Wednesday, November 23, 2016


.....and a piece that came to mind as I harked back to the days of childhood.  When I was seven, I developed a pretty serious kidney disease which kept me in Southampton Children's Hospital for a few months and resulted in me missing a whole year of schooling - something I`ve been trying to make up for ever since.

Of course, those were the days before television and after returning home from hospital I used to lay in bed and listen to Children's Hour on the old BBC Home Service.  The programme came on at 5.00pm each evening and did what it said on the tin, providing entertainment and education for young listeners like me.   It had regular features and also `drama series` usually with six episodes and it was the introductory music to these series that fascinated me at the time and still live in the memory from 70 years ago. 

I remember one series was called `Ballet Shoes` and the music which introduced it was Wolf-Ferrari`s Jewels of the Madonna.  Another was a series of talks on current affairs by Stephen King-Hall, which whilst not wildly entertaining nevertheless introduced me to the overture to Reznicek`s comic opera Donna Diana. It`s a happy, jaunty piece with a haunting melody. The opera is rarely performed these days but the overture is still a popular stand-alone piece at symphonic concerts and it`s easy to understand why.   Here it is.......

Monday, November 21, 2016


I`m reliably informed that the recent BBC series, Poldark, has come to an end, which seems to have caused a degree of consternation among his feminine devotees.  This reminded me of the filming locations in Cornwall which have now become increasingly popular destinations for Poldark buffs as well as providing local entrepreneurs with the opportunity to arrange Poldark Guided Tours.

One of those locations was the out-of-the-way fishing hamlet of Porthgwarra, at the foot of Gwennap Head, and we visited there a few years ago when I took these photos.  The first shows Porthgwarra in the rush hour, whilst the second shows Mrs. Snopper looking for all the world like Miss Woodruff in The French Lieutenant`s Woman wandering the Cobb at Lyme Regis in the forlorn hope that her hero might one day appear.    At least Mrs. S. has another Poldark series to look forward to.......

(Please click on photos for larger images)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

To yet another crematorium, this time to Barham near Canterbury for yet another funeral which seems to be an all too frequent occurrence these days.   This one was for an old friend of mine, who had passed away after a difficult year.  We had known each other since our time at school together and throughout the years of our youth, playing cricket in the same village team and sharing many `youthful interests.` 

Some minor medical problem meant that he missed National Service, but I was conscripted into the university of military intelligence and so we lost contact, went our separate ways and didn`t meet up again until about 50 years later - some ten years ago now.   After all that time, we merely looked at each other and carried on as if the intervening years had not happened.  Such is true friendship.

He was a cricket buff - like me a devotee of the beautiful game.  We both relived the memories of our partnerships at the crease and he enjoyed the last 20 years of being President of Sturry Cricket Club, close to Canterbury.   And so it seemed entirely right that today, before a full house with a packed gallery and standing room only,  his wish, to leave us by being dressed for the occasion wearing his cricket whites, was fulfilled. 


Monday, November 14, 2016

APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEPTIVE... I discovered yesterday morning, whilst out having walkies with our retriever.  I ventured into the backwaters of a nearby `country park` and took a few photos of the Autumn colours.  This one was along a peaceful riverbank and it shows a tranquil, almost seductive scene of quiet contentment.   And so it is....until you realise that just beyond that captivating hedge lies the major effluent treatment plant which deals with the `waste` from a big chunk of this part of Kent.   The scene is indeed lovely, but the scent perhaps needs a little work.......

(Please click on photo for larger image)

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

I didn`t sleep too well last night.  Things were on my mind and I kept wondering what the morning would bring but eventually I got some sleep and woke up, turned on the TV, tuned in to the only channel that mattered - and heard the news.

At first I wasn`t at all sure what to make of it but the reality of what had happened overnight finally hit home to me.   And I have to tell you that I greeted the news with something approaching disbelief.  But it was true after all and for the rest of the day I confess to having wandered around with a kind of smug grin on my face.

Yes, of course, the big surprise was that England, batting first in the first test match of the series in India had progressed to 198 for 3 and went on to end the day on 311 for 4, thanks largely to yet another fine century from Joe Root and also to Moeen Ali, who ended the day on 99 not out.  And with the likes of Stokes, who is still there, Woakes, Bairstow still to come and a tail that ends with Stuart Broad, there might be occasion for yet more smugness when I wake up tomorrow.

