Pigeons, Pantomime and Christmas vibes

“Good-bye,” said Michael to the Bird Woman. “Feed the Birds,” she replied, smiling. “Good-bye,” said Jane. “Tuppence a Bag!” said the Bird Woman and waved her hand.”

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

pantomimeI stood in the warmth of the church after the service sipping a hot tea in a paper cup. Outside a small boy, puffer-jacketed, gloved and woolly-hatted ran back and forth on the lawn chasing pigeons. They settled. He charged. They flew up into the chilled air and swirled around him for some seconds. Then they settled again on the other side of the lawn. He squealed and charged again. They took flight. He waved his pudgy coated arms around. They swirled. It was mesmerising, this game. Continue reading Pigeons, Pantomime and Christmas vibes

Profiling a villain

“I hadn’t been driving long when I felt what I thought was a bug fluttering around my left leg and ankle. I tried to brush it away, but it persisted. With my eyes on the road , I leaned down again to shoo it away, only to feel something much larger than an insect against my hand. Looking down, I saw the head and about 10 to 15 centimetres, of a snake. We had somehow picked up a passenger.”

‘The Biyamati Stowaway’ by Gordon Parratt, from ‘101 Kruger Tales’

Kruger National Park BaboonA shriek came from a nearby cottage. Then we heard the crash of crockery shattering on a stone floor. A man shouted and swore in German.

Within seconds a large male baboon bounded onto the lawn in front of our cottage. He looked back a few times towards the last shouts of the angry German, then settled down on the grass. Continue reading Profiling a villain

Lest we forget

“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning; We will remember them.

From ‘For the Fallen’ a poem by Laurence Binyon

Poppy at The SommeAround the world today, many gathered in respectful silence in churches, and cemeteries, on grassy banks, along memorial walls and around commemorative statues. The trumpeter sounded the last post, throats tightened and eyes pricked with tears.

Remembrance Sunday.

In 2010 I had the privilege of visiting the Somme battlefields in France and Belgium. Though the sun shone, Continue reading Lest we forget

A Night at the Museum

“My dear young lady, crime, like death, is not confined to the old and withered alone. The youngest and fairest are too often its chosen victims.”

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Crime Scene InvestigationWe gathered around our Mancunian ‘lecturer’ for Forensic Anthropology.

“Skeletal analysis is all about 4 things: Sex, age, stature and cause of death,” she counted down with her fingers.

“Let’s begin with the golden rule – ‘Sex before maths’! Come on detectives, you heard what I said. Use your noggin, do some loggin’. ”

Some of us turned to each other and sniggered, but quickly scrambled for our notes. Continue reading A Night at the Museum

Not mushroom picking in Latvia & Sightseeing in Portugal

Concerning truffles – “During the season, from November until March, they can be tracked down by nose, providing you have sensitive enough equipment. The supreme truffle detector is the pig, who is born with a fondness for the taste, and whose sense of smell in this case is superior to the dog’s. But there is a snag: the pig is not content to wag his tail and point when he has discovered a truffle. He wants to eat it. In fact, he is desperate to eat it. And as Ramon said, you cannot reason with a pig on the brink of gastronomic ecstasy.”

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Mushroom pickingHubby: We are going mushroom picking this Autumn.
Me: We don’t have any spare weekends.
Hubby: We are going!
Me: But…
Hubby: Show me our calendar.
Me: The only open weekend left is the end of September and I need to pack for South Africa.
Hubby: That weekend is perfect!

There are no half measures in my husband. Continue reading Not mushroom picking in Latvia & Sightseeing in Portugal

Lists and lists of lists

“If it was my business, I wouldn’t talk about it. It is very vulgar to talk about one’s business. Only people like stockbroker’s do that, and then merely at dinner parties.”

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

Steel trunk check-in luggageWhen my father-in-law was at the helm, he banned a few words and phrases in the office. We weren’t allowed to say ‘cool’, ‘see ya!’, ‘mate’, ‘gotten’ and ‘it’s on my list’.

I’m afraid I just cannot do without my lists. Continue reading Lists and lists of lists

Keeping my head above water

“John kept referencing something called the ‘Downflooding Angle’. I looked up the term in the ‘Code of Federal Regulations’ – a multi-volume compilation of all US rules covering every conceivable industry from education, to energy, to agriculture, to shipping. The ‘Downflooding Angle’ refers to how far you’d have to tip a boat in calm conditions for water to penetrate the boat’s first nonweathertight opening… With a list like that, you couldn’t stop water from getting in. The vessel would never be able to right itself.”

Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade
Subtitled: Thirty-three mariners, one megastore and The Sinking of the El Faro

SS El FaroLet me introduce you to ‘Maria’, ‘Irma’, ‘Harvey’, ‘Matthew’, ‘Joaquin’ and ‘Igor’ – all category 4 and 5 tropical hurricanes of the last decade. ‘Florence’ is visiting the west coast of America as we speak.

I love extreme weather … that is, when I’m in my bed cosy and warm.

Last night an early Autumn gale came up and blew eerie groans among the trees outside our window. Reading the newly-published Into the Raging Sea about hurricane ‘Joaquin’ and the sinking of the US cargo ship SS El Faro on 1st October 2015, was about as much reality as I needed. Continue reading Keeping my head above water