Mid to Late Summer 2018

Mid to Late Summer 2018


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Statue of William IV, Cheltenham.

The statue on the left is of William IV which is located in Montpellier Gardens in Cheltenham. William was the younger son of George III who was known as the mad king and who spent many happy days taking the waters here.
George's eldest son, the Prince Regent, who became George IV was responsible for much of the towns development and Cheltenham became known as a "Regency Town".

George IV had no children and so when he died his brother William became William IV and was known as the "Sailor King" as he served in the Royal Navy. Unlike his brother, William was very fertile and fathered ten little bastards with Mrs Jordan, an actress and a couple more with other women while he was a prince but dumped her on inheriting the throne!

William eventually married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen who was half his age. He died without leaving any legitimate children so Victoria inherited the throne.

The heat wave continued from June into July and showed no sign of finishing. Our green and pleasant land became brown and hot as we welcomed Mary and John Croxson from "Balmy Palmie" in New Zealand and showed them round the town.
A visit to the Jolly Brewmaster pub was needed to slake the thirst in these temperatures but John claimed the beer was warm. In fact it was pleasantly cool and at the correct temperature. I explained to John that if it was too cold you lost the flavour but he could not be convinced so descended to the depths of depravity and drank cold lager!

We took them walking up on Leckhampton Hill but Mary was suffering badly with a bad cough and they had both flown cattle class from Australia in a oner. Not a sensible decision and they were both still suffering from jet lag so we took them off to Bath.
Sue had the bright idea of having lunch at the Pump Rooms so we all enjoyed fish cakes, mushy peas and leaf salad while being serenaded by a pianist playing some Bossa Nova jazz standards. I enjoyed some Bath Gem Ale of course while John tried Piston Broke!

We wandered around Bath in the sweltering heat and I insisted we paid homage at the Rec where the grass was still green and looked in pretty good nick. Finally we bought some prints at a stall and Sue bought me one of Bath Rugby. The artist kindly posed with my print and a collection of the photographs I took in Bath are in the slideshow below.

Pultney Bridge, where you will find the Bath Rugby shop, was designed by Robert Adam for William Poultney to connect the different lands of the latters estate.
This is the same William Poultney who was the influential patron of Thomas Telford, the great civil engineer.

John is an admirer of Isambard Kingdom Brunel as I am. He expressed a wish to visit the SS Great Britain down in Brissle and I thought that idea were gert lush!

The ship was built in Bristol by William Patterson in 1843 and when launched was then the largest ever vessel afloat displacing 3400 tons.
She was designed by Brunel for a passenger service between Bristol and New York and was the first ship to be both built of iron and to use a screw propeller for propulsion.

Replica rudder and propeller on SS Great Britain.

The ship carried a crew of 120 and 360 passengers and had two steam engines developing a total of 1000bhp designed by Brunel's father connected to a huge 18 foot diameter wheel around which was a link chain which drove the propeller shaft, thus resolving the problem of the increase in speed required from the 18rpm of the steam engines to the 54rpm of the propeller shaft.

In 1852 after being re-engined and re-fitted, the ship began its first voyage to Australia with 630 emigrants. She made more than 30 voyages to Australia and also carried troops to the Crimea and India. During her lifetime she travelled all over the world and more than a million miles before ending up a grounded hulk in the Falklands.

The government wanted it shifted and offered it to various maritime trusts but none were interested. It was then offered to the Royal Navy for target practice who declined the offer. One visitor listening to this commented that the navy would probably have missed anyway!

In 1968 a businessman, Jack Hayward, donated £2 million to bring the hulk back to the dry dock in Bristol where she was built and some £20 million has been spent since in restoring the ship and building replicas of the engines and accommodation. All monies raised have come from public donations or the paying public and nothing has come from government or lottery funds.
Between 150,000 and 200,000 people now visit the ship each year and it has become a major tourist attraction.

John Croxson pretending to be Brunel.

After visiting SS Great Britain we drove up to Clifton and walked across Brunels suspension bridge. Although Brunel designed it he did not live to see its completion. Thomas Telford wanted his own design used but lost the competition.

