signs of living in the country


People coming from big cities should understand that the way of communication is different in the country. I know it’s an obvious thing to say but word-of-mouth is the way it’s done and the smaller the town or village, the more important word-of-mouth is.

I did a little tour today because I had a meeting to give advice to a man who had taken over the running of some allotments in Stoke St Michael. Four out of 12 plots were covered in docks and other weeds to the height of about 4 feet. We had a discussion on what to do and I suggested cutting them down to ground level. The clay ground made digging far too difficult. I then suggested running a cultivator over it, waiting for the inevitable weeds to grow and digging them up. When I got home, my wife suggested that the ground be soaked, covered with a tarpaulin for a couple of days making the ground easier to dig.

It is pretty much guaranteed that in the local pub, everyone knows everybody else. I remember going in there once and every single head turned round to see who it was.

a small cinema club has been started by a young couple who just moved into the village.It is run a shoestring. They need about 20 people to break even. Hire of the village hall costs about four pounds an hour and there are licensing fees to pay

I then moved onto Mells for an excellent lunch at my favourite post office come grocery shop, bakery come cafe. All the adverts are much more personal. You are very unlikely to get taken advantage of. This is something the newcomer finds it difficult to understand.

picture of Mells in the 18th-century exhibited in the cafe.


this is what the community is all about. in case you can’t read the detail, the phone number is (01373) 812804 and the e-mail is info @
in my experience, the more untidy, the more worthwhile the read
what a lovely leaflet

You do find an element of gossip but most of it is harmless. It is also mixed in with very interesting and relevant information, warnings, useful pointers so don’t dismiss it all.

I would say definitely do not speak ill of anyone without knowing who you are talking to. You may be speaking to their best friend, business colleague or fellow committee member. Again, you might think that is a completely obvious point, but things have a habit of bouncing back on you and the rejection will be subtle but it will be there. Thank goodness that has not happened to us and I hope it never does.





When is a bargain not a bargain – my beloved Lidl disappoints


Saturday 2 July 1664 Pepys diary here

To say that I’m a fan of Lidl, or ‘Lidlers’ as we are collectively dubbed is an understatement. I cannot resist going along every Monday and Thursday to see what special offers pertain. The people who order must be mind readers because as soon as my old item wears out, lo! and behold there is a replacement.

Last week there was a particularly tempting ad. for those wonderful four in one garden tools that do everything except make tea. Strimmer, brush cutter, chainsaw, hedge cutter all for £129.  What’s a chap supposed to do? Anyway I bought it and I did notice that when I took it home it was very heavy. It took me about 20 min to assemble it. The problems came when I tried to lift it. It was almost impossible to lift. Admittedly you have shoulder straps and a leather protector which hangs down on the right side of the body by the hip but as I am left-handed and have very little power in my right arm that is well nigh useless. This morning Monday I have already started to pack it up again so what happened with the normally immaculate ordering process? No one thought about the weight.

The specifications are immaculate and the build of good quality as you would expect of the German importer even though it is basically Florabest which I think is Chinese. A chain is as strong as the weakest link so off I go to get a refund. Lidl are most reasonable with refunds so I do buy from them with confidence although I confess that I have bought one of two things I don’t really need because they look so tempting.

Later… went to return the item. The chap at the cash desk was a quiet intellectual type but wanted to know what the problem was not because he was questioning my refund but simply for his information. I told him that it didn’t work for left-handed people and that I was not built like an ox so could not actually lift it with comfort never mind raise the end of the  hedge cutter 2 1/2 m above my head.  I have put it on my scales to find the weight in use would be 86 kg. Hard to believe that that’s what it said.

Last night, I wrote a long letter to a Gardening customer of mine who works for a Christian charity that does wonderful work. She is in charge of fundraising. I saw the website and I knew that it had been designed by an amateur. Sometimes I cannot help myself and I went through the whole site point by point and indicated ways that the site could be more effective. The problem is that when people create sites they only show them to their friends, and sympathetic people, who will praise the site saying how wonderful it is. What you should really do it is to show the site to someone who doesn’t know one charity from another. Their input is much more valuable.  By the way, before sending her the report I did ask whether she wanted feedback on the site and she said yes. That is always a better idea than sending a bombshell out of the blue.

Bitterness and anger


1st July 1664 Pepys Diary

…By and by comes Dr. Burnett, who assures me that I have an ulcer either in the kidneys or bladder, for my water, which he saw yesterday, he is sure the sediment is not slime gathered by heat, but is a direct pusse. He did write me down some direction what to do for it, but not with the satisfaction I expected.

I’m amazed how phlegmatic people of this age appear to be about bodily dysfunction. I suppose if everyone suffers in the same way it is nothing unusual. also, if you feel the doctor doesn’t really know what to do I suppose you just put up with it because you have no choice. The life expectancy was only about 35 years but more because of infant and child mortality than anything. the use of averages muscular force impression. I suspect that once you reach the age of 10 the life expectancy will increase significantly. In the 18 hundredths it had increased to 58 years. So, the large number of infant deaths skew the whole thing.

I continue to listen to the graphical stories of the people involved in the  Grenfell tower blaze nearly 3 weeks ago now. the attitude of the Kensington and Chelsea Council is beyond contemptible. There was no plan of any sort and people had to rely on volunteers for assistance. A couple of days ago the housing chairman resigned. He should have been kicked out by the government but they are tarnished with the same  brush, greed, and disrespect for the  non-earners of population. Someone said that only respect those who earn money for the country.

Now we find that the public enquiry will be limited to the events of that particular day and not the circumstances that led to it and there is talk of the residents boycotting any such enquiry on the grounds that it does not deal with the real issues. I guarantee here and now that no one will be prosecuted, that it will be shoved under the carpet, and that it will take a long time whatever happens

A Muslim testifier said something very touching. He said his soul was caught in the building. Insofar as we do not deal with past matters, I suppose our soul field or consciousness is fractured and we are in a way the walking wounded. I think it really does pay in terms of peace of mind to face something, traumatic or otherwise, deal with it and try to understand it as much as we can, forgive anyone needs forgiving, refocus your mind elsewhere. This is one of these advices that is much easier to give than receive but nursing bitterness does eventually rocked the sole in my observation anyway and you can meet people who are bitter about something  that happened 20 or 30 years ago. Their own life is being made a misery, they have not been able to be happy, and nobody wins. A bitter person exudes an aura which is fundamentally unattractive to others and only attracts those who are also equally bitter. The same principle applies to those who have been divorced and have not forgiven their partner. They bump into someone else and amazingly  that person has exactly the same problem so it is not a marriage of souls but the marriage of sorrows.

Let’s be happy and give thanks


Wedmore – one of the most expensive villages in UK


A Saturday in July means that there are at least half a dozen fayres, festivals, fetes, flower festivals, you name it it’s happening probably all at the same time so there’s no chance of attending them all.

We eventually decided on Wedmore little realising what a beautiful village it was. Due to its historical unspoilt nature and its proximity to the M5 motorway, property values here are sky high. The average property value is according to Zoopla > fanfare of trumpets < £535,816 which is a slight fall of 1% from its highest level. See the website for an indication of its vibrancy. 

Anyway, we didn’t go for these reasons but for the fact that there was a street fayre starting at 10:30 AM and finishing at 4 PM. We arrived about 2 PM, better late than never.

The only problem with going to really small fayres is their predictability. You will get the obligatory tea and cake stall, face painting, one or two boot sale type stalls, local painters, maybe local pottery if you’re lucky, someone selling antique garden tools, ice cream, one of two bits of entertainment for children, a beer tent and some competitive racing. That can become a bit boring.

Wedmore is very well heeled and they actually have an arts festival. As the publicity says “Exceptional arts in a village setting”. If you look at the programme via the link above it is wildly optimistic compared with the population of 3 1/2 thousand people. The reason is that there is enough available intellectual mind power combined with enough disposable income to enable people to think about things other than mere survival. The festival is one of the fruits of this.

the lady that we were talking to had the most amazing blue nail varnish and showed us a cup she had bought about friendship. It says “a friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the nicest things you can be”.  Well said

We went and ordered tea and cake and sat down at one of the tables next to a delightful couple from Swanage. We have an interesting phrase in England saying “you fall into a conversation”. The term “fall” implies an element of synchronicity and lack of any expectation as in “I met a complete stranger and we fell into conversation”.  The wife was in the National Health Service working in a doctors surgery and due to retire in two years time. “I’m looking forward to it”. The husband had had various managerial jobs and was now retired. I told her about my job as Patient Representative for the Bristol group of hospitals and said how difficult it was to get any change going irrespective of how good the idea was. She said that she had seen a number of changes over the years and they were not for the good.

They started clearing the tables around us or should I say removing the chairs and tables so this was a subtle hint to leave but we could have happily chatted away for another hour or so with people with whom we were obviously on the same wavelength. Being on the same wavelength means you don’t have to explain anything and the other person is likely to understand and grasp what you’re talking about slightly before the words are even out of your mouth. Maybe there was a time when we did not need to speak to all; it was all done through empathy, who knows.

Anyway, the rest of this diary consists of pictures I made on what was a delightful summer Saturday afternoon.

There are obviously tight building regulations. This is a miniature cafe with a charcuterie . Very posh my dear.
if I loved spotted dogs I would buy this full-scale model
In the morning, this stallholder had put a sign saying “good morning peasants”. she changed it to the sign you see “one does love a street fair” she changed it for fear of offending people but I think the original was much more apposite.
look carefully at this picture. The woman on the left has nothing to prove and she is really interested in listening to the chap who is talking. He is dressed as a pirate because the theme of the day was Pirates at least as the fancy dress competition was concerned. Being listened to without being judged is one of the most therapeutic actions you can ever imagine. Listening cannot be faked so don’t try.
plant stalls in this area always consist of very healthy plants ready for a new home
even a sidewalk and shopping alley is advertised with panache
We reluctantly left the village and drove to the Somerset Levels and we spotted this jam, marmalade and chutney stall on the side of the road with an honesty box



walking safely in the street, beggars

Pepys’ Diary, click for full version

Thursday 30 June 1664

…Walked back from Woolwich to Greenwich all alone, save a man that had a cudgell in his hand, and, though he told me he laboured in the King’s yarde, and many other good arguments that he is an honest man, yet, God forgive me! I did doubt he might knock me on the head behind with his club. But I got safe home…

Whenever we go out we like to think that we can walk around safely without being attacked or accosted. I realise that things are different for men than for women, for young or for old but for everybody there is a certain degree of risk which I would like to briefly discuss.

