Friday, December 25, 2009

Ho Bloomin' Ho

Last year we caught him red pawed. Though strictly speaking it was The Axeman who was to blame.
The Christmas turkey from the excellent butcher was left out for the evening you see. Left outside in fact and covered on a garden table until morning. Then it was due to be turned into a pie. It was a frosty night and fridge space was at a premium by then. It seemed like a good plan.
Asbo eyed the proceeding with interest and must have been slightly disappointed to find his customary egress blocked by a hitherto unlocked door.
When a befuddled Axeman (the guitar playing elder son of She Of The Townhouse) finally staggered home from the pub, he found the poor creature doing the doggy version of crossing his legs. Taking pity, and having little appreciation of Asbo’s subterfuge, he released the door and propped it ajar so that natures call could be answered. With this good deed done he sloped of to a well earned inebriates rest.

So it was that the next day, a puzzled She Of The Townhouse surveyed the full dog and the remnant of a very expensive turkey being picked over by Mel Next Door’s Owl.
This year we have all learned our lesson. Food is being stashed well out of reach.

Last night Axeman came home from the City Of Light bearing lovely gifts, one of which comprised a selection of Asbo’s favourite chocolates. Intended of course as a festive treat for She Of The Townhouse. These he placed carefully under the tree.

This morning he was surprised to find a dog full of soft centres.

Some people never learn.....

Happy Christmas all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dietary Requirement

How unkind we were back then. Amused at Karla taking the same ham salad every day. To shy to ask outside this personal safe zone.
And now here I am. Every day I have the same cheese and pickle sandwich with trimmings. One banana, one orange, and an apple. Week in month out, year after year.
Mind you, every now and then, just so that I can feel that I am walking near the edge of the line, I have corned beef instead. I don’t tell anyone though.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Well look at all the dust in here. It’s not that I don’t love everyone, just busy.
Anyway look at my lovely new picture.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Sitting in my new red shiny I am gliding along the Shropshire Union Canal. I am as one with Ratty, there is nothing quite so fine on this sunny afternoon as simply messing about in a boat.
Between the occasional ripples generated by a passing barge swallows swoop and drink. Cows, bucolic cast casual enquiry as I drift by, paddles dipping to guide my progress. Between the spells of rural idyll little cottages spread the cloth of their manicured lawns down to the water, inviting thoughts of lazy afternoon picnics in dappled sunshine. Willows bend their branches, trailing their fingertips in the water. Bright wild flowers nod in quiet warm appreciation. A kingfisher flashes iridescent green and blue.
August is dusting of its summer raiment and across gentle breeze the insects murmur an appreciation. Nothing to disturb us dear friends. Not a note.
Unless of course you count She Of The Townhouse running her own version of Twitter as she splashes along behind. Still a couple of extra strokes and I think we can leave all that behind…….

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


The food and the company shared on Hallett’s Mountain this weekend were second to none. A party started on Friday evening and finished two days later, most of it under sunshine or moonshine. She Of The Townhouse contrived so many surprises.
There was live music, fireworks, bonfires, a drum and bass tent, a camping ground, cake and bottles of champagne, as well as most of a cow and a pig.
Tunes resounded off Garvie's Leap until we were finally sung to sleep for a couple of hours and then we got up and did it some more.
My sisters shared a drive up the Offa’s Dyke. My little brother blew bubbles in the garden. My uncle gave me a penknife.
The great Moo Moo looked down and smiled.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Frankie Says ......Louder

"I want", I explained to the young man in Maplins, "the sort of stereo that will disturb the neighbours"
And so now I have one.........
There is a bit of a party here on Hallett's Mountain this Saturday.
DJ Boo Boo will be in charge of the drum and bass tent.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Moment Of Light

