Mad Dogs and Englishmen out in the Midday Rain!!!!

Today’s title says it all. I attempted to go for my exercise ride at lunchtime thinking there was a window of dry weather-there wasn’t!!!!! A good soaking resulted!

Apologies there was no blog yesterday!

I have been writing quite a bit because I can’t do much in the garden with the rain. It is surprising when you sit down and graft how new ideas develop-had one today for my story that came out of the blue!

I feel I should make some time to learn some new stories over the next fortnight-however, we may attempt to do some more recording for the pod cast this weekend so I have to re-learn the stories for our River Severn show.  Need to watch the weather forecast -it has to be dry so we can social distance ourselves doing it!

I’ve decided to put two different pictures on today -this follows on from my comment on my dressing up a couple of days ago. The pictures are from my first World Book Day at Dursley Primary School the one with the children and my colleagues featured in the local press. The “baby” on my lap is actually a good friend of my Peter’s and is now a civil servant playing a key role in the current crisis! I was supposed to be Mrs Doubtfire! I hope the pictures and the poem make you smile!


Tuesday’s Quiz Answers loosely based on fruit.

a)  Tomato is called the Love Apple   b)  Chinese Gooseberry is Kiwi Fruit  c) Flower of Kent is the apple that may of landed on Isaac Newton’s head (poem at the end of blog)  d) The Beatles set up the Apple label  e) Fleegle and friends were the Banana Splits!

The poem at the end is my take on the Isaac’s apple!

Today’s Quiz is all on disguise as I have mentioned my attempts to be someone else-I don’t think it is that hard-I did all from my head!

a) Which Greek hero was dressed as a girl by his mother to avoid him going to war? b) Which well known  fictional character dresses up as a washer woman to escape from jail?  c) The fictional Sir Percy Blakeney is better known as………? d) Who’s place did Sydney Carton take?  e) Who is Superman?


Picture the idyllic scene of sixteen sixty-six
An orchard bulging with branches of great worth
A wigged man pondering-his thought all of a mix
As to, “Why it is we don’t fall of the earth?”

Eyes transfixed on the heavily laden trees
A solitary apple stirs, begins to tremble, shiver
Ruffled by a flicker of a gentle breeze,
Isaac excitedly anticipating, his whole body a quiver.

A maggot ridden, wrinkled apple starts to drop
Descending under Isaac’s scientific scrutiny
A violent bruising impact…………plop!
That moment, that idea…….Isaac’s destiny.

Isaac Newton’s Law of Gravity is now a fact
But what was the unknown apple, responsible for that?




Walk on the Wild Side

Today’s title is inspired by tonight’s  exercise walk in the rain-I didn’t see anyone for a long time. We have been spoilt with the weather in lock down so don’t mind today’s rain (all day)-it is good for the garden! however,   I needed to get out! Didn’t see too much  got a fleeting glimpse of a Great White Egret (there were also some Little Egrets as well) and a dust up between two Grey Herons! The one thing on days like this it does mean you get some writing done! I have been working on my story Pig the Legend and the direction of the story is getting clearer. I hope to have completed the first draft soon-however, much work to undertake afterwards!

A short bit from my St Helena adventure today. I thought I would do a bit on the communications of that time-it was 22 years ago. In a previous blog I mentioned the importance of the fax to communicate with home and on occasions with my school.  I am sure the internet has made a significant difference for the island since my visit. Then you could get cable T.V. from South Africa so you could watch Premier League football matches and films. Radio St Helena was probably the most important communication for information-it did do world news but it quite rightly took a secondary role to the island’s news. My favourite moment was when I was lying in the bath having a good soak when the news came on the radio and it nearly caused me to drown! (The whole world was then obsessed by Bill Clinton’s extra martial activities at that time but that was only the second item on the news that day- the first was about the record lemon grown in Lemon Valley on the island!)  I did find it difficult to get football results from the football league-so you would often find me on a Saturday afternoon with a radio I various contorted positions trying to get BBC World Service signal so I could find out how the Hatters had fared through a static crackle.

