Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Great Big Butterfly Count

Good news for all those birdwatchers, Michael and Angela have just confirmed that the blue tit have been sighted in Australia. I do believe once the blue tits arrive the lessor spotted red tits will be on their way. I am delighted to say I can see at last a dozen pairs here on Sandbanks beach. The weather is warm and they are enjoying the sunshine. The other good news is the abundance of pink bumtings basking in the sun. A joy to behold. Also seen in pairs and mostly from behind. The adults can become quite big, roundish birds. They can be found on most coastal beaches, as they like to dry off on the warm sand.

Susan has left for Canada and hopefully we will get some positive sightings of all manner of Canadian birds. Keep your camera at hand and I am sure we will be blessed with the most amazing photographs.

Robert is out the front trimming the hedge, a new experience and we can only wish him well in his first endeavour to trim the hedge. I offered to do it but he insisted, so I have let him get on with it. 

Well another week has just flown by, birthdays, trips and poor Angela has had a tummy bug. Hopefully she is feeling better and ready to take on what Australia throws at her. 

Friday saw the start of the butterfly count in the UK. You find a quiet place and just sit and count the butterflies you see in a 15 minute period. They give you a chart to identify them, helpful, as I would never be able to identify them, butterflies never been high on my list of things to remember. I counted 18 in total. The theory is, that they can measure the health of the environment. I will let you know when the full count is done, the more the better. 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Birthdays and Christmas

These days come only twice a year and my birthday was amazingly good. Calls and messages from all over the world, wishing me an amazing day, from all those I love. Gary phoned the day before my birthday to say happy birthday, in case he forgot, the next day. Thanks to all, remember I love you all. 

We ended the day with a meal at Shell Bay Restaurant. Took the ferry and we had a table looking over Brownsea Island and the harbour entrance, food was excellent, Susan had a whole crab and Robert had a lobster. I had a bread and olive board to start and then a Goats cheese salad and chips as a main. Came home to Chocolate Mousse and double cream. Great day.

I woke this morning to just another day, but it was not just another day, it was the day after my birthday. We all get on with our lives after a special time, but just sometimes, the melancholy creeps in when we least expect it. In this darkness we have an old friend, memories, wishing we were still in the past, catching us off guard. Making us wonder when will we see a day like that again. It is good to stop and reflect on a day like the one I have just had.

Onwards and upwards, Susan has left for a week in Canada and Michael has left for the Gold Coast. David seems to have made a new friend and Mark is enjoying a wee dram in my honour. 

Last weekend we had some memorable sport. Bottas wins the GP in Austria, which is a good thing and Vettel gets second place. That Australian is doing well, must be pleasing to all those patriotic Australians. I must admit, if Hamilton is out of the points or off the podium, it can only be good for F1, he is not the best advert for anything, let alone F1. England bet South Africa by 211 runs, not sure about the reaction in SA to that but it is just a game, rather important one, but just a game.

This weekend we can look forward to another cricket test and another GP. Enjoy.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Cake and Still Images

I find myself in the unusual place of Sandbanks Cafe, most extraordinary turn of events. Had a meeting and thought I would call to confirm I have the right day. Turns out he is at the Beach Polo, my previous blog explains all. That is how I find myself enjoying an Americano at the Cafe.

Just watching a lady tucking into a huge slice of Victoria Sponge cake and has covered it in clotted cream, very clever lady. Not sure about you but for me the only way to eat Victoria Sponge is covered in double thick cream. The boys will remember the days when Susan baked a very acceptable Victoria Sponge. Talking of cake reminds me that Susan has a weight watches league match tomorrow, how time flies. We wish her all the best and hope she loses, that is how the game is played, either she loses or I will have to amend the menu to a lighter note next week.

Warning, adult content. These two images are from the BBC archives. The photos are from a third party and the BBC neither agrees or disagrees with the content.

It has come to my attention through the news, that quite a few celebrities are pregnant and are doing photo shoots for magazines. I can understand them being proud and feeling amazing, but to do nude photos? The latest is Venus Wiliams, the tennis player. This is one photo she will look back on in the years ahead and wonder what made her do something like that. In all fairness, you do get all shapes and sizes and hers is distinctly unique. The other photo shows a softer side to nude photograph. Oh well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Talking of all shapes and sizes, the Great British Summer is here and I had my first and second swim at the beach yesterday, refreshing and revitalising are two words that come to mind. I am thinking of loaning Michael's SUP board and taking to the water for a gentle paddle. Could be fun and there is the bonus of Susan having a paddle too. I will take the camera, do not want you to miss that moment in time.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Ice and a slippery slope

Can anyone explain to me why the concept of ice making is so difficult for younger people to understand. I have a son in his 4th year at university and he still can not understand that an ice tray left out of the freezer will not fill itself and place itself back in the freezer. He will, with loads of optimism, open the freezer to take ice out when the trays, he has left on the side board, are still there. This is a vexing problem and I think we should ask the government to open a very wide ranging enquirer, possible headed up by a younger professor from some acknowledge learning institution, to study this strange behaviour. Absolutely baffles me.

Going to the other extreme. I listened to a radio program on the elderly and how they seem to lose their sexual drive. Most upsetting, I am on a slippery slope to becoming elderly and this is what I can look forward too. This is a simple pleasure that costs nothing, well you can pay for it, that might add some spice but if you in a loving relationship, it comes naturally. As children, we only discover our sexuality when we are about 13, if this radio program is to be believed, we lose it at about 70. My advise is, enjoy it while you can, life is short.

