Friday, September 01, 2017

Flying Scotsman

The West Somerset Railway is hosting The Flying Scotsman and it will be running on the line from 5th September to 12th September inclusive, except for the 8th.

The photo above was taken at Crowcombe Heathfield in the early evening of the 30th August when it was on a gauging run from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back. The run was to ensure there would be no problems going through the stations - we've seen this before with other locos.

If you would like to view the timetables for the visit then click here and check out the orange dates for September.

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Monday, August 04, 2014


Oh gosh, it's almost a year since I posted here.

So here's something to be going on with - one of the many Dragonflies that have been here over the past couple of weeks. It's a Migrant Hawker.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Butterflies and Bees

Painted Lady
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

Last year was particularly bad for Butterflies and Bees, leading to lots of doom and gloom reports about the difficulties they faced and how we could have major problems in the future. Well, I'm very glad to say that at least in our location 2013 has been excellent for both of them.

There are several Lavender bushes outside our house and everybody I speak to comments on the number of Bees on the flowers - also on the different types of Bees. When the sun is out (and that's been a lot this summer) there have been constantly 30 or 40 Bees on each bush, plus a few Butterflies.

The Butterfly population properly started with a load of Large Whites back in July and has gone from strength to strength over the past two months. Quite a mix all over the garden flowers and bushes and these have done really well this year. Two types stand out: the four or five Silver Washed Fritillaries that love the Buddleias and the large number of Gatekeepers all over the place, but mainly in the Marjoram. And of course that rare visitor, a Painted Lady, in the photo.

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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Hull University Class Photo

Hull University Class Photo
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

I post some old images on Flickr from time to time, often old school photos that have surfaced during the clearouts that we do occasionally.

This is what I call a "Class Photo" that was taken just before graduation at Hull University - we studied Chemistry. Thought I'd give this a wider audience in case some of my old colleagues (for want of a better word) saw it and could provide the names that I have forgotten. It was a long time ago :)

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Black 5

Black 5

The railway has got progressively more boring over the past few years with visiting locos looking very similar.

Quite worrying when this looks almost unusual :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Old Army Vehicle

I want one :)

It was the Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally down at Norton Fitzwarren. Occasionally - like this day - some of the vehicles travel along the railway and stop off at the stations.

I'm told it's a "beautifully restored WW II 6 X 6 US Army 2.5 ton GMC CCKW 353".

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tyger, Tyger ...

Tyger, Tyger ...

Just occasionally during a Gala a steam engine will show its true colours - in this case the Evil Eyes :)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Stained Glass detail

Stained Glass detail

I've become slightly addicted to photographing the Churches around the area, with a lot of the emphasis on the stained glass windows.

This is just an example to whet your appetite - you can find more on my Flickr account.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ted Cubitt

Ted has told me that he has resigned as Station Master at Crowcombe Heathfield.

He was the first person we met on the railway when we moved down here 4 years ago - he instantly made us feel welcome on the station and has done ever since. He treated all our visitors in the same way and they were always full of praise for him.

I am sorry to see him go.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Burn Out

We were walking on top of the Quantocks and came upon this in the Car Park near Robin Upright's Hill.

Somewhat unexpected.

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Frozen Points

We had a diesel and a roadrailer "marooned" at the station for several days. This guy had just unfrozen the bits to allow them to leave.

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White Stuff

The snow came a month early this year (compared to last) and we had around 5 or 6 inches along our road - and we don't get Gritters along here or between here and the main Taunton - Minehead road. So it can be interesting getting onto a decent road.

No problems this year - enough food, no power cuts (unlike last year) and no need to leave the house. Simples.

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It's that time of year !

A little chap discovered outside Santa's Grotto in the local Wyevale before Christmas.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009


It's that time of year and the folks at Holford Farm are getting in the crop while we have some good weather.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Way I Feel ...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Haynes Sex Manual

Haynes Sex Manual

I'm sure that many people will have bought Haynes manuals to go with their new (or new old) cars, certainly in the days when cars were not quite as reliable as they are today. Gosh, am I tempting fate here ??

Well, that nice Mr. Haynes of Yeovil has moved on from cars and now has what they call a Family Series of manuals - this is one of them. On the Haynes website there is a quote from an MP saying that the Department of Health recommends this manual.

