The United Kingdom is a fusion of four old countries that have fought wars together and with others. It has had kings, princes, invaders, usurpers, pretenders, bishops, priests and parliamentarians who have fought among themselves. Going back into archaeological time and pre-history and even in legend there have been conflicts of people and ideas of which we know little. No wonder that the country is littered with old castles, battlefields, abbeys, forts and earthworks. [Read more…] about Ruins, what to Do with ’em?
When I was a boy, some houses had cellars. Outside the house a grating covered a chute down into the cellar and the coal delivery man dumped his sack of coal down the chute. [Read more…] about Ferns, what are they good for?
About 14 years ago, at about the time I retired and began to withdraw from some of my commitments, I wrote down a list of some of the things I would like to see happen during the remainder of my life.
Recently, I found the notes I had written. Here they are, verbatim.
I hoped for: [Read more…] about Agenda of Hopes Dashed
Out in Sri Lanka there is an interesting group of people, the ex-pats. These people have decided to make their lives on the tropical island for a number of reasons. None of them is quite sure where home is, here, there, or somewhere else. Perhaps home is a different concept for them, home is where they happen to be today. Here are the stories of some of them. [Read more…] about Ex-Pats Lives; Where is Home?
For a pre-Christmas treat I took my wife on a special trip. She dressed beautifully in mainly white with her large sunhat and a pair of gold lame shoes. I like to give a girl a good time and I had heard of this place up in the hills near Kurunegalla in the centre of Sri Lanka. Not many girls get a chance to visit there.
We drove up a narrow lane through an attractive area of jungle to a small settlement with a couple of bungalows and installations of mining equipment. [Read more…] about Give a Girl Some Graphite
The end of places holds a fascination for many of us; Land’s End, Finisterre, John o’ Groats, North Cape, Cape Horn and the end of Sri Lanka. [Read more…] about The End of Sri Lanka
I spoke with a Sri Lankan Professor called Sunil about who are the Sri Lankans. The guide books say there are Sinhala, Tamils, Burghers, Moors and Veddah. How do you tell which are which? I asked.
“Did you expect Britain to vote for Brexit?” He asked. “And did you expect Donald Trump to be elected President of USA?” I told him “No” on both counts. ” [Read more…] about As Others See Us – Brexit Britain
Michael Ondaatje writes a good story and some fine poetry. I have enjoyed his ‘Cat’s Table’ and ‘Running in the Family’. ‘The English Patient’ is his best known work.
I had been reading ‘Running in the Family’ about Michael’s early life in Kegalle, Sri Lanka. Michael Ondaatje left Sri Lanka at the age of 11 in 1954 and after a few years in England he moved to Canada in 1962 where he is a respected literary figure. The Ondaatje family had a coconut estate in Kegalle called Rock Hill where Michael spent his childhood. [Read more…] about Michael Ondaatje – Author
Sri Lanka reveals itself more interesting the longer one stays here. We are back here in Kandy to study snake bites and Brenda is teaching and working to improve the library at a poor school.
I decided to research some of the improvements in the country since Independence in 1948 and got involved with some historians. The idea is to link events around the first road ever built in Sri Lanka, their A1 from Colombo to Kandy. Near the start of the road is the temple of Kelaniya. [Read more…] about Buddhist Rituals
It is exactly 65 years since I arrived at my boarding school in Cheltenham as a new boy. A harrowing time for me for I did not know where to go and what to do. A bell rang and everyone disappeared.
I was left alone in the vast main corridor with 20 or so closed class-room doors to choose from. The head boy saw me and asked me which form I was in. I hadn’t a clue. I eventually arrived late in the English class. [Read more…] about Teachers Who Inspire
I have a friend, let’s call him Pumpkin Pete. His great ambition is to win the prize in the local flower show for the largest pumpkin [Read more…] about How to Win a Pumpkin Competition
On return from holiday in the early evening we hired a taxi from Southampton Parkway Station and arrived safely home shortly afterwards. It was a nice clean taxi with a pleasant and helpful driver. [Read more…] about In Praise of Eastleigh Taxis
Now the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us, we can expect to see mushrooms, moulds, fungi and toadstools.
There must have been some along the walks through the water meadows between Winchester and St Cross taken by Keats during his stay in Winchester in 1819. All manner of autumnal things are mentioned in his Ode to Autumn but fungi are not included. Read it for yourself here. [Read more…] about Animal, Vegetable, or Neither?
The book of Kells is an illuminated book of the gospels written in Latin by monks from the Columban Abbey of Kells, a place north of Dublin. Some of the folios were scribed in Lindisfarne and Iona. The book was probably completed about 800 AD and kept in Kells until the Abbey was dissolved in the 12th century. Now it resides in Trinity College, Dublin.
I saw it there while attending a conference about publishing. We complained, as all authors do, about the difficulties of publishing. The modern author has life easy compared with the difficulties of publishing 1200 years ago
There is something quintessentially English about garden parties. They are rare events as many are washed away by our capricious climate.
Last year we did not have one. The memory of the year before was too strong. Everyone was indoors. Our BBQ chef slaved under the garage up-and-over doors to shelter from the rain. He did a good job but the garage still smells of sausages.
I have heard people complain, like Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom, that there is nothing much to do hereabouts. [Read more…] about Nothing to do – Really?
It is not solitude, loneliness and seclusion that makes a writer. It is a great social life. They often start their careers in a Creative Writing Class. So it happened that four writers met in Chandler’s Ford writing group a few years ago. [Read more…] about Secret Lives of Chandler’s Ford
I was on board Lord Nelson ship at the Seed2Sailing – the launch party for this year’s Jubilee Sailing Trust Autumn Pumpkin Festival and Scarecrow Avenue, which will take place on Saturday 8th Oct 2016.
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;”
Sea Fever by John Masefield
[Read more…] about Life aboard a Tall Ship: Jubilee Sailing Trust’s Ship Lord Nelson
We were fortunate to pick two sunny days for a trip to the Isle of Wight.
During the trip down Southampton water we saw the Ovation of the Seas, a new 168,000 ton diesel-electric driven cruise liner She is undergoing inauguration event prior to her maiden cruise to China. She will operate between china and Australia. [Read more…] about Walk on the Isle of Wight
When you are at your most vulnerable, you need all the help you can get. Do you get it? No. I live in a house full of women and I am well looked after in the most part but these girls turn the bathroom into a minefield.
There you are, in the shower, naked, enveloped in steam, water streaming into your eyes. You need shampoo. Your groping hand soon knocks several plastic bottles down into the shower pan. [Read more…] about Always Read the Label