nichollsretirementproject

Bye bye Hitachi! Hallo Rampion!

So Hitachi has decided to pull out of its proposed £13 billion nuclear power station in Anglesey, which, for those of us who have seen Jack Lemon in ‘The China Syndrome’ is one less thing to worry about.

It may seem a trifle far-fetched but I’m glad that, in the post Brexit world, I don’t have to worry about some French Customs official at Calais holding up some vital spare part that would otherwise have prevented the  power station from going into complete melt-down and burning its way through to China.

I know that supporters of nuclear power will argue that the risk of a power station exploding, exposing its ‘fuel rods’ and then burrowing its way through the core of the earth and coming out somewhere to the west of Beijing is infinitesimally small, but all I will say to that is that the new Rampion field just off the coast of Brighton has absolutely no chance of burning its way through the infernal regions of the earth and troubling the good folk of the Middle Kingdom.

Why? Well, take a look at it.                         p1090872.jpg

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Rampion is the first wind-farm off the south coast of England and it is just visible from the shore at Brighton.  It has 116 turbines lazily rotating in the breeze and quietly generating enough electricity for about 350,000 homes.

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Apparently, the wind-farm which opened officially in April 2018 will save  around 600,000 tonnes of carbon a year compared with conventional methods of generating electricity and will have covered the carbon emissions caused by its manufacture within 10 months of operation.

It has 116 turbines, each of then 140 metres tall. Each blade is 55 metres long! They start to turn when the wind reaches 7 miles per hour and will automatically cut out if wind speeds exceed 50 mph, thereby avoiding the danger of them rattling loose in the wind and rolling ashore to terrify the local populace.

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But the best part is that for a mere £35.00 you can take a boat trip out to the farm and cruise around the turbines to have a closer look.p1090915   p1090821

They won’t let you do that around a nuclear power station!  Too afraid that you’ll fall down a hole and end up in China, I suppose.

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Why ‘Rampion’?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  The operators, EON, ran a competition amongst school children to see who could come up with  a name for the new wind-farm.  The winner was a little girl called Megan, who lives in Worthing.  She suggested ‘Rampion’ because it is a local plant found in hedgerows around Brighton and is also known as the ‘Pride of Sussex’.  What a clever little girl!

I wonder who her Dad works for.

 

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Bloody Brexit – I just don’t get it!

This whole Brexit debacle came about as a result of an ill-conceived referendum.

I say ‘ill-conceived’ because, at the time that the Great British Public took its narrow decision, no-one had any idea what the implications and ramifications of leaving the EU would be.

Now, after two and half years of debate, comment, research, we, at least have some idea of what awaits Britain if it leaves the EU

The referendum result was 48% to Remain, 52% to Leave, – by anyone’s definition a narrow majority. Especially when you consider the gravity of the step we are being asked to take.

Remainers like me remain depressed and ashamed of the decision that the British public took, largely because we believe that many of the 52% who voted Leave, did so for reasons pretty much unconnected with the issue of the European Union.

People in many parts of the country felt disadvantaged, ignored, left behind and hopeless about their circumstances and their prospects. Instead of directing their anger towards the respective governments of this country, who have systematically ignored the north and west of this nation in favour of London and the South East, they  took advantage of David Cameron’s desperate referendum on membership of the EU to vent their rage.  No-one really understood very much about the EU and its workings, but once people were told by the likes of Boris Johnson that the EU was to blame for immigration and that the UK government had to send money to the EU as a condition of membership that could he used to fund the NHS, minds were quickly made up.

So, the idea has come up of a second referendum and there are howls of protest from Leave supporters, and many areas of the press, saying that to call for a second vote on the issue is undemocratic. I just don’t get it!

The first referendum has left us with a divided country.  Many Remain voters feel that so little was known about the likely effects of EU withdrawal that the 52/48 victory is unreliable and needs to be challenged.  Many people believe that a second referendum might go the other way.

Leave voters cry ‘foul’ at this idea and brand it as ‘damaging’ to our democracy.  But why? What do they have to fear?

