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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Vineyard and a Roman mine

Spent the day with the wonderful Dennis Locorriere of Dr. Hook fame and his delightful wife at the vineyard where Dennis will be performing and exhibiting his cartoons. Here's a trio of photos of Dennis and vineyard owner, Christen Monge, amongst the vines (which are growing literally on the remains of a Roman mine). Afterwards we treated ourselves to a very calorific lunch at the splendid Tablehurst Farm.





Photos copyright SvD.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Things I saw in the woods today, part 92

Conkers at the ready:

Little boys used to sling these at each other, many moons ago before the PC brigade arrived. Legend has it that if you soak your conkers in vinegar, they get really, really hard and inflict the most damage- oh, dear, I'm probably going to go to jail for saying that....

A Bacchanalian feast of berries- here are blackberries and hawthorn berries. The former are small and sweet- ideal raw with cream or in jams and tarts. Hawthorns on the other hand are tooth dissolving raw but make a pleasant jelly, jam or liqueur. My morning feast of blackberries during my walk with the hound, gives me an incredible Vitamin C high- great if you feel a cold coming on...
The elderberries are ripe! In our folklore that means it is officially the end of summer.
Photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Extremism and the murder of James Foley

Near my house is a field where I know there to be not one but two nests of adders. In the summertime, the ground seems to move but upon closer inspection, it is the snakes trembling with delight as they lay in the sun. The hound and I know to avoid the adders and so we gingerly cross the field and out of their path.

The same applies to extremists/fanatics, misguided individuals intent on creating havoc: we can choose to walk in the opposite direction.

Last week we had the most awful, shocking news of American journalist, James Foley, being murdered by a fanatic. There is a separate debate to be had on the value of social media but suffice it to say that those who watched the video of a man's life being ended and succumbed to a perverse voyeurism need to reflect upon their behaviour long and hard.

There are so many threads here to discuss: the dignity of James Foley's parents despite the agony of seeing their child murdered in a most heinous way. The argument that all religion is the cause of suffering and war. The British scientist, also in the news, who argues that all deformed or imperfect children should be murdered in the womb. The fanatics, born and bred in the UK who declare that they hate the UK and have gone off to fight for a 'cause'. What's the difference between any of these people? Who is the odd one out? The one preaching love not hate.

I recently spent two months doing voluntary work which introduced me to various echelons of British society but it was the outsiders who intrigued me the most. I was appalled, to put it lightly, that there are many who do not see themselves as British. They cling to the ways of the old country which they have never even set foot in, maintaining customs, such as intermarriage, which are not theirs but more accurately, those of their long dead ancestors. The distinctive garb, the determination to speak a pidgin version of their mother tongue, and marrying only within their splintered communities clearly demonstrate a dread of integrating into British society.

Oh, I will get called all sorts of terrible things for saying this but here it is: this laissez-faire approach of our immigration policy should never be allowed. We live in a country filled with churches and despite all the PC nonsense in the world, there should be no place for those who do not wish to belong to this great country of ours. I would willingly give my life for this green and pleasant land. I can think of nowhere else in the world where I can walk in the woods and feel safe, or to be able to think as clearly as I do than Great Britain. The foggy, wet climate suits my personality for introspection and solitude.

I owe this country everything. Nowhere is perfect just as no lover is the prince charming we wish he would be. But there can be no halfway compromise for those wishing to call this their home. Either they develop a passion for beans on toast or the government should rethink not just its immigration policy but the ripple effect of engaging in faraway conflicts that send refugees flocking to our shores.

It would also appear that not wishing to offend has become so ingrained in British thinking that even the secret services have spectacularly misjudged the extent of the nascent and thriving extremism on their doorstep. That alleged killer of James Foley is so obviously from a specific environment as I have alluded to above, a potential breeding ground for dissent. And yet one gets the impression that the intelligence services and the government have been slow off the mark to understand this. If I am wrong I will eat my hair dryer.

One can get caught up in a swell of racism when the truth is, Britain ought to be proud of its heritage. Forget apologising and appeasing- where has that got us? Whose crazy idea was it to permit scores of non-English speaking people to be granted residency and horror upon horror, citizenship? Is it not already apparent that if immigrants don't speak the lingua franca they will always see themselves as wishing they were somewhere else?

It may come as a complete shock to HMRC but there are millions of people in this country who do not even pay tax. There is a parallel economy- just like in the City of London, I might add- but one where all transactions are handled in cash. Just go for a walk through any deprived part of the UK and open your eyes.

How can the government fix it? Have the courage to say that women should wear bikinis on the beach, like the French have, because that is what it means to be British. Insist that children regardless of their parents' denomination or culture, learn not only to recite Shakespeare backwards but that the British way of life is to be admired and respected. And make national service mandatory. All these idiots who claim to hate the West and have gone off to fight for some cause while wearing Timberland boots- what irony! They should count themselves so lucky they were given the choice to be a disgrace to the human race.

There's another argument- just like the women who cry sexual discrimination because their boss tried to sleep with them- yawn- or the person who cries racial discrimination because their boss complained about their dreadlocks ending up in the soup, those ignorant  'extremists' make everybody else look bad. Not all Muslims are fanatics- Islam is essentially a religion about peace and brotherhood. If someone misinterprets the tenets of their faith through sheer ignorance, everyone else gets tarred with the same brush. A certain British scientist mocks organised religion yet the Pope comforted the parents of James Foley and they were immensely grateful for his words. Why ridicule faith when it provides compassion and solace?

Life remains the great enigma. Our paths were written in the stars long ago. And in one life there are many journeys to make. Choose yours wisely.


Photo and painting, The Musing Man, oil on paper, copyright SvD.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Things I saw in the woods today, part 91

Inside a bale of hay:

 A dried conifer leaf:
 Ripening hawthorn berries:
 The woods, carpetted with the first dried autumn leaves:
 A horse chestnut leaf beginning to die- the Autumn is coming:
 A feather covered in morning dew:
Photos copyright SvD.