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Wednesday 25 December 2013

Friday 6 December 2013

Rum and shrub, brandy and lovage Part I

Just had an online conversation that has stirred bittersweet memories of times past. There's something about this time of year, days shortening followed by a return to longer daylight hours that inspires reminiscences...

Cornwall  in the far south west maintains a separate identity in culture and language. For many, many years we would spend weeks down there. In fact, we'd run away from the day job and treasure holiday times living in Cornwall immersing ourselves in the area. 

When I knew it at first it was a tin mining area, hard rock miners and many our friends were miners past and present. With our love of geology and industrial archaeology the area acted as a magnet drawing us to explore more and more.

Botallack, and Levant now taken over by the overbearing auspices of the sterile National Trust. We knew them before they were made part of a collective 'estate', when we could roam free with the dogs and meet scarcely a soul for hours upon end. 

We imbibed in local hostelries and sang our hearts out... 'Goin' up Cambourne hill, comin' down', the 'White Rose' and of course 'Trelawny.' Tell Man the folk singer raising everyone's spirits as the walls reverberated with song.

Roaming the coastal path for days on end. Filling our lungs with the fresh, bracing Atlantic air. Watching the squalls beat in and Atlantic waves crash against forbidding granite rock cliffs. No matter the weather, the two of us and our dogs revelling in the Cornish landscape. 

Then at night and sometimes into the early hours conversing with folk who spoke broad Cornish. Learning and using such phrases as 'damned ee no!' and 'madder do ee'?' Welcoming being addressed as 'Pard' and 'Maid'. Turning as brown as a berry in the sunshine, watching for ripening blackberries to pick from lanes and 'hedges'. A Cornish 'hedge' is not be confused with the ordinary kind. The wily Cornishman built stone walls of granite rocks along the winding lanes. A work of art and geometry, placing individual pieces just so. Then, nature takes hold and plants work their way into crevices. Soon the whole takes on the appearance of a grass bank, but be warned it has a granite core.

Friday 18 October 2013

October melancholy

October by Edward Thomas

The green elm with the one great bough of gold
Lets leaves into the grass slip, one by one,---
The short hill grass, the mushrooms small, milk-white,
Harebell and scabious and tormentil,
That blackberry and gorse, in dew and sun,
Bow down to; and the wind travels too light
To shake the fallen birch leaves from the fern;
The gossamers wander at their own will.
At heavier steps than birds' the squirrels scold.
The rich scene has grown fresh again and new
As Spring and to the touch is not more cool
Than it is warm to the gaze; and now I might
As happy be as earth is beautiful,
Were I some other or with earth could turn
In alternation of violet and rose,
Harebell and snowdrop, at their season due,
And gorse that has no time not to be gay.
But if this be not happiness,---who knows?
Some day I shall think this a happy day,
And this mood by the name of melancholy
Shall no more blackened and obscured be.

This poem sprang to mind after today's Tai chi practice.

October a somber month full of melancholy.

Days drawing in, the dark extending to encompass days as dire news and portents abound.

 Wicca - October is the approach to the season of Samhain  pronounced So-wain. - the end of summer when the worlds draw closer together. A time of dreary days and sorrowful tidings.

Death abounds and reaps at will.

One dear friend no longer celebrates Christmas it is forever overshadowed by the death of her husband. She is now the last of that generation of her family to be alive.

At Tai Chi there are people who are bereft or soon to be that way. Glenice has lost her sister, another person has lost her son. Today's tutor is going to a funeral to mark the passing of another Tai Chi instructor.
Instructor: Lee Davis-Conchie has lost his battle with leukaemia. Clive and some other Tai Chi tutors are going to represent Tai Chi Chen at Lee's funeral, to show respect, to support his widow, to celebrate the life exponent of the art.
Today, after the training Clive went to see his mother. She's in palliative care. I.e. the train has been set in motion for her exit from this world.
Then there's May, Barbara's friend. Today her sister phoned to say their eldest brother is about to shuffle of this mortal coil. Next there are two click of the mouse friends.
Wendy recently lost her father. Faye lost her brother and it seems her sister is also most unwell.

October the season of melancholy...

Saturday 28 September 2013

Mind - the gap

Throughout studies with the OU, by choice I followed science courses. Until then apart from geography and environmental studies I lacked science qualifications with the exception of biology. Sciences 'called' to me, dare I open the door and step across the threshold?

Well, I did and years of science courses came and went. The introductory science course was a cornucopia of biology, chemistry, physics and earth science. I passed and went on the Summer School at Herriot Watt, Edinburgh. 

