Monday, 31 July 2017


Dearly Beloved,

You will recall that last time I blogged my mind was exercised by the idea of there being  6 sexual options now available that weren't around when I were a lad. (I know they were really but nobody admitted to knowing or being most of them) .

Male, Female plus Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. MFLGBT
I was just about coping with this miscellany and then bugger me (sorry) they introduce another two.
I was listening to the Beeb and they were banging on about the anniversary of the "partial" decriminalisation of homosexuality (to be true they've had a month of banging on about little else) when Val McDermid, an authoress (if I'm allowed to call her that) of great quality was praising the advance for LGBTIQ . IQ? I shouted at the radio. What the hell are Is and Qs? Ms McDermid did not reply so I had a Google. They can't touch you for it.

I learnt Q is Queer or Questioning and I is for Intersex.

 FFS I didn't think you could call anybody "Queer" anymore without being dragged before the Peoples' Court and as for Questioning, that covers a lot of the human race. The next time you hear that so and so had been taken in  by the Police for Questioning you wont know what's been going on. Is he part of the Station Quiz Team or has he/she/it been arrested for not knowing to what use they wish to put their bits. 

As for "Intersex" I'm lost for words. Nearly.
Apparently Intersex is a person who is attracted to two sexes or two genders, but not necessarily simultaneously or equally. Well that's cleared that up hasn't it?
So over the last 20 million years the fornication process has all been wrong. If all these options were about and had been freely available (with the constant publicity now in train) it would be a wonder if we'd managed to copulate and populate  the Isle of Wight let alone overpopulate the whole sodding world!

MFLGBTQI-eight letters, nearly a third of the alphabet and you can be sure there are more on the way. The rainbowists wont be happy until they've used all 26 and none of us know which way to turn. My suggestion is C for celibate making 9 letters; over a third. Anagram anybody?

No, There isn't one but give it six months. Perhaps you would like to invent/discover a new category? Best hurry there's only 17 letters left.

Enough of this confusion. To matters of pleasure and joy.
To the Claydons in Buckinghamshire and Claydon House in particular. The gardens thereof to be exact where Pam and I spent a very pleasant afternoon walking and picnicking. Stroll along with us now.

Claydon House 

A fountain squirting blue water; a nice touch if intentional. However my theory is that some little oik emptied his fountain pen in it.
On this tree grow

 these cones

In the grounds of the house stands this church which still operates as such.

Pam's got a new Porsche Porch
Florence Nightingale spent many of her lattter years at Claydon House as a guest of the Verney family. When she became too ill to visit she gave a couple of cones that she had brought back from Scutari and these Cypress trees are the progeny.

Victoria's Plaque-donated by her dentist

The Lady of the Manor

One of the gardeners

Topiary in the Florence Nightingale Garden

Back at Pam's rejoicing because appearance of grapes on vine in her back garden.Chateau Gossoms cannot be far behind.

Bit of excitement in Berko when I went to collect my prescription. As if waiting excitedly for my medication wasn't fun enough for one day, when I left the Pharmacy I found a bus leaning against a sorry other way round. The road was closed and the fire brigade and police were in attendance. I was parked in a layby within the coned off area and couldn't leave so measures had to be taken to negate the possible onset of anorexia in case I be trapped there for hours; over many years  a constant vigilance has ensured my avoidance of such. The nearby Simmonds Bakery provided the answer in the form of an egg and bacon bap so the next 20 minutes were spent sat in the sunshine with my little bag of pills, my breakfast and my camera. The authorities were trying to decide if it was safe to move the bus from the leaning tree. They were, so to speak stumped. Which eventually was the fate of the tree. After half an hour I was able to drive southwards , the bus continued northwards and sadly the tree went logwards.

Mention above of an egg and bacon bap brings to mind that once again we are  apparently at risk; this time from eggs imported from the continent which threaten to wipe us all out before we get Brexited. However last blog I talked of the threat from Chlorination Chicken being imported from the USA with similar fatal or foetal consequences. Which will get us first I wonder?
It's a chicken and egg situation. ==========================================

After that exciting piece of downtown Berkhamsted drama here's a picture of the sunset at Cow Roast at the end of a day when 2 inches of rain fell hereabouts. The red sky meant a much better day dawned.