I am sure that wherever you live in the world there are blessings, moments of extraordinary privilege that transcend.
For me, as people who have passed this way already know, I find these moments in the sunrise. I (honestly) quiver with excitement in anticipation of the moment that the sun breaks the horizon that Hallett’s Mountain gazes out upon. I mark the passage of my year as it daily creeps the seasons footsteps. In tune with an ancient understanding of the year I can tell you pretty much what day of the year it is without a calendar forced upon it.
On Saturday night I was gloomy for the prospect of mid summer sunrise. The evening was full of a warm drizzle and so midge ridden that, rather than be eaten alive at the old stone circle, I decided to tuck up in bed and set an alarm for 4:30.
As the cock crowed ( I really must change that alarm) I looked out of the bedroom window and was disappointed to see that the prospect was much the same as when I went to bed. Still I went down and made a cup of tea and got my camera ready in case.
As the appointed hour passed, I began to pack up when all at once I noted a short break in the cloud letting a pale yellow come through. I snapped a couple off for the record and was about to turn away again when this happened. For a few amazing seconds.
A moment of light.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

If It’s Broke Fix It

More years ago than I care to remember…ah dear what a ridiculous affectation for a man of a mere my age to adopt. It was of course the early eighties, well the first half off them at least. I developed an imaginary school subject entitled ‘Car Studies’. I used this as a vehicle….heh heh …did you see what I did there?....I used this as a method of explaining to parents of prospective students why computer studies might not be a particularly suitable subject for the apple of their eye.
The mere title of the subject was enough to make a certain type of adolescent salivate at the prospect. Unfortunately, at the time, it involved a lot of pseudo machine code with the acronym ‘CECIL’ and far more history of Pascal, Liebnitz and Babbage than a committed games player was likely to be interested in.
For a few years the conversation went thus.
“Well you see Mr Hallett we bought him a computer because we knew it would help and he’s never off it. He knows everything!”
After exploring the fact that the real interest may be playing games on the ‘Speccy’ …this was in the years before the interwebby thing, I used ‘Car Studies’ as an example.
“Imagine Mrs Jones that you wanted your son (Other student genders were available but I seldom had the same problem with female students) …that your son wanted to do ‘Car Studies’. He might confuse the subject by thinking that he was going to be learning to drive fast cars in a safe manner and in fact find out that he was doing some mechanical work with a little bit of internal combustion theory thrown in for good measure..
Many of us see the value of learning to be a driver but few of us want to be mechanics. While Computer Studies has computer in the title I really think he may be mistaking …..”etc etc.
I am sure you get the drift. And I am equally sure it did little good even after you had got over how patronising I was.

Today someone did it back to me.
A therapist was trying to explain to me that the concept that failure was not bad or good in itself but that we invested the word with meaning.
“You wouldn’t for example pronounce that a car was ‘bad’ because it had failed its M.O.T….”
Leaving aside for a moment the degree to which people do anthropomorphise the inanimate I started down a new track…
Coming soon to all good academic bookshops. The Hallett Guide to Dialectical Behaviour Therapies and the Art of Car Maintenance.
….I am going to have to come up with a snappier title.

The picture. I was very pleased with the combination of a mist flowing down the river to the sea and the sunrise this morning. If you werent up early enough here it is.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


You can usually tell when She Of The Townhouse is multitasking. The smell of something burning in the kitchen is the standard giveaway, often accompanied by the chirpy little tone of the smoke alarm. You can guarantee that she has started cooking and then at some low point in the proceedings has remembered that her nails need filing somewhere else. Time once again for the boy and I to screw our courage to the sticking place and pronounce surprise and delight at the offering proffered, complimenting her on how stunningly it exceeds the representation on the box.
I may though have explored this theme in the past and so in order not to bore you gentle reader let me look at the spectacle that meets us today.
Today she leapt out of bed at the crack of a sparrows eyelid and larklike has single-womandly reorgainised a swathe of the acre. Weeding, pruning, watering, tending, erecting trellis work, potting on, transplanting, wheeling the wheelbarrow too and fro from the domen and generally tutting and cooing at her plants. The little woman knows no rest. The garden here has seldom seen such devotion and attention over such a sustained period. Even the busy little bees that visit the big sage bush have told her to take it easy. But she cant you see. If she breaks for a moment then she will have to address the essay from college that sits on the kitchen table

