guinness ad?)
old rail tracks make me very nostalgic. I can still remember the smell of steam
a wagon caught in time
bogeys, detail
you can see the rain falling and track its progress
Incomprehensible logo – what on earth are these 12 hands doing under a bridge?


Off to the Old Down Inn, our favorite local watering hole. Like most establishments there are always new clientele popping in, most of whom are happy to exchange a word or two. No two nights are the same.

In comes a well tanned man and his attractive wife who announced with glee that they had come back this very day from Rhodes in Greece. This was their 12th visit. They had stayed at the same place for the last 8 years. ‘At 10 am this morning it was 37 degrees’ was something we did not want to hear. I commented that they would not really arrive for a couple of days and they should enjoy the ‘bubble of sunshine’ while they could.  I had a lovely lamb moussaka plus a pint of my usual cider and vowed to have a go at increasing my range of cooking main dishes.

It is part of the protocol on arriving to greet the parrot who normally responds with a ‘hello’. He is 14 and can live until 46 so he will outlive me.
I would certainly disagree with this slogan but I agree that we should not take ourselves too seriously.
Anthony Michael Bourdain (born June 25, 1956) is an American chef, author, and television personality. A Bon Viveur I guess.

When we left at 8pm the sky was black, almost threatening. Oh dear, autumn and then winter are round the corner. We discussed the need to buy logs. I want HEAT, SUN, LONG DAYS.


Don’t push the river, it flows by itself

Tuesday 13 September 1664

…and after dinner to Fishmonger’s Hall, where we met the first time upon the Fishery Committee, and many good things discoursed of concerning making of farthings, which was proposed as a way of raising money for this business, and then that of lotterys,1 but with great confusion; but I hope we shall fall into greater order.

I love this phrase ‘fall into greater order’. In modern parlance we could say that we have done our part as human beings, now is the turn of time and the processes of thoughts taking root in the minds of others to bring about a result acceptable to all not to mention the mysterious twists and turns of providence of which most of us are unaware.

“Dont push the river” was the catch phrase of the 60’s and 70’s. The phrase is attributed to Fritz Perls (1893-1970) who was a noted German-born psychiatrist and psychotherapist of Jewish descent. The phrase was the guiding principle to his work.

…..if someone in a group were working on a dream in which he was afraid of a river, he might be told, “Become the river” and encouraged to stand up and move around the room like the river, to feel how the river flows by itself. “There are no rules in Gestalt, only awareness,” Fritz might tell him. Anything you fear or resist out in the world is part of you and inside you, and becoming aware of its presence and vitality will free you from pushing and move you into flowing. Background here

Yesterday I gave an intuitive reading to a lady that I had only recently met in which I unwittingly touched on all the most important parts of her life that were holding her back from experiencing the next chapter of her life. It is most exciting when this process starts up especially when the reader or intuitive ‘does not know what he or she is talking about’ but it all makes sense to the client.

I rang her this morning to warn her that she will have mixed feelings because so many buttons were pressed but encouraged her to let things slip into place. When you give a reading you should try not to become part of it and say it was ‘your reading’ but only words that you were inspired to say.

The patient should be let go and not contacted to inquire of the success of the process. A seed will grow when the conditions are right. Sometimes a patient will remember advice given years before and will only then act on it.  It is not the business of the therapist to ‘push the river’ of the patient and expect results to happen. If you repair a car and the owner drives away, it is not your responsibility for any dereliction or event save if it is due to your bad repair work.


And now, back to the allotment which I run in Midsomer Norton

watching over the slugs
a carrot that cannot decide which way to grow
a vibrant feta and carrot salad with flowers included.


A brief clip about the moronic nature of the American psychology. People are praising North Korea’s successful launch of a nuclear missile.

This clip is disgusting. It shows how the USA economy is dependent upon war. If there is no actual enemy, they invent one to keep the war show on the road. So many thousands of jobs depend on bombing and shooting innocent people.
USA depends on 1. wars without end, 2. drugs – pharmaceutics and drug drugs e.g. marijuana 3. debt of countries tied up to ‘loans’ which have all sorts of terms and conditions attached.

Images images images – look out for the unusual


Monday 12 September 1664

…Thence by coach to St. James’s, and there did our business as usual with the Duke; and saw him with great pleasure play with his little girle, —[Afterwards Queen Mary II.]— like an ordinary private father of a child….

As someone said to me, everyone sits on the loo. We tend to glorify those in the public eye and sometimes are cruel and judgemental to them, not realising that they are human as well. I do not include known psychopaths who run the planet but ordinary Joes doing what they are best at.


