A tragic tale of a minor miner

We have just returned from an excellent week away in the Derbyshire Peaks. One of our excursions during the holiday was to Speedwell Cavern at Castleton. This was an interesting tour, which I would definitely recommend, but it contained some fairly harrowing details of life mining lead in this cold, dark, permanently flooded cave. The most harrowing of these stories was of a seven-year-old boy. Continue reading

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Should I join the party outrage party?

Sometimes I worry that I have a deficiency of outrage.


At any given time, a large part of the population appear to be outraged by something. This is a tendency that appears to get more acute with every passing year; increasing exponentially with each perceived heinous act.


The outraged populous appear on our TV screens and in newspapers spitting bile and venom at the perpetrators of the mis-deeds. They write angry letters to editors and to their MPs. They attend rallies and marches to make their protest known. Meanwhile, my reaction tends to vary between a resigned shrug and a faint scowl of disapproval.


The latest scandal to which i feel unable to raise the expected level of opprobrium is the parties at No 10.

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Post lockdown lament

As we find ourselves hopefully heading out of lockdown restrictions over the coming months I am, of course, looking forward to things getting a little more back to normal. There are, however, a couple of things concerning me.

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If a spaceman came travelling…

Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

In October 2017 an object was spotted in space heading toward Earth. It was travelling extremely fast and, unlike the objects astronomers are accustomed to observing in our solar system: planets, asteroids, comets and the like, this was not orbiting our sun – it was simply passing through. It was the first known interstellar object in our solar system, and its odd appearance and behaviour has caused some to speculate that it’s not a natural object, but something that has been made by an advanced alien civilisation.

I find this discovery interesting, exciting and a little concerning. Whether or not you believe this hypothesis, or indeed whether you believe that intelligent life may exist on other planets, it’s interesting to ponder what would happen if aliens did visit us. On balance I’m not convinced it would go well.

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Combating social media manipulation

At the weekend I watched The Social Dilemma, the Netflix documentary film in which tech experts sound the alarm on the dangerous human impact of social networking. What it depicts is frightening.

Clearly we need to do something about the impact that social media is having on us as individuals, as a society and even as a civilisation. But, as one of the contributors in the film acknowledges, we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. We can’t just decide to turn it off and pretend it never happened. 

The next best thing is education: what can we do to arm ourselves, as individuals, with the tools that we need to live with this monster?

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Keeping my ill-informed, half-baked opinion out of it

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

I haven’t published a blog in a while. It’s certainly not because there isn’t anything to comment on, and it’s certainly not that I don’t have views (those who know me will know I always have views!).

I think it’s probably because everything seems so big and complicated that I don’t know where to start. And also because everything seems so contentious that I don’t want to add more fuel to the fire with my own half-baked thoughts.

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Will technology drive up the cost of motoring?

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

I had a problem with my car recently and it got me thinking about the way that technology is changing the nature of the motor car. As I mulled these changes I wondered what impact it was likely to have on the cost of motoring. Spoiler alert: I don’t think it’s going to be getting any cheaper.

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Are face masks the answer?

The Government has decided that it will be compulsory to wear face coverings in shops from 24 July. This has raised a number of questions about timing (has the horse already bolted?) and enforcement (is it the job of police or shop owners?), but my concern is more fundamental: will it help?

I am no expert on the subject, so if the science has led the Government to conclude that this will help slow the spread of the virus then I will do as I’m told, but I can’t help feeling it might actually make matters worse.

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Beer, buses and bugs

Today I did two things for the first time since the beginning of our long Covid-19 imposed lockdown. The two things were related: I went to the pub for a pint of beer, and in order to get there I went on a bus.

The pub felt quite safe and well managed on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the bus not so much.

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New Landlord at the Imperial

The Imperial – Pub sign

It is with some sadness that I read the Facebook post from The Imperial on Friday announcing that Tom and Karen, landlord and landlady at the pub for the past 30 years, have decided to retire.

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Super Saturday?

Today has been labelled Super Saturday: the day that, after more than 3 months of lockdown, the pubs are finally allowed to re-open. It is a day of excitement and celebration across the country, so why am I not joining in? Continue reading

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Corona-Vinyl

Photo by Matthias Groeneveld from Pexels

One happy outcome of the current coronavirus crisis is that for the first time I have been able to spend some time working from home. I am lucky because I have what I grandly call an office, which contains everything I need: a desk, a comfortable office chair… and my old vinyl collection.

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The growth of literature

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Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

I have just finished re-reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by the brilliant Douglas Adams. It is many years since I originally read it and I once again enjoyed it enormously. It is brilliantly written, funny and, of course, completely barking mad.

Reading the book again got me thinking. Not about the genius of Adams’ writing style; not about the complexities and moral dilemmas of travelling through space and time; and not about the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. No, it got me thinking about something much more mundanely baffling.
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Leaving a Bitter Taste

A gin and a flight in TANK

I am a beer drinker.

My taste in beer is pretty broad – I like light beers and dark beers; hoppy beers and malty beers; session beers and strong ales.

But until recently, the one over-riding consideration was that they are cask ales, not keg.