First off, I think you were asking for trouble if you go along the street listening to your headset and obviously lost in music. These people are oblivious of their surroundings and are easy to sneak up on and grab something from.

Secondly there is a pretty good telepathic aspect of the mind that can see ahead. I always do this with my journeys, stepping out of space and time so to speak, which is an ability that we can all use if we choose to. If I feel uneasy about something in advance I always take notice of it and for all I know save myself a lot of trouble. I do this when deciding which route to take in a car journey.

When we are in the street or anywhere we are in the public realm and as it says in the Good Book “we are all members one of another”. My interpretation is that if we see someone in trouble or about to be in trouble we should not pass by on the other side but at least offer our help.

In specific terms when going out at night, I avoid groups of people especially when loud noises are coming from the direction because it means they are not fully in control of themselves although under normal circumstances they may be very nice people. Resorting to either defensive or aggressive violence either by you or by someone else can leave a stain that can last for weeks and months or years and they should be avoided at all costs. There is no point in confronting a drunk or drugged person and using rationality. It is a complete waste of time because that rational part of the brain is closed off.

There are more subtle assaults, people begging, as Pepys found. I wish it could be said that the money goes to good purposes but more likely it is for funding a drug habit. What really annoys me is that the beggars particularly in trains who say “sorry to disturb you”. If they were that sorry they wouldn’t have disturbed us in the first place.

The Big Issue is certainly one big step up from begging. Well done John Bird for starting this initiative. He is one of the few rough diamonds that I really like and I forgive any type of swearing because that’s who he is and he gets his point across. I remember a time when the Big Issue was £0.60 and now I think it’s something over two pounds.

Other people busk for a living and this has become partially institutionalised on the subways where people even get a little circle drawn out in paint where they ply their trade. I think the idea was obtained from America. These are the only groups of people that I will give money to and gladly so because they are giving something in return.

If you go to Trafalgar Square in London you will see apparent statues posing in impossible positions but yes they are human beings and a collection hat is conveniently situated in front of them. I regard this as performance art of some value and I will also give here.

I do not give money to people who say that they are homeless because I have read stories of people who are not homeless who come into the West End of London example to beg. I believe begging has been banned in Bristol. whilst in Bristol ,I saw someone lying on the street. It took only a few minutes for the CTV’s pick them up and two people came along telling them very politely to move along.

My overall policy of being in public places is to see everybody as a potential friend – or temporary companion we can say – and pass the time of day with them, make some inane comments about the weather, just to make the machinery of human interaction a little bit more human. I believe that if you are friendly to someone it is far less likely that you will suffer any sort of assault on your personal space.

We were robbed once in Barcelona. Francoise had her passport stolen by a real professional. Barcelona and Rome are two of the biggest pocketing capitals of the world. The culprits are normally Romanians. My advice in traveling in foreign cities is that you will stand out a mile even though you don’t think you will. You should carry the minimum that you need. It may be that your passport is safer off back at the hotel but if you need to carry it, do so in a zipped inner pocket. Also, looking at maps especially if they are upside down is a dead giveaway.

Hesitating about asking for advice


Tuesday 28 June 1664

Read the full diary entry by clicking on the date above

…Thence to the Mitre and there comes Dr. Burnett to us and Mr. Maes, but the meeting was chiefly to bring the Doctor and me together, and there I began to have his advice about my disease, and then invited him to my house: and I am resolved to put myself into his hands…

My thoughts to myself as well as to anyone else about hesitating to ask for advice……

First, let us start on the giving end.  Unsolicited advice can be inappropriate as the enclosed card indicates. Unless using the most bland and general terms, you may have got your timing terribly wrong when trying to help someone. Possibly a good start is to ask how they feel and actually LISTEN to them without interrupting. A pause of five seconds does not mean you have to fill it. It means the person is thinking of the next thing to say. They do not need interruptions or prompts. If they don’t trust you enough to talk to you about intimate things then your advice is a waste of time anyway. Tread carefully.

So, let’s get down  to the question of getting advice. First, you have to acknowledge that a) there is a problem and b) you actually need advice and this can take years. Pride, stubbornness and all that – you know the rest.

The obvious place which most people do not think of is the Internet itself. Whatever problems you have had of whatever sort, someone else will have written about them. “why does the crust of my bread break off from the rest when I bake it”.  “how to fell a tree” “why is my computer so slow”. My wife often asks me questions about her computer and I say to her, write the question as you have asked it to me and you will find that someone somewhere has had that experience and got the answer. She has yet to be disappointed. Google is very good at making sense of queries

However, on a face-to-face level, it can be more difficult or awkward. If we confide in a friend about something, you will be surprised how often they guessed that there was a problem and you were just confirming to them what they felt anyway. There is the saying, ‘you can’t fool all the people all the time’.

There is good old-fashioned pride but you may find that your friends may actually think more of you for your sharing because it shows you trust them which may lead to a deepening of the relationship.

I had to ask the question, are your friends trustworthy? They are probably not trustworthy if they gossip about other people in your hearing.

mobius strip. It only has one side which goes on ad infinitum.

Ignorance is nothing to be ashamed of, as is not knowing what to do next. Sometimes we only know what we believe in the act of telling someone else about our problem otherwise the situation can go round and round in our head and get nowhere.

Sometimes we are worried about something when we do not need to be worried. I have covered finance in an earlier diary but what if we were worrying about something based on a misunderstanding or false assumption?

Sometimes we worry about something when in fact time alone will heal for example I worry about someone turning up when they said they will, or “what do I do if…”  Probably the best thing to do is to think of something else and make sure your arrangements were clear in the first place.

If the subject is too sensitive or personal to raise directly, why not discuss the subject in general and then lead the conversation towards the desired question in general terms and not personal terms. You never know, the person who is listening to you may have had just the same problem.  You are never the first person in the world to have the problem whatever it is.

For example I was anxious about setting up a payment for a fairly substantial amount of money and worried that the money would somehow go astray in the banking system. I rang up and talked to the administrator and they suggested that I send a trial amount. They would then confirm by telephone that the amount had arrived and I would then be more confident in sending the balance. I did not need to explain why I was anxious. Apparently this is a very common source of anxiety and the lady who I spoke to had encountered this with clients many times. I was able to solve the problem by confronting it and telling someone about it.

Some people keep themselves in an anxiety state for years when they need not have done. This delay would seem an unnecessary waste of energy.

I realise I have not mentioned problems at work and in this case it’s probably a more difficult decision to decide whom to call. It properly makes sense to allocate someone of complete discretion who is somewhat removed from line management.

evening – a visit to a most unusual garden in Holcombe where I’m sure fairies, nymphs and elves would be very comfortable.

a lovely swinging chair which is a good alternative to pacing around in my view
this is in fact a conservatory where we gathered for coffee and drinks which also accommodated a large living vine.



A rainy day – watching videos


Monday 27 June 1664

Click above to read Pepys brief entry (business meetings)

There are so many videos I would like to watch but there is scarcely time to do so never mind live a normal life and earn a living. There’s about 20 hours of catch up TV on my Sky box. Anything on the commercial channels I record so I can flip through the dreadful advertisements which often have nothing to do with the spirit of the program. I’m sick of seeing adverts for cars, sofas, cleaning fluids, PPI insurance, and it actually spoils my evening.

Last night I watched two or three Youtube videos about 911. It is interesting that as the years go on, the number of 911 videos increase because more and more evidence is coming up about the fakery of the whole thing. Just type in 911 in Google and you will get no less than 274 million results. One was from an experienced ex-pilot saying that it would be impossible for the plane to fly into the towers at such a speed at such a low altitude where the air is denser. He said the engines would have to have been six times as powerful. He also said that no plane hit the Pentagon because where as the cockpit is made of plexiglass, it is the two heavy engines that would have made two separate holes as opposed to the 16 foot wide circular hole that was seen and also that there were no remains of the plane within the building.

extra ordinary cascade, river like, upward and outward motion from a building that is just supposed to be falling down

I watched another video about Dr Judy Wood who points out that 95% of the World Trade Center one and two buildings did not actually hit the ground but dissolved into dust as did the vast majority of the metal furniture and the steel girders. This clearly points to a high energy effect of some sort, powerful enough to reduce the Earth’s magnetic field in the vicinity at the same time. If the public were told this however they would not entertain it because such was the shock of the event that I believe people’s minds were actually raped or interfered with.

The term “Conspiracy Theory” was developed by a government agency at the time of the Kennedy assassination to ridicule those who actually dared to think for themselves. All I would ever say that anyone is “do your own research and make up your own mind”

I visited yet another garden where the need was to cut hedges, and what hedges they were extending for about 100 m. At one end of the garden the man had some bamboos. There are bamboos and bamboos. Some are predatory and some sit nicely in a little bundle minding their own business. Trouble is that some of them spread underground, not so stealthily as Japanese knot weed but bad enough and we noticed that this customer had in his garden single spikes of bamboo that were popping up in the middle of the lawn. If anyone has tried to dig up bamboos they will know that under the surface you get a solid mass a bit like a huge ball which almost needs a mechanical excavator to be removed. My advice would be to never plant bamboo unless you assure yourself of the genre or you contain them in large tubs.

Noam Chomsky. Polymath and astute philosopher and commentator.

Back to politics again. The best reality check I can think of is listening to the videos on Youtube of Noam Chomsky. He has a brilliant intellectual mind and has no fear in explaining the world as it is versus how it is presented to us by the pathetic mainstream media.  have a look at him talking about ISIS. CNN has been ridiculed I’m glad to say because it’s junk news has been shown to be exactly that. There is not much that the CIA can do about Chomsky because he’s so popular but they will be quite glad as will the corporations when he finally ascends into the heavenly realms or wherever it is going. Fortunately, his legacy is substantial and if and when America returned to its senses his unravelling of the lies will be relied upon.

