Monday, 31 July 2017

July 31st, 2017 - Photo 212 of 365

Deborah James
Over the weekend I learnt of the desperately sad news that Deborah James passed away last Thursday. I met her just the once, which was quite recently in May for the new fundraising book I am doing, but we had been friends on social media for about a couple of years. She was so upbeat and positive and determined to not let bowel cancer rule her life. More importantly she was an incredibly kind and lovely person with just the most infectious laugh. She was just 37 years old when taken by this awful illness. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

July 30th, 2017 - Photo 211 of 365

My hibiscus plant is probably the most successful thing growing in my garden. I bought it the first summer I lived here, and nine or so years later it is thriving with these gorgeous flowers adding a lovely colour to the garden. I have never pruned it, but I think next spring it will need cutting back, and shaping, before it gets too out of control. 

Saturday, 29 July 2017

July 29th, 2017 - Photo 210 of 365

Woodley Hill House
Woodley Hill House is not far from my house. It has recently become the home of the Network Vineyard Church, having previously been under the ownership of Reading and Wokingham College. From my reading it appears that the origins of the Forest School at Winnersh can be traced back here, when the building was first used as a school in 1945. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

July 28th, 2017 - Photo 209 of 365

Under the Umbrella
The height of the British summer! To be fair it's been a pretty decent summer so far, but the last couple of weeks have been a bit of a mixed bag. Fortunately I found Dad's old Henley umbrella, which I had misplaced for ages, so I didn't get soaked...

Thursday, 27 July 2017

July 27th, 2017 - Photo 208 of 365

Lunchtime walk at work
I don't venture into the wheat fields at work very often for our lunchtime stroll, mainly down to the amount of other dog walkers these days. Usually I tend to stick to the roads with Prince, and walk into the village. However, today, we walked right through the middle of this field for the first time in over a year, and this scene with the tree in the middle of the field is one of my favourite views at work. Prince, naturally, enjoyed it immensely..

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

July 26th, 2017 - Photo 207 of 365

The Shire Horse
My grandparents ran this pub outside Maidenhead, now known as The Shire Horse, for almost 30 years. My Mum was born at The Sun Inn public house in Henley, and then the family moved here in 1938 when Mum two! In those days the pub was called The Coach & Horses. She basically grew up there and it was also where where she met Dad. They lived there for the first couple of years of their marriage, while they were building their house in Altwood Road. In recent years the pub has been extended, but the main original part where Mum lived remains. Behind the pub is the bowling green, which my grandfather put in. I think my grandmother was a ladies county bowls champion... My grandparents retired around the time I was born, and in fact my grandfather never went back there after that. It will always be a big part of our family history.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

July 25th, 2017 - Photo 206 of 365

Meeting cricket commentator Natalie Germanos
My new book journey took me into London tonight to meet South African cricket commentator Natalie Germanos, who has been working for BBC Test Match Special covering the Women's Cricket World Cup won by England so dramatically against India at Lord's last Sunday. She was really nice, and we spent over an hour chatting in Green Park on a lovely summer's evening. With her work now done, she has a few more days here before heading home, but she will be going to the 3rd Test at The Oval this week as a spectator cheering on South Africa. I hope she enjoys herself, although I also hope England can bounce back from Trent Bridge to take a 2-1 lead πŸ˜‰

Monday, 24 July 2017

July 24th, 2017 - Photo 205 of 365

Headstone back in place
Here is the headstone back in place on my Mum and dad's grave at Littlewick Green, and it looks lovely. It was removed after Mum passed away 11 months ago for the funeral, and has had the added inscription about her as well as waiting for the ground to settle before being put back in place over the last couple of days. I've always found the churchyard a comforting and peaceful place, as well as that close connection with the parents. I can now top dress the grave, and get it back to looking its best again. I do know that Mum would be very happy that the geraniums are doing well, and not being totally decimated by the wild life, which was always a source of frustration for her 😊 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

July 23rd, 2017 - Photo 204 of 365

Dark Clouds
The weather forecast today was not great, but here in Reading the promised rain didn't really materialise. However towards the end of the day when I was taking Prince for a walk, the threatening dark clouds looked for all the world like a storm was coming. Yet once again no rain came, but it made for quite an impressive photo...