This is the biggest decision that this country has had to make since the Second World War. It is vital for the coherence and unity of this land that we get it right and that the final decision enjoys the support of a majority of the people.  So what is the problem of going back to the public and saying, “OK. This is what you voted for two and a half years ago. Now that you know more about the implications, is this still what you want?”

If the result of a second referendum were the same as the first one, people like me would have to accept that our opinions are out of line with majority and that our views didn’t prevail.

If the result of a second referendum were to reverse the first decision, thereby keeping the UK as a significant force within the EU, then many Leave supporters would be disappointed and some would be angry.

But what would they be angry about?  Would they be angry that the future course of the country had been decided by a vote in which the majority of the people, having had time to look at the issues, chose to stay and make our contribution as part of Europe?

If so, then they would be saying that they wanted the Leave view to be upheld, regardless of the will of the majority.  But, surely, that would be undemocratic?

If the Leave supporters still feel that the majority is in agreement with them, then they should welcome a confirmatory vote.  If they feel that the majority has swung the other way, then surely to oppose a second referendum and to push the country towards a course of action that doesn’t accord with majority view is an act of dishonesty, if not complete betrayal.

If we get a second referendum and it goes the same way as the first, I think that I will be able accept the informed Will of the People.  If we don’t get the opportunity to confirm that the majority of British people wants to isolated this country from our nearest neighbours, I do not believe that I will ever be reconciled to this Dog’s Breakfast that is Brexit.

 

 

If climate change is just a hoax…..

The ever-entertaining President Trump, in defence of his coal industry interests, has maintained that climate change is just one big, lefty hoax.

If that it true, Mr Trump, how do you explain this photo that I took outside my house today?  My lovely yellow rose bush blossomed in the summer.  Today there is still one gallant survivor ready to flower.
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Explain that, Mr President!

You couldn’t make it up! You really couldn’t!

In less than 100 days we are due to leave the EU.  In preparation for this huge change in our country’s status, with all its implications for our future  prosperity, security and role in the world, our government granted itself three weeks holiday!  Our Home Secretary, for example, took himself off on a luxury safari to South Africa, leaving the rest of us to endure Christmas amid the doom, gloom and indifferent weather of pre-Brexit Britain.

In fact, our illustrious Home Secretary had to cut short his holiday and return to London in order to declare a state of emergency because some 60 asylum seekers had come across on small boats from France and he had to have stern words with his French counterpart to stem the flow.

That’s 60 people.  More than two years ago, faced with a potential human disaster in Calais where thousands of  refugees from the Middle East and Africa were living in in atrocious conditions in “The Jungle”, the UK government generously agreed to take 3000 vulnerable refugee children over four years.  This children were to be selected from their countries of origin and not from France.

So far, after more than two years, we have managed to settle less than three hundred.  Italy and Germany must be shaking their collective heads in disbelief.  No wonder we are known as ‘Perfidious Albion’!

And then yesterday came the news that our government, who now campaign for Brexit under the slogan of “We’re Taking Back Control”, have become so worried about the prospect of a ‘No Deal Brexit’, that they are awarding contracts to shipping companies to provide additional ferries after march 29th, so that trucks can be transported through ports other than Dover, if customs formalities on the French border hold up the flow of traffic.

A wise precaution, you might say.  Three firms have been awarded contracts to provide ferries.  Two of the firms are from Europe, embarrassingly.  One is French and the other Danish.  Both of them large companies with years of experience in running shipping.

And then there is the face-saving award of a contract of almost £14 million to a British firm called Seaborne. Well, we couldn’t rely entirely on these Europeans to help us out of our self-imposed chaos, could we?  We needed a good solid British company to show these foreigners the way and to show that, as a country, we can stand on our own two feet.  Damned right, say I!

Slight problem.  The firm that has been give £14,000,000 of tax-payers’ money does not have any ships!  More than that, it does not have any experience of running a shipping business!!  Even more than that, it is a brand new start-up company that has no trading history and no capital!!!  But our very own Department of Transport is confident that Seaborne can provide all the ferries promised, if we crash out of the EU on March 29th.

