“Anyone wanting to be Prime Minister should be automatically discounted”

Paradise

The joys of walking are many and various, walking with a chum is recommended, though walking alone can sometimes have it’s moments too.

Today I set out early with my chum Robin. We were expecting hot weather so the early start was a must, and it was perfect. A walk in Paradise, as it really is called, just outside Painswick. Cotswold landscape at its very best. There used to be a bus stop there but it seems to have been dispensed with. Take a look here for a previous visit:  Jesus drives a Porsche in Paradise.

Walking and talking we got into things political and I expressed some doubts about our rulers, whereupon Robin came up with the quote of the day: “Anyone wanting that job should not be allowed to do it” he said and I tend to agree. Thrusting ambition and naked greed for power seem to most of us to be unsuitable attributes to be a leader of the nation. But what do we know?

The subject was quickly dispensed with as we got on with worthier ones. We came across these horses. Now I’m not a big fan of horses as they can step on you and bite, but these chaps were not in the mood for anything but a curious bit of tail waving and strolling. At “3 o’clock” ( fighter pilot parlance I believe ) in the image you might glance another demon, looks like it might be a flying insect ready for breakfast. Scamble! Scramble!

Paradise tree

Down in the valley where we kept cool, we took a break for a stare and a minor rendition from Robin, who’s a fine folk singer. Here he is backed by various birds whilst we take in a quick drying hay field. He and his fellow singers, known collectively as the Gloucester Diamonds have recently put together a cd of some lovely songs. Find out more right here: The Gloucester Diamonds

The walk ended in Painswick where we found a super little coffee shop after passing this chap mowing the bowling green for no apparent reason. I suspect that he would not gather more than a handful of clippings from the entire area. He had markers to guide where he’s been! It was like giving a completely bald bloke a haircut with a pair of electric clippers. We expected him to come out afterward and get the steam iron out on it. Now here’s a bloke who might make a good prime minister.

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Just got back from the Isle of Skye…

Just got back from the Isle of Skye…

…and still, I have my trousers.

A week’s walking with 2 Canadians 3 Americans and two Brits, my other half included and a Scottish Leader. Scottish Leader was brilliant all round and the others all very good company too. We were all there to discover the same thing, that is the delights of walking in Skye. There were two ‘elephants in the room’: Trump and May, but amazingly we all seemed to be of the same mind. This was something of a blessing.

We all had a lot to talk about and loads of walking to do. I’ll let the pictures do the talking this time and it’s back to cartoons next time, rather than “What I did on my holidays”

Can’t go without mentioning the weather: generally good, sunny in patches, windy enough to keep the midges grounded for the most part. The rest of the UK was apparently cold and very wet, but we missed it.

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This is where “Ring of Bright Water’ was written and where Gavin Maxwell lived and wrote the book.  Ring of Bright Water

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Still life with seaweed

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Beach which has seaweed that has turned to this:

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This is the graveyard where Flora Macdonald is buried along with fashion designer Alexander McQueen. I wonder if he would have liked his headstone, the location could not be beaten.

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We climbed so high it felt like we were looking down from an aircraft, the light changed every few seconds and the views were just amazing as you can see here. What you might not get from this is the huge scale of the mountains. On a clear day, you can see Japanese tourists in thin clothing and designer handbags tottering up to view the strange people in boots walking the hills in rainproof gear and waterproof gaiters and gloves, in June!


 

Cheddar, a tasty day out.

I go walking with a good old friend of mine, and one of our favourite meeting places is in the Mendips near to the Cheddar Gorge, and yesterday we were confident of a fine day and some good walking. A reprise of a previous walk down the Cheddar gorge and unfortunately up the other side. Blubells much in evidence for the first part of the walk from Chaterhouse on the top of the hills. It seemed to us strange that these creatures of the woods were still there at this time of year and in the open rather than in a congregation under trees. No matter they were a lovely sight.Bluebelltree

Bluebell

We arrived after a while and a walk through old lead mining area, at the top of the Gorge. We were well kitted with what we call stout walking boots and weatherproofs. The previous day we’d had almost biblical rain and we thought the ground would have been pretty muddy and sodden. It was not. We’ve had so much premanent dry weather our theory was that the land had acted like blotting paper and had soaked up all the moisture.

