Category Archives: Dorset

Why the Chances of Going Shopping Without Getting Enraged is Approximately 3,720 – 1

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am a great believer in the beauty of the human spirit, and how each of us has the ability to bring light and joy into the lives of others every day. We are, by nature a laughing and caring species – and I am proud to include myself as one of you.

EXCEPT – when I’m walking behind you out shopping. In that scenario, I’d happily kill you all.

I don’t go shopping very often, so when I do I always know where I’m going, which shops I’m visiting, and I don’t hang about. Time is money, people – and as I have little of either, I literally cannot afford to be stuck behind people shuffling along in a little dream, oblivious to everything around them.

I’m fortunate enough to live in a part of the world which has both natural beauty and plenty of history (a bit like me, really). Because of this, at this time of year there are a lot of tourists around – who apparently haven’t seen shops, or buildings before because they slowly walk around looking up at the building that used to be something important, but is now a drive through spray-tan and vajazzle boutique. Whilst I recognise and welcome the valuable income that tourists bring to my little corner of the world, I do wish they would recognise that stopping suddenly in front of me when I am walking at speeds of up to 4.75 miles per hour, could result in at the least embarrassment and minor injury, and in the worst case, an intimate moment and a court appearance. And if the slow walking and sudden stopping wasn’t bad enough, what also appears to be a habit of every other person out in town is the fact that they window shop – from twenty-five feet away!.

The pedestrian “area” of my local town centre is about half a mile in length, and is about sixty feet wide. It is lined on both sides by shops – all of which have lovely window displays, specifically designed to entice and lure customers in. So why do people choose to stop smack bang in the middle of the main thoroughfare and peer from a distance at the items in the window!? I lose count of the times I have nearly rear-ended an elderly couple who have stopped to discuss whether the shop in the distance has shoes in her size. It’s a shop! not a great white shark ! You can approach it – and even go into it if you like to have a better look. I’m fairly sure that the owners of the shop would like you too!!  But no, please don’t take my word for it – please do stay completely still…..it will make it easy for me to bludgeon you both to death with your wheeled trolley!!

It honestly is like a scene from a zombie film at times – loads of shuffling figures, with vacant expressions on their faces, arms outstretched with the head tilted to one side. I have to plan my route ahead because they keep changing direction or coming out of nowhere to thwart my progress. I feel like the Millennium Falcon escaping from the TIE fighters in the asteroid field in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. Sometimes, I even hum the piece of music that accompanies that scene. If you still can’t picture that image, you can watch the scene HERE.

I know I could shop online, and I honestly do consider myself a real “people” person.

 

Just not when you are in my way.

Good evening, and welcome to my blog.

This post was written over the recent bank holiday weekend. I hope you enjoyed yours, as much as I enjoyed mine.

 

I always hoped that blogging would take me places, and today my hopes have been realised – albeit in a more diluted form that I had originally hoped for. I’m writing this blog sat at a picnic table in the rest area of a mountain bike park, at Okeford Hill Bike Park in Dorset.

But why am I here? Sadly, I am not blogging whilst hurtling downhill over jumps, round burms, or getting “big air”, with my tablet delicately balanced on my handlebars. No, I’m leaving that kind of tomfoolery to my son Barnaby who, since getting his full suspension mountain bike for his birthday recently, has been inseparable from it.

It is so still here….I just paused to listen to the sounds of the forest, and apart from the chirrups and calls of the various species of birds that are within earshot, there isn’t a sound. I know that regularly there will be noise from another downhill daredevil as he or she tears along one of the  multiple tracks that are available. Each track has a different degree of difficulty, ranging from beginner to “are you out of your mind!?”, so that riders can test their skills and abilities – and the strength of their bones to resist fracture. The only other noise is from the uplift vehicle – a 4×4 which brings riders and their bikes up from the bottom of the park, back to the rest area which is next to the start. But these are only periodic interruptions to the tranquillity of this place.

I know Okeford Hill very well, having lived in the village of Okeford Fitzpaine  for many years in a previous chapter of my life. Okeford Fitzpaine sits at the foot of Okeford hill, and I used to come walking up the hill and through these woods with a trio of spectacularly wonderful dogs. Even without canine companionship, the walk through these woods and on Okeford hill is – in my opinion – a really nice walk.,

So, I’m here typing away while Barnaby does his thing. I brought him up here just before his Birthday so he could check it out. If you are going to get a mountain bike, you do really need to have a place where you can go and use to its full potential. Riding about on the road won’t do that for you, even if they are full of potholes.