Really, you couldn’t make it up.  If this is an example of the British government taking back control, then God help us. We are demonstrating to the world that we would have difficulty in controlling a cake-stall, let alone a major modern economy.

Just imagine if this story had been sent in by our Africa correspondent, saying that some African government had awarded millions of pounds worth of contracts to a company that had no track record at all in the business concerned.

The first question would be, “Whose brother, uncle or cousin owns the company concerned?”  The second would be “Who is protecting the Minister who awarded this contract?”  The third would be “Which Swiss bank account did the kick-back end up in?”

New Year’s Eve has always been an optimistic time for me.  I have never failed to see the New Year in with a glass of whisky at midnight, just to bid the Old Year farewell and welcome the New Year in.

Tonight I view the prospect of 2019 with a deep sense of foreboding and not a little shame.

I think I might just go to bed.

“We had to try!”

Last weekend, something like 700.000 people turned out to march through central London to demand a ‘People’s Vote’ on the terms of the Brexit deal that our government is trying, and seemingly failing, to hammer out with the EU.  At the beginning of this embarrassing process, we were told by the government minister in charge of negotiating our departure from the European Union that the future trading arrangements with the EU after Brexit would be “the easiest trade deal in history”.  Please excuse my hollow laughter.

Somewhere in that massive crowd on Saturday were Linda and our daughter, Kate.

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More than 700,000 people had travelled from all parts of the No-Longer-Very-United Kingdom to call on the government to trust the ‘will of the people’, by seeking the public’s endorsement for whatever arrangement they manage to agree with Brussels by the time that our self-imposed deadline expires at the end of March next year.

There is huge resistance to any such idea in Government circles.  Supporters of Brexit argue that the ‘People have Spoken’, (the original Brexit vote two years ago was 52% for and 48% against), and that there is therefore no need for any further vote. Those who voted to remain in the EU, (the 48%), should just accept that they lost the argument and stay silent.

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The ‘People’s Vote’ supporters argue that no-one fully understood the implications of leaving the EU two years ago and that therefore it is perfectly legitimate to take a second look at the question now that more of the ramifications are known. (A prime example of such ramifications was announced this week. The European Medicines Agency will close its offices in London and move to the Netherlands before Brexit.  It employs 900 people in the UK and hosts tens of thousands of visitors to meetings and conferences each year.  Well done, Amsterdam!)

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I don’t think the People’s Vote people had any idea of the level of support that the march would attract. If they had, they certainly wouldn’t have arranged for the march to end, and the speeches to be made, in Parliament Square, just outside the gates of Parliament. Although this is a traditional place for protests to be held, there is just not enough space to accommodate a large demonstration.  And 700,000 people is a very large demonstration.  With hindsight, Trafalgar Square would have been more suitable, but, hey, it’s easy to be wise after the event.

Saturday’s demonstration was a tangible expression of the frustration and worry felt by at least half of the British population about the whole Brexit debacle.  Will it make any difference?  In my bones I doubt it. The Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron called the Brexit referendum in an attempt to save his political skin from those within his own party who wanted to topple him.  He staked the future of the country on an ill thought-out vote that released all kinds of pent-up anger amongst large sections of the British population, much of which went much deeper than Britain’s membership of the EU.

The EU became the target of this anger and an easy target it was too.  Firstly, no-one really understood Britain’s role within Europe. The issue was much too complicated to be unravelled and explained in a heated campaign that had more to do with xenophobia and resentment than it did with quiet, calm deliberation aimed at untangling every knot, (to quote The Gondoliers.)

Many people in many parts of Britain felt disadvantaged, forgotten and overlooked by successive governments in Westminster. People in the north of England had seen their communities change over the years through de-industrialisation, through the centralisation of power and wealth in London and the South East and through immigration.  People in Wales felt equally overlooked and neglected by London and voted enthusiastically to leave the EU, even though they were the biggest recipients of EU development funds.

