Wednesday in Welsh Wales

Due to an accident of birth which I blame on my parents, both of whom came from the same Surrey suburb, I am neither bilingual nor exotic. When we went to north Wales last week I was fascinated and envious of the Welsh speakers. Welsh is a Celtic language, the language everyone probably spoke on this island before waves of invaders. The lyrical accent and words also have similarities with Hindi, perhaps there are very ancient exotic origins for this language of poetry, music and Eisteddfods, but it is also officially recognised. Apart from Wales there is a small colony in Patagonia of natural Welsh speakers.

The Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 provide that the Welsh and English languages be treated equally in the public sector, as far as is reasonable and practicable.

You know you are in Wales when the road signs are in both languages. Only about fifth of people in Wales actually speak Welsh fluently, but in the north the majority do.

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We stayed in Porthmadog for four nights, a lovely town with mountains in the background, a harbour and lots of trains, including the famous Ffestiniog Railway, Rheiffyrdd Ffestiniog. Being winter some places were closed. Our pub hotel was rather gloomy inside; someone had bought a job lot of brown paint. The dining room was in darkness and the bar rather bleak, but on our first evening we found a cafe at the railway station which was open till eight and was warm and cheerful. A family birthday party was in full swing and they were all speaking Welsh, even the children.

The next morning at breakfast our suspicions were confirmed that we and four chaps on a photography holiday were the only guests. A Welsh radio station played in the background. The weather was mostly heavy skies and damp, but stayed clear for our trip on the Welsh Highland Railway. As it was winter the Ffestiniog was closed and most of the line for our train. We went half an hour out, stopped for the engine to be moved then back again, but the little steam trains are gleaming and lovingly looked after and the scenery is lovely. That night a roaring open fire had appeared in the bar so we had our meal in there amongst Welsh speaking locals.

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The next day was the planned trip to Portmeirion, the fantasy cliffside village designed by architect and local aristocrat Clough Williams-Ellis. It is famous as the setting where sixties television series ‘The Prisoner’ was filmed, one of those dramas where viewers had no idea what was going on, thus  making it a cult film. You have to pay to go in, but it is well worth a visit and it must be even better on a sunny summer’s day. Colourful strange buildings cling to rock faces. Various winding steps, slippery in the damp weather, take you down to the edge of the estuary. No one lives there. We went to the hotel that was the house of a previous reclusive owner before Clough Williams bought the land in the 1920s and had coffee in front of an open fire. It was quiet, but apparently they had had a hundred guests for breakfast, those staying at the hotel and others in self catering apartments in the exotic buildings. Behind the village woodlands spread up the hill.

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Back up at the main cafe after more clambering around and photography we talked to a waitress who only spoke Welsh till she started school.  Her granddaughter goes to the high school in Harlech where every subject is taught in Welsh, except for English. If young children or English children arrive to start school and don’t speak Welsh they are whisked off by taxi for an intensive six weeks tuition and apparently come back speaking fluent Welsh!

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https://www.visitwales.com/en-us/product/516165?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-seFl8f35QIVBJ7VCh0UiA-1EAAYASAAEgLLsvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

On the third day we drove to Llanberris through the mountain scenery of Snowdonia in mist and rain to visit the Snowdon Mountain Railway. Of course that was closed till March, but we thought it would be fun to see the station; I had always imagined it sitting at the foot of the mountain. It isn’t quite like that and with the low lying cloud and mist we were not quite sure which mountain was Snowden. Since 1896 the little rack and pinion railway has been taking visitors up the mountain and there is now a new visitor centre and cafe at the summit, no doubt welcome after the one hour trip. I wonder if anyone would be allowed to build such a thing today?

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Retro Blog Australia 1964

Read last week’s blog about our arrival  in Australia here.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/10/23/retro-blog-1964/

After a week in Perth, Western Australia, Mum and Dad had found a house to rent, but the blinds were down when they viewed it. When we moved in and the blinds were open it was very gloomy and not too clean – certainly not to my mother’s standards – but we did not realise that the aim of Australian houses was to keep the sun out and the house cool in summer. The other thing less visible, but soon revealed was the presence of fleas. They only liked Mum and my sister, so perhaps it was just as well that she was too young to go to school, as the teachers might have got the wrong impression when faced with a flea bitten pommie child.