I went to give a quote this evening for a gardening job by a delightful chap called Raj whose wife is a domestic airline steward. I explained exactly what I would do to his garden in terms of giving it a short back and sides. I gave him what I thought was a very modest quote for doing the work and taking away the spoil, £225. He then said to me that  a year ago someone else came to do the job  for £100 which they did not find satisfactory and which was done mainly with the chainsaw. I groaned inwardly. When I work, I have at least four different types of saws to address the types of wood and what is required to be done to the branches. These merchants give gardening a bad name. There is nothing I can do about it. Unfortunately as we have seen there are so many people who have no idea about the realities of running a business. Anyway, he said he would ask his wife so when I returned home I wrote a confirmatory e-mail. I may or may not hear from him again.


Difficult customers


Sunday 26 June 1664

Click above to read the diary. Mostly about Pepys enjoying himself – a thunderstorm – medical attitudes.

Any trader will have a mixture of good, bad, and indifferent customers. I’ve had a couple in the last 24 hours. The first one was a charming and delightful couple, a potter and a musician who welcomed us warmly and gave us a cup of tea and told us what was required. there are a number of things that customers do not think of and one of them is access. If you’re going to take large amounts of greenery or brick or wood through a small cottage the likelihood is that you will bang something. We were asked to cut a hedge in the front garden, that’s fair enough, but the back garden with an equal amount of spoil had no exit apart from a small gate leading to a very narrow path leading to a lane leading to the road. This would have tripled the time on the job due to dragging stuff backwards and forwards.

The customer does not see this as ‘work’, it’s not actually the cutting down of trees but clearing is just as important and the working conditions can often double the cost. I’m looking at another job which takes place on four levels which can only be reached via 12 narrow steps. the chances of having an accident are markedly increased and therefore we have to go slower. I’m going to charge three times what I normally charge if the job was on level ground and had easy access to a removal vehicle.

The first couple when told what the bill would be accepted it with enthusiasm but then rang me back to say they had been a little bit overwhelmed and could not afford even the lower price I gave them. It is very difficult to tell whether someone has the money to pay you and you don’t want to be suspicious of everyone and demand money in advance, although I know some people do for example lawyers or solicitors who will demand £5000 down payment in any commercial matter. But I don’t want to get like this, I would rather trust everyone.

Some people have never had a quotes before and have no idea what to expect and think back to a time when £10 an hour was a reasonable wage for cash in hand or as they think is cash in hand. anyway I realise that after paying their mortgage, this lovely young couple didn’t have two pennies to rub together and called us as a crie do coeur  because the uncle who usually did the hedges was not immediately available. There is no way that I can think of to determine in advance whether someone has the money to pay. The only precaution I can think of is to tell people that it will not be less than say £300 and if they jump against that they will probably not be able to pay what the trader is worth.

The second person was a lady of senior years who used to work in the NHS. She is living in a large house in a village that has very little community spirit and is thinking of moving elsewhere. She is deeply appreciative and grateful of the help we are able to give and always makes sure we are adequately compensated. It’s not often you meet someone of 87 years of age who is as bright as a button, will hold their corner with anyone, sees the implications of something in a flash. I love such people and admire their spirit.

I’m also thinking of very rich people who got rich by being mean. they will always try to beat you down because that’s what they do. In that case you need to simply stick your ground and say “that is the price”. In other words take it or leave it. On the other end of the scale you have the very poor people, sometimes on Social Security, who really cannot afford anything but are in desperate need normally due to physical infirmity  to have their garden at least looking respectable. In this case I will sometimes work for less than I know I should do as an act of social service and so long as this doesn’t happen every day I don’t mind.

Another safeguarding factor is to get everything in writing. I will give people a quote verbally and then e-mail them. And I will tell them that before the job can start they need to confirm the offer and in effect make a contract. This makes people more serious, we could say it concentrates the mind wonderfully. Money brings out the best and worst sides in people. Gardening is slightly better than other trades because it is personal and the trader is well advised to get to know the people and treat them as human beings. This not only makes the transaction more satisfactory, it enables the exposure of any problems a person might have in making payment.

I am in the countryside where a lot of people know each other.I’m quite happy to take a cheque especially if they are living on the property because they’re not going to go anywhere. You stand or fall by your reputation in the country and word does get around very quickly. In big cities I would hesitate before taking anything other than cash.

I once worked for a woman who said that she was unable to pay very much for a job but then let slip that she was thinking of buying a flat in another city as opposed to the large house that she had just to try and see what it was like living in another place. This woman has plenty of money. The newcomer is better advised to state the price and keep to it. I tend to say to people that they do not pay unless they are satisfied with what I’ve done and I always go round at the end of the job and discuss it and ask if there is anything else they want done. There is nothing worse than ending the job on a bad note because you drag the entrails around after you.

Having said that, there is a saying that you cannot please all the people all the time. You can give identical service to people and some will pay with a beam on their face, some will just push the money and you with hardly a smile on their face and be glad when you’re out of the place as quickly as possible.

Such is human nature and there is plenty of it around.


people who do not keep appointments


25 June 1664

Read Samuel Pepys Diary by clicking on the link above

I wonder how many people you know who promise faithfully to do something and fail to do so. In India, it is impolite to say no to anybody and so even if you cannot do something that someone asks, you will try to find a friend to do so to honour the request.

Timekeeping varies wildly from country to country. Famously, trains are supposed to arrive within 15 seconds of their advertised arrival time. Germans are punctual, Finnish people are very punctual and events start exactly on time. Indians are less punctual, Mexicans less so, and in certain parts of Africa any time the same day will do.

Today’s thoughts are occasioned by Françoise who went along to give a French lesson to someone who was not there. When I heard about this I jumped to the conclusion that the person had simply forgotten but that since no notice had apparently been given, the person would have compensate her for her time especially as she had to visit the house of the person concerned.

In actual fact we found that the student had written earlier in the day saying he had to cancel the appointment due to the need to visit a doctor. An apologetic phone call followed and the matter was resolved.

This makes me reflect on why people offer to do something when they have no intention of doing so. Is it the thought that being a person who says no or changes their mind is a negative and unhelpful person? An insecure person will promise something out of fear of losing someone’s friendship. I believe that people really do want to help another person but have no way of saying that they are unable to do so.

  1. Here are some suggestions for how to say no.
    I would love to do this but I don’t have the time to give it the attention it deserves.
    I would love to come out with you tomorrow but I have got such a lot on my mind that I would not be very good company.
    I am very flattered that you’ve asked me to do X Y or Z but I don’t feel I have enough experience to do a job of the standard that you require.
    I’m really sorry but I can’t come on this occasion. I will be freer next week. Can we phone or text and discuss it then?

Please note that you are not downplaying or devaluing the person but saying why you feel you would not be a suitable candidate at the moment. This means that no one’s feelings are hurt.

With professional appointments, you as the practitioner need to make it quite clear that 24 hours notice is required for cancellation. In practice this means by some time in the afternoon of the previous day. In other words give them time to fill the space. It is also an excellent idea to text somebody and remind them that their appointment is due in 24 hours or 48 hours. My own dentist reminds me three times. I find it irritating because once it’s in my diary there it is. However, it seems that the dentists have obviously found it necessary to remind the more forgetful or scatty person that they have reserved time and staff and equipment which is probably worth let us say £200 an hour if not more.

This is a matter for self-discipline in the case of clients. If you feel there may be a problem, let the other party know as far as you can in advance. In the case of a private practitioner, if you have genuinely forgotten then the fault is yours and you should ask them how much you owe them. They may well say that you don’t have anything to pay because they managed to fill the space but I wouldn’t bank on it.

It is unacceptable and unforgivable to fail to turn up and fail to give an apology or advance notice. You wouldn’t like it if someone did it to you so why do it to other people?

As all being fashionably late this may be okay if you are a pop star but I totally disagree that it applies to ordinary people. I like it very much when I’m told to be there 6.45 for 7 PM. Social parties are a little bit more flexible but normally the host will indicate by saying “from 8 PM” in which case I would think that any time up to 9:30 PM would be acceptable.  Lateness is not acceptable for dinner parties. It is not acceptable for events that start at a fixed time for example a film or a concert or theatre performance. To avoid anxiety on the part of the person who has invited you I would turn up between five and 10 min before time.

It is a mistake to make the gateway too broad for example at a house warming “come round any time” since people want some indication of when they will meet others and not come in dribs and drabs when there are a few others around. if you are showing someone round a garden I would simply say “we shall start showing people around at two o’clock” in other words come slightly beforehand.

Saying to friends ‘come round any time’ may confuse them unless they know you very well.


The clutter of bedrooms


Friday 24 June 1664

Read Pepys full diary entry by clicking on the link above

... After dinner to White Hall; and there met with Mr. Pierce, and he showed me the Queene’s bed-chamber, and her closett, where she had nothing but some pretty pious pictures, and books of devotion; and her holy water at her head as she sleeps, with her clock by her bed-side, wherein a lamp burns that tells her the time of the night at any time.

I’ve always wondered why so many beds have curtains around them. Maybe there are substitute for not having curtains and the whole room

Easyhotel Croydon is not the place to seek refinements in the bedroom. there are no shelves, no hooks, no wardrobes, no shares just a double or twin bed. There is a light or two. There is a bathroom. When it opened about three years ago I remember paying about £20 for a room. if I wanted to book now for next Friday it would be £51 for a night. Hotel prices in London are very high or should I say steep.

I like hotels that have rooms with plenty of hangers. Not the miserable selection of wire hangers that look as if they are 10 years old and that make noise when you touch one of them. I enjoy silent air-conditioning, lights that enable one person to read while the other can sleep, and a television that does not have five channels each of which are as boring as the others. It does cost a fortune for the licence to have Sky TV in each room which means that only the more expensive hotels can budget for Sky.

I must admit there is a certain calmness indicated here. We can only dream for bigger properties.

The style of Japanese rooms and some Scandinavian rooms is the absence of any form of clutter which may well be conducive to sleeping.

So here we have the Queen of England in a sleeping environment that could be likened more to a puritan bedchamber. It is not clear from the text but I suppose the candle is a crude type of clock where you can see what time it is by how much it has burnt down and there are probably black rings at hourly intervals. The holy water is a reflection of her religious faith as are the books of devotion.

Our own bedroom by contrast is a muddle. Between us we have about a dozen books that are waiting to be read. In the cupboard next to the bed there are a variety of hairdryers. On the bed table there is a light and a radio which is left permanently tuned to Radio Five of the BBC. There is a small cube clock. At the end of the bedroom are three drawers full of clothes. It is a mess even when cleared up.Underneath the bed there is a blowup mattress for the benefit of guests.

