Garden Firsts!!!!!!

Those of us fortunate to have gardens have probably spent more time in them than ever before. We are certainly grateful for our garden and we are also fortunate that we can walk into the countryside. I obviously notice the birds that pass overhead or turn up in the garden. Well today was a first I was cutting the grass and I heard a cuckoo close by. I looked up to see the cuckoo fly above my head and lower than roof height. I have seen four or five cuckoos this Spring but to see one over my garden is priceless! Another first was a four nights ago when we were woken in the early hours of the morning by an incredibly loud call of a Little Owl (I think he was in our Quince Tree at the front of the house so fairly close!) I can’t recall hearing one in the garden before. The picture below is of one I took in the nearby churchyard (maybe it was this one!)

The good news my number one critic has given me a positive response on the story I have just finished. So now it is full ahead with tidying up etc.

Any Gloucestershire  teachers reading this just to say I am offering my services for free this summer for me to come and in and Story Tell outside to the children -I am suggesting playground or somewhere suitable where everyone can be spaced out safely and I can avoid coming into the building..

Regular readers will know I don’t set quiz questions on a Sunday but there is one tonight which you can have a guess on it was supposed in last night’s blog!

Yesterday’s cricket answers

a) Leicestershire play at Grace Road    b) Stumps are 9 inches wide (22.86 cm) and 28 inches tall (71.12 cm)   c) WG’s initials are William Gilbert    d) Stumps are commonly made of Ash

Todays’ question is on throwing the cricket ball –Robert Percival in 1882 according to Wisden has the record for throwing the cricket ball how far did he throw it (Imperial measurements) I will give you some leeway!



A ramble through all our yesterdays!!!

Recently a few of us from my school days (when I was a pupil) have been in touch and have been sharing old photos. It prompted a long lost memory of the first time I went to international cricket without an adult I went with two others to the Oval (I was 14) to see the first three days of an Ashes Test. I find it quite amazing now-that we clambered onto a train in Hitchin in the early morning (North Herts) and went off to London not coming home till late at night. We organised everything ourselves. The cricket was memorable for the political fall out. South African born cape coloured Basil D’Oliveira  scored a hundred but he was not picked by the cricket establishment for the subsequent tour of Apartheid South Africa (he later was brought into cover an injury and the tour was cancelled.) It was a political awakening for me (I never would buy anything South African for 12 long years till Apartheid ended); but that Test match saw something else for me that is the stuff of boyhood dreams and it doesn’t seem believable in this day and age.

At the end of play on the third day the three of us decided to wait outside the player’s entrance in the hope of autographs (selfies were along way off). A couple of Aussies came out and we got their autographs followed by  one England bowler David Brown then dream time! England player Derek Underwood came out and asked for four volunteers (there were quite a few of us milling outside) to help him carry some autographed cricket bats from the England dressing room! Luckily three of the four volunteers he picked were three grubby urchins from Hitchin (when I saw my face later in a mirror my face was covered in dirt). Derek asked not to ask for autographs as we entered the inner sanctum. Players who spoke to us were Colin Cowdrey, Colin Milburn and Basil D’Oliveira  these names might not mean anything to many of you reading this but to us…………….!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Then Alan Knott burst out of the shower (no safe guarding procedures then!)  How many people can say they have been in the England Dressing Room!!!!! When cricket was on TV and Derek Underwood appeared my Mum would always say ” There’s our Bill’s friend!”

Yesterday’s Quiz

a)  Basil is the herb in Pesto   b) A Tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry   c) Hollandaise Sauce is made from Egg, lemon juice and melted butter   d) Red Onions originated in Italy  e) Paella gets the name from the shallow pan it is cooked in.

Today’s Quiz  are on a cricket theme

a) Who play at Grace Road?     b) How wide is the cricket wicket formed by three wooden stumps (and how tall)?   c)  What do the initials in W.G,.Grace  stand for?  d) What wood are cricket stumps made from?