International Beach Polo comes to Sandbanks, another week of frantic marquee erecting and 2 days of polo, parties and just showing off. This is one of those events that many people want to be seen at, sort of street creed for some, better than your photo in Dorset Society Magazine. I did just see a guy get his Q7 stuck in the sand. I would imagine it would take a vast amount of stupidity to get a vehicle like that stuck. 

To add insult to injury, he was pulled out by a old Ford Ranger. Are they permanently in 4 wheel drive or do you have to turn it on? Maybe Russell or Gary could enlighten us, does put me off buying one for Robert, without much experience of driving, he could get it stuck on a tarred road! Susan has just pointed out that they are awful expensive, so the issue of 4 wheel drive or not, is now irrelevant. Any one have a cheap little run around that is reliable, cheap to run and has blue tooth connectivity? 

Thursday, 6 July 2017


I am writing to you from my local coffee shop and as there is a rather strong breeze the red Tits are taking shelter in their nests. Pity, but I read that the weather will be improving this coming weekend, so hopefully, they will be back. 

Talking of birds, we were lucky enough to see the women's volleyball championships on Sandbanks beach this last weekend. Interesting game of jumping, running and tumbling in the sand. Newtons Law does not apply as they all have sports fitting kit on.  Susan says there are men as well, must of missed them, volleyball is really beautiful, the game as well, takes a high level of concentration to watch such a lively sport.

Lets turn our attention to PDP or otherwise known as ‘Personal development planning’. Actually a business tool to gauge how their staff are doing. What their motivation is and are they happy. Also to try and get their staff to get out of their comfort zone. An example is if someone is reasonable expert with Excel but falls down when trying to analysis the data they have. Encourage them to go on a Excel course with the emphasis on reports. That's the theory but I would say it is a good tool in the first 2 to 3 years, after that, I think it could be a negative and just might be making the individuals feels they are not really up for the job. Did they accomplish anything from the previous PDP? If not, then they will feel guilty. Just a thought, any comments or opinions welcome.

Man stares at fire!
First BBQ of the summer. Robert has been camping in the United States of America and he feels confident to take on a BBQ. I have baked a cheese and onion loaf, pre cooked the sausages and seasoned the steak, not to mention tossing a salad. It is up to him now, the charcoal briquets do seem a little old but then again I do not think they have a use by date. We live in interesting times and I am sure we will have the most delicious meal. Actually it is the perfect evening, no wind and a balmy 18deg C.
Morning after the first BBQ, all is well and the food was cooked to perfection. 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Castle Hotel

What can I say, new hotel in Windsor and we are the tester. Perks of the job as Susan was invited to a free night in the new hotel. Yes there was some issues but you can see why Susan loves the company she works for. They stick to their objective and entertain the children, all the time, children's theme music blasted from Bose speakers. Lego models and figures adorn the park, even while we were enjoying dinner, they entertained the children with magicians and balloon twisters.

Room was very themed, as you can see from the photo I have so kindly shared with you. Legoland looked new and clean and the rides took Robert's and Susan's fancy, I decided that the better part of valour was just to watch, can not be too careful these day. One irritating point, I am sure has now been rectified, was that there was no room instructions, you know the ones I am talking about. How to operate the TV, fridge and getting hold of reception. Having no idea how to set the air conditioner, was a bit of a nightmare, 20deg C, we were essentially in a sauna. That said, we are seasoned travellers and just soaked up the discomfort, rising with a longing for fresh air and the great outdoors. Great place for children, but the more mature among us, this is one hotel that is best avoided.

Talking of Susan and her work, her team is off to Canada for a week. As she has never been to Canada, it is something she is really looking forward too. One point that does puzzle me, there are no Merlin Entertainment Attractions in Canada. I do believe her desire to visit Canada has added to the motivation of this team trip. Casual mention of kayaking, yoga, trekking and banquet BBQ has been overheard, we wish her and her merry bunch of travellers, a productive and fruitful trip. 
To infinite and beyond, going were Merlin has never gone before.

Saturday, 1 July 2017


Interesting month of June that has just passed. Weight Watchers, the less said the better, Folk Festivals that had nothing to do with folk music and of course the much spoken about, Newtons Law vs The Bikini. Well this is a new month and a new theme. 

I find myself at my favourite cafe, enjoying a rather pleasant Americano and looking out at the beach and quite calm sea. Susan and I went to Brownsea island a while ago and took some interesting photos of birds. Today I am admiring the birds on the beach and note, with some excitement, that the lessor spotted Red Tit is making a comeback. It is a pity I did not bring my camera along, as the bird world would be overjoyed with this observation and sighting. 
There is quite a few about. This is good news as they have been quite rare of late. In the winter months we do see an abundance of Blue Tits but this lessor spotted Red Tit, is showing signs of a comeback. Looking closely, they vary in colour from a light pink to a flaming red. They are not shy and tend to go around in pairs, I must research where they go to in the winter. Also, of some encouragement is the return of the Big Tit, or is it the Great Tit, no sure, but they can be seen in pairs with the Red Tits. Anyway, big, red or great, they are a joy to watch.

It's been a funny old day, not quite getting anything finished due to so many little interruptions. We are in the process of finishing off 3 website and then we can tackle our big project we are doing for a museum. I have discovered that the people that visit museums often are more inclined to talk to others in the museum. I was walking through the museum the other day and a very polite Japanese couple asked me where they could find a Sushi restaurant. Must have been the fossil of the prehistoric fish that set them off. 

