Friday, 30 December 2011

A salutary lesson for me

I was returning an item to a department store in Bromley. The assistant asked me to go with him to the section where the goods were sold to check on the barcode number. As we were walking across the store a lady came up to the assistant and said that she was the man she needed and proceeded to open her shopping bag to retrieve something. I was just about to remonstrate with her saying he was doing something for me when she handed him a package and apologised for not giving it to him before Christmas. It was a Christmas present and she then told me how helpful he had been throughout the year and she wanted to give him a little something.
I am so glad that she found the present before I had a chance to say anything. Somewhere in this is a lesson for us all, well me at least, and perhaps the beginning of a New Year resolution.

Friday, 23 December 2011

At the Funeral

Photo showing the family present at Gordon's funeral

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Gordon Mellish RIP

Yesterday was the funeral of my Uncle Gordon aged 99. He was the last of the Mellish "Boys"

 Dick(my dad) Leslie , Richard Mellish(Grandad), John, Gordon, George
Ada (my mum) Emily (Grandma) Grace (wife of Gordon) Taken 1939/40

This obit was in the Westcombe Park Ruby Club programme on Saturday:
Gordon John Mellish was born on the 25 January 1912, the middle of the five "Mellish Boys". There was a sister but sadly she died in infancy. The Mellish family always had close links with Combe. Cousin Tom Mellish captained the club in 29-30, and eldest brother Dick captained the Club in 36-37 and the year after the war ended in 46-47; Dick was club President in 66-68. Brother John was also a club regular first team player who then turned gamekeeper and took up the referees whistle. When John went to live in America he did much to help get Rugby off the ground over the pond and was rewarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to American Rugby.

Gordon although never a  player served the club faithfully for many years. His wife Grace, they married on 7th September 1939 and were married for over 72 years, was one of the stalwart band of ladies who made the club sandwiches in the fifties and sixties. Gordon with his elder brother George was a regular on the touchline come rain or shine. Gordon helped on the committee and was one of those unsung heroes who did so much to keep the club afloat during the amateur era. In his latter years Gordon was not able to attend the ground very often but kept in regular phone contact with several former players and always took a keen interest in the clubs fortunes. Gordon's last visit to the club was at the Old Crocks Reunion Lunch  a few years ago when he was 95. The lunch was memorable for several reasons. There were four generations of his family present; his beloved wife Grace, his two children Gordon and Lesley, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Before the lunch Gordon was seen in the bar, a bottle of wine in each hand, looking for his pint of beer. After the lunch he went outside and stood and watched the game.
Perhaps his greatest claim to fame was the Erica Rowe "incident" at Twickenham. Gordon was a ground steward and there was a wonderful picture in the News of the World the following day showing Gordon, arms outstretched, chasing the topless lady across the field. Sadly for him he did not catch her!
With his passing the club has lost one of its treasured links with the past. He was a great friend and servant of the club; like his brothers he held strong opinions and was not afraid to express them, you argued with him at your peril as he was usually right! We offer our condolences to his wife Grace and to his two children, Gordon and Lesley and their respective families. He may be gone but he will not be forgotten
Gordon and Grace at their 70th wedding anniversary celebration (aged 97 and 95)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Boston, USA

 Just back from a short business trip to Boston. It is a fabulous city; a great shame that work gets in the way of sight seeing. Still if it wasn't for work I would not have gone! Note to self - must go back with Julia!

View from hotel

State Capitol

A typical Bostonian

Friday, 2 December 2011

Shutting up shop

Last weekend we had a quick trip to Devon to close the Lodge for the winter. We now have anti-freeze in the heating system and all the other pipework is drained. Hopefully we will not get quite shuch a cold winter as last year; but at least we are prepared. We managed a trip to Launceston which we had not seen before and the site where the lodge is visited by a herd of deer.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Woes at Thomas Cook

There is a lot in the press about the financial problems at Thomas Cook and whether there is a place/need for tour operators. As mentioned previously in this blog we have recently returned from a fabulous tour of South Africa. What we did and saw in such a short period would have been impossible to arrange independently. We also had the services of an excellent tour manager and local guide. So there is a place for tour operators; perhaps the secret is in the word tour.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Political Donations