No-one in the country, over the 40 years of our membership had ever heard politicians saying anything positive about the EU.  The inborn and inbred sense of British superiority over all foreigners, including Europeans, made membership of the EU a marriage of convenience that was never celebrated.

So all it took was some self-serving politicians with an eye to their political futures and a populist MP-cum-TV performer to travel around the country with a bus promising in three foot high letters that after Brexit there would be an extra £350million per week to spend on the National Health Service and people trooped into the polling booths to give Europe a kicking.

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Funny that, two years down the line, no-one is talking about the £350 million on the side of the bus.  There is much more talk about the £40 billion ‘divorce bill’ that will have to be paid to cover commitments that Britain has already made and the number of banks and other financial institutions that are planning to move staff out of London to European capitals.

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And meanwhile the country has been split between those who votes Leave and those who voted Remain in the original referendum and there are no signs of those two sides being in any way reconciled. The ‘Leavers’ hold on to the fact that they won the vote while the ‘Remainers’, dubbed ‘Remoaners’ by the other side, resent the fact that the country’s future is being decided by such a narrow majority, based on a referendum where the voters had no way of understanding the implications of what they were voting for.

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So, will last week’s demonstration make a difference. Frankly I doubt it.

Just as the original referendum was called in an attempt to avoid a split in the Conservative party and save the Prime Minister’s career, so any second vote would threaten the current Prime Minister’s position and would cause a split in her party that would probably precipitate a General Election.

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Meanwhile, not only is the country split between those who voted Leave and those who voted Remain, but there are now two years’ worth of young people who have reached voting age, many of whom are very resentful of the fact that their futures, their employability and their freedom to work in Europe have all been put at risk by an older generation that blindly stumbled into a momentous political abyss, opened up by weak and self-serving politicians, who threw the European dice to save their political careers.  As the former Conservative Prime Minister, John Major, said recently, they will never be forgiven.rpt

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I hope last weekend’s demonstration will cause our leaders to reflect and that the Government will accept that it is reasonable to allow the electorate to express an opinion on whether the deal, (or lack of a deal), that results from the current negotiations, is what they wanted when they voted.

After two years of talks, it would be embarrassing if the people just said, ‘No thanks, we’ll stay where we are as part of the EU, thank you very much.’  But maybe a bit of political embarrassment would be better than a future sitting isolated on our little island, bobbing up and down in the Atlantic, being at the political beck and call of America, having no say about what is happening in Europe and being gradually bought up by China.

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When Britain joined the EU forty years ago, with all the ‘if’s and but’s , the provisos and caveats that accompanied our joining, I was delighted.  I even bought myself a vinyl record of John Williams guitar music to celebrate. I felt that Britain had got itself into perspective, was going to make its proper contribution to the stability and development of Europe and that we might even bring something positive to the discussions.

It depresses me beyond measure that we are walking away and walking away because, in an effort to save its skin, a weak government made a monumentally bad judgement and now feels that it has to brave it out and try to convince us that somehow we will be economically better off and politically more powerful by splitting way from our nearest neighbours.  They should hang their heads in shame.

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We have a grandchild.

Her name is Martha and she is utterly delightful. In a few weeks time, she will be one year old.  Every Wednesday, either Linda or I, or sometimes both of us, go up to London to take Martha out for the day, to give one or other of her mothers a few hours free of the thraldom of babyhood.

For us it’s a wonderful and fascinating break from the routine.  For whichever of her mothers is on duty, it’s a welcome break from the routine, a chance to catch up on some missed sleep, to have an existence that isn’t determined entirely by the needs of an infant, or just to relax and be an adult.

Being a grandad is a real treat.  When our kids were very small I worked with OXFAM in the UK and then in Africa, which meant that I was often away from home for several days at a time in the UK and sometimes for weeks in Africa.   This meant that I often missed crucial stages in the children’s development.  I’d come back after a two week tour in the north of Kenya and find that so much had changed, all sorts of new skills had been mastered, all sorts of new things learned while I wasn’t looking.

