Those vital first minutes after an accident…

I don’t normally post stuff about charities but this one is an exception. My friend’s son Ollie had a serious accident whilst out in the middle of nowhere on his motorbike. Without the early intervention of the air ambulance service and their paramedics he would not be around today. This service depends entirely on fund raising and Margaret:Ollie’s mum, is making a massive effort to get them funds to carry on this vital work.

To this end she is organising a concert at Gloucester Cathedral where she works, so not only do you get the chance to feel good about giving to the Air Ambulance, you’ll get to enjoy a wonderful concert from these brilliant musicians and singers in the atmospheric and majestic surroundings of what I think is the finest Cathedral in the land.


Margaret Brown from Gloucestershire is holding a concert featuring the choir “Octavo” at Gloucester Cathedral to raise vital funds for Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.

Read all about them here!

“Octavo” was formed in 2013. A bunch of like-minded souls, whose paths had crossed over a number of years in London and West Country vocal circles, decided that they needed an outlet for their talent that comprised smaller forces. That’s about it, but what better excuse do you need to meet, than the prospect of 8-part vocal harmony with friends? In this concert Octavo present a varied programme of a cappella vocal gems from 16th to 21st Centuries – from sacred and devout to secular and completely frivolous!

It will take place on Friday 9 th June at 7.30pm and all the money raised will go towards keeping the helicopter in the air, ensuring this life-saving service continues across Bristol, Bath, North Somerset,Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire and parts of Wiltshire. Tickets (£10) are available from Margaret Brown on 10452 508218 or Sarah Steele on 01452 874965.

Margaret wanted to support GWAAC because her youngest son Oliver Brown owes his life to the skill of those on board. Margaret said “It’s such a vital service, and yet they receive no day to day funding from the Government or National Lottery. I’m looking forward to raising as much money as possible. I am personally indebted to those amazing people on the Air Ambulance who saved the life of my son when there was so little hope. He had a major brain injury, multiple broken bones and internal injuries with a 1% chance of getting back to normality and is now back at work full time! He is a walking, talking miracle and looks forward to many more years of life with his wife and family. My colleagues at Gloucester Cathedral are immensely supportive and it is lovely to be able to hold a concert at this very special venue, courtesy of the extremely talented choir, Octavo”.

Find out more about them right here: Octavo

GWAAC Senior Community Fundraiser Nicole Beebee said: “We’re so grateful to Octavo for their generosity and support. We rely on the people we serve to help us raise the £2.6million we need each year to stay operational. The money raised will help us to provide critical care to those who need it the most – saving more lives.”

GWAAC has been providing an air ambulance service for 2.1 million people across the counties ofBristol, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, North Somerset and parts of Wiltshire for 7 years.

Find out more at Air Ambulance

For further information, please contact: Margaret Brown,

Cathedral cloisters

If you’ve never been to Gloucester Cathedral here’s your chance to take a look and hear some brilliant choral singing. You can see why from this image of the Cloisters why I think it’s one, if not the finest Cathedral’s in Britain.

Not bad from the outside too!

Cathedral outside

Free beer, stained glass, and Alice’s invention of screen wash.

If you are in the US then look what we’re giving away in sunny downtown Cheltenham, sound too good to be true? It is. You only get one on the day and you’ve got around 3,000 miles to come to get it, and don’t forget your passport.


I had a day out yesterday in nearby Gloucester where I was going to a talk given by Tom Denny, who has designed two sets of the wonderful stained glass windows, the first illustrated in detail here is well worth the 3,000 mile trip and a joy for me just 8 miles away. The second is a more recent project celebrating the works of local Gloucester poet Ivor Gurney and is no less stunning than this first project. Mr Denny was erudite and very interesting and it was fascinating to hear how he came to design the windows, his thought process and some details on how the glassmakers create his brilliant drawings and designs into the finished article. The Friends of Gloucester Cathedral organised the event in the Cathedral and I was lucky to get a seat.

denny window

I also had a first class seat before the event to watch the parade through Gloucester celebrating armed forces day. Sitting outside The Crow’s Nest, a tiny little salad bar on Westgate Street where you can get probably one of the best salads in the area, and the coffee is also excellent. Gloucester is not a wealthy city, struggling with inner city deprivation, homeless people and at times it shows its bleaker side, but I always enjoy a trip there and the very best thing about it is the friendly people. Don’t pass it by.


The band following troops were lucky to have this player following wearing regulation wooly gloves!

Then back to Cheltenham, friendly Gloucester bus driver, and back into Montpellier, Cheltenham’s poshest area. Unlike Gloucester, Cheltenham is the opposite, with one of the wealthiest town centres, but with some notable exceptions the people are a little aloof. It was the Montpellier Street Fair, and was complete with some vintage cars and here’s an English / United States contrast: the American car was from roughly the same age as the English car, which is an Austin A30.

I’ve always claimed that it was my Aunty Alice who invented the screen wash as she had a little Austin like this and whenever she went out took with her a full squeeze bottle of soapy water, so she could lean out of the driver’s window and spray the windscreen. She told me she’d invented it, who am I to disagree.


So, back home, calling in on the way at a bar for a beer, sadly not free but worth every penny. The young man in front of me elicited no reaction from anyone passing with his green hair, I wonder is he was inspired by a traffic light. Perhaps he changes it every week: Red, Amber, Green.


Behind Paradise…

The hill behind Paradise is Painswick Beacon and on a clear day you can see what seems to be half of England and the outline of Wales. There’s a quarry nearby by the name of Catsbrain, no idea why it has a name like that, but it was from this area that the stone for Gloucester Cathedral was quarried.


Last evening we went for a walk to the top of the Beacon and it was a vivid green for miles, with the River severn glinting in the distance and the Malvern Hills clearly visible too.


The Severn in the distance


Spotted this triangular leafed plant on the way back, pointing at a brilliant blue summer evening sky.

What a morning of winter light.

This beautiful woman is a gargoyle on Gloucester Cathedral, the rain water comes off the roof out of the pot she is carrying.This is a wonderful piece of carving by the skilled stonemasons at the Cathedral and today was one of those days when the winter light is just right to photograph such things. This is high up on the Cathedral roof and it was only thanks to a telephoto lens that I was able to get this close, and thanks to one of those wonderful sunny winter’s days that the light was right.

I normally only feature cartoons on this site, after all this is what it’s all about for me, but an image like this deserves to be shared.

Back to the drawing board tomorrow.