Being a thirteen year old, Barnaby’s ‘adequate notice’ cortex has not yet developed fully. This was evidenced last night at 10pm, when he announced that he was going to ride to the bike park at 8am this morning. It’s roughly nine miles from home to here, which would have taken the young sir a good hour to ride. Whilst he had factored that in, we (his mother and I ) felt that he probably hadn’t factored in how knackered he would feel after spending two to three hours riding around the park, before having to cycle home again, so we agreed that I would drive him here, wait while he enjoys his bike and the park, and then drive him home again. We also wanted to be sure that if he did come off his bike and hurt himself, that there would be someone here for him – at least until he was confident enough and well kitted out enough to be able to come up here by himself. When that time comes, he can merrily wrap himself around a tree to his heart’s content.

We didn’t bother to explain to him that it would be nice for him to discuss what he would like to do, rather than have him just announce what he is going to do, as we might have had plans for us to do something as a family. Instead, my good lady and I just rolled our eyes at each other in a kind of ‘that boy – what is he like?’ way.

It’s 11:09am and I am half way through my flask of coffee. I haven’t brought any food with me, but I am not hungry. Besides I have copious amounts of body fat to sustain me (mmm……..fat), and I don’t want to put on anymore weight. If watching Barnaby, and the other riders zoom around this bike park has taught me anything, it is that I need to be more active. That being said, I have worked up a sweat here – I’ve got two layers on, and it’s quite humid.

This bike park has also taught me that twigs can leave a nasty scar, judging from some of the wounds I have seen on the other riders that I have chatted to. On that subject, I must say how friendly all the people I have spoken to here have been. Everyone has been really welcoming and encouraging to Barnaby, and have offered lots of advice on riding technique and where the best places to shop for riding gear can be found. It has also been very apparent that one part of essential riding equipment is a beard. Almost everyone has one, and I will be encouraging Barnaby to grow one as soon as is possible.

I myself, am already equipped for downhill riding, as I have a wonderful beard that draws acclaim from all who see it. In fact, when we arrived at the bike park today, I struck up a conversation with one of the owners, who commented on my beard – and the fact that I had left my comb in it. Nonetheless, having watched my son speed around the bike park, I admit that I now I quite fancy having a go at this mountain biking lark myself.

 

Now if I only had an adequate mountain bike, helmet, and reliable hand-eye coordination….

Good evening – here is a little bedtime reading you for you.

If it isn’t bedtime where you are – what are you still doing in bed at this time?

This is a blog I originally wrote six years ago, about an age old struggle……

 

Constitutionally, Its The Sausages You Have To Watch Out For.

So, today was the day. The day I chanced my arm at the lottery that is Barbecue cooking.

I had decided to not invite anyone else to this “practice” barbecue, mainly due to the high risk of me not cooking the food properly. Whilst I don’t mind risking food poisoning, it is simply not done to expect your guests to do so – and as I couldn’t promise a sickness free buffet, I opted to go this one alone.

Fire!!

Although I do have a fully functioning Fire Pit (and no, that is not a medical euphemism), I decided to “train” on one of those disposable barbecues. I found a sheltered corner of the garden, and lit the barbecue. Step one was complete! I stood back and watched the charcoal burn, my gaze following the wisps of smoke as they danced on the breeze……right to where my washing was hanging on the line.
A quick emergency clothing removal manoeuvre later, and all was well. The instructions for the barbecue said it could take up to 20 minutes for the flames to die down (and I quote) “depending on the conditions”. I wondered if the manufacturer had included being doused in petrol, or being held underwater in the “conditions” they referred to – as I was fairly sure that conditions like that would have a large effect on the time it took for the flames to die down.

Who ordered the Salmonella platter?

Sure enough, after a period of time the flames died away, and all that was left was the smouldering coals (which incidentally sounds like a great name for a band). Like the stick I use to play pool, this was my cue – and I brought out the burgers and sausages to be cooked. I placed them on the barbecue, and stood back and watched the cooking take place. After a minute or so of watching, I became bored so I went into the kitchen and prepared some rolls and some salad bits. I was doing the whole shabang – oh yeah! I had some pre-packed fresh salad, and added some tomatoes (quartered), and some Beetroot (sliced by me). I do love a bit of Beetroot. In fact, I love a lot of Beetroot – I could happily eat it all day. And then not go out, because I’ll have stained teeth and Beetroot breath.