It was nevertheless a surprise to see two young men and their partners coming the other way with a puchchair and small child. The ground is quite steep and rocky and they were carrying a child in a pushchair, by carrying the pushchair. Female partners were dressed in thin shoes and clothes as if they’d thought it might be a good idea after a spell on the beach at nearby Weston super Mare, or as my satnav called in Weston s Mare. So the satnav does not think it’s that super then?

They would have had to climb out of the Gorge up dozens of steps to get there. One can admire their sense of adventure but not their sense.

Here’s Richard contemplating Weston in the distance. Super view.

It’s not changed that much since our last trip there:

Bluebell fields and a grand day out.

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Who’s lost their marbles?

Well it’s the Greeks if you must know and they did n’t lose them, we nicked them. High time we gave them back.

That aside and it’s a big aside and much more important than my ” What I did on my holidays” essay that follows, the Greeks were in my experience, the friendliest people I’ve met for a long time.

We’d gone to Spetses, and make no mistake about it it’s a long way from here in the UK. At least it is for us British who don’t travel well.(Don’t mention Brexit. Don’t you think that it sounds like a brand name for constipation? Just a thought ). Anyhow, back to the trip.

First of all I’d recommend Aegaen airways, not for the food which was like almost all airline food is not unlike school dinner at it’s worst ( or if you’re German wurst, and please don’t mention the Germans in Greece ) No the staff are the things that are notable. Now I know that airline hostesses are made up to the nines, blokes as well, but this lot looked like they’d strayed of the pages of Vogue. Except that they smiled genuine smiles, none of that fake smile hidden by the permafrost, the speciality of almost any advertising agency receptionist.

Greeted at Spetses by my old college chum Ros ( fine printmaker and watercolourist:
See her work here ) she had an idea where we awere staying. No road names on Spetses, so quite a puzzle finding anywhere. There are no cars on Spetses apart from a few taxis, they get around in the season by bus ( not many when we were there ) and loads of little scooters. Not all were as in fine condition as this model.

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These scooters can carry a family of four in close proximity and sometimes the dog, as well as a week’s shopping.

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The dog also is trained to look after the bike when you are in the shops, and can possibly drive away if there’s a problem. I did see one scooter with an addition padded stool welded to the front platform for an additional person. There appear to be no crash helmets in existence on the island, speeds are generally quite modest and roads outside the main ones can be pretty rough and dusty. There are numerous bycycle repairman probably making a good living.

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This is a relatively light load, two kids and a little bit of shopping.


 

So we’d arrived and now it was time for landscapes, in February!

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and boats

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They seem to use an orange paint on their boats to repair them, bright!

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These tubs apparently bring in extra water for the island

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Grape hyacynths in February

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and nothing would be complete without a decent shed.


 

Eat your heart out Andy Warhol.

He was reputed to have made the most tedious films ever, I’ve been fortunate to miss them, but here’s my own contribution to the ‘cannon’. Off we went for a good old country walk into the village at the top of the hill that’s a good deal colder than around here, but is also blessed with some wonderful cotswold stone walls. The village itself is ‘owned’ by one estate so all the cottages there are in the same style and painted in the ‘estate’ colours.The entire village is in the ownership of this estate so you can’t buy anywhere there, all the houses and cottages are let out by the estate and the result is somewhere that is in many ways unique. It means that there are no ghastly additions and the place looks not unlike a film set for Mid-Summer Murders.

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The owners were responsible for getting most of the population in this country smoking cigarettes, so their fortune is based on a habit that has been a curse on many. I could comment but perhaps best not to. Let’s put that aside for the stone walls. All beautifully maintained and in the sunshine they are a thing of beauty, a major work of art to me, with the litchen gripping here and there and the colours glowing in the sun.

My latest blockbuster


There’s a real skill in the building of these walls and , unlike in the top photo, where the wall has been ‘capped’ by concrete, the really ‘pure’ builders never do this and the walls simply have the stones on the top without any ‘glue’. The old litchen one in the lane image gives a better idea on how they used to be finished off. There’s apparently a way of laying the stones so that the water drains through so that the stones won’t frost, and therefore last for years.