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Lashings Of Ginger Beer

Things are afoot on Hallett’s Mountain. I suppose though I should say that things are ahoof rather than afoot as most of the occupants are quadrupeds, don’t wear shoes, and have cloven feet. But then they don’t have much part in the decision making process and so, like the people who ignored the European election this week, are rather disenfranchised. The sheep don’t get much say in what is going on. And anyway we eat them sometimes so perhaps it would be foolish to involve them, albeit as vegetarians, in the decision making process in relation to a barbecue. Crumbs, if the majority were to vote for ‘long pig’ it would be like a James Herbert novel with Terry Pratchett overtones around here.
Sorry? Ramble….yes you are right I need to focus a little.
The thing is I only get one shot at this, its here and then its gone and I have no strong conviction that there will be a second life. Even if there was I would be likely to be reincarnated as something far more transient an d hopefully less error prone. I mean the mistakes that I have made could fill a book and I…….
Huh? The point…. alright I am coming to that ..eventually.
The point is that it doesn’t always rain here in July. Even if it does I have a medium sized barn and a casual disregard for the state that carpets get into. There is loads of room to camp. I don’t mind getting a few extra rashers.
In less than four short weeks from today I shall reach, provided the great Moo Moo spares me, my half century. Coming the day before the Americans have a little celebration of their own. There very loose sort of plan going on to mark the Friday evening with a steak and kidney pie and a nice drop of red wine. Then the Saturday afternoon with whatever we can wave over a fire. It is the Saturday then that I wish to draw to your attention,though you are welcome earlier.
If you think that you might like to be here for an half hour or so, or if you see yourself overindulging and possibly passing out in a corner, all comers are welcome…..
Nay more than welcome, I should love to see you all and play the genial if slightly inebriate ‘mien host’ while She Of The Townhouse scurries around keeping the ship afloat.
You are all invited.
No really.
All of you.
And please bring your kids.
There we go, you have three weeks to get organised.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Seeing Red

We Saw red a lot round here today.
I was up at 5 to catch the sunrise.

Oh all right I confess, I was up at four and enjoyed the sunrise when it caught up with me.

The Redstart is nesting in my barn wall. A cheery summer resident who clears tha caterpillars from my vegetables and th ebeetles from the fruit trees.

JJ found a red bucket and lost no time getting stuck in. He will thank me for the pictures when he is eighteen.

A Red Kite soared overhead. That was rather special.

It was OK ...if you like that sort of thing


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How You Play The Game

Here we all are again, all trying desperately to avoid eye contact. My knees bend and crack on the way down, on the way up they crack again. I seem to have developed old knees. Next to me the bloke in the yellow T-shirt mutters under his breath.
The minute passes and we move on clockwise to the intermediate steps. Red weights swing. For the many the swing counterpoints the step but as always my coordination nearly takes an eye out. The machines are easier.
On to the one that is a bit like rowing, only not on a river and not moving. Not so much fun really. I reflect on Dave’s advice. Maybe I should just stick to the bike on the lighter evenings……
Dammit I have just realised what he is up to. The bloke in the yellow T isn’t muttering to himself he is counting. And despite the fact that we are ‘non competitive in any way’ he is throwing down the gauntlet. What a cad. What a git.
Well I can go one better than that. My minute is up and with a clench of the fist I riposte with a clearly audible thirteen. Take that!
I catch him from the corner of my eye, he seems crestfallen.
More steps and the adrenaline rush seems to have improved my coordination. Step, swing, lower, step back. Faultless. I am one ahead and in tune with the rest of the room.
Unbelievable. The veins on his neck are pulsing and his breath catches but he is one ahead again.
So its step, swing, lower, step back again. At this rate I shall soon need new trousers for work. I am on fire!
On to the next machine, I pump out fifteen just before he gasps his own. A split second between us but it is my hand I think. Hah, and it’s the last, so he can’t make a comeback. Loser…LOSER….LOSER.
And then I notice that he has green weights rather than the red. He has been round the whole circuit with green weights….
I feel crushed. Defeated. Humbled. Despite his handicap there was no more than a gnats hair between us. He has stolen the moral victory.
As he swaggers down the corridor with a towel at a jaunty angle he mutters under his breath.
“Same time next week…..FATBOY.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