Have you noticed how smug men look in their convertibles, women are natural but I am afraid to say, men, all look like gay hairdressers. They have that smug look, look at me, I have a convertible and the sun is shining. All a bit of a swagger. No, leave soft tops to the fairer sex, men just look silly. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Folk Festivals

Morris dancers, stalls with all kinds of knick knacks and food in abundance. That is what these festivals are all about. Last week we went to the Weymouth Folk Festive. Small festival, with the stalls and stages dotted around the harbour. We met up with Derek, he was fishing for crabs, helped by his side kick Mark North of Dorset County Museum fame.

Back to the Morris dancers, in South Africa we have the Zulu Dancers, raw and aggressive. Well the Morris dancers display the same raw aggression, just in a contained style, as not to frighten the children and elderly. Yes, there is the bashing of sticks, stomping of feet, even war paint on their faces. I must say they are very tastefully painted, in the cat like themes, reminiscent of a face painting party. 

Not much else really, when you have seen one line of festival stalls, you have seen them all. We had a crab sandwich and a coffee before saying goodbye to Derek and his family, before taking a leisurely drive home. 
This week we went to the Wimborne Folk Festival. We started out with the live music, this is where things started to go wrong and all I can say is, if there is a god, please be merciful and spare me from having to go to pop festivals. Thinking it was a folk festival we were astonished to find a tribute band playing someone called madness, really was madness, drunk, half dresses young people everywhere. All drinking cider and beer out of 2 litre milk cartoons, really! The amount of tattoos on display was also quite disgusting. Not even my liberal mind could take much of that, so we left to see the rest of the festival. You may have noticed, I am not calling it a folk festival, as there was no folk music or anything to do with a folk festival. The town was filled with food and festival stalls, but all closed. We ended up having an Italian meal and walked back to the car through a horde of drunken, loud revellers. A night best left forgotten. 
Susan did point out, if we had gone earlier and into the town for a drink and something to eat, we would probably been wise enough not to go anywhere near the loud music.

The Eagle Has Landed

Robert is home tomorrow. Susan has been missing her boys, no I say, she has pinned for her sons, that lady of Shalott. Or should I say Suelott. This is one blog she will not proof read, I can hear her now.
‘You can't say that, there might be children reading this blog. The naked lady on a horse, takeout it out.’
The lady will have spoken but alas I have the power to take you to the magical place of the Lady of Shalott.

A day later!

Actually she just send me a text ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ when Robert landed at Heathrow. That is some stretch of the imagination, to compare Robert to an eagle but she is his mother. As you might have gathered, Robert is back, tanned and looking good. 

Another two days later!

We actually having some of the hottest days for 20 odd years, if the weather people are to believed. 30.5 deg C, with little or no wind makes it quite uncomfortable. So much sunshine is not something we are accustomed to and does make sleeping difficult. Our houses are not built for hot weather. I am at the beach and find the locals have discarded most of there modesty and are down to only the bare essential to cover themselves, most succeed but a few of the younger women are a sight to behold, in a pleasant way most of the time. My mind does go back to my previous blog Newtons Law vs the Bikini. Well to add to the experience of people watching I have noticed some of these very small bikinis are actually see through when wet.

Back to Robert, he started his first driving lesson today and came home in one piece and his lady instructor has agreed to give him another lesson. That should be a positive indication for the start of his motoring career. I do hope he spaces the lessons out a little, give me time to find a suitable car for him. There is always the Zafira, 10 years old, it is reliable, just worry it might be a little too big. What will be, will be, the futures not ours to see.

Just noticed a quite nicely built young lady playing volley ball with her friends and got a little over zealous with the return, oh dear, it is that Newtons Law again, major embarrassment and she fell, so everything is covered in sand. Don't ask, I am not going into anymore detail. This is turning out to be quite fun. Time for a swim, till later.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

History tells its own story

The beauty of history, is that it tells its own story, we need to remember that, in our day to day lives. Every now and again, let's reflect, what we post on Facebook, tweet or email, one day someone might write your history and the careless tweet might put a very different slant on you and your life. Take for example the Afrikaner and his hatred towards the black. His guilt fuelled that hatred. Let's take it from the beginning.

Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias is the first European to travel round the southern tip of Africa in 1820. But, Jan van Riebeeck, representing the Dutch East India Company, founds the Cape Colony at Table Bay in 1652. Mostly uninhabited except for the indigenous San and Khoikhoi people, who we now know, had been there since the 4th century.

The San and Khoikhoi are in actual fact descendants of the Middle Paleolithic populations, which makes them the true indigenous people of South Africa. The San were hunter-gathers and the Khoikhoi were headers, much like the Basuto, but they moved down much later. 

The Dutch East India Company had no intention of colonising the Cape, instead just a secure base camp where passing ships could shelter and stock up. As the Khoikhoi were not agricultural farmers, Dutch farmers were brought to establish farms. The small initial group of burghers, as these farmers were known, steadily increased in number and began to expand their farms further north and east. The free burghers were ex-VOC soldiers and gardeners, who were unable to return to Holland when their contracts were completed with the VOC.

Van Riebeeck did not enslave the local Khoi and San aboriginals, so the VOC began to import large numbers of slaves primarily from Dutch colonies in the Far East. The Afrikaner was born, mainly made up of unions between the burgers and slaves and to some extent, the indigenous Khoi and San people. Simon van der Stel, the first Governor of the Dutch settlement, famous for his development of the lucrative South African wine industry, was himself of mixed race-origin.

That is the start of the quilt ridden nation we now know as the Afrikaners. Their nations fathers, loved and brought up mixed race families, when did it all go wrong, what made them hate their origin so much that they took it out on the blacks? It certainly has comeback to haunt them.

