We should all get behind The Theatre Orchard. I’ve only been following them for a short time, but I’ve really appreciated what they do. The current tour One Man and His Cow is well worth catching. If you enjoy it, send them some cash!

The Theatre Orchard

The Theatre Orchard launches cash-crisis appeal for £10,000 over next six weeks North Somerset’s only professional performing arts organisation this week issued an urgent appeal for donations and sponsorship from supporters, businesses, trusts, and benefactors to avoid closure in the next six weeks. The Theatre Orchard, which has been providing theatre, film, music, storytelling and creative writing performances and workshops across North Somerset and Bristol since 2007, needs to raise £10,000 by the end of July in order to complete its bid to secure funding for the future. ‘Unless we get an immediate cash injection to tide us over, we will have to close,’ said The Theatre Orchard Chair, Bob Walton. ‘Our current Arts Council funding runs out very soon and they want to see more local financial support before we can go back to them with another bid. We’ve hit a crisis and we’re hoping that everyone who…

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The What Cup?

Now, I have never claimed to be a football fan (soccer fan, to some of my readers) but I didn’t realise just how out of touch I was until I discovered just on Thursday that the World Cup is starting in less than two weeks.

Well, that’s not strictly true, as in some part of my brain I was generally aware that it would be happening this year, this summer even, but the details had passed me by. So I watched the England – Peru friendly on … one day last week … with some interest. Nice to win, but especially nice to see a young team with hardly any big names. After the last big tournament, I voiced the opinion that we would stand a better chance of winning if we sent out youngsters who genuinely wanted to play rather than older, overpaid players who have an inflated idea of their own worth and a complacent attitude to the sport. Their attitude seemed to say – “I am one of the highest paid  players in the world, so I deserve to win. In fact, it’s an affront to my status if I don’t win.”

It’s about skill, of course, but it’s also about attitude, team spirit and endeavour, and that’s why the women’s game is so entertaining to watch.

I am thrilled to read that no-one expects us to get through to the final eight or whatever it is, let alone win so I hope that the press don’t lash the players if/when we lose. Because that’s the other side of this – the willingness with which pundits look for a scapegoat to blame for failure. All the national teams are well coached, skilful and fit, and the result of each game is a combination of many factors, not least luck.

I would far rather go out in a blaze of glory after an exciting and entertaining match than scrape through to a nervy penalty shoot-out, but that’s just me. And what do I know anyway?


My proof-reading and editorial skills are available …


Although I am almost certain you will find at least one error in this blog – a spelling slip or typo, for example – I am actually a very good proof-reader and copy-editor. For years I have composed newsletters, articles and reports from my own material or from the key points provided by colleagues, as well as checking the writing of others for clarity and accuracy.

It is always wise to get someone else to read over your own writing. You know what you meant to say, so when you check something you have written yourself you are likely to find everything very clear and sensible, and to miss errors that you only notice when the piece is published. Getting someone else to read through for you, someone who won’t over-analyse and pick everything to pieces, suggesting massive re-writes, is a very good idea.

My services are now available at a very reasonable cost at Fivesquids, starting at just £5 for proof-reading 1,250 words. Please do get in touch through the site if you need my help. And please ignore the typo I’ve reported in the little ad – my perfectly typed words have been mashed by the site!

To see or not to see …

Just got my new glasses this week and it has been time to move to varifocals.  Another milestone in life!


Here’s me in the glasses with Clevedon pier behind me.  It was very bright, even with the light sensitive lenses, so it’s a good thing you can’t see my eyes squinting.

I’ve worn glasses since I was 11, although I probably should have worn them for a couple of years before that, as by the time I got my first pair I was already very short sighted.  If you’ve always had good eyesight it must seem strange to think of people not realising they can’t see properly but you are just used to things as they are:  and especially for a child you have nothing to compare with.  So you manage, and if you can’t see the television, you sit closer, and if you can’t see the board at school you make do with listening, and probably have the teachers wondering if you are a bit of a slow learner.  In my case, my parents realised I was short sighted when we were parked outside a shop and my younger sister proudly read out the name, to which I scathingly said – you haven’t read that from here, you’ve just remembered it.