Starting to cook

I kept popping out to the garden to check on the progress of my burgers and sausages, and pretty soon one thing became apparent: the burgers were cooking faster than the sausages. I don’t know if this is a well-known fact about burgers, but it was news to me. Clearly burgers are the “man” of the barbecue foods – ready in a short space of time, and still tasty with no worries about problems later. Sausages on the other hand are obviously the “woman” – taking ages to get ready, you and they never completely sure if they are properly ready, and if you have one there is a risk of being violently ill later on. The burgers were well on their way to being completed cooked, while the sausages were just getting the slightest hint of a tan. Undaunted, I carried on. And why wouldn’t I? who ever heard of anyone being daunted by sausages?

Apart from vegetarians, that is.

Mmmm……tasty!

Not long after, the burgers were ready. I brought out my plate laden with salad and tomato and beetroot and put two sliced buns on it. I put the cooked burgers in the buns, added some Branston Relish. The relish I had chosen was Spicy Chili and Jalapeno – which really was quite spicy (there’s a surprise!). Now came the moment of truth; I picked up a bun with a burger in it, raised it to my mouth and took a bite. Instantly, I regretted it – not because the burger wasn’t cooked, but because a big dollop of relish squelched out of the burger and splattered down my t-shirt. Typical. Mumbling a curse, I went inside and changed my top. Happily, that was the only downside of the burgers. Taste wise, they were fine, and I have every confidence in my ability to cook them from now on.

The sausages, however, would be another matter. As they sat on the barbecue slowly cooking, droplets of fat dripped onto the hot coals beneath. The hissing noise this made was not dissimilar to the noise a vampire makes when you show it a crucifix – and so I began to look upon the sausages as vessels of evil, sitting there cooking it their own juices, whispering to me “we’re not cooked – we’ll never be cooked properly!”. Because that is the problem – you are never sure if sausages are cooked properly. I blame that advert that they show every year at the start of barbecue season, with the song “when will I see you again” in the background – you know the one, there’s a shot of a blackened sausage on the barbecue and then they cut it open and it is not cooked inside. Because of that advert, I second guessed myself today about those sausages. In the end I spent an age crouched over that barbecue, turning the sausages to ensure they were cooked evenly. And when they looked cooked, every time I thought about taking them off, a little voice in my head said “give ’em a bit longer”.

In the end, I made an executive decision and declared the sausages cooked. I put them in four finger rolls (that’s four individual finger rolls, not rolls big enough to fit four fingers in), added some more relish – quite a bit more to be honest – and ate them. They tasted fine, but I will admit that ever since I ate them I have been waiting for the first pains of stomach cramps to kick in. At this present time we are at Sausages plus three hours, and all seems well. Have no fear, if I do end up vomiting my barbecue back up at some point tonight, I will give you all the details tomorrow.

All in all, I consider my practice barbecue a success. The disposable barbecue I purchased was a twin pack, so I can have another go at some point if I wish. Now all I have to do is get more chairs, invest in a beverage cooling system (a bucket and loads of ice), practice using the fire pit, invest in some barbecue toolage, and general stuff like that.

Easy peasy!!

Note: this blog post was started on Saturday evening.

 

Hello, I hope you are well. Tonight’s post (because I am typing this at 8:47pm UK time) is written under the very slight influence of alcohol, so this really could go anywhere.

It could also turn out to be the greatest blog post I have ever written – who knows? If it does, I shall definitely be typing inebriated more often.

Anyway, enough about my lifestyle choices – let’s get on with this blog post.

It’s been an interesting past few days, and it all started on BBC Radio Four (as it often does). I have Radio Four as one of the pre-set stations in my car, along with BBC Radio Two, Classic FM, Radio One, Heart, and Wessex FM. In truth I don’t listen to Radio One anymore, because I only have the radio on during the journey to and from work and I can’t stand Nick Grimshaw.

I don’t actually listen to Radio Four much either, but on occasion they have great comedy shows like “Just a Minute”, and I like the way they discuss topics in the news etc. I know that some people will turn their nose up at the thought of Radio Four, but that is their choice. At the times when it suits me, Radio Four suits me very well.