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The wonderful thing about our new street was it had a library. With no television and only what we had brought in our suitcases, books were vital. We had no other possessions because our packing cases were still at Southampton Docks. Dad had made all our packing cases with rough planks from the timber yard; they were sent on ahead for their six week voyage, but there was a strike at the docks so they didn’t move. Mum and Dad had to eat into their capital to buy five of everything, bedding, plates etc. This was when we discovered peanut paste. Hard though it is to imagine a world without peanut butter, we had never tasted it in England and thought it was something exotic Americans had. In Perth it was called paste and came in jars that were actually drinking glasses; we had to eat our way quickly through five jars, lucky we loved our new treat.

The neighbours didn’t talk to Mum, except for a Dutch lady who introduced her dog.

He’s a Kelpie ( Australian sheep dog ) but mit the ears floppin down instead of mit the ears stickin up. Ever after, that was our term of reference for describing dogs.

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The summer term was well under way in Australian schools. Children started at six years old, so though my five year old sister had already started school in England she could not go. She was so bored Mum kept sending  her to the corner shop to buy one item at a time.

My seven year old brother could fit in with the right age group. I had already started at grammar school in England that September, now I had to go back to primary school. As Australian children started high school at twelve I could have ended up having to start another year of primary in January. Luckily I was put in Grade Seven and the teacher, Mr. Wooldridge, was excellent. He said it would be a disaster for me to be kept behind so determined that I would pass all the end of year tests. The maths setting out seemed to be back to front and upside down to what I was used to and of course I had no idea about Australian geography or history, but I got through. There are teachers who teach the work and teachers who talk to you about life and you always remember them. He told the dark World War Two story that I borrowed for Jennifer’s teacher in my novel, Quarter Acre Block.

The school was very different from my little Church of England junior school. No uniform, no school dinners; we just sat outside with our sandwiches, peanut past of course. The only other difference was the girls were a year older, more grown up and just liked sitting talking at break time instead of belting round the playground, but they were friendly.

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We were still going down by the river, but I hadn’t learned to swim yet. The school summer outing was to Yanchep Park – everybody went on outings to Yanchep Park, about 30 miles from Perth; a very large nature reserve with a lake and caves. There was also a swimming pool and I had not told my class mates I couldn’t swim. Everyone was jumping in and I figured I could drop in and catch hold of the bar on my way down and cling on. I just went straight under, but luckily came up again, only to hear some snooty girl saying people who couldn’t swim shouldn’t be in the pool. I suppose it would have been even more embarrassing not to have surfaced.

School broke up before Christmas and we had six weeks holiday ahead. Dad’s search for a job and a house to buy was still on and the packing cases had not yet arrived.

Read the story of the Palmer family for 99 pence or $1.27

 

Silly Saturday Falling Backwards

It is time to realign ourselves with the earth. Tonight our clocks will go back one hour to Greenwich Meantime.

It was a long time ago that a chap wandering up the hill from the River Thames noticed he was following a straight line etched in the ground; being a clever chap, a member of The Royal Society, he realised he had discovered the Prime Meridian Line. Longitude Zero (0° 0′ 0″). He set up some crowd funding and the Royal Observatory was built on the spot so no one would lose the Prime Meridian Line.

Every place on Earth is measured in terms of its angle east or west from this line. Since 1884, the Prime Meridian has served as the reference point for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

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British Summer Time was invented a century ago so cricket matches and Wimbledon could enjoy long summer evenings. Henceforth people have had two weekends a year to be totally confused; Spring Forward they might grasp, but Fall Backwards is harder as we call this season autumn… Even if we know which way to move the hand on our antique analogue clock we still can’t remember if we’re having an extra hour in bed or losing an hour’s sleep.

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None of this affects the tilt of the earth’s axis.

The actual time of the change is 2am on Sunday. You will either have to stay up late to change your clocks and watches, or if you have an atomic clock it will automatically change, so too will your computers and phones, this is done by magic.

If you can’t work out if the clock stops at 2am, then goes back to 1am, or stays at 2.00 for an hour, or goes to 3am then leaps back an hour, why don’t you stay awake and observe and tell the rest of us the answer tomorrow.