With Martha, it’s different.  We see her every week and, since we are not the exhausted parents, we can watch her grow and develop to our hearts’ content.

Every week, she seems to have changed and developed some new tricks.  From a very early age, she learned the power of the smile .  At the age of eleven months, she knows that she only has to twinkle her eyes and giggle and she has her grandfather in the palm of her little hand.  Only in the last couple of weeks has she leaned the game of ‘peep-bo’

As you might imagine, in these days of digital photography, I have hundreds of pictures that I could share, but one must curb one’s enthusiasm in the interests of one’s readers and so I’ll just share my favourite.

It’s title is “Has Anyone Seen Martha?”

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Never too old to be irresponsible.

AgeUK is a charity that exists to help older people with everything from help at home to claiming state benefits, from nail-cutting to advocacy in court.

Like many charities, it relies on volunteers to do much of the work, whilst trying to keep fully trained and paid staff to a minimum.  For the last nine months, I’ve been doing a morning a week, as a volunteer, helping with reception duties and helping people to find their way around the organisation.  So far, so good.  Nothing very demanding there.

On the sea-front in Brighton stands the very tall tower of the Brighton Zip-Wire.

jump 1                                                              It is a very tall tower!

A few weeks ago, the owners of the zip wire gave Age UK  a number of free tickets and an email went around the organisation asking for volunteers to take part.  Well, what could I say?  I put my name forward.

About 15 people, ranging in age from 50 to 78, took up the challenge.  I was, by no means, the oldest. We were all kitted out with safety harnesses and helmets and given instructions about how to survive the experience.  Basically, hold on tight and don’t let the harness smack you in the mouth as you come to a shuddering halt at the other end of the wire.

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The ‘kitting-out’ area was less than encouraging!

Some of us found walking up to the top of the tower a bit daunting, but that wasn’t  half as scary as when you got to the ‘launch platform’ and were reminded of the old adage that ‘what goes up must come down’.  It did look an awful long way down!

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jump4                                                       Thinks:  “Whose idea was this?”

At the top the conversation with the operative-in-charge went something like:-

“Next, please.”

“Er, I think that’s me, but I…”

“OK, let me just check your harness.”

“Er, I’m just wondering if ….”

“Yes, harness if fine.  Lines are attached.  Ready to go.”

Right. Sure? But it’s just that I’m not sure that …..”

“Off you go!”
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” Aaaaaaaaaarrrrgh!”

Floating the B.O.A.T.

The B.O.A.T., for those of you who are not ardent followers of my blog, is the Brighton Open Air Theatre.  The front cover of this year’s brochure shows the opening dance from last year’s production of “She Stoops to Conquer”, in which I took part.

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In fact, the lady dancing at the front, ostensibly with no partner, is, in fact, completely masking me and preventing me from claiming my place in posterity, just so that she can be seen in all her finery.  Huh! Actors, eh?

The short history of the BOAT is worth re-telling.  It all started with a terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis.  boat4

Adrian Bunting was a Brighton based writer and a leading light of the Brighton theatre scene. He wrote plays and was a founder member of the Upstairs Theatre Club.

In April 2013 he received his diagnosis.  A month later, he was dead.  In the last weeks of his life, he drew up the plans for an open air theatre for Brighton.  He found a disused bowling green and convinced the Council to let the new theatre company have the use of it on a long-term lease.

He then raided his bank account, took out his life savings of £18,000, called five of his friends together and asked them to use the money to help make his dream project come true.  In May 2015, almost exactly two years later, BOAT opened its doors. It is now in its 4th season.

The theatre runs from the beginning of May until the end of September and puts on a bewildering array of shows, ranging from Shakespeare to the Railway Children,  from musicals to Frankenstein.globe

This was the touring company from the Globe Theatre in London.  They were in Brighton for six performances and it was the audience who decided which play they should perform. It wasn’t a completely free choice, so I still haven’t seen Titus Andronicus, but at the start of the evening, the audience was offered a choice between Twelfth Night, the Merchant of Venice or The Taming of the Shrew.  The loudest cheer from the audience decided the matter.  We saw two of the plays and they were both brilliant.