I also dabbled in technology and maths. My old maths teacher probably began spinning in her grave as the saying goes. 

Success! The tutor was a delight and the course captured my imagination. Finding out about the maths behind rainbows and air bags in cars. Mustn't forget to mention the programmable calculator that also kept me on course. I even bought a book on algebra and another about Pi to read at leisure. Maths had been demystified and conquered.

Next I kept to Earth Sciences (feeling at home there). But, chemistry reared its ugly head, another monster to fight. Short course 'Molecules, medicine and drugs'. Once again the OU made the subject interesting and accessible. Chemistry 'demon' vanquished,

For various reasons including a need to choose EMA end of module assignment in preference to an exam. Psychology beckoned...

The courses were challenging, but I'm glad I did them...

So, what about this year?

Bring on a trip to the dark side. 'Worlds of English'.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Since the 1980s

"Staff have been brutalized by successive govts of all shades. A throw-away mentality predominates."
 I feel the need to offload, to stand up and be counted. 


Because we are in the throes of the political silly season and the cud is being chewed to no avail.

Teachers or I ought to say good/real/true teachers never switch off from education. It haunts and rules their lives.
Add on onerous time-wasting tasks set by Government. Impose a culture where teachers are pilloried by successive Governments...

“A good teacher is like a candle – consuming itself to light the way for others.” ~ Anon

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Kudos to the OU

Today marks the launch of FutureLearn an initiative by the OU and other Universities.
Known as MOOC Massively Open Online Courses.
For more detailed information look here.

I've already shared info with two friends. One in Australia has a Yorkshire ancestry (West Riding) and is keen to know more. The course 'England in the time of Richard III' might appeal to her. The other friend is more a cup half full type, always sees disadvantages, never seeks a workaround, 

I'm tempted to enroll, but first I need to tidy up some odds and ends of OU study.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Change of plans

Originally we were going to venture into the Pennines for a day out. 
The inclement weather had other ideas. So our plan was shelved for another day.

We had lunch at the Memphis Bell.

It's the sort of place you eat there, chat for a while, enjoy the food and say to each other, 'Must do this again'.

Monday 16 September 2013

What's in a name?

Breakfast TV this morning did an intro regarding Derek Jacobi famous thespian.
I wondered why he was appearing on the programme. One short Internet search later and the answer appeared. Obviously he was going to talk about his autobiography published recently.

Cue another search, this time for the book Amazon has it and on Kindle. I read thro' the preview where he talks about his family. Curiousity piqued as he mentioned a family member with the unusual name of Salome Lapland. Next 'move' was to Find My Past and another search.

Result a registered maritime birth

Date of birth: 17 September 1920
Date reported: December 1920
Father's name: SCHNEIDER, Mendel
Mother's name: SCHNEIDER, Hasia Czasia
Mother's maiden name: Cyasia
Ship's name: Lapland

BT334 - Registers and Indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Passengers and Seamen at Sea

Census details

1901 census transcription details for:  Goodmans Fields. 55, Leman Street, Whitechapel

SCHNEIDER, Israel Head Married M 28 1873 Tailor Russia
SCHNEIDER, Eida Wife Married F 28 1873 Russia
SCHNEIDER, Bessie Daughter Single F 4 1897  London
SCHNEIDER, Louis Son Single M 3 1898 London
SCHNEIDER, Jetta Daughter Single F 2 1899 London
SCHNEIDER, Mandel Son Single M 0 (6 MOS) 1901  London

Mendel's parents came from Russia.

Now for the Jacobi family
Derek's parents:
Daisy G Masters married Alfred G Jacobi
Name: MASTERS,  Daisy Gertrude
Registration district: Essex South Western
County: Essex
Year of registration: 1936
Quarter of registration: Jul-Aug-Sep
Spouse's last name: Jacobi

1911 census transcription details for:  21 Poplars Road Leyton

                                                                       Age     Born     Occupation  Where Born
JACOBI, Henry William Head Married M 28 1883 Boot Maker London Mare St Hackney
JACOBI, Elizabeth Rebecca Wife Married 5 years F 25 1886 London Haggerston
JACOBI, Henry William Son M 4 1907 London Hackney
JACOBI, Alfred George Son Married M 0 (7 MONTHS) 1911 London Bethnal Green

Sunday 15 September 2013

As broad as it is long

Waking early, switched on the radio knowing sleep had fled I found myself listening to diverse channels.

Radio 5 live dumbing down for the masses engaging in lads chat. Puerile to say the least; with the 'presenter' in adoration of the sound of his own voice. [cringe-worthy]

Radio 4 extra ah, now there at last is hope of something to listen to. The last part of 'The Charm Factory' set in London 1953; apparently based on the Rank Charm School.
Before the next programme aired I hastened to change stations.