If we had a bigger property we would probably move everything out of the bedroom and have a dressing room but I will keep store of books for dipping into. This is part of the end of day routine that I would be reluctant to give up. However, we do not have a bigger property and we just have to make the best use of the space we have.

The last gardening person we assisted was 90 years of age and he never threw anything away because they ‘might come in useful’ sometime.  For some people the thought of throwing things away is too much. We have TV programmes illustrating this where people have homes that are so cluttered they can scarcely move around their living room or any other room come to that. Françoise and I am not as extreme as that, but we do have a tendency to hold on to things which we have not used and probably will never use.

Don’t even talk to me about the contents of the attic wherein lie memories in material form.

I sometimes wonder if we possess things or whether they possess us.

This afternoon, a stroll / walk with our local Nature Reserve society. The entertain or even mildly amuse you, some photos.

lovely scudding clouds amidst the sunshine and gentle breeze
Yes it is a real signal and yes there is an abandoned railway line amidst the overgrown greenery.
An 18th century bridge over the upper reaches of the River Somer
ripening wheat – warm breeze – birds flying around. You cant beat the country, my friends.
Beat that for a colourful bed of flowers





the ups and downs of being self-employed


23 June 1664

Click above to read his diary (mostly about money matters)

I have been self-employed now for 50 years and have enjoyed most of it except when I ran a business without taking professional advice and inter alia allowed my credit card debt to spiral to £26,000. I realised that I had nothing to pay my debts with. This happened in the late 1970s when £26,000 was a considerable sum. I had to write placatory letters to the banks and credit card companies and offer to pay at £10 a month. This I managed to achieve and in consequence I have avoided getting a County Court judgement against me which believe me it’s something you don’t want to have because it does affect everything. Behind-the-scenes, lenders have to be very savvy and aware of each other’s activities otherwise the fraud rate would be even higher than the stellar rate it is now.

There is no question that someone who is self-employed has a mindset that is totally different from people who work in an institution be it commercial or public service.  As a self-employed person I never switch off. If a call comes in on Sunday morning from someone wanting something then I will deal with them straight away. To be fair, most people do not call on Sunday morning and strangely enough if they do so they are more likely to be time wasters. I work hard because I know that if I do not work, there will not be money to put food on the table. However, if it is self chosen work then it does not seem like actual labour. I cite the recent examples of my gardening where it is just a pleasure to bring happiness to others. I turn down jobs if I don’t like the people and that makes a great difference to the ‘burden’.

There are down sides like having to be Chancellor of the Exchequer and collect money from people who have varying degree of reluctance to pay promptly. I find that if you build up a good relationship with the person they are more likely to pay and if you ask them if they are happy with the work and they say yes and if you asked them if there’s anything else that needs to be done and they said no they are more likely to fork out. Overall though I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It is possible to become professionally lonely and I do think that support groups possibly local support groups are more effective than LinkedIn where you do not necessarily get the quality of comradeship that is possible with a face-to-face meeting.  I think as a self-employed person you have to become more extrovert and in a way sell yourself before you can sell your product.

The main reason why I wrote this blog is because it’s about cycles. You do your best to announce yourself by giving out cards and advertising in the papers and on the media. Sometimes you get brilliant response and you are totally busy, at other times days go by when you get no response and if you were not aware of the inevitability of the cycles, you would start to panic. There is absolutely nothing that can be done about the cycles which seem to have a life of their own. You can almost call it a famine to feast and then to famine mentality. Someone wisely said to me, unless you are saving money, you’re losing money. I will let you figure that one out.

it’s also worth remembering that the press will only tell you about the very successful and the very unsuccessful in other words billionaires or bankrupts. Most people trundle along owning a penny, supporting their family, and not doing anything newsworthy.

Françoise and myself run a micro-economy at home. We do not have a mortgage to pay, we are not in debt. Our annual earnings between us are not much to write home about but our annual expenditure is quite low and consists of the normal statutory charges plus basic expenses plus maintaining our car, a Volvo V70 – no less – of amazing vintage, which is our work horse for the gardening, for going back and forth to the supermarket and going on trips. The Volvo is built for distance driving. This marque was after all created and engineered in Sweden where long distances apply. From North to South, Sweden is 1250 miles distance so the cars have to be designed for this. They do indeed purr along the motorway with a very good mpg. Don’t ask me what the petrol consumption is for local journeys. You will not get an answer except a rolling of eyes.

Anyway, back to the topic of self-employment. We have been doing all right with gardening but not brilliantly. I think it is fair to say that no two years are the same and you cannot assume a continuing trend of any activity in any direction. So, I get a call out of the blue. If you think about it most calls are out of the blue except those from your friends and partners. It was from a lady for whom we worked a couple of years ago. She is a good payer and very appreciative of our work and on the answering machine message said that we were the people who had done wonderful work for her. That always makes self-employment worthwhile to be encouraged. The work that I described yesterday was in a similar category. The couple concerned walks around the garden time after time hardly believing what they proceed with their own eyes. It should be remembered that gardens are very personal things and people have often put years of their life into it and when you reach an age when you can no longer function it is very important for an incoming gardener to respect the heritage of the garden and what has been put into it.

Other Half on right and the new allotmenteer breaking the back of the recently taken over plot

This morning we went along to help a new allotmenteer. I am secretary of the local Allotment Association and I try to help any new tenant especially if they are inexperienced to help them get their plot into working order. I absolutely do not mind doing this because I think of the overall appearance of the allotment. One derelict plot can spread seeds all over the place and contaminate other conscientious plot holders’ land.

My home town of Midsomer Norton. the main street has a river running through it and was in fact the main reason I decided to move here was that the river was well maintained. That told me a lot about the quality of the local council. We bought a house and have been here ever since. Perfect.


it is summer festival time and the local area in front of Sainsbury’s has been utilised for a variety of art stalls


a day in the garden of Eden


Wednesday 22 June 1664

Read diary by clicking above

not spectacular, but this little spring produced music like you’ve never heard

Sometimes you get a dream gardening job and what made it so delightful was a stream that ran down the middle of the garden from a natural spring in the farm above. We had the privilege of removing weeds and debris from the stream so that the water flowed more easily and with a delightful tinkly sound which I reckon has the power to calm the most frayed nerves. I was so stimulated by the garden and his magical qualities that I gave superhuman efforts  to turn about 100 m² of  more or less field into something resembling a lawn.

the centre of the village, a closed pub on the right and closed and converted post office on the left
telephone box, detail, with books freely available on a help yourself basis

There are some villages untouched by time and this string of houses, comprises the entity which is called  Carlingcott which attracts an average house price of £432,000 as of June 2017. I don’t know whether it can be called a village may be more a hamlet, exuded an hour of peace and tradition. This is the centre of the village with its phone box now used as a repository for books, but very rickety bench, a young apple tree and a noticeboard.  The well-to-do or should I say well heeled person is attracted to it because it is near to the Bath and yet it could be in the 19th century.  The roads are impossibly narrow, so how on earth a delivery or removal van does their business without blocking the whole road I cannot imagine. Anyway it is magic and the place where my job was. I had a chat with a couple of women who were passingand one had just returned from her reflexology session, another was on the way to see her daughter. As an indication of the awareness in this town here is a leaflet which I saw on the very modest  information board.



Allegrophobia – the Fear of being late


21 June 1664

Read Pepys Diary by clicking on the date above

A special day today, a meeting with the hospital people to discuss various matters of after-care of patients who have experienced trauma. It was interesting to compare my ‘tourist’ visit, with my previous unrequited and unexpected visit to Southmead hospital nine months ago, 9 October 2016 when only after a few days of considerable pain was I able to get out of bed and stare out of the window.

Admittedly a decent and very well-designed hospital but a traumatic place nevertheless. People are in there because they are ill not because they want to be there.

Photographing it from the outside today and looking at it as some dim and distant place compared with last time when this was my home, that environment which made my existence stable while I was drugged up to the eyeballs with a variety of medicines and pills. I don’t think people realise what a life changing event an accident can be.

So as I start to write this in the evening I know it’s going to be quite a long account. I have been delayed by doing a gardening  job, and then watching a replay of the Ascot Gold cup which for those of you unfamiliar with the UK is one of the leading horse race events of the year.

So you see when I have an important appointment as was the case today I don’t want to leave ridiculously early but on the other hand I don’t want to leave late, cutting it to fine.  One of the things that I cannot bear is being late for an appointment. I would rather be an hour early and pace around or have a coffee. It is the same with flights. I would rather arrive as soon as checking opens and sit on “the other side” or “no man’s land” where you can hopefully switch off your phone and forget about all the daily nonsense that goes on in country A, and look forward to an enjoyable time in country B. I have come to loathe this ridiculous searching of everyone including the taking off of shoes, belts, not being able to take liquids through. The liquid ban is the biggest farce of all. Was it about 12 years ago when a group of young Muslims were accused of trying, perhaps, to make a liquid substance that could just could explode. There wasn’t a scrap of evidence but the authorities in their wisdom decided to ban all liquids. This has resulted in millions of harmless bottles of water being thrown away.

Glastonbury fans waiting patiently at Gate 2 in Bristol bus station
not quite sure what this poster is doing in a bus station but the sentiments are good
This is Anna Frank work author of the famous diaries, a Jew finally killed after having been betrayed by a neighbour
a protest when black people were not allowed to be bus drivers. again, this was in Bristol bus station
here is the text about the protests if you can read it

Anyway, the appointment was at 11.30 this morning Thursday, 22 June. On the way I witnessed congregations of people at Bristol bus station waiting to be taken by shuttle bus to the great Glastonbury. You can tell a Glastonbury person because they have unusual Wellington boots, and a huge rucksack which probably contains a tent.

I find this sculpture at the entrance to the accident and emergency unit at Southmead Hospital in incredibly bad taste, not politically correct or appropriate by any stretch of the imagination

Passing through the northern suburbs of Bristol is very much like visiting 1960s London. There are lots of trendy and down-to-earth coffee bars, eating establishments, Turkish, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, restaurants. there are high-class preowned clothes stores, shops with vegetables temptingly displayed  in bowls for one pound, unusual vegetables that we don’t see in Midsomer Norton because people wouldn’t know what they are.