Saturday, 22 July 2017

July 22nd, 2017 - Photo 203 of 365

What a horrible day with rain and then some more rain... This colourful cone was one of the few colourful things I saw today, and there's a little bit of a mirror image going on in the puddle...

Friday, 21 July 2017

July 21st, 2017 - Photo 202 of 365

Miniature Van
I stopped this morning to give Prince a pit stop, and when we were walking back towards the van I took this photo. The van almost appears like a miniature matchbox like toy vehicle as it looks so small...

July 20th, 2017 - Photo 201 of 365

Where I Started Work
This is where I started work with the family business. Our old unit is no longer here, as when we left in the mid 1990s the site was redeveloped by our landlords. The site is now all closed up and will no doubt have houses built on it now. Dad formed the business in 1976, and his first place was just around the corner from here. He moved to this site in the early 1980s, and I began work here in 1984. Being a Maidenhead family it was sad when we eventually left the town in 1999, but it was either move or go under. The move to Medmenham, where we still are 18 years later, has been the saving of the business...

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

July 19th, 2017 - Photo 200 of 365

Mortgage Paid Off
Today I had a letter to confirm that my mortgage has been paid off. This is totally down to a lifetime of hard work by my parents, and the recent sale of their house after the loss of Mum. So it's a kind of bittersweet feeling, as of course I would much rather they were still here. But I am now master of my own destiny. I own my house, and I have also got rid of the business overdraft, so the bank have no hold over me at all. It's a blank canvas for me, and hopefully with some happy times ahead...

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

July 18th, 2017 - Photo 199 of 365

Mum's Lilies
Another gorgeous plant I transported from Mum's garden has come into full bloom. This gorgeous lily is probably the most colourful of the lot, and is looking terrific. There are more flowers on the other stems, but they have already gone just past their best, so here are the two that are at their peak. I am sure Mum would be very happy that so many of her plants are flourishing at both mine and at my sister Ali's.

Monday, 17 July 2017

July 17th, 2017 - Photo 198 of 365

Meeting Victoria Derbyshire
Today I met up with, broadcaster and journalist, Victoria Derbyshire, who very kindly agreed to be part of my new bowel cancer fundraising book, The Record. She revealed a terrific first record that she bought, but of course you will have to get the new book to find out what it is. All I can say is that I have the record in my own collection... We had to rearrange our meeting on a couple of occasions, one of which was down to the recent General Election being called. Victoria has been ever so helpful, coming up with an alternative date straight-away, and also met me out of London to save me making my way up to the BBC. 

She has, of course, been fighting cancer herself, and has her own story of her cancer battle coming out in a book this autumn. She was ever such a nice lady, and it was lovely meeting her. I have to thank Dafydd Wyn Farr-Jones, who once again has give me a terrific contact for the book.

My Mum bravely fought bowel cancer for over 4 years, but sadly passed away in August 2016 just a week after celebrating her 80th birthday. All proceeds from sales of the new book, along with the other items on my website, are donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The book will also help raise awareness about bowel cancer. It is the second highest cancer killer in the UK, but can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases if detected early.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

July 16th, 2017 - Photo 197 of 365

Meal Time
Prince has never been a big eater, and since Storm passed away it has been very noticeable just how little he eats at times. I have tried all kinds of different foods, but to no avail. So I went back to mince, which I was giving them during Storm's illness. Over the last couple of weeks Prince (touch wood) seems to have turned a corner and is eating well at the moment. He is looking a lot healthier now that he seems to be putting on a bit of weight. He also seems to be much happier in himself at the moment, and maybe he is coming to terms with losing his mum...