Ice Cream Treat

Lovely ride social distanced ride today ending up with a Winstone ice cream on Rodborough Common. A real treat!

Longer blog tomorrow!

Yesterday’s answers on woods and trees

a) quinine comes from bark   b) Orangutan   c) Macaw is largest parrot  d) Epiphytes live on other plants but don’t damage them   e) Gabriel Oak is the Thomas Hardy character

Today’s Quiz thought it should be on food as I mentioned ice-cream

a) Which herb is in pesto?  b) What food is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry?    c) What are the two main ingredients of a Hollandaise sauce?  d) In which country do red onions originate?  e) How does paella get its name?

Wild Wood

A Paul Weller song for today in acknowledgement of our delightful walk this morning in the woods up by Selsey Common. It was good to be out of the sun while doing a decent walk. There are some wonderful Beech Trees up there. (one picture of the wood below) I recalled that in  my first job we took the whole school on a nature walk through those same woods. In those days there was much more freedom to do things like that in education and it was great fun! I know from speaking to past pupils I meet these days  they always remember fondly events like these.

I was surprised to hear that my football team have just reappointed our ex-manager today. Although in the current situation it is difficult to think about sport it doesn’t really seem that important. Having said that, I do miss it as I do pubs and mixing with friends and family.

Quiz answers  from yesterday.

a) Charlie’s grand parent’s are Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephine, Grandma Georgina and Grandpa George,   b) The clock would sometimes strike 13 in Tom’s Midnight Garden  c) Smaug is the dragon in the Hobbit    d) Captain Ahab from Moby Dick    e) Captain Smollett captained the Hispaniola

Today’s Quiz following my walk is on woods and forests!

a) 20% of all drugs contain extracts of rainforest plants. From what does the malaria drug quinine derive?   b)  Which is the largest of the tree dwelling apes, whose name means “forest man”?   c) What is the largest parrot in a rainforest?   d) What type of plants are epiphytes?  e) What main Thomas Hardy character is named after a tree?



Eye Test Blog

Decided to make this a public health information service. Please don’t drive if you are unsure about your eye sight!!!!!!!

Enough of that! Seriously I hope everyone is well and enjoying this wonderful weather (not so wonderful for the garden). I got up at the crack of dawn  to go for a long bike ride, when I looked out of the kitchen window I looked at the fence and look what was there (two pictures below)! Although picture quality isn’t great because it was taken through the window. Clare took a much better one a few years ago after a woodpigeon was killed by another female! At the moment we are also getting good views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the feeders-I suspect young are nearby.

My new story is now with my number 1 critic to give me her thoughts (fingers crossed).

Yesterday’s answers

a) Postman Pat’s surname was Clifton    b) The three tunnels in the Great Escape were Tom, Dick and Harry    c) The Daleks were created by Davros in Doctor Who -or you could have Terry Nation  who was the writer.

Today’s Quiz all from famous stories

a) Name the Grandparents in Charlie and Chocolate Factory   b) What was unusual about the Grandfather Clock in Tom’s Midnight Garden?   c) what is the name of the dragon in the Hobbit?   d)  Who is the sea captain in Moby Dick?    e) What is the name of the Captain of the Hispaniola in Treasure Island? 

Summertime Blues

Apologies but this is a rant tonight! Everyone  I know have adhered to the lock down rules over the last 8 weeks often at great cost. But after hearing a succession of appeasers over the last three days for Mr Cummings my blood is boiling! It certainly is one law for one! How do they expect anyone to play by the rules now! Even the Daily Mail is angry about it!

Lovely letter I read in today’s paper probably sums up  “Asking Boris Johnson to sack Cummings is like asking Emu to sack Rod Hull!”

That’s it on that front!


Quiz answers on baby animals

a) bat-pup  b) pigeon-squab  c) kangaroo-Joey d) rabbit –kitten  e) peacock-peachick  f) owl-owlet  g) hare-leveret  h) Llama-Cria   I) Platypus-Puggle (that is my favourite)  j) eagle-eaglet

Today’s quiz on film and TV  only three questions tonight because it is late!

a) What was Postman Pat’s surname?  b)  What were the names of the three tunnels in the Great Escape?   c) Who created the Daleks?  

