How is Noel?

“Have you seen Noel recently?” I asked my mother, who was sitting in the back of our car.

Long ago, when I was single and lived at the gallery, Noel was my neighbour; and when I left, and Mum bought the property, he became my mum’s neighbour for a couple of years until he moved into another house that had been left to him by a dear friend. At the time of our friendship Noel had been retired early from his teaching post in Exeter.

He was a clever, witty and good-looking man of around sixty, and he had a soft spot for me. We shared a love of art and books. He had a vast library and helped me with research for my Art History course (well before I had a computer). We went together to art galleries and yacht clubs. Many was the occasion I had dinner with Noel and his bachelor friends, Frank and Walter – both old enough to be my grandfathers (and then some!). He had urged me to go to the town of Bath (Somerset) with him. I didn’t go.


“No, I haven’t seen Noel for years,” answered my mum.

“Nor me,” said Chris, “I used to see him around the town… but not for ages. Of course, he never acknowledged me. He just couldn’t accept me. It’s a shame because I would have enjoyed his company – an interesting man.”

“I wonder if he’s alright,” I said, not expecting an answer.

“He was very fond of you – wasn’t he?” Mum observed.

“Yes, and I of him but he was too old for me…”


That conversation took place last Sunday, just three days ago.

Yesterday evening Chris and I were driving home after visiting a friend in the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, and we were discussing food – we were hungry. The car rounded the corner at Cockwood Harbour (one of our favourite places) and we noticed with astonishment that the harbour was full almost to bursting with the high tide.

“We could scrap the idea of fish and chips… and have a bowl of chips at the Anchor?” I suggested.

Chris agreed and took a side road which brought us back to Cockwood. We parked and walked around the harbour – the light is beautiful on summer evenings – and the reflections on the water were wonderful last night. It was too cold to sit outside and eat so we decided to go home for beans on toast instead. I continued to take photos as we dawdled back to our starting place. A man, standing alone by the harbour wall, had his phone camera out also.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” he began with a broad smile. “I love it here!”

“So do we!” I enthused.

And that was beginning of a long conversation. Earlier, the jolly stranger with the nice face and smile had been feeling unhappy and decided to lift his mood by going to the harbour and having a beer at “The Anchor”. It transpired that Alex came originally from Norfolk but, quite by accident, one and a half years ago he fell in love with a house he saw for sale in Dawlish and he bought it, although it is his second home. It is a large house with a wonderful garden… along West Cliff Road… The house belonged to Noel, and before that, Walter.

How is Noel?

The new owner didn’t know the circumstances, only that Noel was revered and missed by all his neighbours. To me, Noel will be forever charming, witty, generous and gentlemanly… in loving memory.






Someone is Sleeping in My Bed…

Is there anything more lovely than lying in bed of an early morning and looking across at the most beautiful creature you could wish to lay eyes upon? You watch her breathing – her little chest going up and down – and if you get close enough you can feel her breath exhaling. You want to kiss her but she might wake up. Instead, you stroke her hair gently and she makes a little noise like a kitten.

Your heart is bursting with love for her. She is not yet eleven weeks old… and she was six and a half weeks premature. Yet her arrival was long awaited. If it weren’t for you and your first real love she would not be here.

My tiny granddaughter, Penelope Sweet Pea Pitstop, came onto my bed after her first bottle of the day and I watched her as the sun gained strength and filled my bedroom.

Tom Tom?

“I wonder why they called it TomTom?” Chris asked over his cup of tea in bed this morning.

“Um,” I opened my eyes (I was still lying down – my tea was cold, as usual).

Incidentally, TomTom was on Chris’s mind because yesterday evening my brother Robert asked me to download updates for his device from my computer, seeing as he was having some problem doing so on his. We’re not completely disinterested in the subject as one of our Airbnb guests a year or so ago – a lovely Australian gentleman -just happened to be one of the pioneers of GPS.

“It can’t be because of tom tom drums,” my husband continued, “or the message might be, ‘Is anybody out there?'”

“Or trouble brewing,” I agreed.