Saturday, 15 July 2017

July 15th, 2017 - Photo 196 of 365

Two Bridges
An interesting scene. On the left you have a road bridge, and on the right a foot bridge. Although it looks disused, down below is in fact the Reading to Waterloo railway line, and you can see the tracks if you look closely... 

July 14th, 2017 - Photo 195 of 365

Stokenchurch Communication Tower
For anyone who drives along the M40 between London and Oxford, the communication tower at Stokenchurch is a familiar site at Junction 5. It dominates the skyline perched on top of the Chilterns. I often go pass it using local roads, and this particular view was taking approaching the motorway from the local road out of Ibstone, which is my route to the motorway from work.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

July 13th, 2017 - Photo 194 of 365

Flat Wheat!
My lunchtime walks with Prince at work have left me with a problem, as I am a bit confused as to why certain areas of the wheat crop have been flattened (not harvested). There seems to be no way a vehicle could have entered the area and done it, as the surrounding crops are intact with no wheel marks to the flat wheat, and it's too big an area for a person to have done it. Animals perhaps, although there are none on the farm. There must be a logical explanation... Answers on a postcard please πŸ˜‰

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

July 12th, 2017 - Photo 193 of 365

Hazel O'Connor
After meeting Hazel O'Connor earlier this year for the bowel cancer charity book I am writing, I spent ages trying to track down a compilation album of her material. This CD is put of print, so it can exchange hands for silly money. I was quite surprised that it was not available as a digital album on iTunes or Amazon, and I don't do Spotify. Finally I managed to find a reasonably priced CD on eBay, and today my copy finally arrived...

July 11th, 2017 - Photo 192 of 365

Rockabilly Riot
I went to see Brian Setzer's sold out London gig at The Forum in Kentish Town. His first UK date in 6 years, and only UK date on his current Rockabilly Riot tour. I had never seen him live before, and it was a stunningly brilliant show. He played with a superb band, and he is a quite phenomenal guitarist. I have to admit to really only being familiar with the Stray Cat hits from the 1980s (which he played), and I am not sure if I could listen to 90 minutes of rockabilly music on my iPod, but I could go and watch this man live every single day. One of the best gigs I have been to... 

Oh and I thought I used a lot of hair gel - those in the audience who still had hair had gone to town on the rockabilly look 😊

Monday, 10 July 2017

July 10th, 2017 - Photo 191 of 365

Vintage Cars
I had a very interesting experience on my way through Henley this morning. I got caught up in the Royal Automobile Club's 1000 Mile Trial 2017 event. It is an event for vintage cars registered before 1940. Very impressive vehicles to see on the road, and with a black and white filter, you can begin to imagine this as a scene from 75 years ago. They are, however, just as rude as other car drivers in not allowing me into a traffic space! πŸ˜†

Sunday, 9 July 2017

July 9th, 2017 - Photo 190 of 365

Goddaughter's 4th Birthday Party
Today I went to my goddaughter, Robyn's, 4th birthday party. Times have certainly changed since I was a youngster. Imagine having a parachute at your party... I remember the excitement of pass the parcel, musical chairs and musical statues, and of course back then there could only be one winner. These days everybody wins 😊 Although I have not been fortunate enough to have children, I have been very lucky to have been asked to be a godparent on more than one occasion. I think that it is unlikely to happen again at my age, so I shall certainly continue to enjoy being a godparent to all my godchildren.

July 8th, 2017 - Photo 189 of 365

My hydrangea is coming out into full bloom and looking good. The plant was given to me by Mum a few years ago, and it has always done well, even though I have had to keep it in a pot with my limited garden space. Hydrangeas are a plant that Mum loved, and although quite a few of her's were left when the house was sold, I did take the ones in pots.

Friday, 7 July 2017

July 7th, 2017 - Photo 188 of 365

River Thames at Medmenham
This is one of my favourite local views where The River Thames runs through Medmenham, which is halfway between Marlow and Henley on the A4155, where my business has been based since the end of 1999. On a day like today the view is absolutely stunning. At the end of Ferry Lane, in Medmenham, is the old ferry crossing, which ceased operation after the Second World War. Today, the road still runs into the river. To the left are the gardens of Medmenham Abbey, which is now a private house not open to the public.  

