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A market researcher said ‘can I ask you 10 questions’,
I said ‘go on’.
She said ‘question number 1: have you ever had a blackout?’
I said ‘no’,
She went…’and finally, question number 10.’

The Advertising Standards Authority is getting tough on companies that cannot substantiate claims. Although it is widely accepted that plant-based diets are better for the environment, it is essential to have evidence to support specific claims made in ads. https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/tesco-stores-ltd-g21-1128264-tesco-stores-ltd.html

Yum, Yum, sounds really appetising:
Water, Reconstituted Textured Pea Protein (20%), White Onion, Palm Oil, Rice Flour, Pea Protein (4.5%), Stabiliser (Methyl Cellulose), Maize Flour, Flavouring, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Caramelised Sugar Powder, Beetroot Powder, Black Pepper, Maize Starch, White Pepper, Mace, Dextrose, Parsley.

I wonder what it took to produce ‘Reconstituted Textured Pea Protein’:
Fertilizer, pesticide, other-cides, water, mechanical shelling, drying (heat would add to global warning) various machinery, numerous travels, more processing to turn it into something remotely edible . . . .

I still want to know where all the extra land is being found to grow these extra plants. Nobody seems to want to answer that question.

Mono-crops are not good for the environment as they deplete the soil.

. . . . whereas grazing animals enrich the soil and can contribute greatly to bio-diversity and the survival of threatened species of flora, fauna and insect life [especially butterflies].

If a food manufacturer claimed in advertising that plant-based food production used more land or that biodiversity was improved by grazing animals these claims could and should be challenged. In some circumstances they will be true but not if we look at the overall picture.

We are fed with a diet of biased reporting and may focus on what we want to hear.

It’s certainly true to say that monocropping is undesirable, and intensive farming is best avoided.

I agree, so it is better for manufacturers or retailers not to make such claims.

There are probably no completely authoritative sources of reliable information on these global issues but one thing is for certain: Earth’s resources are finite and we are extracting more than is sustainable. There will be malnutrition and starvation in parts of the world in the years to come while, in other parts, over-consumption and exploitation will continue unabated.

Well, I don’t think anyone would successfully challenge that, John. Warfare and certain political regimes just add to the problems.

Meanwhile, back on advertising standards, the ASA seems to handle complaints well and publishes clearly presented explanations of their rulings. I don’t believe that there are any penalties for misleading ads other than the company is instructed to cease using the advertisement. Unfortunately the company may have already benefited from misleading advertising as a result of the time taken to investigate complaints.

In the company boardroom, the director with the ESG portfolio [Environmental, Social, Governance] says “Let’s get people to eat more plant-based foodstuffs by reducing the price”.

The finance director says “That will hit our profits”.

The marketing director pipes up “Well, we could tell some porky-pies about the impact on the planet”.

[All] “Brilliant!”

[Bonuses all round (. . . every little helps)]

Here is a rather odd sign that I saw beside a canal earlier in the year:

There is a line missing from the bottom of this notice –

Attention everybody
Mind your step and don’t tread in it.

That might be more useful. I wonder if these signs have any effect on dog owners or their dogs, or is it just a waste of money?

A warning to anyone shopping with Ocado to keep an eye out for overcharging.

I have been overcharged for 3 separate items in the last two weeks.

One was a substitute. The substituted product was on special offer but I was charged full price.

The second product is a percentage discount. The normal price has gone up since the offer started.
Offer – Save 25%, was £2.40 charged £2.10
The new price is £2.80

The third product was:
Buy 2 get one free £11.20
that changed in my trolley to:
Offer – Buy any 3 save 25% across frozen £12.60
The £5.60 product is still listed as Buy 2 Add 1 Free.

As a smart-pass customer, I place orders a month ahead. Special offer prices carry over to the following month if they are added to your trolley before the offer expires.

Alfa — You asked me some time ago how we were getting on with Ocado in comparison with Sainsbury’s.

We have only used Ocado three times so far and not for many weeks. This is partly because Sainsbury’s have been getting better recently and we have been satisfied with their fresh produce lately.