So after yesterday’s mammoth writing spree (which I enjoyed) today its the turn of images. When I am walking out I am ALWAYS on the alert for images and form. I do not know why. It is not an intellectual thing. Some sad souls could call it sad but for me it is part of life.  Formless is boring. Structure is interesting.  I was on my way to a friend in Bath when I saw this in a garden – just having been freshly cut down.

what a feast of historical information is contained here

Now folks did you know that many flowers are EDIBLE. These below are nasturtiums and we grow them in great clumps on our allotment. They are delicious when eaten and have a touch of pepper flavour. I can eat a couple of dozen at one sitting and feel refreshed. No chemicals No after effects this is health food directly from nature. Can we cope. Try guys it might benefit you in some way you never know.

don’t get paranoid about eating flowers but check google for ‘edible plants’ first.



WTC7 – the jet stream – Thomas Merton – Eye appt. – Horror film IT

Sunday 11 September 1664

(Lord’s day). Up and to church in the best manner I have gone a good while, that is to say, with my wife, and her woman, Mercer, along with us, and Tom, my boy, waiting on us. A dull sermon….This afternoon, it seems, Sir J. Minnes fell sicke at church, and going down the gallery stairs fell down dead, but came to himself again and is pretty well.

No point in panicking and calling 999. The best you could do was to summon the doctor.

Just got another E-mail from, another factual website. This time the video was about Building Seven made on behalf of a group of over 1,500 architects and engineers who are dissatisfied with the explanation given by the NIST report mainly because it did not even mention Building 7 . This one fell down of its own accord about 8 hours after WTC1 and WTC2 because it was tired. So typical of reinforced steel structures. The vid is only 15 minutes in length and for those of you new to the subject, it is a good intro.


For the first time this year I needed to wear socks in bed. A sunny morning with rain forecast (surprise surprise) for later this afternoon. If the jet stream moves south we can forget hot weather even during the summer, sad to say. This afternoon, to my eye appointment. My offending eye, the wet macular in the left eye, has been behaving well so hopefully I will avoid having another injection. I put up with them for the greater good. (search on ‘macular’ for full descriptions).


nice to see an Indian women getting respect.

Quite a story for the women’s libbers. World’s youngest woman commander of Boeing 777. She made history when she accompanied by an all female Air India crew flew across the globe on International Womens’ Day 2017


A very un-monkish picture

To my delight I have found another diarist, Thomas Merton (1915-1968)  who was an American Catholic writer, theologian and mystic. Born in France, he became a Trappist monk in the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky and was a poet, paradoxically a social activist, and a student of comparative religion.

His entry on June 16, 1961 reads “Sweet afternoon! Cool breezes and a clear sky! This day will not come again. The bulls lie under the tree in the corner of their field. Quiet afternoon! The blue hills, the day lilies in the wind. This day will not come again”.

As you may know the Trappist order has a tradition of silence. Here are some quotes.

“In silence God ceases to be an object and becomes an experience”

“When I am liberated by silence, when I am no longer involved in the measurement of life, but in the living of it, I can discover a form of prayer in which there is effectively no distraction. My whole life becomes a prayer. My whole silence is full of prayer. The world of silence in which I am immersed contributes to my prayer.

“Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm”.

Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say”


humans from the bird’s point of view

Royal United Hospital Bath has an excellent display of paintings and other works. I have been speaking about the principles of photography and this is another point to bear in mind. Let’s look at a scene from another participants point of view, in this case, a predatory bird.

I ate at Jimmy‘s in Bath as is my wont. It is opposite the bus station on the first floor (second floor if you are from the USA). It was slightly spoiled by groups of students from France and South Korea who came in with scant respect, more or less looting the food and leaving large amounts of waste. I had three courses – mushroom soup, mixed salad of very good quality and fish to die for cooked in oyster sauce with rice. The sweets tend to be bulked up with chemicals so I decided to have my sweet course at the RUH hospital (as one does).

custard and apple pie

Some of my food habits have been ingrained in me since I was young. Rice pudding, custard and …. apple pie are the supreme sweets for me. When at school I used to sit at the head of the lunch table to ensure I got maximum dollop of custard. At the age of 73, nothing has changed.


I had to wait about two hours for my injection. Alas there is some water in one of the layers of my left eye, and a small bleed. This morning someone had come in for a cataract operation (simple enough these days) and had reacted with panic to a local injection so they had to have a general anesthetic which has a time consuming protocol. This put everyone back starting at the latter end of the morning list. Nothing for it  but to be good humoured. Once again this is offered free on the NHS,  a procedure that would cost about £1200 a shot done privately. I remind anyone who complains of this fact and it usually shuts them up.

