31 March 2012

Rupert

The real Rupert - born in 1920
On a British geographical photomapping site to which I contribute, they have a weekly photograph competition. The idea is that the previous week's winner will pick the new winner from the current week's shortlist. Most weeks over 6,000 new photos are submitted to "Geograph" so it's quite a thrill if one of your photos is chosen as the winner. There are comments sections where members can remark on photos or raise associated points.

A couple of weeks ago, a gentleman with the first name Rupert was picked as the winner but he remained silent and inactive with regard to judging the new winner. A moderator asked, "Has anyone heard from Rupert?". Mischievously, but not maliciously, I added this comment: "Last time I saw him he was with Edward Trunk and Algy Pug down in Nutwood."

My "Geograph" censor
This caused a mixture of hilarity and, rather incredibly, hostility. After two or three days my comment was removed and so I left another comment that basically said - Why? I have received seven separate emails from other members of the site supporting my right to make light-hearted remarks and there has been much debate within the site about censorship and what's allowable and what's not. I certainly never expected all this fuss over a harmless quip.

I realise that non-British "aliens" from less cultured corners of the planet may be bemused by my initial response to the question "Has anyone heard from Rupert?" so I guess I need to fill you in. Rupert the Bear is an iconic English comic book character who lives in the pastoral haven of Nutwood with his other animal friends including the white elephant Edward Trunk and a pug called Algernon or Algy for short. There's also Podgy Pig and Rupert's best friend Bill Badger. The characters are anthropomorphic. They all walk on their hind legs and wear clothes from the 1920's which is when Rupert was first created in the mind of Mary Tourtel for the "Daily Express" newspaper. 
A rather menacing Rupert (1959)
Rupert is also a male Christian name that plebs like me associate with  our country's ruling class - the landed gentry that includes our current prime minister and his privileged inner cabinet. When naming male babies, English working class families would only ever pick names like Rupert, Randolph, Claude, Cecil or Clarence as a sort of joke and you would have to pity any ordinary lad lumbered with such a label for life. He'd invariably be a laughing stock just because of his name.

Anyone born in Britain in the nineteen fifties, as I was, is sure to remember Rupert the Bear. We received Christmas annuals in which Rupert and his friends got up to all manner of woodland adventures. The whole concept of Nutwood was rather bizarre and the way in which Rupert and his pals communicated with each other seemd to capture some of the essence of Middle England. We read these annuals but were also bemused by them. I found it hard to really "like" Rupert the Bear. His world was so twee and innocent but even in modern times Rupert hasn't disappeared. He has been transformed, turned into an animated cartoon, made into a cuddly toy and you might even pick up a Rupert costume from a fancy dress shop.
Transformed modern Rupert
Here's the beginning of the first story in the 1964 Rupert Annual:-

Rupert is coming home across the common. "What a frisky butterfly! Why is it dancing like that?" he thinks. "Is it excited by those gorse flowers? There's certainly something odd about the gorse scent. It smells more like violets. I wonder why." Feeling puzzled he continues homeward and notices a small figure standing alone. "Hello, there's Gregory Guinea-pig staring at the sky," he murmurs. "What can he be looking at?" Arriving at his cottage Rupert finds Mrs Bear. "I say, Mummy," he calls. "I've just seen a gorse bush that seems to smell of violets." "That's queer!" says Mrs Bear. "There was a smell of violets here too...Whatever can be causing it?" etc.

Riveting stuff, eh?

29 March 2012

Masefield

Sea Fever

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky, 
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, 
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sails shaking, 
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking. 

I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide 
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; 
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, 
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying. 

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, 
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife; 
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, 
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over. 

By John Masefield (1902)

Whitby Harbour  1880 by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe
Some poets write in a sort of academic and intellectual isolation - divorced from the real world. Others are very much involved in the hurly burly of their societies, acquiring experiences that nourish their writing. You might say that these latter poets are at "the front line" while the former are in field camps set comfortably well back from the action. I  note with approval that as a very young man John Masefield sought adventure at sea. Perhaps he was escaping from the disappointments of his childhood - the deaths of his parents and his unhappy schooling in Warwick - but anyway  he worked aboard transatlantic trade ships, mingling with rough and ready mariners. 