Lately I have been challenging my prejudices around this and increasingly trying craft keg ales – and often they are very good. However, there is something about the whole craft ale craze that leaves a bitter taste. Continue reading

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A Romantic Sunset

P1080835_edited-2A few weeks ago we returned from a week’s holiday in Santorini.

Santorini is a bucket-list destination for many people and it has a great reputation for romantic sunsets.

I can attest that Santorini is a beautiful island and well worth a visit. However, the romantic sunsets aren’t all that they appear. Continue reading

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When is a Beer Not a Beer?

Delirium RedIt may come as a surprise to those who know me, but I quite like beer.

As a rule, my preference is for traditional cask ale, but I am aware that this makes me a bit of a dinosaur in this age of craft beer. I therefore decided I should broaden my horizons and experiment more in this ever-growing pool of possibility; see what I’ve been missing.

To this end, earlier this week I attended the Rebel Beer Club at Tank in Gloucester, the bar owned by Gloucester Brewery.

It was an extremely enjoyable evening, but it got me wondering – when is a beer not a beer? Continue reading

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The four categories of music

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Quireboys on the Riverside Stage at Upton Blues Festival – Category A

It’s been quite a week.

Last weekend I was at Upton Blues Festival. This meant I missed the start of the Gloucester Blues Festival, but I’ve been trying to make up for it ever since and have been in town enjoying the music – and beer – on offer every evening this week.

During the week I’ve decided that when watching live bands there are only four meaningful categories of music. Continue reading

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Making it up as you go along

It’s been a long few days.

For the past several weeks my mum has been very ill following an unsuccessful cancer operation. As the weekend approached her health deteriorated rapidly and, with my brother and his family, we took turns to keep vigil, trying to keep her as comfortable as possible.

At some point over the weekend I found myself sitting with my two nieces aged 17 and 21. The eldest of them is just about to embark on the exciting new adventure of getting her first flat.

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A Memorable Occasion

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We finally found The Lost Gardens of Heligan

We recently returned from a very enjoyable holiday to Cornwall in TVWNN*.

This holiday was most unusual because the sun shone for most of the time we were away – not something we are used to when we go away in TVWNN.

The first weekend fell over the early May bank holiday, when the weather was glorious – the hottest early May bank holiday since records began or something.

We had booked a few nights at a campsite near Mevagissey, right next to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, which were the main purpose of this part of our holiday.

This was the first time we had visited the gardens, but not the first time we had tried.

I can tell you exactly when we last planned to visit: it was a very memorable date. Continue reading

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Gloucester CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival 2018 – The One That Nearly Got Away!

FB-Banner-IMG-9138[This article was written for the Gloucester CAMRA Beer Festival Website]

There are some events that mark a milestone in the year: events that you look forward to from one year to the next; events that you plan your life around so that you don’t miss them.

For me and many beer and cider drinkers in the Gloucester area – and indeed for some from far flung corners of the country and even the world – one such event is the annual Gloucester CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival

It is back again for its sixth year on the 27 to 28 April, and is once again at the historic Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester.

However, this year it almost didn’t happen. Continue reading

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Should Craft Beer be more Affordable?

A gin and a flight in TANKThere has been much debate about the price of craft beer recently.

Although some craft beer is undoubtedly very good, I generally don’t tend to concern myself with it too much. The whole concept of craft beer seems to me to be too nebulous, often pretentious and, ultimately, not that important.

However, I’ve found the recent debate about making craft beer more inclusive interesting. As usual, I don’t have any clear answers or insights, but I do have some thoughts I’d like to share. Continue reading

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Have an Accident and Reduce Your Insurance Premium

cars-in-an-accident-car-insurance

Picture for illustrative purposes only – my accident was much less messy than this. Picture from https://www.theaa.com/car-insurance/advice/what-to-do-after-a-car-accident

This wasn’t the blog I was expecting to write.

I was expecting to have a good old moan about insurance companies and the cost of insurance in general, but things took an unexpected turn.

I have just renewed my bike insurance and, following an ‘incident’ last year, I was expecting to get gouged, but somehow I ended up saving money.

Who could have predicted that? Continue reading

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Old Wives Tales Aren’t Always Wrong

12479938-toothacheThere are a lot of home remedies and old wives tales out there.

Name an ailment, any ailment, and someone will have a never-fails cure that they heard about from their mother, grandmother, ancient aunt or local witch-doctor – someone with dubious medical qualifications at best.

Of course they are all nonsense. Ridiculous. You’d have to be a fool to put any store in them.

And then you have an ailment and suddenly they seem less ridiculous. It has to be worth a try, right…

Toothache has to be right up there with the ailments that will drive you to such cures, and guess what – I have toothache. Continue reading

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Dry January vs. Tryanuary

Tryanuary-Logo-500x500Happy New Year!

We are well into January now, so it’s probably too late to say that, but this is my first blog of 2018 so give me a break.

How are your New Year resolutions going?

It is that time of year when we make promises to better ourselves, become more healthy and generally improve our lives.

One of the ways people tend to do that is to give up drink for a month in what has recently become known as Dry January. Or more frequently #DryJanuary. Continue reading

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Whirr

I can’t really explain where this came from, but the idea amused me for some reason….

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