Dead Skunk

How about that title for today. It is a Loudon Wainwright the third song (I wanted an animal song for today) and remembered this one from my misspent youth! I saw him perform a couple of times at Hitchin Folk Club.

I decided on an animal theme because today we found a young Blue Tit that had fallen out of a nest box. Have seen plenty of young birds this Spring in the garden we already have had young Starlings, Blackbirds, Jackdaws, Greenfinches and Robins being fed. Around the village they have been many goslings, ducklings and cygnets on the canal and lakes. So guess what the theme for the quiz will be today!

My time is taken up  working my way through my story before someone else can read it!

Today’s quiz is all on the names of young animals. Can you name the young animals of the following.(there are a couple of hard ones!)

a) Bat  b) Pigeon  c) Kangaroo  d)  Rabbit  e)  Peacock   f) Owl  g) Hare  h)  Llama         I) Platypus    J) Eagle

River Man

Don’t think I’ve had a Nick Drake song for the blog title before! We had a lovely walk by the River Severn today (we had to cycle there first). It was the area near Hock Cliff which holds fond memories of us taking our boys there when they were little to look for fossils. We met a family and they asked where to look for fossils-we pointed the way but I did warn the children there was a Tyrannosaurus around-the young boy looked worried so I had to let him know he ate a boy earlier and actually I was just being daft!  I had hoped for some birds but the tide was right up-so there was mainly a vast expanse of water and hardly a bird in sight!

I have managed to get some more done on my story-hopefully I will be able to let my critic read it later this week! I also heard some snippets of the Two Severn Bores podcast today-Dan has enhanced my stories with music in the background.

Yesterday’s Quiz answers on sporting comebacks  (no quiz today it is a Sunday!)

a) Dennis Taylor lost the first eight frames in that classic final before going on to win   b) Laxman 281 and Dravid 180 shared a stand of 376 to turn the Test Match around in 2001     c) Charlton won 7-6 after being 5-1 down against Huddersfield in 1957    d) Stephen Roche came back from looking being well beaten on the climb to only loose 5 seconds on the stage-he was in a state afterwards.      e) Leicester City gave all football fans hope by winning the title in 2016

Teeth Story Part 3 (24-4-1988)

Where has he been I hear you ask! Yesterday is only the second day since lockdown when I haven’t blogged not because I didn’t know what to write actually the opposite I have been writing my story regularly through the last week. I incorporated the new idea that came to me one night, it meant a few extra chapters (they are not that long) interspersed throughout the story. My next job is to read it through to see how it flows and then I shall pass it on to my resident critic before I start redrafting. I did get thoroughly immersed in the writing process, it helps the lack of sporting distractions and of course no Story Telling. I am going to investigate doing some virtual performances over the next fortnight.

Today I managed a social-distanced cycle ride with a couple of friends and despite the wind and getting caught in two heavy showers it felt really good for our well being to be out with friends (keeping our distance of course).

I was going to write quite a bit for the third part of the teeth saga but will try and condense it! I will take you back to that dentist waiting room a few years back and the magazine article about Fever Pitch. Well the pain of that assault was finally put to bed on a magical  April day at Wembley Stadium (old version) that Mr Hornby mentions in his book. He says it was one of the worst days of his life for some of us it was the best sporting moment.

I could wax lyrically about one of the most entertaining footballing finals at Wembley as the Hatters defeated a powerful Arsenal team but I won’t. Instead some of the bits around that day – I had called in a favour in the scramble to get tickets-I had done much work with the English Schools FA running a Stroud representative team for a few years and so i got two tickets from them for my Dad and brother right by the half way line. My friend Colin got me a ticket in the Arsenal end for a teaching mate and we had some tickets scattered at the Luton end. I had driven three of us up in my Fiesta to meet my Dad and two fellow Hatters in a pub in Acton. Everyone in the pub apart from our little group were Arsenal fans who were condescendingly polite to us along the lines about us having a wasted journey etc.etc. Six of us squeezed into the car and miraculously we found a parking slot near the stadium. We all scattered into the ground for the match. At the end of a dramatic game we had triumphed! As I stood on the terrace hoarse and emotional I smiled as the ghost and pain of 74 was finally laid.