As he looked out, he wasn't just imagining the sea, he was experiencing it firsthand and it's that genuine feeling for the sea that marks this poem - written when he was still only twenty four. It's like a lot of his poetry - accessible, clear and a little predictable - rarely appearing to wrestle with slippery esoteric notions or to dance on undercurrents of meaning. What you see is what you get with Masefield. Some have said he was more of a storyteller than a poet but in his day he was feted as a poet on both sides  of the Atlantic, becoming Britain's Poet Laureate in 1930 - a position he held until his death in 1967.

28 March 2012

Two

Walk Two - "Winster and Birchover" - 4 miles (2 hours). On an untypically hot March afternoon, I undertook this walk with my friend Mick. We drove south to the village of Winster - west of Matlock and south of Chatsworth. My oh my - what a delightful village Winster is with a mixture of limestone and gritstone cottages - some of which date back to the sixteenth century. In its heyday, it must have been an important regional centre - when people's lives were lived in small circles and to get anywhere you travelled by horse and cart. There was also a lot of lead mining thereabouts.

Soon after parking, we were mooching around and I snapped a couple of pictures. A lady of mature years rushed out of the nearby village shop. I thought she was going to complain about me taking pictures but she wanted to know if we'd like to go in the village museum above the ancient Market House. This we did and after reading about Winster's history, we spotted several small tortoiseshell butterflies in an upper window.
Small tortoiseshell in The Market House, Winster
Winster Village Shop
A sunny gennel in Winster
"The Miners Standard" pub, Winster
We walked up The Limestone Way then cut across to the village of Birchover where we guzzled pints of bitter shandy in "The Red Lion"  before heading back to lovely Winster. A downside of this country ramble was that the battery on my new camera packed up so I didn't snap many pictures. I won't make the same mistake again. The charged spare will always be in my camera case from now on. Silly me!

27 March 2012

Foxy

"I'm a 6 foot skinhead from Huddersfield. I'm old enough
to know better, but too stupid to care".
 
Bloggers come and bloggers go. When they've gone, they rarely return - lost somewhere in the ether. For a good long while I used to follow the illegal shenanigans of a fellow Yorkshireman who goes by the name of "Arctic Fox". He has spent some time at Her Majesty's pleasure in Armley, Leeds where blogging was prohibited by the warders but more recently he has been indulging in regular physical manipulations with a beefy Polish lady  -  activities that drained him of the vital energy required for blogging. So he's back. See him in the photo above - snapped while in hiding from the cops on the moors above Huddersfield. To view his blog, click here.
This post was funded by The Arctic Fox Rehabilitation Society, Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

26 March 2012

Eleven

Walk Number 11 - "Ashford in the Water and Monsal Dale" -  6 miles. The weather was glorious today so I just had to get out there again. I parked near Holy Trinity Church in Ashford:-
Then headed northwards and along Pennyunk Lane, passing this magnificent old limestone barn:-
Soon I came to Monsal Head with a magnificent view of the dale and Monsal Head railway viaduct erected in 1863:-
Down in the dale, some people were relaxing in the sunshine:-
I passed this weir:- 
After another mile I was out of Monsal Dale, trudging up into Great Shacklow Wood then back down to the River Wye where I came across this old bobbin mill:-
Then back to Ashford where I bought a pint of milk from the village shop and glugged it down before heading back to Sheffield where I stopped to photograph these daffodils at the entrance to Bingham Park:-

24 March 2012

Coin

Last night we had a lovely meal at the nearby "Kitchen" restaurant on Ecclesall Road. It was Shirley's fifty somethingth birthday and Frances managed to get back from Leeds to join us. One of the waitresses goes to Shirley's "Zumba" exercise-dance classes and the other was in Frances's class at primary school. I hadn't seen her since she was eleven years old. 

"Kitchen" is a snug little establishment but the food is delightful. I had chicken liver terrine with various tasty accompaniments, a medley of fresh fish with garlic potatoes and fresh greens followed by a tower of meringue, cream and soft fruit. Mmmm...

Later in the local pub I was given this twenty pence piece in my change. Please note - the image is magnified. British people don't stumble around with their pockets weighed down by massive coins. As you can see, it is a Falkland Islands twenty pence piece with our beloved monarch on one side and my pet sheep Beau on the reverse. Seems that the Falkland islanders revere Beau like a goddess.
Roger, the pub's landlord, thought it might be interesting if all coins had chips in them and we could follow their movement on the internet. If this particular coin could speak, its journey might be worth hearing about. Was it brought back to England by a soldier? Had it crossed the counter of  "The Capstan Gift Shop" in Stanley, the small capital of the islands. Was it tossed to settle a dispute? I don't remember ever being given a Falklands coin in change before. 

