Sunday, 31 August 2008


Diana Princess of Wales
1961 - 1997
For all that has been written about her I still think she deserves to be remembered for the good she did and the way she gave the Royal Family a human face for the first time in decades - albeit far too briefly.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Saturday Snaps

Just faffing with my camera in the garden - after posting about how foul the weather's been recently we had a nice warm day yesterday. Perhaps I should moan about it more often...!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Help Needed.

Can anyone identify this plant? We were given a cutting when we moved into our house eleven years ago. It flowers mid-to-late August and is obviously hardy perrennial.

The lady who gave it to us said that she had got a cutting from a friend in Canada - so do any of you Canadian Bloggers know what it's called?  We've never seen it anywhere else on our travels in the UK.
Any suggestions, names, natural habitat etc. greatly appreciated.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Beauty in the Beast

This is Pepper. Affectionately known as 'Pepper-lou' (don't ask why!)

She could charm the birds off the trees, and frequently does!
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So Endeth The Month

Firstly my apologies for not being around in Skywatch Friday for a couple of weeks - I've been trying to avoid looking skyward all month!! Here is the reason:

August. Ever since I can remember August has generated some of the hottest days of the summer months in Britain. It is the month for record temperatures and blazing, burning sunshine. The month when rainfall stops and the daily task of watering the flowerbeds and lawns begins. The month when most factories have two-week closedowns to allow workers to enjoy the best part of the summer. The month when water companies start to highlight the need to conserve water by threatening hose-pipe bans.

August, a hot, dry month. Ever since I can remember.

Not anymore. This August has been the wettest, most miserable month of the year so far. We haven't come anywhere near our average hours of sunshine figure - in fact I can remember only three occasions where the (weak) sun has shone for more than an hour.

August has lived up to it's reputation as being the month for records - not only by being the month in which Team GB did so well at the Olympics, but also by being the wettest August since records began!! Oh, how I love the British weather. Happy(?) Skywatching.

To join in with Skywatch Friday visit The Skywatch Blog and sign in on Mister Linky.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

ABC Wednesday - F is for...


Fluffy and Fearsome.

It being the school holidays, and the weather being so foul we have struggled to find suitable places to take Emily. She is of an age where discovery is everything and counts a lot towards education and personal development. She seems to have an endless capacity for soaking up facts - if the weather's bad (which it seems to have been constantly) these facts will be absorbed from indoor activities or the television - I have caught her using advertising slogans in the past, she'll come out with "Every little helps!" (Tesco) or start singing "Let it shine!" (Morrisons.)

So, in order to cram her brain with as much non-TV knowledge as possible we try to take her out to places of interest. One such place is Kirkleatham Owl Centre near Redcar. Emily loved it. (I'll keep my thoughts about it to a later post.)

The centre houses all manner of birds in addition to owls - as you can see from the first picture Vultures are there too as well as a pair of Ravens who absolutely refused to stand still long enough for me to photo them (they knew what I was up to and danced around, singing and 'laughing!!' - at me?)

Emily had a great time and came away with a fluffy feathered friend of her own (to add to the four million fluffy friends at home!!) So the day was a success for her and she learnt a lot. Afterwards we paid a visit to the Kirkleatham Hall Museum - subject of a future post.
For more fantastic 'F's' visit the ABC Wednesday Blog and sign in on Mr Linky or to view an anthology of all of the posts visit The ABC Wednesday Anthology.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

My Next Challenge.

I haven't been on a bike since November 1990. To be precise November 10th 1990. This was the date I collected my Peugeot 309 from the garage in Yate (Nr Bristol) where I was living at the time.

Up to that point I had cycled the four miles from my home to the factory where I worked. Every day for almost a year. All shifts in all weathers. I loved it. I felt fit and healthy.
Then I got my car. My bike was sold for a tenner. I had to get a car. Cycling from Bristol to visit family in the North East was not an option. I've had a car ever since. But I've always missed the healthy feeling and freedom a bike ride gives you. For a number of reasons since that last bike I've never had the opportunity of replacing it - marriage, children (child), working out of town, lack of money etc.

Now, thanks to Freecycle - a worldwide web site on which people give stuff away rather than see it binned, scrapped sent to landfill etc. I have a bike. It's a bit of a shed - old (manufacturing date of 1980 stamped on it), tatty, in need of some tender loving care and perhaps a respray and some new tyres, but essentially sound and in full working order. It's in my shed and I'm itching to get started on it - I'll be documenting its progress from time to time on this blog.
I can't wait!!
Watch this space!! (To coin a Mrs Nesbitt-ism!!)

