Thursday, 30 April 2009

When I First Started Our Blog Squirrels Seemed To Be In The News,

black, brown, grey, albino, there seemed to be no end to articles about them, then not a mention till this one, it appears that in the early 1900's a club was formed to hunt red squirrels, which now days are endangered, by 1946, the Highland Squirrel Club had killed 102,900 squirrels and paid out £1,504 in bounties, tails were submitted as proof of kills, there are several ironies in the story of the club, which was formed in 1903, reds were extinct, or on the brink of extinction, in the Highlands by the 1800s because of a loss of woodland habitat, in 1844, Lady Lovat of Beaufort Estate near Beauly, succeeded in getting the government to re-introduce the squirrels to the Highlands, by the 1900s, the squirrels had spread from the boundaries of the estates where they were released and were blamed for causing damage to Scots pine and other conifers, the garden novelty had become a menace threatening thousands of acres of plantations, so the cull begun, ironically, Beaufort Estate was where the most reds were killed - a total of 22,766, in a final irony, 63 years after the end of the Highland Squirrel Club, the same estates where reds were actively hunted down now offer a haven for the species.

Wednesday Night, Out On The Town!

so Diana put on her glad rags,

as we used to call dressing up in my youth,

and here we are just opposite the VC hotel,

on our way down to Walking Street we noticed a new kebab place had opened up just by the pizza restaurant,
this is the covered over bit of soi Blues Factory, when the Goodfellows opened up it had underground blue lights leading to the bottom stairs where you went upstairs to the bar, but after a few weeks a few of the lights went out as I guess bulbs failed, now though, not a single light is working, seems a shame to have spent all that money on lights and the new tiles, but then not to maintain it,
quite a few people in Walking Street, but mostly group tours,
still considering it is only 8.15 it seems pretty crowded,
arrived at last! two of the Sisterz door girls strike the pose,
in Sisterz Grieg was there for his first night back at work, the two operations he had were successful, just don't ask to see the scars! we with Tom had more than a few drinks, it was then over to see Juu in Champions, again a little difficult to find seat, well with happy hour all night long what do you expect! by now it was time to go home, but the heavens opened up,
so it was back inside Champions to wait out the rain, then about midnight Juu very kindly offered Diana and myself a lift back to 388, then tea and medals and off to bed! another great night out and the good news is that we do not have to water the plants.

A Long Time Ago I Posted A Picture Of A Car Down A Hole In The Road,

some poor chap going to work drove down it,

well luckily only two cars were slightly damaged when this one suddenly appeared in Didsbury, in Manchester, I guess it could be a partial collapse of a forgotten mine shaft, or a burst water main washing the soil away, but looking at some of the other pictures it is not very deep, unlike a collapsed mine shaft and there appears to be no running water indicating a burst water main, in any event more work for the local council!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I Keep Mentioning A Series We Both Watch, The Tudors,

although primarily about Henry V111,

his father Henry V11 set up 500 years ago the Yeomen of the Guard, to celebrate this on the 500th anniversary of his death on April 21st, the Queen a few days ago placed a posy at his tomb in the Abbey's Lady Chapel, Henry VII created the Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth,

the Yeomen of the Guard are the oldest of the royal bodyguards and the oldest military corps in existence in Britain, there are 73 Yeomen, all of whom are former officers and sergeants of the British Services, the Yeomen of the Guard are not the same as the Yeomen Warders - who are affectionately known as Beefeaters - who guard the Tower of London, although their uniforms are almost identical,

the Yeomen of the Guard can be distinguished by their cross belts, worn from the left shoulder, British and proud of it!

A Small Curry At 388,

but first things first,
it was off to Sweensens in TESCO's for a ice cream for Diana
and banana and strawberry milkshake for me,
then me doing my Boris Karloff thing, put some dry ice into my vodka soda,
"Cheers!" the dry ice sinks and bubbles away, great fun!
Mr. Tony arrived with some home grown fruit and home made mango chutney
everybody found the dry ice amusing,
then the curry arrived, just a few of us tonight, John Boy, Mr. Tony, Jay and Precil,
and us,
for desert we had Mr. Tony's pineapple and Sweensen's rum and raisin ice cream,
it was a bit much for Mr. Tony, but a great time was had by all, we are looking forward to seeing Tom and Juu on Wednesday evening, apart from that not much else happening over here, except that last night it was so hot we put the airconditioner on in the bedroom, it was then so cold we had to switch it off, it seems the dial has broken so it is hot or cold, I just can not win with the bedroom aircon!