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Retro Blog 1964

What if I had been blogging when I was eleven…

My novel Quarter Acre Block is based on our family’s experiences as Ten Pound Pommies migrating to Perth, Western Australia, but is not autobiographical. Readers ask which parts are real? Some people say ‘weren’t your parents brave.’

Brave is going to a country with a different language or as an asylum seeker, being invited by the Australian government and given free passage with only £10 per adult to pay for administration costs, is not in the same league. Of course leaving your relatives behind and burning your boats with no job to go to and little capital is braver than staying put…

I needed my mother’s help to get the adult point of view, but the Palmer family are not my family. I wanted the story to be realistic, so the Palmers follow the same journey as we did. The ‘six week holiday of a lifetime’ sounded fun and I was envious of those who had come by ship, crossed the equator and met King Neptune, but the Palmer family had to fly.

I knew no one who had been in the migrant camps: I don’t think my father would have persuaded Mum to go at all if she had to face the prospect of a camp! She hadn’t been in the services during the war and had gone from home straight to marriage, so barracks and camps did not fall within her experience. Dad knew ‘someone from the office’ who had migrated and they sponsored us. The chap met us at the airport well gone midnight and as we drove across to the other side of the little city Mum was already looking out of the ‘station wagon’ in dismay. Once on our own, inside the caravan booked for us, she was soon saying ‘Rob, what have you brought us to’. We hadn’t seen much in the dark, but Mum had apparently focused on endless rows of electricity poles. Full of the whole big adventure I was exasperated that she was complaining when we had only been in Australia two hours.

The friend returned at nine am to take us down to Scarborough Beach. His family had taken to beach life and were living ‘the dream’. My younger brother and sister were terrified of the waves and I clung to a plastic surfboard, too embarrassed to tell their children I couldn’t swim. After that experience the only beach my parents wanted to sit on was Crawley Beach by the Swan River. It was very pleasant and Mum and Dad treated this first week as a holiday, we even had an ice cream every day, unprecedented, though it was not like Mr. Whippy and tended to have lumps of ice. Perth City was small then and you couldn’t get lost. Supreme Court Gardens were very pleasant and down by the Swan River was the wide open esplanade, so far we were living the dream.

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After one night in the cramped caravan I had been despatched, or invited, I’m not sure which, to stay with the family of our sponsor. I was to be in the boy’s class at school and his younger sister did ballet, so I had nothing in common with her! I cringe now to think of my prepubescent self wandering around a house of strangers in my flimsy baby doll pyjamas, but all was above board.

After a week Mum and Dad had found a house to rent; as the venetian blinds were closed they didn’t see properly what it was like until Mum pulled the blinds up when we moved in. The only neighbour to speak to Mum was a Dutch lady. It was also time for me and my younger brother to start school, where their summer term was in full swing. This was nothing compared to the reality that Dad had to find a job and a house to buy and our packing cases were not going to arrive… more next week.

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Read about the strange year leading up to our departure from England in last year’s blog.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/quarter-acre-blog/

Read more about my novel at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-six-fiction-focus/

Peek inside the book.

 

 

Robes and Royalty

The State Opening of Parliament was on Monday, a colourful and dignified distraction from politics and Brexit. If you like history, colourful costumes and beautiful horses watching it on television is a good way to spend a rainy morning. These royal events always present curious questions, often little to do with the ceremony.

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Television presenters must do a lot of homework to enable them to tell ( confuse ) us who all the participants are and their duties. All you need to know is that there are a lot of horses and members of the armed forces and the Palace of Westminster is packed with ‘Important People’ in uniforms, with red being a popular colour. They have to take part in the  processions; in turn they have lots of smartly dressed people looking after them, who in turn have lots of security and organisers making sure it goes smoothly… and it did.

It all starts very early in the morning; breakfast television news goes over to the Royal Mews where the horses have been groomed to perfection. I wonder if they are like children, you get them ready to go out in their best clothes, but it’s raining and they are soon muddy.

 

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In the studio a presenter has gathered some people we don’t know; people who are no longer MPs or who didn’t get a ticket to the show? They talk about politics, history and what will happen during the morning’s events. There have been a few tweaks to the ceremony in concession to Her Majesty’s age. Prince Charles is her escort as The Duke of Edinburgh has retired from royal duties. She will not wear the heavy crown, thus creating another job opportunity for a costumed person to carry it in on a cushion.