So I go back to my original statement, be aware of what you do and say, history will be the judge.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Doctor in court over attack

I have just read about this man taking a doctor to court, because he had a heart attack. The man that is, actually his heart attacked him quite badly, left with a weaken body and can no longer do an strenuous sports. He claimed the doctor should of warned him that his heart could attack him at anytime. Looking for substantial damages. Nasty incident. 

Something like the notice I saw pinned to a fence. Life is short, death is sure, sin is the cause, Christ is the cure. I know, they having a laugh but in all seriousness, is it the wine, it that my sin. The odd bottle of red so loving sipped. Yes I hear you say, that is a sin but I say no, did Christ not turn water to wine? I can see it now, all his buddies around him and there is no wine. You all know what young people are like on a rave, they need alcohol.
'Come on mate, have a word with Pops and turn the water to a pleasant little Shiraz and while you at it a Chardonnay for the wee lasses.'

Susan is a great weight watchers supporter and goes to the game every Saturday. Her team is made up of Anna, Vivienne and the Captain Susan. It is a little hit and miss as to the outcome of the game, they weight in on a independent scale and then it is the winners that eat well for the rest of the week. The losers tend to train harder, eat less in other words, to be able to show commitment and some progress for the match the following Saturday. There is a downside, if you gain, in this case it is gain, not loose, then you the loser, but I'd you loose then you the winner, I know it is a difficult game to follow but believe me it is being done through out the world and has a silent fans base, much larger then all those cricket fans. Rugby does not even get a look in. Roughly 50 % of the world follow this game in some form or other. Hang on, give me a minute, the buzzer has just gone off in the kitchen and as I am cooking, it is my duty to make sure the totally fat free casserole is not burning. 
Panic over, honour restores and the Mexican mixed beans are quite happily cooked and ready to eat with fat free rice from India, have you seen a fat Indian from rural India? Thought not. They mastered weight watcher, many years ago. Clever Indians, not the North American variety, they will eat a bison in one sitting. You know what I mean, me chief, you squaw. 

Anyway from the dish I am cooking you would be able to gather where we are in the league and how the rest of the week is planned out, menu wise.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Life, your way

You will meet a lot of people in your life, some good, others. Always remember, don’t stay with those that you bring you down, it is fine to leave and find new people. Very few have a life just full of success. Failure is part of life, you cannot escape some sort of failure, unless of course you never take the chance to succeed. Learn those life lessons from failure, don’t be afraid to fail you might just find success.Many people will help other people, just because, well, there are other people. That’s just how it goes. Terry Pratchett said this in his last Discworld books. Worth a read.

Have you notice how heavy the sun shine can be. On a clear night you lookup and see the stars, the air is free and light, the eye sees forever. As the day breaks the sun shine slowly weighs down your distance and the sky is almost touchable. A barrier covers those bright stars and we look down until dusk. Must say the weather is horrid here today, gale force winds and persistent rain, has put any notion of a stroll along the beach furthest from my mind.

We have a beach permit for the Zafira, our beach car. This brings a freedom to visit whenever we want, for as long as we want. It is funny but that £ 2.08 we have to pay for an hour of parking, is a restraint. Firstly you have to pay it and secondly you constantly aware that you only have an hour. Parking fees always leave a bitter taste, almost like the council, want that last drop of blood. All a little corrupt, firstly we as rate payers, pay the salary of the parking attendant, so he can fine us if we do not pay to park. We have to pay to park in a parking area, we as rate payers, pay the up keep for. In a nutshell, we pay someone, to fine us in our own car park. Our society is burden by corruption and tax, no society is right if you have 40% employed by the governing bodies, who exist through our taxes. The popular belief is that for every £ 100 you pay in tax, £ 37 will be of benefit to the community. Actually that is the same conversion used for Fahrenheit to Centigrade. Multiple centigrade by 1.8 and add 32 will give you roughly Fahrenheit.

I sometimes wonder why the simply task of putting food on a fork and lifting it to your mouth is a problem, never seems to stay on long enough to get into your mouth. I have found, of late, that the forks have a mind of their own. I do believe they are making shaky forks, those that drop food onto your clean t-shirt. It is an interesting theory but I do believe the fork manufacturers are working with the laundry cleaners. Has anyone else found the same problem?

Friday, 2 June 2017

Newtons law vs Bikini

Had a catchup with my brother today. It went something like this.'How you all, well?' Russell asked.'Yep, we all well, hot hear today and we are looking forward to a sunny weekend once Susan gets back from London. You all well?' I answer.'Yes all well.' Russell answers. That was the end of our catchup, I am looking forward to the next one. Very thought provoking, we all love him dearly.

Down at my local having a coffee in the sun and looking at the swimwear on display and I can happily put it in two categories, functional and decorative. The functional costumes, you can swim in, while the decorative are made to cover just enough, these are not recommended for swimming.
Caution: size and shape may be different

I must confess to preferring the limited addition of the decorative type, they really struggle to contain or cover what they meant to. Very interesting study. The bottom of the swimsuit leaves ample space for the sun to maximise its shine to the whole of the bottom. Quite ingenious and pleasing on the eye, beware, all bottoms do not suit this type of swimwear. 

Those of ample shape should go for the more conventional cut thereby saving us the embarrassment of having to avert our eyes when they walk, bend or swim. Sometimes too much is just that. Isaac Newton explored the theory of gravity and it has remained the same, gravity will prevail. 'Newton's law of universal gravitation states that a particle attracts every other particle in the universe using a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers.'

The makers of these decorative swimsuits should research this theory before designing and selling them to the unsuspecting public. Take for example, a well built wearer of one of these swimsuit and then mix them together with a small wave, that which was so elegantly covered is now on public display. Newtons law comes in again, the top of the bikini will naturally be attracted down by the weight of the water, while the contents will be buoyed up by the natural process of wanting to float. Result, topless. 