There is a waiting room which doubles as a therapy and mutual consoling space for everyone – first timers, experienced people, those who drive the patients to their appointment. It is always light hearted and fun. It is a bit like hitch hiking. People know you are not going to see them again so they don’t mind giving their personal stories and secrets. One woman was lamenting that when she came to clear out the effects of her departed mother the only thing she could not find was the family album which in those days was treasured unlike today when photos are common. She became quite emotional about it but in a hospital that is OK.

It is quite easy to find grumpy old men or should I say curmudgeonly people of a certain age in any waiting room facility. I was talking about the deterioration of the language and listing my pat hates of the phrases ‘jermain’ (do you know what I mean), I’m like uh (I feel things), sort of (my absolute pet hate – you either do something or you do not do something. How can you ‘sort of’ do it?). The latter sounds like a built in apologia. “To be, or sort of not to be. That is the question”

I eventually was called in at 4.30pm (2.45 appointment). Normally there are two people – the doctor who gives the injection and the assistant who prepares the eye. In this case there were three people – a nurse, a doctor and a dashing Spanish doctor who welcomed me with great panache and charm. They made the mistake of asking me what I was going to do that evening. I replied that I was going to see the horror film by Stephen King, IT. The nurse  said she had seen an earlier version at the age of 10 and had nightmares for days. I said that this was a new version and I would report back.

With this gay banter in the background, having a needle stuck in your eye is a sideshow.


an exciting meeting

And so I jump on the bus which handily stops right outside the Odeon Bath. I am starting to photograph people as previously mentioned. As its a public place I don’t think you need permission.  Here is a dazzlingly exciting meeting between two people who obviously have lots in common. .

There is something that puts me off about these huge machines that dispense tickets.

monstrous machines

I have enough machines to deal with in my life never mind ‘fast’ ones so I chose instead to talk to a real human being at the sweet and popcorn counter that doubles as a ticket sales point. I made a joke about the difference between ‘It’, the name of the film,  and I.T. which she actually understood and smiled – non robotically. Huge number of brownie points for that.

I entered Screen 3 to find one other person there for a 5.30 show. The film took $117.2m on its first weekend in the USA so I guess Odeon took a gamble and are showing the film 10 times daily for the moment. Big mistake in my view.

I’m going to take a deep breath now and write about the grossest and most appalling film that comes under the banner of ‘entertainment’ (AKA brainwashing) albeit in the horror genre. Now dear readers I know it was not written for my age group, but…..

Summary of the film

  1. Every 27 years an evil influence AKA a clown invades a nondescript town in the USA and steals children for his own insatiable pleasure.
  2. The film starts with a young boy floating a small boat along a rain drenches street gutter. It floats down a drain. The clown is somehow in the drain and catches the boat.
  3. the boy wants it back but reaches too far into the cover wherupon the clown suddenly sprouts a lot of teeth, bites off the left arm of the boy and pulls him down into the extensive drainage system of the town. … many gore scenes later
  4. a group of teenagers take on the clown and in the final scene discover that if they are not afraid of him, he cannot harm them.

You may call this a spoiler but really there is very little to spoil. If special effects are overdone including very loud music and bangs it is seen for what it is, shock for the sake of shock. It is not ‘frightening’ but numbing we can say or even laughable.

The 5 or 6 teenagers who rode their bicycles around the town in pursuit of the clown all had the nastiest and most bullying parents you could imagine. One father was showing almost sexual designs on his daughter. The use of the F*** word was so frequent it bought an ugliness to the whole especially with boys whose voices have not yet broken. There is something about hearing children indeed anyone swear that is so unlovely. To the gullible young mind this is in a way permission to emulate that behaviour. There were also many nasty teenagers who delighted in victimising their fellows who did not fit in (programming to fit in or be a reject).

To an American audience already dumbed down by the ‘education’ system, anti depressant drugs, vaccines, unceasing violence on TV, ditto video games, trash main stream media ‘news’ and junk food, this is just another ingredient contributing to the destruction of humanness that we were born with. Stephen King’s adapted story many have gone down well in USA but from the bored look on the faces of the leaving audience (increased to 8 during the ads before the film) I doubt if it will do so well here in the UK.

I forgot about the impact of the film as soon as I was out of the movie house – into yet another rain shower. I think it was far too gross to be creepy. On to the 40 minute bus ride home….. Tired workers ending their shifts, staring at nothing ahead of them. The odd eccentric unemployed and maybe unemployable person. A single mother with a tired child in tow. Someone with lots of shopping bags from Primark. A young girl flicking through hundreds of images of other people grinning or doing silly things. Someone slumped sideways in their seat, sound asleep. Excited youngsters making a noise at the back of the bus.

