Sunday, 28 December 2014


One of Laytham's pleasures is its easy access to shopping.

Within a radius of five miles there must be half a dozen sheds selling fresh free range eggs. They're the only shops of course, thank God.

The eggs are of phenomenal freshness and eating them and eating supermarket bought eggs is like eating cheese and chalk, if you'd be stupid enough to eat chalk.

They are staffed by honesty boxes. You put your money in and pay for what you take. It works.

There is the odd exception. A shed shop, as we call them, must have had some problems with people bilking eggs - making off without leaving payment. Sadly, they reverted to rather snottily phrased signs asking people to leave the damned money for what they'd taken. It leant this particular shed shop an unpleasant, frustrated, peremptory tone. A shame. George and I addressed this by leaving an extravagant amount more than we could possibly have paid, by way of an experiment into human nature. It has had great results. The shed has been completely revamped. New, charming signs have been made. A new compartment for the eggs has been made. The shed has been painted a most tasteful shade. It now has a sense of real pleasure and gratitude about it. It is a pleasure to visit.

And is it my imagination? Is it their hens which lay the best eggs?
Some words and phrases have, for me, an anti magnetic quality. They will not go together.

An example would be "toast" and "lightly buttered".

Friday, 26 December 2014


Not for us a Christmas Day of feasting and slumping.
One of the advantages of being an Anglo Germanic family is that we observe Weinachtsabend and thus get the odious falseness and materialistic platitudes of Christmas over and done with before Christmas Day itself, leaving 25th December free for more engaging activity. Moorland, beach, hill - living where we do you can take your choice. Yesterday we chose Roseberry Topping, which sounds like the sort of dessert you serve up to those who won't countenance figgy pudding, but is, in fact, a thousand feet of precipitous Cleveland hill.
About twenty years ago, on a New Year's day, following a late celebration the night before, and suffering from an almighty hangover, I ran in the Roseberry Topping fell race. I completed it with a couple of friends of mine. I had some difficulty as my earlier revelries caught up with me. Going up, I puked a couple of times, but made it to the top, and ran hard all the way down. It took me, I recall (but don't quote me) 18 minutes of hellish effort. Normally I stood a fair chance of beating my comrades but not on this occasion, and one of them, the Galloping Major, contrived to be languidly waiting for me at the finish drinking a cup of tea. In fact he beat me by a couple of minutes, though he obviously made out he'd been waiting hours. I got no more than I deserved.
Yesterday was a stark reminder of how far former glories have receded. I puffed my way to the top, and did in fact manage to run most of the way down. But not in eighteen minutes.
Today, on my constitutional, my legs feel like they've climbed Everest and I am having difficulty at home walking down stairs. Look on my works ye mighty and despair.

Friday, 19 December 2014



Thursday, 18 December 2014

Gratitude = happiness?

Sunday, 7 December 2014

? ? ?

Is it any surprise that a question mark looks like a hook?

Can a line without a hook catch anything?