Both Linda and I have volunteered to be stewards for the BOAT, which means that we see people in and check their tickets, serve them drinks from the bar in the interval and tidy up afterwards.  And for this, we get to watch the shows.  Seems like a good deal to me.

l at gate The front gate including the impressive Box Office, complete with plastic box to keep the programmes dry.

Last week, we were on duty for an Eagles tribute band, the Alter Eagles.

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Now, I’ll admit that I have always been a bit ‘sniffy’ about the idea of a tribute band.  If you were around when the Beatles were top of the pops, like we were, why would you want to go and listen to imitators?

However, having seen my first tribute band in operation last weekend, I have to accept that if you like the type of music that the original, long-departed group used to play, the only way you are going to hear their music live is through the work of a tribute band. And there was certainly no shortage of people who shared my opinion.boat2

And at one point in the proceedings some of the audience got up and were soon bopping their shadows off.boat6

The week before, it was the Railway Children.  Lots of misunderstandings, confusions, running about and crumpets for tea.  All based at the Giggleswick Railway Station.  Great fun.

gigStage sets at the BOAT tend to be pretty basic.  They usually arrive in a van with the performers.  The audience is required to fill in the details with their imaginations…
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crowd… which they didn’t seem to find difficult at all!

 

 

 

 

As September wore on, the weather started to get a bit less reliable, until last Saturday when the heavens opened and the rain fell all day and long into the night.  The planned performance of ‘Fagin’ had to be relocated into the hall of a local primary school.  It wasn’t difficult to see why….

wet … as the autumn rains lashed the theatre.

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“Fagin?” was an interesting re-telling of the story of the miser from the Oliver Twist story, that everyone knows from the musical, ‘Oliver’, where Fagin is portrayed as a loveable rogue, looking out for the impish street urchins under his care.

In actual fact, in the original story, Dickens presents a much darker image of the old, grasping, cheating, lying miser, living off the immoral earnings of everyone around him.

In this play, we meet with Fagin during the last twelve hours of his life, as he sat in his prison cell trying to blot out the knowledge that he was due to hang the following morning.  His thoughts were further tormented by the appearance in his dreams of his long- dead accomplice, the villain, Bill Sykes and the poor, murdered Nancy who had tried to protect the innocent Oliver Twist.  Not exactly a barrel of laughs, but well worth seeing, nonetheless.

The only problem was that the school hall was about five minutes walk from the open air theatre and somebody had to be left at the theatre gate, in the pouring rain and the fading light, to tell members of the audience where to go.  Guess who got that job!

raiSo after Shakespeare and a children’s classic and the Eagles and reinterpreted Dickens, last Sunday’s offering was a couple of very talented, young ‘folk singers’, who undertook to improvise songs, on the spot, based on suggested titles, written by the audience and placed in a hat on the stage.

Titles suggested by the audience included the famous rock anthem “The Saga of the Stone in my Shoe”, the steamy blues number, “Boozey Hot Chocolate”, the legendary R&B ballad “Why do I hate Birkenstocks” and the unforgettable folk classic, “Whose idea was it to tile the bathroom?”

The duo arrived from London at about 12.30pm in the pouring rain for a show that was due to start at 2.00pm.  At about 1.45pm, the sky started to clear and by the time the show started, promptly at 2.00pm, the sky was a cloudless blue.

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Thanks to two days of almost incessant rain, the audience was, to say the least, modest.  Indeed the theatre’s own volunteer stewards formed 25% of the crowd, but, like true professionals, the two singers carried on, with full energy and commitment, as if they were playing to a packed Albert Hall.  Awe-inspiring.

The theatre’s season ends on Saturday with another tribute band.  This time it will be the Brighton Beach Boys rocking the BOAT.  The full capacity of the theatre is 420.  There will not be a spare seat in the house. Can’t wait!  Just pray for a warm, dry autumn evening.

