Monthly Archives: March 2015

BIRDS, BEES, TREES AND BST

100I doubt that many of you who know me would know my hobbies probably show the softer side of me.  I like walking, history,  photography, wild life, gardening and coarse fishing.

I love being outdoors, visiting National Trust and English Heritage properties, these generally encompass all of my interests, offering plenty of opportunities for taking pictures.  I’m fortunate as I live on the south coast, not far from a beach, not far from the countryside and not far from many spectacular buildings and castles.

The imposing looking property below is Mottisfont Abbey, it’s one of our favourite destinations being only about 20 miles from us.  There are impressive gardens, plenty of impressive walks and this stately home is full of history.096If I had to buy “reel film” it would cost me a fortune every time I walked outside my front door, thank goodness for digital photography! These are just a few from Mottisfont. 052033

182Closer to hand is Porchester Castle, with its spectacular views.  Dating from the time of the Romans, it has been used extensively throughout time.  During the Napoleonic Wars it was a prisoner of war camp, you can still see paintings and names on the walls by the French prisoners, who used to put on plays for the local people in exchange for extra food!

181

Closer still is the Forest of Bere. Full of trees and wildlife, unfortunately no beer though 🙂

Bluebells and Celandine plants peep through, in readiness for carpeting the ground …..

186183184Wonderful old oaks rising from the ground, begging for the birds to come and build nests.  It’s the smell as much as the scenery which you notice as you walk around this ancient site.

Just a mere 5 minutes drive along the sea front is another old Napoleonic fort, Brockhurst.  Set on the outskirts of Gosport, this spectacular building is a veritable haven for wildlife.  I’m surprised more of the local population don’t use it.  You can see moorhens, ducks, swans and much more right in the middle of civilisation 🙂

The only guards here now are the scavenging gulls ….167

137 147 103

090 160 188 And do you know what, this is why I love BST, not the start of summer (that’s on June 21st) but the start of longer days and hopefully more sun

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Breath of a Dragon

I’m sat on the train as I write this, a Chinese lady and her English boyfriend have just boarded at East Croydon.  Despite the volume of seats available,  the boyfriend has plonked himself down next to Julie and opposite me.  This vision  in yellow top and those ridiculous Lycra leggings his breathing heavily and filling the carriage with his garlic infused breath.  In fact it’s so bad,  if I don’t get home you can claim my body at Southampton Central Railway Station which is the end of the line! 🙂

After my Facebook posts of yesterday giving you all the updates on Julie, here are some of the lighter moments to add to the days smiles.

After a post saying the waiting room at The Marsden was moderately empty, it quickly filled up.  Remember I’m neither racist or homophobic and these are observational comments…..

In one corner of the waiting room there was a traditionally large Irish family, I knew they were Irish because their conversation was interspersed with the obligatory “To be sure it was”. They were loud and it would appear they had eaten all the contents of the cafe because the said cafe closed early!

A quite elderly gentleman entered the waiting room,  walking with his hand on his hip.  He was wearing a crimson jumper with bright green trousers and a blue shirt.  Quinten Crispesqe old queen if ever I had seen one.  If you don’t know who Quinten Crisp was google him! 🙂

Finally my observations of the waiting room come to a close with the clearly bitter elderly lady who sat herself down in her chair then proceeded to push herself  back onto the legs of a man without even an apology.  Look love, you may have cancer but then so do around 50% of the waiting room and none of them are being rude! 🙁

Back to today,  I see the latest way for measuring the amount of disposal able income we have is the type of toilet paper we buy.  Apparently the more expensive (therefore softer) the paper the more money we have. Really? The way I see it is anything is a step up from a dock leaf  or the News of the World 🙂

According to the Daily Telegraph the latest deadly weapon to become available to the American public is…..a personal flame thrower. You have got to be joking, for a mere £467.00 you can burn the body of the person you’ve just shot dead with your licensed Uzi machine pistol thus preventing any evidence being discovered.  Apparently police forces throughout the USA are queuing up to buy them 🙂

The Home Secretary, Theresa May has said schools will be obligated to teach Britishness to try and ensure young people do not become radicalised.  She is also trying to “outlaw” Shia law.  As much as I totally agree with her I fear Europe will be poking its large nose into those ideas! So much for fighting terrorism. 🙁