The Bristol Riots of 1831 due to the Lords blocking changes to electoral law meant many in places like Bristol would remain disenfranchised. The riots caused work on the bridge to be halted, investors deserted and then the money ran out due to the delay. Work started again in 1862 after Brunels death in 1859 as a tribute to him but the bridge was radically redesigned and was not completed until 1864. The use of cables from the Hungerford Bridge was claimed to be the reason for the design changes.

Bristol Suspension Bridge.

The rewrite of this entire web site in the new format is now complete.

Test Cricket series India v England:

Having beaten India in the one day series we now come to proper cricket; the test series which begins today.
Here are the fixtures:

  • August
  • 1-5 1st Test, Edgbaston (11:00 BST)
  • 9-13 2nd Test, Lord's (11:00 BST)
  • 18-22 3rd Test, Trent Bridge (11:00 BST)
  • 30-3 Sep 4th Test, Southampton (11:00 BST)
  • September
  • 7-11 5th Test, The Oval (11:00 BST)
Quotes 'wot I like:
'Neil Harvey's at slip, his legs wide apart, waiting for a tickle'.
Brian Johnston 1912 - 1994

India are rated the world number one at the moment and the current dry and hot conditions should suit them.
Cook was bowled out for 13 to a good ball from Ashwin. Not a disgraceful dismissal for a change for Cookie while Root and Lancashire opener Keaton Jennings now seem settled at the crease.
Further comments on the series will be hidden from those of you uncivilised enough to have no appreciation of the game!


New Zealand move update:

We have now booked our flights leaving the UK on 29th October and flying to Singapore where we will spend a couple of expensive nights. Then on to Melbourne on 1st November where we intend visiting various friends and Sue's sister Frankie in Albury. We have not yet booked onward flights to Auckland but we have booked B&B accommodation in Tauranga from 15th November to 18th December and will be cat sitting over the Christmas period in Katikati!

We will be spending some days in Auckland to buy ourselves a car prior to driving South and hope to find long term rented property in Tauranga prior to Christmas.
We are shipping household effects in a shared container which we anticipate will arrive sometime in January.

Website update:

All the slideshows have now been changed over to CSS and so will degrade to any size of screen and rescale if you turn a phone or tablet 90 degrees from portrait to landscape.
What may not work properly is the CSS dropdown menu, in particular perhaps on an Apple machine depending on the age of the browser. The menu will also not stay visible on a mobile phone when you scroll down a page but should work otherwise and you should always be able to get to the latest page which does not require the menu to drop down.

I have a desktop PC, a tablet and an Android phone and it works fine on all those but do not have an Apple so am unable to test. I suppose one day the computer industry will finally get a standard coding that works universally. I blame Brexit!!


My Favourite Poems:

As I suggested in a previous page I thought I might collect together some of my favourite poems and you can see my first attempt here.

The collection reflects poems I learnt at school, at sea and in the different places I have lived.
I lived in Scotland for over 20 years and became attached to Rabbie Burns through my attendance at numerous Burns suppers then continued the tradition when we moved back to Somerset.

I am sure there are many more to be dredged up from the memory banks so I will add to the list as they come to mind.
You can click on the list of titles or authors to arrange in ascending or descending alphabetic order.


If you tried to send us an email or browse this web site over the past couple of days you would have been disappointed. 1and1 were the company that used to host our web site but once we move to New Zealand they will not do it so we found webhostingnz.com who said they would.

They have a support lady called Fiona based here in the UK who never sleeps! She told me how to reset the IPS tag which transferred our harmonieii.co.uk domain to their server. When you do that you lose the use of your email address so I set up a temporary one with Gmail so I could communicate with Fiona who guided me through the process of setting up new email accounts and uploading nearly 4,000 files to the new server.

All the existing emails on the original server were saved in a backup file and I spent most of a whole day with a 1and1 support lady who valiantly found a work-around to transfer most of the emails but some were lost. The worst part by far was then to reset all our email clients to the new servers, A desktop, a laptop, a tablet and two smartphones. I dread to think how anyone who is not computer literate manages in todays world.