 I have been shortlisted in the Canal and River Trust "Boats in Bloom" Competition.
Please have a look and if you think any worthy please cast your vote accordingly. I am in the best towpath garden or open space category. The entry is for " Independence"

You have until the end of August to vote.
If I win I will build a great big beautiful wall around Cow Roast. 
Friend Budgie, also on the Cow Roast Mooring is also through to the finals -boat name "Venose" so if you prefer his feel free.
Whilst I have your attention ....

Walk the MS Mile-Berkhamsted, Saturday, 9th September at 10.30

I'm registering for this walk and wondered if you'd like to join me?
You can do this in two ways.

Register yourself and I'll see you on the day-it's only a fiver

or you can join me in spirit by sponsoring me for a fiver or whatever you think worthy.

Or you can do both. 
I did it last year and it really is quite a jolly occasion; please have a look at the above link. Thank you.
The Cow Roast Inn remains open on an informal sort of basis, its long term situation unknown but the subject of much conjecture. Your prayers for the future of same are requested as its too risky to keep getting the bus into Berko for a pint in case a tree falls on you.
I mused the other night that a joint project by the locals, Historic England, the Borough Council and Punch Taverns to turn the site into a museum as in the style of St Albans, incorporating the pub but using it as visitors' centre whist carrying out further excavations and developing the footprint of the Roman settlement that was there.. It would take a few bob to get it off the ground, or rather, under the ground, but some loose change down the back of the settee that is HS2 would sort it.
Now for the bit you've all been waiting for. 

Today's figures for countries visiting my blog:-

United States
United Kingdom
South Korea

Ukraine has disappeared so either the Russians are blogblocking me to stop Vlad and Anna from escaping to the Chilterns or they are already here and no longer interested in my missives. (If you don't understand the foregoing you'll have to read the last blog)

But who's this creeping into number 4 position? Why it's South Korea and who can blame them for seeking solace elsewhere, indecorously positioned as they are between two of the silliest hairstyles ever known, both intent on blowing us all to kingdom come for want of a decent barber-Permo-Nuclear War!?
I don't know what Brazil are doing in third spot, though come to think of it there has been little interest from South America generally over the years so Bem-vindo ao Brasil !

To Finish with some wonderful news-Rejoice!

We've been celebrating Pam's birthday.
Guess what I bought.
On her actual birthday together with Nat and Robbie we went to the (nearly) new Turkish restaurant in Berkhamsted which was jolly good

The following weekend on the Sunday there was a plan that along with others the birthday would be celebrated with a Picnic and Pimms at Pendley followed by the open air performance of Romeo and Juliet. The picnic was ready and in the fridge. The forecast was good.

Peter and Judy and I enjoy 
a large picnic and a 
very good R and J
Then the best birthday present ever took a hand.

Caz went into Margate Maternity a week early, Pam hopped in her car at 7 a m on the Sunday morning and drove down to Kent. (It's where the hops come from after all) and I carried on with the picnic with friends Pete and Judy.
 Mathilda May (7lb 7oz) was born that morning and isn't she gorgeous?!

Happy Birthday Grandma

and this is the moon over Cow Roast the night after Mathilda was born

Well done Caz and Philip..and grandma of course...lets pop some corks, thank God for such a blessing and a big Bem-vindo ao Mathilda May!

Until the next time which might be a while as I want to concentrate on my feeble attempt at a book while I'm on holiday. The working title is "My life and Other favourite Jokes" It is primarily my favourite jokes and where they've fitted in my life. I'm struggling with it at the mo and either have to finish it or give up. If you'd like to road test an extract let me know.

Friday, 28 July 2017

The Good, The Vlad and the Ugly


"Привіт Влад прийшов і подивився, що на цьому тижні написав жирний англієць"

The above I imagine is what is being uttered by 61 Ukrainians as I write

" Vlad come and see what the fat Englishman has written this week."