(Note: click on the link to get the picture)

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gray Rock

Gray Rock

I just had to post this to show some of the great spots on the North coast. We went to Blue Anchor on the train and walked along the seafront soaking up the rays and slurping 99s from outside the Driftwood Cafe.

This is the view looking East towards Gray Rock. Nice.

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Early Night Sky

Early Night Sky

Such a difference, moving down here from a few miles from Heathrow. The relative lack of pollution has been really noticeable and we rarely got sunsets like this.


Neat, but boring

Neat, but boring

This has been a pet hate of mine since we moved down here three years ago.

The grassy banks and surroundings of the railway "property" (the WSR lease the land) are mown on a regular basis - usually twice a week - with the result that you see. Neat but oh so boring. Occasionally (e.g. in inclement weather) it gets left and suddenly we get wild flower gardens that attract all sorts of wildlife and look really nice. Then the Axemen cut it down again.

You decide what you would like - pretty flowers and lots of wildlife or Astroturf. But if you want the latter then please don't talk to me.

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Station Birthday

Station Volunteers

30 years ago on 99th June the West Somerset Railway was extended from Stogumber to Crowcombe Heathfield and Bishops Lydeard.

A small birthday celebration to be followed by an Open Day on 30th. July.

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A lot of people will have heard of Tornado - the first new steam train for over 40 years. It spent a couple of weeks on the railway and brought in lots of visitors.

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Ship Ahoy !


We know that there are some awful drivers down here, but parking a ship on a roof top is definitely unusual.

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St. George's Day

Bench End - St. George

Continuing the church visits, here's a great bench end:

St. George and the Dragon from St. George's Church, Bicknoller, taken on the 23rd. April.

Why the Politicall Correct idiots removed England's day of celebration I will never understand.

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Now these were found in the graveyard of St. George's in Bicknoller and apparently are the remains of the old village stocks.

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Long Street Juniors

Long Street Juniors - 3rd Year

I love finding these photos from the past, despite the fact that in some of them my dress sense was appalling even by the standards back then.

So this is the class photo of my 3rd year at Junior School. If you look at the version on Flickr there are lots of Notes showing whose names we remember.

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Visit from Royalty

Royal Scot

At the risk of upsetting people, this is the only sort of Royalty that I am impressed with.

I was brought up about 4 miles South of Leicester and remember the day that my Mother told me that we were going in to Leicester to see the Queen - I must have been 5 or 6 years old. So we got ready, caught the bus into Leicester and waited amongst crowds of flag-waving people in a street near the De Montfort Hall. Then a car came past with the Queen waving to us - I saw her for at least 20 seconds - and we went back home. Was it worth it ?? You must be kidding.

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West Somerset Post

I have to say thanks to the West Somerset Post for listing this Blog under the heading "West Somerset & Exmoor Blogs of Note".

Not sure that this is deserved, but it will persuade me to try and get this lot up to date over the next few days - it's been a while since I posted. Sorry Sweetie, but all those other things I was going to do will have to wait ...


Stained Glass Window

Stained Glass Window

Continuing the church theme, here's one of the excellent stained glass windows in St. Mary's Church, Stringston.

As always, see my Flickr photos for more of the same.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

St. George's Church

St. George's Church
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

We decided to go out and photograph lots of the local churches this year and this is one of the shots.

What makes it interesting (and slightly bizarre) are the aeroplane contrails that look like a cross at the top right-hand side of the photo.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Diary - September 1957

I have my Diary for the last year at Junior School and I have been transcribing it on and off.

The Diary was a "project". Each Friday we had to sit down in class and fill them in for that week and our Form Teacher, Mr. Widdowson, would take them and read them - you can just see his red tick on the bottom of the left hand page. I guess he must have been quite amused to read them?

I realised recently that a scan of the actual document is probably much more interesting and I have just completed the first 20 images - this is one of them. I have now uploaded them all to my Flickr pages

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Autumn Colors

Autumn Colors
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

This photo has to be displayed everywhere ! The colours were magnificent and the light exceptional - just a bit of sharpening with the software.

On Remembrance Day. The drove road going up towards Tower Farms from the West Somerset Railway.