The meeting itself was in the company of three staff from the trauma team who were concerned about giving after care service to those who leave the hospital with varying degrees of support. As the famous American photo Journal Life Magazine said in years of yore, “All Human Life is There”.  My feeling is that the traumatised community members should support each other, and that a blog and website should be used for support. No one wants to admit  that they need a support group so I feel we have to sell the idea in such a way that will attract the right people without the client group feeling stigmatised. However the bigger problem is getting the hospital authorities to allow me to advertise a patient group at all.

This is where I  am going to have buckets of patience because changes take a long time to happen in the NHS due to the complexity of the structure, potential litigation problems, health and safety, you name it. That is the overarching problem. Hardly a month goes by without a new set of rules established from ‘on high’ which have to be implemented.

in addition,it is quite common to find someone who’s got not just one remit, not two remits but even five remits. The responsibility of each in terms of human care is like one full-time job in yet these saintly people are driven by their desire to help others and so putting hours and energy that must exact a price in terms of the amount of energy available for a social life.


how to chastise people – is there an ideal way?


Monday 20 June 1664

Read the full entry by clicking on the date above.

…To supper and to bed, my wife finding fault with Besse for her calling upon Jane that lived with us, and there heard Mrs. Harper and her talk ill of us and not told us of it. With which I was also vexed, and told her soundly of it till she cried, poor wench, and I hope without dissimulation, and yet I cannot tell; however, I was glad to see in what manner she received it, and so to sleep.

Very few of us get it right. We go off the deep end without checking why the person did or said as reported. Hitting someone with a hammer does very little to resolve the situation. If they knew they were doing wrong, then why did they do it? Is it because they did not see another way out of the situation?   The problem is that if you shout at someone, the fight and flight chemicals are automatically produced by the body –  the various types of adrenaline no less – and an argument will not proceed constructively.

It’s almost like if you keep your feelings under the radar people hardly notice that you told them off. If you the complainer can be more objective and say why the action or words caused harm you are more likely to get the miscreant to think about what they did. This will work in the majority of cases but not as I have previously said with people who are out of control through drunkenness or rage or panic.

My own father when concerned about my behaviour always said that he would talk about it the next day which was quite clever because he gave me time to think about it and when confronted I was as meek as a lamb. The offence was not repeated. It is very difficult to be a calm observer when the chemicals are running round the system. This is a good reason to delay a knee-jerk reaction if you possibly can.  In the case of Pepys above, he considered it right to tell off the employee straightaway because she knew she had done wrong and he wanted to nip the problem in the bud due to their close working relationship.

As I’m fond of saying, “there is a time for everything, and for everything there is time”. Does the whole process of chastisement have to happen in the minutes after the event is discovered? The person has probably been committing this offence, or shall we call it a ‘call for attention’, for a long time so what’s the hurry. I reckon 90% of it is getting your mindset right which probably includes lessons that you yourself have to learn.

Notice in the above example, Pepys took time to observe how the person received the telling off and felt that the contrition was genuine. The parents or the employer or the friend is entitled to remark how he or she feels their admonition has been accepted  and maybe one or two more steps need to happen  for the matter to be closed as opposed to being simply deferred.

It’s called ‘Shape Shifting’. Check it out on Google About 4,060,000 results as of 21.6.17 15:13 GMT+1

So I was watching Sky News today 21st June 2017 at approx. 2.15 PM and low and behold, a phenomenon some call ‘Shape Shifting’ appeared. This is my first ‘catch’ so I made a vid. on the spot using my mobile phone.  Explanations welcome but before you scoff, type in ‘shape shifting’ on google or YouTube and see hundreds of examples.

2 July 2017 I have received a note from ‘Digital Music Lab’ a company in USA? that the phenomenon is a bandwidth issue from a live stream broadcast. I cannot contradict the writer as I am not a technical person so I will leave this one on the table and see who else comes along.

Click here for my video.

End of the world scenarios

Sunday 19 June 1664

read Pepys Diary by clicking on the date above.

fire in Portugal 18 June 2017

Today I arose early at around 4 AM, the heat being stifling due to the continuing heatwave, or should I say two or three days with the temperature above 30°. It is not on the same scale as Portugal where 62 people have died from fires.

My Galaxy, which I turn to prior to cranking up my main PC, figures out what I like to read and presents me with a relevant series of headlines and videos to chose from. Some examples re the USA’s numerous evils came up.  I shall never forget ex-President Obama’s preacher saying that the phrase “God Damn (short for damnation)  America” was much more appropriate than saying “God bless America”.

I was reading how TPTB are currently closing branches of Walmart’s with the excuse that they need some plumbing to be fixed which will take six months. Surely even the dumbed down American public most realise this is a fake excuse. What is happening according to first-hand reports is that the buildings are being gutted and redesigned as concentration camps complete with watchtowers. If you don’t believe me Google the matter and you will find pictures aplenty. There are also a system of national secret underground tunnels which connect one centre and another for the mass transportation of people. The beings  who run America are preparing for Marshall Law. It’s called operation Jade Helm for those of you who want to Google it further.

Here in the UK I read that the Prime Minister is taking her time announcing the chairman of an official enquiry. Until that time, the firms conniving in selling flammable cladding to the West London tower block are free to destroy e-mails and evidence of their crimes. Anyone who thinks for one tiny moment that the Conservative party care two hoots for the common person is either brain-dead or extremely naive.

It has been clear to me for years that the  whole world is being ruled by psychopaths to whom war is just an instrument for control. America have only started 43 wars since World War II which is hardly a model of restraint but then it’s what they do together with unseating democracies and bringing in puppet regimes which they do even better.
This brings me to the whole question of death or shall we say losing this  temporary  vehicle which is the human body. I feel this world is overdue for a reboot and if the whole thing blows up tomorrow I will celebrate. I’m only able to say this because I have thoroughly digested and accepted the idea of the continuity of consciousness, the so-called life after death, of life between lives, which I might add I am looking forward to extremely. I know that we’ll get what we deserve and if we end on a high level, putting others first, being unselfish and so on we will end up in a different place to actions caused by selfishness and the seven deadly sins (cleverly called deadly because they kill).
Each time I read something ghastly happening in the world and realise what hidden moving hand is causing it I actually feel better because  once you face what is likely to happen you hve the ability to be at peace with it. I pity the poor souls  who believe the junk the mainstream media churns out. When they realise what is really going on it will be too late and they will be transported by fear into a place that will not be pleasant. We get no notice of the circumstances of our demise and I think we should be prepared at all times for our sudden transition otherwise we will always be inhibited  by the fear of death.
Françoise and myself went to see a lovely gardening job last night. The garden is a complete jungle and the grass is about 1 m in height. I shall be taking ‘before and after’ pictures of our work. The couple are both over 80 but as bright as buttons, very sharp intellectually but kind as well. through their garden there is a lovely stream  arising from a spring in the garden above and going through the property. It’s a lovely place and it will be a privilege to bring it back to the Garden of Eden type state that it was last year 2016.

Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity


18 June 1664

Read Pepys full entry by clicking on date above

….Strange to see how pert Sir W. Pen is to-day newly come from Portsmouth with his head full of great reports of his service and the state of the ships there. When that is over he will be just as another man again or worse. But I wonder whence Mr. Coventry should take all this care for him….

The book of Ecclesiastes is not for the faint hearted or the complacent. It tells it as it is. Don’t worry, there won’t be any Bible bashing. I am just going to make a few observations and thoughts.

Why is there a need to make ‘me’ the centre of the universe. What sort of insecurity makes us think that if we juxtapose ourselves with other people and we will somehow come out the winner and the victor? we are all in this together and everything everyone does either makes the planet a better place to live in (more love and caring) or a worse place to live in (more so-called individuality, violence and even so-called stardom, one person expanding themselves at others’ expense). As someone said, “we are all members of one of another”. This is a brilliant and succinct statement which means that everything we do influences everything else although we do not see  the effect of what we do.

Does it really matter who gets the credit for doing a good action so long as the result stands on its own in terms of change in consciousness and diminution of force in other people. I believe we are in severe danger if we are in an ‘us versus them’ competitive situation. Peace of mind cannot exist with such a mindset. Is it not enough to get the warm glow of satisfaction knowing that you have made a contribution?

I could see it in another very simple way.

we Breathe in we breathe out
we receive we give
we win we lose
we destroy we build
we climb we fall

The whole universe consists of cycles so we are simply part of this.



Sleeping under the stars


Due to the fine evenings we decided to sleep out under the stars. No tents, no protection, just sleeping bags or blankets.  It is a little bit surreal just lying down under a thin layer of protection looking upwards at all the vastness and realizing that we cannot see 99.99% of what’s out there.

Twinkle, twinkle Little Star
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, Little Star,
How I wonder what you are.

Lullaby or not, this rhyme does have a certain endearing quality. The only problem is that in mid-summer there is very little sky dark enough even in the so-called night to see much detail, and certainly on this occasion the stars did not twinkle. We saw one or two planes fly across at a great height with a barely perceptible  noise. Even slight sounds are amplified at night.

It is amazing how many noises there are in the garden in terms of movements, the cracking of twigs, rustling sounds. They are loud enough to make you jump or at least startle you. I would guess it’s pretty much impossible to get any sort of sleep in a jungle especially where many of the animals are nocturnal and each night is one big party.

I woke up at about 4 AM to find the blankets and exported pillow from the house wet with dew. It wouldn’t kill anyone but I didn’t feel comfortable with it so I retreated back into the house leaving Francoise to continue sleeping. In any event the sky was brightening so I knew I wasn’t going to achieve much further sleep so back into the bedroom, curtains closed, and into the arms of Morpheus again.

I would say the impact of sleeping out would be greatly enhanced in a country area where the stars would shine much brighter. At least the small excursion in our garden whetted my appetite for more.


Amazing car colours – the perfect summer fete


View Pepys diary for today by clicking on the date. Friday 17 June 1664

Today (Saturday 17th June 2017)  is a perfect summer day, just right for fetes and fairs, and general celebrations on the flimsiest of excuses not to mention sitting in traffic jams going to and fro from the nearest beach.

