Wednesday 30 April 2008

God or Evolution?

A little girl asked her mother, 'How did the human race appear?'
The mother answered, 'God made Adam and Eve and they had children and so was all mankind made.'
Two days later the girl asked her father the same question.
The father answered, 'Many years ago there were monkey-like creatures from which the human race evolved.'
The confused girl returned to her mother and said, 'Mom, how is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God, and Dad said they developed from monkeys?'
The mother answered, 'Well, dear, it is very simple. I told you about my side of the family and your father told you about his.'

England today?


"Curse the blasted, jelly-boned swines, the slimy, the belly-wriggling invertebrates, the miserable soddingrotters, the flaming sods, the snivelling, dribbling, dithering, palsied, pulse-less lot that make up England today."
        D H Lawrence

Monday 28 April 2008



Question - Is the decline of the English language due to ignorance or apathy?
Answer - Don’t know, don’t care.

Bryony and Mark


My elder daughter Bryony gets married this coming weekend to Mark.

Bryony, on the right, has grown a bit since the above photo. So has Helen (left) who is one of the bridesmaids.

Sunday 27 April 2008

Spanking children

Whether or not spanking children is acceptable is the subject of much debate recently. A couple has been turned down as potential foster parents because they have admitted that if necessary they would spank their own child. Most of the populace is alleged to think it improper to spank children.

The other day I was talking to one of my younger friends about methods used to discipline children. We talked about 'time outs', grounding, holding back 'rewards' until the child displayed desired behavior, etc. One of the things we discussed was the act of spanking and my friend explained that no, he does not spank any of his children.

He explained that what he does is go out for a ride in the car, taking the misbehaving child, and talking to him. He said that usually this works and that the child calms down fairly quickly and really doesn't take too much time. By removing the child, in this case his son, from the immediate situation and providing a change of scenery, the child is allowed to focus on something different. Once the child has the opportunity to change perspective, things get better quickly and the child has better understanding of his place within the family and begins to understand the family's concept of acceptable behavior.

He kindly shared a picture of the process which I share with you now.

Race Car

Everyone has heard the Murray Walker quote – “If is a big word in Formula One – ‘if’ is formula 1 spelled backwards. “ But had you realised that race car is race car spelled backwards?

Honda have put some extra little wings on the front of their F1 cars. They are called dumbo wings. Are they beautiful? Well, if the car goes faster they are reckoned to be beautiful... But I agree with Martin Brundle - they'd be prettier if they just fell off.

The Ferrari also has a new nose-cone.

Friday 25 April 2008

Spectacular worry!

It’s not an easy world to live in.” – Jo Coudert

I have just read the 'Hypochondriac’s Handbook' by John Naish. Just because I’m a hypochondriac doesn’t mean I’m not ill! (Sorry about the triple negative...) I don’t actually worry about my health in the true sense of worrying. I just let it flow over me and go ‘Ouch’ – or something a lot stronger. But if I was a worrier this would be the last book I should read – perhaps even literally as the fretting would probably induce a heart attack and kill me.

Fortunately I relax a lot. Burn candles and generally chill out. Unfortunately, candles can create clouds of dangerous chemicals. Research on candles from twelve different American stores showed a third had metal in to stiffen them. “Every time you burn one of these lead containing candles you release significant amounts of neurotoxic lead into the atmosphere”. A further study in Scientific Total Environment warned that burning more than one candle in a room can push the airborne lead levels above US safety limits. There goes the chilling out and the romantic dinner party...

I do the washing up in our house. A UK study by the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene says 84 per cent of dish-cloths are contaminated with food-poisoning bacteria. You can get up to 1 million bacteria on your hands just by wringing out an infected cloth or sponge. There goes the washing up...

And if you are an anti-smoker be afraid. Cigarette smoke and candles not the only things around the house that release toxic chemicals – computers, carpets, paints and plastic all pollute our indoor air as well. I’d go outside only the sun might give me skin cancer. On the other hand, avoiding the sun can cause my body to lose its Vitamin D and reduce my resistance to other cancers...

Still, I’ve got all my tablets to help me through the day and I don’t read the instruction leaflets. You might think that’s silly but apparently reading about possible side-effects increases the number of patients who suffer them.