So a short time later,  I was the dubious owner of glasses.  Well, it was good to be able to see!

Either just before I went to university, or maybe while I was there, I switched to lenses.  Strange that I can’t remember exactly when. I used the old hard lenses first, which took an age to get used to and hours of pain and pink eyes, and then to gas permeables.  I’ve been pretty happy with these until the last four or five years, when I have begun to need reading glasses as well as the lenses.  Ah yes! How unfair that as you age and your eyes change there isn’t a golden time when your sight is briefly perfect.  Instead you become simultaneously short and long sighted and that’s how it’s going to be until you have no further need of optical aids of any kind!

I may well move on to varifocal contact lenses, but have decided to stick with glasses for a while and see how I get on.   At least if I go for the modern lenses I will be able to switch between lenses and glasses as I wish.  The additional issue with gas permeable lenses is that they change the shape of your eye, so sight with glasses was not the same as sight with lenses.

What I am reluctant to contemplate at this stage is laser surgery. It just seems so drastic to me, and the eyesight I do have is very precious!


Walking and thinking

I’ve always enjoyed walking:  it needs no specialist equipment (just a comfortable pair of shoes) and it is non-exhibitionist (you always seem to notice joggers, but who takes note of a walker?

Provided your joints are in fairly good shape, the health benefits are obvious, especially if you keep up a good pace and take in a few hills along the way.  Here in Clevedon there are plenty of great walks and most days I get out before breakfast and do something between 7 and 12 thousand steps.  They say that 10,000 steps a day is enough to keep you healthy.

Favourite walks are Poet’s Walk:


or looking the other way, towards Clevedon:

Imageor walking down the coast path, round Marshall’s field and the edge of the golf course and on towards Weston.

At high tide the boats moored at Clevedon Pill have an atmospheric look.Image


I’ve always known that I like the way that walking gives you the opportunity to stop and look when you see something interesting.  I like the natural world, and have been very pleased this year to see some wild birds I haven’t seen for years, such as linnets and skylarks, as well as a little egret.  And I like the vistas and landscape here too.  You can see why from the photos, I hope!

Recently I have been thinking about the actual pleasure that there is in walking.  There is a moment when you hit a nice rhythm and feel that you could walk for ever.  As it’s an easy and natural thing to do, you don’t have to think about what you are doing and your mind can range wild and free.

I think everyone has experienced the particular pleasure of stepping where no one has walked before – the first footprints in freshly fallen snow, or across a newly washed sandy beach for example. Recently I have been thinking about the pleasure of walking on ancient paths, where generations of people have walked over the years.  In more cases than you might think, footpaths have been in use since ancient times.  Lately archaeologists have been uncovering neolithic human footprints in the mud flats of the Bristol channel, and there’s an iron age fort on Wain’s Hill (around which poets walk runs). So my mind was running on the idea that I’m following in the footsteps of generations of people, and that more generations of people will follow the same routes in the future. This adds a spiritual aspect to the physical pleasure, which I haven’t thought about before.

Do pilgrims pick up on the same feeling, and does it add to their religious experience on reaching the object of their journey.  I wouldn’t be surprised.

Anyway, if you haven’t tried recreational walking lately, pick a good route, some comfortable footwear and get out there!


True story! Tilly’s tale.

Some of you will recognise Tilly the Scaredy Cat, who has been in our family for about 14 years.

Tilly in basket

Here she is, looking rather elegant in her leopard skin igloo (fake fur – don’t worry!).

Tilly has been a notably timid cat for ever. I have a pretty good idea why and it all stems back to a visit to the vet when she was little …

It was clear that Tilly needed to be neutered.  Her behaviour as certain times was becoming far from lady-like, and extremely noisy.  So the appointment was made, and one fine day I scooped her into a cat carrier and walked her round to the local vet, just round the block from our house.  In fact, the end of our back garden just about shared a fence with their garden.