Run Fatboy Run

BMI 30.5
So there I am sat sitting there enjoying the baleful glare of the unfit and overweight. I haven’t been in a gym since I was seventeen dear God. And then it was only because Jane Jenkins, a pneumatic young lady, needed some support at the edge of the trampoline. How on earth has it come to all this
The major contributor was my premature death at the age of forty four. I haven’t really been as fit as I once was since that day. The day that my appendix burst and gave me peritonitis. The day when bits of me that shouldn’t; (fans of the semi colon should pause and admire for a half breath here) stopped and I had to have a hard reboot. An accomplice has been my lack of stern resolve.
Since coming out of hospital back then I have struggled to be as fit as I once was. Never a real racing snake mind you but I was able to walk upstairs without breathing heavily.
You may remember that I was trying to train a pair of daps to watch the television with me back in January.
Fellow mountaineers, I can tell you now that that was just the start of things. I subsequently went to my GP and enquired, knowing that these things go very slowly, about the referral scheme.
And so here we all are. Me and a bunch of fat blokes. Waiting. Waiting for the ‘Easyline’ trainer to turn up and put us through our paces. They nearly put me down for the ‘Over 50 Easyline’ you know but I was swift to point out that the form said 49 and ¾. Not 50. Oh no.
The fat bloke opposite seems to be managing about ten a minute and so it is easy to whup his arse. I press a little harder and do eleven. I hope his tears will obscure his perception of how pink I have become.
Afterwards I have to have a cheese pasty to recover in time for tea. In the shower later I also see that I still have a twelve pack. Oh well, Rome wasn’t sacked in a day. I guess I shall just have to go back next week and make some more of the fat boys cry………

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pirates Of The Carneddau

She Of The Townhouse has spied booty out there on the high pastures and once again we set sail…
She has bought a Landrover Discovery you see. Not one of those spanky new things that look like the box the toys came in. No, this one is an old relic from before the labour government, indeed it is almost a Thatcher era vehicle. A Disco so old that that it might even wear flares. Eh? Ok it isn’t that old but I am not so up on early nineties fashions. I was very busy in lycra back then but I not many other people were. Anyway look this is all going a bit Corbett already. The point is She Of The Townhouse has bought an old landrover.
The purpose of this vehicle is fun. She sidestepped the fact that the insurance was more than the vehicle by getting it accepted as a limited mileage vintage model. She ignored the inconvenience that the last two MOT certificates bore an uncanny resemblance to one another. She now has it on the road now for another eleven months come hell or high water.
Aaah …yes… here I need another aside. I say ‘hell or high water’ but in fact it is only the hell part that we have to fear. There is a snorkel that reaches way up to the roof. It would take very high water indeed to put the flame. And even if it was extinguished then the winch would probably lift the whole vehicle free of the flood. Or it would float on the monster tyres.
The interior of the vehicle has a quirky post apocalypse look to it. Seven seats that all seem in ordure and several switches whose function is obscured rather than indicated by the icon stamped upon them. Oh and wires, wires dangling here there and everywhere. None of them do anything of course but if you ever need spare wires just ask.
Anyway, part of the fun to be had is freeloading other peoples junk. We pass a garden, a skip, an area of derelict ground, each laden with opportunity. Yesterday we picked up a broken wood burning stove and every fallen branch within a mile of Hallett’s Mountain.
Times for a jolly rogering then. Avast behind my hearties.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Great fat raindrops are spattering off the leaves above. All around the quiet people sleep. Ten minutes walk away below is the city of Bath but I can’t see this. I have landed in the early morning in a hidden coombe, a treasure in this essentially English countryside. On the other side of this small green valley is a farm that I worked on thirty years past when I was another person in another life.
Back then I was just out of college, perhaps twenty years old. Making my own way through the austerity of the late seventies I was working at the time as a farm hand for hire. I was working to prepare the farm for auction, laying out the machinery in the field, making sure the gates and hedges were stock proof and tidying up around the buildings and yards. I was working for the daughter of a farmer who had died the year before.. I don’t fully remember the circumstances but it was time for them to sell up. Sad for the family that were leaving the little charmed corner, but for me a week or two of charmed sunshine in a rural idyll. A time in the company of the farmers daughter as well, a beauty in her early twenties who seemed to enjoy me being there….
Then at the end of it, one of the turning points in life that I have always wondered about. At the auction itself there was a tractor and trailer for sale. A Massey Ferguson 135 and a medium sized wooden pull along with high sides, both in reasonable condition. Riding a motorbike from job to job I gave serious consideration to buying them. Reasoning that in this type of work it would be a real asset to me. I would be able to bring along my own wire and fence posts to the next job. Shift gravel and cement more easily. Haul wood away from the tree that needed tidying. But in the end I didn’t. I had in mind about two hundred and fifty pounds and the pair sold for three hundred. I moved on and temped my way north to a car factory and then to the area I have lived in ever since and eventually became a teacher.
And here I am again. Up before the world and crossing the church yard, taking shelter from the rain under this tree. The wild garlic scents the air and all is green and as it should be. Here is Peter at his rest, a friend I never knew, and I am slightly disturbed to be reminded that he died younger than I am now.
I thank him for that time then, I thank him for the time now, and walk on.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Plot Thickens

