Sunday 28 October 2018


I rarely sleep well and normally wake up and stay awake, from 3.30ish in the morning (sometimes earlier) and then read until getting up at about 5.30.
Lat night, with British Summertime ending, I put all my clocks back an hour in order to be in Winter Time when I woke up, a daft idea but that's what we have to do. Anyway, this morning I woke up with rain lashing against my windows in a very cold and strong NE wind (such rain is a rare event lately and worthy of noting). The clock was showing 3.15 and I groaned, that would of been 4.15 yesterday but we'd gone back an hour, that meant even longer laying in bed this morning and it was still four hours until the paper shops open. OK, it means that it gets light an hour earlier, the dog and I can get down to the reserve earlier but of course it was lashing down with rain this morning so even that was out of the question, it was clearly going to be a long day
The dog was also pacing round the kitchen when I got up at 5.00, which would of been 6.00 yesterday, not able to understand why her breakfast was an hour late, it'll take both of us until we retire tonight to get back into sync. with normal timings again and in the meantime I'll spend all day thinking, "this would of been an hour later yesterday".
So here I am, it's 6.20 as I write this, it's getting light enough outside to see angry black clouds rushing across the sky, dropping icy rain at regular intervals - winter has arrived at the same time as Winter Time, I feel depressed already but glad that I planted my last lot of tulip bulbs yesterday.

Thursday 25 October 2018

More Books

As I mentioned in my last blog, I had finished reading the latest book about Enid Blyton and I then moved on to a newly published one about E. Nesbit, author of "The Railway Children". I have never read a scrap of her work but was attracted to the book by the bohemian lifestyle that she and her husband led. It was a good and interesting read, as most things about bohemians normally are for me.

Anyway, that has now gone to my bulging bookshelves and I have now started the third of those that I bought, the one shown below. Billy Connolly in my book, is the funniest comedian that I've ever seen and I look forward to many good laughs while reading it.

The weather so far this week has been quite beautiful. Clear, starry nights lit by a large full moon, chilly starts and then sunny and fairly warm afternoons. The two ends of the days have also been spectacular. Every morning I've been on the reserve as a huge, fiery-orange sun has risen above the horizon and then early evenings has seen a repeat as the sun has set surrounded by skies in all manner of pink, orange and yellow colours. I have spent all week de-weeding my rose borders, by hand in some places, and yet there is still a lot more to catch up on and I have ordered another load of tulips to plant among the roses.
With the chilly nights this week it was apparent that my two tortoises had slowed down considerably and so they were weighed and then put into their hibernation box in the garage. It'll be the end of February/early March before I see them again.
The reserve remains very quiet bird-wise, the result of a third consecutive dry Autumn but I did record a Jay this week. Surprisingly, Jays are a very uncommon bird here on Sheppey, I've only seen 3-4 in my whole 71 years living here. We don't have the large areas of woodland that they favour, especially oaks, it's mostly marshland. 

Friday 19 October 2018

Enid Blyton

Throughout my whole 71 years of life, two sets of books have always dominated. The Wind in the Willows and the Famous Five series. I have read most of the books about Kenneth Graham and Enid Blyton, have several editions of the Wind in the Willows and all twenty one of the Famous Five books, all in their original covers.
Even to this day, when I'm feeling depressed or nostalgic, I simply pick up one of those books to read and they're like a comfort blanket. They give me the same simple escape from life that they did all those years ago as someone suffering an unhappy childhood.
This week I took receipt of the latest book about Enid Blyton's life and read it over two days and nights.

 It is not as detailed as the one below, which I bought some years ago but in it's final chapters does detail the degree to which both she and her books became black-listed in later life.

It may also come as a surprise to a lot of people to find that, despite being the favourite "auntie" to millions of children worldwide, always finding time for them if she met them, replying to every letter that they sent, that in her private life, Enid virtually ignored her own two daughters as they grew up. She could be a quite a nasty person at times.
Anyway, to get back to the good bits, she was adored by children worldwide, and in her prime was writing c.8,000 words a day and publishing dozens of books, magazines and articles a year, all for children of various ages. However, in the mid 1950's adults got involved - all of a sudden they branded her books as sexist, racist and just about everything else-ist. Teaching establishments that had used her books and methods as educational tools and libraries for years, gradually removed her books from their shelves. Despite the fact that for donkeys years her books had encouraged children to read, to form clubs, to collect money for charities, all of a sudden adults found her a bad influence on their children.
And even today, this denying children the escapism that they get from such simple books and films is still going on, putting adults thoughts into tiny children's minds. In my paper today, I read of how one actress is telling her little girls that the scene in Snow White where the handsome prince kisses Snow White while she is asleep is "weird" and has warned her daughters about the male character's behaviour. One Japanese person went even further and accused Snow White of perpetuating "quasi-compulsive obscene acts on an unconscious partner". So it now seems that Walt Disney, that mainstay of childhood pleasure and dreams, is going to be picked apart by adults and denied to their children.
What a sad world we live in.

Tuesday 16 October 2018


There is an LP that has been one of the features on the shelves in my study for countless years, I bought it around 1964. It was Bob Dylan's second album and was released in 1963 and the album cover, below, has become an iconic feature of those early 1960's folk years for a lot of people. It shows the young Bob Dylan and his then girlfriend Suze Rotolo walking down a frozen Greenwich Village street in early 1963, posing for a series of photographs.
I've lost count of the times my eyes have been drawn to that album cover over the years, especially now in old age, and been taken back to those same years of my youth.

Taking me back to times like this, in late 1966 or early 1967. I was 19 and my girlfriend, who later became my first wife, was several years younger.

Those times seem an awful long way away now and I guess after 51 years, they most definitely are. But how simple life was then, no latest communication technology to crave after, no need to save wages, listening to the latest music releases by standing in a booth in your local record shop. Only the responsibility and financial restraints of marriage changed everything. This week for my Autumn reading pleasure in the coming weeks, I have bought three newly published books - "The Real Enid Blyton" by Nadia Cohern. I have read many books about Enid Blyton (she was not such a nice person) and have all 21 of the Famous Five books, and anything to do with her takes me back to my childhood in the 1950's and how her books allowed me to escape from an unhappy childhood.
 "Made in Scotland - My Grand Adventures in a Wee Country" by Billy Connolly - easily the funniest comedian Britain has ever produced, I could watch him all night.
"The Extraordinary  Life of  E Nesbit" by Elizabeth Galvin. I've never read any of her well known books but was drawn to this book by the fact that she lived a bohemian life-style and I have quite a collection of books now about people that have lived that kind of life-style, such as the Bloomsbury Group. I can so easily identify with that way of life in the 1920's/30's and would love to have lived it - the best I could do was the 1960's, when we indulged in some drugs, lots of drinking and group sex - I miss it.