Thursday, 6 July 2017

July 6th, 2017 - Photo 187 of 365

The Crown at Pishill. A landmark place for me, as 32 years ago back in 1985 (I think) it was the location for my first ever complete memory loss blackout due to excesses of alcohol consumed. I had been to an 18th birthday party there, and the next morning the trendy black pvc tie I had been wearing was in two pieces! I couldn't remember a thing. This set the pattern for the next 12 or so years pretty much every Friday and Saturday night... However December 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of the end of the days of heavy drinking. These days I struggle to have more than a couple of drinks, and I am a total lightweight. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde...

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

July 5th, 2017 - Photo 186 of 365

Checking in on Prince
One of the few downsides to a lovely warm and sunny summer's day is not being able to take Prince out in the van with me, as it doesn't have air conditioning, and the cab gets too hot for him. So I had to leave him in the unit on his own, which is all quite new to him since Storm was put to sleep 4 weeks ago. It's a case of taking it slowly and doing it gradually. I have invested in a camera, so I am able to see how he is doing by using an app on my phone. The app shows a live video feed and the ability to take a screenshot. So while I was out on the road I regularly checked in, and the excellent news was that Prince was quite content and settled back at work.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

July 4th, 2017 - Photo 185 of 365

Traditional Post Box
I love the sight of a traditional post box built into a wall. They are still quite common, although this building, once the post office in Medmenham, is now a private house. I tried to find out a little bit about the history of this house being a post office, but unfortunately information on the internet was sparse. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

July 3rd, 2017 - Photo 184 of 365

I went to the Post Office in Hambleden today close to work, and the village was a blanket of Hollyhocks. It was quite impressive as every house seemed to be growing them. Prince was surveying the scene from my car if you look closely 😊

Sunday, 2 July 2017

July 2nd, 2017 - Photo 183 of 365

Henley Stewards' Enclosure Member Badges
I have been fortunate to have been a member of the Henley Stewards' Enclosure for the last three years. I know how happy the old man would be about this. He rowed at the regatta in 1950s for Maidenhead Rowing Club, and went to the regatta every year until he passed away in 2009. He never had need of becoming a member, as he knew so many people, so he never had a problem getting tickets. I got on the waiting list after his death, and luck was on my side in getting the membership through sooner than expected, as it is usually a 10 year wait. This meant I was able to give Mum tickets in 2015, which was something that meant a lot to me, especially as last year she was in hospital with her health sadly in decline from the wretched bowel cancer. I know that the event is not for everyone, and does have its elitist social reputation. However there are a lot of "normal" people there too, and with the dad's rowing connection it's an event that will always hold a special place in my heart... I am sure the folks are looking down and raising a glass today. Mum and Dad have not been far from my thoughts these last five days, but in a lovely nostalgic way with just a hint of sadness 😍

Saturday, 1 July 2017

July 1st, 2017 - Photo 182 of 365

And The Band Played On
Day 4 at Henley Regatta, and a bit of brass band action. So as Saxon once sang, "And The Band Played On." I think that's quite an impressive feat to get Saxon into a photo blog about Henley Regatta 😁This is one of the great traditions at the regatta during the lunch and tea breaks. Today the warm British summer came to the party too, so it really was quite perfect. I thought quite fondly of how Mum and Dad would have absolutely loved it there today.

June 30th, 2017 - Photo 181 of 365

Day 3 at Henley. Over the,last few years, every race at Henley Regatta has been broadcast live on YouTube. I am sure this has been a challenge on a number of levels. In this photo you can see a fixed camera in the background, and they use cameras on the judges launches as well. They now also use drones, which can follow the races the whole way down the course. The regatta maintains so many of its traditional elements, but it also embraces new technology too...