Finally, if you fancy going to London over the Easter break and need a good hotel try the Premier Inn in Earls Court.  Good clean rooms, good service and good food.  Try the chilli beef, excellent!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

International Happiness Day

photo(29)Last Friday, the 20th March was International Happiness Day.  So I thought I’d share wth you some of the people and things which make me happy.  To the left you see our three children, from the left, Nathan, Leah and Hannah118photo(4)

photo(28)There’s Georgia with Nathan, Hannah with Matt & Leah’s husband Simon,  kneeling with Archie.  Got it so far? Good because Hannah’s son Jack (the Lego Master) is our eldest grandsonphoto(27)IMG_2882IMG_4099He’s seven and a typical boy but when I take him out he always is as good as gold 🙂

Next there’s Archiephoto(23)He’s three in July.  Archie is Leah and Simon’s eldest and is a scamp, he hides things, likes building carparks139and generally stomping 🙂

Then we have the little chunkster with the spikey hair, Freddie.  He’s Leah and Simon’s youngest and likes eating, pooing, as well as sitting on my lap contemplating life:)photo(24)IMG_4618

Finally, there’s Julie, photo(46) Seen here with Jack and Archie about two years ago.

So apart from the obvious family connections, why do they make me happy? Julie, even though she is ill still makes me laugh and when we are out and about, she slips her little soft hand in mine and just that little gesture tells me how much she loves me.

Leah, Hannah and Nathan have always been there to give me a hug, as I have for them, three more loving children a parent couldn’t wish for.

Simon, has always been there for Leah and for us, he’s a great Dad and wonderful husband

Matt, he’s the one for Hannah, he’s responsible, level headed and a brilliant “step” dad to Jack, they are a lovely family.

Georgia, you’re a lovely lady, never afraid to offer an opinion, definately part of our family now 🙂

Finally my grandsons, always a big hug and a cuddle whenever I see them, always ready to play games or draw pictures  🙂

You see that’s all happiness is, things and gestures which make you feel warm, bring a smile to your face and don’t cost any money 🙂 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

Good News/Bad News

Image result for budget 2015

So here we are a day after the final budget before the General Election listening to all of the parties who aren’t currently in government giving the Conservatives a verbal kicking yet again.

What concerns me is many of new voters, probably all of the benefits cheats who have been forced to go to work plus a few misguided hard working people will go out and vote in either a Labour goverment or, waste their vote on UKIP.

Why at nearly 60 should this worry me?  I have worked all of my life, paying taxes etc as I should, most of that time I have had my own business.  Why work for myself?  Certainly not for the money, as most self employed people will tell you, being self employed gives you a certain amount of freedom and you only answer to yourself.  You work hard and most of the time you reap the rewards but you also take the knocks!

I have, however,as I have said before on many occasions, been through many recessions, many “boom & bust” periods. In my previous post I relayed a time during my childhood when my Dad lost his business and our home in 1968 during yet another Labour fuelled recession.  I lost a business in 2009 thanks to Mr Blair’s Labour government, fortunately, I never lost our home because I was able to pick myself up and through sheer determination and hard work and the loyalty I had built up among my customers, survived.

Look, I guess what I’m saying is the bad news is if you vote Labour then history tells us in five years time we’ll all be in debt up to our eyes (as a country) and our children will be once again having to face hardship, while the country tries to avoid bankruptcy because the government has borrowed to keep its many election promises. Why do you think Tony Blair handed over to Gordon Brown before his term ended? Because Mr Blair didn’t like the idea of taking a major fall.  Some of his early demise may have been attributed to his health but he now makes a very prosperous living on the “speech” circuit!

You know, if you vote Conservative, they will do whatever it takes to make United Kingdom plc grow.

So whatever your politics, don’t waste your vote, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Mothers Day Memories

Mum  1978025My Mum died in my arms on Mothers Day 2004, this is a tribute to her.

This photo was taken about 1952 when Ann, my mum was seventeen, she was about to meet Peter my dad, get married when she was nineteen, then in 1956, start a family of which by 1970 would consist of seven children.  Three boys followed by three girls then finally another boy, I was the first.