Adrian Bunting, we salute you!  You gave something new, special and quite unique to the town you loved.

Well, who’d have thought it?

I started my blog in June 2012 as we started our preparations to go on VSO to South Sudan.  Since then there have been just over 1500 posts which have attracted 39,056 views from 15,420 visitors – most of the latter being faithful readers, whom the WordPress elves have duly counted every time they have clicked on the site.

I have blogged from the UK, Kuala Lumpur, from Norway, from Papua New Guinea, from Australia, from South Sudan and from New Zealand.  I have written about topics ranging from the Northern Lights to New Year in Sydney Harbour, from tribal face painting in Papua New Guinea to civil war in the Sudan, from cattle camps to crocodiles, from corals reefs to kangaroos.

Every now and then, one or other of my readers has felt moved to post a comment in response to a blog entry.  They have invariably been interesting, often amusing and always very welcome.  Some, about 700 or so, appeared on the blog itself, others arrived by e-mail.

So, hands up if you think you can guess which blog has elicited the biggest response.  Come on, there’s only 1500 to choose from.

No? OK, let me tell you.  So far, the biggest response to any blog over the past six years came this week, when I blogged about the frog, or was it a toad, that has taken up residence in the outside drain at the back of our house!

I even received a comment from a very long-standing French friend who said “I love your story, Robert.  I hope I’ll meet your secret lodger sometime.”

When I wrote back saying how surprised I was that this story, above all others has elicited the greatest response, within a very short time I received another email…

“I think it’s because your story is more “philosophical” than you think.  You offer this toad food, a good house … and what happens?  It goes back to its own life.   Don’t you think that humans are less clever then your toad?

We are drowning in an ocean of ‘plenty’ and still we don’t turn away.  We want more!!  I think your toad is clever!  Why don’t you write it for Martha?”**

Well, I certainly never expected my blog to bring forth philosophical musings from anybody and especially not from a post about a frog, (or was it a toad?) in a drain, but, hey, who am I to complain?

When we came back from our travels and settled back into Brighton, I thought that it was probably time to let the blog die.  There seemed to be little of interest to blog about.  However, my French friend’s comments have made me think that I should perhaps keep going and just write about whatever catches my attention.  Even since the start of 2018, there have been over 1700 visits to the site, so maybe there are still people out there looking in from time to time. And Martha can’t even read yet!

(** Martha, by the way, is my little granddaughter, who is just 10 months old and very beautiful.)

So, stand by and watch this space. I have no idea what direction the blog will take, but it seems a pity to stop now.  I mean, how will I be able to keep my readers up-to-date with the fate of our frog, (or is it a toad?)?

 

Meet our secret lodger

At the back of our house we have a secret staircase.
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Well, it’s not really a secret staircase, it’s just a set of steps that we don’t use.  It leads from our garden, down to a door that leads, in turn, to a little corridor along the side of the house, which, if we used it, would bring us to our front door. However, since the corridor, (known affectionately as our ‘back passage’), is full of ladders and tools and pots of paint and bits of wood that might come in handy one day, the passage is never used.

At the bottom of the steps, there is a drain, which takes away water from the kitchen, and over the drain there is a not-very-glamourous plastic cover.

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About six weeks ago, I had to clear the steps of leaves and other garden debris, so I lifted the drain cover to make sure that the drain itself wasn’t blocked.

That’s when I discovered our secret lodger, a fat and hapless toad. (All toads are hapless.  See Wind in the Willows.)

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Poor creature, I thought.  How did it get stuck down here?  I must help.

So I carefully picked up the slimy, wet creature and carried it to the bottom of the garden and nestled it in amongst the undergrowth where it would have a better chance of finding things to eat and surviving.

Two days later, I had occasion to check the drain again and … the toad was back.

Today, some six weeks later, I checked again.  He’s still there!

What’s he’s eating, I have no idea and prefer not to ask.  The fact is, he has found a spot where he wants to live and that’s where he plans to stay.

Toad knows what’s best.

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