This little outpost of our former empire is 8,000 miles from England and, by the way, over four hundred miles from envious Argentina which mischievously likes to call these islands The Malvinas. They were in British possession long before Argentina was even a country and they were never inhabited by Argentinians. Apart from soldiers and other military personnel on tours of duty, the Falklands has a permanent population of only around 3,000 people. They can't have many twenty pence coins in circulation can they? Perhaps I should send it back and I guess I might do were it not for the image of Beau.

22 March 2012

Nineteen

The way to Chrome Hill
Even though it is always close to us, the geology of our planet is as mind-boggling as outer space. For Walk Nineteen I had to drive right over into Staffordshire to the village of Longnor. Well, I call it a village but before swift communication by road and rail it threatened to become a regional centre - a proper little town with a market place, market hall, schools, a large parish church and several hostelries for travellers.

How pleasant it is to park for free. No parking attendants lurking in Longnor. The local farmers would probably drive them out with pitchforks. I found a space on the old cobbles of the market square and set off hiking, over the ridge and into the Upper Dove Valley. The title of the walk is simply "Chrome Hill" even though the route was six and half miles long with various other sights to see. Chrome Hill, a toothy mass of limestone, guards the top end of the valley. Here the word "chrome" has nothing to do with the metal of that name. It is believed it comes from an Old English word - "croom" meaning both "curved" and "crooked".
View of Dowall Hall from Chrome Hill's summit
What is quite astonishing and probably as hard to take on board as the breadth of our universe is the geological history of Chrome Hill. Around 340 million years ago - give or take a couple of million - during the Carboniferous Age, Chrome Hill was submerged beneath a warm tropical ocean. Over thousands of years, it grew tiny animal by tiny animal to become a massive coral reef. Yes - a coral reef! Geologists, palaeontologists and indeed observant walkers have found much calcified evidence of ancient reef life on Chrome Hill. And yet it sits in the middle of England, miles from the sea.

Limestone cave on Chrome Hill
I saw a limestone arch and a cave where sheep will sometimes shelter and I thought of the ancestors of marine life we know today - swimming or lying in wait amidst these rocks - millions of years before human beings  evolved from apes. We've only been around about 200,000 years but Chrome Hill - well it was a jagged hill, high and dry for a long, long, long time before the first caveman said "Ug!". Mind you, current evidence suggests it was most likely a cavewoman!
Natural arch or an eye looking back 340 million years

21 March 2012

Budgie

Millionaire Osborne this morning with budgie concealed in handbag
Today, our esteemed and beloved Chancellor of the Exchequer - The Right Honourable George Gideon Oliver Osborne delivered his budgie to the nation. The budgie was taken to parliament in a red handbag that went well with Georgie Boy's stilettos but seemed  an inappropriate container for a frightened showbird. As you can see from the picture above, there were no airholes in the handbag even though an airhole was carrying it.

Osborne, who hails from the Welsh seaside resort of Royal Rhylington Spa, advised assembled parliamentarians that there would be plenty of budgie seed for noble landowners "born to rule" and very little for the nation's seething mass of whining serfs. When his pet budgie was released from the Vivienne Westwood designed handbag, it did not say "Who's a pretty boy?" to its master. Instead it flew around the chamber for a while before splattering its blue-blooded owner with creamy budgerigar droppings. A direct hit! This was greeted with loud cries of "Hear! Hear!" from the opposition benches.

Meanwhile pundits and newspaper columnists are struggling to come to terms with the implications of the budgie which is pictured below:-
Osborne's budgie Sir Peter is named after his father.

20 March 2012

Seventeen

Last week, I had a very painful right foot but by yesterday it was pretty much better so with clement weather promised, it was time to drive over the border into Derbyshire once again for another gorgeous country walk - Walk 17 from my "White Peak" Pathfinder Guide. I parked in the high Pennine town of Tideswell with its noble fourteenth century parish church and its multitude of limestone cottages - once upon a time the homes of quarrymen and lead miners.

