Friday, 19 May 2017

Ying Yang-a philosophical blog



I'm no expert in Oriental matters. My Ying and my Yang are strangers to me and probably to one another. I know little about the concept.
 But since when did that stop anybody pontificating about matters beyond their ken.
The last few weeks have been very YingYangish to coin a phrase.
Assuming Ying is good and Yang is bad then under Ying we have.......................       and under Yang

A fine Spring                                                                                                      Talk of drought
A trip to the theatre                                                                                                     Fulham                                                                                                                                         heartbreak
An excellent film                                                                                                        Another                                                                                                                                              funeral
 An excellent meal in L Buzzard                                                                           (though                                                                                                                                             she was 91)
The prospect of a Wedding                                                                                  A reminder                                                                                                                                      of senility
Karen the Kia passed the MOT (albeit 168 quid)                                         Done for                                                                                                                             speeding.   again!  
Geoff has a hip op                                                                                         Good friends                                                                                                                                             leaving
We've seen the light                                                                                               
                                                                                       
It's not raining today. It rained yesterday. Boy, did it rain yesterday! Nobody really complained because it was the first heavy, persistent rain for along while. The gardeners were getting worried and allegedly there is still a shortage of water in the reservoirs. And if the gardeners are worried then worried boaters wont be far behind. Canals without water aren't canals.
Sadly we lose so much because of a poorly maintained infrastructure but I'm not going to bang on about how the privately run water industry puts the profit back into profit and not into the system but I know which way I'll be voting in June.

The Spring as always brings joy in watching the wildlife, especially the new additions.


These Mandarins have been at it like knives but thus far no progeny is apparent


This little chap was snapped on a Sunday walk
and this is the size by the following Thursday

This beauty was stood by the road just begging to be photographed
Harry the Heron just stood.
Keeping the brood together

and where have you been?


Guess what this is?.......well it's a photo, obviously taken at night. If you ignore the big light on the right from the lock cottage you will see two small lights. These and others were placed by Angie and Wendy outside the lock bungalow and help to guide old boaters as they return alongside the lock back from the pub. So kind.


Turkish Delight!
Out with friends Pete and Judy and Mike and Mane to a Turkish Restaurant in Leighton Buzzard for an excellent evening,great atmosphere, good food, grand company and I didn't have to Pay! Pete and Judy kindly wanted to make it part of my 70th Birthday celebrations so my birthday Bash lasted from 13th January till the beginning of May. It was my first visit to a Turkish Restaurant so I'm pleased to see one is opening in Berko.



To the theatre. We had not been to the Trafalgar Studio Theatre before. It's at the top of Whitehall and as neither of us fancied walking and I don't like travelling on the tube I indulged in one of my favourite treats; a taxi ride through London. Such fun especially when the traffic is bad and the cabbie does a wheelie round a refuge in the middle of the road and disappears up an alleyway that only he knows where to.
In this case it was to The wonderful Caffe Concerto opposite the theatre for coffee and pastries in a setting that suited Pam so well (https://www.caffeconcerto.co.uk/    have a look at their website-it's quite something)

After a swifty in The Old Shades pub next door we had a wander up to Trafalgar Square for a picture of Myself and Nelson
(What was Nelson's favourite song? "Please Don't Talk About Me One Eye's Gone!)


The play we went to see, The Philanthropist, was directed by Simon Callow and is a play by Christopher Hampton, written as a response to Molière's The Misanthrope.
We both enjoyed it very much. Fortunately, as is usually the case, I had ignored the reviews in theTimes which I thought inaccurate to the point of mean spirited..

To add to Pam's day we met Michael Ball in the Bar at half time and Pam mugged him for his autograph. Proper little groupie . My only celebrity was to spot Terry Waite of hostage fame at a bus stop outside the Old Shades. Well it looked like him anyway so that's good enough for me.