There was a report out yesterday regarding the funding of political parties. Basically it suggested that taxpayers should fund them. My question is why? Why should there be any central funding of political parties? Limit individual donations to £5000, no corporate donations, no trade union donations just money from members. If the parties cannot attract individual members then they go under.! Perhaps then we will see all parties reflecting the views of people in the street rather than the present concentration of focus groups, political advisers, PR gurus etc. If the politicians and  parties cannot make do with money that they have how can they expect to be able to run the country?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Thank you Helena and Sam

Blogging has its advantages as you will see. This past weekend Julia and I went "t'up" North to see her twin sister Phil and husband Peter. They live in Baildon, just north of Bradford, and we had a great time with them - thank you Phil and Peter. On the way home on Sunday we went to see Helena and Sam in their house - the first time we had seen it. It is in Stockport and while not massive is a fantastic first house - photos below. Whilst we there they gave us a fantastic present as a thank you for the help we had given them - a bottle of Berry Bros and Rudd No 3 Gin. They got the idea from reading a previous post where I extolled its virtues - so blogging does pay!

Monday, 7 November 2011

More from South Africa

I have managed to prune the 1400+ photos that I took down to a slightly more manageable 900+. It is amazing how many you take when in "rapid-fire" mode. There are still more to be consigned to the rubbish basket (trash can for any American viewers).

Memorial at Islawanda

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Wot no tigers!

Julia and I decided to celebrate our Ruby Wedding with a whistle-stop tour of South Africa. Yes it was rushed, yes there were lots of very early starts but in 16 days we saw most of the major tourist attractions. We went with Riviera Travel and they were brilliant. We had a great tour manager, Matt, and a very good Afrikaans guide Richard. We had two days in Kruger during which we saw the "big five" and went animal tracking, a day at the Zulu battlefields, the Garden Route, visit to a winery, whale watching at Hermanus, Cape of Good Hope, penguins at Simons Town, Table Mountain, Robben Island. There was not much that we didn't do.
About the only thing we didn't see were tigers; but then there are none in Africa as my granddad shot them all - or so he told my dad!
We really had a fabulous time - all we need now is a few days rest!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Fiel pero desdichado

The cognoscenti among you will recognize this as the family motto of the Marlborough Family and conclude that we have probably been to visit Blenheim Palace recently. You are absolutely correct! Part of our Ruby Wedding Anniversary present from Julia's twin sister Phil and her family was a voucher for dinner, bed & breakfast at the Feathers Hotel in Woodstock. This is an excellent hotel which is infamous for its Gin Bar having over 100 different gins. Julia's one complaint was that we were not able to try them all. We now have a new favourite Gin - No 3. It is from Berry Bros and Rudd, the wine merchants of St. James's Street. No 3 is an exceptional Gin, at £33 per bottle it should be, I doubt if we will be drinking too many bottles of it but I would encourage you all to try it - you will need a decent tonic water to go with it, something such as Fever-Tree or Q Tonic Water.

Blenheim Palace is exceptional; the day ticket can be converted to a year ticket at no extra cost and we spent two days looking at the house and grounds. If you have not been I do encourage you to go.

Whilst we were in the area we are went to visit the grave of Winston Churchill, a member of the Marlborough Family.

Monday, 26 September 2011

'Floozie in the Jacuzzi'.

We went to Birmingham (well somebody has to) to attend the graduation of a friend's daughter. After the ceremony we adjourned to San Carlo for lunch, highly recommended. We the had a wander round the city center with our sone Lawrie and his partner Emma. We came across the statue by Dhruva Mistry known as the 'Floozie in the Jacuzzi'. This with its attendant guardians are a striking example of town centre sculpture.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Friends Reunited

Last week we met up with friends from Australia; Pat and Angie. Pat was with us at RCET all those years ago and John, Maria, Martin and Julia joined us. We met at the Ock Mill, a Beefeater pub just outside Abingdon. What made it special was that they put us in a room of our own so we could chat and joke without disturbing others. A great reunion. We then went to John and Maria's for tea and cake. A great way to spend a day.
Julia (M). John, Maria, Pat, Julia (W), Martin & Angie