I did tell stories on my school visits to the children so you can see I was already developing my Story Telling (I had no idea that in the future  I would be doing it in so many diverse places and different audiences.) I was asked to read a story for the radio so I read “Bill’s New Frock” by Anne Fine-those of you who know me well won’t be surprised by my choice ! It was once my choice of apparel at one World Book Day at school – we were also interviewing for a new teacher that day as well and Sue my deputy was alarmed I would be meeting candidates dressed as Bill-I argued that whoever was appointed would then know what to expect! Bill’s New Frock was one of many children’s books we had brought out especially for the island education service. Many years later I heard the recording was still being played from time to time.

Yesterday’s Quiz answers on woodland

a) The native British coniferous trees are Yew, Scots Pine and Juniper  b) The oak leaves and acorn is the symbol of the National Trust   c) Northumberland has the largest forest in England  d) The 100 “Aker” Wood is in Winnie the Pooh  e) The Sycamore Tree is under where the Tolpuddle Martyrs met.

Today’s Quiz has to be about fruit have mentioned the lemon!

a) Which fruit is also known as the Love Apple?   b) By what name is the Chinese Gooseberry better known?  c) The Flower of Kent is associated with  which famous historical figure?  d) What was the name of the record company set up by the Beatles in 1968? e) Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snork were known collectively as the……?




Ride for Sanity

I have regaled you all in previous blogs with my exercise routine during lockdown. One day it is a decent bike ride the other is usually Clare and I walking ( with my binoculars around my neck). I went further today on the bike  (well away from people) and I loved going through the woodland between Bisley (a lovely Cotswold Village) and Sapperton. The narrow road went under a marvellous canopy of fresh light green leaf covered branches with bluebells and wild garlic covering the woodland floor. I love British woodland! It certainly was good for morale!!!!


No St Helena writing today-thanks for the positive comments. More tomorrow hopefully. I have included some pictures of yours truly on the island just to prove I was there. One is on battlements of the main fort, the other is on the fortified wall overlooking the sea. Finally there was some relaxation while I was on the island and there were was only really a couple of  places to swim (this one involved an  hours walk down Lemon Valley)-you entered the water via the rocks and then scrambled up them to get out! By the time you walked back up you were jiggered!


Today’s quiz as I mentioned cycling through woodland all the questions are related to woodland!

a) Which three conifer trees are native to Britain?    b) Which tree’s leaves are the symbol for the National Trust?     c) Which county is England’s largest forest?  d) What is the name of the wood in the book Winnie the Pooh?  e) What species of tree did the Tolpuddle Martyrs meet under?

Free as a Bird

My photo from this morning’s walk gave me the old Beatles classic for today’s title! It is of a Chiffchaff -I went to take the picture while it was on the branch -and then captured it moving! We had a delightful walk in the morning sunshine seeing the following migrants Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat also heard a Cuckoo (at last for me) and Reed Warblers . Also saw a striking Linnet at the top of a tree.

Yesterday’s answers to the Quiz no new questions today (have a rest on a Sunday!)

a)  Flowers in the Rain by the Move was the first song played on Radio 1 (often a quiz question)    b) Rolling Stones singing I Wanna be your Man was the first song played on Top of the Pops  c) First song ever recorded was a French lady singing “Claire de la Lune” in 1860 (before Eddison’s 1877 recording!) d) First Beatles Number 1 was “Please Please Me” e) Biggest selling album in UK (not a Greatest Hits) is the Beatles again with Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

St Helena a different  perspective

Some pictures showing the rugged coastline of St. Helena and also the burial spot for Napoleon (his remains are now in Paris). I have added my poem that I wrote at the time trying to express some slightly muddled thoughts about the island at that moment in time.



