Musings On A March Sunday

The Blue Tits are back, preparing the interior of the nest box on the Oak tree. When I have been watching all the bad stuff on the news, and Julie is still worried about a nuclear war, watching the innocent routine of nature calms me down completely. Those tiny birds have never heard of Putin, Ukraine, or BBC NEWS 24. Life for them goes on untroubled.


Better weather, bulb flowers in bloom, children playing in the refurbished playground over on Beetley Meadows, all signs of Spring.


Just as Ollie’s fur started to look decent again, he has started his Spring moult. Any contact with him leaves small brown hairs on our clothes, and very soon the new vacuum cleaner will be having to cope with the full tufts that fall out as he shakes.


My fiction serial has concluded now. I will have a pause before the next one, which is already started in drafts.


Still no news about my driving licence renewal. As from midnight Tuesday, I am no longer allowed to drive. That will feel very strange, after 53 years behind the wheel.


Next week sees the start of my ‘Birthday Week’. Although my actual birthday is on Wednesday, I am going to try to make the best of the whole week. Weather permitting, that means some days out, taking Ollie to some of his old haunts, and eating in restaurants more than once. I get a few days off from cooking, and Julie has also left the week free from work to accompany me on whatever we decide to do. With the temperature set to rise to 16C by Wednesday, I have a feeling I will be wearing shorts midweek.


I hope you all have a marvellous Sunday. Think of Spring, turn off the news, and connect with whatever makes you feel good.


Mid-February Sunday Musings From Beetley

It has been a quieter week, and I am pleased about that.

More bright sunshine heralded every day. It was so nice one morning, I took Ollie out early, and managed some photos in decent light. If you didn’t see that post, here’s a link.

A Sunny February Morning With The Camera


That sunny and cold weather is set to change though. Heavy rain is arriving from the Atlantic Ocean, set to drench us later today, and during the coming week.


Ollie was 10 years old yesterday. He loved his new toys, which seem to have rejuvenated him. He spent most of yesterday rushing around playing with them, and went straight to his Walrus when he woke up this morning. I am hoping this coming year will see him free from the infections and medical issues that have plagued his short life.
But my fingers had to be crossed as I typed that.


Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Julie and I only exhange cards, and we do not buy into the ‘Valentine Industry’. Flowers are hiked-up in price, restaurants are fully-booked with themed menus, and heart-shaped gifts just end up at the back of cupboards, never to be looked at again.

If you intend to celebrate, please spare a thought for the lonely and unloved in your community too. All this outpouring of love and affection must be annual torture for them.


I haven’t spent much time on Twitter lately, so apologies for not forwarding many of your tweets, or noticing if you have done the same for me.


Wherever you are, I hope you are happy today, and enjoying a wonderful Sunday.


Birthday Boy: Ten Today!

One of the earliest photos of Ollie, taken in 2012. He is smaller than his stuffed gorilla.

When we got him then, I had no idea what a huge part of my life he would become. During that time, he has gained popularity on my blog, and we have hardly been separated. He has suffered from various medical conditions, undergone numerous operations, and has always remained devoted and loyal to me, whatever happened.

You could not imagine a better-behaved dog, especialy one who has had no training whatsoever. He just knows how to to do things, and doesn’t need to be told. Since he was a tiny wrinkled pup, he has stuck by my side at all times.

He loves to go out in the car with me, and his daily walks are a joy for both of us, despite the often heavy rain. He has kept me fit, and become my best friend into the bargain.

For his special birthday today, he has a dinner of beef sausages, and two new stuffed toys. Both are types he has never had before. A Penguin, and a Walrus.


Sunday Musings In February

It has been one of those ‘speed-weeks’ for me. It hardly seems like my last Sunday Musings was posted, and here I am again. The week has passed by in a flash.

My regular routine was disrupted by finally having to get the brakes done on my car. Most of you may have read about what happened, but in case you missed it.

Keeping An Old Car Alive


The decluttering (sort-of) came to an end on Tuesday, when the last seven bags of clothes and shoes were dropped off at a local charity shop. We have used four different charity shops over the past couple of weeks, and spread the bounty around different causes. The lady at the last shop was very pleased to receive my donation of clothes and shoes, especially a two-piece suit still in its dry-cleaning bag. Apparently, they rarely get men’s clothing of good quality donated, so she saw that as a real bonus.


Ollie’s medication came to an end, and his fur has still not grown back completely. The last few weeks have seen him sleeping much more than usual, and it is plain to see his age is catching up on him. It will be his tenth birthday next Saturday, and his new toys have already arrived, and been placed out of sight.


The weather changed a lot this week. Strong wind arrived, cold and gusting. Despite above-freezing temperatures all week, that cold wind felt raw when I was out and about. Then last night, we seemed to be in some kind of ‘eye of the storm’, as gales and torrential rain lashed down on Beetley, keeping me awake on and off all night, and causing noises that upset Ollie, and had him barking loudly at 3 am. I had to get up to settle him.


That has passed now, leaving a dull, damp day that is completely uninspiring at the moment.


Our grand-daughter, Maeve, was two years old yesterday. There was a party to celebrate, at a venue in Wymondham. I didn’t go, as it would have meant leaving Ollie for too long. However, I think the noise of 18 very excited small children using a ball pit and soft-play castle was not something I regret missing. 🙂


I hope you all have a good Sunday, and that the weather is much nicer where you are.


Delightful Dining

Yesterday was my wife Julie’s 61st birthday. She took the day off work, and enjoyed opening her presents and cards, chatting to family and friends on the phone, and replying to the hundreds of messages she received on Facebook.