One of the reasons we tried Ocado was to obtain deliveries of a number of M&S lines but as a percentage of a worthwhile shop this was not sufficient to make the arrangements and cost of a separate delivery worth it. We still wanted a regular Sainsbury’s delivery for their own-label products to which we have become accustomed and which are generally good value and of good quality. While Ocado has an enormous inventory of national brands and some own-label products I did not find their website particularly convenient or easy to use.

The Ocado delivery operation was efficient and courteous but there were some problems with items that had to be taken back because of spoilage in the picking and packing functions. Overall it was no better than other companies like Sainsbury’s and Waitrose [which we have also been trialling].

The upshot of this is that we shall not be using Ocado on a regular basis, and certainly not in place of Sainsbury’s, but will bear it in mind for special requirements or seasonal offers.

We had some strawberries and peaches from Sainsbury’s the other day which were as good as any we have bought in M&S.

Needing to make a Jubilee Dessert for our local street party, and finding that we could not get all the ingredients from Sainsbury’s, we placed an order with Waitrose. We could get all we needed but were surprised at how limited their range for a full shop appears alongside the other major supermarkets; admittedly there is evidence of a more refined taste in their chosen products but that does not always cut the mustard.

I don’t think we are cultivated enough to become long-term Waitrose patrons, and there is definitely a price penalty for shopping there, so although there is a certain cachet in having their smart green van outside the house we shall probably reserve that experience for when more or our neighbours are at home to witness it! Two other houses in our little cul-de-sac have a regular Waitrose delivery, but really this is a Sainsbury’s sort of place.

I am still using click & collect supermarket services and try to place an order no more than 48 hours in advance to avoid missing items and changes in prices.

When I want products from Waitrose I get a friend to buy them for me. Sometimes there are very good price reductions on food that is at its ‘Use by’ date and I’m happy to accept these as long as the food can be frozen.

We have a friend who reciprocates for us. We get things for her from Sainsbury’s and she gets things for us from Aldi. It works well. Shops with a limited range often have things the stores with the vast inventory do not stock.

I’m not surprised Ocado hasn’t become your main shop John.

They don’t have any where near the range of branded goods they used to stock as they have been replaced by M&S own brand. Many reviews of M&S products say something like This used to be excellent, but has changed ‘. When M&S became part owners of Ocado, they created thousands of new products to supposedly match Waitrose. As these products have no manufacturer listed, they must change frequently to save money – likewise fresh produce that can only be classed as ‘D’ grade that I am sure would never be seen in-store.

Their website has also had many problems this year. It got so bad, I sent an email to the top and suggested they back out system changes. A few days later it was working again. I still think they are trying to apply selling tricks similar to in-store supermarkets that make you order again as the product is listed in the wrong place or doesn’t register when you hit the buy button.

There is also a lack of larger product sizes that would save money for the customer.

Ocado is still my main supplier, but I also use Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and Asda (Morrisons don’t deliver to my area).

I think overall, Ocado is best for order fulfilment . Although the other supermarkets have improved, they let you order out-of-stock products and you still don’t know until delivery day whether you will receive everything that was ordered.

Thanks for your comments, Alfa.

Your final paragraph sums up our bugbear with Sainsbury’s. We usually finalise our order on the eve of delivery day, sometimes almost right up to the 11:00pm deadline. It is then a shock to find at 6:00 am that X, Y & Z are not available. There is no need to, and we don’t wish to, order more frequently than every ten days so the absence of certain fresh products can be a problem, although we always have enough in some form or another.

Sainsbury’s substitution policy continues to baffle us. There are certain foods by brand or type for which we don’t want any attempt at a substitution, but for nearly everything else we are happy to have a sensible alternative. Unfortunately, the store’s interpretation of that seems to be irrational and inconsistent. An example is a Hovis Original Wheatgerm sliced loaf. We order two and allow substitution but none is supplied and it seems that is because Sainsbury’s believes there is no substitute for that specified product, which is indeed the case. But there are probably half a dozen sensible equivalents either in the Hovis range or from another baker that would be an acceptable alternative, albeit not an exact substitute. In accordance with their substitution policy we are allowed to send back whatever is offered by way of substitution but we don’t get that opportunity.