I lack the skills to interpret most of the statistics with which I am supplied by the Blogger people but the ones showing the countries that visit the site are of fascination. Loyal readers will both have noticed that last time I was interested that the USA and Russia had more page views than the UK. but Russia has faded off the chart this week the USA remains well in front which is fine. But now Ukraine have hove (hived?) into view with 61. I thought such a number warranted more research into the country which is why I know Vlad, mentioned above,  is the most popular boy's name in Ukraine. Now I suspect that like me the only Vlad you had heard of was the one of impaling fame; hardly a good example if you get my point as Vlad was oft heard to say.

These days  they talk of "fake news" as though it's something new whereas it's always been around, it's just the medium and speed of spreading the falsehood that has changed. Hence it is quite possible that Vlad the Impaler probably wasn't a bad Vlad at all but perhaps misunderstood  (Ooops sorry, didn't see the spike) or maybe more pinned against than pinning.  
Presumably, Vlad is short for Vladimir and I expect there have been plenty of good Vladimirs. Shall we find out?

Well for a start there's Lenin and Putin-both decent enough chaps neither of whom would have been named after Bad Vlad and certainly wouldn't be for impaling unless pushed.
In the Arts world  there's  Nabokov, Horowicz and Ashkenazy, again  all good chaps, all Vladimirs.
There is also a city in Russia called Vladimir with some 300k souls. It is twinned with Canterbury in Kent. God knows why.

One cannot go far in investigating Vladimiriness before you come up against the most infamous  Vlad the Bad Lad.
Vlad the Impaler was in fact Vlad III. Like Vlad I and Vlad II Vlad III was in fact Vlad Dracul and was the Ruler of somewhere called Wallachia three times which means he got kicked out at least twice. 
The two main blokes with whom he had "issues" were a dude called Hunyadi, (no, not the dyslexic car) the Regent-Governor of Hungary who had invaded Wallachia and kicked Vlad out, kidnapped his brother, murdered his elder bro and father and installed Vlad's cousin as the head honcho.
Some years later when Vlad III had got his act together he sorted Hunyadi, the cousin and any other poor sod who'd crossed him. His favourite method of problem solving was impaling. Hundreds of 'em.
The other bloke was The Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II who, whilst Vlad was under his protection, ordered Vlad to pay homage to him personally, but Vlad, not a man given to bending his knee to any bugger, had the sultans' two envoys captured and , you've guessed it, impaled. You begin to understand why he wasn't known as Vlad the Jolly or Vlad the Sort Who Always Buys the Big Issue.

After Vlad's death in 1477 -murdered of course but I don't know how-books describing Vlad's cruel acts were among the first bestsellers in the German-speaking territories. In Russia, popular stories suggested that Vlad was able to strengthen central government only through applying brutal punishments, a practice that has continued for the next  540 years later. 
Vlad's reputation for cruelty gave rise to the name of the vampire Count Dracula in Bram Stoker's's 1897 novel.

Anyway Vlad is the most popular boy's name in Ukraine-if you want to know  the others they are here. As are the girls. Favourite name. Anna

OK. I know I was meant to be looking at Ukraine rather than Vlad the Blogwatcher.
Why are 61 Ukrainians interested in my blog? (ignoring the fact that it could be one Ukranian looking 61 times)
They don't have canals; they have some meaty rivers and the Danube forms part of their border. I had thought-on the very rare occasions when I ever thought about Ukraine- that it was probably about the size of Belgium but it turns out to be the largest wholly European country beaten only by Russia which isn't apparently wholly European. Bit like us really.
It has been ruled and invaded by all the nasty buggers history could throw at it and as we know is currently enjoying very sour relations with Russia. In fact if I was Ukraine I'd move and would certainly think about relocating if I was one of its citizens.
So perhaps Vlad the Bloggeree is doing a bit of research on where to move that hasn't been invaded over the years by Lithuania, Poland, the Ottoman Empire (and we know that ended in tears), Austria-Hungary (remember Hyundai?), Russia, Germany (twice) and now Russia sniffing around again. All of a sudden the Chilterns looks good. Let me know when you get here, Vlad I'll buy you a beer....and Anna if you bring her.
Talking of beer guess who won the Lamb Monthly Quiz? The "Scruffy Boaters" that's who. Haven't won a quiz for years so most enjoyable and so ably assisted by Nat and Robbie (another boater). A team of just 3 against various teams of 4,5 and 6.
 Braggin rights? Not arf.