“We need raised beds!”
I know better than to even raise an eyebrow when She Of The Townhouse is in such a dangerous frame of mind and so I continue to feign slumber. Even so a small part of me wonders what is wrong with the trusty old “Sleepmaster Deluxe”. I mean it has seen its share of adventure, may even bow in the middle slightly, but I can’t really see how more room underneath will help.
By the end of the day though things are clearer. Hallett’s Mountain is overwhelmed by every gardening book in the library and several from the junk shop. She is anxious to follow the Zeitgeist.
Its all about vegetables you see.
There has been a rash of feed yourself programs on the television and it seems that Hallett’s Mountain is about to join the ratings. Now these programs are all very well but between you and I there always seems to be a frame or two missing from the tale. The learned son of the soil decides on a succulent crop and bingo. Five minutes later full growth is achieved and everyone is feasting with friends. I just sense that somewhere in the background there is hard work being done over a medium to long term period.
I have looked at the unpromising patch of grassland in Cae Dan Ty that she has in mind and I can feel blisters rising sympathetically on the old palms.
And then you know what happened? You could have felled me with a brassica I can tell you. Groaning up the hill laden with soil, wood and men meaning business come She Of The Townhouse ‘s personal ‘Groundforce’ team.
In the space of two days an indetermined sum of money and half a dozen determined stout fellows have transformed an unpromising prospect in to a freshly minted (I have warned her about how fast the damn stuff spreads) fruit and veg garden.
I tell you, the girl in Aisle 13 is in for a nasty shock. Canned dogfood and beer next week and that’s her lot…….

Monday, April 13, 2009

Of course that was back when it was all fields round here.