Morning Reports on 5 live and a story about a name:
Ms Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele
 It made a great piece of reporting and can be found here.

Being Sunday it's fine to allow oneself a lie-in. Especially when the weathermen have been issuing dire warnings ahead of today's weather.

Back to radio 4 and Broadcasting House. Not a patch on its earlier incarnation with Eddie Mair (1998-2003).

Now for the Hawaiian name connection. Radio 5 live had found an interview with the owner of the long name. So, no need to attempt pronunciation, just play her pronouncement. Problem solved. No such journalistic nous for radio 4. Broadcasting House took delight in airing a news reader making a valiant attempt and when compared with the original most commendable. Kudos to the Radio 5 live news team.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Two a penny

Another day and yet another storm in a teacup. With Auntie Beeb twisting her undergarments into knots.

Why all the fuss and bother? Apparently, the other part of the present coalition (am tempted to say Rump*) needed to hit the headlines. Late September, early October is the political pantomime season here in good old Blighty. Note not 'UK' that would make another blog post.

Last week the Unions held their conference (TUC). This week the focus is on Glasgow where Nick and his lot are hoping for a share in the limelight. They have been talking about plastic bags beloved of supermarket checkouts, despaired by environmentalists! And, wait for it...the idea is proposed for 2015? Nick talking as though his party will still have a say-so after the election? Dream on, dear boy.

According to the Yorkshire Post, an Ipsos Mori poll shows 45% of his party is unhappy. 

So one of out Celtic nations led the way, did they? 
Wales - the Welsh Assembly 2011 introduced a levy on plastic bags. So what? That's just a tad late in the day as Ireland led the way in 2003!

Now Nick is blethering on about introducing a similar idea in 2015...what a joke! His idea is half-hearted, only applicable to larger stores and supermarkets. Take a look across the Irish Sea, Nick they beat you to it 10 years ago and did it more thoroughly.

Friday 13 September 2013

Storm in a tea-cup?

Suddenly the media is alive with stories for and against privatisation. The Today programme on Radio 4 interviewed representatives from both sides. Then they broadcast a dystopian and a utopian view of the self-off.
Now, social media is full of posts urging against the sell-off.

To me it's history repeating. The biggest sell-offs were in the 1980s under a former Tory leadership. Okay so in theory there's a coalition, but who wears the trousers? Tories of course! 

Many folk may have a child-like view of our mail services as shown in the children's series about Postman Pat and his black and white cat.

John Cunliffe wrote the books and scripts which were animated and directed by Ivor Wood. The first episode, was broadcast on 16 September 1981. He painted in words idyllic scenes of rural life with a lovable postman and Jess, his ever-faithful cat.

One of my uncles was a postman in the 1950s and this was probably when the mail service had a good reputation. Unfortunately this image soon became tarnished. Today's incarnation bearing no resemblance to the good old days. 

Now, when you post something you hope it will arrive at its destination, but there's no guarantee. Some folk are duped into paying for an assortment of over-priced services in the hope of guaranteed delivery. One of them being registered post. Money for old rope as the saying goes.

My uncle had a fixed route and like Pat got to know folk on his route.Those were the times of two deliveries  a day.

There was none of the mass-marketing of junk mail so prevalent today. Now we need the Mail Preference Service to opt out of some of the mailings. 
In the sixties regional newspapers got together to investigate the mail service. It was quite simple. Mail was sent from the towns by the local newspapers to given addresses and a record kept and published of the results. Some places fared worse than others. 

1512 - Sir Brian Tuke appointed Minister of the Posts (Henry VIII)
1635 - Charles I postal service
1660 - Charles II public post office
1783 - Postmen had a uniform
1840 - Penny black postage stamp
1852 - Green post box (Jersey)
1881 - Postal Order
1968 - 2nd class stamps
1990 - Parcelforce
2001 - £2 million (wasted) spent on re-branding, mail service now called 'Consignia'
2002 - Renamed 'Royal Mail Group'. 
2006 - PostComm became regulator and mail lost its monopoly.
2007 - 2500 branches faced closure.
2009 - Labour gov proposed privatisation and were defeated by CWU union (Commercial Workers Union)
2010 - Coalition wanted to sell off the delivery side of the business.
2012 - Historic assets and liabilities of the Royal Mail pension scheme taken on by gov.
2013 - Second attempt by a gov Coalition to privatise. Opposition from CWU who propose strike action.