The walk was sub-titled  "A Five Dales Walk" and it was six and a quarter miles long. The dales in order were Tansley Dale, Cressbrook Dale, the beautifully named and indeed beautiful Water-cum-Jollydale, Millers Dale and finally Tideswell Dale. Such variety, such views, such history soaked into in the very landscape. Unfortunately, the skies were not always as blue and sunny as the BBC weather forecast had predicted. But I didn't mind. It was just good to be out there again, striding along with camera in hand singing an old Fifth Dimension number:- 
Rhyl, I love you so, I always will
I look at you and see the passion eyes of May
Oh, but am I ever gonna see my wedding day
I was on your side Rhyl when you were losin'
I never scheme or lie Rhyl, there's been no foolin'...
Oh come on Rhyl
Oh come on Rhyl
Marry me Rhyl... 
And so to some pictures from Walk 17:- 
Tideswell
Early lambs at Litton
Ravensdale cottages
Giant water vole in Tideswell Dale
View towards Wardlow Mires

19 March 2012

Apology

Regarding the proud Welsh seaside town of Rhyl, my satirical humour may have got the better of me when I blogged about it on Saturday. I received many abusive comments from offended Rhylians which I had to delete given the many Welsh expletives used and general standards of English exhibited. So I hereby wish to make a heartfelt apology to all of the townsfolk of Rhyl and to the current mayor Councillor Win Mullen-James - pictured above. To redress the balance of my lofty derision, I shall now post a few photos that capture the true essence of this gem of the north Wales coastline in all its glory. I mean, why visit Llandudno, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay or Bangor when you could choose Rhyl instead?
A view of Water Street                       © Copyright Eirian Evans 
Former church - now computer company
© Copyright  David & Rachel Landin  
The promenade                                       © Copyright Dott Potter
View from the Sky Tower                  © Copyright BrianP
Amusement arcades                     © Copyright Eirian Evans  
Bank Holiday Monday in Rhyl              © Copyright Eirian Evans 
And please remember, as the official town website boasts:-
A fresh new look railway station and bus terminus, at the 
heart of Rhyl's promenade, awaits your arrival. 

18 March 2012

Blame

This weekend British football fans and the wider community have held their breaths for Bolton Wanderers' Fabrice Muamba, a talented twenty three year old defender of Congolese origin. Tragically, he collapsed on the pitch in a cup game against Tottenham. No one was near him at the time. He just went down as if struck by invisible lightning. Almost immediately, he was surrounded by a team of paramedics and other first aiders who worked like crazy to save the young man's life. It seems that the problem is heart related.

I listened to BBC Radio Five Live's talk-in, aired within an hour of Muamba being rushed to hospital. Already listeners were phoning in trying to blame somebody for what had happened. "This must never be allowed  to happen again on a British football pitch," said one caller and another said, "These young men are people! Not just footballers. The clubs should make sure they're tested regularly. They shouldn't be sending these poor young men out to play if it's putting their lives at risk!"

I say poppycock and balderdash! Outside the glare of TV cameras, a tiny percentage of anonymous young people will unfortunately collapse with previously unrecognised heart defects or blood clots. It's nobody's fault. It's just the random reality of life and the fact that the human body is not some highly-tuned motor vehicle straight off a production line. We're vulnerable and imperfect. Three score years and ten is not an inviolable right. There will be tragedies every so often. So please resist the urge to point fingers and find scapegoats.

Who wouldn't feel sorry for Fabrice Muamba and his family and I am sure we all sincerely hope he emerges from hospital on his own two feet - perhaps even able to play the game he loves again. However, I feel much more sorry about the four hundred and five young British soldiers who have given their lives so pointlessly in Afghanistan. Regarding their deaths, it is possible, even desirable to determine blame. The culprits surely dress in smart suits and smile at cameras. They have teams of advisers and fat personal bank accounts.They do not walk down dusty highways far from home, fearful they might step on cleverly concealed IEDs.

Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides, 

Who cover faults at last with shame derides

17 March 2012

Rhyl


Iconic Rhyl poster
Rhyl is a seaside town on the north coast of Wales in what was formerly Denbighshire. I doubt that anybody has devoted a whole blogpost to it before. It has a population of just under 25,000 and was once a favoured holiday destination for industrial workers from Lancashire and the Midlands of England. It boasts a Marine Lake that once had fairground rides and a zoo. Now only the miniature railway survives. The town's most famous buildings were the Pavilion Theatre and the pier - both demolished in the early seventies.