                                                Dawn mists envelop Seaview
                                                Perceptions temporarily clouded
                                                Mynah birds chatter incessantly
                                                Words incomprehensible as those from afar
                                                Morning horns blare their warnings
                                                Unlike those Sirens that mislead
                                                The sea melts into the distant horizon
                                                 Like a tattered dream on the breeze
                                                 Rugged rocks dominate, weathered and worn
                                                 A harsh reality that halts our moves
                                                 Flax swarms down the hillside
                                                 The infestation once imported,                                                                                      now a choking obsolescence 
                                                 Irrational notion of a deep malaise
                                                 Roads winding precariously from hillsides
                                                 Twisting and writhing like a knotted serpent
                                                  Going back over well worn tracks
                                                   Napoleon incarcerated, despairing
                                                   Trapped aspirations quashed
                                                   An island discarded, patronised from afar
                                                   Left to find new threads from neglect
                                                   Yet optimism abounds from the multitude of smiles
                                                    For future hope……………………

Recording Studio

A quick update on the Story Telling front. I have been making some recordings for our Two Severn Bores podcast. My “exercise” yesterday saw me cycle to the River Severn to make an outside recording wanted to make it sound more interesting with bird song etc. I had a dose of double luck-first of all I saw four Whimbrel (a Curlew like migrant that passes through on their way North. I also saw the Severn Bore was moving towards me a truly wonderful spectacle- I ended up doing 6 takes for the recording as I kept tripping over my words! Today observing physical distancing Dan and I recorded on his super duper microphones and other stuff-it went well so watch this space!

Today is a short piece on St Helena (poem possibly tomorrow).

You may remember from previous photos that Jamestown is in a valley between two imposing towering barren hillsides. At the seaward end is Jacob’s Ladder (two pictures below) that lead up to the cliff-top fortifications. Below is my account written on the island about my first climb up it! First picture is from the fort.

What an impressive feat of engineering to construct the ladder up a sheer  cliff face to the fort above! From the bottom it looks vertical-from the top you suffer from vertigo! 699 steps, each step seems to be fractionally deeper than your average steps that we are used to  (were they giants in Napoleon’s time?) So for each step you feel like you are stretching more than is comfortable.

As a piece of bravado I tried to run/jog up the ladder. At my age it could be a risky business especially with more limited medical services ton the island than we have at home. It feels like an eternity to get up to the escape path and it is still not halfway! The views are stunning, the ship is still in the harbour preparing to leave for Cape Town. Breath is getting shorter and is definitely laboured. Sweat begins to run down my face stinging my eyes. Plod, plod, plod, gasp, gasp, gasp…………………….-pace has stalled significantly! At last puffing and panting like an old man I am there. I think of the poor bastards that built this-it must of been hell! The fortifications all over the island are built in many precarious positions surely that must of taken it’s toll on the labourers. However, it is well worth it-with a feeling of triumph and exhilaration I wave at Louisa a mere speck down below. This feeling is tempered with the realisation I’ve got to go back down. Boy it is steep and dangerous looking! Legs find it so much harder and with every step my knees cry out for mercy. My calves tighten -please don’t get cramp halfway down!……….

I didn’t get cramp-makes me laugh now when I mention it is risky at my age!

Yesterdays Castle Quiz answers

a) Leeds Castle is in Kent   b) Corfe Castle is on the Isle of Purbeck   c) Berkeley Castle is where Edward 11 met a painful end!   d) Dover Castle is the largest in Britain  e) Monty Python and the Holy Grail was the film with the castle of AAAARRRGGGGHHH!

Today’s question are all on records to go with today’s title

a) What was the first record played on Radio 1  b)  The first record on Top of the Pops? c) the first recording ever?   d) First Beatles Number 1 single?   e) Biggest UK album of all time that is not a Greatest Hits (Queen and Abba are those)?