Having food delivered is never going to be as satisfactory as going shopping in a store and there will always be little niggles. Over time we adjust to these through the ordering process so I think the service we receive is as good as we are entitled to expect overall.

Our dissatisfaction with Ocado was not due to the lack of a wide range of branded goods, because generally we don’t want them if there is a good own-label alternative, but because the only own-label products were either M&S or the Ocado brand. We like some M&S products but not all since they are not all good value, but we were not particularly impressed by the Ocado offerings.

We are within a fifteen minute walk of a very large M&S store so it is usually easy to pick up any specialities as and when required, but at the moment the main shopping street in Norwich is closed to all traffic and under complete reconstruction in order to improve bus stopping arrangements so it is a bit of an ordeal going there right now. We can walk there alright but we would need to come back on the bus which is on a lengthy diversion and the stop for the return journey is nowhere near the shops. We thought Ocado with M&S would solve this problem but it is disappointing that the M&S quality standard has been compromised in order to amalgamate their products and rationalise the number of lines.

I thought I’d begin by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine.

Fishing used to be simple, but nowadays anglers have a large amount of tackle which they keep in large seat boxes, often branded Shakespeare, presumably because they contain their complete works.

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

An apposite quotation in this context is from The Tempest –
Look he’s winding up the watch of his wit; by and by it will strike“.

The compleat angler requires complete worms, not complete works.

I went in to a pet shop.
I said, “Can I buy a goldfish?”
The guy said, “Do you want an aquarium?”
I said, “I don’t care what star sign it is.”

All fish are Pisces but Cancer can also live in a tank.

BOGOF for sick squid.

Q. What do you call the greatest crab that ever lived?

A. Leonardo da Pinci.

I came across him recently. He said “Please walk this way”. It was quite a struggle.

Perhaps you could have side-stepped the request.

Squid pro quo?

Politics: “Poli” a Latin word meaning “many” and “tics” meaning “bloodsucking creatures.”

Poli-antics might be considered more appropriate for me at the moment. I seem to be a magnet for “blood sucking creatures.”

I mentioned a week or so ago that I had purchased a battery garden tool and was surprised by the instructions for using it. Rain stopped play but today it has been used. Assembly instructions were not clear, but once sorted out it performed for twenty five minutes and cleared about three metres of bramble, saplings, rough grass and camellias. I ran out of power before it did and the batteries charged in about an hour and a half. This has enough power to get the job done and convinces me that I no longer need a two stroke engine at the end of the stick to chop undergrowth. Good product! I don’t believe Which have tested them have they? I’m happy to provide information about mine, without advertising it here. Bought from Tool-Station. I got £40 discount on the batteries and charger. Similar product at Screwfix (different make) was out of stock, and B&Q don’t do this type of machine.

I’m trying to work out what sort of tool you have bought, Vynor. It does not fit the description of a hedge-trimmer, strimmer or pole-saw, so maybe a brush-cutter.

Correct, Wavechange it cuts brushes without any R.

I have a few useless statistics to share with you with regard to the car.
It is now 15 months old. It has done 6156 miles. I have been to the petrol pumps 23 times in this period, that’s an average of once every 20 days.
In that time it has consumed 120 gallons of petrol and that works out at about 51.3 MPG.
This last top up tonight was the first since May 15th. It took 3.2 gallons of petrol and returned 91 mpg. All the runs have been local this month though there have been a couple of short motorway journeys when the engine was used for about ten miles each way. My old diesel car returned about 44 mpg. The service in March showed that there had been no faults. The Summer weather has given me about five more miles of battery life per charge.


About 3 years ago I was rushed into hospital with high blood pressure. I was advised by a paramedic to take all existing medication with me, which I did. The following morning I took the usual pill that needed to be taken on an empty stomach with an early cup of tea before breakfast was served. After breakfast, a nurse appeared who handed me a small caplet containing 3 pills for me to swallow. I enquired what the pills were and what they were for. As I suspected, one was a repeat of the one I had already taken earlier, which could have resulted in serious consequences if I had swallowed it instead of querying it.