“And it can’t have anything to do with Tom, Tom, the piper’s son, who did steal a pig and away did run…” Chris mused with relish.

“And it can have nothing to do with ‘Tom, Tom, turn around…’,” I sat up in bed.

“No, or it would be a sign of faulty GPS!” Chris laughed.

I took a sip of cold tea and added:

“Perhaps two men called Tom developed the TomTom company.”

“Or it was one man called Tom who thought he was so good he named himself twice!”


Ah, we were both wrong. A Google search answered the question – TomTom’s founder was called Harold!


Auto Tech

In an interesting interview with The Guardian, TomTom’s founder Harold Goddijn talks about the company’s genesis, as well as how it hopes to reverse declining sales and falling profits.

One of the “big three” in Australia, along with Navman and Garmin, TomTom started out as a joint venture with phone maker Ericsson in the late 1990s. When trying to come up with a name for the nascent business Tom was the leading choice, but due to its generic nature the name would not have been registrable as a trademark.

During the interview, Goddijn reflects that the decision to go with the personable — and registrable — TomTom name contributed to the company’s success. He also reminisces about how — prior to his directive that upcoming devices be “buy, take out of box, drive home” — sat navs were, prior to 2004, a complicated jumble of CD-ROM discs, wires and PDAs.

Image result for tom tom the piper's son images

Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son”

Sheet music
Nursery rhyme
Published 1795

“Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son” is a popular English language nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19621.


Modern versions of the rhyme include:

Tune for Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son

Problems playing this file? See media help.
Tom, Tom, the piper’s son,
Stole a pig, and away did run;
The pig was eat
And Tom was beat,
And Tom went crying [or “roaring”, or “howling”, in some versions]
Down the street.[1]

The ‘pig’ mentioned in the song is almost certainly not a live animal but rather a kind of pastry, often made with an apple filling, smaller than a pie.[1]

Another version of the rhyme is:

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son,
Stole a pig, and away he run.
Tom run here,
Tom run there,
Tom run through the village square.

This rhyme is often conflated with a separate and longer rhyme:

Tom, he was a piper’s son,
He learnt to play when he was young,
And all the tune that he could play
Was ‘over the hills and far away’;
Over the hills and a great way off,
The wind shall blow my top-knot off.
Tom with his pipe made such a noise,
That he pleased both the girls and boys,
They all stopped to hear him play,
‘Over the hills and far away’.
Tom with his pipe did play with such skill
That those who heard him could never keep still;
As soon as he played they began for to dance,
Even the pigs on their hind legs would after him prance.
As Dolly was milking her cow one day,
Tom took his pipe and began to play;
So Dolly and the cow danced ‘The Cheshire Round’,
Till the pail was broken and the milk ran on the ground.
He met old Dame Trot with a basket of eggs,
He used his pipe and she used her legs;
She danced about till the eggs were all broke,
She began for to fret, but he laughed at the joke.
Tom saw a cross fellow was beating an ass,
Heavy laden with pots, pans, dishes, and glass;
He took out his pipe and he played them a tune,
And the poor donkey’s load was lightened full soon.[1]

Origins and meaning[edit]

Both rhymes were first printed separately in a Tom the Piper’s Son, a chapbook produced around 1795 in London, England.[1] The origins of the shorter and better known rhyme are unknown.

The second, longer rhyme was an adaptation of an existing verse which was current in England around the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries. The following verse, known as “The Distracted Jockey’s Lamentations”, may have been written for (but not included in) Thomas D’Urfey‘s play The Campaigners (1698):

Jockey was a Piper’s Son,
And fell in love when he was young;
But all the Tunes that he could play,
Was, o’er the Hills, and far away,
And ‘Tis o’er the Hills, and far away,
‘Tis o’er the Hills, and far away,
‘Tis o’er the Hills, and far away,
The Wind has blown my Plad away.[1]

This verse seems to have been adapted for a recruiting song designed to gain volunteers for the Duke of Marlborough‘s campaigns about 1705, with the title “The Recruiting Officer; or The Merry Volunteers”, better today known as “Over the Hills and Far Away“, in which the hero is called Tom.[1]



A Golden Sea

Because our house faces south-east we have beautiful sunrises rather than sunset skies but occasionally on summer evenings we, and our neighbours, are drawn out onto our balcony by some atmospheric magic that brings the pinks and gold of the setting sun into our skyscape. Last week there was quite a gathering of folk, either on their balconies or stood at their windows or French doors, all looking in wonder at the golden sea.