Back to a warm home and a meal.  At least I have a home to go back to. Those in Bangladesh, Houston, parts of Florida and the Caribbean are not so lucky.

Adaption vs compromise vs selling your soul to the devil


Saturday 10 September 1664

….Dined at home, and then my wife and I and Mercer to the Duke’s house, and there saw “The Rivalls,” which is no excellent play, but good acting in it; especially Gosnell comes and sings and dances finely, but, for all that, fell out of the key, so that the musique could not play to her afterwards, and so did Harris also go out of the tune to agree with her…..

This quote inspires me to talk about adaption and compromise see below

Today Monday 11th September is paradise for me. It is teaming with rain so no gardening, I have no appointments and I am alone. Silence. Great for creativity.

We watched a film last night about  group of young people who were the objects of an experiment. Could they cope with being on their own for five days and nights. They were duly shut in rooms with basic necessities and three objects of choice. Cameras were rolling and a qualified psychologist was in attendance. Strangely no one chose a book to take with them.  It took 3h 45m for the first young lady to crack, and 24h for the second of five people -a young bearded man – to press the panic button. We are so dependent on stimulus from others in the form of text messaging for example that it has become like a drug. The two decampers could not manage the detox involved. I would have loved it. Presumably they got paid for their time.

My own mind is like a 24/7 entertainment show. I don’t need external stimulus though it helps of course. Whether I could cope with months of solitary confinement is another question – probably not but I would have thought five days is a piece of cake.

After watching a vid. on tsunamis (Japanese, equivalent to tsu (harbour) and nami (wave) I viewed the amazing Swedish vlogger and blogger PewDiePie who has such a surreal sense of humour. He could become addictive had I nothing better to do but on second thoughts too many profanities for my liking. Just imagine – he earns his living from monetization. He has 57 million followers greater than any leader of a political party except maybe Putin and Trumpet.

Next up, a visit to one of the many brilliant alternative sites Wake Up World, this time on ‘Seven Suppressed Technologies that could have changed the World’.  Its a real heart breaker to read.

Stanley Meyer – inventor

One is about Stanley Meyer (1940-1998) who invented a car that ran on water. He was able to drive from New York to Los Angles on 22 gallons of water. He turned down an offer of a billion dollars to hand over the rights and patents and later was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

We would not have all this nonsense about carbon credits had this simple invention been allowed to eclipse the petroleum industry and its profits.

Most of you have heard the name Nicola Tesla. His goal was to improve the world through harness of the natural energies but after his death the CIA stole all his papers and set to work using the technology for other more nefarious purposes.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) – Wardenclyffe Tower Project – Free Energy.

“Electric power is everywhere, present in unlimited quantities and can drive the world’s machinery without the need of coal, oil, gas or any other fuels.” — Nikola Tesla

Multi-talented Tesla cut across many disciplinary boundaries. His genius gave rise to a number of world-changing inventions. One of his most famous experiments/inventions was the Wardenclyffe Tower Project. It was Tesla’s attempt to provide everyone on the globe with free energy through harnessing electricity from the Earth’s ionosphere, by means of the towers. Without wires the towers could transmit the harnessed electricity to ground-level areas requiring it.

However, Tesla’s funding was stopped. His equipment and lab was burned down together with the related intellectual property because it posed a threat to undercutting the cost of the conventional electricity grid system. If Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower Project had been allowed to flourish and not be destroyed then today we could well be living in a utopia. Tesla died a poverty-stricken lonely and forgotten man in New York City.

Message – anyone who challenges the profits of the corporates be they in petroleum, pharmaceutical or power will be destroyed and probably killed. That’s the model of doing business in the USA. As Obama’s preacher once said ‘”God damn America”. Strong words from such a man. Did you know about ‘the’ sermon? It is too long to reproduce here so check it out.

Off to the allotment to find my carefully constructed runner bean row leaning at 45 degrees. Must be the resistance offered by the solid wall of leaves to fairly high winds, the aftermath of some hurricane or other trundling across the Atlantic. I pick a whole trug of them and return to base. Goodness knows what I am going to do with them. Freeze and eat I guess but they never taste the same.

Watched more videos – 9/11 will never go away. It was the biggest fake event with the possible exception of the Reichstag’s fire or Pearl Harbour but 9/11 beats the lot in terms of the application of technology. Just watched a good example vid. about wiring the buildings showing how explosives would have have been placed the previous weekend when by coincidence all video cameras were switched off. The video runs 18:53 so not long but very informative.