This is complex problem and I must confess I do not have all the answers. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

It is all about dead Cats

We have a beach clean, it is an outing, for want of a better word. The object is to get people out and about, talking and enjoying the freedom of walking on the beach, a simple pleasure well worth the effort. Firms organise them all the time, some even have them in working hours, added bonus. They take a stretch of beach and basically pickup the rubbish. Cleaning up the rubbish that the sea spits out and after the yobs, who do not understand the meaning of littering.

Susan and colleagues from Merlin Entertainments, went on just such a beach clean outing and found the beach to be surprising clean. We do pay a small fortune in rates and taxes to the boroughs to keep our beaches clean, so it is some comfort to hear they are doing a good job. Anyway back to the story in hand. Susan, with her able helpers from Merlin came across a dead cat, actually a thin, wet, dead cat. We could play detective and try figure out how it got there and why it died but that is for another time. Being practical and resourceful, they deposited it into a black bag, along with all the other rubbish they had collected. Once back at the office it was a good topic of conversation until a cat lover wondered if it was chipped. That set the cat among the pigeons, pardon the pun, back to the bins they went and retrieved the thin, wet, dead cat and took it off to the vet. That clever vet took one look at the cat and pronounced it dead and assured them they would check for a chip and if found would let the owners know.
Come to think of it, if it was your cat and had probably drowned while trying to swim to Brownsea island, you would want to know. Get closure and be able to mourn quietly, in the knowledge it will not be coming back. Nothing worse than always looking down the road hoping your cat is walking up to greet you. 
Talking of Susan, she is off to Chessington World of Adventure for two days and then back to enjoy the bank holiday weekend. We expect it to be a warm one with temperatures around 22deg C, 77deg F in American. I will be taking in the sea air over the weekend, interesting to watch all the pale skins turn red, mine included. Funny thing but there is always less people in the sun the second day.
Getting back to Chessington, it is one of the few places you can go on safari and be guaranteed to see the big five. Not many places can promise that, all in one afternoon. 
I must thank you all for the generous comments of late. 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Weddings and assumptions.

It is something like the making of a man, is in the remaking of the man. It is in that remaking, of the man, that he is remembered. 

Redeveloping a website and testing it in all scenarios, is something we can never do enough. We assumed that the new application had been tested to breaking point. But to assume is to make an ass out of you and me. We fell into the trap of not testing all the versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, IE has been known to drive grown men to tears. In this particular case it did not cope with different screen sizes for a complicated booking system. As I said above, it is in the remaking, of the man, that he is remembered. 

I digress, weddings are the ideal place for family intrigue, glances of disapproval and a time to reflect on how you have aged. It is also a time to take stock on how far you have come. Susan just loves a good wedding, all the beautiful people and the ancient ceremony of marriage, all enhance the magic for her. I must admit, I did enjoy the last wedding we went to, but then I did know quite a few people and through them met others. Enough of weddings, I will have you nodding off any minute now.

May is proving to be a month of all four seasons in one. The days weather is a gamble, you could wake to sunshine and light breeze or rain and strong winds. Or get both in the same day, combined with a temperature drop of 10 deg. What to wear is the biggest problem? Thermal vest or not? Jumper or jacket? These are the daily decisions confronting us when we wake.
Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Marching down the road of time

There used to be a time when we went for a 5 km run in the afternoon and then had a swim in the sea. Days when we were stronger, younger and free of the constraints of age. Now a quiet walk/run of 2.4 km takes its toil. But the joy of movement is still there, that sharpness of mind, freeing creative ideas that would otherwise be locked away through the daily routine of work. No matter your age, unlock the real you and enjoy a quality of life, ahead of your game. Exercise.

Sitting at Sandbanks Cafe, I am pleasantly surprised at the staffs eclectic accents, Chinese, Polish, Scottish and French. I come here often and it is always the foreign staff that greet me and know what type of coffee I drink, the locals pretend to be polite but are, as all council workers, just doing what they have to do, to get through their day. 

Let's stay with Council workers, back bone of the job market. Elections are coming our way and the press and politicians are having a field day. The problem is our lack of trust in both, in equal measures. They make bold statements, promises but we just can not take them seriously. The press make and break people, all in the name of reporting the news. They do insist it is in the public interest, in truth it is a juicy story and they can embellish it today and forget it tomorrow. The politicians are cut from the same cloth. Manifestos, not worth the paper they are written on, promises, all empty.
There is one advantage to their new manifestos, shake the dust off the last election manifesto and put a new cover and date on it and it is all ready to go. All those empty promises left to gather dust are revived, hailed as new and well researched. They will say, 'This is what the public want.' 

The world is crying out for an honest press and an honest politician. How long they will survive, will have to be up to us. The press and the politicians will not take kindly to honesty. If they are strong enough and supported by people of integrity, they might survive.

I leave you on this somber note.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Art, when it is Art

'A piece of art, is only a piece of art if I sign it, therefore it is a piece of art.'

A wooden door, set half way up a wall with two holes at eye level. Looking through the peep holes you see a naked woman, lying spread eagle with a book in her hand. The landscape stretching out behind her to a waterfall. ‘Life cycle.’ Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp. He put a urinal on display once, called it Fountain.

Mark and Helen are the proud owners of 2 Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs, Gertrude Cook and Archibald Smythe Cook. Open day Sunday the 25th, come and see our pigs. William has built a pigsty befitting these two noble animals. From the front door you have a paved path, highlighted with solar lights, leading you eye to those noble pigs. Lady Gertrude and Sir Archibald Smythe seemingly oblivious to the mounting interest, Lady Helen attributes it to the special grass left by the Jamaican builders, while going about their daily tasks. Lord Mark explained, 'It is just good grass man.' All I can say is, he is so cool.