Yesterday (Sunday), I had to visit the A&E once again with another infected arm, the second time in the past month, this time due to an insect bite, where I was handed an antibiotic with assurances it was the correct one for an infection, after querying it with the doctor.

On arriving home, I discovered the medication was penicillin which I am allergic to. This information was clearly stated and included in my medical online data, and as it was a ten mile journey each way by taxi, I phoned the hospital and was eventually put through to the doctor who prescribed it, who informed me I should return to the hospital, or ask someone else to pick up another antibiotic for me. The only alternative was to wait until today (Monday) and contact my GP.

Approximately half an hour later I received a call from someone claiming to be a chief medical doctor at the hospital, advising I was not to take the penicillin medication, and dispose of it and they would deliver an alternative antibiotic to my door before 3.30pm. I then received a second call, plus a text message from the errant doctor with a similar message. It did not arrive so I phoned the hospital number I was given, and was told it was on its way. It finally arrived at 5.30pm.

This morning I received a further call from my local GP to check I had received the correct medication with the right dosage. It transpired I was prescribed the maximum recommended amount and, as this was considered too high for me by my GP practice, I was advised to reduce the capsules from 3 to 2 every six hours.

I have received information from a reliable source that it is quite common for medical practitioners to cover up mistakes made by each other, sometimes with fatal consequences. With extra pressure on hospital staff at the moment, mistakes can occur but not all are ever recorded.

On both occasions. I was thankful I had the temerity to question the medication I was offered before taking it. I have not yet disposed of the penicillin antibiotic I received as it is vital evidence in the event of any further inquiry arising from this unfortunate incident.

Although my experience is limited, I have seen mistakes, one very serious and related to a transfusion rather than drug treatment. A computer system used properly should be able to flag-up that a drug is unsuitable for a patient, for example because of an allergy or because it would be contraindicated because potential interaction with existing drug treatment. That would require the GP or hospital doctor to enter the details of medications into the computer before the prescription went to the pharmacy.

When I was in hospital nearly a year ago I was asked what drugs I was taking, which was encouraging. I do not like the normal practice of providing hospital patients with a cup containing unidentified pills and did ask about my treatment. Fortunately a double dose of a drug is not usually harmful even if it would be if this happened repeatedly.

I hope you are feeling better, Beryl.

Thank you Wavechange. It was a risk I was not prepared to take as doubling up had the potential to cause heart palpitations or failure, epilepsy/coma, jaundice or high temperature..

The term ‘therapeutic index’ is used as a measure of the relative safety of drugs in respect of overdose. More care is needed in prescribing and use of drugs with a narrow therapeutic index.

The body mass and the liver and kidney functions are also relevant, which is why smaller doses are given to children and why it may be advisable to reduce the dose for elderly patients. Existing medical conditions and the possibility of interaction with other drugs being taken can be very important to know.

With most drugs a single double dose is of no consequence but prolonged overdose could be very serious and even long-term treatment with what is considered a safe dose can cause serious problems.

A well known example of a drug that must be tailored to the individual is the blood thinner warfarin.

It’s not well known that some antibiotics have a narrower therapeutic index than others.

Sorry to hear of your unpleasant experience, I hope you are recovering Beryl.

Have you thought about a flying bug zapper something like this:

Toolstation do 2 of these, the replacement bulbs are 12″ and 18″ long so quite large and unsuitable for many homes.

We live in a very buggy area and hot summer nights have all the doors and windows open with the lights, TV, etc. OFF, otherwise there are flying insects and moths everywhere.

We have been thinking of getting something like these zappers but have not researched them properly yet.

I no longer trust search results when googling something like ‘The Best whatever. Many ‘review’ sites have popped up with website names that have trustworthy-sounding names listing products from manufacturers you have never heard of and a link to buy from Amazon. The seller will usually be Chinese. Often a well-known and trusted brand will appear someway down the list to give it some authenticity.
One product with purple corners appears to have two brand names.