Last week, as I drove home at quarter to five in the afternoon I put on Radio Four and found myself listening to a book review show. One of the guest reviewers was Will Self, the novelist, political commentator, and actor who looks like this:

13323-Will_Self_Reading_-1660-Edit[1]

“Hello, I’m Will Self”

Mr Self was discussing the book being reviewed – which was a cheery tale set in South Africa about the wife of a murdered white farmer, who takes on a male black gardener or house servant or similar. The story tells of the developing relationship between the  widowed lady and the gardener, which turns from an emotional one to a physical, before the lady’s children arrive and heap scorn and shame upon the woman. Eventually (and I’m not sure why exactly) the woman is murdered by the gardener and the story ends.

In case my brief synopsis has somehow managed to pique your interest – in which case may I say how very easily you are piqued, and even go further to assume that often you may pique too soon – you are welcome to look for this story in your local bookshop. I have no idea what the book was called, but I imagine it will have one of those ambiguous titles that bear no direct relevance to the story or plot. Something like: “The Depth of my Allotment”, or “Peeling Labels”, or perhaps even “That Gardener’s a bit tasty, I fancy a bit of that, what’s the worse that can happen? Oh shit I’m dead!” If you do find it, please keep it to yourself.

Surprisingly Will Self didn’t like it, and made no bones about telling the other reviewer so, and indeed went on to tell them that they were wrong for liking it. The problem I had,  was that while all this was going on, because I was unable to see the faces of any of the participants, I had to picture Mr Self’s face in my head. Well, that is what you do isn’t it? If someone talks about someone you have seen before, you automatically picture them in your head. If I say that Michael Jackson had been booked to go on “I’m a celebrity get me out of here” (friends in the USA might have to google that), you will now have a picture of Michael in your heads. Apart from the ones picturing a kangaroo’s penis – you dirty lot!

But going back to my story, the problem I had was, that although I know who Will Self is, I don’t hear of him regularly enough for my ‘face to name’ database in my brain to keep that file updated. Which is why, in my head, I pictured comedian Mark Steel – who looks like this:

mark-steel[1]

“Hi, Mark Steel here.”

Mark Steel is a very funny comedian. I’m not aware that he does much stand up comedy, but his satirical stuff is top-notch, and I enjoy it very much.. But I had replaced Will Self’s image with Mark Steel’s and got very confused about it.

Furthermore I did Mark Steel a disservice because while Mr Self was giving his usual honest and forthright opinion (as is his right to do so) in his very own intelligent way , I was sat listening in the car thinking to myself, ‘Blimey, Mark Steel isn’t anywhere near a funny as he used to be’.

It was only when I got home and googled Messrs Self and Steel that I realised my mistake. So I apologise to you Mark Steel, for any offence caused. As for Mr Will Self, I’m fairly confident he wouldn’t care a badger’s arse about what the likes of me thinks about him, or anything else for that matter.

 

So, my week started with a degree of confusion and carried on in a similar vein, as during the course of those seven days I would hear a few things that made me say “huh? what?”.

The first of these came in a conversation I was listening to on a stony beach, in the company of friends at Ringstead in Dorset. One of these friends had brought his dog, Digby along and was talking about how a few days previously, Digby had been swimming in a river oblivious to the fact that there was an Otter right next to it. Digby’s owner had seen it, but Digby was non the wiser. When Digby got out of the river a little further down, there was a man with a tripod and camera set up. Digby’s owner asked the man if he was looking for the otter, and when the man replied in the affirmative, Digby’s owner (Tim, his name is Tim – I’m not going to call him Digby’s owner anymore) told him that Digby had just been swimming with an otter moments before.

At this, the man with the camera apparently got very animated, and said that the dog should not have been allowed to go near the otter. The man even went as far to say these immortal words:

“Don’t you know the Otter code?”

I’m sorry, what? The Otter Code? What the heck is that? Is it like Morse Code – a way of sending messages to Otters without any other amphibious mammals knowing what the messages mean? Maybe it’s a form of semaphore – but with teeny tiny flags (Otters only have little hands) – although how Otters could swim and use a flag based signalling system at the same time is doubtful.

I assume that the Otter Code is an unwritten code of conduct, for any eventuality when a person or persons (or dogs) my come into contact with an Otter. I probably has a list of do’s and don’t’s, along with tips and advice on what to do if cornered by a gang of delinquent Otters (my advice is don’t make eye contact, and don’t get lured into a Rap battle – they’re experts). I guess it is similar to the countryside code – don’t leave gates open, keep dogs on leads near livestock, and don’t wander into shot when John Craven is doing a “piece to camera” on Countryfile.