Full details can be read in the Telegraph (aka Torygraph)

From a personal standpoint, I have suffered from the vagaries of the postal system time and again. 

  • 1980s strikes by postal workers led to tonnes of mail being destroyed rather than delivered. I lost photographs. Then there have been various other irregularities:
  • Exam papers found thrown away instead of delivery.
  • Postal workers charged/imprisoned for siphoning off some mail and failing to delivery quantities of mail.
  • The predilection of delivery drivers to arrive with card saying 'sorry you were out' instead of waiting for the door to be answered and in some cases not even attempting to knock or ring the bell.

The sorting office most prone to strike action and failure to make deliveries has since been closed.

Now, although the postal delivery folk I've met at the door have been pleasant, our usual guy doesn't come very often. Guessing he's suffering from stress, sometimes he remains in the local sorting office. This means his round is tacked on to another person's and if we are 'lucky' delivery is late afternoon.

Today was the giddy limit! Two letters (badly written) both dated mid-July flopped onto the mat.

Monday 9 September 2013

Tonic sol-fa

Reading a blog post from a lovely click of the mouse friend, I find she's been learning to sing. Almost instantly the memory banks brought up a scene from junior school days. Must have been when I was 9 or 10. We were drilled in the tonic sol-fa and although it seemed a tough ask at first became easier with more practice. The teacher turned it into a challenge as she told/showed us to go thro' leaping Doh-Soh and many other combinations. She gave us all a good grounding.

It made music lessons at grammar school with the music master more enjoyable as those from local junior schools were already ahead of some from other schools. It was a sad day when our music teacher left us to teach in the other local school. But it's so long ago that although I can picture her and her lessons I no longer know her name.

As for the berries? After the prolonged fine weather this year the rowan is making a lovely display.

The pear and apple trees did not like the hot weather. This is the only decent looking pear.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Sunday 1 September 2013

As Simon & Garfunkel sang...

"I get all the news I need from the Weather Report".

In a. n. other place someone posted a link to a newspaper about sales of the components for chemical weapons. 
One thing the OU has taught me is not to take news reports at first site or first reading. Hence I went to look thro' Hansard. This led in turn to published Written answers on that topic.

According to the newspaper an M.P. (15 mins of fame perhaps?) will be asking questions. So, he'll have his spot in the limelight yet it would seem to be a storm in a teacup.

Yes certain chemicals were given export licenses, the reason given being that there are acceptable uses such as fluoridation and toothpaste manufacture. That was in January 2012. 

"The licences were granted because at the time there were no grounds for refusal."

The written reply goes on to say that later in the same year (July) the licenses were revoked. It's all too easy to be wise after the event. 

Political jiggery-pokery is 'alive and well'.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Monday 5 August 2013

Tuesday 30 July 2013

A miscellany

Rising late after a lie-in is a luxury much to be enjoyed especially when Morpheus allows sleep.
Finding 7 nearly 8 month old 'puppy' has destroyed one of a pair of someone's newish shoes is not a nice discovery.

Pleasantly off-set by feeding the birds and noticing that the wisteria is coming into flower. Hayfever 'be damned' the perfume from wisteria is a joy to the senses.

Feeding the goldfish in their recently 'seen to' pond is another morning task. Spent ages the other day taking apart and cleaning pumps, hoses and filters in the on-going Summer battle against pond weed. I rarely watch the fish, suppose I ought to, but I do enjoy the plashing of the waterfall. According to Feng Shui water should flow towards the home, and ours does.

Yesterday, I did some online shopping for cinnamon tabs, feverfew, Devil's claw to name but three. Why? you might ask. Guessing it's because most people have 'baggage' left to them by their parents. If you had a mother that had been brought up to use herbal remedies, and as a child had been taken to see a herbalist, fed various herbal tonics 'to do you good' it might go some way to accounting for using herbal 'medicines'. 

When you are brought up on local tales such as Peg O' Nell and Dule upo' Dun and the area for miles around is alive with tales of boggarts and suchlike, a child imbibes myths and legends from an early age. Being read tales at bed-time about 'Why the sea is salt', what happened to poor Peg embeds a desire to read and to learn more. Later, that child learns that some of the tales have roots in history of the area.  

That most famous historie being of the
Witches of Pendle

For another take of the story, I recommend the 'Spooks' books by Joseph Delaney. Not only are they well written, authoritative the author is a retires teacher of English. Needless to say, I have a collection of his Wardstone Chronicles on my e-reader. 

Sunday 21 July 2013

Blowsy July

July, She will fly...