It Must Be At Least 50 Years Since I Ate A Buckling,

so imagine my surprise when I saw some for sale in Friendship yesterday,

my mother and myself used to enjoy eating buckling and Arbroath smokies, Dad was not so keen, the problem was that they then became not very popular, our 3 local fishmongers in Croydon where we lived started to stop ordering them and soon, about the early 1960's that was the end of them for us (where my apartment is in Beckenham I cannot think of any local fish mongers just the big stores, TESCO et al) also I remember Golden Jubilees, but had only seen and eaten them in Scotland, they and smokies are both smoked haddocks, bucklings are smoked herrings,

the hotel we stayed in at Auchmithie was on the top of this hill above the harbour,

by a strange twist of fate a few years later on a fishing holiday with Mum and Dad, we stayed at where the Arbroth smokie was "born" a tiny fishing village called Auchmithie, a small fishing village, 3 miles north of Arbroath, it was a long walk down to the harbour and the fishing was not great, but pleasant enough,

we then made our way to Lunan Bay, above, the hotel there had it's own private stretch of the river Lune, we caught more than a few trout there, oh happy days,

but back to the Friendship buckling, it was in oil, but even that did not hide the flavour of all those years ago, with brown bread and butter and a cup of tea, what a perfect way to start the day, a little expensive but next time we are in Friendship a couple of tins will find their way into my basket!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Monday And A Bit Of Shopping,

whilst at Friendship, and nearly opposite it there is this place, if ever you want a parcel beautifully wrapped this photo store is the one to go to, it sounds strange to go to a photo shop for gift wrapping, but there it is, the reason why we went there today was to get my two copies of my new 5 year licences laminated, I keep these with me rather than the originals that I keep in the safe at home, if I lose the copies no great problem, but losing the originals is more hassle than I care to think about, well Monday night, so it was the Tudors, the quickest hour on television, (well 50 minuets), Jonathan Rhys Meyers, plays Henry V111, although a little short for the role (Henry was 6 foot) he comes over remarkably well, you may have also seen him in the latest HUGO aftershave advertisements on True Vision and in a bit of great news, (for Diana and myself) I have just found out there is a third series, this will be after Henry dies and Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis) has taken the throne as the new queen of England, great television for a change.

There Must Be More To This Story,

a 747 flies low over New York chased by a F-16, the story goes that businesses shut down, buildings were evacuated and the city came to a standstill as they waited in fear to see if the Big Apple was under attack again, well that is what was reported in the UK's Daily Mail, Dominick Cadlioti, who works at the Mercantile Exchange, told the New York Post he instantly feared the worst when he saw the jets fly across the Manhattan skyline, another worker Jillian Pievarello said: 'You don't do this to people down here after all we have been through.' the mid-morning flyover made other traders jittery at the New York Mercantile Exchange, but a NYMEX spokeswoman said that it was not evacuated, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the plane and F-16 fighter jets had authorisation to fly across New York, including past the Statue of Liberty, He confirmed local authorities were given a directive not to inform the public about the flyover and that any inquiries were to be directed to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), all that fuss over just a photo shoot, simply a photo stunt for President Obama, so that's alright then, I wonder why with unlimited funds they could not have done it on a computer?

How Many More Secrets Are To Be Revealed About UK History?

it what many consider to be Nelson's most important battle, the Battle of the Nile in 1798 was one of Nelson's most significant clashes with Napoleon, not only did this battle halt Napoleon's ambitions for Egypt, but it was one of the most decisive victories over the French fleet, records show only two of their ships survived the encounter while not a single British ship was lost,
speaking of lost, this clump of seemingly randomly placed trees on Salisbury Plain has come to light, planted across three-quarters of a mile of Wiltshire countryside, a series of tree clumps mark the positions of British and French ships during the Battle of the Nile, but despite being one of the largest memorials of its kind in the world, the secret of the Nile Clumps has until now been known only to a few locals and military historians,
the living memorial lies about a mile east of Stonehenge, it is thought to have been planted by landowner Baron Douglas of Amesbury some years after Nelson's death in 1805, at the request of Captain Thomas Hardy and Nelson's mistress, Lady Hamilton, it is believed there were originally 31 clumps, representing the 17 French and 14 British ships, but only 19 remain after the rest were felled or blown over during the centuries, I wonder what other little know tributes from our past have yet to be "rediscovered?"