When Ann married Peter,  he was in the Royal Navy and as a submariner he served all over the world as well as in Korea.  She found it difficult as by 1955 she was pregnant and living away from her own mother who she was very close to. Her own dad had died in Egypt during the second world war. Mum, her twin sister and my grandmother, Elsie had seen hard times but fortunately, my great grandparents, Amelia and Alfred were there to guide and help where they could. Mum and Dad moved in with my grandmother (Nan) in the old hop pickers cottage which was tied to Elsie’s job.

After my dad left the navy in the late 1950’s, he worked in the construction industry which even though the country was still being re-built after the war, didn’t pay well. My mum stuck by my dad through thick and thin, she ran his successful flooring business until 1968 when during a labour government inflicted money crisis (sound familiar?), the business collapsed.  I’ll never forget watching my Mum on her hands and knees polishing the hardwood floors for the last time in that old cottage, which was now owned and had been extended extensively.  I’ll never forget the tears in my Mum’s eyes as the door was closed for the last time, thirty three years old and losing the only home she’d ever known.

Our family was split up, our Dad carried on working in Surrey returning once a fortnight, while firstly we all lived in a large old house on the cliffs of Polperro, then a bungalow surrounded by fields and over looking Talland Bay, then after Simon the youngest was born in 1970 my Nan moved to Willand then Collumpton in Devon with some of us. How my mother coped with the splitting of her family I will never understand, as a parent I can’t think of anything more distressing.  This was the time when our Mum had to grow up and became strong.  She worked in a restaurant in Looe, I used to go and meet her on the bus at night because she was afraid to come home alone on the last bus which was usually driven by Fred the cross eyed driver!

Eventually there was enough money made so we could all move in together, mum had seen her old boss who was a solicitor, told him her story and we all, that’ll be Mum, Dad, Nan and seven kids ended up living in a town house which they bought and where I lived until 1980Mum  1978024This is mum in the tiny kitchen in 1978, don’t be fooled by the apron though at this stage of her life you’d be lucky to for her not to burn toast. 🙂 Nan did all the cooking.

Her final home was in Peel Common near Fareham, about five minutes drive from me.  She was devastated when in 1997, she lost her beloved Mum, our Nan but after a while she realised life goes on, she taught herself to cook and after a short while she was as good as Nan. She cooked for Dad until her premature death in 2004.

A little while after we lost Nan I was sat in mum’s garden and we were having a conversation about life and children I guess.  Mum said to me when it was her turn, the sun would be shining, she would be in her gardening clothes and there would be flowers out in her garden.

At around 7am on Mothers Day 2004 I was up and having a coffee when the phone rang, it was my Dad. “Kev get round here now there is some thing wrong with your mum” Within a couple of minutes I arrived, Dad was on the phone trying to get a doctor, Mum was lying on the floor in the lounge, her breathing was shallow.  I took the phone from Dad who was panicking and phoned for an ambulance, I then realised Mum had stopped breathing and I gave her CPR then the kiss of life before the paramedics arrived.

I held her in those final moments of life and do you know what? The sun was shining, she was in her gardening clothes and the flowers were out in her garden.

It’s only when I look at the relationship I’ve got with Julie, my wife of nearly thirty five years, how I’ve attempted to not repeat the mistakes my Mum (and Dad) made that I realise how much I owe Ann for giving me the strength I have now, the compassion I  can show to others and the sheer determination to face life and whatever it throws at me.

Thanks Mum xx 🙂

 

 

Pan Fried King Prawns with Lime

Julie loves prawns so this tasty dish which can be whipped up and on the table in less than 15 minutes is a real winner!

Pan Fried King Prawns with Lime

Ingredients for prawn dish

Ingredients:

175g pack raw king prawns

two cloves of garlic

two spring onions, chopped

fresh coriander, chopped

fresh parsley, chopped

butter

black pepper

half a fresh lime

Method:

Melt the butter over a medium heat and gently saute the garlic and spring onions

IMG_4591

 

Add the chopped fresh herbs together with the raw prawns and a good squeeze of the fresh lime and continue to saute for about four minutes, until the prawns turn bright pink. Add black pepper to taste.

