Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rye to Hastings

Saturday 01-June-2014

Time Out Country Walks volume 1: Walk 25 - Rye to Hastings. 15 miles, rated 9 out of 10 for toughness.

The final training walk before our West Highland Way long distance trail. We drove down to Hastings and took the train to Rye in order to walk back to the car.  The walk was originally 12 miles however trains rarely stop at the original start so the walk is extended by 3 miles.

Typical local architecture and countryside.

A politically incorrect street name - presumably a silent woman not an unintelligent one.

The first part of the walk was very level along a flat flood plain marked on one side by a cliff from when the coastline was further inland.

We then passed through my favourite kind of countryside - deciduous woodland with ferns.

Most lambs ran away but this one must have been hand reared. It trotted towards us presumably in expectation of food.

The second half of the walk was seriously up and down along the cliff tops. This was the reason this walk was chosen; it was the toughest rated walk in the book.

Job done.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Seasick Steve at Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall, London. Friday 23-May-2014.

Love this man's music and attitude. We first saw Seasick Steve back in 2009 at Hyde Park which caused us to go to Cropredy in 2011 to see him again. Now the opportunity to see him in the comfort of the RAH was too good to miss.

Supper was in the Cloudy Bay Bar where all the wines were from, you guessed it, Cloudy Bay.

A fine concert in aid of the Dogs Trust from the ole dog hisself. What came across was his humility and how chuffed he was to be in the iconic Royal Albert Hall.

Excellent gig, excellent atmosphere, bus home - gotta love a decent, big city transport infrastructure.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Coopers and Lybrand (MCS) Old Hacks

Dover Castle Pub, London. Thursday 15-May-2014

Meeting up with ex-colleagues I hadn't seen for 32 years. Talk about a blast from the past this was networking* with a vengeance.

*drinking with colleagues is "team-building", drinking with ex-colleagues is "networking".

I met up with the director of the agency through whom I got my current contract. I looked at his LinkedIn profile and it turned out we were both at Coopers and Lybrand (Management Consultancy Services) - C&L (MCS) - at the same time, '80 to '82, and had many acquaintances in common.

Some colleagues from that era still meet up twice a year for a beer and luckily one such meeting was imminent so I went long and met up with, amongst others, Ed Breen and Andy Preston.

As luck would have it I had just scanned in my old C&L pass for Throw Back Thursday which I was able to show them otherwise they might not have recognised me.

We drank, we reminisced, we went for a meal.

The early eighties was a halcyon period for me. I had just moved to London, doubled my salary in two years, had a hectic social life both with work colleagues and outside of work with the group code named "the Birmingham crowd". It was great to reconnect with those days. Happy memories.

If you were part of C&L (MCS) do drop me a line via Contact. spider food Alison J Bond - went to Oz Andy King Angela Jepson Bernie (Bernadette) McManus Bill Haygarth – I met him 10+ years ago when I was Hon Sec. He wasn’t interested in attending and retired in Yorkshire several years ago Bron Ciezarek – Now a member Bruce Davis – A member Chris La Niece Danny McNichol – A member Dave A Dixon - beard, quite senior Duncan Pinkerton Gary Phillips George Laurie Graham Smith Janet Fowler - Vanuatu Jean Brass Jerry Chapman John Rycroft Lynda Pyle Mark McLellan - Now a member Mark X - Fortran programmer Mike Tinsley Murial Nelson – Retired many, many years ago and very doubtful interest in Hacks Nigel Griffiths – Living in Oz Nigel Ratcliffe – Sadly passed away c 20 years ago Nikki Birkett – Living in Oz Nolan Phillips – Occasionally mentioned in dispatches at meetings. I think Jill is in contact Pamela X Paul Cooke - Claudius / Vanuatu – Did he ever return from the Southern Hemisphere? Ray Ryan Sandy X Simon Coles - A member and the previous Hon Sec Steve Thorne - Sondek & Naim fan Sue Judd Sue Stubenvoll (sp?) Tony Winter Wayne Stinton - Occasionally mentioned in dispatches at meetings. I think Jill may be in contact Wojtek Adamek

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Trullo Azzurro - May 2014

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Sat/Sun 10/11-May-2014

An extra visit to Puglia to air Trullo Azzurro and talk to the gardener about taking on the local management.

Our previous visit at Easter was the usual start-of-season, open up visit. We had aired all the bedding, dragged the mattresses into the courtyard and opened all the doors to let some fresh air waft through.

Since then Puglia had some terrible wet weather and we felt more airing might be required. In addition we want to discuss an above ground pool and possible transfer of management to a different agent who is currently looking after the garden.