Last, but by no means least, I’m short-sighted. No its not the fact that I’m likely to walk into a door or something that is the problem – I never even get out of bed without my glasses on. And that is the problem – I wear them all the time thereby increasing my chances of night-blindness or eye cancer since the frames act as focussing antennae for electro-magnetic impulses from computers, micro-waves, security alarms, electric toothbrushes, vacuum cleaners and toasters – in fact, anything with a plug on the end.

Give me


Give me books, fruit,
French wine and fine weather
And a little music out of doors
Played by somebody I do not know.

Give me books, cashew nuts,
Home-made lemonade and sun,
And birdsong out of doors
Sung by birds feeding at my feet.
        Scriptor Senex

Thursday 24 April 2008

Coral spawning


What do you do when you're not in the office? If you are Helen's former flatmate and colleague at Exeter University, Sonia Bejarano, the answer is swim in coral spawn.... Meanwhile Helen's boss, Peter Mumby, sat in the boat up above and counted the minutes - about 30 - betwen the start and finish of the event.
The annual mass spawning of corals on the Palau archipelago in the western Pacific has just occurred, right on cue. With Sunday night's full moon, coral polyps let forth a huge swathe of sperm and egg, to seed the next generation. The event was short-lived but so vast in its scale that it turned the sea water pink. Scientists from Palau, Australia and the UK are studying the practicality of collecting coral larvae to help restore damaged reefs elsewhere.

For full details see the BBC article by Andrew Luck-Baker at

Reading can Damage your Health


Tired of molly-coddling governments and silly insurance claims I have done one of my grumpy old man blog postings about Health Warnings on The Editorial...

THE Natural History Site

Arkive has come a long way since I last visited it on

Smooth newt - © Brian Bevan / Website:
The number of photos which can now be found on it is tremendous. The Smooth Newt, for example, has 16 – all better than anything I have managed.
Disappointingly there are only 260 invertebrates and 39 fungi. I am now feeling guilty that perhaps I should make an effort to contact them and offer some of the best of my photos....

Do all the good you can


Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
    John Wesley

Wednesday 23 April 2008

What’s the world coming to?

A tablet from ancient Assyria about 2,800 B.C, states “Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There is signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.”

Over 2,000 years later, Socrates was complaining “Children are now tyrants. They no longer rise when adults enter the room. They contradict their parents, they chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

And around 400 BC Plato wrote of his students – “What is happening to our young people. They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them.”



In the name of the Bee
And of the Butterfly
And of the Breeze,

       Emily Dickinson

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Ye olde tea shoppe


The "Ye" in "Ye Olde Tea Shoppe" and similar signs should be pronounced "The".
Anglo-Saxon (Old English) had two different letters for the "th" sounds: an eth for the th in that and a thorn for the th in thin .
These were represented as follows:-



The eth died out in the 1300s, and the thorn was finally replaced by the th (called a diagraph) in the 1500s, by which time it had come to look very much like a y. For convenience some printers actually used the letter y.

People eventually forgot what the thorn meant and interpreted Ye (the) as Ye (ye) when they saw it on old signs.

Motor racing pictures


When I worked in Kirkby I did a series of motor racing pictures for my office wall. Despite being a simple pencil and felt tip pen one, this was one of my favourites.

Monday 21 April 2008



Did you know:–
Croquet was first (and last) played as an Olympic sport in 1900.

It was the first Olympic sport to involve women.

There are not enough countries who play it for it to be accepted for London 2012.

The first recognised organisation in England was formed in 1868 when the All England Croquet Club was set-up in Wimbledon but it was not long before tennis muscled into the scene and it was renamed the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

The weekend after Wimbledon's tennis finals, players representing countries as far afield as the USA, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand compete at the nearby Hurlingham Club for a prize fund that would not even cover their air fare. The average crowd for the final is 50 despite free admission.

Britain has won the last six MacRobertson Shields - croquet's equivalent of golf's Ryder Cup

England's Robert Fulford is the defending British Open champion
Golf croquet is popular in Egypt, who have two of the best players in the world.

Croquet probably originates from palle-maille, popular in 17th-century England whilst billiards and pool evolved from a lawn game similar to croquet played sometime during the 15th century in Northern Europe (probably in France).

Pictures of John Prescott playing croquet last year led to a 300 per cent increase in sales of croquet sets at Asda, but he isn't the first politician hit by a croquet-related scandal. US President Rutherford B Hayes caused a furore in the late 19th century when he appropriated $6 of government funds for the purchase of croquet balls.

In Disney's Alice in Wonderland, when Alice is playing croquet with the queen and Alice gets a point you hear someone shout "Hooray!" if you listen closely, the voice is that of Mickey Mouse!