It was the way the man excitedly said to Tim “Don’t you know the Otter code?” that struck me as odd. It was an odd way to say it ( I thought so anyway), or at least he could have explained himself a bit better.

This reminded me of a moment I witnessed in London back in early 2000’s. I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar……….no, wait – that’s the Human League. I was working as the Administrator at the head office of a drug and alcohol charity, and part of my role was to collect the milk for the kitchen each morning. This I did from a little cafe down the road, which also sold freshly made cakes. One morning I walked into the cafe to get the milk, and found myself behind a man having a heated argument with the cafe owner over a box of twelve cream cakes he had just purchased. The customer was arguing that the cakes were stale and had not been made that morning. The cafe owner, was politely explaining that they were freshly made that morning, and even showed the printed sticker with that days date on it. For a few moments, the argument continued but, after realising that the owner was not going to be moved on the subject, the man picked up the box of cream cakes and stormed out of the cafe – pausing only at the door to turn back to the counter and say, “I know cakes!!”, before leaving.

“I know cakes” – oh, why didn’t you say so? If you know cakes, then you must be right sir – after all, I only make cakes each and every day for my business, but I’m not sure that I KNOW cakes. Please have a refund, and feel free to punch me in the doughnuts.

What a berk.

As an aside to all of this, I must mention that at this time I worked at the charity with a lovely lady called Rose Wheeler, whose daughter had a friend with the greatest n ame ever – Tiffany Bogle. I don’t know  why, but I just think Tiffany Bogle is an awesome name.

The fact that English is such a deep and extensive language, with so many variances in expression and tone, makes it a real joy to just let the sounds of conversations around you wash over you sometimes. Especially when there is such a wide spectrum of intellect of those persons having those conversations.

 

My Fiancee left me confused the other day, when she announced mid conversation that bikers wear patchouli – or at least used to. When I asked her to explain, she couldn’t and I was left perplexed. About 10 years ago, my good lady had a motor bike, and did lots of biking – she was apparently in a gang called “The Mum’s of Anarchy”, who rode around the mean highways and byways of Dorset, straightening road signs, picking up road cones, and  trimming hedges. So if anyone would know about biking, it would be her.

Except about the whole patchouli thing.

So I decided to do some digging – and after I had finished the gardening, I went online to find out the truth about patchouli. It turns out that it was true – biker gangs did used to wear patchouli, to mask the smell of the drugs they were taking, or smoking, or transporting to be sold. I don’t know if they tried any other scents beforehand – Lavender has a very strong smell, but it is also used to help get to sleep so might not have been a good idea considering the whole driving-a-motorcycle-on-a-public-highway thing. Plus they had to consider their image; a gang of twenty or so bikers would be considerably less intimidating if they all smelled of Lilly of the Valley.

 

Talking of vicious groups of individuals being very territorial and having brutal battles with rivals – Morris Dancers, they have a darker side not many people about that is very similar to Hells Angels.

Firstly, there are large numbers of individual groups or ‘Segments’ of Morris Men  scattered around the country, much like the ‘Chapter’s’ that different areas of Hell’s Angels have. There is no love lost between different Segments, and running battles have been known to last for hours – right up until pub opening time. And in these Segment battles, no quarter is given; you can’t even wave your white handkerchief to signal surrender, as this will just be seen as you taunting the enemy with your dance.

Secondly, there are strict initiation ceremonies and conditions that restrict who get’s “in”: You can only join a segment if A) your father was a morris man B) your brother was a morris man, or C) you can easily get your hands on a good supply of handkerchiefs and sticks. One initiation ceremony I heard about was where a participant has to sneak into another segments head quarters, and replace all their wooden sticks for foam ones – which would make no noise.

Thirdly, retribution is severe; the fights between morris men can be infamous for their gruesome violence. In one Dorset battle, all the morris men on the losing side not only had their handkerchiefs shredded, but were found with their bells cut off, and stuffed in their mouths.

So don’t be fooled by the quaint appearance of Morris Men – they’re tougher than you think.

 

Finally, look at your hands. Hold them in front of you with the palms facing you. Hold your fingers together on each palm so that there are no gaps between them, and then relax them. See how they separate when they relax?

