Every infantry man in a combat zone loves to hear a Chinook. Wop, wop, wop, you can hear the characteristic sound, you know what it is but you can’t see it. The twin rotor helicopter is coming in at 160 mph with 10 tons of stores and ammunition or re-enforcements. Once it lands, it will be there for 60 seconds, there will be no departure delays, no last calls for passengers, no check in queues. What isn’t taken off or loaded within the time is left where it is. [Read more…] about Chinook
Her Majesty the Queen was subdued on her birthday. So are we all after the film The Towering Inferno became reality at Grenfell Towers. Reality without the hero, without the Hollywood sanitisation protecting us from thinking about slow deaths due to smoke inhalation. The film was clean, vision only. There was no smell of fear, no burning of heat, no difficulty breathing, no choking or coughing. There was no edge of panic in voices and actions. [Read more…] about People First? Some Thoughts on Grenfell Towers
Who should I vote for in the forthcoming election? A person or party with political gravitas, one that shows qualities of statesmanship. Or should it be statespersonship? Where are such people? I only see squabbling fourth-formers exchanging slogans as if they embody the solution to the world’s problems.
Our politicians try to do their best but they are products of the system which seems to me to be flawed. But that is a story for another day.
[Read more…] about Who Should I Vote for?
José Ascaso had been riding his chestnut mare most of the day and was beginning to feel tired. Together, they had made good progress deep into the Pyrenean valley alongside Rio Ara. His plan was to spend the night in Broto, a small mountain town, and ride on into Ordesa Gorge the next day. The valley had become steep and narrow with the mountains rising to 6000 feet on both sides. He hoped to spot the Lammergeier, it is known to fly in the gorge. It is a large vulture with a wingspan of almost 3 metres and weighing up to 7 Kg. It feeds on bone after the other vultures have taken the flesh of dead animals. [Read more…] about Exclusive – Chandler’s Ford man found in Pyrenees
This is the time of year for festivals. After the self-imposed misery of Lent, it starts with Easter. When is Easter? Bishop’s secretaries throughout the land are kept busy answering that question.
Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or soonest after March 21st, the Spring Equinox. So now you know for all time. The earliest Easter Sunday will be on March 22nd but that will not happen until 2285 so you need not worry about it. The latest possible is April 25th and that will be in 2038. [Read more…] about Festivals
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.