Talking of pubs the Cow Roast Inn has reopened for the sale of drink only. No food. The opening hours seem a tad inconsistent but at least it's open and I hope will survive........but not without food I fear. Early days. Live in hope.

As an example I stayed overnight in Norfolk last week at a pub called the Jennyns Arms at the attractively named Denver Sluice. I remember the pub and the sluice from my boating days on the Great Ouse when Denver Sluice was the end of navigation as far as my boat was concerned, the next stop being The Wash and the nearest pub was in Rotterdam.
Denver Sluice
 I loved my time on the Great Ouse. A grand trip could be had from my base in Huntingdon  past the Hemingfords, St Ives onto the Old West River to Popes Corner  at the confluence of the Cam and the Ouse -where there is a pub called the Fish and Duck (A Spooner Inn?)- then North, past Ely and on to Denver Sluice.
The F and D sadly closed and was demolished in 2009 to make way for a new marina. Very sad, although its demise was caused by subsidence and water damage.
The Jennyns Arms was a good pub back in the 70s and it still is.
Given that the number of chimneys nearby is fewer than Cow Roast (the nearest town, Downham Market, is over a mile away and has plenty of decent hostelries of its own) the Jennyns Arms was rammed on a Thursday lunchtime and early evening.
People hads driven some distance because the food is good-nothing poncey-just good and always available lunchtime and early evening.
Punters do not come because of the juke box, the background music,the karaoke -they had none. They have a good selection of ales and wines, a lovely riverside garden and a pool table. but the reason everyone was there was the food.

Maggie and Tom
The reason for my visit was to meet sister Moira, bro in law, Tom, who were visiting his niece, Maggie and her husband John. It has become a sort of annual outing and the last couple of years  Ady and I have stayed overnight so as to get the maximum imbibery benefit from the expedition.
John and Ady
Always a jolly gathering with a trip to a local windmill with associated antiques and a bar. Best time to visit a windmill? When the sails are on.
I look pleased with myself

Moira and Tom

Ady found some antiques-...................................he's holding them! A box of radio valves from the 50s-he bought them because we got better programmes then.

It was good to see the assembled in good form and a
 good time was had.


Sunday and Pam and I took ourselves off to Cliveden for a walk and a picnic. Both very enjoyable. It's a great place which we have hardly explored in its entirety.

A walk by the Water Gardens

I first visited Cliveden when I was 16 back in 1963. Those of you of a certain age will realise the significance of the year. My age was immaterial. I went with my parents on a tour of the house. Whether  the Profumo affair had broken or had done so  later that year, I was probably vexed that I had missed it all. Mind you when I was sixteen I didn't know my arse from my elbow in matters of sex so probably wouldn't have understood what was going on. I certainly didn't didn't know what homosexuality was about and the Cliveden Scandal had it all.. You can read the bones here.

Anyway here I am at Cliveden aged 16.

The statue as you no doubt have already worked out is "The Wounded Amazon " WILLIAM WALDORF ASTOR, 1st
VISCOUNT ASTOR (1848-1919); Marble: signed and dated 1870 This may be the only extant signed sculpture by Lord Astor. He must have learnt the art in the studio of his acquaintance William Wetmore Story, and it is tempting to suppose that this figure was carved under Story's close supervision. Its composition is dependent on Roman and Hellenistic copies of Greek Amazons, but reinterpreted in a Romantic, almost sentimental mood.
So there.
My Philistine nature only allows me to comment that William Wetmore Story sounds like a writer of smutty books. However a visit to

will show that he was an accomplished, much travelled and multi talented man. 

I'll leave you to read that whilst I ponder the fact that, apparently, Wetmore was his mother's Maiden name conjuring up a Pythonesque character...."Oooh dear, 'ere comes that Mrs Wetmore what works at the laundry...."

Coincidentally, his eldest son, Thomas Waldo also became a successful sculptor ( a chip off the old block so to speak) and he  was most known for his sculpture Fountain of Love, which also stands in Cliveden and looks like this.


