To The Horns of Queslett


Damiler Fleetline

This weekend I have spent a very fruitful weekend, despite the best endeavours of the weather to spoil things. Friday night I was with JC, June and The Duffer in The splendid Vine in Wednesfield imbibing some different ales which meant a headache the next day. Not good but Charlie cardboard helped me move the dishwasher into the kitchen so now I have the luxury of being able to put all the dirty dishes directly into it without a few trips in and out of the garage. Domestic Bliss.

Sunday was a day spent with that well known bus geek from Walsall Wood. Yes it was Aston Manor’s running day. I’ve never been to this before so off we trots.


Bristol VRT

It’s a sign of getting old when you sit on a bus and things look very familiar – spookily familiar as if things were still really there -  what did Buck Rogers think when he woke up? So the little boy’s wish to sit on a Damilar Fleetliner ended up as a trip relating stories about what had happened and when on this particular type of bus as it was so intertwined in everyday life back in the 70′s and 80′s. And that’s the thing. I used to catch 4 of these a day sometimes (or the Bristol VRT) and climbing on board again brought that rush of memories of Poly and school flooding back.

In the end, we did all three free bus rides around Sutton Coldfield, Walsall and one to that far off land – The Horns of Queslett. A romantically named pub surely named out of a J R R Tolkein book in some Middle earth adventure.

I can well recommend the museum – and the bus rides. It only cost a fiver and it was splendid to see to the look of delight on the little boys face when the Gardner 6LX fired up. Another day sniffing diesel.

Later on Sunday, I was out with the Essington Regulars on The Wednesfield crawl so we ended up in The Vine again. Over the course of 48 hours, I had in actual fact moved a mere 4 feet to the table the other side of the fireplace. But today – no hangover!


Look at the joy on his little face!


The rise and fall of The Minerva

As well known by others, pubs have a life and history all of their own and often reflect the culture and personality of both the locals and the landlords.

How sad it is then to see our much loved local, The Minerva Inn, to decline in such a sad way, strangled by rowdy locals and and even rowdier landlady. Last night was typical of the depths of that this pub has fallen to. Duffer, having already quit the pub for “the bigger Village” was absent and often on a Sunday I am inclined to want to pop out for a cheeky beer for an hour. At least gets me over the shock of the prospect of the Monday Blues. I also like the fact that you can often meet the neighbours and other locals so it keeps me in touch with village opinion and, gossip basically.

So in I trots, gets a pint from Penny and joins in with the usual Sunday ever-presents and immediately you get a feeling something is going to kick off. 15 minutes later, beer was swilling around the place, the woman involved was screaming and all manner of handbags were being thrown involving drunken males who obviously don’t know how to behave when they are let out.

But this becoming a more common occurrence. And ever more distasteful. It is also a reflection of the landlady from Glasgow who thinks you should run a  quiet sleepy pub near a warzone as if it is still a Blackpool hotel.

When the much vaunted Simon if Essington had the pub it was a great place., much the centre of the village. This was the high point. However, it has sunk to such low depths that the locals are more or less being kept out of the place by poor management of the troublemakers, and a failure to see that there is more to running a pub than loud music and karaoke. It just goes to show that a good landlord/lady is the key to running a good pub which is an asset to the community. An example of this is The Old Inn in Hutton near a great friend of mine. I have know the landlord since his days at the Coopers in Highbridge but his new pub is everything you want a village local to pub – busy all through the week. You can’t get a table for eating without booking and the beer is superb.

The Min can never do food until a kitchen is added so it will rely on live music and good beer but sadly, the troublemakers and the management is so out of its depth I fear that the days of the Min may be numbered.

August Anniversaries

August is a strange month in some respects. Firstly, most sensible people are on holiday. Secondly, there isn’t much happening socially because of the former. And lastly, to my mind, and the rest of you probably won’t think this way, something bad always occurs. In 1945, it was the first nuclear weapon used in anger.  For me personally, it was Karen and me breaking up and that’s one year on now. I always seem to get a “dark day” in August. Maybe it’s the rotation of the Moon or the Planets or a shift in the invisible psyche but that’s the way I feel. Even in the tumult of work, it’s still a feeling of loneliness in August more so than in the depths of winter.

I think some of it maybe related to the fact that the Fourth Test is underway and summer is winding down. Although it’s still light at 9 pm, evening cricket is nearly over and the lights in the house are on before the evening beer. and outside is browning up, the vegetables are nearly done and it’ll be tome to rip out the beans soon.

And the final thought: The Football season starts tomorrow.

Nearly made it

This week I’ve managed to do that much envious thing that employed people perceive Self Employed people do all the time – mix business and pleasure.