Now, rumour has it that there has been another surprise in the world today but please forgive me for sticking to my priorities.  After all, to be concerned with anything else on a day like today is surely the way to madness.

Monday, November 07, 2016

A sudden rush of decorating and associated tasks has kept me away from these pages for a while but now that week is over, I have had time to reflect on a few things which seem to be deeply troubling.

The week`s news has been dominated by the shenanigans concerning the `race for the White House` in the good ol` US of A.   And it troubles me considerably to see that that `race` is between a shrieking harridan of doubtful pedigree and a self-important mega-rich businessman with apparently no knowledge or experience whatsoever of politics, foreign policy or anything else to do with being the `leader of the western world.`  It truly is a choice between two of the least attractive presidential candidates there have ever been and, whoever wins, we are right to be uncertain as to what the future may hold.

And speaking of uncertainty, back here in our disunited Kingdom, there`s all the fuss about Brexit.  Now the issues and the arguments that surround it are too numerous, complex and arcane for me to even attempt to discuss them here.  But I wonder why I am deeply suspicious when I keep hearing politicians repeatedly declaring that they `of course respect the referendum result.`  I just have a feeling in my bones that we`ve seen this all before - the Irish referendum on the Mastricht Treaty springs to mind - and I just hope I live long enough to see the decree absolute finally arrive.

And so in a desperate attempt to lighten the gloom, I turn once more to football.  And what do I find this weekend?  The Saints, having seen off Inter Milan - yes, Inter Milan - last Thursday evening, stumble away to Hull City - yes, Hull City - yesterday afternoon; a result that really should not be allowed to stand.   After all, Southampton had so much more possession, more shots at goal, more corners than Hull City who had lost each of their last five games.   The result is clearly a mistake and so the game should be replayed, this time with the right result.   It`s obviously a case to be judged by the Independent Court of Arbitration in Sport, to be fair. 

And all the while, the mayhem in Syria, Iraq and other parts of our fractious planet remains unresolved.   As I started by saying, things seem to be deeply troubling.

Monday, October 24, 2016


I``m quite pleased with some of the `wildlife` photos I took whilst we were walking the Cornwall coast path a couple of weeks ago.  This one caught a kestrel in flight, hovering over Beacon Cove just south of Mawgan Porth...........

.......and at Mother Ivy`s Bay I spotted this seagull waiting patiently for something to turn up.......

......please click on pictures for better image.

Friday, October 21, 2016


This time last week (almost to the minute) we spent roaming along Constantine Bay to Booby`s Bay and back.  Another glorious morning, the only `incident` being yours truly being tackled from behind by a young golden retriever;  one minute I was admiring the sea, the next flat on my back admiring the clear blue sky.  No harm done and no animals were harmed during this episode, but maybe a yellow card for a reckless tackle from behind?

Here`s what Constantine Bay looked like last Friday morning from my vantage point.....

.....and then the long, 300-mile drive home through half of Cornwall, all of Devon, most of Somerset, bits of Wiltshire, Hampshire and Surrey and finally home to Kent, leaving behind memories of yet another unforgettable week and hopes for many more to come.......

Thursday, October 20, 2016


To Crantock and up to West Pentire;  then down to the unspoilt, wonderful, Polly Joke, which has many attractions, not least being the complete absence of any `facilities` whatsoever.  So it`s just you and the beach and the tide and the cliffs and that fresh, clean Atlantic air.  When the tide is low, which it was when we visited, there are caves to explore and here`s a photo I took looking out from one of them......

.... and then on to Kelsey Head for a view of Holywell Bay but also to venture just off the coast path to look down at the seals lounging around on their own personal territory, The Chick.   Here they are.......

.....and to complete yet another memorable day, we returned to Polly Joke, had a pit stop and took the coast path around Pentire Point West and back to what passes for reality. (Sigh.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


A quiet(ish), restful(ish) day when we decided to go to Padstow, well, because it was there I suppose.   Problem with Padstow is that it is so darned popular - people everywhere, dogs, `iffy` shops selling all the essentials required of the modern day holidaymaker, pasties, fudge, coffee in those annoying cardboard cup things, seagulls and quite the most exorbitantly priced `cakes and pastries` courtesy of a certain Mr. Stein.