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Pure, Unadulterated GREED!

My energy company announced a massive hike in profits a few weeks ago - I'm talking billions in PROFIT - not turnover. A few days later it also announced some 'cost efficiency measures' to further strengthen its position in a competitive marketplace. Basically this meant they were looking to reduce their wages bill by laying off a few hundred people.

Today they also announced that they were hiking up my electricity and gas charges by 21% and 29% respectively. How nice of them.

Why are they doing it?

Simple answer: GREED. The greed of the big fat cat shareholders, looking to further line their already richly lined pockets.

Oh how I miss the days when the Gas and Electricity 'Boards' as they were known, were controlled by the state. At least then an unpopular government could gain some ground by freezing price hikes, or cutting charges.

Bring back state ownership of the utilities. The competitive marketplace in essential utilities is a complete farce - there's no such thing as competition - they're ALL raking in millions and millions at our expense.

Rather than taking over troubled banks, the government should be investing that money into our utility infrastructure to rid us of the scourge of greedy private shareholders.

Rant over. Happy weekend. Stay warm - but don't put the heating on!!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

ABC Wednesday - E is for...

Elvis Presley - 1935 - 1977 - In the week which saw the anniversary of his death, a small tribute to the man himself, The King of Rock n Roll.

Copyright © 2008 AP
Oddly enough, Elvis shares his birthday with my wonderful Mother-in-Law, DorEEn (1834 - Anytime) - I did try to take a photo but the camera was having none of it!! Though this next picture
of an Elvis impersonator bears an uncanny resemblance to the good lady herself!! (Obviously without the sideburns!)
I was never a great fan of Elvis until I met my wife. Now we share a mutual admiration for a hugely talented man who was simply destroyed by the greed of those supposedly 'guiding' him.
For more ABC 'E's' visit the ABC Wednesday Blog and sign in on Mr Linky.

Downing Street Responds

We petitioned the Prime Minister to "make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister" - over 49,000 people responded to the petition and Downing Street confirmed that it does indeed have a sense of humour (well it would have to have, given that Gordon is still Prime Minister) by posting their response on You Tube:

Sunday, 17 August 2008


This morning I spent an hour drafting a post regarding my belief in the afterlife - you know, ghosts, spirits, spiritualists, mediums, hauntings, life after death, near death experiences, past lives etc etc etc - that sort of thing.

I'd padded out the post with personal experiences and recounted family tales of loud bangs on doors in the dead of night when no one was there, only for the occupants to learn of a death in the family the next day - the death occurring at the precise time of the knocking!!

It was really spooky stuff - I almost scared myself writing it!! lol

I clicked "Publish Post", the screen flickered for a brief second, and then.........

"Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close, we are sorry for any inconvenience....."

Aaaaaarrrggghhhhhh!!! - But wait... Blogger had been autosaving my draft, so there should be no problem, it'll be recoverable. Might need to rewrite the last couple of sentences, no problem. Phew!!

Internet Explorer did as it had promised and closed down. I restarted it and logged straight back in to Blogger - Edit Posts - look for untitled draft.....

Gone. Vanished. Evaporated.

Someone (or something) obviously didn't want you to read my spooky tales......

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A Gift From Denise.

Just a quick post tonight to thank the wonderfully generous Mrs Nesbitt - who we met up with today in a less than clement Guisborough, I say less than clement, when what I actually mean is torrential downpour -  for her to hand over a  box of craft materials for Emily. I have never known so much material be crammed into an 18 inch box:
- cards, stickers, glitters, paper, cloth, stampers, stencils, crayons, felt-tip pens, feathers, shells - you name it, it was there -

Emily could barely contain her anticipation at the prospect of rummaging through the box of goodies: 
A veritable feast of craft materials was discovered within.
Of course, Emily just had to make use of the colourful cloth inside and transform herself into an Indian Princess for the rest of the day:-
So a great big thank you to Denise for providing hours of fun today, and for every other rainy day for many months to come - Emily really appreciated it and will work to create one of her "special creations" just for you in the next few days.
Thanks very much - Gary, Lesley and especially Emily. xx

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

ABC Wednesday - D is for...

ABC Wednesday this week comes to you from within the confines of our home and garden. It has to be said that we are having one of the worst summers on record - persistent rain and cloud cover makes life miserable to say the least. Poor Emily is confined to the garden Dancing in the Drizzle with her Disney Domed umbrella!!
The Drains have certainly been overloaded with the Downpours. I Don't think they've ever been so busy.