We had a choice of nine events but chose this one because we had never been there before. It was situated in the churchyard of the very affluent village of Rowberrow. Once every two years they have a combined classic car exhibition, art show and family fete.

I don’t know whether it was the exceptionally bright sunshine, but the colours of the cars seemed way above normal standard that I’m accustomed to seeing in the high Street. Here follows a largely pictorial diary with my <fanfare of trumpets> very first video to give some idea of the atmosphere  of this event.

There were about 80 cars immaculately prepared and sparkling in the bright sunlight. I’m not a classic car enthusiast, but I know a loved car when I see one. A fellow observer said that he would hesitate to drive a car worth £100,000 for fear of having an accident. So, off we go. The cars are shown in no particular order.

There now follow two shots. The first is a very old grinding wheel but it looks like there’s much more to it than that. Secondly following a visit to the church I noticed on the porch this very beautiful prayer which moved me very much
the prayer of St Francis of Assisi
I see from the pinholes that someone has very disrespectfully put other notices over the bottom. Tut-tut. It is a wonderfully inclusive summary of how we should behave ” we are members one of another” as I think St Paul said

new format starts tomorrow


Please note that this is the last day when I shall be quoting Pepys’s diaries in full. If you want to read them then click on the date and you will be referred to an excellent website maintained with love and care on which the diaries are transcribed verbatim. I shall only mention the portions of them relevant to my own comments and observations. Ed

16 June 1664

[Continued from yesterday. P.G.] … I lay in my drawers and stockings and wastecoate till five of the clock, and so up; and being well pleased with our frolique, walked to Knightsbridge, and there eat a messe of creame, and so to St. James’s, and there walked a little, and so I to White Hall, and took coach, and found my wife well got home last night, and now in bed. So I to the office, where all the morning, and at noon to the ‘Change, so home and to my office, where Mr. Ackworth came to me (though he knows himself and I know him to be a very knave), yet he came to me to discover the knavery of other people like the most honest man in the world. However, good use I shall make of his discourse, for in this he is much in the right. He being gone I to the ‘Change, Mr. Creed with me, after we had been by water to see a vessell we have hired to carry more soldiers to Tangier, and also visited a rope ground, wherein I learnt several useful things. The talk upon the ‘Change is, that De Ruyter is dead, with fifty men of his own ship, of the plague, at Cales: that the Holland Embassador here do endeavour to sweeten us with fair words; and things likely to be peaceable. Home after I had spoke with my cozen Richard Pepys upon the ‘Change, about supplying us with bewpers —[?? D.W.]— from Norwich, which I should be glad of, if cheap. So home to supper and bed.

relaxation amidst many duties and obligations


14 June 1664

Click above for full diary entry of Pepys

…Much company came hither to-day, my Lady Carteret, &c., Sir William Wheeler and his lady, and, above all, Mr. Becke, of Chelsy, and wife and daughter, my Lord’s mistress, and one that hath not one good feature in her face, and yet is a fine lady, of a fine taille, and very well carriaged, and mighty discreet. I took all the occasion I could to discourse with the young ladies in her company to give occasion to her to talk, which now and then she did, and that mighty finely, and is, I perceive, a woman of such an ayre, as I wonder the less at my Lord’s favour to her, and I dare warrant him she hath brains enough to entangle him. Two or three houres we were in her company, going into Sir H. Finche’s garden, and seeing the fountayne, and singing there with the ladies, and a mighty fine cool place it is, with a great laver of water in the middle and the bravest place for musique I ever heard….

Pepys has given us a good example of how to relax from his many responsibilities via music, singing, enjoying a garden and a fountain.

I’m not impressed by people who say they do nothing but work because I think you lose colour from your life. Relaxation is just as important as performing obligatory work. I do get preachy from time to time but I think the work/play balance is so important to enable the brain to refresh itself from its many duties. The mind can only heal itself if you forget about what you’re worried or concerned about.

Today June 15, the Daily Mail has produced the most comprehensive and lengthy pictorial I have ever seen of the recent disaster in the West London tower block, Grenfell Tower. I don’t know how long this link will last but it is certainly worth a look.  Repercussions will abound for years to come and people are talking about starting criminal proceedings, particularly with the cladding used on the building that was not fireproof.

An impossible position

Today being a sunny one, reputedly the best of the week with promised temperatures of 25°, we decided to escape from the dreadful news about the burnt residential block in West London. The famous Wye Valley in Wales was the choice of the day but before that we visited Chepstow Castle, I find a substantial enough place with some real history  where you wondered how they found the ability to set so many thousands of stones upon each other.
I met two members of staff applying roundup with a spray to kill the weeds on the various paths. I recognised the smell instantly and asked them if they had had any health issues. They said immediately that they suffered from bronchial infection. So here we have people using poisons without the proper protection. If they complain to their bosses, they will probably be dismissed or told to get on with the job. If they go on month after month year after year they will surely have respiratory difficulties or even cancer. An element in glyophosphate is carcinogenic. What a horrible predicament.
On toSymonds Yat which is is an improbably named natural tourist centre with wonderful views and unspoiled forests.
Good news in that I have heard from the hospital administration that they would like to move my project forward. I cannot stand waiting and in this case it’s been three months now since the first meeting but I’m glad to say they had not  forgotten. I confess to being thoroughly impatient and wanting everything now.
I don’t have many philosophical contributions to make since I have taken the day off. No doubt some will come to me and I will add them as I feel moved.
I shall try to avoid watching endless interviews with people in the burning accommodation block. The death toll at the moment is recorded as 12 but I’m sure it’s going to be three or four times that number. The tower block in West London has been impossible to enter due to the still smouldering fire.
In the words of Samuel Pepys, and so to bed.

Arguing with your partner


12 June 1664

(Lord’s day). All the morning in my chamber consulting my lesson of ship building, and at noon Mr. Creed by appointment came and dined with us, and sat talking all the afternoon till, about church time, my wife and I began our great dispute about going to Griffin’s child’s christening, where I was to have been godfather, but Sir J. Minnes refusing, he wanted an equal for me and my Lady Batten, and so sought for other.

“Then the question was whether my wife should go, and she having dressed herself on purpose, was very angry, and began to talk openly of my keeping her within doors before Creed, which vexed me to the guts, but I had the discretion to keep myself without passion, and so resolved at last not to go, but to go down by water, which we did by H. Russell —[a waterman]— to the Half-way house, and there eat and drank, and upon a very small occasion had a difference again broke out, where without any the least cause she had the cunning to cry a great while, and talk and blubber, which made me mighty angry in mind, but said nothing to provoke her because Creed was there, but walked home”,

being troubled in my mind also about the knavery and neglect of Captain Fudge and Taylor, who were to have had their ship for Tangier ready by Thursday last, and now the men by a mistake are come on board, and not any master or man or boy of the ship’s company on board with them when we came by her side this afternoon, and also received a letter from Mr. Coventry this day in complaint of it. We came home, and after supper Creed went home, and I to bed. My wife made great means to be friends, coming to my bedside and doing all things to please me, and at last I could not hold out, but seemed pleased, and so parted, and I with much ado to sleep, but was easily wakened by extraordinary great rain, and my mind troubled the more to think what the soldiers would do on board tonight in all this weather.

Bearing in mind Pepys’s personality it would be amazing if he did not have rows with his wife. The above excerpt does bear reading because it shows his wife completely lost it, put on an exhibition of crying, and finally recanted and tried to please Samuel.

From my own observations over the years, arguments almost always arise from inner conflicts. Something the other person has done  is just a trigger. As they are the nearest available object, they get it. I can say that if a person speaks at you and not with you  it’s probably their own unworked out problems.  It might be  that something about the persons deportment, or tone of voice, all manner of interjection,  is a trigger to remind the sufferer of something long forgotten.

Pepys has given a good example here of not losing his temper and letting the course of his wife’s concern run, partly to give her the space and time to deal  with whatever it was that was troubling her.  It could have been for example the feeling of not being valued. Pepys decided to walk home on his own, I wouldn’t say walk away from the situation but to give him self time to recover from the immediate manifestations of the disturbance.

I have been given advice – which I have taken – that we should not try to reason with someone who is drunk. I think the same advice could be given to someone who is angry. We don’t know what is going on in the course of expressing their anger, maybe it is the first time they’ve ever expressed anger and it is necessary for them to lose their temper. Maybe it is the last time they will lose their temper because they were so disgusted at what they did they have resolved never to repeat it. We just never know so why not leave the stage clear and be a silent supporter.


how I detest dishonest smiles

Bath, Somerset, UK. A vertical garden in a phone booth no less and umbrellas a’plenty
a modest but attractive collection can be often found in the front facing basements
a flowery invitation to walk up the steps to the main door

Bath city is pleasant at any time of year but in June the numbers of tourists are not so great and the weather is normally good. Clouds were scudding across the sky and a pleasant breeze blew as I walked around the city. Bath architecture is very distinctive and when walking along the street you might like to have a look at the basements because very often there are little gardens in front of them which are most attractive.

I started off by going to the Victoria Art Gallery. There is normally a very pleasant person taking tickets from people at the entrance to the special exhibition, in this case Bath Society of Artists 112th open exhibition 2017. Today it was Barry’s turn and after entering I greeted him and made a comment that smiling photographs were frequently faked and put on, and people with their natural everyday expressions allowed you to get into their soul to a much greater extent and I found this more satisfactory art.

