Thursday, August 28, 2014


This is a pretty spectacular area of North Cornwall and it`s one which seems to have drawn us back over the years.  Our first visit was many years ago when we were staying near Bideford in Devon and made the journey to Polzeath on a glorious sunny day.  

We walked from there to Daymer Bay along the Greenaway and were captivated by the scene across the Camel Estuary towards Padstow.  Seeing that, we became determined to find a holiday retreat in that area and so began a number of visits - Trelights, Port Isaac, St. Minver, St. Merryn, Trebetherick - and in the process we have walked the coast path and enjoyed the freedom, the open air and the wonderful , ever changing land and seascape.

So, tomorrow we`re off again; this time to stay at Trevone.  After a couple of Autumnal weeks, the weather seems set fair for next week and so we will look forward to Stepper Point, Pentire Head, the seven bays around Trevone, the Camel Trail and maybe one or two a little further afield.   Polly Joke, down the coast near Crantock, has, like the rest of Cornwall, always called us back and we might find it difficult not to answer the call.

Back in a week or so, but I`ll leave you with this view of Trevone so you know what I`ve got to put up with for the next week:-

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Well, the new Premier League season is now under way and for us Saints fans the early signs are `middling.`   A spirited 2-1 defeat away at Liverpool has been followed by a dull, lifeless 0-0 draw against West Brom at St. Mary`s.   The loss of a number of key players hasn`t helped although new manager Ronald Koeman is trying to rebuild the team and has already brought in some useful looking replacements.

I`ve been impressed with Koeman - another of football`s `legends` - he seems assured, competent, personable, determined - I like the cut of his jib and I wish him well.   Rumours abound concerning yet more signings as the transfer window nears the end of its useful life and currently there is speculation that Koeman wants to sign at least two more players before the window slams shut.  One of those is Atletico Madrid`s Belgian international defender Toby Alderweireld who is also attracting the attention of Monaco.

I imagine that, even as I write, a brief rhetorical conversation is taking place between Toby and his agent.  It probably goes like this:-

"Well, Tobe, I`ve had a couple of offers for you.  One is from Monaco, the sun-drenched luxurious millionaire tax haven on the Mediterranean coast, where the football club has again qualified for the European Champions League and who are rolling in cash so they can offer you a big upgrade on your wages here at Atletico.  Err....the other offer is from Southampton."

Sunday, August 24, 2014


The history of erecting statues as memorials to those who have passed on is mixed.   Examples range from the entirely justified, the traditionally classic to the frankly absurd and although it hurts me to recall an embarrassing episode in the history of Southampton FC,  I have to admit that the first effort to honour former player, manager and club President, Ted Bates, took the form of a lifelike representation of Jimmy Krankie clutching a ball whilst perched on his plinth outside St. Mary`s Stadium.   

The ensuing outcry, however, demanded that that dismal failure be removed, the `sculptor` criticised, the committee who sanctioned it chastised and a more worthy second attempt commissioned.   As a result, a dignified and genuine representation of Ted Bates` true character emerged from the chaos.  Here are the `before and after` versions:-

So eventually all was well that ended well, but it was the realisation that a statue was entirely appropriate to honour someone who had given his life to the club that was the most important consideration.   And I guess that in the history of statue commissioning, a number of criteria are used before deciding to go ahead, including such things as the status of the subject, their contribution to the locality, the country or the world in general, the example they have set for others to follow and the respect which they have earned in their lifetime.

So I`m puzzled as to what criteria may have been used in the People`s Republic of Camden where a statue has been commissioned and will be unveiled shortly in memory of Amy Winehouse. 

Friday, August 22, 2014


It`s strange how music can influence the mind.....or maybe how the mind can conjure up some music to fit the mood.  Anyway, whichever it may be, recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, have brought back images from those days we thought were long ago. 

And I`m still not sure whether those images from Missouri instantly brought to mind the haunting lyrics of Bruce Hornsby or whether listening to his music again immediately conjured up visions of those distressing events in America`s mid-west. Maybe I should leave you to judge but either way here it is.   On one level the musicality is there to be greatly admired but dig deep into the words and you might just see what I mean.  I guess that`s just the way it is - some things will never change - that`s just the way it is - but don`t you believe them:-

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


This is a photo I took last October when we were staying at Trebetherick on Cornwall`s north coast.   It`s a tranquil scene, quiet weather, an almost deserted beach and just a glimpse of Pentire Point to tempt the more adventurous.  What could be better for getting away from it all and allowing yourself to be both captivated and captured by the elements of nature, the absence of pressure and the demands of time?

