It’s serious, preparations for Brexit are continuing:


There is now tea growing in Cornwall.

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If you’ll excuse the hubris, pride before the fall etc…

On Thursday I was blocked in at work as someone had parked directly behind my car. This caused a certain amount of hilarity at my limited driving abilities as on first glance it appeared possible to get the car out, but only in practice did it become clear that the car was stuck. It was a hire car with no turning circle.

Then on Friday only me and a bloke who’d lived in Antarctica made it into work. We weren’t alone – his inflatable penguin also made it.

I’d driven from the next county, with its well-deserved Amber loss-of-life snow warning…

So I can’t be doing THAT badly…?


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Pongas to all!

Just before Christmas, I was presented with a new child. Not my own, I hasten to add – I feel sure I would have remembered. His first act was to vomit on me, showing that here was a child sure of a warm welcome and his Christmas presents for years to come.

My first act to him, after taking him to hold and presenting his parents with a vast bag of stuff, was to give him a toy Kiwi bird and tell him that I hoped that one day he would travel the world and see the Kiwi birds for real.

When he was announced, a relative said that he would be called ‘Pongo’ regardless of what ‘real’ name his parents gave him on his eventual arrival.

A ‘Ponga’ is an unfurling silver fern, which in New Zealand is the symbol of new life and hope for the future.

Seems somewhat apt.

And they’re ‘silver’ because although they’re green on top they are silver underneath, so turning them over in moonlight allows you to find your way back home again.

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Small world

Recently, the household visited Chiswick House in London, owned by English Heritage.

During my childhood I repeated visited Clandon House and garden in Surrey.

At university I habitually attended Rocky Horror.

I’m from a ‘shire’, any county in England that historically had a sheriff.

Earlier this year the household visited the other side of the world…

Next to a camellia plant was a small sign explaining that there were only two of this plant left in the world, this one and one at Chiswick House in London.

At the Buried Village we viewed the remains of a village that had been lost, Pompeii-style, during an eruption in 1886. A sign by a hole said that the single surviving house had been taken and placed in the garden at Clandon House in Surrey. Since Clandon House burned down, losing the accompanying artefacts, the Village want their house back.

Walking through a city in the dark I thought, “That looks like Riff!” appearing out of the gloom and found him immortalised in bronze, with instructions and pictures, showing how to dance on the site of the theatre Rocky was first performed in.

When explaining my outrageous accent I eventually gave up and started answering, “The shire! I’m from ‘The Shire’. It’s a real place. Seriously. Anything west of London!”

The world is increasingly small with links everywhere. It could become more homogeneous, but it also allows new links and ideas that are otherwise impossible.

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What happened at A Level

Once upon a time, in a pre-internet world, my colleagues and I during our first degrees were sat having feedback about an essay. It was from a lecturer who couldn’t discern between someone who’d done well, someone who couldn’t be bothered and someone who’d struggled who might need a bit of support. We all got the same feedback.

What made it worse was that to give this feedback he’s invited himself into someone else’s lecture without prior warning and simply launched, shouting over them.

Part of the tirade included that none of us could reference correctly.

Part included, “And God knows how any of you got here! And God knows what happened at A Level!”

Then he stormed off leaving the lecturer to deal with the aftermath.

So, the next time we had a lecture with him, we all trooped in and my colleagues and I sat prominently in the front three rows. He could tell something was up by the way that everyone else moved out of our ways to allow this.

As the lecture progressed he realised that we were all dressed identically: whether we had jeans, combats or similar, we all had the same T-shirt that had, “4/12/2018 Lest We Forget” printed large and clear on the front.

As we left he was able to read, “God knows what happened at A Level!” printed on the back, correctly referenced to his name, large and clear.

He could fume all he liked, but when taking this higher he discovered that the rest of the department were already aware: the lecturer he had interrupted had mentioned his behaviour to others and during Friday’s traditional visit to the pub, between students and academics who were much of a muchness in age and background, we had already sported the T-Shirts and been able to ask the Head of Department and other assorted chairs if he found them acceptable, in particular the referencing.

He felt they were perfect and encouraged us to wear them round the department, free speech and the right to reply meaning something.

So 20 years on I don’t know where all my colleagues are, as we all changed in different ways and drifted into new lives, but I do have a T-shirt, Lest I Forget.

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It had to happen. We’ve thrown away the first item from the wedding list. A delicate pan had lost its bottom and food should only be so crunchy.

With that in mind, we went through the cupboard of wedding-related things.

I’m keeping a hideous catalogue that says the first and most important thing is organising the wedding insurance, two years before the event, even before talking to any location or minister, or perhaps even your partner. Reminiscent of the wedding shop that said it sold everything except the groom – apparently he’s a negotiable add-on to be slotted in later. Could explain why the divorce rate is currently 45%.

What was frightening was going back through the cards and RSVPs and noting how many of the couples, married or not, with children or not, are already no longer together. Thankfully we know that a lot are now happier apart, but it’s still sad.

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Golden Haggis Hunt!

It’s that time of year again, the hunt for the Golden Haggis!

Between Nov 30th and Jan 25th, St Andrews Day and Burns night, the Scotsman newspaper hosts the hunt for the golden haggis. Cameras are put up in beautiful places around Scotland, such as hills, glens, distilleries, and the public are encouraged to use them to watch for the Golden Haggis.


The rarest haggis aren’t golden – they are the halal, kosher and, most rare of all, the vegetarian haggis. But they are shy creatures, so far more difficult to find.

Today I was explaining this to someone who was unaware that haggis were real creatures – she thought they were the insides of sheep. Never mind. She didn’t know that haggis have three legs, one shorter than the other two so they remain upright when they run around hillsides or that they mate with a haggis with a leg shorter on the opposite side otherwise they keep running around the hill and never meet. Triangulation points, as every geographer knows, were only used for surveying after they were constructed for tired haggis to lean against at the top of mountains. And few people are aware that the haggis is the larval form of the bagpipes – that’s why you never see a baby bagpipes.


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