Cognitive dissonance prevents many people from believing that they have been conned all these years so The Powers That Be have an advantage here but strange isn’t it that 16 years after the event you can type in 9/11 to Google and get 6,470,000 returns. No controversy there then. As Joseph Goebbels said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

So I was thinking about adaption ( =  able to adapt. First recorded in 1790-1800). We all need to adapt to survive and make life reasonably pleasant for each other…. A book is adapted to make is more digestible….A play is adapted to make it available within certain time constraints…. A sophisticated person should be able to adapt to many situations including meeting different types of people.

So, this word is 100% non-pejorative. It cannot be used to accuse anyone of anything, or in derogatory context.

Adapting is a common natural way for people to adapt to their environment. Joe Barton

the man himself delivering wisdom

The best mother is the mother who adapts, and the best children are the children who adapt as well. Juliette Binoche

The more you adapt, the more interesting you are. Martha Stewart

Coming on now to compromise. (from the Latin compromissum, a mutual agreement to accept the decision of an arbiter) Not such a squeaky clean word. There is a lot about tactics here. She compromised herself…. We are not prepared to compromise on safety…. Eventually they reached a compromise…. Sexism should be tackled without compromise.
We accept something slightly different from what we want because of circumstances or out of consideration of the wishes of other people.

Tolerance, compromise, understanding, acceptance, patience – I want those all to be very sharp tools in my shed. CeeLo Green

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take. Mahatma Gandhi

Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got. Janis Joplin

We now enter different territory. There is a horrible problem with selling your soul. You cannot with ease buy it back again although you can try and mitigate the effects and consequences.

Judas Escariot accepted 30 pieces of silver (which sounded quite a bargain at the time) for revealing the identity of Jesus. He went against what he knew to be true for the sake of reward.

Doctor Faustus, a sinister magician and alchemist lived in Germany in the early 16th century. He offered the demon, Mephistopheles, his soul in exchange for 24 years in which he would

live in all voluptuousness
having the devil ‘ever attend’ to me
and give me whatsoever I shall ask.
To tell me whatsoever I demand.
To slay mine enemies,
and aid my friends
and always be obedient to my will.

Not asking much then but what happens after 24 years? Doctor Faustus thinks that ‘hell’s a fable’. Could be a big mistake on his part.

Here is a little sample from the Huffington Post about a Haitian lady called Carine Fabius who sold her soul to the devil. I find the description positively poetic.

Selling one’s soul isn’t something that happens once in a great while, when someone receives an extraordinary visitation from Satan himself, who comes to take advantage of some terrible mess that needs fixing. We may not realize it, but we sell our souls to the devil every day. Each time we undermine our principles — ka-ching! Whenever we lower our standards just a bar too low — ka-ching! Every time we smile instead of expressing how we really feel — ka-ching! Each time we look the other way — ka-ching! goes the cash register. And what about humiliation? Repeated acceptance of the big H — ka-ching! You know that catch phrase, “being in denial?” What do you think that really means? Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

Fact is, we sell off little bits of our souls every day. And since the devil takes many shapes and identities, we’re like scam artists who sell the same piece of land to different people. Problem is they all come collecting eventually. Whether we sell off little chunks of our souls or big chunks, doesn’t matter. It’s always at the below wholesale price. No matter how good the deal seems, you never get your money’s worth.

So can we unsell ourselves? While we are alive we have free will so with sufficient contrition the answer has to be yes. Unfortunately this may be more difficult than we might imagine as the years of selling may have diminished our will power so much that we lose the desire to re-form.

did you see the film this actor was in?

Evening – had supper consisting of runner beans and a vegetarian burger plus a few cold potatoes.  Completely adequate. I am listening to my Number One philosopher Noam Chomsky, one of the last great thinkers unswayed by corporate interests. Noam, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Michael Eavis are my models supreme.




What is photography – the idiocy of selfies


Friday 9 September 1664

After a difficult dinner party Pepys relaxes with his wife and family ‘singing and fiddling’

..and so back again home, and there my wife and Mercer and Tom and I sat till eleven at night, singing and fiddling, and a great joy it is to see me master of so much pleasure in my house, that it is and will be still, I hope, a constant pleasure to me to be at home. The girle plays pretty well upon the harpsicon, but only ordinary tunes, but hath a good hand; sings a little, but hath a good voyce and eare. My boy, a brave boy, sings finely, and is the most pleasant boy at present, while his ignorant boy’s tricks last, that ever I saw…

I have just watched a photographic competition on the ARTS channel, one place where you are almost guaranteed to view material of quality and depth. The contestants had to go home and film themselves without any firm brief.

