Saturday, 27 September 2014

"Laughter is the shortest route between two people."

Victor Borge


As a concerned eco warrior galloping through the countryside in my Chelsea Tractor, I am always looking for sustainability ideas.

Here's one.


Step one. Eat them.

Step two. Take all horse related acreage and turn it over to vegetables.

Smile. You have saved the planet. And made a major contribution to the war against anthropomorphism.

Friday, 26 September 2014


Boats are she.
Everyone knows that.
But when you are out on the water, every other boat is he.
"He'll pass astern of us."
"He has right of way".

Monday, 22 September 2014


Most people are like pies.

There's the crust, and the filling.

Of course you can't see the filling at first. You have to break the crust.

Sweet? Savoury? Not worth the bother?

You never know till you try.
This weekend, aboard CYLESTA, with George and Fraser, two ace crewmates.

A time of:

  • deep-cod psychology
  • mackerel fishing
  • pizza
  • dolphins
  • light airs
  • unseasonal sunburn
  • intrepid off the bow diving
  • land haze
  • easy going boat handling
  • Muscadet
  • Rockfish
  • chicken antics
  • laughter
  • superb company.

Friday, 19 September 2014


A young friend of mine has dropped her boyfriend.

"Why?" I ask, "he seems like a nice guy."

"Yes, but there's a darker side".

"Ooh, tell."

"I caught him using porn on the internet."

I laugh. "No? What, him and most of the entire human race?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it's a vast part of global internet usage."
"It's disgusting."

"Have you used it?"

"No, of course not."

"Then how do you know it's disgusting?"

"What's disgusting is him looking at other women like that."

"Then why didn't you make him some porn of you?"

I may have lost a friend. If looks could kill, I'd be in the crematorium.

The odd thing to me is how British this is. In many other parts of Europe my comment would be like saying to someone if you don't like your man going down the chippy for his lunch, why not make him a pack up?

We've a long way to go.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


While Scots in their millions take their constitution into their own hands (perhaps) I take mine into mine.

Mid September and the air wraps me warm, like a scarf.

Long tailed tits are busy zipping about, almost as though it were a second spring. Likewise goldfinches. I speculate on their purpose.

In the north wood two buzzards cry to each other their soulful song from the top of the tall Ashes. Cry, reply. Cry, reply.

A fat sycamore leaf falls. Brownish yellow, though the predominant foliage colour is still green. There are still butterflies, falling like leaves, except upwards. Reds, browns. greys, the occasional white.

I pace with controlled breathing. Four in, four out. Almost synchronized with the buzzards' calls. And when I can no longer do four in, four out, after slowing to preserve this rhythm, then three in, three out and I speed to a stronger heartbeat, feeling its benefit in my whole body, knowing I will breathe better, eat better, think better, sleep better.


I've heard it said many times that life is about the journey not the destination.

That metaphor tends us toward striving, reaching, advancing.

I wonder if we wouldn't be better thinking of it as a constant set of destinations, each arrived at with the anticipation and relief of a destination reached.

Here we are.

Home at last.

Nowhere else to go.

Time to appreciate this.

Monday, 15 September 2014


  • Northamptonshire Life
  • Sunday Express Crossword
  • Diesel engine maintenance and repair
  • Totto Chan
  • Heraclitus
  • Ottolenghi
  • The Story of Pain
  • A Bright Moon for Fools
  • Retail Week
  • Kenwood Stereo Manual
  • Sutton on Derwent School Newsletter
  • Force 4 Chandlery catalogue
  • Charles Trwhyitt shirt flyer
  • Country Life
  • Email Inbox
  • Roger Deakin's diary

Sunday, 14 September 2014

I goggle at geese and at goshawks

And marvel at merlin and mice.

But show me a gaggle of humans

And I struggle to see them as nice.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


I met someone the other day who was critical of those with a privileged upbringing.

By privileged, he meant moneyed.

It set me wondering about privilege.

Who is the more privileged?

The child from a wealthy family who has materialism thrust on them to fill an absence of  genuine love and affection? The rich kid bundled off unwillingly to boarding school at eleven? An infant given toys, so parents don't have to engage fully with this person here and now?

Or the child brought up in a poor, but loving, attentive environment?

Likewise, underprivileged. One of the most striking things in rural India, where people have very few material possessions, is how self evidently happy and joyful they are day to day.

I wonder if, when, as some do, you set out to reduce or eradicate privilege, with this monetary definition, you are attacking one economy, when, perhaps, the real target should be another entirely?

Sunday, 7 September 2014


A spitfire. A very characteristic engine growl.

A Chinook. Unmistakeable whup of double rotors.

Five buzzards, jinxing and jiving at a thousand feet. Mewing. Functional behaviour? Aerobatic territorialism? Or just play?

An aerobatic pilot doing falling leaves.

A squadron of racing pigeons, low over the lane. Necks out. Competitive spirit. Neck and neck.

I think "strange". Wood pigeons, their cousins, are the antithesis of speed in their flight. They remind me of Buzz Lightyear. Not exactly flying. More, falling, with style. As though they forget to fly, start to plummet then remember they are after all birds and ought (no matter how reluctantly) act the part.

We cycle to Aughton church. I'm surprised to find it open. We go in. It's laid out as a café, replacing rear pews, never used. I pray. In the churchyard there is a headstone to Conan Aske, Baronet of Aughton. A direct descendant of Robert Aske, of the Pilgrimage of Grace.

As we pass Breighton airfield, a light aircraft takes off and it seems like only inches above our heads.

Swallows massing. It must be close to debating time - stay or go.

It's warm, still. Black and red butterflies are attracted to the apple trees in the vegetable garden.

I take plums and apples around the village and learn that Simon and Diane, our near neighbours, are moving. "We want a village where we can get more involved. And we can't stay another winter in that house."

Their need is exactly what I'd hate. One of the best things about Laytham for me is that there is nothing to get involved with, indeed seeing people is a rarity. And when you do they are pleasant, kind people. Perfect.

Meanwhile there is sky. Ever fascinating. Ever changing. Ever calming.

Saturday, 6 September 2014


Into September, and at Laytham nature's waitress brings the full three courses ordered by Mr Keats, right on time. Mists. Fruitfulness. Ripeness to the core.

A time to turn in on one's own core. The start of hibernation.

We catch mice, wanting to colonize our house for just that purpose.

With another inward gaze I wonder about emotions. There is a good case for strict limits to be placed on their number. Glad, mad, scared, sad. Four seasons of emotion.

Ask people how they feel and they will invariably tell you what they think. Different.

The next recourse is often to a past participle. Suspect. When there is an e and a d at the end of a description of feelings, it's often just blame.

I'm not alone in finding blame difficult. But I heard the other day someone referring to blame as a cry of pain. Very wise, that. Very wise, and very hard to remember, when it is an unexpected harvest, when the fruit you thought would be wholesome rotted before you got to eat it.

Very hard not to feel............................... disappointed!

Friday, 5 September 2014

"Never put your but into the face of an angry person."

Marshall Rosenberg

Thursday, 4 September 2014


If a Cobbler by trade, I'll make it my pride
The best of all Cobblers to be;
And if only a Tinker, no Tinker in earth
Shall mend an old Kettle like me.

Walter Law