Now, imagine that I am washing my face and beard. I don’t have a flannel so I put soap on my hands and rub my hands vertically (no-body does it horizontally do they?) up and down my face at quite a rapid pace. I’ve got things to do, so speed is of the essence. While cleaning my face, I keep my fingers close together to form a better surface to wash with. However, occasionally my concentration slips momentarily and my hands relax – resulting in me thrusting one little finger right up my nose, which really hurts!!

It’s so painful and annoying – maintaining my appearance is important, but it comes at a price!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, and welcome to my latest blog post.

Actually, this isn’t my latest post as I am yet to post this week’s Friday Poem, which will incidentally be the 10th – and a mini milestone. But all that is to come later. For now, let’s concentrate on this post.

Erm……..okay, what shall I write about?

This is a common theme for me, as I do not plan what I write in each post. I can almost hear the gasps of horror coming from more established bloggers, and can imagine them frantically writing notes about how best to respond . I’m sorry if I have caused any distress amongst purists of blogging, but this I how I cause to move by turning over or in a circular manner of as if on an axis (roll).

On that point, here is a question which I invite all bloggers – and anyone else who wants to add their input – who read this blog to comment on:

Are their purists in blogging? are there people who insist that blogging must be done in a specific way or format? If so, are they right?

I assume (possibly naively) that blogging is a personal thing, and therefore that is open to every blogger’s individual interpretation of what should or should not be done. I would be interested to hear people’s viewpoint on this, and hear from other bloggers about how they write their blogs, and how they found their own way of writing? Was it trial and error, or did it just come naturally?

Please comment and let me know.

While I am writing this, our Cat, Toby periodically wanders into the room, looks at me, miaows something of great importance and wanders out again. As I write my blog posts I talk out loud, reading aloud what I am typing (does everyone do this?) so I assume that Toby is giving me his opinion. What a pity I can’t understand him because I don’t talk Cat ( and a greater shame that I don’t have a pet male bovine, because I’ve been told that I would have no problem understanding them), because for all I know, Toby could have come in moments ago to say,

‘There are no purists in blogging – but it is always better to plan what you want to write. By planning, you ensure that you get your point across which in turn makes your post a better read, and more enjoyable. And by the way – I’ve just killed a mouse, and have left half for you.’

But all I heard was, ‘miaow!’

I guess for now, I’ll just have to continue interpreting his facial expressions and body language.

 

I like to think that I am an approachable guy; I’m pleasant, easy to get on with, and I like to talk to people. I can be charming, and have been known to have a twinkle in my eye – but that could just be my Glaucoma. So when I failed to get a response from someone the other evening – and the response I wanted was an answer to a question I had – I was naturally surprised.

I was in a Domino’s Pizza getting a late meal (other late meal supplying establishments are available), after being out at a multi-school concert. Seven different schools were represented by one class from each, and they sang a variety of songs. Sadly there was no mosh pit, but there were several adults enjoying the soft play area. Anyhoo, we had to go to this concert straight from finishing work, so had no time to make, or eat our normal evening meal, hence the trip to Domino’s.

Anyhoo, while we were waiting  for our Pizza’s to be cooked (and one to be remade because first time round it got stuck in the grill/cooker), I though I would ask one of the assistants what their maximum radius for delivery was, as where we lived was not very close by, and I wanted to plan for any eventuality where I am asked to provide nutrition for our children.

Being British, I am not one for shouting out – unless I’m getting attacked, and even then I would probably just cough politely, or in extreme cases (you know those extreme attack scenarios, as opposed to your everyday standard attacks), .might say ‘look, I’m terribly sorry to bother you, but would you mind awfully helping me in stopping this person attacking me? thanks awfully – jolly decent of you’ – so I waited until an assistant walked past. When the moment presented itself, I started to ask my question –  but before I had even finished introducing myself formally, the assistant raised a finger at me (not that one), and asked me – in a distinctive, “I’m not from round here” accent – to wait, before carrying on to wherever it was that she was going. Again, being raised correctly, I did as I was asked and waited patiently for the assistant to return.

In due course she did – and completely ignored me and went back to her task of making pizza bases.

She did not come back to me at any point. I was completely ignored, and left there with my question unanswered. Now many of you are saying that I should have said something – and to be fair, I could have. But it was late, the children were tired and hungry, my good lady was on the verge of massacring everyone in the place if she didn’t eat soon, and to be honest my expectations of customer service had been pretty low ever since they mis-spelled my surname on the display that says how long until your order is ready – even though I had spelt it out, twice.