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Mad Bikers

Mad Bikers
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

I'm only jealous - don't think I'm capable of this sort of thing any more. Maybe I never was ?

Photo taken on the way up from Rams Coombe to the road that goes from Crowcombe across the Quantocks down to Over and Nether Stowey. This track comes out near Crowcombe Park Gate.

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Autumn Views on the Quantocks

Autumn Views on the Quantocks
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

We spent a pleasant 90 minutes walking from Dead Woman's Ditch towards Crowcombe Park Gate and back - the harder walk was a week later up a 1 in 4 road.

This is a nice Autumn shot looking roughly South West from the tops.

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Local Hazard

Local Hazard
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

But not as bad as the big milk lorry (that picks up milk from a local farm) or the bus that I once met on a blind bend on a road this narrow.

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Nope, I'm still in Somerset

Nope, I'm still in Somerset
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

An interesting find on a walk towards the Quantocks. Thought for a second that I'd had a Doctor Who moment and been zapped across the pond.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

34046 Braunton

After a long restoration period Braunton finally pulls its first passenger-carrying excursion - seen here just before Crowcombe Heathfield station on the way back from Minehead.

There is an excellent WSRA Press Release that gives lots of detail about the history and restoration.

The nameplate and shield (seen below) were unveiled during a ceremony at Bishops Lydeard earlier in the day.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Running parallel to the railway line is an unadopted road that has a small verge on the opposite side to the railway that is covered in naturally occurring flowers. These flowers are home to all sorts of wildlife.

The railway staff have started to cut down the flowers "to make it tidy", thus destroying a natural habit for the wildlife.

So now the "municipal garden" scenario has spread from the station to the surrounding lanes. Just what we don't want in rural Somerset.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Suddenly there was a hole ...

Well there we were, discussing this hole
A hole in the ground so big and sort of round
Well it's not there now, the ground's all flat
And beneath it is the bloke in the bowler hat.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008


For a long time now I've had this photo (minus the words) on my Flickr account along with the comment "No human beings or trainspotters were harmed during the making of this photo".

Imagine my amusement a couple of weeks ago when those nice folk on the Unofficial WSR Discussion Group found the photo and for some reason thought it was real and not contrived. Oh dear, did they let rip with their comments about walking in the wrong places and giving the WSR a bad name. I hope they are still taking their tablets.

The good thing was that the number of views of my Trainspotters Set went up dramatically over a couple of days.

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More from the 1500s

We have just received our copy of the latest Crowcombe Village Magazine - it's called CAW which apparently stands for "Crowcombe Area Worksheet", and is distributed in the Parish of Crowcombe. I hope you're all following this, as there will be a test !

One of the articles in the magazine has the same title as this Blog entry - it includes such gems as this:

"England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be," saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer" ".

It's almost plausible, isn't it? Unfortunately this has been sent around the Net as part of Hoax emails for many years - there are some other "gems" which you can see for instance on the Sophos site at

OK you say, so it's good that Editors of Parish Magazines have a sense of humour - and I would agree with you. But nowhere can I find anything that owns up to it being a hoax. So maybe these Editors are just gullible ???

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Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

Opposite the station and therefore just up the road from here is a plot of land that has a small single storey dwelling and various other buildings. The house hasn't been lived in for some time and the plot has now been sold - the sale includes planning permission for a replacement single dwelling and landscaping.

So we are all waiting with bated breath to see whether the new owners attempt to change the plans for the site and build far more houses. Reading the Planning Decision on the current proposal I can't see how the West Somerset Council could possibly change their approval - but one never knows.

Even the current proposal is likely to cause some disruption along our road and the station is likely to be badly affected as they have car parking immediately opposite the entrance to the site. This is a narrow road so getting lorries in and out of the site will be interesting.

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Rail Grinder

The Fires of Hell
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

This photo is a great shot (though I say it myself !) of the Rail Grinder that came to sort out the WSR back in January 2008. We enjoyed watching it going up and down the line and you must admit it does make for good photos. However, as time went on, it became obvious that all was not well on the rails.

To cut a long and badly-managed story short, it appears that the grinding produced a rail profile that was not compatible with the steam engines that run on this line. As you would expect, the "rivet counters" have a long and very tedious explanation but we won't go into that here.

