Posted on 12:50pm Friday 28th August 2015
I stayed in local journalism by chance. It was a happy coincidence when just as I was about to give notice, a succession of promotions resulted in my being offered a step up.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 21st August 2015
Part two of a reflection on the early days when I first became a local journalist.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 14th August 2015
For a school-leaver coming into provincial newspaper journalism, it is a very different world to the one I hesitantly and nervously embraced back in 1960.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 7th August 2015
There is a reassurance and a relaxation about holidaying in familiar surroundings. Mentally, I used to take my brain out upon arrival and plug it in to the switch for recharging over the fortnight.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 31st July 2015
There is much to be said for having an annual holiday at the same place, if you can also afford second holiday exploring other countries. We have been returning to the same village for 36 years and we are not alone.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 26th June 2015
Perhaps my music collection could be judged narrow by some, varied by others but it is the random nature of how I stumbled across my favourites, that intrigues me.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 19th June 2015
I spent so many hours, weeks, months and over six years converting an orchard in Limousin into a lawned garden, it was quite a wrench to leave it. But I feel fine about it now.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 12th June 2015
It is not original for a columnist to write a column about not knowing what to write about. Almost certainly that is because it has happened to others frequently over the years. The thought-processes involved are often quite bizarre, I suspect.
Posted on 1:20pm Friday 5th June 2015
I am up to my waist in pond water while Ellie is poking about in the local, communal dusting trying to retrieve an envelope for the bank, using an elongated claw. It is all part of the hectic life of retirees.
Posted on 1:20pm Friday 29th May 2015
I was stunned by a sign inviting us into an eatery offering the choice of five "traditional British lunches". It did not take rocket science to note that two were Italian and one an Indian dish.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 22nd May 2015
There are various eras in one's life and I cam to the end of one last week as I approached my 74th birthday feeling distinctly exhausted. I love working outside but the time has come to ease back the throttle.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 15th May 2015
Car boot sales go by a different name in France, which means Empty Attic. This principle remains the same although even when you are asking half a euro for something, they still attempt to knock down the price.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 8th May 2015
Some old timers try Sudoku or crossroads to keep their minds active. John and I, at 75 and soon to be 74 respectively, keep our brains active by a form of memory-tennis.
Posted on 8:23pm Monday 4th May 2015
I "wasted" £109 on a back-up flight back to the UK in case the air-traffic controllers walked out again. They didn't and so I tried to change the flight for a later date. That was a shock when I tackled the Ryanair website and found it far from helpful.
Posted on 12:50pm Friday 24th April 2015
Anyone who has had a dog, particularly for a number of years, will know the hole it leaves when you have to part with him. But do dog feel a similar loss?
Posted on 12:50pm Friday 17th April 2015
Do dogs have a similar outlook on the essentials of life as do humans? What do they do when we are out? What do they dream about and what causes when to semi-bark and whine in their sleep? As a dog owner you have theories but they cannot be any more than that.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 10th April 2015
Why did we feel rested and relaxed after a two-week break in Spain? After all, we are retired, so where is the strain? However, our trip did not get off to the bets of starts.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 3rd April 2015
We know security is vital when dealing with banks but when, you inform them of your intentions to transfer a few thousand pounds in order to pay for a car, and tell two departments twice, you do not expect the transfer to be halted 24 hours later because of fears over fraud.
Posted on 1:50pm Friday 27th March 2015
We flew back to England for a friend's birthday celebration. She chose to enjoy a weekend in the Cotswolds, hired a seen-bedroom house and we chewed the cud, drank a lot of wine. We also walked across country for lunch and a few pints of real ale and sampled the leisurely life UK-style.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 20th March 2015
French bureaucracy is unwieldy at best and if your put business their way, they love it if it straightforward. Any complication and really, they would rather not bother. It took 12 or more phone calls to insure a car and most of them involved chasing them up because they had not bothered to phone back.
Posted on 12:00pm Friday 13th March 2015
The vista looking across The Pond towards Monmouth House was one of the few things to savour from yesteryear. However, Town Hall planners, having spoilt it back in the early 70s, have gone a step further and at what cost. Soon they will achieve what is presumably the ultimate ideal: make Watford look anonymous.
Posted on 11:30am Friday 6th March 2015
Our house was derelict for 40 years but a builder from Banbury bought it, stating he did not watch TV, read books or use a computer. Instead he just worked on another room, day and evening, converting the old shell into a modern house. Then we found photographs of the house in days gone by.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 27th February 2015
A local journalist left the West Herts Post and launched a concept that would catch on and become the bible of rock and pop. His name was Maurice Kinn; he purchased the new Musical Express and introduced this list called The Top Twenty.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 20th February 2015
Do the kids of today get the same thrill when it is served on a plate, compared to back in those far-off days when you had to work hard to hear "The Devil's Music"
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 13th February 2015
I was unaware that the restriction in the choice of names is pretty well worldwide although when you look at some of the American choices, perhaps that is just as well.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 6th February 2015
The Nanny State is nothing new. The French have been limited in the number of first names they can choose, for many, many years and there are still limitations as some couples found out.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 30th January 2015
Hiring a car is becoming more complicated. Many hire-car firms add extra fees when you pass 70 and, while I have found one that accepts me because I am under 75, they forgot to charge the extra when I presented myself to the desk at the airport.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 23rd January 2015
After a month in the USA you become familiar with the differences but really those moments of pure Americana help to spice up the day. They are invariably trivial, but are worthwhile. And just to add to the ambience I asked my wife what was the connection between Lennox Lewis and Wyatt Earp, and perhaps even ultimately, Anthony Joshua?