Monday, 27 April 2009

They Say And The Song Goes, "Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend"

well I wonder who the lucky girl will be that gets this one" this rare blue diamond, unearthed by Petra Diamonds Ltd at its Cullinan diamond mine in South Africa, is scheduled to go on sale at Sotheby’s next month with a price tag of between US$5.8 and US$8.5 million, it weighs 7.03 carats and is one of only a handful of blue diamonds in existence in the world, The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has graded the blue diamond as flawless in clarity, the highest ranking it can give to a diamond, Cathy Malins, from Petra Diamonds, the company which mined the gem, described it as a unique find, she said: "At our mine in South Africa we mine between two and three million tonnes of rock a year but we would be very lucky to get maybe one, maybe two, blue diamonds out of that, "Quite simply we don't know when we'll mine another one",
in May 2008 a 3.73 carat diamond was sold by Sotheby's at auction for $1,328,444, (£900,000 at today's exchange rate) setting the world record price per carat for any gemstone at auction, if this diamond sells for the top estimate of $8.5m (£5.7m) it would break that record,
the person who buys it will also get to name the stone, the Stanley diamond? now where do I get the money to buy it!

Another Quite Day At 388

Diana decided that she wanted a few pictures of the fish on her phone,
so it was get comfortable in front of the tank and fire away!
the fish are getting quite big now,
with one exception they all naturally occur in Lake Malawi, out of interest the lake occupies one fifth of the country’s total area and is the third largest lake in Africa, at over 350 miles long, it is 1550ft (470m) above sea level, in the north it is quite extraordinarily deep: 2300ft (700m), plunging well below sea level, this reflects the enormity of the natural faulting of the Great Rift Valley which is the origin of the Lake itself, then out to buy some of our favorite chicken soup, two days ago the heat was unbearable, even for us, so that night we switched on the air conditioner in the bed room, guess what? the one night we wanted it there was not a hint of cold in the air it gave out, but next door a firm was re-gassing the air-cons there so we had them fix ours, result, the same day the heavens opened up, temperature fell, so no need for the air-con, today looking into the distance more rain clouds, I know, I should not have had the air con fixed, I guess it is the same as when Diana washes the truck, it always rains the next day!
then in a pleasant surprise Glenn called to say he was in town for a couple of days, so he called round for a drink and a chat, we also had a bite to eat then he was off to hit the town, Monday is going to be another quite day, hopefully Wattana will call round to fix my computer/printer problem, then off to the dentist for a bit more work on the root canal, feet up then watch the next instalment of "The Tudors"

The United Kingdom Budget,

has just been announced, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in most newspapers he is holding up a "Red Box" as with so many traditions in the UK it was started by a mistake, legend has it that when George Ward Hunt (30 July 1825 – 29 July 1877) went to make his budget speech he realised he had left his speech at home, so in future all Chancellors now hold up their speech in the red box to show they have it with them, as an aside, have you ever heard of the phrase "to steal my thunder"? well a friend used it a few days ago in a conversation, so I looked it up, it goes back to a chap named John Dennis (1657 - 6 January 1734), it appears he had developed a new way of making the sound of thunder, the play he used it for was scrapped but the sound effect was used in a latter version of the Scottish play, he then said, "That is my thunder, by God; the villains will play my thunder, but not my play." according to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the entry (under the headword thunder), is the origin of the phrase, "to steal one's thunder", so now I know!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Welcome Back To Big Jim At 388,

first to call in were Jay and Precil,
Diana and Precil, helping out with the drinks and food,
then Mr. Tony called in with a huge cooked chicken, he bought one of those "fast" cookers that seem to be popular now, Mike and Riza have one and Geoff has just bought one this week,
Tom called in for a few cups of tea,
thank goodness Joe made a welcome appearance, I was no longer the only person drinking alcohol!
Geoff relaxes next to Joe,
soon to be mum Fa the latest is mid June,
Big Jim brought a load of sweets for the girls and cheese and biscuits for the boys, yummy!
and he trimmed his beard as well!
Mark also called in, we had rolls, french sticks, chicken fillets, pork and a whole roast chicken, plus a huge salad,
then unexpectedly an old friend from the UK called in, Wayne, he is here for the next few weeks, now married, but a cry of "lock up your daughters Wayne's in town!" was heard echoing down the street,
and I forgot all about little Lara, she arrived with dad Steve, next to her Riza helping Diana with the washing up, lots to talk about and a few jokes, like this one on how to save money in the UK,
if you have a suit and you want it dry cleaned, instead of paying the dry cleaners, take it to a charity shop, they will dry clean it and next week you can buy it back for .50p!
after that one the jokes got really bad!