 

The Royal fairytale coach to be used is not old, but made this century in Australia and apparently warmer and more comfortable than the old coaches. The Queen’s two ladies-in-waiting arrive in the next carriage and climb out with a little difficulty, they are not young either. Off they go to the robing room to help The Queen get ready while we hear more important names reeled off. The Marquess of Chumley sounds like someone out of a children’s puppet show, but his name is not spelt how it sounds – David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, The Lord Great Chamberlain has charge over the Palace of Westminster.

Enough of hereditary positions; how do you get to be Black Rod? What do you want to be when you grow up? Black Rod… The current Black Rod is the first ever woman to hold the position. Black Rod is sent from the Lords Chamber to the Commons Chamber to summon MPs to hear the Queen’s Speech. Traditionally the door of the Commons is slammed in Black Rod’s face to symbolise the Commons independence. She then bangs three times on the door with the rod. The door to the Commons Chamber is opened and all MPs – talking loudly – follow Black Rod back to the Lords to hear the Queen’s Speech. This is the fun part because there is not room for them all in the House of Lords so there is jostling to the front. Boris and Jeremy, leader of the opposition, lead the way, not talking to each other. Like school the rest of the MPs shuffle along in pairs with their friends… I guess there will always be some who have no friends to walk with…

https://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/principal/black-rod/

How do you get your sons to be Pages of Honour and carry the Queen’s train? Teenage sons of nobility who look fresh faced and do not have any piercings…

Prince Charles escorted his mother to the throne and sat down on the other throne, yet another person delivered the speech in a little bag. Alas the Queen did not write this speech which tells what Her Government will do in the coming session of Parliament. Each time I hope she will toss it onto the red carpet and from her robes produce one she wrote earlier…

https://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2019/october/state-opening-of-parliament-2019/

The 199 Steps

Whitby is a scenic harbour town on the east coast of Yorkshire; the harbour piers face north so it has an east and west cliff, both of which are worth clambering up. You don’t have to climb the cliff face, you can arrive at the west cliff hotels or the east cliff abbey ruins by coach, bus or car, but it is more interesting to tread the many paths and steps that wind upwards. Count Dracula took such a route up the east cliff after his ship was blown off course in the north sea. Disguised as a black dog he ran up the 199 steps to the church of St. Mary and the ruins of St. Hilda’s Abbey, thus creating a tourist attraction for the fitter holiday maker.

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Author Bram Stoker is not the only famous person to have lived here, son of Yorkshire, Captain James Cook attended school in Whitby and was born in a nearby village.

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This was not our first visit to Whitby, but it was our first attempt at airbnb. We chose a cottage in town according to good reviews; as first timers we had to register with some personal info and after being accepted received reams of instructions on where to park the car and how to get in the door. I know from people who use airbnb, when working away from home, that some places are literally a room in someone’s house, someone often glad of the company. We were not to be greeted by a real human. However, we managed the key box without any trouble and were delighted to find ourselves in a cosy three storey home. The bathroom was on the middle floor and the bedroom at the top, the two flights of winding narrow stairs were more like mountain climbing and getting our luggage up was more of a struggle than reaching Everest base camp.

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Exploring on foot is the best way to enjoy Whitby, the swing bridge is a quick way to get from one side of town to the other and if you like fish there is no shortage of fish restaurants to choose for your dinner; many have claims such as best fish and chips in town, best east side fish restaurant, best harbour view fish and chips… Though we were self catering we didn’t actually cook any dinners on our four nights there – a fact that made it easy to keep the pristine kitchen clean.

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On the first evening, after a meal, we popped into a quaint harbourside pub that looked full of character and was full of characters. Anyone popping in later on would have thought they were in a scene from Fisherman’s Friends, happening upon some local folk singing, but none of the people we met were locals. Two Australians were delighted to meet someone who had lived in Perth (me) and the lady from Edinburgh to discover Cyberspouse was Scottish. It turned out the Aussies were originally ten pound Pommies who went out on the very first jumbo jet to Australia in the early seventies. Their friend, who looked like a local fisherman, spent half a year in Perth and the other half in Whitby. The highlight for me was when the two chaps started singing and had great voices.

