Wednesday, 30 November 2016


For the adventurous weekend just past, Jemma and I spent a few days in Malaga, Spain. We rose at an unGodly 03.00 on Friday in order to make a flight out of Bristol Airport. Jemma could not face breakfast but a 3am omelette seemed a reasonable proposition to me so I made one before we left the house (via a taxi driven by an Egyptian chatty man).

This same weekend last year we had a few days in Berlin looking all around there together and seeing Martin Luther's Cathedral. Malaga was as explorative but this time in the same city as my brother, so the pace was a little gentler. Unfortunately it was also Malaga's rainiest weekend in four years.  It was not cold but it was certainly wet!  In no particular order we took in the massive ferris wheel overlooking the port and the city; the Thyssen museum; the Picasso Museum; The Alcazaba; the covered market; the cathedral and the old city with many a winding street and secret bar.

We ate tapas, fish, tapas again and a moderate few beers and wines.  No churros at all!  The first Sunday of advent fell across the weekend just as it did in Berlin, but Malaga was much more demonstrative about it than Lutheran Germany a year ago.

A fabulous rainy-weekend and we are both keen to return when it is a little more in character and continuously scorchio!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Taking steps

One of my very favourite days in knowing Hazza was when he and I  larked about on holiday at Tar Steps. We experimented wading in just beyond the cover point of our wellies (being boys and all that) and we fished for sticklebacks, skimmed stones and raced pooh sticks. We made sure we became wet and cold and unsupervised! We thought about trying to go under the bridge but even our common sense ruled that part out. We sat on the steps, swinging our wellie booted feet in carefree delight. My feet skimmed the water and Harry's were miles away.

For a year or two, I thought of Tar Steps frequently, as a fabulous structure full of happy days as it had quietly sat there for centuries awaiting visitors just like the two of us.

This morning, five years and about half a foot of growing later (for Hazza), I was sad to hear that Tar Steps have been partially washed away. Given that many of the slabs were estimated to be around 70 tons, that really is a hefty day of rain, courtesy of Storm Angus!

Here is the bridge in a panoramic shot I took on that August day in 2011. Young Harry is contemplating the day, armed with a useful fishing net we had purchased at the top of the hill that morning.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


Just recently I have hurtled into the 21st C and embraced the Podcast. What a terrific find!

People all across the planet podcast about subjects you might like or subjects you maybe never imagine - and about subjects even I find too niche, so downloading something top to listen to is never difficult.  It really is easy through ITunes, and as  you may well know, iTunes is about as intuitive and stable as a bomb factory on a volcano.

Anyhow, all I need to do is add a podcast to my preference feed and every time a new episode is available, I receive a little nudge to my phone, Mac or Ipad.  This has been terrific in the run up to the US Election and once a day Monday to Friday I receive an hour of  entertaining chat from uber cool Anderson Cooper. Sometimes it is interesting  and sometimes it is less so but then I can just skip or delete. Each day as I head to work it just beams into my phone and pops up for my free listening pleasure. It's a winner.

My choices thus far are pretty political and biographical but surely woodworking, machinery,  sci-fi and Star Trek will follow right along. Thus far I have signed up for Anderson Cooper 360, a daily US magazine summary of all things political, and in the last few days, The Axe Files where David Axlerod has an hour one-on-one with interesting people such as Samantha Power - a big blog subject back in the early days of Blog BS5. I love it .

I have had Iphones for about 7 years and have used my headphones on a regualr basis just in these last 8 weeks. Welcome to the century.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Rust Belt Blues (go Red)

What a week it was that just passed me by in BSFive.

Weeks back I booked the day off work for the US Election results, Tuesday into Wednesday, November 2016 . 

When Obama came in for his first term, I had followed it intensely, watching until about 03.00, when of course the critical call came about about 04.15 as I slept. When he ran for his second term I had booked the day off, but work asked me to waive it, which I foolishly did. 

For this one, unencumbered in so many ways in 2016, I came home from work, watched until about midnight and then woke again at 03.45. Then I sat glued until about 10.00 as the rust belt fell to Trump and the electoral college soundly eased Hillary out of contention and a future - the dynasty thoroughly rejected. I'm no Trump advocate but Hillary was, for me, the complete wrong choice for the Democrats - an insincere, out of touch sort, albeit experienced for the office but conceited and mercurial  as she thought she was on her way to it.