One thing the torrential Downpours are good for are our Delightful Drenched Dianthus.
The Dull and overcast weather has been like a Dripping tap. Slowly Driving us all Demented as we struggle to come up with something Different to Do.
I've even taken to Digitising images of my sink Drain and Draining board!
I Do still have an escape though. When everything gets too much I simply withdraw to my Desk and Download my Digitised images onto a Disk.
And if all else fails, and Depression reigns supreme, there's always my Drug cupboard to Divert my attention from the Doom. (However, looking at this pile of pills is enough to Deepen the Depression.)
Happy ABC WETnesday!! For more Delightful 'D's' visit the ABC Wednesday Blog.

Sunday, 10 August 2008


My apologies for not visiting too many blogs this past week.

The stress of losing my computer, fixing it, installing antivirus software which slowed it down to a snail's pace, and then having to remove it and reinstall Windows XP from scratch wore me down, and stressed me out to the point that my little gut fiend (no, I didn't miss an 'r' out!) decided to have a bit of a flare up! Had to cancel all of my meetings from Wednesday onwards because of it. Yesterday was the worst day I've had for a month or so, but feeling much brighter today and the sun is shining which always lightens the spirit.

A tip for you today - If you ever have to completely wipe your hard drive and reinstal your operating system, wait until your operating system has installed all of the necessary updates and service packs before installing the antivirus software - I did it the other way round and it took me four and a half hours to download and install Windows XP Service Pack 3!!! (When I did it the right way round it took 49 minutes! - bit of a difference!)

We live and learn.
(First post using Blogger in Draft)

Friday, 8 August 2008

ABC - Comments lost

For some reason Blogger decided to lose a lot of the comments posted by visitors to my ABC Wednesday post - only five remained after some sort of 'outage' by Blogger on Thursday morning.

So as not to upset folk I have decided to reproduce them from the email notifications I get each time someone leaves a comment. My apologies if you have visited after posting, only to find your post missing!! It's Bloggers fault!! Did anyone else find this???

Here are the comments in full:
magiceye has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": great pic and quotes too!

Kjerstis Hjørne has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Lovely cat, I am a dog-person but cats are cute..

AphotoAday has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Well, what a fine looking "tuxedo cat"...Enjoyed reading your post -- really quite interesting -- I think I'll print that out and put it on the wall... I've got a cat, and it looks EXACTLY like yours... She is the love of my life (sorry ladies), and right now she would be sitting on my lap -- making typing for me as difficult as possible -- the I had the cable man here this morning and she is still freaked out from all the excitement... My Kitty has her own little silly blog, and if you look hard enough at my blog you may see a link... Best regards, Don and Kitty

Old Wom Tigley has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Only become a cat lover in the last year or two... and even then it's only one cat that lives across the street but comes visiting.. it came by today and jumped in through the open window and came to snuggle up on my knee.

photowannabe has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Great quotes and though I'm not a cat person I enjoyed your thoughts and pictures.

Kim has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": I don't know what i would do without my cat. She loves me like nothing else can, unconditionally. Great quotes, I loved reading them :)

ellen b has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Cats are so darn entertaining! Enjoy...

Gemma has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Nice post. I miss my cat!<^..^<
Greyscale Territory has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": A great post! And yes! We are the entertainment for cats as well as the staff!

Bear Naked has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": "A meow massages the heart."- What a beautiful saying.Bear((( )))

me ann my camera has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Cats are wonderful companions. We always had one up to a few years ago. Lots of food for thought here for cat lovers. Also great looking Cat!

Bibi has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Agree with Babooshka about being a dog person (after all, see my avatar!)but I appreciate cats more now, thanks to your quotes. Bibi is similar to your Pepper, but she can hear the refrigerator door opened no matter how softly from wherever she is in out apartment...

ArneA has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": I have copied your post to my wife and two daughters. They are more cat people than I.We had a cat before going to Asia with the name Socrates. He was very smart and when the doorbell rang counted the number of us inside before hiding or not.

Tash has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Cats are people too. Hmmm, maybe they are just cats, on the other hand... but I know that Pepper is precious.

Patty has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Aww what a pretty baby. I have two cats but didn't think to use them for my C photo

leslie has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": I'm a dog person, too, but there are some great quotes here. These are my favourites:"Dogs come when they're called. Cats take a message and get back to you."- Mary Bly"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."- Unknown"Dogs have owners, cats have staff."- UnknownGreat post!

babooshka has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": I am a dog person, buts observing cats will never be the same now. Really great quotes.

