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.

My name in print!

Forgive the blatant self-promotion, but I received this photo today. It was sent by Daniel, of Longshot Island, and is a page of the latest magazine, with my name above my story. For those of you used to seeing your name on articles, or on the covers of the books you have had published, I know this will not be anything to get excited about. I have had many film articles published on other sites myself, and was very pleased that they were.

But this is an actual publication! A printed magazine, on real paper, available to buy from Amazon. For someone of my age, this is pretty much the ‘real deal’. And until, and if ever, I publish a book, this is the best it gets too.

Daniel has also set me an interesting challenge. When I receive my copies of the magazine, he wants me to photograph them in ‘unusual’ situations. Rest assured that I will do my best.

In the meantime, should anyone actually want to purchase a copy of this excellent periodical, here’s a link. https://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Home-Longshot-Island-3/dp/0998124370/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491669523&sr=8-1&keywords=longshot+island

Ollie tests my patience

I don’t think that I have ever written a bad word about my dog before. My constant companion is generally so well-behaved, it doesn’t seem possible that one dog could be so good. But this afternoon, he is very much in the doghouse, which in his case, is being confined to his bed in the kitchen, with a grumpy look on his face.

The day started well enough, and was bright, warm, and sunny. I let him out this morning for his usual patrol around the back of the house and garden, and he came back in an hour later, happy to get his small breakfast chew. He then went back to sleep of course, waiting until midday, when I have a snack. He likes to sit close by as I eat this daily sandwich, confident in the knowledge that he will get a small scrap of ham, or part of a crust of bread.

Later on, I got into the bath, as I do everyday, before taking him out. He came into the doorway of the bathroom to check where I was, and then went back to bed, knowing he would be getting out for his walk soon. When I had finished, I stood up, and put a foot over the side of the bath, ready to get out. What I didn’t know was that Ollie had crept back into the bathroom, and was sitting close to the panel. As my foot came down on his back, he jumped up. This threw me totally off balance, and with one leg still in the water, I fell heavily. I crashed back into the water, which was fortunately shallow. As I did so, I banged both elbows on the sides of the enamel, and finished by striking the back of my neck on the rim too. Ollie had bolted by then. I should be thankful that he hasn’t got the necessary skill to have put the moment up on You Tube or Facebook, I suppose.

After checking that I hadn’t actually broken anything, I dried off, and got ready to leave. The afternoon was glorious indeed. Warm and dry, bees buzzing, and children playing in the river. I decided to stay out a little bit longer because of this, and by the time we got back, we had been out for just over two and a half hours. As Ollie had been in the river, it is usual for me to dry him off before he comes in, especially his feet. They can tread muddy paw marks onto the light-coloured stone tiles in the kitchen, or the pale green carpet beyond. He normally stands for this, with no complaint, accepting it as part of the daily routine.

For some reason, he wasn’t having it today. He ran past me, and headed for the living room. As suspected, muddy paw prints were scattered around, with something very black and sticky ending up at the side of the living-room carpet. I followed with my towel, determined to clean the paws before more mess could be made. But to my surprise, as I tried to lift one of his paws, he growled angrily at me. I went for the other front paw instead, and got a similar response. I told him off, and tried again, and this time he not only growled, he went to snap at me.

That was enough. I made him go and sit on his bed, and he is still there as I type. I have a feeling that he may well have to spend the rest of the evening there too. As great as he is, he is just a dog. And dogs must know who is in charge.


Ollie ate all his dinner, and is now trying to chew the nose off of his toy bulldog.

All back to normal, as far as he is concerned.

Holiday at ours in Cley, Norfolk

A wonderful place to stay, in one of the nicest parts of Norfolk, and the East of England. A blogging offer from Klausbernd and Dina that I wholeheartedly recommend. Check out the lovely photos too.

The World according to Dina

I woke up this morning to a voice next to me saying, “I’m not blogging any longer!!
Eyes still closed, I thought, ok, that’s a possibility. And all the things that I could do – if I were not spending so much time on blogging – came to my mind. Not bad at all … So I said, “that’s fine with me, let’s quit blogging“.
After breakfast and some grounding work in the garden, Klausbernd, Siri and Selma and myself went for a walk and discussed the reasons for and against blogging. On one hand, we love blogging for many reasons, but on the other hand, blogging is so ungrounded. All the time and dedicated work invested doesn’t bring a penny. That’s the point.

Eine Stimme weckte mich heute: “Ich blogge nie mehr!” Mit noch geschlossenen Augen dachte ich, naja, hören wir eben auf…

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