The wedding is just over a week away and I've had my attire approved by three generations of Nicklin womenfolk so I'm feeling pretty relaxed about it all. I even seem to fit the suit more or less although the jacket will remain undone so as to display my rather fine waistcoat. We've got back on the walking regime and even took part in one of the Hertfordshire 
On our walk I saw Gas Lock in Berko
was closed for essential
 maintenance causing a queue of boats
Health Walks which Pam has been promoting through her work on the Patients Consultative Group at our GP. Next one is 15th June starting at the Bowls Club in Berko at 10.45. They last about 45 minutes. Very pleasant.

Mind you it's not all about fitness. I am encouraged by some aspects of the Cowroast Inn change of management. Generally speaking they are going in the right direction with hope in the form of Heineken taking over the awful Punch Taverns in the near future and perhaps some money being spent on the building. In the meantime the food has definitely improved. Here's a fish platter I had last week. Marvellous!


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Friend Geoff ,whom I have know for over 60 years, had his hip operation in St Albans and is recovering well. I have a vested interest in his health as he is a major crew member and his disability was a major inconvenience to me. Seriously I am so pleased he got things sorted and is heading in the right direction.
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As can be seen the Reading player is punching
the ball before forcing Kalas' hand up
and winning a penalty.
Some more Yang.

The mighty Fulham came a cropper last Tuesday in the second play off against Reading. They were denied a definite peanalty and lost to a penalty of the most dubious nature. Still during the season they rose from the bottom six to the top six during which they beat both the finalists for a place upstairs by 5-0.
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My Aunt Kathleen passed on and the funeral was at Hertford on 8th May. It was well attended and as these occasions do gave the opportunity to touch base with a few relatives whose only other contact is an exchange of Christmas cards. Kathleen Bellenger who made it to 91 was the last of that generation of aunts and uncles so the next generation, including me, is now in the frame. Depressing though it is there is comfort in the certainty of progression to the next stage without any hiccough caused by crap refereeing!
RIP Kathleen Bellenger; a lovely lady.


We went to the Rex last week to see Hidden Figures,  about the role played by coloured women in the Nasa space programme. Pam is reading the book which, for a change, the film followed fairly faithfully.
Based on a true story the three major charactersmade major contributions to the programme despite petty discrimination from their white colleagues. It's a joyous film. Very uplifting. Very Ying.


I've been done for speeding again! Three years to the month since the last one. Easter Sunday doing 35 uphill in a 30 limit in Amersham. I went back when I got the notice cos I couldn't remember a camera as described. It was there alright. Brand new, paint still wet. You couldn't see the camera going uphill as it was sited on private land and hidden by trees. I also noted there were none of the usual little signs warning of a camera. I was on the case thinking I might fight this one. Of course the ratbags have it all rigged in their favour so whilst the guidelines to the local authority say the camera should be visible and the signs in place it makes no difference to the validity of the speeding ticket. Why bother with the ****ing guidelines then?! I thought I'll blast a letter off anyway complaining that the guidelines hadn't been followed. I can't argue I hadn't broken the speed limit but at least I could vent my spleen somewhat. 
No I couldn't.
Because when I went to photograph the scene the trees had been neatly trimmed to make the camera visible and nice shiny warning signs had been installed. Bastards.
So I got my own back in another little way. The last time when I did the course which was run by the AA I was insured with them as well.
So I either took the 3 points and paid the fine and the AA would up my insurance or I did the course, avoided the three points but had to pay the AA for the course which neatly worked out to the fine + the increased premium.  This time I've changed my insurers to a cheaper firm (inc breakdown cover) and will feel a little less aggrieved when spending an afternoon with another room full of criminals all paying the Arseholes Association £100...and I'm going to eat all the biscuts!
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Some time ago I was in the launderette in Berko and having loaded my machine I went to the counter for some change which I slotted in and pressed the start button. Then I realised I'd put the money in the machine next to the one containing my washing. Doh!
A couple of weeks ago in the same launderette I was at the counter when Naresh, the owner, came in. We always have a wind-up together and I was telling him of my stupidity as related above. We were both still laughing when I did exactly the same thing again! Even he , who is not famed for his generosity, was so amused he refunded my money. If it happens again I'm booking myself into  Confused Cottage.

Fame at last. Our Fruit Machine at St George made the Berkhamsted Gazette.

