Thursday, August 28, 2014

THE CALL OF KERNOW..


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


A BRIEF RHETORICAL CONVERSATION..

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

A CULTURAL PUZZLE ...


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

THAT`S JUST THE WAY IT IS..

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


AT TIMES LIKE THIS...

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

ONE OF THOSE DAYS..

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


GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN..


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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Like most others, I was very sorry to learn of the passing of Robin Williams - a great actor, one who was perhaps not always appreciated for the depth of his talent.  He was able to go from one end of the spectrum of convincing character to the other;  from Mork and Mindy to an Oscar winning performance in Good Will Hunting is a long journey in more ways than one, but for me his outstanding performance was of the sad, lonely loser Sy Parrish in the 2002 film One Hour Photo.   In retrospect and given what we now know of the torments in Williams` own life, that performance may have been more true to his own character than that of the one he portrayed.

And at a time like this it is `awkward` to enter a note or two of uncertainty, but a couple of things struck me today about the way in which Williams`death was reported and also the consequences of his leaving.   I think it was noticeable that in a number of `popular` newspapers and television news programmes, his death was the first and main item of news and described as `a tragedy,` whilst at the same time the appalling situation in Iraq and the desperate plight of refugees became relegated behind the news from California.   It said much about the priorities of the western world when the passing of an admittedly talented and much loved actor was seen to take precedence over what is a real and true tragedy affecting thousands of defenceless people.

As to the consequences of his death, well of course, one feels for the family and friends left behind. And it`s difficult especially for someone like me who has mercifully been spared the depths of depression that Williams is said to have suffered and yet, like another recent celebrity suicide, something suggests to my perhaps less than understanding mind that there might just be a hint of selfishness in leaving so much pain for others to bear. 

I mean no disrespect towards the passing of a substantial figure in the world of entertainment and I hope his family and friends can, in their grief, bring themselves to forgive him for leaving them in the way that he did.  Well, I said it was awkward.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD..

To Southampton for yet another pilgrimage to St. Mary`s Stadium to see the Saints play Bayer Leverkusen in the final pre-season friendly before the `best league in the world (tm)` kicks off next weekend.  Normally, given a fair wind, the journey takes about two hours.  Yesterday, three and a half - and that`s going the pretty way, having given up with the M25 at Wisley and turned on to the A3/A31 to rejoin the M3 at Winchester.

It ruined my plans, which had included a visit to my boyhood village of Hythe, getting the ferry from there to Southampton and walking to the stadium,but time was against me, so I had to go straight to the city centre to park so as not to miss a rendezvous with `old` friends before the game.

The journey home was `OK` and I decided to come back the way I went.  I`m beginning to go off motorways anyhow - they`re dull, boring, monotonous and clogged up with traffic.  And at the end of my journey I witnessed a football match which saw the revamped Saints lose 1-0 to the German side, thanks to an unfortunate own goal scored by Saints` new striker, Graziano Pelle, who in the last couple of seasons has scored something like 58 goals in 76 games in the Dutch league, mostly in the right end I imagine.

In many ways, the new Saints team has rekindled the anxieties of the past and reminded me a bit of the M25 - clogged up in midfield, occasional glimpses of open country and with the final destination of burying the ball in the back of the opponents` goal proving ever more elusive.   I suspect the coming season, starting next week away at Liverpool, will be another long and winding road.

Friday, August 08, 2014


BALANCING ACT ?..

This is, of course, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown doing a passable impression of Tommy Cooper whilst taking a leading role in the `No` campaign against Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and going it alone.   The referendum is just a few short weeks away and the momentum, the arguments, the threats and promises are gathering pace.