This makes purchasing something that is unlikely to be from a well-known brand a bit hit-and-miss.

What I can recommend is ‘The Executioner’ Bug Zapper that was only £10.99 the last time we bought them in 2015. We would not go for The Pro or Revenge as one is larger, the other smaller.

I have only bought the bug zappers from them on 3 occasions, but Sourcing4U is a UK company that has been around for quite a long time although their website doesn’t give you any confidence in them.

Thank you alfa, I will certainly look to buying one of the bug catchers in your links. I won’t be using the lamp again until wintertime. Are you or your hubby also allergic to insect bites? I have applied the usual hydrocortisone and antihistamine creams, but they don’t seem to work very well on me.

I am being well and truly tested at the moment! Spent this afternoon chasing after medication again. The GP practice had sent my usual monthly supply prescription to the chemist in the next village instead of the local Lloyds. The car park ticket machine had run out of tickets, so I drove off rather than receive a penalty notice, and the village post office has ceased trading so I couldn’t buy stamps to send a birthday card to my grandson. He will now probably receive an online one.

I have survived much worse during my time!

The mains-powered fly killers commonly seen in shops rely on a long-wave UV light and a grids of wires at very high voltage, so that any insect that bridges the gap is electrocuted. Smaller units are available for home use but they could be unsafe or a fire risk if not properly designed and assembled. Shops like Toolstation etc. should be OK and if I was buying online I would go to CPC or RS. I would treat online reviews with the contempt they deserve.

I’ve suggested below an alternative to insect zappers.

Hi Beryl,
We don’t suffer from bites as badly as you, hubby must taste good as he is a bit of a bug magnet and gets the worst reaction. This is our bug-bite arsenal:

The Aspivenin that we call ‘The Sucker’ is excellent at drawing out poison from a bite even after a day or so. I see it comes in different packaging now. It is probably not suitable for thin skin e.g. damaged by steroids as it does have quite a strong suck.

The Sting-Eze is purchased from the Florida Everglades and gives the best relief we have ever found. After Bite is available in the UK and has been the best we have tried although these are now quite old and we haven’t tried any new ones for a while. We did try Jungle products from Boots some years ago and didn’t rate them very highly.

You can buy stamps from Ocado in booklets of 6 and 12? Somehow, online cards are just not the same as getting one through the post.

If we did get a mains-powered fly killer, it would only be used for an hour or so during hot weather, not all the time.

Its a sobering thought that even today medicine can be hit and miss. In the old days, one simply died, and life expectancy was a lot less. Doctors were expensive and had a limited drug remedy at their disposal. Things have moved on for the better, but I, too, have been at the sharp end of misdiagnosis which was a contributor to my mother’s demise. My one hospital visit was an example of the NHS at its best though I received no warning that the post op shock would hit me when I least expected it.
You also have my sympathy Beryl and hopes that you are recovering well.

Thanks Vynor, at least I think I have solved the mystery if the insect bites. I use a bright table lamp when using my iPad or laptop that attracts flies who seem mesmerised by it. The lamp is situated in close proximity to the affected arm.

Maybe this has raised awareness of the danger associated with the ‘therapeutic index’ as Wavechange alludes to in his above comment, also the problem associated with the characterisation of people grouping when prescribing drugs.

The antibiotic I have been prescribed is an aminoglycoside that needs careful monitoring when administered to children and the elderly in particular.

The fact that I was prescribed the maximum dosage for any age by the hospital, but questioned by my GP, is again cause for concern.

Aminoglycosides do indeed have a narrow therapeutic index:

“Most antibiotics, such as the β-lactams, macrolides and quinolones have a wide therapeutic index and therefore do not require therapeutic drug monitoring. Some, such as the aminoglycosides and vancomycin, have a narrow therapeutic index, and toxicity may be severe and irreversible. Therapeutic drug monitoring may be appropriate for these drugs.”


It’s common to use an initial higher dose (the loading dose) at the start of drug treatment but then the dose can be lowered. I presume that this could apply where urgent antibiotic treatment is needed because of a serious infection.