Not for me really - I much prefer to be away from all that - but I was interested in the comings and goings in the harbour, which seemed to provide a haven of tranquillity from the hustle and bustle of the quayside...

(Please click on photo for a larger image)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


To Rock so as to call in at the letting agents to confirm our holiday booking for next Spring.   Then on to Daymer Bay then a walk along the Greenaway to Polzeath.   Along the way we dropped down to Broadagogue Cove to look for cowries.  

Polzeath is famous for its surfing beach but the village has little else to commend it, so we ventured inland alongside a big caravan park.  All around this area there are memories of Sir John Betjeman and we arrived at Shilla Mill, a watermill built in 1591.  I`ll leave it to Sir John to describe it far better than I ever could:-

From where the coastguard houses stood
One used to see below the hill
The lichened branches of a wood
In summer silver cool and still;
And there the Shade of Evil could
Stretch out at us from Shilla Mill.
Thick with sloe and Blackberry,uneven in the light,
Lonely round the hedge, the heavy meadow was remote;
The oldest part of Cornwall was the wood as black as night,
And the pheasant and the rabbit lay torn open at the throat.

And I felt, as we staggered through the eerie silence of the wood, how he must have felt and that, away from the surf and pasties of Polzeath, the `oldest part of Cornwall` is there still.  We found our way back to the tranquillity of Trebetherick and wandered down the lane passing next Spring`s holiday haunt and I felt at home again and at peace.

Anyway, here`s the photo I took of Shilla Mill, now - almost inevitably - a holiday let....


Monday, October 17, 2016


.....saw us on the coast path again, this time from Harlyn Bay, around Cataclews Point, on to Mother Ivy`s Bay and up Trevose Head.   Another glorious day.  Well, the sun shines on the righteous?    This was Monday morning on the start of our walk at Harlyn Bay. Manic Monday?  I don`t think so.......

Sunday, October 16, 2016


.......we sat having a rest after walking the coast path from Mawgan Porth in Cornwall, high up on the cliff looking down on Watergate Bay.   As you can see from my photo, it was a glorious place to be on a glorious day.   Oh well, that brings an end to my Cornwall visits for this year.....but we`ve already made a booking for 2017.   When you see this, who can blame us?.........

Thursday, October 06, 2016


A couple of years ago, round about this time of the year, we were wandering along the bit of the south west coast path around Pentire Point and I looked down and was very taken not only by the sheer drop down but also the vivid, contrasting colours between the rock-face, the sea and the grasses at the edge of the path.  So I took this photo.  I remember it so well that I feel an urge to make a return visit.......

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


`It`s nice to go travellin`` as it says in the song, but sometimes you find places and things down your way which surprise you.  Well, yesterday afternoon I took Barney for his walkies and explored our local Castle Lake.   And this is what it looked like in the early Autumn sunshine....... please click on photo for larger image:-

Monday, October 03, 2016


The 2016 cricket season went out with its usual whimper a week or so ago and, as an aficionado of Hampshire I was naturally disappointed that they were relegated from Division One of the County Championship.  Not altogether unexpected, especially as at the end of the 2015 season they escaped relegation by a whisker on the last day of the season.

In this year`s final table, Durham finished a very creditable fourth and over the years since their entry into the County Championship in 1992, they have consistently produced test players and won the championship title on three occasions, as well as success in the one day competitions.   So it is regrettable that, today, Durham have been subjected to a series of sanctions as a result of spiralling debts and accepting a £3.8 million loan from the ECB to ensure their survival.

The swingeing sanctions include being relegated to Division Two, being deducted 48 points before the 2017 season even begins,  points deductions in the two one-day cup competitions, the withdrawal of Test status for their county ground at Chester-le-Street and a salary cap on terms to be settled by the ECB.   In anyone`s language, those penalties are none other than severe.

The powers that be have also decided that since Durham are being relegated, then Hampshire will retain their place in Division One, rather than Kent, who finished in second place in Division Two, being promoted.   