It was a flying visit. The cheapest way to maximise the time there was to split the outbound flight at Rome on Friday and use up Mary's Hilton HHonors points on an overnight stay and catch the early morning flight on Saturday.

Of course we had to meet up with the usual suspects and go out for a meal. If you are going out for a pizza it might as well be in Italy :-)

Popping down to the local supermarket I stumbled up the XIII Vespa national convention hosted by the Vespa Club Valle D'Itria. An amazing sight to see so many Vespa in one place. For non-Italian speakers "Vespa" means "Wasp" after the buzzing noise they make.

It being spring there were lots of wild flowers in bloom in our garden. Call them weeds if you like but I call them wild flowers.

The olive trees have all been pruned and so I am hoping for a bumper crop this year after last year's mini-harvest. Such is the alternating habit of many fruit trees including, so far, our olive trees.

It was a gloriously sunny weekend so we hung out all the duvets and pillows and gave them a good toasting in the courtyard. We had a long chat with Graham about the services he could offer and the work in progress investigations by his tame geometra about pool possibilities.

Then it was back to the UK on the late Sunday flight - mission accomplished.

Trullo Azzurro logoTrullo Azzurro: beautifully restored trullo in delightful, secluded valley near Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Available to rent on a per week basis, sleeps 8-10. For more information visit

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson at G Live, Guildford

Guildford Thursday 08-May-2014

Another music icon from the past. Not able to make the London gig we booked the next nearest event in Guildford.

We arrived late and snuck in halfway through a performance in its entirety of his latest album, Homo Erracticus. An peripatetic ramble through the last century and before. It was a full blown, gold plated, prog rock concept album complete with backing visuals; an exemplar of the genre.

At the end he cheerfully said that after the break he would play the greatest hits that we had come to hear. During the interval I bought a programme, the album on vinyl and got a free mug.

Picture courtesy of

The second half opened with Living in the Past - a track to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Here was the original man playing one of the all time classic tracks.

Happy and I'm smiling,
walk a mile to drink your water.
You know I'd love to love you,
and above you there's no other.

He then proceeded to romp through all the old favourites. This is what we came to hear!

Picture courtesy of

A young man sounding uncannily like Ian provided vocal support. So sound-alike I was convinced it must be his son. The programme said otherwise, it was in fact one Ryan O'Donnell. Not the frst time we have been to see a more mature artist who wisely chose a backing singer to add some oomph to the mix. And beside it meant Ian could get on with playing the flute and standing on one leg.

Ian seemed like a jolly nice chap, the sort you could chat to over a beer. There were hints of cynicism, or was it just dry wit? Certainly he didn't take himself too seriously but in a good way.

A damned fine concert.

PS. Loads more photos from the Shepherd's Bush concert.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Thames Path 11 - Clifton Hampden to Oxford

Dorchester-on-Thames. Tuesday 06-May-14 (part)

After a quick breakfast we popped into Dorchester Cathedral while waiting for the taxi to take us back to the previous evening's end point.

We saw a good number of traditional narrow boats which got me all nostalgic for the several canal holidays we did in the '90s.

This boat house is, according out guide book, the largest timber-framed building in Europe.

It may look like a compost heap but the sign reads "Wildlife Sanctuary. No Rubbish Please."

Our lunch rest spot.

The final stretch into Oxford took us up over Folly Bridge and this wonderfully eccentric building.

Then past where I used to live on Osney Island just across the road from the rail station. Not long to wait for a fast train back to Paddington and home.

The next, and final four, stages are less well served by trains. Mary is talking of a four-day, long weekend to polish the walk off in one go.


Distance this leg 25.1 km
Previous legs 233.7 km
Total so far 258.8 km

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Thames Path 10 - Goring to Clifton Hampden

Goring, England. Monday 05-May-2014. (second part) (all) (first part)

We used the first May bank holiday to knock off a couple more stages of the Thames Path.

These stages were characterised by sunshine, old buildings and birdsong.

It being spring all our feathered friends were in full-on chorus mode presumably in an attempt to attract a mate. This mallard was in his shiniest spring plumage.

Just messing about on the river.

In order to balance out the two legs we overshot our accommodation at Dorchester and walked an extra three miles to Clifton Hampden. From there we got a taxi back to Dorchester to stay in the 16th century coaching inn that used to serve the London to Bath route.

A good pace as the walking was firm underfoot.


Distance this leg 25.3 km
Previous legs 208.4 km
Total so far 233.7 km