So most of the steam engines were removed from service whilst bits of the line were "shaped" (my word) by hand. So for about 6 weeks we only had one little tank engine that dared to venture out whilst most of the work was handled by diesels, or Smelly Nellys as they're called - and for good reason.

But now we're back to normal - we hope - and the plc is going to have an enquiry into the problems. We look forward to seeing the results, assuming that they are made public.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gap Year

It's been about a year since I last posted anything due to a number of things going on that sort of took my eye off the ball, so to speak. Ignore the date of this post - I've just edited an old one to get the sequence correct.

But now we're back, raring to go, and even grumpier than usual. Beware !

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Vote Saxon

You know it makes sense !!!

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Sunday, June 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

Found this flat out on the ground near the kitchen, so picked it up and put it on the summer house roof. Good job I wore gloves as the claws are long and sharp.

It's a male and looked like an adult. We think it was involved in a territorial dispute with another male and lost.

Eventually it disappeared - never found the body so assume it was OK - and there are definitely still two pairs around plus some youngsters.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Sheep in the road

Sheep in the road
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

Ollie took this as he thought it would make a change from the pictures of trains. And it was rather bizarre having sheep herded down our road.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Visitors Beware !!

Visitors Beware !!
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

The wildlife increases. Now we will be careful when digging around the garden edges.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sometimes the truth hurts ...

A joke sent to me by my sister:

A young man named Gordon bought a donkey from an old farmer for £100.00.
The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day, but when the farmer drove up he said,

"Sorry son, but I have some bad news... The donkey is on my truck, but
unfortunately he's dead."

Gordon replied, "Well then, just give me my money back."
The farmer said, "I can't do that, because I've spent it already."

Gordon said, "OK then, well just unload the donkey anyway."
The farmer asked, "What are you going to do with him?"
Gordon answered, "I'm going to raffle him off."
To which the farmer exclaimed, "Surely you can't raffle off a dead donkey!"
But Gordon, with a wicked smile on his face said, "Of course I can, you
watch me. I just won't bother to tell anybody that he's dead."

A month later the farmer met up with Gordon and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?"

Gordon said, "I raffled him off, sold 500 tickets at two pounds a piece, and made a huge, fat profit!!"

Totally amazed, the farmer asked, "Didn't anyone complain that you had stolen their money because you lied about the donkey being dead?"

To which Gordon replied, "The only guy who found out about the donkey being dead was the raffle winner when he came to claim his prize. So I gave him his £2 raffle ticket money back plus an extra £200, which as you know is double the going rate for a donkey, so he thought I was great guy!!"

Gordon grew up and eventually became the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and no matter how many times he lied, or how much money he stole from the British voters, as long as he gave them back some of the stolen money, most of them, unfortunately, still thought he was a great guy.

The moral of this story is that, if you think Gordon is about to play fair and do something for the everyday people of the country for once in his miserable, lying life, thinkagain my friend, because you'll be better off flogging a dead donkey.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Easter

Happy Easter
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

Well, I like it. Just about the correct (but not PC) piccy for this festive occasion.

Vegetarians and bunny-lovers look away now. Whoops - too late !

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Random Joke

Random Joke
Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

Couldn't resist uploading this to Flickr.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Originally uploaded by Crowcombe Al.

Just one of the many Flickr photos uploaded over the past couple of weeks during and after the Spring Gala.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Early Spring

Still in March but the temperature on our Weather Station reached 22 degrees today. And I have the beginnings of a suntan - amazing ! Also a chipped tooth where I had a root canal a couple of years ago which is a pain (literally). Hey, ho. I hate Dentists but I guess I'll have to go.

Exploration visit to Bishops Lydeard today - have to take the car for an MoT and wanted to suss out the village, distance from the station etc. First pub is the Lethbridge Arms and is only 5 minutes from the station - we are going to check it out and if the food is good this will be a weekend trip with or without visitors. A short stagger back to the station. There is a Doctors a little further (so I might re-register there) and a small Co-op about 10 minutes from the station, with two garages and a Post Office on the way. Just past the Co-op is the Church which we will visit over the next few months - prepare for some Flickr photos from the graveyard !