I cooked her a late breakfast of traditional English fare. Lincolnshire herb sausages, unsmoked bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, and two fried eggs. The bonus was that the eggs had ‘double-yolks’, so you could argue she had four eggs.

I had already booked a restuarant for her evening birthday meal. We chose the pub The Brisley Bell, in the village of Brisley, four miles from Beetley. This well-known establishment has two big bars, room accommodation, and a large award-winning restaurant in a huge space at the rear. It is extremely popular, but I managed to secure a table from 18:30 until 21:00. As we had never eaten there previously, we had both checked out the menu online. However, I didn’t want to get too excited, as menus can change on the day.

After the short drive in very thick fog, we managed to get the last space in a very crowded car park. The bars were busy, but when we were shown to our table in the Library Room at the back, it was peaceful there, and very nicely lit and decorated. Over a drink, we perused the menu, unusually deciding we would both have the same first two courses.

The chosen starter was Pheasant Broth. This came with assorted wild mushrooms, and delicious small dumplings in a flavoursome broth that was served piping hot.

For main course we had Monkfish wrapped in thin smoky bacon, served with spinach and fresh gnocchi on a smooth white garlic sauce.

Both were absolutely delicious!

After a short interval, we agreed we would also have a dessert. Julie chose the Mango Pavlova, with mango ice cream on the meringue, and slices of mango surrounding it in a mango juice. I had something different, a home-made warm Bakewell tart, topped with a small scoop of pistachio ice cream.

They were good choices, and we were both very satisfied.

Driving home in even thicker fog, we both said it was one of the best meals we had ever eaten, and believe me we have eaten some good meals over the years.

I am not one to take photos of my meal, (Julie did, and posted them on Facebook) but here is a link to The Brisley Bell. If you ever find yourself in this area, you will not find a better place to eat. If you allow the header photos to scroll, you will see the ‘Library Room’ where we ate.

A Special Lunch For My Birthday

Julie got up early today, to cook me a home-made ‘High Tea’ for my birthday.

(The photos can be enlarged.)

We decided to have it for lunch instead, so she prepared the coffee table in the living room, and I watched the news as we ate.

As you can see, she made Scotch Eggs, Quiche, and Sausage Rolls. Presented on our special ‘Tea stand’.

(Ollie’s toy box can be seen behind.)

The top tier includes home-made cupcakes and a selection of Baklava from my step-daughters, which were brought over last Sunday.

I hasten to add that we didn’t eat it all!

It will provide lunch tomorrow, and the rest of the Quiche will be eaten as a main meal this week.

And I am pleased to confirm that it all tasted as delcious as it looks

Happy Lockdown Birthday To Me!

Today is my 69th birthday!

(No sixty-nine jokes, please. This is a family blog. 🙂 )

(Not my actual cake.)

Regular readers will know that I make a big deal of my birthdays. I usually string them out over a full week, and on the day I take a trip to the seaside, followed by a nice restaurant meal in the evening.

But in 2021, none of that can happen.

Instead it will be the usual walk with Ollie, opening cards and presents, then a nice takeaway meal this evening.

I would like to wish a happy birthday to any fellow Piscean who shares this day with me. I hope to be able to post something similar next year, when I will be 70.

That’s a nice round number.

Okay, all together now. Sing along with Clare!

Birthday Boy!

On this day in 2012, Ollie was born in the house next door. Today is his ninth birthday, quite old for his breed.

But as you will have seen from his recent video appearances, he is still lively, and enjoying his walks.

2020 saw the loss of his mother, Molly. Then later in the year, his sister Milly died. He didn’t know of course, so was spared any sense of loss.

Today he received two new soft toys as birthday presents. A Crocodile, and a Sheep. With his dinner later, he will get an extra bonus of a large smoked sausage.

I hope my best friend and constant companion will be around for a long time to come.

Happy Birthday Mum

The photo above is of my Mum celebrating her 70th birthday, in 1994. She died in 2012, but if she was alive today, she would be 96.

I’m not sure I would have wanted her to have still been around to possibly contract Covid-19, or to be living in fear of the virus like so many others are. Though her own protracted death was no less pleasant.

She had a hard life, living during WW2 as a teenager in the London Blitz. Then she was later abandoned by my father, in 1975. She always worked, right up until her late seventies, and she loved all her pets as if they were children.

My Mum was not only a great mother to me, but also my friend, my confidante, and a support I could always rely on.

Never a day goes by when I don’t think of her.
Never a day goes by when I don’t miss her.
Never a day goes by when I don’t thank her for all she did for me.

Violet Annie Johnson. 1924-2012.

Holidays and Travel: Ghent 2007

As nobody can travel at the moment, I am reblogging this post from 2014, about a short but very enjoyable trip to the city of Ghent, in Belgium. Other than Jude, I don’t think any of you have ever seen it.


When you are thinking of a destination for a three-night break, it is unlikely that Ghent will find a place on your shortlist. All the old favourites will be considered; Paris, Prague, Amsterdam, Bruges, and Barcelona, alongside others, perhaps further afield. But what if you have already visited these before, possibly several times? And what if you don’t want the hassle of flying, and getting out of Central London, to an airport?

In 2007, I was going to be fifty-five years old. Julie had already taken me to Rome, for my fiftieth birthday, and wanted to mark the occasion this time, with another short trip, that did not waste too much of the time in travelling. She asked if I had anywhere in mind. I had never been to Budapest, Vienna, Lisbon, or Venice, so these places were all considered. I also added Ghent to the list of possibles, as…

View original post 1,581 more words