The person who won the stage photographed their family including their parents and drew something new out of their relationship by their juxtaposition with a rugged mountainous landscape and the use of lighting. The least popular with the judges was of a female who went to great lengths to expose her inner self but was caught out by the judges for still wishing to hide from the camera. Other unpopular ones were simply boring – not saying anything. One of the judges said ” if you try to please everyone you will please no one “.
My question is – what can an image add to what is obvious.

Sad. who is she going to show it to. Who will be impressed? Why not focus on the view?

I do not know if the selfie habit has peaked but like High Fives, where people slap each other’s palms maybe in a bonding attempt to celebrate the most medial of achievements, I find the taking of selfies idiotic. The word idiotic comes from the word idiot, from idios ‘one’s own’. I see it as self centredness – the id being the self. The word “idi” meant “be deaf”, reference ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs approx 3,200 year ago.

But hey Mr Diarist don’t take the world too seriously. How could curmudgeonly people like myself possibly understand anything.

So can we get a definition of what photograph is? How about seeing a particular aspect of the world with all its variations and capturing it in such a way that others get the point. The photo has to say something. We almost need to get the image more real than reality. We need to capture the moment that communicates humanity and emotion.

I like these quotes

  • “Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
    Don McCullin
  • “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
    Paul Caponigro
  • “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  • “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

  • Dorothea Lange
  • “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.”
  • Annie Leibovitz
  • “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
    Imogen Cunningham

I am not saying that selfies are bad, they are just vacuous. If you are so sad and empty you have to show that you were with some person or another, or at some place or another, what does that achieve? Why not actually look at what you are photographing and think about what it says to you. Point and shoot adds nothing irrespective of the subject matter.

For my own part I am not quite brave enough to shoot people in public places but expressions and body language are very telling and add enormously to the depth of what I am trying to say. We need to engage emotionally. There is a way of doing it which involves pointing the camera in the right direction but holding it at chest height not at eye height so people don’t feel so invaded.

As my diary goes on you will see a new trend of photographs involving people. Sometimes I want them to be part of a photograph as in the case of someone walking across the shot with an umbrella in the rain but they often being English hold back and even apologise. They are not invading my space they are involved in it and that’s great.

Watch this space

Such an unexpected afternoon of delights part two


See previous entries for today.

So, on in the pouring rain with lovely blue sky beyond. We stopped at Batcombe, which comes from Saxon and means ‘Bat’s Valley’.  Nearby is an iron age fort which possibly dates back to the Bronze Age.  We entered the porch to find a locked door, an empty church without even a sign of the Ride and Stride day advertised on the leaflet. We were subsequently told that bad attendance in previous years i.e. no one turning up, had dampened the enthusiasm of the volunteers somewhat. Totally understood.

Not to be deterred we started on what was to prove the most interesting part of our quest. We arrived at Upton Noble which has a beer festival once a year. The village itself has quite a history  which you can read about at your further leisure.

In the porch we were greeted by a lady reading a book. She explained that the church itself had to be locked due to building work, and this happened too late to tell the printers of the leaflet. Never mind. We chatted on and I soon detected having been married once to a German woman that she was speaking High German (Hochdeutsche Mundarten), one used by intellectuals and cultured people. She came from an area known as the Ruhrpot (Ruhrgebiet) and was practicing as a lawyer before moving to UK after many years living in various spots in the world with her husband.

Susanna Deverell now works as a relationship therapist having previously worked for Relate for many years. I find her website most refreshing and original, very much a breath of fresh air. Anyone who is remotely interested in therapies of any kind should visit the site for a model in creativity. She is ‘out of the box’ not reactively but pro-actively with plenty of pepper and salt. Love it.

She discussed how she does not take sides but helps people to move forward and self empower, possibly from an enhanced sense of self recognition and self worth.  I discussed my own work with chakras and dowsing and mentioned its analytic and catalytic value. Francoise my wife discussed her skill of EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique. We both discussed the rewards of inviting people into our home and the desire to do this professionally more often.

How to communicate abstract ideas with Somerset people who may be fixed in their ways or limited in their perspectives? I suggested that we base a lecture on story telling, a device used at our mother’s knee.