So Nick Hornby “Your boys took a hell of a beating……..”  (Picture of winning goal below and picture of some unruly Luton supporters you might recognise one in the mid 70s!)

Today’s Quiz is all about sporting underdogs and comebacks  to continue the blog theme.

a) (snooker) How many opening frames did Dennis Taylor lose to Steve Davis before going on to win the World Championship in 1985?    b) (cricket) India were 274 behind Australia in 2001 but went on to win by 171 runs because of two great hundreds by Indian batsmen who were they?   c) (football you can guess the final score) Charlton were losing 5-1 to Huddersfield in 1957 with ten men and thirty minutes to go and they won what was the final score?****   d) (Cycling) Which cyclist won the Tour de France in1987 having had to have oxygen on a final climb when he amazingly pulled back a minute and 26 seconds on his rival?   e) (football) What unlikely  team surprised everybody by winning the Premier League  in 2016 ?

*****I once played in a game for Brimscombe in late 70s and we were losing a cup tie 5-1 with twenty minutes to go and the opposition had a penalty-they missed we ended drawing 5-5 and winning on penalties!

Fantastic Morning and Teeth Story (part2)

I have just had a marvellous Thursday morning We were resuming our monthly bird survey out by the river (we missed last month because of lock down etc.) The weather was perfect and eleven Little Egrets got us warmed up. The explosive sound of a Cetti’s Warbler drew our attention to the reeds and we saw him darting in and out. Two cuckoos were spotted (sadly not in our patch to record) but easily visible. Four Avocets were flushed by the rising tide. Then magically a Bittern flew over and circled above our heads-a real rarity! This was followed by two Marsh Harriers! I don’t think you can get better than that (well maybe a flamingo!)

The second part of the morning Clare and I had a super walk on Rodborough Common finished with a legendary Winston Ice Cream!

The Teeth (part2)  (Part 1 was in yesterday’s blog)

I am now in a North London hospital looking a mess (what’s different I hear you say). The doctor tells me I will need to see a dentist there is nothing they can do. Two policeman were waiting for me and asked me what I recalled about the incident. I wasn’t helpful because I didn’t know what had happened! I was then driven round North London in a police car looking to see if I could spot anyone (there had been a crowd of more than 30,000!!!!!), one policeman then actually made a derogatory racial comment about one young man walking past and suggesting it must of been him! It was 1974 but I was shocked to hear that from a policeman. Eventually they dropped me off near Finsbury Park Station. At that time my sister Liz was living in student accommodation near there so I went to her place. In her house were a couple of Australian lads who when they saw what happened to me said “That’s not on, come on we will get our cricket bats and go find these Arsenal guys and give them what for!”  it took some time for Liz and I to persuade them it wasn’t a good idea! I had to go back to college on the following Monday with my teeth still in a state (the emergency dentist at home thought they would have to come out).

I got a phone call from the divisional police commander a couple of days later asking me if I recalled anything about the incident! I couldn’t he was really sympathetic. I think in later years I suspect this sympathy and follow up might not of been there possibly your own fault going to football.

My teeth were later saved by a dentist who painfully straightened them (I’ll spare you the gory details!) But all those years later they were needing attention hence me being at my dentist with the magazine (see part 1)  (part 3 tomorrow)

Quiz answers

a) Danube flows into the Black Sea   b) Vladivostok is on the Sea of Japan (you can have Pacific)  c) The Tasman Sea is between Australia and New Zealand   d) The smallest and shallowest ocean is the Arctic   e) The Straits of Hormuz is the passage out of the Persian Gulf.

No quiz tonight -promise I will do one tomorrow!