Whilst we are out in the garden here's the latest picture of my mooring-I've heard no more about the CRT Competition "Boats in Bloom" so I probably didn't make the cut to coin a golf/canal phrase. Budgie who moors further up is obviously going further with his display than my humble effort and I bear no grudge despite the rumours that he has been seen in the wee small hours creeping round my garden with a Paraquat spray whilst encouraging his dog to piss on my Gnomes. But I am not the sort of chap to get paranoid (short for Paraquatannoyed). If that's how he wants to play it then just wait till next year when my mate Vlad gets here with his spikey sticks. Time for my tablet methinks.
All joking aside I wish Budgie and Jan well. It would be good if the prize came to the mooring anyway.
I am indebted to Peter off Dreckly who kindly got my generator going after an 18 month lay-up. He obviously has a talent for these things having fixed a lawnmower that was auctioned for the Hospice. Anyway if he's wondering where the thank you cider came from it was off my noisy trolley.


I mentioned above when rambling on about Cliveden that at the age of sixteen I was blissfully unaware of the complications and variations in sexuality that seem to exist nowadays. As far as I was concerned there were two options male and female. I was aware that for others there was a third option-as in My mum had three kids, one of each-but I didn't know any. If I was sixteen now I would be so bloody confused I'd probably just give up and be celibate.  Now I see the plan is that you can decide what you want to be, notwithstanding whether you are with "standing" or you are without "standing". Whatever equipment you were born with you will declare you are of the opposite persuasion and nobody can gainsay.
Has the world gone mad whilst I've not been looking? For months I've though LGBT was some quango to do with telecommunications or a variety of hipster sandwich containing Guacamole, but no. It's another 4 options on the sexual menu making a total of six and rising if you'll forgive the expression. Oh to be back in the days recalled by the late, great Peter Ustinov when he received the only sex education around from his Headmaster "Stop it or it will drop off"
Life was much better then
And now I have to address another matter of current import. First a recipe

Mix the following
  • 3 tbsp Mayo
  • Mild curry powder to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Mango chutney
  • sultanas - as many as you fancy
 half a pint of Chlorine

 Some chicken

and there you have it.
Chlorination Chicken

The latest import threatened from the USA, post Brexit and post us becoming the 51st state of our cousins over the pond.

Chicken washed in chlorine is getting a bad press over here Donald but I suspect it's a matter of presentation. Doesn't sound appetising and  certainly our old and ex chums in Europe could never countenance such a thing.
I have a compromise which could resolve this and other matters.

Since time began we have subjected ourselves and our women and children of all six sexes to finding entertainment in the local swimming baths during which frollicking they have consumed more Chlorine in a year than your average American chicken sees in its life. So the simple option is rather than make your chicken jump through this additional hoop (Cock a Hoop?) just supply it to the UK on the understanding that the purchaser/consumer has visited their local baths at least once in the past year. This will quieten the anti chicken washing brigade and encourage a generation of under-exercised obese offspring to get down the pool.

However (and I know you like to think outside the box Donald) if it isn't feasible to sell the chickens unchlorinated could not the chickens, as part of their rearing in an ever more cuddly environment, be given free passes out of hours to use our swimming pools. A small donation from the chicken farmer to the local authority (remember he/she/it/L/G/B/T is now saving on chlorine and the chickenfeed he pays theMexican illegals who used to wash the birds) which would  aid Councils in keeping swimming pools open .
My pleasure Donald. Here to help.

a cartoon of no relevance, appositeness, bearing, concern, germaneness, materiality, pertinence, relevancy.

The Floating theatre group, Alarum, are travelling the cut from Leamington Spa to Camden with their production of "Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways". They were due to perform at the Cow Roast Inn on Monday next (31st July) but because the pub is in a transitional state they propose to perform at The Rising Sun, Berko-where they are due to perform on the Tuesday (1st Aug) anyway.Free entry-donations welcome.

Their final performance is on Sat 5th August The Pirate Castle, Oval Road,Camden, NW1 7EA (Tickets £12/£10)

Why not pay them a visit.(


Cheers for now especially to my friends in Ukraine

Захоплення зараз - особливо моїм друзям в Україні