A few sketches I did many years ago.



I only ask to be free, the butterflies are free...
Harold Skimpole in Dickens’ “Bleak house”

Sunday 20 April 2008

What does love mean?

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, 'What does love mean?' The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.' Billy - age 4

Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.' Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.' Chrissy - age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' Terri - age 4

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.' Danny - age 7

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss' Emily - age 8

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.' Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,' Nikka - age 6 (we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.' Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.' Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.' Cindy - age 8

'My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.' Clare - age 6

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.' Elaine - age 5

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.' Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.' Lauren - age 4

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (what an image) Karen - age 7

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.' Jessica - age 8

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

Hebridean Blog


In early May. the Gods willing, I shall be returning to the Outer Hebrides and I was contemplating resurrecting my Hebridean Blog from 2007 which was hosted on Angelfire.

Hosting it there had the advantage of being able to use larger photos but having just revisited it I appreciate it probably loads too slowly when I fill it with so many large photos, even for the average Broadband.

I also discovered that I have used 70 per cent of my free space on Angelfire which suggests I may not be able to complete this year’s visit on that host any way. As a result I shall host it at Google with all my others and you will be able to find it on

Watch that space as they say!

Friday 18 April 2008

Primrose Day


19th April is Primrose Day. Upon the death of British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield), on 19 April 1881, Primrose Day was instituted in his honour, as the English primrose was his favourite flower.

Queen Victoria sent bouquets of primroses to his funeral. According to a contemporary account:
"The coffin lies on its bier in an alcove leading out of the modest hall of Hughenden Manor. But of its material, one might almost say of its dimensions, nothing can be seen. It is literally one mass of floral beauty. Here are wreaths from every member of the Royal Family in England bouquets of primroses sent by the Queen, with an inscription attached to them, saying that they came from Osborne Hill, and that they are of the sort which Lord Beaconsfield loved."

Two years later, a bronze statue of Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield was erected at Parliament Square, and it became customary to decorate it with primroses every year on the anniversary of his death. Around this time the woodlands of England are seen carpeted with wild primroses.

Sean and the Sheep


As regular readers of this Blog will know I am a keen fan of the quiz show Eggheads (BBC2 6pm). Last night, with the prize at a healthy £20,000, the Eggheads were beaten by Sean and the Sheep.

Well done, Sean, Lucy, and friends.

Thursday 17 April 2008



From April 1996 – Conversation between an eight year old Liverpool boy and his father:-
Richard – “Dad, can footballers be married?”
Me – “Yes, Love, What makes you ask?”
Richard – “Because priests can’t be married, can they?”
Bless him, only eight years old and already he realises that in Liverpool football is a religion.



“Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued, is always just beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Yet more Pubs


This is the Cock and Bottle on Picton Road, Liverpool, pictured in the 1960s The window to the right of the pub was once a door and the bricked in space above it was a window. This formed the smallest house in Liverpool for many years until these alterations were carried out.

John McHale

I have a former colleague and friend called John McHale - one-time Director of Housing at Knowlsey Borough Council. He sends me lots of e-mails with a varying degree of appropriateness for human consumption. i.e. the vast majority are totally inappropraite for a blog which endeavours to be moderately child friendly and tries to avoid upsetting my female friends to the degree where they come round and knee me in the groin... However, I enjoy them thoroughly and occasionally he sends the female friendly versions such as this -

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Awfully punny

1. A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

2. A will is a dead giveaway.

3. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

4. A backward poet writes inverse.

5. In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.

6. A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.

7. If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

8. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.

9. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.

10. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

Tomorrow’s the day

If you are in the UK and setting a sundial in position then tomorrow is a good day to do it. The sun’s position is due South at Noon GMT on 16th April, 15th June, 1st September and 25th December. (My maths / physics / astronomy isn’t adequate to tell me what you do if you are in the antipodes...)

Monday 14 April 2008

That shut him up....

Some put down lines for the guy who tries to chat you up...

Man: Where have you been all my life?
Woman: Hiding from you.

Man: Haven't I seen you someplace before?
Woman: Yes, that's why I don't go there anymore.

Man: Is this seat empty?
Woman: Yes, and this one will be if you sit down.

Man: Your place or mine?
Woman: Both. You go to yours, and I'll go to mine.

Man: So, what do you do for a living?
Woman: I'm a female impersonator.