The tumultuous election was enjoyable to watch. A quick day back in the saddle at work and then Friday off as Walshy and Mike blew through on their way to Somerset. Four of us went out for ales and the carnage was just about manageable.

A fine week indeed of friends, foolishness and, just as an aside, the decommissioning of a post 1945 US global consensus? Drama! 

Monday, 17 October 2016

London Larks!

This weekend Jemma and I were kindly gifted the use of a fabulous London flat in Greycoat Street, Westminster, SW1. The street is very central indeed but also surprisingly quiet. We made the absolute most of our proximity to so much interest and exploration and notched up 16 miles on foot across Saturday and Sunday! Here is a brief recap of our adventures.

Saturday - all the way up The Shard, which was the one firm plan of the weekend, and the lark around which we based the whole adventure.  The Shard was spectacular and the lift hoofed up to floor 68 in two spurts - I did the same at The Jin Mao in Shanghai in 2001 and this was just as quick.
After The Shard, it was over to The O2 ad a hop across the Thames via The Emirates Airline - slower, lower but still massively spoddy. From there we took the DLR to Bank and then a long, idle walk along the South Bank, back to Westminster Bridge and a big old circuit back to Greycoat Street. Between the bridge and Westminster Abbey we looked in on WSC too.

Saturday night saw my first experience of Teppen Yaki at Matsuri, St James - a first for me and a spectacle of theatre, sharp knives, hot  grills , fast ingredients and lobster & steak!  We were in bed by ten pm with 11 miles covered on foot.

Sunday was a little more touristy; Buckingham Palace, Oxford St and John Lewis ahead of a train out of Paddington  - a delightful weekend in delightful company with a ton of fun things achieved. I am grateful.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Gathering wood for the woodburner

Today after some admin' tasks, breakfast and house tidying, I ventured to the Bristol Wood Recycling Project, a venue that is always good for a bit of a poke about. Everyone there is friendly and positive and it is also overlooked by platform 15 of Bristol Temple Meads , where the 125s often leave for London Paddington, so it's a double winner every visit.

With a solstice tomorrow (at 14.21 GMT), thoughts as well as evenings are becoming just that little bit crisper and I am starting to slowly take from the woodpile that has sat minding its own business all across spring and summer. To eke that fuel out, I thought I would visit BWRP and take advantage of the free wood pile. You can go along and dismantle pallets and some decently hefty offcuts for yourself and they politely ask you to consider making a donation or volunteering some time - it is no more obligatory than that.  I thought an hour spent at lunchtime would be fun, to see what I could gather as kindling and top-up wood for the deployment of my own labour and a donation. The selection was great with some serious woodburner potential!

A burn movie to follow but easily a week's evenings of heat for my lunchtime labour.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Isaiah 2:4 - on a Thursday!

Last week I had a very grand day indeed. It took place  on a weekday when I had the opportunity to visit Goodrich and stay with mum and dad. Boris dog was along too, as his mummy was in London for the day - too long to be left on his own.  I was already pencilled in for sitting duties but in a magic coming together, I combined my hound duties with this:

Hosted by a farm in Goodrich, this was the epic and exciting 2016 ploughing match of the Llanwarne Agricultural Improvement Society and their Ploughing Society! It was on a Thursday in mid September and the day totally lucked out to be more like July. Entry was £4 and worth every penny.

I loved it!

I thought I knew what the match would entail but there was so much more than I had anticipated.

The programme was full of interesting detail about all the different ploughing styles to be judged. At the most basic, each ploughman (or woman) has five hours to plough the allotted strip as slowly or as quickly as desired. No help is allowed beyond setting out the three copping sticks.  The results are judged on neatness and agricultural merit. There were horse-drawn classes and classes for tractors pre-1974 and pre-1959.

Attendees came from all over the UK - it's a really tight little scene and everyone knows everyone else. I watched the current UK champion and a chap who had been champion a hatful of times. Horses, ploughs, tractors old and new, harvesters, threshers, old tools and all manner of interesting stuff and people.  A very fine Summer day, and I found out all about Oat Seed Furrows which are very specific indeed.

Pictures and videos are below: