A Magazine Photoshoot

When I received the copies of the latest Longshot Island magazine containing my published story, Daniel suggested I might like to take some photos of the magazines in unusual places. As the sun came out today, I decided to do just that. This is the first of two parts.

All photos can be enlarged for detail by clicking on them.

Ollie found a relaxing riverside bench on which to enjoy reading his copy of Longshot Island. It was a warm day though, and he went into the river for a drink. When he came out, he had forgotten where he had left that precious periodical, so rushed off so fast in search of it, he blurred the photo!

Over on Hoe Rough, we saw this sign warning of Private Property behind the fence. However, this copy of Longshot Island was so determined to show how good its contents are, it tried to jump the wire.

Further on, I was delighted to find a rare example of a Longshot Island magazine tree. The previous issue had already fallen to the ground, as it was over-ripe. However, the new editions are just right for picking now.

Nearby, I was excited to see a rabbit reading my own story in the very latest edition of Longshot Island. I approached him to see what he thought, but he was scared of Ollie, so ran off down his rabbit-hole.

Part two follows soon!

Sun out, shorts back on

Consumed by my film challenge, I have neglected to bring you anything about the Beetley weather of late. After my last weather report about a return to Winter, I am pleased to be able to tell you that Wednesday signalled a pleasant change, however brief it might turn out to be.

After many days of unpleasantly cold weather, I woke up yesterday to bright sunshine. For once, that sunshine had some heat in it too. So, by the time it came to Ollie’s afternoon walk, I was able to leave the boots in the shed, and my heavy coat remained in the wardrobe. The shorts were shaken out, and donned with a smile. Light shoes were sufficient, and no coat was required.

It was a very pleasant 17 C, with no wind to speak of. The ground was dry and hard beneath my feet, and the vegetation had sprung up overnight. Clouds of insects circled just above the surface of the river, and birds were singing loudly. Ollie was running around happily sniffing, and he was soon sufficiently hot to require a long dip in the water. Walking across on to Hoe Rough, I could feel the warm sun on my neck, as I watched the swans and ducks making their way along with the current.
It felt good to be alive.

This is what May should be like.

Water, water, everywhere, Nor…

With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Regular readers will be aware that it has been a long time since one of my weather ‘moans’.
Not only am I determined to stay ‘more positive, in 2017’ I must also confess that we have had a record lack of rainfall over the last couple of months. In fact, the local TV news reporters have been out and about featuring drought issues. They have told us that we have not had such a dry Spring since 1905. Farmers are worrying about crops, water companies are concerned over reservoir levels, and gardeners are concerned about planting. Before you know it, we will have a hosepipe ban!

Not long ago, I was happily cavorting in shorts and a shirt, enjoying unseasonal warmth, and worrying about being bitten by flying insects. I had put away my heavy boots, stored the bulky weatherproof clothing, and furled my umbrella. Walking with Ollie on dry ground was a joy, and flinging open windows to enjoy the fresh air and warmth made me feel like Summer was almost at our door. But Mother Nature was offended by my smugness, and lack of concern. So, she took her revenge.

In the space of twenty-four hours, the temperature fell from 20 C to 9 C. The sunny skies were replaced by threatening clouds, and we had to put the heating back on in the house. Soon after, we experienced frosts at night, followed by bitingly cold, if bright, days. We were heading back into Winter, and travelling quickly. The rain started a couple of days later. “Still not enough”, lamented the TV weatherman. His cry was heard. The rain got heavier, and more persistent. Farmers turned grateful eyes to the skies, and the water companies continued to report that they still didn’t have enough water, if a hot Summer follows.

Then we got light snow. Then hailstorms. Lots of them. I got the heavy boots out again, and shook out the waterproof coats. I even had to find my gloves, as daytime temperatures struggled to get above 6 C, in a cold northerly wind. By this afternoon, we had experienced almost eighteen hours of reasonably heavy rain, and I headed off for my walk with Ollie in a considerable downpour, clutching my resurrected trusty brolly. Nonetheless, both the weathermen and the water companies say it’s not enough.

I’m no expert of course, but it begs the question. After almost four years of constant rain before 2017, where has all water gone? What are reservoirs for? Or did they just not bother to save any? We definitely need someone better in that job. Someone who knows what they are doing.

Staying positive, in 2017. Despite the weather.

Our National Day

This is a re-post from last year. Not only for the benefit of my many new followers, but also to remind us that we no longer celebrate our National Day, in England. We live in a world where so many seemingly pointless ‘Days’ are enthusiastically celebrated; from ‘Stroke A Pet Day’, to ‘Eat Some Chocolate Day’, and many others beloved of the Facebook Generation. Yet some acknowledgement of the long-standing tradition of the 23rd of April is hard to find.

St George’s Day

Today is the 23rd April. That date may have little or no significance to most people, and will pass just like any other day, with little or no fuss. But in England at least, it should count for something different. It is our National Day, though you would be forgiven for not knowing that fact.

Unlike Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, England does little to celebrate its patron saint, or the day named after him. More fuss is made of the fact that it is Shakespeare’s birthday, and the TV companies are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the works of the Bard of Avon. Nothing wrong with that of course, but how about poor old Saint George, and England as a separate nation?

If you were in Ireland (or almost anywhere else) on the 17th March, you could never be unaware that it is Saint Patrick’s Day. ‘The wearing of the green’, some crazy outfits, pubs and bars serving green beer, and many other celebrations, would all bring home the fact that Ireland’s Saint’s Day is celebrated wherever the Irish have a connection.