Obviously today’s title refers to St Helena and the last years of Napoleon Bonaparte and not the song by Steve Knightly of Show of Hands.

The whole island was cloaked with history and everywhere you moved you touched it. Tumbled down fortified walls, discarded cannons and battlements were everywhere. There were two buildings on the island where Napoleon had stayed –The Briars and Longwood House both these buildings are now under French jurisdiction with the tricolour flying; the place where Napoleon had been buried is also French property.



The Briars was the home of the Balcombe family and Napoleon stayed in a pavilion in the garden, while his new home Longwood House was being made ready for him.Here he struck up a love/hate friendship with the Balcombe’s fourteen year old daughter. It is a great story and maybe I will write about this in the future. I have read a couple of books on the subject.


Longwood (pic above) is where Napoleon and his retinue lived till his death. During his time here the relationship with the island governor grew increasingly fractious and his movement on the island became more restrictive as a result. I loved walking round Longwood especially the garden that Napoleon had designed (the paths were sunk into the ground so the British guards outside wouldn’t be able to see him-picture below). During my time I was invited for a meal at Longwood Farm House (where one of his officers lived) my hostess Robina took me to a window with shutters on the outside. She told me to stand by a spot by the window and pointed to a hole in the shutter. Apparently Napoleon had the hole made so he could look out at the Marshall Bertrand’s horses but the soldiers outside wouldn’t be able to see him. It was a spine tingling moment to be able to stand on the same spot that Napoleon had once stood.


I had some inkling of how Napoleon must of felt because when the ship left us to go to Cape Town. Once the ship departed the island was completely on it’s own . There was no way for us to get off the island and there was only minimal contact with the outside world -no email at that time. Obviously I knew I would eventually go home. There was a phone but at £1.35 a minute (really expensive 22 years ago). I did communicate occasionally with my family by fax to Clare’s school from the Island’s Education Centre not exactly private correspondence! Fax seems an old fashioned means of communication now-it seemed fairly modern then. Once when the ship called when I managed to send a burnt letter to my school (It was from Cedric the Dragon telling the children he had bumped into me on St. Helena and he updated them on how I was!)

The one moment when I did feel homesick was day the phone rang out of the blue. It was my son David to tell me his GCSE results. I maintained my composure until I put down their receiver when I promptly burst into tears (possibly not a surprise to those who know me!)

In the next blog if I am brave I will put in a poem I wrote at the time that encapsulates many of the themes I have touched on while writing about St. Helena!

Yesterday’s Cotswold Quiz answers:

a) in 1966 the Cotswolds became AONB     b) Corinum is the Roman name for Cirencester   c) Gustav Holst was born in Cheltenham  d) Gloucestershire (inc South Glos), Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset (inc Bath and NE Somerset), Warwickshire are the six traditional counties for  the Cotswolds. e) Wold means open country usually upland it is derived from the old English “wald” meaning forest.

Today’s Quiz (I decided on castles as I mentioned fortifications in the blog!

a) Leeds Castle is found in which English County?  b) Which famous castle can be found on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset?  c)  Which castle was Edward 11 murdered in 1327?   d) What is the largest castle in Britain?  e)  Castle Stalker appeared in what film but in the film was called the Castle of “Aaaaarrrrrggghhh?”

Cotswold Travels


  My picture from my house on St Helena! Not bad eh!

I had a super ride today up over the beautiful Southern Cotswolds (I am biased I think they are much more attractive than the posh parts further North). I had hoped to see or hear a cuckoo -I deliberately rode through a quiet wooded valley where I have seen cuckoos in recent years.

As this is supposed to be a Story Telling Blog and there hasn’t been much to write about in the last few weeks I thought I would update my activities on the Story Telling Front. The Two Severn Bores are attempting to record this weekend some of their River Severn Podcast-it could be technologically challenging for the Story Teller half!