 

In the end, we got our pizza and some complimentary ice cream for the whole stuck-pizza thing, everybody ate, and no-one died.

I still don’t know how far they deliver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is amazing what information you can pick up just in everyday situations. You can really never know what gems will appear when you start talking to someone. This post is a direct result of a conversation I had on Wednesday of this week, when such a jewel was discovered by yours truly. If you can’t guess by the title what it is about, then I will tell you:

Bees.

I’m sorry if you were hoping for a more high-brow post about remote control drones, and invasion of privacy, and the CIA etc., but like the time I was involved in a mix up at a Colostomy clinic –  that’s not my bag.

On Wednesday I was attending the first day of a Project Management training course, which I have enrolled on through work. There were about twelve people on the course, some I had seen around the building where I work, and the others I had never seen before. All were strangers to me, and vice versa. As is customary for these training courses, there is a little “getting to know you” session where each of us had to say who we were, what our job role was, what we were hoping to get out of this course, and an ‘ice-breaker’ – a personal fact about us that wouldn’t appear on our CV. My personal fact was that I donated Bone Marrow in 2011 (I felt that was better than the other fact that doesn’t appear on my CV; the fact I have been sacked from my last three jobs for punching my boss). I wrote about my experience of donating Bone Marrow in the previous incarnation of my blog, Larryaneverynowandthenblog. I wrote in three parts, and if you would like to read about how I got on donating Bone Marrow, here are links to each part:

  1. http://larryaneverydayblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/karma-blog-consultation-day.html
  2. http://larryaneverydayblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/karma-blog-aah-mr-lagrue-we-been.html
  3. http://larryaneverydayblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/karma-blog-blood-lateness-gown-related.html

 

Anyway, yet again I digress. As I said, by way of an ‘ice-breaker’ each of the students on the training course had to divulge something about them that wouldn’t appear on their CV – and this is where the origins of this post comes from.

Image result for simpsons bee man

“Monday to Friday I’m an accountant!”

Before you say it, no – another student did not say that at weekends and Bank Holidays they were a bee. However, one of them did say that they were an Apiarist.

At first, due to a combination of ignorance and guesswork, I summarised that an Apiarist is someone who doesn’t believe in Monkeys. Well, peel-me-a-banana-and-check-my-hair-for-ticks, it turns out I was wrong.

 

An Apiarist is someone who keeps bees and, in this persons case, about 50,000 bees. He doesn’t actually keep them in a case you understand – he keeps them in a hive which sits in a large plot of land behind his house.

Upon hearing this secret about this person, my interest was piqued, and I knew I had to ask him more about it. At the first break in the day’s learning, I made the point of going up to this gentleman and asking him about being an Apiarist.

Now, at this point let me say that I do know a little about bees; I know that they only sting as a last defence, and that they die shortly after. I also know that they are the only insects that make something that humans eat. Other insects make stuff, but it’s not very good – the gravy made by spiders is always lumpy, and try as they might an earwig’s Tirimasu just taste’s foul.

Another fact I know about bees is this: you can get bees sent to you through the post. I’ll just leave that with you for a moment, but will return to this matter later.

My fellow student was more than happy to tell me about being an Apiarist; it is also known as bee ‘husbandry’, but I don’t believe this involves him marrying the Queen bee and then spending all day saying “will you kids shut up!”. Husbandry is just another way of saying managing the bees. And they do need managing; every now and then, the bees need to swarm – that is to say that the Queen bee lays a larvae that will become the new Queen just before it (the old Queen) leaves to start up a new colony somewhere else. When this happens can be controlled, by simply removing the new Queen bee larvae before it hatches. They are easy to spot because the cell they hatch in is a different shape to the other larvae. If the old Queen didn’t leave the colony for any reason, when the new Queen arrives on the scene, it will kill the old Queen.

Bitchy!

I went on to learn that you have to be careful about letting bees swarm and set up a new colony. You can’t just do it anywhere, because the bees could choose to set up the new colony in your neighbours front porch, or in their garage – and then they become an environmental hazard. So how do you control where a swarm of bees sets up home?

Initially, I thought you might direct the bees to a desired location by using those diversion signs you see on roads – which coincidentally are also yellow and black, or by using a very, very long piece of rubber tubing. The truth is far more sophisticated: pheromones. The definition of pheromone is:

pheromone: a chemical substance secreted externally by some animals (especially insects) that influences the physiology or behavior of other animals of the same species.