Famous people born in Rhyl include Ruth Ellis - the last woman to be hanged in Britain, serial killer Peter Moore, the international darts player Ted Hankey and Lisa Scott-Lee a former member of a the pop group Steps. Oh, and one shouldn't forget Albert Gubay the founder of the Kwik Save supermarket chain. These are all names to conjure with suggesting that Rhyl could well become Great Britain's next "City of Culture" after that other cultural vortex - Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

Shops in Rhyl include the Sainsbury's mini-market in the petrol station, Home Bargains and the Rhyl Coin and Stamp Centre on Sussex Street in the town centre. It is a shoppers' paradise.
We sent our roving reporter James Murdoch to interview local Rhylians to find out what they love about their quaint seaside town. After half an hour James spotted unshaven Mr John Gray from the nearby historical theme park of Trelawnyd. He was being pulled by a motley assortment of mongrels along West Parade. He said, "F*** off! I don't talk to reporters unless they're called Matt Cardle!" Another day visitor, Ms Jenny Aspin from the border town of Wrexham said, "Sorry I've not time to talk. I've got to get home to watch the Formula One qualifiers!"
Beach shelter in Rhyl                                                 © Copyright Eirian Evans  
So that's Rhyl for you folks. Why not give Rhyl a try some time? It's an experience you'll never forget. If you'd like to know more about Rhyl, why not visit the town's state-of-the-art website. Rhyl - where dreams unfortunately come true.

16 March 2012

Firsts

This is the very first test picture I snapped with the aid of Cyclops. Regular, mentally stable visitors to this humble Yorkshire blog will recall that we live on an inner city sheep farm. Here's our flock - well just two animals. Beau - that's mum and Peep - that's the Christmas born  lamb. They keep the grass down and scare off local cats. One day I hope they'll provide me with enough wool to knit a wardrobe of  new winter underwear. Regarding the quality of the picture - well the green is truly green but to be truthful, I could have achieved the same sort of result with my trusty Hewlett Packard 945 that has travelled with me for thousands of miles over the last seven years.

My blogging adversary or colleague Professor Rhodes of "Shooting Parrots" recently posed the question of what is a blog actually for. Like him, I will frequenly use the medium  to mark events in the passing of my life so that later I'll be able to look back - just like handwritten diaries of yesteryear. The fact that this blog has attracted external "visitors" like yourself sometimes just seems like a nice bonus. Acquiring a new camera isn't something that happens very often in one's life so that's why I have felt a need to mark this moment.

This test picture in a local park begins to reveal some of the new camera's extra potential. Unfortunately, the amazing daffodil embankment nearby is still not fully stirred from its winter slumbers. Give it another couple of days and I'll be back:-

14 March 2012

Cyclops

One of the nicest Christmas presents I ever received was just last year. It was from Shirley, Ian and Frances. Beneath the Christmas paper was a shoebox and within the shoebox a smaller parcel and so on until I got down to a homemade cardboard camera - Frances has always been creative like that. I looked at it in puzzlement and had to be told to take the back off this fake camera. Inside there was a large wodge of crinkly banknotes. I was still baffled.

"It's so that you can buy a new camera!" they announced.

Well, there wasn't really time to do the necessary research before we jetted off to the land of the long white cloud so I did it when we got back. The only trouble was that because of the floods in Thailand last year, production of some key components for Nikon cameras was halted. Consequently, the camera I had earmarked was "out of stock" everywhere I looked. However, in the last week or so, stocks of various Nikons have been partially replenished.

So this morning I went toddling off to the great shopping cathedral on the edge of our illustrious city - the massive Meadowhall complex - and came back with this baby:-
It's still in its box - and typical of these times - there were add-ons I needed. The extra battery. The camera case. The suitably fast memory card. The extended insurance. I baulked at the idea of an extra lens. Anyway, the baby has arrived and now I have the challenge of coming to terms with the technical wizardry that will be at my fingertips if I can only figure out how to exploit it. Who knows - maybe tomorrow I'll snap some daffodils if the grassy bank I am thinking of is in full bloom. We'll see. Gonna call the baby Cyclops because it only has one eye.