As for writing I have made the most of this time to write and I am pleased with how my current story is developing (I often think through ideas on my bike and that is still happening but I found I am now dreaming about the story! Should I be worried?) It is a while since I have felt so immersed in one of my stories.

No St Helena notes tonight although I am planning to write thoughts on Napoleon and also my climbing activities on the island.

I am delighted with Wisden -the writing is excellent especially the notes from the editor. I recommend to anyone who loves cricket and wants some reading material to get a copy-you don’t normally have this much time to read a tome like this!

Quiz answers

a) Roughly 50 books can be made from one tree (obviously depends on size of the book!)   b) J.M Barrie gave the rights of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital they are still getting money from this    c) Harry Potter is the third most read book it is also the most banned book in the USA!   d) David Cornwell is Le Carre’    d) The first published book was the Gutenberg Bible by Gutenberg

Today’s questions are all on the Cotswolds as I cycled over them this morning.

a)  What was given to the Cotswolds in 1966?   b)  What is the Roman name for Cirencester?  c) What well known composer was born in Cheltenham?  d) Which six counties are the Cotswolds in?  e) What does “wold” mean?

Below Yellow Wagtail in Frampton yesterday!!!


Wisden and Beer!!!!!

A red letter day here in Frampton! Having returned from my hunter gatherer role the door bell rang (I had braved the supermarket!) There was my  Beer delivery from a local brewery, just as I was carrying it in inside the postman came with a parcel! This was our lockdown treat-it contained for me this year’s Wisden and for Clare The Mirror and Light. (by the way it was not an Amazon delivery we try avoid them!) I’ve already started to read the Wisden (2019 was a special year for cricket!) It is probably the nearest I will get to any cricket this summer-ironically I had been to several net sessions in February and early March.

I promised some more on St Helena and the Saints(Napoleon will appear in a later blog not literally!)

I was going out with a Headteacher colleague to work with the island’s education service and schools with a remit to help develop literacy work in schools (there was one secondary school and a number of first and middle schools.)

The first Saints I met were on Ascension Island. They were the main labour force on the island (including the air base)and spent years on Ascension before going home. Many of them were interested in us and knew about us going out to St Helena.

There were no indigenous people on St Helena when the first European landed in 1502. So the Saints are a mix of the people who have visited the island over the last 500 years and they are from all around the world. Much of the island’s fortifications were built by Chinese Labour, obviously many European sailors and soldiers have ended up on the island. When Britain outlawed the Slave Trade in the 19th century many slave ships were intercepted by the Royal Navy and the slaves were taken to St Helena. Boer prisoners ended up on the island at the beginning of the 20th century as well.

The Saints were cheerful and welcoming. The population at that time was just over 5,000.  I was invited to many houses for generous meals. When we were running training days we heard much about their anxieties one was they did not have full British citizenship (but shamefully the British armed forces recruited from the island-so you could die for Britain but not be welcomed in Britain). I was incensed by this and vowed I would take up their cause when I got home. Lucky for them the new Blair Government  was aware of this injustice. I did write to my MP David Drew and was  delighted when he sent me a copy of Hansard when full citizenship was granted it had a lovely quote from the end of the debate “…… there will be dancing in the streets of Jamestown tonight…….”

Many were obsessed by football and the Premier League and couldn’t understand why I supported Luton  “……yes but Bill who is your Premier League team?” Later back in the UK I did take two young Saints to a Premier League game at Villa Park they were amazed they were in a crowd 7 times the island’s population! The picture below is Harford Primary School  St Helena that I found on the internet I did  visit this school a few times while I was there.

Yesterday’s answers on speed.

a) The sailfish is the fastest fish   b) 9.58 seconds and 10.49 are the male and female world records for the 100 metres   c) The fastest goal was 2.4 seconds by Nawaf Al Abed (there is some dispute on this)   d) 54 balls for the fastest Test Century  e) Mallard holds the record for the fastest steam train at 126 mph

Today’s Quiz is on Books as they featured in my blog today

a)  Up to how many books can be made from one tree?   b) What charity did J.M. Barrie give the rights of Peter Pan to?  c) The three most read books in the world are The Bible, The words of Mao tse-Tung and????????  d)  What is John Le Carre’s real name?  e) Who printed the first published book?