And yesterday saw an interesting development with a letter being sent by the `Let`s Stay Together` group urging Scots to vote `No` which was signed by 200 so-called `celebrities.`  The signatories include the predictably usual suspects, of course, such as Jo Brand whose claim to fame is based on crudity and loudness; Esther Rantzen, who is incapable of allowing a bandwagon to pass by without climbing aboard;  the improbable `Sir` Mick Jagger; Griff Rhys Jones, renowned as the one actor in the recent BBC version of Under Milk Wood to unforgivably mispronounce Butcher Beynon; the Turner Prize entry that is Tracey Emin and, inevitably, the caricature that goes by the name of Sting.

The Scots, it seems, are less than impressed and a wave of indignation has hit the social media airwaves.  One Jason Henderson observed that, "If I was a `No` voter I think this would embarrass me into voting Yes" and Historian Stephen Fleming called the line-up of celebrities "a real horror show" saying that, "If this doesn`t make Scotland vote for independence, I don`t know what will."

But what was perhaps most disconcerting was the BBC New 24 item that reported on the letter.   It did so with obvious enthusiasm for the cause of Scotland staying in the UK and totally ignored those other celebrities who are urging the Scots to vote Yes - among them Sir Sean Connery, Brian Cox, Robbie Coltrane, Billy Bragg, Iain Rankin, Ken Loach, Kevin Bridges and Jack Vettriano. 

But I guess we`ve come to expect nothing less from the BBC than leaning towards the party line of the establishment and so we should not be surprised that their stance towards the Scottish referendum is now clearly in step with the BBC view on things like the EU, climate change, global warming and all the other issues where those who dare to express dissent are viewed as bordering on the criminal or the insane.

Thank goodness I don`t pay the licence fee any more or I would really say what I think.

Thursday, August 07, 2014


I confess.  I have always had a pathological fear of snakes, ever since an encounter on Egdon Heath when I was about three.  I read somewhere that my problem is not unusual and one of the reasons for the widespread fear of snakes in that they represent a life form that is so completely different to our own that, in reality, it is as much a fear of the unknown as anything else.

Be that as it may, I see this morning that an unfortunate gentleman was out walking in Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire, when he was bitten by an Adder, which apparently happens to about 100 people each year in this country.  The gentleman in question was taken to hospital, where he remains in a serious but stable condition after treatment.  It`s no fun being bitten by Adders - the pain is excruciating, sickness, diarrhoea and other effects don`t bear thinking about - and yet these nasty, slithering, loathsome creatures are a protected species.  

Indeed, a representative of the Forestry Commission at Dalby Forest is almost orgasmic in his assertion that "we have a thriving population of Adders here!"  Now I really don`t care about political correctness or do-goody conservation fanatics but I just can`t see the point of snakes, so why conserve them?  Time to take them off the protected list and get the Forestry Commission to hand out sharp spades to their visitors at Dalby Forest.

On a not-unrelated subject, I was puzzled by the enthusiasm greeting Boris Johnson`s announcement that he wants to stand as a Member of Parliament in next year`s General Election.   Interesting, that.  And it all just confirms the sense of entitlement that politicians have for themselves.   All Boris has to do is find some compliant, safe constituency to adopt him as their candidate and off he`ll go to Westminster where, despite what he might say, he will pursue the leadership of what might remain of the Parliamentary Conservative Party.

It`s all about blind ambition, self-aggrandisement and an arrogant assumption of entitlement.   No matter what the good folk of Uxbridge - or anywhere else - think of it, the permanent embarrassment that is Boris looks like slithering back into the Westminster undergrowth waiting to strike, poised to unleash his own brand of incoherent virulence on a country that deserves better.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

TWO WRONGS ?..

I`m intrigued by the news that Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone is to make a $100million (£60million) payment to a court in Munich to bring an end to his trial on bribery charges.

He went on trial back in April accused of bribing a former German banker as part of the sale of a major stake in the motorsport business eight years ago.

The court said that $99million would be paid to the German treasury and the other $1million to a German children`s hospice charity.  The money must be paid by Ecclestone within a week, after which time the trial will be officially abandoned.