Moving on, Gary needs a new car to replace his ageing vehicle. To be fair, he has had it some time. His family has grown, 3 children, the first is now a teenager going on 20. Then there is Dan and Alex who is a 2 years old, or is it 3, I lose track. Most importantly, there is the most beautiful woman in all Italy, Claudia. Gary loves her to bits and she has asked him to get a new car. No that is putting it too mildly, she demands it, clever girl, as asking gets you no where, where as demanding is a statement of fact. The unsaid threat of concrete shoes attached to his wetsuit, does weigh heavily on his mind. 

With all that in my thoughts, I have decided to start a fundraising bid to buy them a car they deserve. I have put £ 50 in the fund and I am asking, with all humility, give generously, show you care and we might, just save them from a Renault or Peugeot. Give generously and help this lovely family from the busses and trains, Renaults and Peugeots.

Had breakfast in Wimborne this morning with Susan and her friend Vivienne. Lovely lady, and a fountain of knowledgeable about Wimborne. More about Dame Vivienne later.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Poole Quay

I am at the Quay, coffee shop as you can see from the photo I have taken. So much going on. Just seen a couple, young, trendy looking man opens his takeaway coffee too fast. Those lids are sometimes difficult to get off. Anyway the coffee burnt his hand. What could he do, the coffee could not be blamed, he gives his partner an accusing stare, he was not a happy bunny. Finally after all his drama she buys him an Ice cream, clever girl. Everyone happy, but I would give her some advice, he is going to be a nightmare to live with.

Sitting here looking out over the quay I am struck by how awfully civilised the average brit has become. Coffee instead of tea, they really have come a long way. 
Quite a strong breeze keeping the gulls honest, as they attempt to steal the food off the abandoned tables. Seeing some chips under a table, reminds me of the philosophy of dirt. Imagine yourself off to work in the morning and you see the last of that delicious cream cake is still on the plate. What the hell, impulse gives raise to a spoon in you hand and you dig into the last bit and it falls on the ground. Oh damn, now you have to clean it up. That tempting last slice has gone from something you desired, to a mess on the floor, which you now have to clean up. What is mess actually? Someone once said that mess or dirt is just 'matter in the wrong place'. That cake on a plate is great but on the floor it is no longer a tempting slice but a mess. What the hell, just pick it up and eat it, it tastes the same, wether from a plate or the floor. Just do not let your wife or children catch you, that will take some explaining.

Talking of explanations. I once read that if your dog urinates on the lawn, thus creating bald parches, which the dog does not mind but offend us, you should pick an area away from everything and wee there occasionally. The theory is that your dog will smell it and mark his territory on you wee. Well you can see where this is going, Sam was a master patch maker so I got a small jug and wee'd in it and pour it over the soak away drain, hoping to encourage him to wee on the drain as opposed to the lawn. Seemed to be working until one day I was having a wee into the jug and Robert appeared, 'What you doing Dad?' Words failed me, not sure if he understood my embarrassed explanation, he nodded but with a hint of amusement. Needless to say I shelved that idea and let Sam create his own style of parch work garden. 

All for now, till anon, as someone I know, would say. Now he says, ' I will FaceTime you this afternoon'. I still wait for that afternoon.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Climate Change

Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Wikipedia 

The indications of human effect, on climate change, are mounting. Conclusions on the research so for are provisional, but almost all science is provisional, research never ends and in the real world we have to act on the available evidence. Everyone has to do, what is in their power to confront the issue, it's no good denying a widely recognised problem. Climate change requires a cautious approach, that tackles the environment threat without undermining economic growth. There are those that seek to use climate change to push an anti business agenda, Eco warriors, radicals, they damage the prospects for a global partnership. Whether we like it or not, we are in this together. Technology and Science have brought us information and progress that is now truly global. We must invest in both and trust the science to help us get to the answers. As I said previously, science is provisional but in science we have had real progress, now it is up to all of us to find the solutions using all the tools we have at our disposal. Also let us not forget, internet technology and the contribution it can make to identifying the major issues and helping simplify the huge amount of facts and figures into something we can all understand. As we must trust science, we must also make sure those same scientists put their arguments in plain English. They in turn will take their findings to their respective governments and this is where we must be weary. Politicians, by their very nature cannot be trusted. Firstly their tenure is normally 5 years and their actions are always tempered by their desire for re election. Climate Change needs more then a regional set of actions, the United Nations should be better empowered to fight this global threat. If we all take responsibility, we may make a difference. Anyone have any thoughts on this emotive subject?

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Legoland Castle Hotel

Yes the rumours are true, we will be going to the Castle Hotel in June. Susan has been invited to the soft opening, to see if it lives up to the high expectations of the Merlin and Lego brands. I am going as an impartial observer. I will bring you the news and developments on this trip as, and when, they its available. In the mean time, try and contain your excitement. 
We are working on a nice little project at the moment, Dorset County Museum (DCM). I enjoy history and writing, fits well with this project as they are custodians of the rich history of the Jurassic era. Soon they will feature Dippy the dinosaur as their main exhibition. The museum has a vast archive of the works and times of Thomas Hardy. Thomas Hardy did most of his writing in and around Dorchester, so this is Hardy Country.  Hardy died on the 11 January 1928, in Dorchester. You would know 'Far from the Madding Crowd', 'Jude the Obscure' and there is many more, all worth a read. 