And I see today that Prime Minister Dave Cameron has had to leave Polzeath, Trebetherick and Daymer Bay behind and return to London to be seen to be directing the UK`s response to the latest in a string of appalling events in the Middle East.   Now, he must have wanted the job and he got it and for some years now he has been involved with a seemingly endless list of crises, some financial, some political, some diplomatic, some simply borne of the world in which we live.  

No wonder he likes to get away with his family and where better to unwind than on the Cornish coast which is clearly one of his favourite destinations.  It might be rubbing it in to announce that at the end of next week we`ll be heading for the same area, doing the coast path walks and just enjoying being where we like to be, doing what we like doing. And of course I have the benefit of knowing that it`s highly unlikely that my visit there will be interrupted by being recalled to sort out some great issue of state.

I never thought I would admit to this, but at times like this I might just feel a little sorry for our Prime Minister having to leave his family and the tranquillity of Trebetherick behind and I wonder if he ever thinks whether all the trappings of office are worth it and whether he would rather be watching the sun go down over Stepper Point with John Betjeman`s words lulling in his ear:-

And in the shadowless unclouded glare
Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where
A misty sea-line meets the wash of air.

It may be a forlorn hope that the trials of the world might subside enough to allow our Prime Minister to resume where he was forced to leave off....but I hope so, not just for his sake but also the rest of us.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Yesterday was one of those days.  Now, I don`t watch television that much, especially now that programmes such as`Mrs. Brown`s Boys` - the banal masquerading as comedy - apparently attract an unthinking audience and so my choice of viewing these days is restricted to BBC4, News and, inevitably, sport.   And yesterday I was confronted by the impossibility of being able to watch everything I wanted to watch, all of which was on at the same time.

On BBC 2 there was the enthralling coverage of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich.   On Sky Sports 3 there was the unfolding drama of the final test match between England and India from the Oval.  And on Sky Sports 2 the Premier League`s Sunday Special between Liverpool and Southampton, a game full of promise, expectation and not a little heartache - a game I imagined would be risky to sit through.

It seemed a bit pointless to tune in to the test match because it`s a five-day game and there would surely be enough of the game left for me to watch before it reached its conclusion.   And my heart whispered that I should give the athletics a try, as I could record the football and watch it later.   So I did and I was rewarded with the Great Britain team producing outstanding performances to finish top of the medal table, on the bounce from England doing the same at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.  It`s always nice to come out of Europe in top - if you can`t leave `em, beat `em.

When that coverage ended at 5.00pm I turned over to catch up with the cricket only to discover that the game had ended in a flurry of tumbling Indian wickets to provide England with the spectacular series win that we had been hoping for so long.   In between, I had kept tabs on events at Anfield, which saw Liverpool win 2-1 against the Saints but I knew I would have a late night catching up with the recording.

But there was more to it than all that.   I had almost sub-consciously plumped for the summer sports as it`s supposed still to be summer and I kind of resent the fact that football has already begun and it`s still August.   Besides which, there is a deep and widening cultural divide between the heroics of track and field, the timeless charm of cricket and the increasingly commercial parallel universe of the Premier League in particular.   And, as football belongs to the dark, cold depths of winter it really should bide its time and allow the summer sports to drift peacefully away until the return of the sun in the Spring of next year.

Friday, August 15, 2014


I`ve often thought that Parish Councils are the most useful and most relevant of all the tiers of `government` in this country.  They are closest to local people and, of course, are made up of local people themselves.  They live in their own communities and so have their fingers on the pulses of any `issues` that might be affecting the community they represent and of which they are part.   And as the tiers of government get bigger - District/Borough Councils, County Councils, Central Government, European Parliament etc. - it seems to me that their detachment from local people and therefore the remoteness of those organisations increase proportionately;  perhaps illustrated by the increasing disconnect between the electors and the elected.  

Following our recent encounter with the visiting `travellers,` our Parish Council, despite not being the owners of the land which was invaded or indeed without having any legal powers to resolve the situation, thought it would be useful to call a special public meeting to review what happened, the action taken by the various agencies involved and learn lessons for the future.  

So it was that a good number of parishioners attended the village hall on Wednesday evening, primed for a concerted rant at one or two of the aforementioned agencies.   Sadly, however, we were met with a string of `apologies for absence` from variously ranking police officers and since the bulk of the questioning was likely to have been directed towards the police for their apparent reluctance to take any form and decisive action when it was needed, the meeting was not as productive as it might have been.  

I was left with the impression that as the incident was over and done with a couple of weeks ago, then despite the fact that there are still outstanding issues to resolve, not least the measures to be taken to prevent a similar occurrence in the future, the attitude of a number of agencies was to shrug their collective shoulders and `move on at the end of the day.`

Well, the traveller invasion may have gone away but that experience, together with the `performance` of those agencies charged with the responsibility to protect those communities who pay for them, will not be forgotten in a hurry.