Medieval fruit machine is fruitfully good fun

Mediaval Fruit Machine at Cow Roast Lock

Mediaval Fruit Machine at Cow Roast Lock

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HAVE YOUR SAY

Boaters at Cow Roast Lock celebrated St George’s Day with a feast of fish and chips supplied by Jamie’s of Tring, an auction of boaty items, a raffle and a ‘Medieval Fruit Machine’.

The 30 boaters and friends, all sporting red roses supplied by Akash Restaurant, in Berkhamsted, raised £500 for the Hospice of St Francis.
The Medieval Fruit Machine involves Joseph, right who holds a handle and a bell, and three others who each produce a piece of fruit from a bag concealed beneath their tabards.
Two fruits the same wins the customer their money back. Three the same wins £5.
(Despite my having spelt Mediaeval correctly they managed to misspell it three times in two different ways. Mid you I nearly just misspelt "misspell")
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Friends Mac and Carrie have announced that they have bought a house in Orkney. I'll be very sorry to see them go. They've been there for so many crunch moments in my life never failing in support. But it's not all Yang. They will be very happy up there I'm sure in the Back of Beyond and at least we won't have to put up with their damn dog or their drink- crazed Aussie friends. There will be more of this anon as leaving dates approach.







Tuesday, 25 April 2017

St George!



Hey Nonny Nonny! Whatever that means.

So what did we learn from our celebration of St George's Feast?
Well, for one, I learnt that if you don't wash the saucepan with the remains of the mushy peas until the Tuesday after, you need an arc welder to shift the residue or throw the saucepan away.
Another thing I learnt was that, mushy peas apart, ordering fish and chips from outside rather than self catering makes life much easier. 
I'd ordered 31 portions from the excellent Jamie's in Tring and spot on 3 pm they arrived. Very good they were too with no washing up afterwards. Everybody expressed positive comments about the whole thing so whoever organises next year's do would do well to repeat the formula. I hope it will be me but you never know.

As usual we seemed to be the only people around celebrating the feast, wearing our red roses kindly supplied by the Akash Restaurant in Berko. Apart from the fact that I quite enjoy the whole exercise I now no longer think the day will come when the English celebrate their day to the same extent that the Scots, Welsh and Irish do. This saddens me; I am not fiercely patriotic or jingoistic-I think therein lies nationalism and no good; but I do believe the English have an immense amount about which to feel proud and privileged. Surely just for one day a year rather than moaning about the NHS, the weather, the foreigners, the football team and the politicians we could have a day off, don a red rose, throw a party and thank whatever deity you support and if you don't have one remember your parents or granny or whoever contributed for the wonderful things we enjoy in such a beautiful country.
So there. Next year why not wear a rose and count your blessings......and wash the mushy peas saucepan on the same day.
We had the usual auction with a few refinements which raised over 200 quid, a raffle over £100, A Mediaeval Fruit Machine (you had to be there) which raised £28 and a lot of laughs and we made a profit on the entrance fee. This meant that the 30 people who attended on a lovely sunny day ( I know it got a bit chilly but remember you're English) raised a total of £500 for the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted. A very generous effort.

As I write this post I realise how lucky we were with the weather last Saturday-I just saw a snowflake pass the porthole!

Bloomin weather, I dunno and as for the all these  foreigners working in the NHS; I blame the politicians.......

A few photos- my thanks to Carrie and Jim for contributing pictures.

The Mediaeval Fruit Machine in action


All smiles




He went thataway




The auction items await inspection

Tactics are discussed


Pam in her red and white


You tell'em Roy










Good effort Jim


Sue and Bridget carouse


Budgie eyes the fruit bowl




Here comes the fish and chips


What took you so long?!






Haven't you sold that lot yet?!








Angie has a meaninful birthday on Monday and Annie organised a cake. Happy Birthday Angie




The three fruits discuss odds




and we're off


With Joseph on handle and bell and  Roy, Annie and I on fruit


Everyone a winner!





On a totally different tack I encountered this little chap yesterday when collecting Roy and Annie from Grafton Regis .

 It just shows the grass is always greener.



Have a good week.