I said to him that sometimes I go into an art gallery but I’m so impressed by one piece of art that I don’t need to stay there longer. It does its chemistry on me. Next time I visit, the chemistry is no longer there in the same way but another piece of art attract my attention. I suppose it is the same as reading a poetry book, sometimes a picture just jumps at you that’s the one for you. Anyway, I’m going to show you various  pictures from the exhibition which by the way is on until 15 July 2017.

this is very carefully carved wood
I have a funny feeling this animal is aware is being painted and is looking a bit self-conscious
just straightforwardly yummy I feel I could reach into the picture and pick a grape
same with this vegetable stall
don’t try to smile Alan, it is frightening

While talking to Barry I decided to make the theme of today’s diary “the smile”. I suggest that Sir Alan Sugar should never smile. He can’t do it  and should never attempt it. Examples of fake smiles below. Worst of all are the mobile phone ads.

they look positively uncomfortable laughing. I suppose if you’re paid to smile you will do anything but I’ve never seen anyone actually act like this. The worst ads for smiling are for mobile phone companies
now that’s a happy one, joy from within
at the exhibition now – not a particularly happy world but real to her where she is. Tom Elliot ‘s Acrylic work – ‘Ava’s Marionettes’


difficult to read this one but I feel it is genuine
This one got a prize. It is called “ghosts live here” an oil painting by Helen Davidson
you cannot see her eyes but I feel it is very revealing nevertheless
snoozing woman
A somewhat complicated young lady I feel but what you see is what you get. Anyway if you read this why not go along and get yourself a bargain. I have no commercial interest in saying this.
For nerds only and as part of my quest for the unusual, this is Bath bus station that has 15 gates. For the first time in my nearly 5 years I have never seen the whole lot empty. Neither had the bus inspector who joked with me about it
and finally, a warning to the numerous French students who visit this place



Main Stream Media Lies and the Middle East

 11 June 1664

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, where some discourse arose from Sir G. Carteret and Mr. Coventry, which gives me occasion to think that something like a war is expected now indeed, though upon the ‘Change afterwards I hear too that an Embassador is landed from Holland, and one from their East India Company, to treat with ours about the wrongs we pretend to.

Mr. Creed dined with me, and thence after dinner by coach with my wife only to take the ayre, it being very warm and pleasant, to Bowe and Old Ford; and thence to Hackney. There ‘light, and played at shuffle-board, eat cream and good churies; and so with good refreshment home. Then to my office vexed with Captain Taylor about the delay of carrying down the ship hired by me for Tangier, and late about that and other things at the office.  Pepys Diary

Pepys entry is very matter-of-fact and there is nothing much for me to comment on so this morning I want to spend some time talking about a conference of the mainstream media’s treatment of Middle East matters particularly Syria. if you’re bored by politics I can understand that but I’m trying to identify the principles behind what we read and even what we think so please bear with me.

The meeting took place in the “Cheese and Grain”, Frome, which is a general-purpose  hall that easy used for practically everything including pop concerts and exhibitions. There must have been 250 people in the hall and it’s one of these oversubscribed events where helpers drag in more chairs and set up more rows the back.

First, a little niggardly grumble about the organisational side of the meeting which was in general pretty good. There were six speakers and the meeting was due to start at seven o’clock but the chair lady decided to wait 20 min because ” there were people still queueing to buy tickets”. My attitude is, tough! If you arrive late why should you waste the time of those who did discipline themselves to come on time. If you work it out that was about 80 wasted man-hours you could say.

The vast majority if not all the crises in the Middle East are manufactured and financially supported by outside countries including the United Kingdom, Israel and the United States.
This is part of a Western Governments’ scheme with the connivance of the disgraceful and duplicitous Tony Blair (see the Chilcott report of his conversations with George Bush) to destabilise and take over seven Middle East countries. If you want to see a video of that, slick General Wesley Clark who was given advance notice of these plans in 2001 but originating from the Zionist “Project for the New American Century”.

Omran Dagneesh the poster boy for Aleppo’s suffering, getting sympathy for a bombing raid that never happened. His father got so tired of the lies of the media that he denounced the whole thing as a fraud. Amazing how the picture (on the left) went viral and got a prize for photography, it should actually be a prize for make up.

One of the ploys is to present the leaders in charge of the countries as Hitler figures whom the ordinary people really had no business voting for in the first place. The incessant demonisation of Russia continues including the claim that they interfered with the American elections in spite of the fact that they have not been able to produce any evidence.
Crisis events are carefully manufactured  and filmed  by professional companies including a specialist company called  TraumaFX, who specialise in  casualty simulation services arising from shootings, burnings, and any other type of mayhem you can imagine.

Such events and happenings are passed around the Main Stream Media without question and presented as truth. John Snow of Channel 4 got first prize in a poll for knowingly presenting fake news. The other culprits are of course the BBC BBC, Fox, NBC and CNN.
MSM rely on advertising contributions from the corporations and so they cannot afford to be too critical of their activities.
The meeting was fortunate to have the services of Peter Ford, former United Kingdom ambassador to Syria. He said he was basically persona non grata with the MSM but since news channels are competing with others and within themselves and they have 24-hour today to fill they are keen to get anyone with any remote knowledge of the area, there are still some opportunities to speak the truth.  As he said rather cynically, the media use us so we can use them. It is like a game and people peddling minority interests should take every chance of reaching people.

Our views of countries are deliberately distorted for example in the case of Syria not mentioning the effect of the Western imposed sanctions which bring real hardship on the people. The mention of the huge effort that the government of Syria is making to feed and look after the people would spoil the image of Assad as a Hitler figure. The weapons of Mass deception are consistent in their manifestations and spread fake news round the world at lightning speed via unquestioning media.

Other speakers described the CIA Operation Gaslight which is which is the plan to keep people afraid by continuous use of the words and images that bring about fear and terror. This will eventually destroy our individuality and the courage to speak the truth. Check out other delights here.

It behoves the general public  to question everything. Peter suggests that we identify media presenters and writers whom we can trust and learn to listen to their words, and also use our intuition when something doesn’t sound right. If it doesn’t sound right, and it probably has a flaw somewhere or could be a downright lie.

The organiser Patrick Hennington asked us to support alternative media, subscribing if necessary and sensitively spreading the word.

There were a fair mixture of people at the evening. I met a woman who when I asked where she lived said “nowhere”. She pointed to a white van and said that I drive round the country staying with various friends because I cannot afford accommodation. I’m getting fed up with it, she said, because it’s so small and so cold in the winter.

The chap sitting next to me in the audience spent all the time flicking through his messages on his mobile phone and did not engage anyone in conversation or eye contact.

One person at the back with very long hair and very scruffy jeans insisted on talking to his friend during the performance and was stared and frowned at by other people.

I asked a question about Russia today and Vanessa said that they were the one saviour who actually reported what was going on.

The audience was very knowledgeable and was sensitive to the nuances of the speakers. A speaker could not ask for a more sympathetic  audience.

There was a woman from South Africa who did not realise  that this was a conference about Syria not  South Africa and she complained about the political conditions there and how many white people had been killed and so on. She went on and on  about her situation to Vanessa Beeley, one of the speakers, and spoke at her or should I say ranted at her without listening to what she Vanessa was saying. We had to go so just had to  push in and just say our goodbyes, which was very unsatisfactory.

Thinking is becoming quite a rare quality these days, and thinking clearly  is even more of a big ask. Are we going to find the courage to think?




It’s amazing what can happen at 9:45 AM on a Sunday morning when any civilised person is lying in bed or drinking first coffee or even sound asleep. Due to my misreading of a directory announcing Open Garden Days, I completely mistakenly called up somebody who was not due to show their garden today. She called back in confusion and we had a laugh about the misunderstanding but we decided to meet anyway because we struck up a jovial and convivial conversation on the phone.

…during the very interesting conversation when we discussed our respective interest in energy work and healing….. She is a reflexologist of many years standing and has a lot of skills in her basket. During a discussion about how to deal with patients who did not necessarily want to face their condition, the word “provocation” came up. I realise that I had understood this word in its negative connotation, incitement… to violence etc. In fact it has a positive connotation as well which is something that provokes, arouses or stimulates. Under certain circumstances, we felt it is completely factual and correct to provoke someone if that will be the trigger  to help them to face something which perhaps they have not faced before.

Such interventions do not have to be invasive. For example with a client who has visited many other types of practitioner without success, maybe complaining that they were not good enough,  it will be quite valid to ask “what do you feel these people have not done for you”, or “what would you like to achieve with me that you did not achieve with the previous people”. This is a provocative question but it is quite correct. The dreaded Political Correctness determines that you should not say anything that might upset people with the result that the language in its colour and vigor gets watered down. This is no good to man or beast. We can feel if something was said with love and normally there will be a positive response.

I feel that with any sort of therapeutic intervention, in a way the less we say the better. I think there should be more focus on observing the effect of your statement rather than aiming for a record word count. We should not be evaluated by the amount we say but by the amount of material that is released through our presence and through our gentle probing. The reflexologist said that over the years, the art of reflexology  which is  massaging the feet has become much more gentle.

getting the right environment is 90% of relaxing the patient who often comes in the door with many things on their mind. This is very womblike

The lady concerned has a lovely house which she has transformed from a fairly scruffy residence bought 30 years ago into a little Garden of Eden. She has a small consulting room, see picture, which is very much like a womb and where anyone could feel comfortable so this gets any session off to a flying start. She does allow a little bit of time between sessions so the outgoing person does not meet the incoming person and thus boundaries are maintained. She very wisely clears herself between sessions to avoid any cross contamination.

a lovely weed-free lawn with a very good use of curves

She said that her garden had come to be in the state it came to be over a number of years and although friends have given comments on how the garden could be  she let the garden speak to her. She reminded me very much of Barbara Hepworth the sculptor who had her stones assembled outside in her yard and they would call her when they wanted work done.

So now on to Wells where in the Cathedral precincts there is a three-day country Festival and being members we get in free. The festival grounds are spacious and varied and are able to accept shows and exhibitions on a small scale and it does not compromise the dignity of the Cathedral at all. you can be pretty certain that you will get plant stalls, garden machinery, pimms, various animal and plant preservation societies, honey and gem sales. Everyone smiles a lot and are very civilised even the children. when I was young we used to call it “on my best behaviour” and praise the good Lord there wasn’t a single mobile phone in sight.

boxes of plants awaiting the new owner
playing croquet with Wells Cathedral in the background
the male swan spent all its time beating off duck invaders
the Cathedral Gardens are lush at this time of year

For those of you that have not been to Wells Cathedral Gardens before it does cost over seven pounds to get in but you have a huge area to see, very historic and beautiful, including lovingly maintained allotments so it is well worth it.

Then, off to Mells which has its own annual garden festival which basically means that you can go and snoop around people’s gardens and see what they are growing and get ideas. However we had been the previous year so decided not to spend the money and time. I am blessed or cursed with a photographic memory and once I’ve been  somewhere, revisiting a known location rekindles the original version in my brain and there is not much “new” to see. You can see now why I require at least half a dozen things on my mind at the same time including at least one thing to worry about.

