Monday, December 30, 2013


My daughter was to start work at Giraffe the new cafe next to Tesco on Sunday 30th December.

Monday was really the 30th so I assumed they meant Monday and persuaded my daughter she could still come with us up to the Lakes and get back in time to start the job.
 So we had a weekend in the Lakes including a birthday party and a visit to the zoo which is free from December to February. And saw a real giraffe.

But when we got back we found my daughter had lost the job as they really wanted her to start on Sunday 29th. My fault for making assumptions.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Himalayan Balsam - Dry Sandford

We walked along a footpath from Dry Sandford that entered woodland. There were a few Himalayan Balsam on the nearside of the wood but when we came out on the far side the Himalayan Balsam had taken over.

The name 'Himalayan Balsam' sounds calming and the flowers are attractive. Bees love them as they produce large amounts of nectar. They dwarf other plants and get all the light, like stinging nettles and bracken (native species).

Try to press a Himalayan Balsam seedpod and it explodes with such force you get a shock - scattering seeds everywhere.

They are an alien species, and will easily take over - best pulled up when they are not in seed or the seeds fly everywhere.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Elephants in Transit

We visited the noon day feeding of the young elephants in the transit centre.
Having been found injured or orphaned they are cared for until old enough to be released into the semi-wild of a national park.
These two were fed before the rest. They were like the two newest pupils at a school sticking  together. The youngest had been there two weeks. The older one had a broken leg.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Mystery Machine

The Scooby mobile was outside Peace at the Park on Saturday. 

Inside the park, late in the afternoon, it felt surreal... Many people were listening to a life changing talk by Sister Jayanti on the subject of meditation.We heard flute music in  the chapel, and Sitar music in a tent.  Younger people were playing on trees swings and other were clambering over nets of ropes.

I chanced to meet Janti who I have not seen for at least a couple of years. We used to work together in Solihull so meeting there was quite a suprise.

Janti's wife was dressed in  a white sari like a lot of the sisters. He explained that they were celebrating 20 years of The Global Retreat Centre at Nuneham Park, and his wife is a devotee. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Demolition Row in Bracknell

Demolition Row in Bracknell Town Centre. 550,000 square foot of low quality shopping centre to be replaced by something better including a Cineworld, an M&S, and new shops. Demolition will start in July and carry on until October.
Some shop keepers told customers, before closing, that rents are going up a lot. So some of them won't be back.

I could not believe there was such a desolate area when I started working nearby last year - not knowing that shops were being cleared as leases came up for renewal, and so more and more were empty or short term let. Now they are all empty. Upstairs walkways are cordoned off and workmen have started the process . I guess there is lot of asbestos that needs removing first.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bracknell Town Centre Tree Sculptures

My six months working at Bracknell has come to an end. About halfway through my time there I saw the plans to redevelop some of the town centre. This included a cinema and M & S in a prominent position. But what I did not see talked about was the fate of all the small trees that lined the precincts.

They all had ther branches chopped off last autumn.
Then yesterday two of them were getting carved into street art.

One had an owl on top. The other was a swirly stick.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Anywhere but Costa

We went into Ulverstone this morning and decided after shopping to meet up for a coffee.

My Mother-in-Law, said she did not mind where we went but she would never talk to us again if we went to the new Costa.
Costa takes up three shop fronts on Brogden Street. The premises was previously a Halifax Bank and estate agents.

Mother in Law had said "It had no place in a Market Town like Ulverstone. It will endanger the small family run businesses."
So we had a number of small cafes and tea rooms to choose from, and in the end ...
we went to the Mad Hatter's Tearooms.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Easter Monday with Laurel and Hardy

Within close proximity to the Lake District, the town of Ulverstone has had a museum dedicated to Laurel and Hardy since 1983. Back then there were a couple of rooms with pictures and news clippings pasted round the walls by an enthusiast.

Stan Laurel was born in Ulverstone in 1890 and lived his first six years in Foundry Cottages, now renamed as Argyll Street ... at number 3.

The museum has since moved to larger premises in part of the Roxy Cinema, and is run by the Grandson of the original enthusiast.

Mark, the Grandson, would still like to recreate the original museum in one area but it is not proving easy ... moving paper pasted to walls.

I dare say he should take inspiration from "Laurel and Hardy". They knew how to move things.

At the original museum, and the new one, there is a chance to watch Laurel and Hardy movies, which are still very funny - or at least I found them so.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Didcot A Final Steam Day

Didcot A Coal Fire Power Station with its six large cooling towers will stop generating electricity within the next 24 hours. The more efficient Didcot B Gas powered station will carry on, but their mini cooling towers don't dominate the landscape for miles around.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Didcot Parkway to Bracknell and back

I've been working in Bracknell since the start of November, travelling down by car. The M4 round Reading is dire at that time in the morning, and if one morning the M4 turns out good the A329M will be even more dire. The exit from Bracknell can also be dire later in the day. On one occasion it took me 2 hours to do 2 miles.

But now thanks to the internet I can get train tickets that work out cheaper then going by car with the £6 parking at Bracknell. And they allow me to read books - a pleasure I don't usually allow myself.

I also have started to cycle the few miles to Didcot, cutting out any need to go the gym (another saving).
Then on the way back I get absorbed, wherever I am, reading my book. It is so much better than making my way round those horrible roundabouts through backed up traffic telling myself I should have gone the other way. I have 3 routes out of Bracknell.

More of Bracknell anon. The shopping centre needs a bomb dropping on it. But they have a regeneration project which I am starting to follow with interest.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

HMV Christmas gift cards have been declared worthless by the heartless administrator Deloitte

I did pop into HMV for what could be a last look round the shop that once faced the Virgin Mega Store across Cornmarket. How are the mighty fallen.

The Guardian reported today "Thames Valley police confirmed that they had been called to an incident at an HMV store in Oxford after a dispute over a gift card between two customers and staff. Holders of gift cards are particularly frustrated as HMV continued selling them and vouchers after warning investors on 13 December that the group expected to face a solvency crisis by the end of January."