Man: Hey baby, what's your sign?
Woman: Do not enter.

Man: How do you like your eggs in the morning?
Woman: Unfertilized.

Man: Your body is like a temple.
Woman: Sorry, there are no services today

Man: I would go to the end of the world for you.
Woman: But would you stay there?

Man: If I could see you naked, I'd die happy.
Woman: If I saw you naked, I'd probably die laughing.

Man: If I could rearrange the alphabet I'd put u and i together
Woman: Really, I'd put f and u together

Sunday 13 April 2008

Chilly willies


Chilly willies
I don’t normally like it when StumbleUpon leads me to advertising sites. But this is an exception. Must be seen to be believed...
(If you don’t know what StumbleUpon is see my StumbleUpon at )

Saturday 12 April 2008

Ming the Clam


Last year a scientific team from Bangor University School of Ocean Sciences discovered a 405-year-old Arctica islandica clam. It has been named Ming after the Chinese dynasty which ruled when it settled (the mollusc equivalent of being born), at the bottom of the ocean. The shellfish was dredged as part of a study into climate change over the centuries but because of its extreme age it is now also being investigated by a team of biologists looking into ageing. So significant is the find that Help The Aged have awarded a £40,000 grant to the team to investigate how the mollusc has survived over the centuries.

The record-breaking shellfish is 31 years older than the previous oldest animal, another clam. Arctica islandica is variously known as the Icelandic cyprine, ocean quahog, mahogany clam, mahogany quahog, black quahog, and black clam. It was among a haul of 3,000 empty shells and 34 live molluscs taken to the laboratory. Unfortunately, by the time its true age had been established Ming was already dead. But the scientists aged the 3.4in clam by drilling through and counting the rings on its shell - the science of sclerochronology. The shell only grows in summer when the water is warmer and the plankton it eats is plentiful. Each year a layer as thin as 0.1mm is laid down.

Ming was 'born' when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne and William Shakespeare was writing The Merry Wives of Windsor. It far outlived other venerable animal species such as the Galapagos tortoise (the oldest known specimen of which lived for 176 years) and the bowhead whale (130 years).

The oldest known...
Tree, bristlecone pine: USA: 4,844 (years)
Fish, lake sturgeon: 154
Mammal: bowhead whale: 130
Human: Jeanne Calment: 122
Macaw: 106
Elephant: 78
Horse: 62
Japanese salamander: 55
Herring gull: 49
Bat: 32
Dog: 24
Rabbit: 18

Friday 11 April 2008

Pillar Boxes


As I have mentioned previously, over the years I have photographed a wide variety of letter boxes throughout England, Wales and Scotland. I have, at last, put them on some webpages. They can be found at
(Note - this is rich in photos so if you do not have broadband, as the TV adverts say, don't try this at home...)

This is my favourite little letter box – hidden in the mountains above Llanrwst!

Thursday 10 April 2008

Team Mates?

And you thought you were having a bad day?

Be sure your sins...

Be sure your sins will find you out.... I decided that to save myself having to do a Blog posting today I would draft and save one yesterday and then just post it today. So I drafted and saved the Corflake Crunch recipe – only to find that when I hit the publish button it put it under yesterday’s date. Curses, foiled again!

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Cornflake Crunch


GB asked me for the Cornflake Crunch recipe recently and when I gave it to him I couldn’t say how much crushed cornflake to use. That didn’t matter because he knows it well enough to just add them “until it’s the right consistency”. That is hardly an adequate way of wording the recipe so I thought I’d make it yesterday and then put the ‘proper’ recipe on the blog. In the end I forgot to weigh the cornflakes!!!

Basically it is very simple -
Slowly heat 6oz of butter, 6 tablespoons syrup, 9 tablespoons sugar and ¼ pound of cooking chocolate. Crush a load of cornflakes. Add crushed cornflakes mix well and keep adding crushed cornflakes for as long as the mixture continues to colour and bind them.
Press the mixture evenly into greased flan dishes or baking tins depending upon whether you want square / oblong or triangular pieces. Cut the shapes while still warm. Leave for an hour to cool and serve.

As you can tell from the pictures the top one had less chocolate in it - which is my personal preference. Reducing the chocolate by about half does not seem to affect the binding and makes it less chocolatey (obviously) but also, in some people's opinion, more sickly. So the moral of this recipe is (like many others) - just add the basic ingredients in whatever proportions you want until you get a flavour and consistency you like.

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