Only curious thing is some of the stares I got on my walk. OK, I know it was me, but I was a bit surprised. Maybe it was the combination of jeans, trainers, fancy fleece and wooly hat ?? I've already been told by one of our neighbours that trainers are of "City folk".

Friday, March 09, 2007


So there I was, standing outside the conservatory, minding my own business, musing whether to go and Creocote a fence.

Suddenly a Blue Tit flies in front of me, followed by a chasing Sparrowhawk that gets less than 3 feet from me before doing a "handbrake turn" and flying off at 180 degrees.

It was a bit like a cartoon where birds etc. put on the brakes and stop almost immediately. The Sparrowhawk spread its wings and did exactly the same before turning and flying off. Impressive !

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Abbey Flat

Well we did have a buyer and we had gone through 2 months of tedious paperwork, he's been round to the flat to work out decorations and furnishings, when suddenly he pulls out.

Then he forgets to inform his Solicitors who ask a few more questions and tell our guy that he'd better answer them as we are close to Exchange !

What an idiot.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Eclipse of the Moon

Taken in Andover by my sister, Jan Ward

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Headless Horseman

Well, not a horseman with or without the head. But a horse, on our drive, at midnight. Maybe it was a pony but I have no idea of the difference and frankly I don't care, especially at midnight.

It had gone by the time I got outside (probably a good job - for me that is) and all I could hear was its clip-clopping down the road past the station.


I later discovered it had come from a farm about a mile away by road.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


No snow in Somerset, but slightly different at the Abbey.

Picture was taken early morning on the 24th of January.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Well, it did blow - and that's an understatement ! We did have to cut back next door's plants that were all over our fence to prevent the whole lot coming down, but apart from that all seems OK.

A few trees down on our usual walking routes but nothing significant. Watching the news last night I guess we were lucky.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Such a mild winter so far although they say it will change over the next few days. It really is just like Spring - shame if it changes. And once again I have to say that the quality of light down here is just so much better than in Laleham and the best I've ever known in the UK.

So, we had some gales. At the back one fence post has gone and those either side are dodgy, but they are now braced and waiting for even warmer weather to do a proper fix (but see later!). Parts of the trellis over the Klargester that hold several clematis had detached from the wall so we trimmed the plants and screwed back the trellis and the supports.

Forecast for tomorrow is for bad gales with gusts up to around 60 mph down here. Keep your fingers crossed for the next entry!

Weather Station

We have given ourselves a Christmas present of a weather station, comprising a sensor which can be placed up to (theoretically) 100 metres away and a base station.

Currently the sensor is on the Summer House (or potting shed) under an awning so out of direct sunlight. Current temperature (at 1500 in the middle of January) is a little over 9 degrees with relative humidity of 75% and pressure 1006 mm Hg.

Oh dear, how sad can we get? More more I guess ! But it is nice to know how much warm clothing is required when going for a walk without going outside first.

It goes well with the Max/Min thermometer that we got from Sheila as a Christmas present and which now sits in the conservatory.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Flat Sale

Anyone who might be interested in purchasing our Abbey Flat should have a look at this page for some details.

Monday, November 20, 2006

An Ode to Mayonnaise

What luck!, we thought
A plate of meat!
A heavenly, carnivorous treat!

Cooked by P
To our delight
Ready for our meal, tonight.

Some spuds, a knife
Some veg, a fork
To go with that delicious pork

But lo! What kind of condiment
This lovely pork
Should complement?

The apple sauce has gone astray.
Should we be bisto kids, today?
Or mint sauce, or cranberry?
Will someone please explain to me?

What shall we smear on pork divine
To make it extra mighty fine?
A single person holds the key
To this porcine mystery!

Ah Penny, with her bright ideas
Was sitting there, with pricked up ears
Alert unto our porky plight
Knew just which sauce would be quite right.

A taste sensation, to amaze
I’m sure you will agree
For it was to eat mayonnaise,
That she incited me.

From a Northern Lass

Friday, October 13, 2006

Replacement Fence

Well, I'm not sure I liked the large hedge that was there originally, but it did give privacy to this Mews house. This new one is not very grand.

Ah well, we can now see everything going on there from the flat. Perhaps we should set up a webcam?