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 16th January 2015
They say you should never go back but we have been thinking in terms of going back and visiting some old as well as new vistas in the USA. However, since having ruled out including Arizona as being a journey too far, we have been haunted by our happy memories of our previous visits there.
Posted on 1:50pm Friday 9th January 2015
Travelling to the famed Ap[ache Pass where so many travellers were ambushed, we found ourselves in a "situation". with a number of official police a border patrol vehicles taking a keen interest in us as we just sat there picnicking.
Posted on 12:50pm Friday 2nd January 2015
This was a real 'old-timer' with guitar and amplifier, folding up such as Poor Little Fool and ~teenager In Love. We congratulated him when we left the bar/restaurant and I discovered this old-timer was two years younger than I am. "Time to go, Old Timer," my wife reminded me.
Posted on 9:00am Friday 26th December 2014
While on the road, visiting relatives over Christmas, I will not have time to write columns so I have put together a three-article reflection of being on the road in Arizona, USA.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 19th December 2014
It is not just the amount of traffic, as often as not it is the speed of it that caught me by surprise back in England. Perhaps we have become conditioned by the relative calm of live in rural France, or perhaps I am just getting old.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 12th December 2014
The publication of the new local book, Cassiobury – the ancient seat of the Earls of Essex, prompted me to ponder over the three-book series of Watford in the 20th Century, which I wrote and revised over a number of years, covering the locality from 1900 to 1979.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 5th December 2014
Cars just sped by, failing to or choosing not to notice an overturned, smoking car in a field next to the road. My son-in-law, Marc, spotted the car, pulled up and effected a rescue.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 28th November 2014
Do people at the Herts County Council actually think through their road changes and visit the site or do they just colour in the changes on maps without regard for the realities. The launch of the book on Cassiobury reminds us of traffic-free days in Watford,.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 21st November 2014
Fireworks in Spain and France do not seem to be subject to the same Elf and Safety restrictions as they are in the red-tape conscious UK.
Posted on 1:20pm Friday 14th November 2014
The best laid plans are disrupted by a much-dreaded front wheel blow-out and yet another reminder than I am growing old.
Posted on 1:20pm Friday 7th November 2014
There are a few tourist pitfalls to watch out for in Prague, not least when it comes to changing your currency. On the other hand, when we returned to Paris and stayed for three nights, we found they have mastered the art of reducing the size of you your wallet at an alarming rate.
Posted on 1:40pm Friday 31st October 2014
After visiting Vienna, we understood why Prague attracts more visitors. It is redolent with Old Europe and of course was once in the centre of European commerce.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 24th October 2014
Vienna was this week voted among the top cities in the world to visit but we found it disappointing. Elegant, majestic but somehow lacking a soul.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 17th October 2014
How many famous Hungarians spring to mind. We tested each other and came up short as we headed for our first-ever visit to Hungary and Budapest,
Posted on 1:20pm Friday 10th October 2014
There is a building in Budapest that is called the House of Horror in which a museum documents the excesses of Nazi and Communist regimes. We both felt compelled to go and from the sombre, bass-noted music upon our arrival to our return to the sunlight, we wondered at the stupidity of political ideology.
Posted on 1:30pm Friday 3rd October 2014
We were preparing for an autumn tour, taking in four capitals: Budapest, Vienna, Prague and back to Paris, but waiting to catch the train to Paris and the airport, we had cause to muse that todays young females are noticeably heavier than those in the 1960s.
Posted on 12:20pm Friday 26th September 2014
A family gathering gave us a chance to show the house and garden off to the best advantage. However, things were not going well for the Koi carp and the pond. Added to which we had a noisy, unwelcome visitor..
Posted on 12:50pm Friday 19th September 2014
Several little milestones in my life seemed to point in one direction and after many years I have finally booked the flights, the hotel and the trip and Ellie and I will head for Prague, dropping in at Budapest and Vienna en route.
Posted on 1:00pm Friday 12th September 2014
Short-term memory is not at its peak as you get older but we have pooled our observations and now we can say that we have an extra, unseen resident in tour house in France. Did "something" move in when it was uninhabited for 40 years?
Posted on 6:22am Friday 5th September 2014
A local author wrote a book combining realism and surrealism about Oxhey Estate.I stumbled across the book in my motor home and was puzzled as to how it got there.
Posted on 3:11pm Friday 29th August 2014
Our friends were in trouble but why did they write to us?
Posted on 11:47am Friday 22nd August 2014
We collect books on our travels and this summer we raided the "not read yet" bookcase with some gratifying results.