That makes a lot of sense Wavechange, which would indicate why my GP made contact with me the next day. The hospital had obviously been in touch electronically as routine follow up treatment. I was advised to keep a watchful eye and to increase the dosage to 3 again if it shows any signs of another flare up.

I have kept all my windows and doors well and truly closed today to keep the bugs out!

I find pharmacology interesting and I’m particularly interested in the mode of action of antibiotics. Sadly there is a lot of questionable information about medicines and health online. GPs are non-specialists, but in my experience specialist advice tends to be good. With many drugs, taking the minimum amount needed is good advice but with antibiotics, taking less than advised can exacerbate infections and produce antibiotic-resistant bugs.

I used to live near a river and there were plenty of flying insects. Leaving the bedroom window open could result in bites overnight. My solution was to sandwich a piece of net curtain material in a wooden frame that fitted neatly in the frame of a small window which was left open. This worked very well. Where I live now I can leave a window open with little risk of being bitten.

I don’t have a high opinion of GPs and antibiotics. I get the impression they prescribe the absolute minimum that rarely does the job.

My mum has had a water infection for a few years now. Her doctor keeps prescribing 3 or 4 days antibiotics that are insufficient to get rid of it, when a good dose might have cleared it up altogether.

I have never recovered from the virus I came back from holiday with back in 2014. The GP only prescribed a few days anti-biotics and refused to give me more. At the time I felt so ill, his attitude had me in tears and I do wonder if I might have recovered if more or something different had been prescribed.

Alfa – Drug resistance is an increasing problem and it is important to test samples of urine to confirm that an infection exists and establish which antibiotic will be effective. Guidance relevant to management of UTIs with antibiotics was issued a few years ago: https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/new-guidance-will-help-combat-drug-resistant-urinary-tract-infections-says-nice

Chronic UTIs may be a consequence of an underlying problem, even an inability to completely empty the bladder. There is the possibility of a kidney infection. Sadly, some GPs still hand out antibiotics rather than asking for tests.

The NHS website has useful information and mentions medical conditions that can make UTIs more common: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/

I went to buy a watch, and the man in the shop said ‘Analogue?’
I said ‘No, just a watch.

I need to buy a watch too. I don’t have the time.

I bought a stop watch which keeps me rooted in the present.

I went to the doctor. I said to him ‘I’m frightened of lapels.’
He said, ‘You’ve got cholera.

I thought that particular complaint was the Quasimodo Condition.

Do you know for sure or is it a hunch?

I don’t know him personally but the name rings a bell.

A friend of mine always wanted to be run over by a steam train. When it happened, he was chuffed to bits!

Locomotion therapy could have prevented his/her demise.

YouTube.com – Little Eva – Loco motion (1962)

Being run over by a steam train is presumably more satisfying than by a diesel train. A steam train will give you a splash of boiling water and a jet of superheated steam whereas the diesel will give you an oil bath and a headache.

I was in the army once and the Sergeant said to me: ‘What does surrender mean?’
I said: ‘I give up!’”

I enjoy this sort of humour. Sometimes I wonder whether the different meanings of words and phrases are more common in English than other languages.

Joking aside, two reasons why giving up on a dream can sometimes be the healthiest option..


Kevin says:
15 June 2022

Wavechange, surely you know that foreign languages lack that English je ne sais quoi?

This bloke said to me: ‘I’m going to attack you with the neck of a guitar.’
I said: ‘Is that a fret?’”

That strikes a chord.

I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger eating a chocolate egg. I said: ‘I bet I know what your favourite Christian festival is.’
He said: ‘You have to love Easter, baby.

You have to say it out loud…

He’s got some pluck.

Magical moment. This morning a kingfisher landed on the boat. In its beak was a small fish which it had selected from the thousands floating round the boat. The kingfisher perched on my bow rail and hit the fish against it a few times to kill it and then swallowed it whole. After digesting for a few seconds it took off and flew gracefully across the water and away. This bird was smaller than most seen on greetings cards, beautifully coloured but just a little scruffy from its morning fish. The beak was not as long as is it is sometimes drawn.