You might reasonably wonder where are the cartoons? Well I have been busy drawing and keeping my resolution of last year to do a drawing a day. So they will be back!

 

 

Walking for talk’s sake…

There’s more too it than you think and less than you might sometimes expect. That’s the sort of nonsense I talk after a good walk, that’s ended at a pub. Anyhow, my chum Robin, chose to chauffeur me out to a place I’ve never been before, the Cheltenham Canal. Apart from the pleasure of the drive in his spectacular vehicle with buttons for everything, we had a brilliant sunny day and a good walk to look forward to.

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Robinus Burtonicus in it’s natural habitat.


 

It’s a fact that if one earns one’s living in a career where most of the time you sit behind a desk and listen to nothing much more than Radio 4 and your own record collection for company then there is a tendency when let out to talk too much. I was once described as ‘garrulous’ in a school report and asked the teacher what it meant, he simply said ” You talk too much Davies”. He was a religious education teacher and I’d have thought he could have been a tad more Christian about it. I was not particularly wounded by his comment, as it was plainly true. The Games master’s report for PE was something that did hurt when describing my athletic prowess in gymnastics: “Tries hard, fails miserably”. Anyway, as someone who talks too much I’m typically going off the point.

Suffice to say that Robin and I had chosen a golden day to visit the area. In the distance the Malvern Hills were as clear as crystal, May Hill in the other direction looked closer than it was from us, and the light on the fields and water was simply golden.

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There be yonder Malvern Hills


Sodden underfoot from a lot of rain that we’ve had recently, it was a great day to get out and chatter. I was able to recycle stories of hearing a sedge warbler on a similar visit further down the Severn Estuary and mistaking it for an HP Deskjet Printer re-charging with expensive ink, whilst Robin patiently listened to me like a kindly doctor.
Is that a Sedge Warbler or what?

There was much dancing from clump to clump of slightly dryer grasses to reach bird hides to view loads of ducks and other such birds peacefully going about their business.Trouser leg bottoms were beginning to act like a fairly sodden wick and rising damp was likely to become and issue.

The Fulcrum of the walk was the pub at Wainlodes, which Robin, who’s something of an expert on local folk history, gave me the true meaning of the name, whilst I just thought that Wayne Loades was a fork lift truck driver. I’ve had a bit of a thing about unusual names recently.

It was the Red Lion at Waindlodes that was our target and well worth the walk. The food was excellent and the service great too. If you feel like a good walk and some great food and beer, I’d certainly recommend this place The Red Lion

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Wayne?


 

Striding across fields we came across this fine set of potential cricket bats. How do they make willow into such things? Who thought that might be a good idea in the first place.

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Perhaps being cricketers they were expecting rain and knew that willow was a good plant for damp areas. I’m sure if there’s a folk song about it Robin will either find out about it or already know it and belt it out right there and then. He is, after all, a quarter of the Gloucester Diamonds folk ensemble and is naturally good at belting out a song. He sang a couple on the way back in the motor and it was quite unlike a computer printer charging up, or even a Sedge Warbler. Good day, good talk, good food, try it yourself when we next get a sunny day.

The Gloucester Diamonds Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

British Camp?

Ok, this is the first time I’ve posted a film. This is called British Camp, it’s an outdoorsy type of epic starring Malvern Hills and has far reaching views. Production values are not up to much, it was done on a phone after all, so you’ll be pleased that it is very short.

An October walk on the Malvern Hills is the main story line. The story ends with Tiffin the hero of the outing which can be found at the end of the walk and is not to be missed. No saccharin here this is real chocolate with a chocolate topping, absolutely topping with a cup of tea.

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This is one of the opening scenes

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Way out West you can see for miles over to the Shropshire Hills and Wales beyond.

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Back down on the home run there is the cafe, perched on the hillside. Ring both bells and you will be well served. Tiffin and tea, what better way to end the adventure.

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Roll credits:

Tiffin was served by Ruffz Refreshment Kiosk
Midsummer Hill, Malvern and made by the proprietor

Miss Toni Leigh Hollings
who sounds like a star too!

Find them on Facebook:Ruffz
Then seek out after a healthy walk. Well worth it.