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The next day we easily walked up the 199 steps, but were soon soaked in the rain, photos of the abbey would have to wait. The abbey was ruined by Henry V111, but St. Mary’s church is fascinating with all the pews in boxes; respectable families had their own boxes, strangers were kept separate and the rabble squashed into the more uncomfortable boxes. There is also a lovely building which now houses a youth hostel with its restaurant open to the public; in the rain this was too busy, but we visited on the next two days.

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Other highlights of our stay were climbing up the 81 steps of the harbour lighthouse and the long walk to Sandsend along the coast before the tide came in. Showers were followed by sunshine as we reached the lovely village with cottages either side of the little river.

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On the last evening, a stroll down the pier found us gathered with a few others round a man who was taking his five Saint Bernard dogs for a stroll, he said he had seventeen rescue collies at home which his wife exercised. Apparently the key to his happy dog household was that he was the leader of the pack. I would have loved to have seen his house!

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The next morning we packed up, tidied up and followed the unlocking procedure in reverse.  Later on we received a thanks e-mail from the owner; but to see his review of us, we had to review his cottage first. We gave it 5 stars and he gave us 5 stars; we’re officially airbnbers – though I’m never sure how to write it. And the host we never met? Well it’s obvious he must have been a vampire.

Read more about last week’s trip and my other travels this year at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-four-travel-diary

You can find out more about Whitby and the Yorkshire coast here.

http://www.whitby.co.uk/

 

 

Sunny Salisbury

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A day out is even more enjoyable if everyone is having a day out and everybody was out in Salisbury on Sunny Saturday. Our day started at the free Park and Ride; the drive north from Bournemouth is slow but pleasantly rural. The walk from the bus stop to our brunch destination took us through the busy market in the square. Then towards River Walk where we bumped straight into a cheerful ‘Salisbury for Europe’ march by our fellow Remainers. Every town and county seems to have a ‘For Europe’ group, I’m thinking of collecting all the blue badges.

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After brunch we strolled to the cathedral, time was limited because we were going to a matinee at the theatre, but the cathedral is timeless. We jostled with tourists and locals through the narrow arch to the swards of green that surround Salisbury Cathedral. Cathedral greens and closes are usually delightful, with all the interesting old buildings and houses that have clustered round the great cathedrals over the centuries. On a sunny day, flowers blooming in window boxes and gardens, to live in such places seems perfect, though perhaps not with all the modern tourists.

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We paused at a red telephone box, peering in to see if it was still active or turned into a safe place for a defibrillator; we had hardly had a chance to see if it still took coins when an irate voice said ‘Excuse me’ in an accent that suggested she was not local. We were standing in the way of a lady trying to take an iconic photo of her husband with a red telephone box in the background. That was the only grumpy note we heard all day, for the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral on a sunny day are a happy place to be. People of all ages, language students, tourists and families; running, picnicking, painting, taking photographs, playing badminton. Even if you are on a whistle stop tour you can still treasure a few moments looking up at the spire soaring into the blue sky.

https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/

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The cloisters were also packed, I wonder what monks strolling along quietly contemplating would have made of modern visitors. There was a free grab a canvas event; children and adults busy painting on two sides while opposite, people sat with their refreshments.

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While in the cloisters you can pop into the restaurant and shop with glass roofs to gaze up at the cathedral.  There are also recently improved free toilets. Just wandering around is enjoyable. If you do get a chance to visit there is a voluntary donation to look around inside the cathedral. Surrounding the cathedral are museums, a lovely National Trust House and the home of the late Edward Heath, one of Britain’s Prime Ministers.

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Our first visit to the Salisbury Playhouse was to see Alan Ayckbourn’s first successful play, Relatively Speaking, which we had seen a long time ago. It’s a comedy so the audience were in a good mood and it was hilarious. The theatre is a pleasant light place which we hope to visit again.

https://www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk/whats-on/main-house/relatively-speaking/

What is your favourite day out and does the weather make a difference to your enjoyment?

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Salisbury features in Three Ages of Man, a stand alone novel from my Brief Encounters trilogy.