 

 

 

 

The prawns will then be thoroughly cooked through

IMG_4592

Carefully pile the prawns onto a bed of fresh salad leaves, making sure you also pour over the tasty juices from the pan.  Add another squeeze of fresh lime, a sprig of two of fresh coriander and a glass of red and stand back to await the compliments …….

Pan Fried King Prawns with Lime

 

Lethal Weapon 5

photo 1(8)Back to London today for Julie’s next scan in the middle of the day tomorrow, I’ve forgotten how brutal you have to be here just to be able to get around.  Victoria Station (picture left) was quite quiet today, but on the way from the platform I managed to run over at least one arrogant looking business man who looked me straight in the eye and refused to move.  Don’t try and play chicken with a man who doesn’t give a s****, you’ll lose every time, mister. My next encounter was with a very tall man, he seemed to deliberately try and walk over me, a shoulder barge dealt with him!  I might be only 5’8″ (the same height as Mel Gibson) but like the famous actor, without the looks, I am a force to be reckoned with when carrying a weapon.  Mel carries a glock, I wield an armour-plated suitcase.

The next obstacle is always getting on the tube.  The tube is always busy no matter what.  Today’s surprise, a bunch of our European cousins had tried to get through the barriers with suitcases big enough to carry a whole Harrods full of towels to the beach and guess what, one of then got stuck, causing an almighty jam. IMG_4580(1) I of course, as you can see,  prefer to carry the light machine gunners version, thus being able to nimbly slip past the enemy only to encounter more of the blighters at the bottom of the steps.  Yikes! Think quickly, ” Mind Your Backs!” I roar like a panzer tank at full speed,  worked though.

Onward up the platform only to encounter a bunch of people filling the area in front of me, here we go, “excuse me please” no reply or movement, two sets of hurty ankles then.  Ha Ha Ha.  Then I realise,  Julie is filming …..


Finally we get to Earls Court and the warm welcome at the Premier Innphoto(12).  The view is from the top floor,  generally we are on the other side of the building which overlooks the road but I think I prefer this, overlooking the tube and Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

Anyway I digress, Julie and I go out for a little lunch down on Earls Court Roadphoto 3(6) at the local Greggs.  I’m sat there drinking my coffee, Julie said she’d like to go to the local Boots, I usually go with her but she seems fit enough and off she trots, happy to be out on her own.  Twenty or so minutes later I spot her across the road and decide a picture would be in order.  No, I mean Noooo.  A bit of shopping in a London Boots and she’s turned into a diva.  Luckily,  I spotted the star trying to sneak across the road while hiding behind a bloke.  The arrow marks the spotphoto 1(9).  I caught up with the elusive Mrs Atkins however around the next bend, after taking a few shots then being made to only publish one of her choosing we, I mean she insisted I use this onephoto 3(5) She’s a tyke!!!! Here’s a couple more pics as you can see not a bad area to stay in.  Thanks for reading 🙂IMG_4585IMG_4586IMG_4584

International Womens Day

BBCToday is International Womens Day, as I was growing up through the 50’s, 60’s 70’s and onwards, I watched women being treated as second class citizens at times.  I was brought up in a household in which the dominant male, my father was very anti “womens lib”. “Burning Bras” he used to say “load of shit, whatever next?” Mind you he was an ex submariner whose father used to throw knives at him for fun when he was drunk!

Even in my earliest years, I knew just by reading history, listening to the news, reading newspapers and eventually watching T.V.  I knew, in my own way I was witnessing history in the making.

Aside from the obvious, my mother, there have been a lot of women who’ve I’ve admired and earned  my respect throughout my life, some from history and some who are still alive todaymargaret-thatcher-ftrThe most controversial is of course, Margaret Thatcher.  Arguably, Margaret Thatcher  who”is a woman above her station” according to one of her misguided aides was the first real success for the woman’s movement, albeit of her own doing.  A woman who eventually was betrayed by the men in the very political party  which she dragged from destruction.  In the political field there are many women who have achieved mighty heights, Harriet Harman, harrietDame Shirley Williams, Theresa May, Hilary ClintonTheresa Mayto name but a few.  Across the world, in the civilised political world at least, women are most definitely on an equal footing with men.  Any man who is stupid enough to not treat women as an equal is a man destined for extinction.