Why I remember …….
……I remember back in the early sixties. I guess I would have been about five years old. My family had upped sticks from another place and we had washed up in the village of Swineford, my mother and father, along with three small children lost in a wilderness of cabbages that led down either side of the path to the river.
My sisters and I explored our new worlds of school, village life, a house with electricity in it, and the forbidden Avon which of course drew us like a magnet.
Readers all of us, taught much at home, one of the early adventures was a trip to the library.
Once a fortnight we climbed in to the old black car. Up out of the village past the Elm trees (how curious even the words seems now). We drove through Bitton with all its shops and factories. Back out in to the country of little dairy farms before we turned up Cherry Garden Hill. Getting to the outskirts of Oldland bear left up over the railway. Minutes later down Cowhorn Hill, golf course on the left and then through the estate of relatively new houses. Either way past the patch of green which I don’t recall being so, but even then may have been called Banjo Island, our 1950’s relic of a car pulled up and parked outside the library.
Coming in through what is now a side door I recall a counter that I can now look down on myself, towering over me. Populated by a staff that I was forced to regard as far more forbidding than I am sure they were, it was quite clear back then that the library was a place of almost religious respect in regard to peace and quiet. Any conversation beyond that door was to be conducted barely above a whisper.
Yet what a treat. What a joy. What adventure lay within. I think we were allowed three books each back then so between Melissa and I that meant we had six. Claire was only a baby. With those half dozen we were able to bring home Dr Zues, The Colour Kittens, Ant and Bee, Winnie the Pooh, The Red Bus, and an anthology of nursery rhyme. This latter from which our mother would sing us lullaby to sleep.
So, having chosen, we returned to the hushed desk and bore the echo of the stamp back to the car. Eager to explore the colours and words within our books. Negotiating rights on who got what first. Warned not to read while in motion lest we be sick, we bore our snatches of other world back to the village in which we grew.
You know, from those days, I am glad to say that the adventure that I found in books never left me. I stayed a member of that little library for the next dozen years I guess, until I followed the river Avon down to the Severn and out into my own life.
At first unconscious of the influences and then later increasingly following my own interests the library was able to reflect and steer my tastes from childhood to a young adult.
Using school and Jackanory as springboards I soaked up worlds of fact and fiction. I don’t think I was a ‘geeky’ kid but with less interest than some in football, I was infrequently more than arms length from something to read.
Unfashionable perhaps? I read all the Enid Blyton that I could lay my hands on. Jennings and Derbyshire. A story of a boy whose name I don’t remember now but whose body parts operated some kind of internal collective reasoning to steer his adventures. Professor Brainstorm. The Adventure series of Willard Price, an early one of these giving me a lifelong love of personal adventure in and under the sea. An increasing amount of science fiction, populated by Dan Dare heroes.
Alongside books of British birds. A guide to how to be a carpenter capable of building a modern magazine rack (templates included). The Look and Learn book of facts, invaluable for winning at school quizzes as I was ever able to set the questions. Patrick Moore introduced me to astronomy, another passion that has taken me through over forty years now. A book that showed me the rudiments of my mothers increasingly dodgy car allowed me to fix bits that nowadays I would leave to the RAC or scrap completely. Oh yes and the Atlas that I used to explore the area around Bordeaux where I would be placed for a month with my school exchange partner.
For most of the sixties and seventies that little library helped me explore the way.
Oh it wasn’t the only place of course. School was pretty good to me (I went to the version of Kingswood Grammar school that burned to the ground in 1977). My family encouraged me to be the first to ever go to university. Radio 4 led me far and abroad as I am sure it did many others. The mystery of girls as well.
The library at Cadbury Heath was then very important to me. I would like to salute all of you who have kept it open over the years. Never doubt that the work you do is immensely worthwhile. Influential as well. From a small child to the young adult. It helped shape me in many ways. Opening up places that knowledge and imagination leads. Showing me both the doors and the keys to others and allowing me to choose….
….ah yes, I remember when it was all fields round here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Interior Desecrator

I am usually the one that looks on, ready to mock, but this time I have been made the unwitting victim.
It’s Asbo you see. A couple of years ago when just a pup really he discovered ‘Fang Shooey’. A study scarlet with rage, involving resizing the footwear belonging to She Of The Townhouse and others. The result left along ley lines connecting the back yard to the front door. Pieces of leather and plastic arranged for maximum canine harmony.
From this innocent beginning he has moved on and now regularly changes the covers on the sofa and the cushions so beloved. Changes them in the sense that you don’t recognise them afterwards, generally because the insides are now on the outside, the whole is a different shade that may or may not bear resemblance to the original, and of course damper than before. He has collected underwear since he devoured a scathing article on Tracy Emin’s Turner prize winner (he ignores her years of struggle of course) and has even been known to take the curtains down. Everything collected, along with the barely recognisable remains of the post, are day to day thrown all over The Townhouse floor.
Dropping in as I do from time to time, this has caused me no end of wry amusement.
Until today when the little git has sabotaged the sale of my old car.
A farmer, attracted by a turbo diesel bargain, to cross the Menaii Strait and journey on to the smiling man. The man that rubs his hands and promises his children new toys every time I go to the garage.
“Leave it on the forecourt Mike” why he calls me Mike I have no idea but I long ago gave up correcting him. “We’ll flog it for you”
For the first time in my ownership, the green gleam has been restored to the outside. The new look has been buffed on the inside. But you know what put off this weeks son of the soil?
Apparently it smells rather strongly of dog.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