A few days later an enormous cloud, first so pretty and vivacious, became enraged before our very eyes and soon flashed and spat with vexation. It was the same night that, farther down the channel, parts of Cornwall were lashed and flooded.

This morning brought gales… and a lone windsurfer scudding, streaking and sometimes flying over the incoming waves. I took a video (a bit noisy owing to the wind). We don’t normally have windsurfers here in the sea off Dawlish – it’s not a surf beach – but we don’t usually have golden seas either.

And now it’s just raining… heavily, but I won’t have to water the flowers tonight!

1 view


Image result for chipmunks photosImage result for chipmunks cartoon photos


“How do you spell chipmunk?” I asked Chris. (At the time I was writing my blog.)

“Chipmunk?” Chris queried. “Is there any other way to spell it?” and he started to spell it out to me, “‘C-H-I-P…M….”

Suddenly, it dawned on my husband that there might indeed be another way.

“Yes? Go on,” I urged.

“M…U-N-K!” he finished.

“I thought so,” I said (not wishing to sound stupid).

The other spelling would indicate something quite different…” he said laughing, “the chip-fat friar! (fryer). We could all Tuck in!”

“Forgive me for being so bald but I thought it was patently obvious,” I chipped in (in a high-pitched voice not dissimilar to the chipmunk voice on the little video I put on my blog a few days ago).


Image result for pics of friar tuck

Friar Tuck with Robin Hood (Richard Greene – the real Robin Hood!)

Correct spelling!

A Real Chipmonk – Correct spelling!

Lavender Hill

I didn’t know there was a song called “Lavender Hill” by the Kinks – it was a bit before my time (even if I was alive) – and actually, I was thinking there was a song called “Lavender Fields Forever” by The Beatles… but, of course, it was “Strawberry Fields Forever”! Nevertheless, the inspiration for such a title to this blog post comes not from any song but from a real lavender field at the top of a hillside on Rosie’s farm.

Zumba class had been cancelled and Rosie and I decided to take a different form of exercise. We walked the dogs up the field, zig-zagging our way in order to pull out the yellow ragwort flowers (which are poisonous to some animals), to the top and the French lavender. The sky was overcast but the air was mild and the colours rich; and the sun broke through intermittently, and for a time it was “the only place” we wanted to be… “Lavender memories”.

I found also this pretty piano piece called “Lavender Hill” by Brian Crain. Chris says it is akin to the works of Debussy and Eunardi – what Chris would call “impressionistic” music.

  50+VIDEOS PLAY ALLMix – Lavender Hill – Brian CrainYouTube

The Kinks- Lavender Hill – YouTube

Lavender Hill

I want to walk eternity,
In through the land of make believe.
And watch the clouds roll over me,
And let the sun shine down on me.
The only place that I want to be,
Lavender Hill for me.
Wish I could live on sugar and milk,
Then I could live on Lavender Hill.
Then I could raise my head to the sky,
And let the sun saturate me with love.
I want to walk you up Lavender Hill,
Everybody loves Lavender Hill.
Even the bird that sits in the tree,
Seems to sing sweet melodies.
Even the breeze is whispering,
Lavender Hill for me.
While people eat their biscuits with tea,
They dream of daffodils that sway in the breeze.
And every Sunday afternoon,
Tidy ladies shine their shoes.
And every little lady dreams,
Lavender memories.
Lavender Hill for me.
Lavender Hill for me.
I want to walk you up Lavender Hill.
I want to walk you up Lavender Hill.


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Read more: Kinks – Lavender Hill Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Cliff Hanger on Table Top Mountain

How about an Australian joke from our good friend Roland, otherwise known as “The Bird Man of Brisbane”?