Now, as a Hampshire fan ever since my parents first took me to the old County Ground at Northlands Road, Southampton, in 1949 when I saw the county take on the New Zealanders, I should be happy that my county`s cricket team will still be playing in the top echelon.   And I suppose I am happy, although it is tinged with genuine sorrow at the plight Durham find themselves in and also a little embarrassment that Kent have not been granted the promotion they arguably deserve.   Good news and bad news indeed but it might call for a redefinition of the phrase `it`s not cricket?`

Friday, September 30, 2016


It seems to be the case with us Saints fans that, when all appears to be going swimmingly, along comes an issue to make us think again.   The last five games undefeated - four of them wins - and five clean sheets including last night`s creditable draw away in Israel in the Europa Cup against a very useful Hapoel Be`er Sheva side.  The Saints are currently ninth in the Premier League and the future looked bright for the rest of the season.

And then along come the Telegraph revelations about alleged corruption in English football which have already resulted in the merciful departure of `Big` Sam Allardyce as England manager.  And now Saints Assistant First Team coach Eric Black appears to be implicated by allegedly `advising businessmen how to bribe lower league staff.` 

Mr. Black was appointed by Saints just a few short weeks ago as a qualified and experienced coach but also, crucially, a fluent French speaker which would be helpful to new French manager, Claude Puel, whose English was `patchy.`   Thankfully, M. Puel`s grasp of English has improved noticeably of late and so one element of Eric Black`s c.v. has become less crucial.

As I write, the Saints contingent is flying back from Israel and the club have yet to consider their position and of course it is tempting and perhaps premature to rush to judgement.   However, if there is a case to answer and the evidence becomes clear, the club will have little choice but to part company with Mr. Black if it wishes to retain its deserved reputation as an honest, family  friendly club.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Last night, whilst the brouhaha over the departure of `Big` Sam Allardyce was in full spate, an altogether different football experience was to be found at the Proact Stadium, home of Chesterfield FC - nicknamed The Spireites after the extraordinary spire on the local church.   The visitors last night were Gillingham FC, for whom our street`s local hero, Scott Wagstaff, plies his trade as a pacy flanker, fleet-footed wingback or midfield dynamo, depending on the manager`s selection, the nature of the opposition and the job he is required to do in any given game.

Now, here in our quiet Kentish conclave there is an eclectic mix of football supporters - West Ham being prominent, if a little on edge - along with my neighbour, who is a died-in-the-wool Gillingham fan and myself as a lifelong Southampton supporter.  But we all have one thing in common, which is to have followed the fortunes of 26-year old Scott Wagstaff over the years since his apprenticeship at Charlton, through loan spells at Northwich Victoria, Bournemouth and Leyton Orient and cementing his burgeoning career at Bristol City and now Gillingham.  Shades of The Return of the Native indeed..

Last night, the Gills found themselves 3-1 down deep into the second half but then Wagstaff produced two moments of inspiration to secure a 3-3 draw and a priceless point away from home in the depths of Derbyshire.   The first was to tumble under a heavy challege in the penalty area with such conviction that the referee, one Trevor Kettle, had no choice but to rightly award the Gills a spot kick, which was duly dispatched by Wagstaff`s former Bristol City colleague, Jay Emanuel-Thomas, aka JET.

The second - as deep into added time as the 96th minute - saw our local hero latch on to a cross and bury the ball beyond the despairing clutches of the Spireites` sprawling custodian.  And it`s becoming increasingly the case that moments like that, in the real football world rather than the tainted circus of the Premier League, remind us that there is life and joy and honest endeavour to be had beyond the avarice, the assumed entitlement and the deeply unedifying spectacle of the self-styled `best league in the world.`

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I don`t know!   I leave these pages for a few days and when I return, what do I find?  It is, depressingly, that the main `story` exercising the press this fine September morning is not Syria or the Clinton/Chump head to head or the Labour `Party` Conference.  Oh no.  It is the allegations that England Manager, `Big` Sam Allardyce may have been a very naughty boy by trousering £400,000 for a shady deal with a football agency firm along with other misdemeanours.

Now all this apparently happened after his appointment but before he took charge of his first - and probably last - game as England manager.  I quite expect that he will claim exemption from disciplinary action on account of him suffering from asthma but I have to say I am not surprised that doubts concerning Allardyce`s `suitability` have come to light.