That evening I left to go and collect her, asking my daughter if she wanted to come too.  “Will there be stitches? I don’t think so then.”

I got to the vet, was told all had gone very well, paid the bill and they popped into the back room and returned with my cat box. I peeped in – mostly, I must admit, to demonstrate what a caring owner I am.

“Oh!  This isn’t my cat!”

“Are you sure?”

Slightly silly question, but I suppose the receptionist was beginning to panic.

“Well, yes.  My cat is small and glossy black and white.  This one is big, fluffy and grey.”

“Hold on, I’ll go and check.”

It didn’t take long.  Back in a flash she announced “That’s the only cat left!”

“However, she’s not mine, so I won’t be taking her. If you could find out where my cat is and let me know, I’ll come and collect her.

Back home to the tentative enquiry “Is she all right?”

“Apparently she’s fine. They just don’t know where she is.”

Half an hour later the phone rang with the news that Tilly was now back at the vet’s.  Apparently a lady had collected without peeping into the cage.  Plainly a crucial step in collection of animals from the vet.  She had told the vet, “I wondered why she ran away and hid when I got her home.”

So round I went and into the back room this time, where poor Tilly was leaning in a mildly catatonic state against the bars of a cage. Drooling just a little.  Eyes slightly staring.  But then she was in the middle of a very bad day: been taken to a strange place where she had been operated on  then, on waking, kidnapped, taken in a car (something she had only done once before), released into a strange house, recaptured and taken in the car back to the place where she had been operated on.

It’s not that surprising she has always expected the worst and likes to be left in peace.

However, it hasn’t affected her health badly, and she is now a venerable creature with a healthy appetite.

In Tilly’s honour, I’ve added a couple of cat pictures to my gallery and they’ve been framed and are currently up for auction to UK buyers in our ebay shop. Hope you like them!

cats Cats 1




My New Blog – where, why and what?


Where better to start than with a view of the restored Victorian Clevedon Pier, a key local landmark!

This year I relocated from Hertford with Alec, and we began a new life in Clevedon, North Somerset. What better time to start a blog, to share photos and thoughts with my friends old and new?

Where?  What, you haven’t heard of Clevedon?  Neither had we until Margaret and Cameron said we should give it a look.  A mid-sized town, just south of Bristol down the M5, with a lovely rugged coastline with a beautiful backdrop of South Wales.  Gorgeous!

Here is a view of the town from Poet’s walk.


We came for a look in May and bought the show-house in a small development five minutes walk in one direction to the coast and five minutes the other way to the town centre.

By the end of June, we were in.

Why?  Just the dawning realisation that we wouldn’t be able to live in or near Hertford in the comfort to which we aspire.

So here we are, settled in.  I am still working for Hertfordshire County Council, through Manpower, as I can do customer journeys of the website and help with comms as a remote worker.  It’s so nice to have some work I enjoy rather than having to sign on. I am applying for other suitable jobs as they come up, and although I haven’t quite decided to commute to Bristol for work, nothing is ruled out.

What? This weekend we’ve been online a lot, learning more about using ebay to sell.  We have also been using Gumtree to sell some of the beautiful but, for us, not so practical furniture included in the purchase of the house.  So far a cheval mirror and driftwood and glass coffee table have been sold, and tomorrow someone is calling in to pick up our stylish console table. Very nice too.

The weather has been beautiful, so we have been out and about.  Well you have to, don’t you, before the clocks go back.

And tonight we’ll see a film at the Curzon cinema.

This is a gem; the oldest continual operating cinema in the world. We’ve been a couple of times and it is gorgeous. No noisy popcorn, but you can buy a glass of wine or a tub of ice-cream, and last week a gentleman was playing the old cinema organ before the film. Marvellous! And just three minutes walk from our house.

Future posts will include the glories of Hill Road, and the filming of Broadchurch with David Tennant.  I may even post a picture of the windswept tree …