A well-dressed new-comer to a small town somewhere “Out West” calls into one of the local pubs and makes his way to a vacant stool by the bar. Sitting on the stool next to him is a typical weather-beaten Aussie wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat with corks dangling at the edges to ward off the flies. The local man has a “stubby” (beer bottle) in a cooler on the bar. Down at the foot of the stool is a haggard looking mongrel dog the same colour as the dust from the dirt road – red brown.

After ordering his beer, the stranger turns to the heavily lined Aussie and asks:

“Does your dog bite?”

“No,” the old man retorts succinctly.

“Do you mind if I pat him?” continues the new-comer trying to be friendly.

“Not at all,” says the old-timer putting his beer down on the bar.

The visitor puts his hand down to pat the dog and all hell breaks loose!

“Aaaargh!” screams the new-comer. “I thought you said your dog doesn’t bite?”

“Not my dog, my dog’s at home,” replies the ancient Aussie with just a hint of a smile.


Below is a recent photograph capturing the antics of some wild lorikeets on Roland’s bird table… also a neat film I produced using material from our friend. (Note the film has been speeded up as it was rather long originally – hence, the chipmunk narration, which is quite funny!)

Sylvester or Tweety Pie

Sylvester or Tweety Pie


“Joey and his Mum” by ROJ

  • 1 year ago
Nearly every day wallabies visit ROJ’s garden and he’s taken to videoing them.


My great little niece, Annalise, is like a “speeding bullet”; she started walking at ten months old and now, five months later, she tears around everywhere at a great pace, often making her hard to catch… and quite tiring for those about her. It seems she’s not unlike her famous great-grandma Betty (alias “Supergran”, who, in spite of being a nonagenarian, is still a force to be reckoned with!).

“Annalise is very energetic – isn’t she?” Chris spoke thoughtfully, having seen her only last evening at the house of my sister Mary (Grandma to Annalise).

I nodded. The “rocket” had kept five or six people on their toes for three hours or so.

“Do you think she’s hyper-active?” Chris asked, as if he was trying to remember what our girls were like at such a young age.

I had to stop and think myself, calling to mind what my son James was like as a toddler. My first thought was to say, “Well, Jim was quite placid”, but then I remembered an incident when he was around two…

We were out shopping in Exeter city centre, at least, I was shopping and Jim had to come along too. My young son didn’t much care for shopping for clothes, he preferred looking for toys or even food shopping. As it turned out, he especially disliked hunting for ladies swimming costumes.

“Mum, I’m bored. How much longer are you going to be?” he complained. (He had an excellent vocabulary for a two-year-old.)

I explained that Mummy had just another ten costumes to try on and that he must be a good boy and wait patiently, but he waited only until my back was turned… and he was off!

“Staff and customers, please look out for a two year old little boy called James. He has brown hair and brown eyes; he’s wearing navy and white striped dungarees and a white shirt. If you see him please catch him, hold him, and alert the manager. His mother is very anxious,” came the message (or something like it) over the Tannoy system throughout the multi-storey store.

Anxious! I was beside myself with worry. I flew around, and up and down every floor of the store to no avail; then, my heart racing, I went out onto the pavement of the busy main street and zig-zagged my way into every shop in the vicinity. I met a police constable (those were the days that policemen patrolled the streets) and he assisted me in my search. He had a walkie talkie and had soon alerted all the “Bobbies” and all the other shops in Exeter. Everyone in the city centre was on the hunt. After about ten or fifteen frantic minutes a call came through on the walkie talkie and the Bobby smiled.

“They have him,” he assured, “a member of staff spotted him up in the car park at the back of the shop.”

So I guess that Annalise is quite normal and not hyper-active. I suspect that she has a busy nature and just gets rather bored.

"Anyone for shopping?"

“Anyone for shopping?”


And if you’re feeling a bit lost or out of step with this modern world you might like to listen on YouTube to Jordan Peterson, philosopher and Psychology professor at Toronto University. Just click on the links below.