Just a few short weeks ago, following the announcement of his appointment, I ventured the dilemma as to whether watching football under his tutelage would bring back memories either of Jurassic Park or Back to the Future.  Well, his future now looks decidedly uncertain and without really wishing to kick a man when he`s down, I hope the Football Association do the decent thing and do what they should have done originally, which is to appoint an English manager for the England team who possesses attributes fit for the purpose.

He needs to know the game inside out, preferably having played it at a decent level; he needs to be personable, knowledgeable, articulate and possess an air with which the supporters of England football can have confidence.  Candidates may be thin on the ground but the FA should look to the south coast and have a word with those who run Bournemouth Football Club.  And the quicker they do so, the better.

Friday, September 16, 2016


......they would probably turn out to be like this one, which I managed to capture a week ago on a balmy, late summer evening on the south coast of Devon.......

No wonder I keep going back there.  And speaking of Devon, there`s a short piece of music by Patrick Doyle for the film score of the Oscar winning adaptation of Jane Austen`s `Sense and Sensibility.`  The short piece is called `Devonshire` and it captures the lyrical charm of glorious Devon.   Here it is.......

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


I was looking forward to this series, which is now in to its final stages of four films produced by BBC South West.  Now I am a proud member of the South West Coast Path Association, which exists - having been instrumental in establishing the 630 miles of coast path from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset - to maintain and promote the path for visitors and residents of the south west region.

And I`m the first to accept that it was always going to be difficult to condense 630 glorious miles into four half hour programmes.  But not for the first time, the BBC have failed dismally to capture the essence of a subject not only by cutting out huge chunks of the journey but also by pandering to the whims and fancies of a presenter who should know better.

They did the same with the `Coast` series which started off full of good intentions but drifted into programmes which were more about the presenters than what they were supposed to be presenting.  So far every edition of `Coastal Path` has seen the presenter, one Paul Rose, seemingly unable to resist doing things rather than simply walking the path and showing us what it`s really like.   

Tonight`s third episode saw him training with the military in Plymouth, snorkelling around Burgh Island rather than showing us the island, driving a train from Kingswear to Paignton and taking part in an RNLI rescue training  exercise.  After all that, there was not much time in a half hour programme to capture the essence of the coast path itself - its solitude, its changing character, its peace, quiet and the invigorating experience of just walking it.

It is an immense disappointment and so I still, very optimistically, look forward to a series of programmes that does just that.  The BBC won`t ever do the coast path justice - perhaps, having snaffled that Bake-Off thingy,  Channel Four might ?   

Monday, September 12, 2016


Last week we stayed at Bigbury-on-Sea, which is just opposite Burgh Island, shown in my photo above.   When the tide is out, it is possible to walk across to the island from Bigbury, which we did a couple of times and it`s well worth the effort.

The Burgh Island Hotel has a richly deserved reputation as a wonderful example of art deco architecture and decor and also for the clientele it continues to attract.  People such as Noel Coward, The Beatles, Churchill, Eisenhower and Agatha Christie, who wrote two of her novels whilst staying on the island, are among the most prominent guests.

The Hotel`s website shows far more about staying there, menus, things to do and all that and I`m sure that booking one of the marvellous suites for dinner, bed and breakfast is excellent value at £665 per night.   I`m not sure I will ever have the pleasure of staying there but if I ever do, then I will be determined to stay awake all night and maintain full consciousness, which strikes me as the only way to properly achieve value for money.....

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Just back from another week walking the south west coast path in south Devon.  We`ve been there many times before and hopefully will again, as it is one of the most quiet, peaceful and beautiful parts of the south west.   One of our walks was from Hope Cove, following the coast path towards Soar Mill Cove.  On the way out of Hope Cove I took this photo, looking back at the almost chocolate box village.......

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


From our Golf Correspondent

A mixed return to the fairways, bunkers, woods, rough and greens of Poult Wood yesterday from ageing golfer Snopper who once again produced a round of inevitable ups and downs.  To be fair, on this occasion, there were possibly more ups than downs, partly due to a return to what Snopper beguilingly considers `form` and partly due to his increasing aptitude for a set if irons recently acquired from his benevolent neighbour.