It managed to occur when I was invited by my great friend Salty to visit the fair County of Somerset to watch Somerset -v- Kent in the Royal London Cup. And what a great game too! Kent managed by the curiously named “Northeast” and the prodigious Billings scored an incredible 383 in 50 overs. A short sharp shower meant Somerset needed 374 off 48 overs and fell just two runs short!

Two centuries, 15 wickets in a warm day drinking beer in lovely Taunton – idyllic!

However, in the middle of it all I took the best days business in three months! Which goes to show that sometimes you have to mix business and pleasure otherwise you’d miss out one way or the other and I was glad I could tack on the front of the visit a trip to an important customer and get back this morning in time to deal with all the admin that has resulted from a supposed day off.

However, this is the way of things for me at the moment. Business has been slow over this summer so far so you have to grab your chances when you can.

Technology Intrusion?

As is my wont and when business allows, I do like a lunchtime stroll to loosen up the muscles especially on a Tuesday when I’m sore after football the previous evening.

Today, I had the pleasure of a walk around the Pools. This is a noted place for fishermen of England to congregate and dip their floats. Also, a lot of people do like to walk the dog , the kids, the wife or the husband. It’s a pleasant and relaxing place full of wildlife and it’s generally quiet. Do I paint enough of a quiet English tranquil summer scene?

So why then would you have all the fishing tackle that you can get in a well sized estate car strewn all over a decent sized pitch, have three rods in the water and then want to watch a film via an iPad? Isn’t the scenery and the whole object of fishing to enjoy the quiet and maintain some vigilance in case you get a bite?

Then around the corner – Mom with toddler enjoying a walk but then I noticed Mom was listening to the radio out of an earpiece connected to the phone.

maybe this is the modern way of doing things but I think these people are missing the point. Yes you can have technology but when you can, why not enjoy the natural surroundings?

However, if Mom was listening to Test Match Special then I would be holding her up as a model citizen.

End of Le Tour

This weekend has been rather mundane in reality – cleaning up, meal for parents, helped JC shift Dave and Adam’s toy garage and went round Wednesfield with The Duffer and his wife.

Sad as well as Le Tour is over for another year so only August to hope the weather holds up and enjoy this tremendous summer of warm weather!


Holiday Reading

Just a note about a couple of books I read in Italy whilst on holiday:

Submarine by Thomas Parrish.

The Secret of Annex 3 by Colin Dexter.



Sport overload

In days of yore, each of the major sporting events would be spaced out enough so that the collisions in scheduling would be minimised. Rarely would you get a Test Match conflicting with The Open.

Yesterday and indeed over the whole weekend, I’ve been running the TV showing the golf, had the radio on with the cricket and had to record Le Tour and the German GP highlights. It’s been mad. And the Commonwealth Games start on Thursday.

I think this shows a couple of things namely sport is more accessible now through the media and the rise of cycling has meant there is another major sport that competes with the usual ones of Cricket and Golf. Bad news if you like all of these but chasing the dollar means that these sports also compete with each other for the spectators attention – or money in reality.

A good thing? Perhaps yes as it has meant I have rested up after a hectic few months and in between, I managed to get some jobs around the house done. However, if you paid to go to one of these events, you would need your phone well charged to keep up with the other events.


Stalin by Robert Service

stalinAt last I have finished this book.After 7 years. I started the book when I went on the Trans-Siberia in 2007.

There is no doubt that Stalin was the ultimate despot – maybe even worse than Adolf. Certainly he was a serial killer in the premier league of such psychopaths.

Why has it taken me so long to read this? Well for a start it is 604 pages of absolute historical analysis – and a lot of it is delving into Stalin’s approach to communism and his interpretation of Marx and his master – Lenin.

So it takes a while to digest it all. And it’s heavy going as some of it is just boring. It does go into detail about the Great Terror and the mass murders after WWII. Also the relationship between the Allies are examined as well as the Cold War starting.

If you are interested in modern life and history since WWII, this is a must read. For example, Putin‘s Grandfather served with both Lenin and Stalin. And the current problems in Ukraine and Crimea all stem from Stalin’s appropriations back in the 1920′s.

I’ll have to work out who was the biggest killer. But Stalin’s regime was paranoid and had a hierarchical command structure only replicated by other communist regimes such as Mao or Korea. Interesting though is the letter from Tito: “stop sending assassins to kill me as we have stopped 5. I’ll send one and I won’t need to send a second.”

Lets hope we don’t have another chap like this arise again in our lifetime with such power. In case you don’t get it, this is why we have armed forces and nuclear weapons. Putin is from the same stock and we need to be on our guard.