Now, having originally been charged with bribery, I`m struggling to understand the difference between that and the payments now to be made to the German treasury and the children`s hospice.   Maybe it`s just me - again?  Help !!

Sunday, August 03, 2014


ROSELAND RAMBLES 2..

Almost as an antidote to the recent mayhem at home, my mind - ever seeking solace and consolation - has once more turned to the Roseland and in this second of the series I recall the walk we had back in June starting and finishing at the National Trust car park at Porth Farm (Point 3 on the map.)   I`ll do it using some of the pictures I took on the walk. (Click on them for larger images.)


First stop - Towan Beach, seen here from the climb up to Kilgerran Head. There`s something in the air here; as you climb it becomes fresher, more invigorating, almost as if it`s deep cleaning all the oppressive south-east grime and nonsense from your lungs. And here too, there`s just the sound of the breeze, the sea birds and the caress of the waves introducing themselves to the shore.  It`s a good start.

And rounding the headland at Porthmellin you look down on Porthbeor Beach, inaccessible now following last winter`s storms, although it was pretty difficult to get down there anyway as the only access was via a flight of 100 or so very steep steps.   Mind you, going down was one thing, coming back up was something else.....

Thankfully, there is a welcome seat on the coast path at the top of the climb up from Porthbeor and it`s here that you leave the coast path and head up the field, onto the road and turn left into the hamlet of Bohortha. It`s hard to think of a more captivating place - just a handful of cottages, some with thatched roofs, all with gardens bright with summer flowers and the inevitable Valerian in all its shades, defying gravity by growing out of nooks and crannies in garden walls.   The hamlet was originally known as "St. Anthony" village but became known as Bohortha after one of the farmsteads, Bohurrow Farm, that existed there.  Once it even had an alehouse - "The Pig and Whistle" - some centuries ago and The Old School House was the primary school for children in and around St. Anthony`s Head until the early 20th century.  

The footpath from Bohortha then drops down to Place Quay, where the ferry from St. Mawes plies its trade and connects up again with the south west coast path. But our walk takes us the other way, through Drawler Plantation with its enchanting views across the Percuil River to St. Mawes. This wooded section, away from the south west coast path, is quiet, utterly peaceful and with a surprise around every corner - we came across a remote shack which seemed to have its own little beach and although we felt we might be intruding, we couldn`t resist resting awhile, soaking up the tranquillity of seriously being away from it all.  Time stood still.

And the final section took us along the edge of Porth Creek and Froe
Creek and so back  to the car park.  I suppose it must have been about four miles and the guide books say it should take about two hours.  But we like to take our time, stop and take in the scenery and, as this ramble of mine has demonstrated, allow the landscape to imprint itself on your memory.  And those memories provide a haven of refuge  from an increasingly frantic and disturbing world.  I`m already looking forward to getting back there later in the year.

Friday, August 01, 2014

BLESS YOU MY SON..

Well, the backlash from our recent encounter with the travelling community lingers on it seems.   The local weekly newspaper was published this morning and it included quite a chunky article about the incident, detailing the experiences of the authorities to get them to move along, the measures taken to clean up the site and the steps being taken to try to prevent a recurrence.  

The article also  included a quote from the local vicar, who reportedly said, "They were good people.  They have a different way of living to the rest of us."   Now I`m quite sure the vicar has been misquoted for surely he has the best interests of his flock at the forefront of his concerns, rather than those of itinerant malcontennts who caused criminal damage, behaved inexcusably and caused great distress to local residents.  Otherwise it raises once again the priorities of Her representatives on Earth.

Also today a letter from no less than four local Borough Councillors has arrived with the intention of clearly setting out the action apparently taken by the Council to resolve the problems caused by the arrival of our travelling friends.  I earnestly hope that this issue is not becoming one which is reduced to political points scoring.   Otherwise it raises once again the innate shallowness of local politicians, who are prone to the misguided notion that local residents/electors are impressed by such defensive gestures.