Wonderful, the kingfisher is one bird I very rarely see.

This was our magical moment in the garden last week:

A few weeks ago we had a mother mallard and at least a dozen tiny ducklings following her.

The kingfisher is my favourite bird, Vynor. Their bright colours and the flash of iridescent blue as they fly makes them unmistakable. A friend spotted one yesterday but I was looking the other way. Sometimes you can see the same kingfisher again, but maybe not if it has caught its prey.

That’s a nice photo, Alfa.

Could you provide us with one of your lovely poems about this mornings magical kingfisher moment Vynor?

Halcyon days, Vynor.

Just a brief update while I consider a verse. The same kingfisher appeared again this evening. I was out on the jetty looking at our tame heron failing to catch its supper. The bird hopped onto the bow of the next boat about ten feet from me. It looked me up and down for a moment then ignored me. It perched on a rail and bobbed up and down a few times. About half a minute later it swooped down close to the water and flew off at great speed.
Fantastic photo Alfa. I doubt the bird would stay long enough for me to catch it on camera.

For Beryl and anyone else who cares to read it.
A Kingfisher Stops For Breakfast.

Isn’t it amazing when you don’t expect
An instant incident, one that’s so direct.

Here a glance from cabin, standing at the prow,
Could have just been elsewhere, anywhere just now.

Suddenly a bird arrived and landed on the boat,
Perched upon the forward rail without a boarding note.

I stared bewitched and gaped at what I saw,
This was a kingfisher, never seen alive, and in the raw!

Yes, the head was round and cheeky, the beak a pointed clue,
The colours rainbow bright, electric, glowing in their hue.

Yet this bird had one purpose, one purpose, one alone,
It chose my boat on purpose and my railing as a stone.

With fish in beak and freshly caught it banged it hard until
The tasty morsel wriggled not, wriggled not, was still.

With expert gulp the fish was swallowed whole,
The bird, with satisfaction, perched upon the pole.

For a moment more the morsel travelled to its stop.
A twitch of beak, a gentle shake, to place it in the crop.

Though feathers wet and ruffled, unkempt upon the claw,
The bird was fed and happy, and that’s a fact for sure.

It launched with speed and flew at water’s height,
Away to farthest bank and then went out of sight.

Reflection now to put my brain in gear.
Smaller than I thought with beak a stubby spear.

Colours mingled as the plumage dried,
A shapely head with method there inside.

Then just now, as sun was low in sky,
The same bird, minus fish, happened to come by.

It perched again, a railing at the bow.
Ten feet from me, I was standing outside now.

It eyed me up and down and saw that I was still,
Then ignored me and showed its pointed bill.

Half a minute there it perched, bobbing on the rail,
Then off it sped with two shrill peeps, the ending to my tale.

Pure Magic!

I used go out with an anaesthetist – she was a local girl.

Her father was a high ranking army officer – maybe a general.

I once met a Buddhist monk who refused anaesthesia for his root canal. He wanted transcend dental medication.

Crime in multi-storey car parks. That is wrong on so many different levels.

Q. What do you do if you see a spaceman in a multi storey car park?

A. Park in it man.

At least it’s comfortable on Eurostar – it’s murder on the Orient Express.

If you were around in 1941 you could have taken the ‘A train’ a Duke Ellington classic hit that boosted both US/UK morale during WW2.


YouTube – Take the A train – Duke Ellington (1941)

I preferred the Chatanooga Choo Choo with Glenn Miller and his Band.

Keep watching right through to the dance section — probably the most acrobatic ever recorded notwithstanding the epic scenes in Singin’ in the Rain.

They were both epic in their time. I ducked when the trombones came out at me! I could never understand why the clicking never matched the footwork in the dance scenes, and often wondered where they hid the special effect castanets – but then I was just a naïve wee bairn then!

The Miller sequence was outstanding, although the most impressive aspect was the male quartet. They’re not identified but are, I suspect, the group that backed so many ’60s western theme tunes. Their close harmony is impeccable and would do credit to the King Singers or the Berlin Comedian Harmonists.