Back to DCM and our project. We will be giving them a booking system, online ticketing, archive search and a new, user friendly website to take them into a new era. 'Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.' We need to go cautiously as they will be overwhelmed by the change, a challenge but one not without adventure and discovery. Once we have a decent draft ready, I will post the link. 
Changing the subject completely but I need to tell you about the latest attack on the cloths shops. This daft world we live in has gone the extra mile to create the most idiotic survey. Researches from somewhere have done an in depth investigation into the size of the mannequins, the shops use to display dresses etc. They have come to the conclusion that the mannequins are too thin and if in the real world, would have health issues! They concluded that if people were the same size as the mannequins they would be "considered medically unhealthy".
"There is clear evidence showing that the ultra-thin ideal is contributing to the development of mental health problems and eating disorders.” writes Dr Eric Robinson. I can just see the average shopper being completely demoralised by these creepy models, dressed like people. Makes me think of Doctor Who and the Daleks.

Sad dogs in a modern city

Sad dogs attached to tramps, sad eyes that should be bright. Poole is like all cities, all social classes walk briefly together and never say a word. Hurrying back to their office or home, they walk blind, this is a conscious effort and with their eyes only seeing the pavement, they escape the discomfort of looking someone in the eye and maybe saying hello. The dogs are no different except they have not lost their interest in others who chance by. They have sad eyes but if you make eye contact there is a moment of joy, fleetingly fast the dog looks away, a moment is all it takes to say goodbye. 
This is the world of frightened people who search for all their comfort in their smart phones, while this beautiful, brilliant world passes them by. I do rage sometimes at how technology has robbed life of quality and purpose. Turn the phones off for a day, actually turn the electricity off for a day and let nature take its course, could be interesting. 

My faith in people was somewhat restored recently on a visit to Abbots Wood to see the Bluebells. It rained a little but families where out there walking through a blanket of bluebells, no signal, so no phones except those used to capture the splendour of the vast blue carpet, spread unevenly under the old oak trees. This lasts but a few weeks and then is gone until next year. 
I am sitting in Cafe Nero in Poole enjoying a good cup of coffee before venturing off to the supermarket to buy supper. I think this just might become a regular visit when I need space and a respite from my computer. 
The town centre is slowly dying, empty shops are the norm, as we are all shopping out of town at the superstores. The council, in all its wisdom have put the parking fees up, in an effort to raise more money for them to waste, higher parking fees means less visits to the town centre, less shoppers, less shops. Business rates have also increased not helping the beleaguered small businesses. Progress I suspect will, one day do away with the council, not a moment too soon. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

To Surrender

Everyone has got two places you need to be, one you can touch and one you cannot see, the one where a stranger is a friend. We all live in the real world but escape all too often to our dreams. Our imagination takes us to places that are good and bad. Some dwell there a lot longer then they should and thankfully, that starts the stories, books and works of art.
For me it is writing, I love it, every time I surrender, I make some dream come true, if only on paper. Zucchero wrote the following lines that is the start to any story.
'I heard the oldest story that nobody seems to know, I think it was about that stranger. It was youth, love and it was danger, it was winter but that warm it gets before the snow, it froze my soul. It was about love and pride and the place to surrender.
I’m crying, about some kid that they found, lying on a beach, born in a manger.'

Onwards and forwards. We went to Walford Mill Crafts with two of Susan's friends. Viv and Anna, great ladies who always laugh at my jokes. Enough about me, lets get back to the Mill. Their website describes it as 'Walford Mill Crafts is a flagship contemporary craft gallery in Dorset and a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England.' Actually it as quite fascinating, home craft and artist in residence. It is amazing what they can do with a little thread and imagination. I do recommend the Mill Stream Cafe for coffee and homemade cake, really worth a visit. I had Victoria Sponge as a treat, Susan did share but then it was a big slice of cake. If you lucky you will see otters in the stream, they have a video in the Mill but the real things is always king.

To Pamphill, Wimborne, tomorrow and a walk to see the Bluebells in Abbots Wood, good chance of rain but I am not complaining.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Romantic Camping - Romping

Yes, that is official. Romping is the new style of camping to get the younger generation to go camping. Double Air mattress, scented candles and you sleep under the stars. Most camp site do warn you, in their terms and conditions, that safe sex should be practised at all times. You want to take nothing home with you but wonderful memories.
Easter weekend, sun, sea and fun. Well somewhere, not here, as we are overcast and that fresh breeze keeps the jumpers on. It has been a good Friday for me and Susan gets back tonight, topping off the day. Did a quick cleanup around the house as Susan would expect it spike and span. Susan has just been to Japan, Australia and the Philippines, quite the traveller, I am thinking of taking her for a walk along the beach tomorrow. Nothing like giving a girl a good time.

Have you noticed that when a woman sees another woman, she gives them a quick once over, then looks away. It is that second, in depth look that takes it all in. Why is it that when you ask them if they saw that woman with the really tight legging, they look vaguely at you and say something like 'Sorry I did not notice.' Woman, wonderfully complex and let's face it, we really would not have it any other way.

Talking of woman, I could not but over hear a couple at the table next to me. She said something about their smart TV not working properly. He answered. 'Most smart TV's are smarter than you.' After that the silence spoke volumes.
Susan is back from her marvellous travels and it is not 24 hours and she is wanting to swimming with turtles again. I think it is time for a trip to Corfe Castle. Nothing like an ancient castle ruin on one of the Purbeck mountain peaks to quench ones thirst for travel. Actually they serve a very British Cream Tea in the National Trust cafe.