On 1st March, if you were Welsh, you might well be wearing a leek, listening to the songs of Druids, or watching a male voice choir singing ‘Men of Harlech.’ One thing’s for sure, you would know that it was Saint David’s Day, and no doubt be proud of your Welsh heritage, and separate nationality within the UK. Later in the year, on the 30th of November, Scotland joins in, with Saint Andrew’s Day. Scottish flags flying proudly, special meals, kilts and bagpipes in evidence all over. And since 2006, it is a public holiday in Scotland too.

So what happened in England? Did we just stop caring, or has it all been forgotten? There are some parades, but they are small ones. Some buildings fly the red and white flag of Saint George, but most don’t bother. It is not a public holiday, and very few young people even know that it exists. There is a small website campaigning to get better recognition, but you would be hard pressed to find it mentioned in the mainstream media, let alone celebrated in style. In central London, Trafalgar Square hosts a gathering of Morris Dancers, and a promotion of English food, for the benefit of some bemused tourists to wonder what is going on. The Prime Minister has issued an official message from Downing Street, and a few people are wandering about dressed in the style of 12th century Crusaders.

But we are missing the opportunity to celebrate England as a country in its own right, long before the formation of the UK, or the current union with Scotland, and the six counties of Northern Ireland. I am not a nationalist by nature, but surely we owe it to future generations to make them aware of the culture and heritage of the country that makes up such a large part of the British Isles? Has this country become so diverse, or so steeped in apathy, that such things no longer matter? I sincerely hope not.

Happy Saint George’s Day everyone, from good old England.

Official! Beetley Bra beats Jamiroquai

Because I know how many of you simply love to read about the phenomenon of Jamiroquai on this blog, I just had to bring you this stop press. Despite the consistently amazing performance of my post ‘Whatever happened to?: Jamiroquai’, it was soundly thrashed in the stats this past week by the photo post, ‘The Beetley Bra’.

That said, it was still close, with the Jamiroquai post holding its own in third place, despite the amount of time since it was first published. My suspicions that its popularity would decline with the recent appearance of the band on TV seem to have been unfounded.

An there’s an ***UPDATE*** too!

The Bra has gone. Its whereabouts are unknown, and nobody knows if it was retrieved by its owner, or snaffled up by a local collector of female underwear. It is also possible that a passing bra-less lady was able to make use of the garment, but that is perhaps unlikely.

To those of you that celebrate it, I wish you a very Happy Easter from Norfolk.
Seasonal best wishes to you all. Pete.

Ollie the gardener

After yesterday’s long walk around Beetley Meadows and Hoe Rough, I arrived home knowing that there was something I could no longer put off doing. Try as I might, I couldn’t ignore the fact that the grass on the lawn had grown considerably during the recent spell of good weather. With the chance of rain over the weekend, I had already decided that Thursday afternoon would be a good time to bite the bullet, and get that grass cut.

Ollie is not too bothered about the garden, unless I am in it of course. He cannot bear to miss out on anything I might be doing, so is always sure to be as close to me as possible, at all times. But to Ollie, boring gardening accessories, like the brown wheelie bin for clippings, the electric hover mower, and the ‘parrot-beak’ secateurs, are just another version of toys. As soon as I started to wheel the bin through from the front, he was off. Dashing around the garden pretending that the bin was chasing him, instead of just being wheeled into position.

Once I started up the mower, he danced around in front of it growling, as if to take it on in a rough game. We all know that a powerful mower, with its huge rotary blade whirring around underneath, is anything but a toy. But to Ollie, it is all a game. Naturally, I make him stand away from the business end of the mower, but I have to always be aware that at any moment, he may decide to rush forward and try his luck. As I move it around, he also likes to examine the areas that have been freshly cut, as if something exciting is awaiting him there, once the long grass is gone.

Mowing over, it was time to sweep up everywhere. The broom and long-handled dustpan I use out there are also objects for Ollie to investigate. He will rush back and forth with each sweep of the broom, waiting for me to create the small piles to pick up and put in the cuttings bin. Once each pile is neatly stacked, he of course has to run through them toward me, just so I have to sweep that pile together once again.

Of course, I could just make life a lot easier, by shutting him in the house when I do any gardening. But then I would be depriving myself of the help from my assistant, Ollie the gardening dog.

The Beetley Bra

(The photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them)

Last Sunday, I noticed this strange object dangling from a tree branch, over at Hoe Rough. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a bra. A blue one, as you can see, including some substantial padding. It was still there the next day, and had become something of a talking point for the dog walkers who frequent the area. Everyone was speculating how it had got there, who might have discarded it, and why they had not taken it home with them. The most popular theory concerned some possible open-air sexual activity in the small dell below the tree. This is where I usually take a short break on my walk, and as it is very close to the main path, the risk of discovery would be high, should you be indulging in something of that sort.

It is therefore safe to assume that this probably happened at night, when the whole area is in pitch darkness. Perhaps the lovers took a torch along, or used some form of light from a mobile phone. It could be that their ardour was so powerful, they were prepared to risk the dangers of the unlit night. We are never likely to know. I resolved to photograph this bra, if it was still in situ today. As you can see, it is in very good condition, and still has a lot of use left in it.

Hopefully, the person who abandoned it will see this post, and return to claim the undergarment.