 

Silly Saturday – The Past Unblogged

It’s a tragedy, so many years wasted, so many years of our lives unblogged and the more decades you have put in on this planet, the greater the loss. Interesting events could have been shared legibly with the world instead of scribbled on an aerogramme to a few family and friends.

For those who haven’t been to a post office museum, an aerogramme bore little resemblance to Instagram, but in its own humble way was very convenient. A foldable gummed piece of blue paper bought from the post office; the idea being to write in large neat script at the top, then realise you had plenty yet to say and pack the words in tighter. By the time you turned over to the fourth and last panel you were reduced to illegible scribble with hardly room to sign your name. Then stick it down and post in a letter box. Perhaps there are attics full of these flimsy blue papers, full of family history across the seas…

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On holiday people could send picture post cards and still can, but they would not be in the picture… how many miles of travel unrecorded on Facebook, Instagram and blogs? Travellers had to wait till they got back to their hotel or tent to try and write to their loved ones, more likely no one would know where they had been until they had returned and who would believe they had been at the top of that mountain or canoed round those tropical islands without proof?

If you could go back in time and blog about your life which times would you reveal? A worse thought; if your parents had been blessed with the internet would they have been writing funny blogs about your nappy disasters at the swimming pool changing room or your tantrum in the supermarket…

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Friday Flash Fiction -1000 – Take A Break

‘You’re not going to MRS again today are you Dane?’

‘Yes, it’s a nice day to be out digging, we’re hoping to bring up that gantry from the river bed today.’

‘What on earth is a gantry?’

‘Like a big metal bridge that held the signs for motorists.’

Mona smiled. ‘Motorists, motorist, such a romantic word…’

‘Why don’t you come down and join me for lunch, they’ve got Burger King up and running now.’

‘I’m not hovering over all those fields and through that wood. When they’ve got the flylane established, then I’ll come.’

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Mona sighed as she watched her husband glide off on his hoverscooter. This was not how she had imagined their retirement; the dirigible cruise had still not been booked and at the age of 75 Dylan had entered a second childhood playing with cars.

Dylan skipped across the lush summer fields, anticipating a busy day with two more cars arriving for restoration. Soon they would have enough vehicles for the traffic jam display and he pictured the gantry proudly straddling the 200 metre section of motorway with signs such as  SEVERE CONJESTION AHEAD, TWO LANES CLOSED, 20MPH…

There was great excitement as he emerged from the wood.

‘Hey Dylan, come and have a look, we think we’ve found a lorry; dig down a bit more and we should know for sure.’

It was too good to be true, a genuine HGV? Most lorries and trucks had been commandeered, legally and illegally, for housing after the fossil fuel ban. He imagined his grandchildren clambering up into the driver’s cab, but that day was a long way off, even if the lorry was in one piece it would take years of restoration. His friend read his thoughts.

‘Don’t get too excited, it is probably entwined in tree roots, we might never get it out. Anyway, you’re needed down at the river, they’re having trouble with the gantry, good job we have that school party in doing field work.’

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But before Dane reached the river bank he was summoned by another of the volunteers.

‘Great news, the bridge is finished, we need you to do a trial run.’

After a lifetime in the methane industry Dane wanted to work with cars not cows now, but he was the only expert they had, the only one who could persuade a herd of cows to walk across the recreated bridge that spanned their short section of excavated motorway. He only had himself to blame, he had found the faded old photograph and research showed that farms had been sliced in half by motorways and cows had to cross a footbridge to get to another field or their milking parlour.

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A couple of hours later the volunteers and school history students were gathered in Burger King for their lunch break. Dane was exhausted, walking over bridges was not what the local cows were used to. As the youngsters tucked into their burgers they looked disappointed, one of them spoke up.

‘Tastes just like our bean burgers, I thought we were going to get something exciting. What was so special about Burger King anyway?’

‘Beef Burgers’ replied Dane.

‘So what were they made of?’

‘Beef… from cows, dead cows.’

Their faces went green. ‘WHAT… you mean they killed the cows and ate them, that is disgusting. How did they get enough methane for the power stations if they kept eating the cows?’

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After lunch everyone headed over to see the wreck of the gantry. Lying on the ground covered in mud it did not look at all impressive and they were glad to leave it and go to the site of the lorry. The solar powered digger was hard at work but suddenly one of the team shouted STOP. He clambered down into the hole beside the strange hulk, carefully poking around amid tree roots and the dark soil, with the others wondering why he was so agitated.