The Art Of Self-Regulation – Jordan Peterson – YouTube
1 Jun 2017 – Uploaded by Intellectual Awakening

Selfregulation is the ability to act in your long-term best interest”. Dr. Jordan BPeterson talks about …

Jordan Peterson Unfolding Creativit

One Step At A Time – Jordan Peterson – YouTube
30 May 2017 – Uploaded by Intellectual Awakening

Dr. Jordan B Peterson shares valuable advice for people who seek to regain control of their lives. It’s a …





Constructing Your Ger(t) Big Mongolian Yurt

Firstly, find an appropriate paddock on a beautiful farm, say, in the heart of the South Devon countryside, and appropriate it (never mind the arrival of llamas that wonder what you’re doing in their favourite field). Make sure you have a party of at least five strong people, some tallish and male, to construct your Mongolian Yurt.

Four of the party can easily assemble the elements and piece together the  walls of stretchy latticework around the circular groundsheet perimeter whilst the other worker plays with babies in the farmhouse. At length, the shirker – or is it Sherpa? – will be required to assist in poking long roof poles into the holes in the circular piece of wood held aloft by the tallest group member standing on a step-ladder, and tying the curved ends into the top of the lattice (a canvas envelope running around the outside on top of the lattice walls cups the bottoms and takes the strain). When nearly all the poles are fitted the brightest spark will detect that some of the poles are tied into the wrong joints of lattice and, with a little effort of untying and re-tying (not to be confused with retiring) in the right joints. The two straight poles go either side of the door frame.

When all the poles are fitted perfectly the structure appears to be mighty high and you may well wonder how you will manage to slide the roof canvas into position; don’t panic, the tallest of the group works from inside and guides the canvas with a long pole, and gives instructions on which side should pull when. At last the top canopy – with the plastic window that covers the centre hole – is guided in similar fashion by the man at the top. This done, the Sherpa may return to the babies while the strong-armed ones attach guy ropes and peg them into the ground.

The sun will be going down beautifully behind the rolling hills and, magically, sausages, burgers and skewered chicken (well sekewered) will appear from an open barbecue; and someone will have produced a wonderful salad and accompaniments, and there will be Pimm’s in a jug on the serving table… and all will be well with the tribe… if you’re as lucky as we were last night.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A traditional Kyrgyz yurt in 1860 in the Syr Darya Oblast. Note the lack of a compression ring at the top.

A Qaraqalpaq bentwood type “yourte” in Khwarezm (or Karakalpakstan), Uzbekistan

Turkmen woman at the entrance to a yurt in Turkestan; 1913 picture by Prokudin-Gorskii

A traditional yurt (from the Turkic languages) or ger (Mongolian) is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure comprises an angled assembly or latticework of pieces of wood or bamboo for walls, a door frame, ribs (poles, rafters), and a wheel (crown, compression ring) possibly steam-bent. The roof structure is often self-supporting, but large yurts may have interior posts supporting the crown. The top of the wall of self-supporting yurts is prevented from spreading by means of a tension band which opposes the force of the roof ribs. Modern yurts may be permanently built on a wooden platform; they may use modern materials such as steam-bent wooden framing or metal framing, canvas or tarpaulin, Plexiglas dome, wire rope, or radiant insulation.

Etymology and synonyms[edit]

A yurt in ShymkentKazakhstan, used as a café.