No one else seems to be up. As I look across the valley in the early morning. I am confronted by my neighbours house on the opposite side. I wonder if he looks out in the evening and wonders about me….

I apologise for the rather poor quality of the picture but I hope you enjoy the colour of the sky. The house I refer to is just to the left of the darker tree in the centre. It is oin a line just to the south of east from my house. Several miles across the Conwy valley from where I live but sometimes I catch a light on and daydream about somenone looking back at me.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

David Michael Garvie 1959 – 2006

Dave Michael Garvie 1959 2006
Once again the year has turned and my old friend is on my mind, and I am sure the mind of others.
I am aware of landmarks in my own life now that I am passing and that he never reached. I have been teaching far longer than he did now. I shall be 50 this year.
I don’t want to be maudlin in my remembrance though, because one thing is for certain. He would be laughing at me for it. He wanted to be remembered fondly by a generation, and then allowed to slip away.
I pass his house every now and then and see that others have taken it over. The George Garvie memorial jungle has been cleared and more light has been let in to the garden. More care is taken.
We used to detonate fire bombs of alarming capacity on the flat patch. Planning carefully, though with scant regard for risk assesment, and then placing them inside his compost bin. Waste gas canisters from mountain expedition, or petrol for a Coleman stove, used to send the lid soaring in to the trees. Mushroom clouds of smoke and burning fuel raining down upon our manic flight. Then, smokey eyed, we would slope off to the pub and put the world to rights until we could barley stand.
Tonight we will sit outside my house and share a beer old friend. And if the sky is clear I’ll get the telescope out and we can count the stars.
God bless Dave.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I don’t know quite what it is but suddenly this week I have become conscious of the fact that I am chasing down fifty, the wrong side of 1000N in weight and pretty unfit unless you count the ability to shuffle.
After passing out in front of the TV twice I made a decisive decision! Something had to change. I have never been a fan of the pointless run but…..
“I just want a pair of running shoes”, I smiled at the girl in the shop. “No brand names mind, I expect this to be a fad that lasts for about a fortnight”.
After rebuffing her attempt to flog me a pair of impact resistant socks I fled before anyone I used to teach recognised my rotundity.
Tonight it’s different.
Instead of passing out in front of the TV you know what I did?
Passed out in front of the TV and a pair of new running shoes.
Today my medium length dog walk took 37 minutes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I have zipped down to Bath this weekend to visit my grandmother. She is a remarkably robust character for a woman just a week over 97 years old. Although she sometimes cant remember quite why she stood up and walked across the room (it was to get a vase for some flowers), she has a good recall of most of the last century.
Conversation is a little odd as you can never be quite sure that she has heard you unless you really shout. She still has a most of her own teeth and can whup pretty nearly anyone at scrabble if she can concentrate for long enough.
It is best to visit her in the morning as she sleeps a lot more in the afternoon and she still like to be taken out for a meal, especially a chinese where her favourite is chicken and sweetcorn soup followed by chicken and cashew nuts.
We used to joke about her hundredth birthday but you know...the way she is going she may just make it.
All my grandparents have lived in to thier nineties. I wonder if I will be as good as she is should I ever get there.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Old Rope

I had imagined that there would be a stunning new year photo here of candles all over a frozen pond taken as the new year changed. Well I am still working on that one. The slightest breeze blows the little buggers out.
Instead I give you a sculpture made out of beach junk.
I wish I could claim the credit myself but this one was made and is maintained by Danielle.