Political evening about Syria follows:


Money money money


10 June 1664

Up and by water to White Hall, and there to a Committee of Tangier, and had occasion to see how my Lord Ashworth —[Lord Ashworth is probably a miswriting for Lord Ashley (afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury).]— deports himself, which is very fine indeed, and it joys my heart to see that there is any body looks so near into the King’s business as I perceive he do in this business of my Lord Peterborough’s accounts.

Thence into the Parke, and met and walked with Captain Sylas Taylor, my old acquaintance while I was of the Exchequer, and Dr. Whore, talking of musique, and particularly of Mr. Berckenshaw’s way, which Taylor magnifies mightily, and perhaps but what it deserves, but not so easily to be understood as he and others make of it. Thence home by water, and after dinner abroad to buy several things, as a map, and powder, and other small things, and so home to my office, and in the evening with Captain Taylor by water to our Tangier ship, and so home, well pleased, having received 26l*. profit to-day of my bargain for this ship, which comforts me mightily, though I confess my heart, what with my being out of order as to my health, and the fear I have of the money my Lord oweth me and I stand indebted to him in, is much cast down of late.
The pound sign stands for Libra, a pound weight, in Latin.

Poor old Pepys, his heart is out of order due to debt and worry about getting paid. Money is definitely not going to be the main driver for today’s diary, not by a long chalk. Here are a few comments which  I have found helpful in dealing with filthy lucre. You can of course get a lot of advice elsewhere from excellent sites  so this is very much a summary.

obviously a staged photograph but it makes the point.

There’s an old song that is called “write  the thought down brother, write the thought down”. There’s nothing worse than having money worries, or any type of worry come to that, whizzing around in your head 24 / 7.

The more we put our heads in the sand, the more complicated the final solution will be. The worry will grow inside the head like a virus the longer we allow the situation to pertain.  The first stage is to make a list of any debt and compare it with your monthly income and savings. Consider getting rid of credit cards altogether???  Don’t wait for the brown envelope. If you have difficulty doing it on your own, at least talk about it with a friend or better still a professional adviser. The Citizens Advice Bureau, historically, are good people to go to but there are many others. Just type into Google ” debt counselling services”. Do not pay fees for any service of this nature.  Genuine services are free.

Actually, the last thing I want to do today is to write about money. For now let us say that you should control your money flow, not the other way around and that’s all I have to say for now.

Today there is so much on in terms of Open Gardens for the public plus a special event this evening that much juggling will be required. Things always work out as they are meant to, so watch for part two of this diary which will appear very much later this evening.



What comprises the ideal Village Festival?


We have recently seen large festivals in the form of the Bath and West show which I visited a couple of weeks ago and on which I reported voluminously. Now, we go to the other end of the spectrum. OakHill is a small village in Somerset near to where I live. we decided at the last moment, as we normally do, to choose this event amongst the many events on this one of the most popular days in the summer.

It must be said that any decent local event needs to cater for children to a large extent and this event excelled itself as you may see from the pictures that I have included. On a less than perfect day I consider that this Festival had most of the elements  that constitute success without being commercial and having big budgets. There was no entry fee or parking fee. The  farmer had lent his field free of charge and most people who came offered their services without charge. The result was a very pleasant and unstressed atmosphere where the children were running around enjoying themselves and  friends were meeting each other.  The images are in no particular order and includes some from this very well-to-do village.

a picture postcard of a house
an outhouse in a private property – visitors particularly from America, it will be a pleasant experience to wander round and see such accommodations.
a flamboyant American design
detail, dashboard in all its simplicity
guess the weight of the sheep. It was actually 108.5 kg
it’s good to have too much space rather than too little
the children were encouraged to do barn dancing – wonderful socialising training and not a mobile phone in sight
where would a village fete be without lovingly home-cooked cakes
and now the six or seven-year-old limber up for their gymnastic display
meanwhile, the local brass band play their hearts out with well-known and well loved melodies
the obligatory plant stall
and the display of historic and working tractors
so how about some wellie throwing then
and here is a nice place to escape from the rain and wind should that be necessary
the young lady taking delight in pulling off  strands of grass and making a pile
the obligatory raffle
the children having the time of their life
an older chap telling anyone who would listen how he is a good carpenter and hedger
a practice tug of war. The children were more keen than the adults on this occasion
and now a run and explore on this unusually designed bouncy castle and maze



What is it that holds society together?


9 June 1664

…Then at night by coach to attend the Duke of Albemarle about the Tangier ship. Coming back my wife spied me going home by coach from Mr. Hunt’s, with whom she hath gained much in discourse to-day concerning W. Howe’s discourse of me to him. That he was the man that got me to be secretary to my Lord; and all that I have thereby, and that for all this I never did give him 6d. in my life. Which makes me wonder that this rogue dare talk after this manner, and I think all the world is grown false. But I hope I shall make good use of it….

Clearly there are issues of trust and personal conflict Pepys’s life which even on a bad day is still colourful.

In whom can we trust


We have witnessed in the last few days a general election where the result of the instigator – The Prime Minister – was unintended and backfired upon her. The main reason seems to be that she put herself first and the country second. Such is the route (root) of so many problems that beset us. The leader of the Labour Party displayed behaviour as a man of the people and this was why the young people of this country voted for him;  it could be seen also as a negative vote against those that cannot be trusted i.e. Most politicians. It is becoming clearer that Jeremy Hunt is  biding his time but will dismantle the NHS as soon as possible.

I want to leave this rather dismal subject and just make one or two pointers, food for thought, on what makes society run well.

The first and most insidious barrier to smooth running is interference from outside economic forces. There are certain countries who have a desire, octopus style, to interfere with other countries. In the course of their activity they bribe and if necessary blackmail politicians and business leaders into following their will. in their view it is just part of the cost of doing business and making profit.

President Zuma (right) and one of the Gupta brothers who together virtually run the economy of South Africa. Critics are bribed or threatened.

A healthy system is one that ensures that people are getting a chance to express their opinion and feel that they are being heard.

The opposite of this pertains in South Africa which is  a fiefdom of President Zuma and the Gupta brothers from India who have taken over the economics of the country. This is the most blatant and arrogant example of nepotism but most other countries have the same type of system in varying degrees of subtlety.

Another requirement is a united agenda  inspired by altruism for example feeding the poor,  helping victims of physical abuse. We also note is unity in times of distress for example  a war where we unite against an external enemy.

A powerful component is unity at a  higher level than the physical which is about values, existential views of the world and what we really believe in our heart of hearts is the right thing. This in its turn depends  on knowing other people at a fairly intimate level. This is a stage that cannot be jumped and getting to know a new or existing colleague is never a waste of time

A most difficult personality handicap is emotion arising from unresolved fear, incipient anger or just plain out of control fury. It amazes me how conflicts with neighbours, and within towns, can simmer for years and decades and nothing whatever is achieved except the rotting of the soul. The people who get on with others best are those who are happily married – to themselves. The rest is a bonus.

A gentle reminder from someone who lived a couple of millennia ago. “Love thy neighbour as thyself”. Most people read into this what they want to but it is a very profound statement of the value of the neighbourhood versus the value of the individual. The two are not mutually exclusive.



The intuition of children


8 June 1664

All day before dinner with Creed, talking of many things, among others, of my Lord’s going so often to Chelsy, and he, without my speaking much, do tell me that his daughters do perceive all, and do hate the place, and the young woman there, Mrs. Betty Becke; for my Lord, who sent them thither only for a disguise for his going thither, will come under pretence to see them, and pack them out of doors to the Parke, and stay behind with her; but now the young ladies are gone to their mother to Kensington.

To dinner, and after dinner till 10 at night in my study writing of my old broken office notes in shorthand all in one book, till my eyes did ake ready to drop out. So home to supper and to bed.

The daughters referred to above can obviously not be fooled by the shenanigans of adults. I think we are all born with a good measure of intuition which is for the most part beaten out of us by self-consciousness, being mocked by parents or peers, and last but not least by the so-called education system. In spite of that, some of us retain our inherent capabilities including yours truly. If anyone is reading this who has a child please remember that you never see the results of your words on a developing consciousness but if your child says something that doesn’t appear to make sense then ridiculing them could do long term or irreparable damage although the subject matter may be trivial.

All great men are gifted with intuition. They know without reasoning or analysis, what they need to know. – Alexis Carrel

The only real valuable thing is intuition. – Albert Einstein

All perceiving is also thinking, all reasoning is also intuition, all observation is also invention. – Rudolf Arnheim

In my many years of attempting to help people with advice I have lost count of the number of times the client has said ” if only I had followed my intuition”.  I think we need a certain amount of peace and trust to even be open to the idea of the intuition. It is a real challenge to lay aside the left brain and listen to the little voice that speaks in your head. The problem is there are at least two little voices. The first one is your intuitive side, the second one is a voice of fear and insecurity arising from negative experiences. This is why it is a good thing if we can do ‘housekeeping’, constructive introspection if you will, and try and figure out what’s what. I am most impressed by people who say for example “I don’t know why I am here” or “I just felt I had to come”. This is a sign that the intuition is working.

These diaries are written using the same methodology. I read Samuel Pepys diary for the approximate date, relax my mind and see what jumps out at me. We are nearly at my 150th diary and the system always seems to produce new material. My contention is that we know far more than we think we know but 99% of the knowledge is residing outside our conscious mind. If you think that is a rather clever system because if we were aware of Everything all the time it would be too much for us.

Most of the matters are written first thing in the morning when I have had the essential coffee. Obviously matters about the day itself are written later on so there are normally two diaries per day except today when there’s only enough material for one.

We did a lovely gardening job today, my favourite type of work, which is making lovely square-shaped hedges out of dreadfully misshapen and unloved forms. I have mild OCD so it suits me down to the ground. Also to celebrate we had our first crop of radishes from the allotment. There is nothing to beat pulling a fresh root vegetable out of the ground, washing it and crunch crunch crunch.

I have a new person apply for an allotment today. She was taking over from an old lady who could no longer manage the physical side of running the allotment. Strangely the new person had exactly the same problem having to persuade their mother that she would no longer able to work on an allotment so she offered to adopt the outgoing tenant and give her some of the allotment space so she could still feel useful and relate to the earth and to her beloved strawberries. It turned into a baking hot day from an indifferent morning. Well, so it should, it is June after all.

As Samuel Pepys would say, dinner and so to bed.