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Interesting Stats

These are the current pageview stats - so IE and Firefox are just about neck and neck. In the operating system stakes Windows is the clear leader with the wondrous Mac some way behind; the rest knowhere
Pageviews by Browsers

Internet Explorer
2,397 (41%)
2,295 (39%)
540 (9%)
468 (8%)
73 (1%)
9 (<1%)
Jakarta Commons-HttpClient
8 (<1%)
7 (<1%)
Mobile Safari
3 (<1%)
3 (<1%)

Pageviews by Operating Systems

4,877 (83%)
699 (12%)
Other Unix
68 (1%)
61 (1%)
42 (<1%)
39 (<1%)
13 (<1%)
9 (<1%)
6 (<1%)
3 (<1%)

Fog in Channel - Europe Cut-off

Well it was not quite as dramatic as that. Last Thursday I had to go with a colleague to the Channel Islands. We arrived at Guernsey OK and saw the customer. It was drizzling and murky when we arrived, by the time the meeting finished the fog closed in. The lunch-time Red arrows display which was due around lunchtime was cancelled.

We went to the airport to get our flight to Jersey. All flights were delayed with some cancelled. Rather than tell everybody the airport was closing they kept us hanging around. Eventually we decided to call it quits and just made it to the last ferry of the day at 17:30. A two hour plus crossing saw us in Jersey for a rather late customer dinner!
We were rather concerned that we would not be able to make it back home on the Friday, fortunately the weather lifted and there were flights back to the "large island". Just as well really as Saturday was a Diaconal Study Day at Wonersh.
 From this above to this below
So all was well that ended well!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Wise words from a wise man

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered: "Man.
Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

Monday, 5 September 2011

And the sky did not fall in

At Mass yesterday we used, for the first time, the new Missal. I must confess that I was strongly against it; being a post Vatican II convert I did not want the service and liturgy that I cherish changed in any way. However as the Mass progressed I found that I was paying more attention than usual; the fear of saying something wrong made me pay attention the liturgy and what it really meant. I came away with a deeper sense of the wonder that is the Mass and the sacrifice of the Eucharist. No doubt in a few years we will come to think it strange that there was all this fuss and bother. 
Perhaps the revolutionary idea would be to change the liturgy every ten years or so in order that we never say things by rote but always have to search out the full meaning and mystery of what we are about.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Thought for the Day

Picked this up from a friend:

Kids with special needs aren't weird or odd, they only want what everyone be accepted!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Devon Delight

Julia and I spent a very pleasant 9 nine days down at the Lodge with our son Lawrie and Emma his partner. Being with them encouraged us to go out more than we normally do - to be fair last year Julia had a bad leg ulcer which rather curtailed things. So for the first time this year we were able to enjoy the glorious Devon countryside. We even went horse riding on the moors, you see so much more from the vantage point of a horse's back and you don't have to worry about falling over when viewing the scenery (just falling off). Coupled with good food and beer it was a great break.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Rioting in the UK

We have received several emails and telephone calls from our overseas friends and relatives. We are all OK and have been unaffected by the troubles. Fortunately our youngest son, Lawrie, who is a policeman is away on holiday and so has not been involved in trying to quell the riots. This is a great relief to Julia and I as you can imagine.
There have been many reasons put forward for the riots; the best one I heard was from a black pastor on TV. He said that many parents are now frightened to discipline their children for fear of social services descending on them; schools do nothing as many are put off by all the legislation; the police feel hindered by all the human rights lawyers that appear out of the woodwork. The result is a generation (or two) who have never known discipline. While this analysis may be simplistic I believe that there is a kernel of truth within it. Discipline must start in the home as does education.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Mainz, Germany

Last week I had to go to Mainz in Germany to help with a class that was being run. Julia came with me so while I worked she went to see the various sites.  Mainz is a lovely town; I have been about twenty times over the years but Julia has seen far more of it than me in just four days. We did manage a couple of evenings out with a colleague and his wife and saw some of the area as he had a car.

We found a bar!

View across the Rhine
And at night
Street market

A typical street in a Rhine village