Now his next door neighbour is one of those annoying people who, it seems without trying, become proficient at anything he attempts.  Some while ago, he treated himself to a new set of golf clubs and, following a period of `negotiation,` he kindly gave his `old` set to Snopper who, of course, was most grateful as he constantly labels himself as an elderly person struggling to survive on a fixed income in difficult economic times.

And yesterday these irons proved their worth, as Snopper played really quite well, lost a mere four golf balls and on one occasion enquired of a course warden whether he had managed to catch his drive on the par 3 second, on camera.  Sadly, no documentary evidence exists to verify that instant of adequacy, but the signs are good that our hero might be returning to the kind of golf he played before the onset of his current septuagenarian status.   Either that, or it`s another flash in the proverbial pan.  My money`s on the latter.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


One of the best places to be on a dreamy, late summer evening is here, where the tidal causeway between Bigbury and Burgh Island seems to draw people naturally to make the crossing before the tide sweeps in and Burgh Island becomes a proper island once again.   I took this photo looking back as we staggered up the hill towards Ayrmer Cove.   Makes me want to be back there before too long.......

(Please click on photo for larger image)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I see that Teresa May is calling for an extended honours list so as to properly reward our Olympics heroes and heroines following the astonishing triumph of Team GB in Rio.   Quite right too, although I hope the honours might be extended to those coaches and support staff behind the scenes who contributed so much to the success of our athletes.

But if I was an Olympic medallist, I might be just a tad nervous of entering an honours system that has only recently again been called into question following Dave Cameron `honouring` assorted hairdressers, cronies and donors and which, in the past, has `honoured` such luminaries as Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Mick Jagger and Tom Jones.

Now we can always learn from other countries and I have often thought that the system in Russia (yes, I know) whereby success in sport is acknowledged not by some corrupt system like we have in the UK but by one which is reserved exclusively to recognise excellence in sporting achievement.  Sports people in Russia are awarded as Honoured Masters of Sport, which has various categories and includes coaches as well as athletes in all forms of sport.

Our own Honoured Masters could still have and be addressed as `Sir` or `Dame` and a trip to Buck House could also be retained.   It would herald a new order in our system of rewarding excellence and leave the traditional  arrangement to carry on bunging gongs to lollipop ladies, faithful retainers and political placemen. 

Anyway, as we`re discussing new order, let`s hear from the real New Order who, as far as I know, are still without any form of deserved official recognition.  Here`s my favourite track of theirs..........

Monday, August 22, 2016

Following on from my last post about the Facebook thing, it seems they wanted me to send an `official ID` because the photo I had used in my Facebook account turned out to be one of a certain Mr. George Clooney.  Apparently it`s not just me and there have been thousands of accounts suspended or removed in cases where people had not used their real names and so, as a security measure, Facebook have been asking for `official IDs.`

Now my initial reaction was to resist, as I wasn`t sure about the validity of their request, but a lot of digging around seemed to suggest that it might be OK after all.   In addition to which I have been conscious that my absence from `social media` might cause at least a degree of disquiet among my Facebook friends and those pages to which I have been contributing.

Now the reason my photo turned out to be Mr. Clooney was that I really didn`t have a reasonable likeness of myself and Mr. Clooney`s image was the most accurate lookalike I could find at the time.  So, I submitted a photo of my driving licence to Facebook, which showed my name, date of birth and `photo`but with other personal details blanked out, which they have accepted and reactivated my account.   So I`m back being `social` again.

The curious thing, though, is that my reactivated account still shows Mr. Clooney`s image and so it really would not surprise me at all if Mr. Clooney has had the same issue with Facebook and has been using a photo of me on his Facebook page.  One good turn surely deserves another.......

NURSE !!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


I`m a self-confessed devotee of Classic FM.  It`s relaxing stuff - just what I need on a car journey and the other afternoon I heard a piece of music that sent my mind whirling off on a series of weird connections.

About 70 years ago, my parents struggling with post-war austerity, they nevertheless found the money for me to have a little pocket money (six old pennies, I think) and also a weekly `comic.`  The one I had was the Rover, full of adventure stories of derring-do, which opened my imagination and improved my reading.  