Swifts are here!!!!!!!!

I don’t know about anybody else out there but life here in Frampton has gradually got into some sort of rhythm. Our debate in the evening here is what are we eating tomorrow? Have to say we are eating well and being imaginative with things we find in the freezer and those lost items lurking in the back of the cupboard! The morning debate is when to fit in our exercise. I vary my exercise from a walk one day with my binoculars round my neck to a vigorous cycle usually involving at least one Cotswold Hill. My only new migrant today was on my ride was a pair of swifts (seems early for them) . Amazing, awesome, aviators  who spend almost all their time in the air only landing to nest.

Thanks for the comments on my St Helena ramblings. So today I thought I would continue with roads so there is a little repetition from last time. This is what I wrote while I was on the island about roads.

All the roads are narrow more like our country lanes apart from it is flax that swarms along the roadside. There are very few flat bits on the whole island. Like in Jamestown the roads bend back on themselves tightly as they ascend or descend quickly. You do need your wits about you and the power assisted steering is a great asset! The secret is not to drive quickly, try where possible to think ahead and anticipate! The road down to Sandy Bay is incredible-you are turning the steering wheel at speed frequently in both directions as you descend and you pray nothing is coming up-the thought of reversing up is daunting.

I achieved a notable success on my third weekend while driving up from Sandy Bay. I came across a car that had stalled and the battery was flat. I end up taking control after several of us huff and puff turning the car around so it is facing down. the hill. I bump start the car down this dramatic, twisting and potentially dangerous road. My heart is racing and I feel the butterflies dancing round my stomach. Once the engine is roaring my next problem is I have to turn the car around!  How? I boldly attempt my tightest ever 3 point turn (this is what I failed on in my first driving test). If I misjudge this the drop is considerable (an understatement!)  What a star, what a hero1 I am smirking with pride as I deliver the car back to the owner watched by Mike Clancy the Deputy Governor.”

The picture below isn’t what happened to my vehicle but shows how vehicles were brought to the island because the ship anchors in the bay and everything is listed onto types of barges.There is  more on my driving experiences on the island which I might write about later. Tomorrow I will write something about the “Saints”.

Yesterday’s quiz answers I think they may of been fairly straightforward although the “Burnley Lara” would need some cricket knowledge!

a) Boz is Charles Dickens  b) Eric Blair is better known as George Orwell  c) J.K. Rowling is Robert Galbraith  d)  Lewis Carroll is Charles Dodgson  e) Jimmy Anderson is Burnley’s finest!

Today’s questions are all about speed as I watched those swifts today!

a) What is the fastest fish in the world?   b) What do 9.58 seconds and 10.49 seconds have in common?  c)How quick was the fastest goal in professional soccer?  d) How many balls did it take Brendon McCullum to score the fastest Test Match Hundred? What steam engine holds the world speed record for steam engines and what year was this achieved?

Nom de Plume

Today’s title came to me from my exercise walk with my binoculars today. I got excited when I thought I saw a Common Crane (there are a few around and one pair is rumoured to be nesting) when I got a better view it was a Heron impersonating a Crane! So later today’s quiz is will be on different names  (pen names or nicknames). Disappointed that I saw only one new migrant today- a Common Sandpiper.

Busy writing today on two fronts. I revised some of our Two Severn Bores script for podcast and another chunk on Pig the Legend.

I will do some more about St Helena in tomorrow’s blog.

a) Who was Boz?  b) What was George Orwell’s Nom de Plume?  c) Who is Robert Galbraith? d) Who is Charles Dodgson better known as? e)  Who is known as the “Burnley Lara“?