Church of St Mary Witham

Off again to our last church before the 4pm deadline, the Church of St . Mary, Witham Friary. This is a Grade 1 building, 1200   The french influences on this church were legion but mostly lost on me.  It was used by monks at the nearby Friary and has something to do with their being no separation between the nave and the altar.

close-up of Bell Tower

The learned historian who was attending did his best with our very general questions. We contented ourselves with buying an historical guide book and some marmalade. My wife loves home made marmalade and will never refuse a decent offer.

On the way we passed a pub called the Seymour Arms which looked old fashioned to put it mildly. It was here where we had the climactic experience of the afternoon, as if the previous encounters had been less than satisfying. It’s worth noting that “this pub has probably changed very little over the last fifty or so years. Built in the 1860’s as a hotel to serve the nearby Mid-Somerset GWR branch railway station, it was part of the Duke of Somerset’s estate. Sadly, in the 1960’s, Mr Beeching closed the station, and the hotel became a quiet country pub”. Err not exactly quiet as any loud conversation and laughter echos around the stone walls so much so that you have to shout to be heard during busy times.

A quote from Trip Advisor

“This is a pub where time has stood still. We went in search of Somerset Cider and were recommended this pub….There is no food served but you can bring your own. There is an extensive garden with a BBQ. The inside of the pub is really quite something and reminds of many Irish Village pubs 30 years ago. There are a range of real ales and cider. Prices are very good value for the cider. Definitely a place to visit for a Sunday lunch time drink with a picnic”.

front of pub, summer

We entered and were immediately involved in a conversation with a very extrovert landowner type complete with Berber jacket. One person was ranting on about not separating from the European Union. He seemed an interesting chap so we struck up a conversation. We talked of politics, the BBC which we both mistrusted and then spoke of South Africa.

how we miss South Africa

We unbeknown to this chap, Peter, had been to SA many times so shared many stories about the working temperament of the local workers, President Zuma and the Gypta Brothers and the fact that we both missed being there. He worked there and met and married an Afrikaans wife. Well – that did it. Off we went and I further found out that he was a Samuel Pepys fan and had read all nine volumes of his diary.

I noted that there were no opening hours listed anywhere so maybe such formalities are not enforced especially with a Free House.  However I discover the ‘official’ hours which are 11-3, 6-11 M-F, 11-4, 6-11 Sat, 12-11 Sun.  The pub has been in the same family for generations. I enclose a picture which does not do justice to the primitive nature of the establishment. As for prices, I did not object to paying £2.20 for a pint of local cider.

Rural Ireland plain and simple

So, off home after four of the most entertaining hours I can remember for some time. Just when I thought it could not get better, it did.

And now to trying to remember it all.

Such an unexpected afternoon of delights part one


You need to have read today’s previous installment to understand the context. …We obtained a leaflet inviting us to tour round some old churches – average ‘age’- 600 years. What could be more boring than that. Little did we know who we would bump in to.

Ctrl and + as necessary to view detail

Martin Buber (1878-1965) was a Jewish philosopher, theologian, story-teller, and teacher who said ‘all real living is meeting’. We could also say “Openness to life is at the centre of true development”. There is no true development without this openness to life. This was from a brief speech by Holy Father Francis which is worth a read. The implication of this message is all the more stark if you consider its opposite.

As readers will know I find no inhibition when it comes to meeting ‘strangers’  i.e. friends that you did not know you had. So off we go with our trusty GPS. First port of call is Stoke St. Michael.  It contains an excellent pub, the Knatchbull Arms (BA3 5JJ), where all sorts of secret meetings took place in the  second World War.  For some reason it changes owners quite regularly possibly due to an excellent gastro pub about 3 miles away. You don’t make money on beer sales from half a dozen locals propping up the bar on a Tuesday lunch time.

the nave

However, enough of this gay banter. The focus this time is the Anglican Church of St Michael, a Grade 2 listed building, and we entered expecting to find flower displays. Instead there were two jolly people, husband and wife, and a table of tea, coffee, cakes and rolls no doubt provided at personal expense. The lady had lived in the area all her life, the husband had been born in Frome and whilst away in the RAF his wife developed formidable qualities of independence. We had some good humoured banter including gossip about the local pub (above). We talked only briefly about the architecture surrounding us. I am not a ‘history’ person and failed my history ‘O’ levels at school mainly because I returned an empty exam paper, having spent the time revising for my chemistry exam. I do sometimes buy a guide book but I must admit it is an uphill task to fix it in my mind.

This sign really means it

We also had a joke about the areas most infamous lane, one that takes naive GPS owners to the car repair shop. I was caught myself when coming from giving a quote for a garden job. The bend went on and on. My wife had to get out and minutely direct me inch by inch backward and forward. I wondered why a local man stopped to watch, grinning the while. Obviously not the first time this had happened. Mind you, Volvo estates are not the shortest cars in the world so I must not complain.