And it had adverts for all kinds of boyish things, one of which was for postage stamps - Stanley Gibbons and all that.  You could send away for a packet of stamps - `on approval` - and I began to get interested.  I would save up and send off a postal order for 1/6 and a few days later a packet would arrive, containing a selection of stamps from all parts of the world.  The ones that always intrigued me were those from Tannu Tuva.  They were spectacular, all different colours and shapes -square, oblong, triangular - and they depicted life in what seemed to be a far away mysterious land.  So I got interested in Tannu Tuva.

I thought it was just me, but fast forward to the early 1990s and I came across a book, "Tuva or Bust"  which recounted the nobel physics laureate Richard Feynman`s quest to visit Tuva, as it was by then called. (It`s now officially Tyva, as part of the Russian Federation.) After years of struggling with Soviet bureaucracy he finally received an invitation to visit Tuva, but sadly died before he could make the journey.  But like me, he was fascinated not only by the stamps but also by the remoteness - the capital, Kyzyl is close to the geographic centre of Asia, so a really long walk to the beach) - the extraordinary language, the throat singing and its general air of mystery.  

And if anything represents the essence of that part of the world, then it must be the piece of music I heard on Classic FM the other afternoon.   Here`s Alexander Borodin`s evocative, haunting `In the Steppes of Central Asia`.......

Monday, August 15, 2016


And so the Premier League is back in action and despite the more agreeable distractions of Test Match Cricket and the Olympics, I confess to a passing interest in how things went for Southampton FC over the weekend.

To say that things were `mixed` is to underplay the reality of life in an environment where the only things that seem to matter are money, money and more money.  It`s really quite depressing especially for fans like me who have followed the fortunes of one club for well over half a century.  No wonder we hark back to the days of flat caps, rattles and Sloan`s liniment.

Any road up, the Saints first game of the season ended in a 1-1 draw at St. Mary`s to visiting Watford.  Wasn`t great, could have been worse, but it could have been, oh, so much better.  Problem is we keep selling our best players to clubs who have more money and who pay outrageous wages, leaving clubs like the Saints finding it hard to compete - no such thing as an even playing field in the self-styled `best league in the world (tm).`

But what infuriates me is that when I look at other results this weekend, I see that Arsenal lost 4-3 to Liverpool, that all three Arsenal goals were scored by players from Saints` academy (Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Chambers) and two of Liverpool`s goals were scored by ex-Saints Lallana and Mane, as well as Clyne and Lovren also featuring in the Liverpool line-up.   And that was just one instant of `our`former players featuring elsewhere - it`s quite a long list.

Now, even if I was inclined to, which I cannot bring myself to even think about,  it`s much too late for me to change my allegiance to the Saints, who I first saw in 1946 when I was seven.  But it increasingly occurs to me that if you keep doing the same thing which leads to disappointment, bewilderment and despair over and over again, then truly doth madness lie that way.


Friday, August 12, 2016


To Bobbing, near Sittingbourne yesterday, where the Garden of England Crematorium sits serenely among its manicured lawns and air of peaceful isolation.   The occasion was the funeral of yet another former army comrade from my regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars. 

Now, the `shiny tenth` as we were known, is no more, having been amalgamated not once but twice until nowadays it is engulfed within the Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales Own.)   But the memories and traditions of the regiment still remain as a close knit family unit and they were represented yesterday by four of us from all parts of Kent - our regimental ties getting yet another outing as well as the reminiscences from over half a century ago.

Trouble is, this is getting to be an all too frequent occurrence and, as our numbers gradually but steadily diminish, the friends and comrades we knew seem to be fading away..... as old soldiers do. 

Monday, August 08, 2016

Our Golf Correspondent reports...

They say that things come in threes and in all the years I have been covering Snopper`s golfing exploits, I never imagined that he would find a place alongside a proper golfer and the former supreme leader of North Korea.  

First, the proper golfer and the news yesterday that Jim Furyk, he of the idiosyncratic swing,  had the round of a lifetime in the Travellers Championship by carding a score of just 58, the lowest ever recorded in a PGA Championship tournament.