Denise has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Gary, great stuff! So profound & researched!

Liz has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": She looks quite haughty - as if to say, really, can't I sit under here without having my photo taken again?Great quotes.

Ackworth Born has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": I don't really like cats but ...

Texas Travelers has left a new comment on your post "ABC Wednesday - C is for...": Great quotes.Now I know all I need to know about our cats.Our "C" is Here.Come visit,Troy and Martha

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

ABC Wednesday - C is for...


This is Pepper, she's eight years old and we rescued her from the streets as a kitten. I can't imagine our household without a cat. Ever since I can remember we have always had at least one ( and a maximum of three) I have a special affinity with them, and they seem to understand me more than the other members of the McArthur household. When she's hungry and other McArthurs get up as if to go into the kitchen she stays where she is, but if I so much as move my foot or make to get up from my chair, she's squirming round my legs in a flash. So for this ABC I thought I'd enlighten you with some interesting cat quotes I found at

  • "In the beginning, God created man, but seeing him so feeble, He gave him the cat."- Warren Eckstein
  • "A home without a cat- and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat- may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?"- Pudd'nhead Wilson
  • "If animals could speak the dog would be a a blundering outspoken fellow, but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much."- Mark Twain
  • "A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime."-Mark Twain Notebook, 1895
  • "I simply can't resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course."- Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field, Fisher
  • "Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."- Mark Twain Notebook, 1894
  • "You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals."- George Mikes from "How to be decadent
  • "Dogs come when they're called. Cats take a message and get back to you."- Mary Bly
  • "For a man to truly understand rejection, he must first be ignored by a cat."- Anon
  • "I love cats because I love my home and after a while they become its visible soul."- Jean Cocteau
  • "There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats."- Albert Schweitzer
  • "There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat."- Tay Hohoff
  • " God made the cat in order that humankind might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger."- Fernand Mery
  • "There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat."- Tay Hohoff
  • "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow. "- Jeff Valdez
  • "Way down deep, we're all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them."- Jim Davis
  • "There is, incidentally, no way of talking about cats that enables one to come off as a sane person."- Dan Greenberg
  • "The smallest feline is a masterpiece."- Leonardo da Vinci
  • "In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats."- English Proverb
  • "Beware of people who dislike cats."- Irish Proverb
  • "You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats."- Colonial American Proverb
  • "With the qualities of cleanliness, affection, patience, dignity, and courage that cats have, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?"- Fernand Mery
  • "I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."- Winston Churchill
  • "I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior."- Hippolyte Taine
  • "A meow massages the heart."- Stuart McMillan
  • "No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens."- Abraham Lincoln
  • "Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are God."- Unknown
  • "Time spent with cats is never wasted."- Unknown
  • "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."- Unknown
  • " No heaven will not ever be Heaven be; Unless my cats are there to welcome me."- Unknown
  • " How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven."- Robert A. Heinlein
  • "Dogs have owners, cats have staff."- Unknown
  • "Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this."- Anonymous
  • " There are many intelligent species in the universe. They are all owned by cats."- Anonymous
  • "No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch."- Leo Dworken
  • "One cat just leads to another."- Ernest Hemingway
  • "The cat has too much spirit to have no heart."- Ernest Menaul
  • "As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat."- Ellen Perry Berkeley
  • "People who hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life."- Faith Resnick
  • "One reason we admire cats is for their proficiency in one-upmanship. They always seem to come out on top, no matter what they are doing, or pretend they do."- Barbara Webster
  • "I have noticed that what cats most appreciate in a human being is not the ability to produce food which they take for granted--but his or her entertainment value."- Geoffrey Household
  • "As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human kind."- Cleveland Amory

For more interesting 'C's visit ABC Wednesday's New Blog. and sign in on Mr Linky

Cat quotes courtesy of Cats

Monday, 4 August 2008

Light Relief

After the trauma of losing my computer over the weekend Emily has brought me some well earned light relief by wrestling with Pepper..... and proving, once and for all, that the sun definitely shines out of her.... by beatiing the cat hands down!!
a distressed Pepper decided to hide herself under the coffee table for the rest of the evening!!

Bless her!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Virus Virus Virus!!!!!!

Apologies for not being on Blogging over the weekend - someone decided to infect my PC with a hideous Trojan virus - I've had to completely wipe my hard drive and reinstall XP - so it's been a bit of a nightmare all weekend - and it aint over yet - now I have to find all those lost files and photo's and memories - good job I backed up all my important stuff last thursday!!

Normal service will resume as soon as possible!!!!