St Bartholomew Church Cranmore

With threatening clouds scudding over the sky, on to Cranmore. One of the best indicators of a lively village is its web site and this one is no exception but alas not all pages have been kept up to date. This is normally because the volunteer webmaster has become overloaded with work. We dashed from the car due to a rain shower. As we approached the church door we heard the sound of the organ, always guaranteed to warm the cockles (ventricles) of my heart. This old fashioned phrase means to ‘warm and gratify ones deepest feelings’. Of all instruments my personal gratifiers are the organ as number 1 closely followed by the piano ‘coming in at number 2’ as they say. On a good day, the violin is number 3.

I have never been able to photograph stained glass to show its full features.

We met a lady who was obviously an academic and an intellectual who showed us around. This church was full of flower displays in preparation for the Harvest Service which was due to happen the following day. First she directed me to the end of the nave and the famous stained glass in remarkably good condition. I guess this is partly due to the lack of chemicals from cars and industry.


Evidently an attempt was made to break the record. In order to do so there must be no mistakes but alas after 2h 30m one unfortunate soul made an error. Result – everyone went off to the pub to drown their sorrows. As you will see below the displays reflected the Harvest.

a festival basket
utilitarian approach
all from the garden
the altar
a transcendent piece of art. Brilliant.

We left with the sound of the toccata from Widor’s fifth organ symphony being rehearsed enthusiastically. This work does require resonance in the building in which it is played and is well nigh impossible to do justice to  on a small three keyboard organ with zero echo but hey its the spirit that counts.

Just watching a vid. where an organ is used with a 128′ stop. Someone writes “When people win the lottery they’re all like “I’ll pay my debts, buy a house and an Aston Martin!” Screw that. If I win the lottery I’m having a full range organ built into my house and I’ll only ever play it with ALL the stops open. I will level cities with my music!”   Nice one, bro



Making a difference – Chilcompton Flower Festival – a surprise


Thursday 8 September 1664

 …My wife this afternoon being very well dressed by her new woman, Mary Mercer, a decayed merchant’s daughter that our Will helps us to, did go to the christening of Mrs. Mills, the parson’s wife’s child, where she never was before

What a luxury to have a dresser. I recall that Selfridges in London had a fashion adviser who would without obligation give advice about colour, style etc. This service has I believe been discontinued mainly because the customers thanked the dresser for her help and then went off and bought the same garments on the Internet.

Anyway, today Saturday 9th September 2017 is from my observations over the years the day that autumn begins. Goodbye to the possibility of hot sunny days (I recall that we had five of them this summer) and now we can expect fresh cool mornings, dew on the ground, and autumn leaves. Meanwhile, hurricanes are lining themselves up to batter small defenseless islands prior to visiting Southern Florida. We should be grateful for small mercies.


the offending roots

V is a more senior lady who lives two doors from us. She came to ask me to help as a gardener when roots by the fence became too much for her to handle. I said I would help and refused payment saying that we do not charge neighbors. We showed up this morning and pulled out the very reluctant roots plus another uprooting. It took all of 10 minutes. However for her it was a major matter and was about losing the ability to control your environment. This induces a feeling of helplessness which was keenly felt by our widow. She was grateful enough to bring a bottle of wine around to thank us.  Tip to those of you who are asked to do something ‘small’ – it is not small to the person who asks.


I had seen an advertisement for  ‘Heritage trail’, a trip around a dozen or so East Mendip Churches headlined ‘Ride and Stride’.    I also saw an ad for a Flower Festival at St. Johns Chilcompton. I mistakenly concatenated them, thinking that all the churches would have flowers so I decided to go. Thank goodness I followed by intuition. We had a feast of meetings during this ‘shower and shine’ September Saturday. Now prepare yourself for a feast of flowers on the theme of church Hymns. Don’t forget to hit Ctrl and + at the same time, repeating as necessary, to enlarge the images.

I love the piano keys on the cushion
text of song
a psalm I forget which
In the bleak mid Winter (carol)
the decorated font
My lighthouse
The Manger
And did those feet..
The old rugged cross

I have seldom seen such a concentration of love and caring in pieces that must have taken months of painstaking work – to conceptualize, to select the materials, to assemble the structure and finally to select the flowers that would be in full bloom at the same time.

Anyway we then started on our trail, which I will recount in the next part of my diary. I could never in my wildest dreams written such a scenario for sheer delight in conversations relevant to ourselves and those we met.

to follow…