I seem to recall there  being a phase in the eighties where men could by pheromones in a bottle which would make them instantly attractive to women. My brother dabbled in this ridiculousness I believe. I think the idea was to squirt yourself with some pheromone and then get an extremely large stick with which to fight off the hordes of adoring females. From my memory of watching my brother apply this stuff before going out, all pheromone seemed to do was make you smell a bit like a wet dog, and leave a nasty stain.

Anyway, with bees you secret some pheromone in the location you want the new colony to set up, and then release the Queen bee who will follow the pheromone trail (which is also a rejected name for the yellow brick road in the wizard of Oz) to their new home. My fellow student does this once every three years when moving the colony to a new hive. The old Queen bee leaves, followed by about two-thirds of the colony and the new Queen bee continues and rebuilds the existing colony.

A colony is made up of the Queen, worker bees, and drones. As equality amongst insects is on a par with humankind, you will not be surprised to learn that the worker bees are female, and do all the work in the colony including the rearing of the larvae, and gathering food.

Typical.

The Drones are all male, and all they have to do is mate with the Queen. Drones mate whilst in flight, in mid-air which is why there are millions of members of the ‘metre-high club’. Shortly after mating, the drone will die, and the Queen will complain to her friends about how the Drone never calls her like he promised. It is a little disturbing if you think about the fact that the Queen is mated by her own offspring in effect. If the bees themselves were conscious of that, you’d need a very big psychiatrist’s couch for 50,000 bees!

Back to more bee facts; bees can fly up to 6 miles in one go, and can reach speeds of 15 miles per hour which, for their size, is really going some!

Now, for those of you still opened mouthed about the fact that you can get bees delivered by post; firstly, close your mouth before some bees set up a colony in there. Secondly, I kid you not!! you can actually get bees sent through the post. , There is a website, Easy Bee Products that if you visit, can tell you all you need to know about ordering bees.

I’d like to think that there isn’t some trainee or work experience bod tasked with putting individual bees into a box, but you never know.

And you never know what you might find out just by talking to someone – so next time you are in a meeting or on a training course or on a bus or a train, talk to someone; there could be wonders of knowledge waiting for you to find out!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, and welcome to this evenings trip down blogging memory lane.

I say trip – but in reality it is more like being dragged down the lane of my blog memories, and having seven sacks of crap beaten out of you. And then have your wallet stolen.

Anyhoo – here is a blog I first wrote on 29th February 2012:

 

Villains Stuffed Cats, Nutter Experience, and They’re Strict At Mensa

You know the baddie with the cat in the James Bond films? Well there was no way that cat was real – or if it was. It was heavily sedated. I reckon it was a stuffed cat, or an animatronics puppet.
Cats are independent creatures, and seldom sit still if placed somewhere by its owner. Therefore if the cat in the lap (which is also the title of the only Dr. Seuss book to be banned worldwide) of the Bond villain was real, it would have been struggling like mad to get away.
As a result, the famous line “Ah, Mr Bond – I’ve been expecting you” would have been replaced by:
“Ah (ow! Ouch!) Mr Bond (sit still bloody cat! Ow! Stop scratching me), I’ve been (ouch! the sodding cat bit me – sod off then!) expecting you. Have you got any Savlon?”
And that also wouldn’t have looked very menacing. So it was a stuffed cat.

A well documented story from my life is the tale of my brief marriage, and the unfortunate experience I had with the girl I married (Hello Samantha – hope you are choking on something). That whole event has been classified by me as my “Nutter Experience”. Everybody is due at least one Nutter experience during their lifetime. This experience can take many forms – a strange man approaching you and saying that he knows where to get Goat, or that girl at the bar stuffing peanuts into her ears. It could manifest itself as a fleeting encounter, or as a relationship. However it happens, we’ve all got one due to us and you can’t avoid it. If you get to 70 years of age without having one, don’t think you’ve got away with it. Yours is still coming. In the first world war, there was a saying that somewhere there was a bullet with your name on it. Well, somewhere, somehow, there is a nutter with your name – on their pants.

And finally……

Did you know that the one condition of acceptance into MENSA (the organisation for people with a high I.Q) is that all memberships and associated privileges will be revoked immediately without appeal should the member in question be heard saying the word “Erm….?”