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Targets of opportunity

The ConDems have targeted disabled people and there's been a massive campaign to portray anyone with a disability as 'scroungers'. Now the focus is shifting, this time the targets are 'baby boomers' the so-called rich pensioners. 

The whispering campaign is similar to the way disabled people were targeted. Press reports claiming those of the 'baby boom' generation are too wealthy and do not 'deserve' any public funding such as the Winter fuel allowance. 

But who are the 'baby boomers'? those born between 1946 and 1964.
Thinking about those dates...
1946 end of WWII and rationing still in place.
No television in the majority of households, just the wireless.
Many houses had outside toilets.
No hot water or central heating.
Cold water supply only, all water had to be heated as required. Bathing? Tin bath in front of the kitchen fire, oldest first, youngest last (same water) only difference being some more hot water added because the bath had gone cold.
Street lighting? Gas lamp-posts and folk employed as lamp-lighters. Not all homes had electricity, some were gas only. 
Cinema? Saturday mornings only if you were lucky. 
Motor vehicles? Few people owned cars of motorbikes. If you wanted to go anywhere the normal method of transport was 'Shanks pony'. Walking on foot everywhere, with trains (steam) and buses for longer journeys.

Television was a rarity in the 1950s, black and white and early TVs had a magnifying lens on two webbing straps to hold it in front of the small screen. Reception was at best intermittent and no such thing as a 24 hour service. 

Holidays? In the North there were the wakes weeks (fortnight) when the local area shut down. Some headed for resorts, Blackpool, Morecambe and Southport. Many stayed home. Holiday 'entitlement' was a new idea...3 weeks per year to be negotiated. One winter week and two in the rest of the year, but only the 'lucky few' had a fortnight. In the 1970s that idea of three weeks holiday was standard.

NHS yes and it functioned well, but once you reached 50 you were getting 'worn out'. Doctors admonished patients to 'grin and bear it' because you were 'getting on in years'.

As the saying goes, you cannot have it and spend it. Baby boomers saved for their old age. Debt was shameful, if you needed something you saved up for it. You were expected to live within your means. Sayings from WWII were perpetuated 'Waste not, want not.' 

It's the baby boomers whose pension funds have been raided by businessmen and politicians alike.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Pennies for heaven?

A local newspaper ran a story this week about fund-raising.
Clitheroe’s Civic Society raised their banner outside Boots on Castle Street last week to promote their “Mile of Pennies” event in aid of St Mary’s Church spire rebuild
Someone seemingly had the idea and chose to use the 'brew' below the church. 
The church of St. Mary Magdalene is situated on the top of a limestone knoll in the valley of the River Ribble.
I turned to geograph to find a pic of the church.
© Copyright  John S Turner and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The church is full of memories some happy and some sad. Going back in time to happy memories of school-days and a remarkable music teacher Charles Myers and his favourite phrase 'more mouth move-ment'. In other words one must sing clearly with enunciation. He was a genius at getting the best out of his students. 
The school got a new headmistress and it soon became clear that she did not see eye-to-eye with our beloved music master. But Charlie Myers RSM (Fellow of the Royal schools of Music) was a force to be reckoned with. The choir played an important part in prize-giving and other events. On one occasion we rose to sing...nothing unusual in that, but Charlie had taught us the library rules and we sang them in plainsong. Strike-out Charlie won his battle.
Then there was the time when the BBC came and the choir arranged by Charlie in the Chancel took the lead in a radio broadcast. [Happy times].
There was a little-used way thro' the churchyard, a cut-through which saved time, but was rather precarious. Stone steps dating back hundreds of years giving access to the knoll from the North side, yet a joy to use in good weather.

The 'mile of pennies' was a long-standing tradition in the town in the days of pennies not pence. It was formed regularly, but in the street leading to the old market. Kerbstone edges are usually single, but because of the steepness of the street leading down the hill {the town is like others in the area built on a series of hill slopes), the uphill side was a double kerb. You'll have to use your imagination as the re-developers have been at work and the double kerb removed. Both kerbs used to be covered in lines of pennies in the days when pennies were valuable. Someone would set it going on market day and throughout the day more and more coins would be added.

Few of the older buildings survive...

 © Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Thursday 20 June 2013


The sort of scales found in shops 
 Chef Phillip Harbern - I still have his cookery book and very well-used it is too.
 Poppers individual beads to pull apart and re-join.
I loved having one of these.
 What fun, a simple game played for hours.
Remember having one of these and going on it on Sunday family visits.
 Typing by turning the dial to select characters. Used to type 'thank you' notes.
 Saving stamps
Last, but not least using a phone in a phone-box. 
There was a question about it in 11+ English. 
'How to make a telephone call'.