  • Yurt – originally from a Turkic word referring to the imprint left in the ground by a moved yurt, and by extension, sometimes a person’s homeland, kinsmen, or feudal appanage. The term came to be used in reference to the physical tent-like dwellings only in other languages. In modern Turkish the word “yurt” is used as the synonym of “homeland” or a “dormitory”. In Russian the structure is called “yurta” (юрта), whence the word came into English.
  • гэр (transliterated: ger, [ˈɡɛr]) – in Mongolian simply means “home”.[1][2]
  • тирмә (transliterated: tirmä) is the Bashkir term for yurt.
  • киіз үй (transliterated: kïiz üy, [kɘjɘz ʉj]) – the Kazakh word, and means “felt house”.
  • боз үй (transliterated: boz üy, [bɔz yj]) – the Kyrgyz term is meaning “grey house”, because of the color of the felt.
  • ak öý and gara öý ([ɑk œj, ɡɑˈrɑ œj]) – In Turkmen the term is both literally “white house” and “black house”, depending on its luxury and elegance.
  • qara u’y or otaw ([qɑrɑ́ ʉj, uʊtɑ́w]) – in Qaraqalpaq the first term means “black house”, while the second means “a newborn family” and is used only to name a young family’s yurt.
  • “Kherga”/”Jirga” – Afghans call them.
  • “Kheymah” (خیمه/ख़ॆमा) is the word for a yurt or a tent like dwelling in India and Pakistan, from the Hindi/Urdu (and Persian) :خیمه
  • In Persian yurt is called chador (چادر), in Tajik the names are yurt, khona-i siyoh, khayma (юрт, хонаи сиёҳ, хайма).
  • өг (ög, Tuvan pronunciation: [œɣ]) is the Tuvan word for yurt.


Yurts have been a distinctive feature of life in Central Asia for at least three thousand years. The first written description of a yurt used as a dwelling was recorded by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. He described yurt-like tents as the dwelling place of the Scythians, a horse riding-nomadic nation who lived in the northern Black Sea and Central Asian region from around 600 BC to AD 300.[3]


A Mongolian Ger

Traditional yurts consist of an expanding wooden circular frame carrying a felt cover. The felt is made from the wool of the flocks of sheep that accompany the pastoralists. The timber to make the external structure is not to be found on the treeless steppes, and must be obtained by trade in the valleys below.

The frame consists of one or more expanding lattice wall-sections, a door-frame, bent roof poles and a crown. The Mongolian Ger has one or more columns to support the crown and straight roof poles. The (self-supporting) wood frame is covered with pieces of felt. Depending on availability, felt is additionally covered with canvas and/or sun-covers. The frame is held together with one or more ropes or ribbons. The structure is kept under compression by the weight of the covers, sometimes supplemented by a heavy weight hung from the center of the roof. They vary with different sizes, and relative weight.

A yurt is designed to be dismantled and the parts carried compactly on camels or yaks to be rebuilt on another site. Complete construction takes around 2 hours.


What is a troll?  Without going to Google I’ll tell you what I think best describes a troll and how to deal with it.

Like most little girls, I first became aware of trolls during my early childhood, when I was an avid reader and lover of fairytales. Trolls were the bloodthirsty beasts that patrolled, and lay in wait, in the dark area under the wooden bridge that the Billy Goats Gruff had to “trip-trap” over in order to get to the lovely green pastures on the other side. A troll was exactly as big and ugly as a particular child could conjure up in his or her imagination.

Now I’m not sure what modern day trolls look like but I know they exist. It really would be helpful if the trolls would come out of the shadows but that’s the nature of the beasts. I suspect, under scrutiny, they are outwardly ugly for an inner ugliness tends to betray itself in an unconscious sneer or an evil look; however, the ingenue, or even a worldly nice person, may not notice the artifice in the smile of an acquaintance. The aggressor may even appear to be a friend… or, alternatively, someone in the crowd who saw you at a village fete.

The “poison pen letter”, which has far more potential to be incriminating to a cowardly troll, has given way to the Internet as a means of delivering lies, implied threats and innuendos. What a boon for trolls! The Internet enables them to hide in anonymity under false names and bogus email addresses whilst they pounce on unsuspecting victims and inflict their vitriol.

We can all guess at a troll’s “raison d’être”  – jealousy, power (a deficiency of it) and revenge (for an imagined wrong) come to mind – or maybe they are simply mad or bad.

But what can a poor innocent victimised blogger do about it? You can put the libellous comment in your Trash box (to argue is to give credence to the nonsense), then you can write a blog post entitled “Troll” and hope that the troll reads it. Finally, you can imagine the troll, like Rumpelstiltskin, stamping her feet in fury, so hard that she stamps her way to the centre of the Earth… and then you laugh. Fairytales usually have happy endings.