Just to finish off, I find it difficult to remember and pronounce some of the leaders of some countries. Theresa May easy, Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now that is a challenge. So is the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, another mouthful. So I have broken down the Turkish president to 'Air der One' and the Iranian president to 'After dinner lad' sort of works. Till later.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Return to Brownsea

Our great adventure started with a sailing on the ferry service to the island. High winds and the threat of rain did not deter us, we took the essentials, cameras and jackets and after an uneventful crossing we arrived at the landing on the island. With the start of spring, we paid our landing tax and decided to take the path less travelled. A part of the island where birders are in plenty. The Dorset Wildlife Trust manages a small part of the island and it is mainly concerned with the conservation of  birds.

We were very lucky to see a number of birds, also came across some birders who proved to be a valuable source of information. I know nothing about birds and learnt to identify a number of birds. Funny thing, I always thought that people who watch birds are called twitchers. Not the case.

'The term twitcher, sometimes misapplied as a synonym for birder, is reserved for those who travel long distances to see a rare bird that would then be ticked, or counted on a list.' Wikipedia. The Shelduck was my favourite but we were lucky enough to see the first Avocet that had arrived a few days ago, from the north. The Lesser black-backed gull, Common Tern, Little Tern and the Bar-tailed godwit were all squabbling, fighting and building their nests. The Avocet slept through all the chaos, understandable, after flying thousands of miles.
Our walk took us through some interesting swamp areas and I was fortunate enough to take a photo of a very rare, Lessor Spotted Susan, in a very dense wooded area. If you look carefully at the photo, you can just make it out. Fascinating and such a thrill, no birders around, so we enjoyed the moment all by ourselves. Well that is all for now, look after yourselves.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

So what does Google want?

So what works? How does Google determine which pages to return in response to what people search for? How do you get all of this valuable traffic to your site? Google’s algorithm is extremely complex. Google is looking for pages that contain high-quality, relevant information about the searcher’s query.

Relevant Information.
Google determine relevance by “crawling” (or reading) your website’s content and evaluating (algorithmically) whether that content is relevant to what the searcher is looking for, mostly based on the quality of key phrases or words it contains in the text on the website. Relevant information is very important to any website and a 60:40 text to image ratio is what we should be looking for.
High Quality
Google determine “quality” by a number of means, but prominent among those is still the number and quality of other websites that link to your page and your site as a whole. To put it extremely simply: if you were a plumber and the only website linked to your website was a blog then you will not be assumed as a quality website. If your website was linked to a major supplier of plumbing materials, who have a comprehensive website selling all its products, you will be trusted and perceived to be higher quality.

Increasingly, additional elements are being weighed by Google’s algorithm to determine where your site will rank, such as:
How people engage with your site? 
Did they find the information they need and stay on your site, or bounce back to the search page and click on another link? Or do they just ignore your listing in search results altogether and never click-through? A popular mistake made by those who have a website and continually type in queries to see where they are ranking on Google and then type in another query, never actually opening your website and browsing through the pages. Google will pick that up and assume your website is not relevant to that query and so reevaluate it lower.
Your site’s loading speed and “mobile friendliness”. 
Half of all websites are viewed on a mobile, so if your website takes too long to load and is difficult to navigate on a mobile, you will score badly.

How much unique content you have.
Unique to your business that your competition does not have. Could be a service or a exclusive product. Too many people expect the web developers to know their business and fill the website with valuable, unique content. This is a common mistake to make and if you want your website to work, then make sure the content and images reflect who you are and what you offer.

In summing up, take responsibility for your presence on the web. Update information regularly and make sure your social media ( Facebook, Twitter etc..) reflects the updates.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Deforestation and Capitalism

Deforestation is global, only 2.4 million square miles remain of the original 6 million square miles of forest that formerly covered the Earth. More than half of all plant and land animal species in the world live in tropical forests.
A theory has been put forward that suggests capitalism is not immoral but amoral. In other words something we should work with. This leads to some interesting scenarios, can we apply the resources and expertise from our capitalistic environment to reverse the trend and grow more trees and in so doing increase the size of our forest? When major industry have a problem, they allocate huge resources, namely research, funding and expertise. By coming up with a solution they go on to create wealth. 
If we apply this working model to deforestation and trust the figures, that for every £ 1 spent now, there is a benefit of £ 2.50. This is a 10 year cycle but is substantial in any long term financial plan. We can not quantify the lasting impact on animals and plants, but from limited research, there is a capital gain to be accrued for future generations.
There is many projects that plant trees, paper industry is one, planting trees if you buy their product. Others are charities, genuine and scam, asking for a monthly donation to plant trees. Where are all these trees that we have donated to? Good question, how long do you have to find out? In truth, the amount of trees that they plant is negligible. What we need to plant is 10 billion trees a year, just for a start.
I read an article on seeding vast areas by drones. A company has perfected the technology that can plant enormous amounts of seed a day. I ask the question, do we have the political will to invest? I feel this will be low on the agenda, so what next?
Most of the wealth of the world is controlled by a very few people, this is a problem, as most of this wealth is inherited and very old money. People with this sort of wealth feel they have to guard their fortunes for future generations. 
I feel drawn back to my original suggestion, turn to the capitalists and convince them of the danger of deforestation and hope they will come up with a solution. They will see it as a humanitarian project and pass it to the government. To convince them to invest and execute a project as vast as this, would be another hurdle. I cannot find out what the £ 2.50 benefit breaks down too, so I do wonder if it is in their interest and if so will the dividend be tempting enough? I do not know the answers.

All I do know is that we need to plant trees, billions of them. This is a challenge for those younger than me. I can only hope we have instilled in them, a love of this world, for them to reverse the harm our generation has and is continuing to do, all in the name of progress.