13 March 2012

Lyttleton

This is a picture I took in Lyttleton, New Zealand in early January. There Christmas comes in mid-summer. Lyttleton is the main port of New Zealand's South Island - serving Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains.It was rocked to its knees by the massive "after shock" earthquake of February 22nd 2011.  Many of its historical buildings were damaged beyond repair and have now been demolished. Some businesses still trade from shipping containers. As Ann, the proprietor of our B&B cabin - Koa Cottage in the nearby village of Little River said, Lyttleton is a "broken town". But see the silver bells in the dead tree on London Street and those plastic ribbons made from disaster warning tape. They show that hope isn't lost and it is possible to fix broken places, broken things.

11 March 2012

No!

An Afghani man cries for those he knew
It's less than a week since I posted about six young English soldiers killed tragically and needlessly far away from home in Afghanistan. Four of them were Yorkshiremen. Now the latest chapter in that country's ongoing horror story involves an American soldier going berserk and killing sixteen innocent citizens - including women and children.

Though the full facts of this disturbing incident are not yet known, the  BBC said this of the unnamed murderer: "he had apparently recently suffered a mental breakdown".  Well if that is the case why the hell was he still able to pick up a weapon and walk out of his base on a Terminator-type spree of killing? Don't the US Army have procedures in place that make doubly sure that armed soldiers only leave their bases on bona fide missions? And didn't this blood-crazed fellow realise that allegedly the whole reason that western troops are in Afghanistan is to make life better for ordinary Afghans who are certainly not "the enemy"? As a local woman said of a murdered two year old child: "There are no two year old Taliban fighters as far as I know."

How many more people must die in this pointless and unwinnable military adventure? Lord knows how Afghani fighters and the ordinary populace will respond to this atrocity in the coming days. But have you noticed how normally we don't get to hear very much at all about civilian deaths or indeed the deaths of those alien creatures from outer space known as...The Taliban! Aaaarrggh! So, BRING OUR BROTHERS HOME! Please...

Patience

Given the frustrations and pressures of life in the western world, I realise that a number of bloggers are anxious to make the move to Blogland as soon as possible. I mean, who wouldn't want to escape from news of the depressing Syrian crisis, the battle for the Republican presidential nomination in America, the Cameron and Clegg double act, rising petrol prices, news of greedy bankers' undeserved bonuses, "Reality" TV programmes,  chicken nuggets, pot holes in the road and inclement weather? However, my friends, patience must be your watchword.

All of the planned residences are now constructed. Just last week, a team of gardeners arrived from Myanmar, or Burma as I still prefer to call it, to beautify public areas with a vast array of flowering tropical plants from the exotic bougainvillea and hibiscus to the delicate golden shrimp plant, the ginger flower and the aromatic frangipani. Also you will be pleased to know that the Joshua Tetley brewery have delivered twenty five eighty litre barrels of their best bitter along with the required pumping mechanisms to channel their best Yorkshire nectar to the Caribbean cocktail bar that overlooks our sumptuous new swimming pool. I have personally hired a vicious ex-Army Alsatian guard dog called Titan who is now tethered to the barrels just in case any of the lowly paid Burmese gardeners develop a craving for Yorkshire beer.
Aung San Suu Kyi (Rhymes With Sushi) before our meeting near Rangoon
So what's the hold up? Mainly it's to do with background legal matters and the official transfer of Lampi Island to the full ownership of Blogland plc. Recently, I flew out to Rangoon to hold discussions with opposition leader - the legendary Ms Aung San Suu Kyi. A Sloughhouse chicken was killed in my honour and later we consumed our gaeng gai bama on the bamboo terrace that overlooks her jungle garden. It turns out that she is also a Hull City supporter. I gave her a few welcome tips about ousting the current military regime before we signed our legal agreement. She said she'd love to visit Blogland some time - not just for a holiday but to meet "that hunky" R.Brague whose photograph she apparently came across while surfing the net. "He's a  hot dude. Is Miss Ellie coming with him to live in Blogland?" I wasn't sure.

I understand that seamstresses will arrive on the island this coming week to measure up for curtains. Back at their mainland factory - Tropical Cabin Curtains Ltd - they have a wide array of fabrics in an infinite range of colours and patterns. They desperately need to know what kind of curtains you would prefer for your cabin or villa - to give it that personal touch. Please advise in the "Comments" section after this fascinating update. Thank you in anticipation.