In my own life I’ve encountered many women who’ve been at the forefront of equal rights wether they know it or not.  When I was around 13, I worked for a woman who at the time was about 25ish.  Sue owned a small cafe, and in those days when women were still seen as people who had to “stay at home, do the cleaning, cooking, look after the kids and oblige their husband whenever he demands”, Sue was a positive beacon to the female gender.

Eventually, in the 1968  as portrayed in the film “Made In Dagenham”,women working in the Ford factory in Dagenham, went on strike.  They clashed with not only the mighty Ford empire but also with their husbands and partners.FordThrough the intervention of  the then Transport Minister, Barbara Castle, the strike led to the Equal Rights Bill 1970.

So why are we still behaving like we never had this Equal Rights Bill ? Because it’s political. Still let me tell you about 3 ladies who I have the utmost respect for just because they are women.

Linda Coe, a lady who I became friends with during the 1990s.  Linda had a turbulent life before she met Peter.  When I first met this little fire cracker she was the manager at a venue where I worked as a D.J.  She worked hard with Peter and wherever she went she expected to succeed.  Mostly she did, but a firmer and more loyal friend you’d never meet.

Vanessa Penfold, vanessa P this lady, I don’t know her well but I met her and her family through business.  This lady aside from having her own health problems has been supportive of Julie almost daily.  Thanks V

Finally, Juliejuliemy partner for 40 years and my wife for 35 of those.  This incredible woman has been my cornerstone while giving us 3 gorgeous kids, running our home, working and has always been by my side, through thick and thin.  3 years ago she became ill, 12 months ago she was diagnosed with incurable cancer and now our roles have reversed.  There is no woman I know who makes me feel as proud as I am of Julie.

Julie is a multi talented writer, artist, actor, cook, wonderful wife and mother.

There are many many other women who, like Julie, are people who aren’t in the public eye but like many of their male counter parts, prove their worth every hour of every day.

Thanks for listening 🙂

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

This is Julie’s favourite home-made soup of all time, she’s always making up a pan full. Now she’s shared her recipe with me!

Soup ingredients
Soup ingredients

Serves four good portions

Ingredients:

1 large head of broccoli

Stilton – 220g block

4 cloves of garlic, skinned and chopped roughly

2 large potatoes, washed and cubed

Handful of fresh parsley

Handful of pearl barley

1 1/2 litres of stock – vegetable or chicken

Butter

Salt and pepper to season

Method:

photo (26)Melt the butter in a large stockpot or saucepan. Cut the broccoli into small florets – use the stalks too but discard the big end.

Add to the melted butter and fry for about three minutes. Add the pearl barley and garlic.

Add the cubed potato and fry for about five minutes, stirring well. Don’t let the ingredients stick to the pan or they will burn!

Add the fresh parsley and stock.

Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for approx 40 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are soft. Add seasoning to taste. If the soup looks too thick, add more stock.

photo (25)

photo (24)

If you want a smooth soup, pure with a hand blender, otherwise simply use a potato masher to break down the soup a little, to give a chunky texture.

Broccoli and Stilton Soup
Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

 

 

Easy Baked Camembert

This is a quick dish for supper which only takes about 15 minutes tops to rustle up …. including cooking! This is one of Julie’s favourites

Ingredients: (serves one hungry person or two as a starter)

president camembert

Round Camembert cheese, boxed

Drizzle of olive oil

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh salad – lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion

You can also add a sprig of fresh thyme into the slit if you want

Heat oven to 180 degrees

Simply remove the lid and the cellophane wrapping from the camembert and place the boxed cheese on to a baking tray. Cut a slit across the cheese and drizzle olive oil inside the slit. Add torn fresh basil leaves and put the tray into oven. Bake for approx 10/15 minutes at 180 degrees, gas mark 4/5 or until cheese has browned slightly on top and the inside is hot and runny.

While the cheese is cooking, whip up a small salad.

Serve the baked camembert straight from the box on a plate, surrounded by salad. I’ve added some sliced mushrooms and garlic lightly fried in butter. Sorted!IMG_4462