But, of course, his score is paled into insignificance by the one achieved by the late Kim Jong Il, the former Dear Leader of the Democratic People`s Republic of North Korea in the early 1990s - there is some uncertainty about the actual date.  No matter, for at the Grand Opening of the Pyongyang Golf Complex, which contained North Korea`s only 18-hole course, the Dear Leader picked up a golf club for the first time in his life and fired a 38 under par round of just 34!  This was witnessed by 17 security guards who confirmed that the round included no less than 11 holes in one.   

Now, Snopper doesn`t really go in for memorable scoring - his inclusion in this report is due to more mundane, but nevertheless remarkable matters.  These days, as he wanders aimlessly into his 78th year, he can really only manage nine holes, which he did today at Tonbridge`s Poult Wood course.  His round was one of extremes - a couple of creditable pars but a scattering of quadruple bogeys, largely due to his talent for losing golf balls despite frantic searching in assorted undergrowth.

Today he lost nine - one for each hole and no less than three on the last (things do come in threes)  - and must be something of a record to go alongside those of Mr. Furyk and the dearly departed Dear Leader.  So it`s new balls please for Snopper before he goes back , undaunted, for yet another argument with the Royal and Ancient game.

Saturday, August 06, 2016


......but then again I just might.  Just one of the many intriguing lines from Mike Nesmith`s `Rio.`  Now I`m not too sure about the Olympics;  mired in controversy; serious social `issues` in Rio de Janeiro;  protests against the inordinate costs of staging the Games;  tales of pollution for the sailing competitors to navigate through;  the Russian furore; and, as ever in recent times, the uncertainty as to whether we`ll be watching athletic competitions or one between chemists.

The BBC, of course, have far more people there than the whole of the GB contingent - saturation coverage across all `platforms and devices` - so no wonder Mrs. Snopper is once again sorely miffed that Casualty has been binned for a few weeks.

There may be the odd moment of inspiration - I genuinely hope there is - but I have serious doubts whether, like the Premier League, the `product` can be sustained in the face of growing cynicism (especially from curmudgeons like me.)   Anyway,to bring a little light relief, here`s Mike Nesmith`s version of what Rio might be about.  

Or is it Reno? .......

Thursday, August 04, 2016

.......when you remember hearing a favourite piece of music?   OK, my musical tastes are very wide and I can vividly remember where I was when I first heard, say, Vaughan Williams Folk Song Suite or Holst`s Planets or even Mozart`s Laudate Dominum.   

And on the other side of my musical spectrum I still recall having parked at Southampton`s Town Quay, paid the parking fee, sat in the car eating my `packed lunch` - a couple of pork pies and a few biscuits - and tuning into Radio Solent for the pre-match build up of Southampton`s home game at St. Mary`s.   And then an interview with Saints skipper Jason Dodd followed by the first time I ever heard The Sundays - the beguiling Harriet Wheeler singing `Here`s where the Story ends.`

Not sure I`ve ever heard it played on the radio ever since but it has locked itself away in my memory as one of my favourite songs, favourite groups and most definitely favourite singers.  Maybe a relatively obscure group and certainly Harriet may not have received the fame and recognition she deserves, although I suspect that relative obscurity suits her just fine.   

Anyway, here`s the song I heard on that faraway afternoon awaiting my pilgrimage to St. Mary`s Stadium;  the odd thing is that I have never forgotten the song but I have no idea who the Saints played that afternoon or what the result may have been.  Music can do that to you sometimes........

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


I always seem to be wistfully drawn back to certain places, one of which is, in my mind at least, one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever known.  It`s a quiet, unspoilt lane - a dead end that leads down to a wonderful beach and the whole point of it is that there`s nothing there, except a few cottages and, curiously for such an isolated place, two rather good hotels. 

The only `public facility` is a telephone box that is really a remnant from the days when they were all red and they all worked.  Anyway, I took this photo which shows a different perspective of my favourite lane but which really sums it up.  Oh, by the way, if that phone ever rings, I`m not there.......

Please click on photo for larger image)

Some years ago the `Planners` thought it would be a good idea to designate certain country roads here in Kent as `Quiet Lanes.`  Trouble was, wherever you are in this part of the south east, there is always the competing noise between high speed trains and Motorways - so much for quiet then.   My photo shows what a proper job they make of quiet lanes in south Cornwall.