‘It is, it really is, a petrol can, with the lid on. Of course it might have evaporated… and we’ll have to declare it.’

‘Nooo…’ said Dane ‘just to take the lid off and smell real petrol… if only we had a working engine to put it in.’

‘So who’s to know,’ said a cocky lad ‘we’re not going to tell, or maybe we can get special permission. For my finals exam project I could restore or even build a real internal combustion engine, I’ve been studying how they worked.’

Dane was taken up with the boy’s enthusiasm. ‘My grandfather actually remembered seeing an engine working, pistons going up and down… what a dream.’

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12 MONTHS LATER

 

MOTO SERVICES FIRST OPEN DAY

THE MORE PEOPLE THE  BETTER THE EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYONE.

RE-LIVE WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO STOP AT A BUSY MOTORWAY SERVICES

 at the beginning of the twenty first century.

SEE A TRAFFIC JAM, A REAL HEAVY GOODS VEHICLE AND COWS CROSSING THE MOTORWAY.

ALSO – SPECIAL SURPRISE EVENT.

Everything was out of Dane’s hands now, he was no engineer, but some of the old chaps and the students had worked hard and claimed it would work.

Crowds gathered in the fields above the short stretch of motorway. Gleaming with its new coat of red paint the car stood with its doors open. The president of the Motorway Restoration Society got into the front passenger seat, two other volunteers got into the back and a very proud student took the driver’s seat. A strange noise filled the air and the car moved slowly. Dane sniffed the air, some ancestral memory made the wonderful scent of petrol fumes so familiar. They had done it. The car chugged along to the traffic jam display, then edged slowly backwards, then forwards a little faster, everyone cheered it on. No one knew how long the precious canful of petrol would last.

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Worried on Wednesday

Human beings have always worried; what if we don’t catch a mammoth for dinner? Now it’s called anxiety. Of course I don’t suffer from anxiety… I just imagine all the things that could possibly  go wrong so I am prepared.

There are some things people should worry about such as global warming and war; is my stretch of the jungle going to be burnt down, is my island going to be flattened by Hurricane Dorian, will there be anything left of my city after the bombing.

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What most of us worry about;

What shall we have for dinner when son brings his new girlfriend round / when boyfriend’s parents come to see our new flat…

Will the car run out of petrol, will the bus be late…

Should I water the garden before we go away, have I packed my hair straighteners.

Should I make an appointment at the doctors / dentists.

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Most of us are not completely self centered; we do worry about our loved ones…

Will their holiday flight crash, will they be involved in a motorway pile up on their way to visit us…

Is there something wrong with the budgerigar, he’s off his food.

If you have the misfortune to be in charge of other people, or worse still, other people’s children, you may be justified in worrying. It would be best if you didn’t take precious little ones near any water, roads or firework displays. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security; think they are safe in the park? No, a stinging nettle might leap out and grab their leg or worse still, a pack of pit bull terriers… and you forgot to put on their suntan lotion…

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But this blog is about not worrying.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bobbymcferrin/dontworrybehappy.html

It may feel like the human race has more to worry about than ever. Big things to worry about like Brexit, Trump, Syria, Hong Kong, The Amazon, bees, the Whole World, failure of antibiotics, nuclear weapons, Armageddon – put in worrying order with number 1. being utter dread and number 10.  ‘Don’t Worry, be Happy.’

But our ancestors had just as many worries.

What they did need to worry about.

‘What if mammoths become extinct, what will we eat and wear?’

‘I hope we don’t get another ice age.’

‘Let’s hope it won’t take too long to get back to the promised land.’

‘What if those white men don’t get back on their big canoe and sail away?’

‘What if that volcano erupts?’

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What they needn’t have worried about.

‘Thanks a lot Eve, that’s the end of beautiful gardens for humans.’

‘If we don’t sacrifice our daughter the gods will wreak vengeance on all of us.’

‘Don’t sail too far or you will fall off the edge of the earth.’

‘This great plague is going to wipe the human race out.’

‘If man ever reaches the Moon goodness knows what that will lead to.’

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What needn’t you have worried about?

Have you ever said ‘I told you this would happen!’

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