Being computer bound I missed most of the first days play in the 3rd test but if you are interested you can click on the link above for my description.

There is a lot in the UK media at the moment about the misdemeanours of rugby player Danny Cipriani who fell out with a policewoman in Jersey and found himself in the cells for two nights before being fined £2,500. His new club is Goucester who have stood by him when the RFU have said he must face their disciplinary proceedings for bringing the game into disrepute.

The story featured strongly in all media here as they are short of news what with the politicians all being on holiday. Normally Rugby Union would never make the front pages.
Now I know that 'Cips' has had plenty of previous but it all happened off the rugby field. He wasn't taking performance enhancing drugs or sandpapering his balls! It's a pity the media don't report his Rugby activities and Rugby Union in general more often than they do. You always get the soccer results but rarely rugby.

My Barf boys just managed to beat Edinburgh in a pre-season friendly. I expect Tod Blackadder would say he was proud of his boys whatever the result!

New Converter Plug:

We are shipping most of our electrical appliances to New Zealand when we leave in October and most have either UK or EU plugs on them so we have an array of converter plugs.
When you go online you are confronted with a lot of different plug converters and a lot of different prices. As we already have two different plugs and will eventually have a third, I was looking for a universal plug that could convert to almost any system and I found it in China.

The slide show above shows you the plug in its different modes. I was impressed with its design and it was advertised on ebay for £1.49 each with free delivery so I ordered six. They came all the way from China in about 10 days with a little note asking me to recommend them which I did on ebay and now do here. You can buy them on ebay.

These days I usually seem able to find the same products on ebay as on Amazon at a fraction of the price and including free delivery which can often be more than the product itself for small items. On ebay you can also buy it with two clicks so what is not to like?

I am well aware that both companies dodge taxes here and their UK corporation tax bears no relationship with their UK revenue. They take advantage of the different tax regimes in countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg and Ireland but I think it is up to HMRC to get their act together and devise better tax laws, something the UK might do more of after Brexit? The EU will never do it as there are too many vested interests in the different EU countries.

Quotes 'wot I like:
'I voted Remain, not just for political reasons but because my mum's moved to Spain and I want her to stay there.'
Leo Kearse - Scottish comedian

One way is to tax sales instead of profits but that would mean my plugs would cost more. It is perfectly legitimate for any company to optimise its tax position provided they comply with the law. UK tax law needs to change so there is a legal link between a companies global profit and its UK revenue.

For example if a companies global profit was say 10% of global revenue then their UK corporation tax would be based on 10% of UK revenue. Why am I not chancellor? Of course this is one of the reasons why big business doesn't like Brexit because of what it might free us up to do.


The recent report of Scottish politician Alex Salmond having had complaints of a sexual nature made against him by two people seems to be the biggest political event in Scotland since the Independence referendum.

Fishy Alex, a wealthy man who now hosts a show on RT, the Russian State funded TV channel, has raised almost £100,000 in crowd funding to finance his legal fight with the Scottish Government into their investigation of the complaint.

The political opposition's objection to this is that it will discourage others to complain in the future but it has also put the fishy lady, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in a difficult position of having to defend her governments actions against her old political ally.

Nicola Sturgeon
Alex Salmond

Whatever the rights and wrongs of crowd funding such an activity, it is to my mind unacceptable that such allegations can be made and investigated so many years after the event and I think there should be a reasonable time limit set between the alleged event and when a complaint is made.

This "me too" attitude is disturbing and as you can see above the Scottish wags are already making suggestions as to who has the balls!

The Rugby Season Begins.

Aviva is no longer sponsor the rugby union premiership. It is now The Gallagher Premiership, the new sponsors being a US Insurance Broker who is another strange choice to sponsor rugby just like Turkish Airlines sponsoring European Rugby?.

The important thing to note is that Bath Rugby play Bristol at Ashton Gate to open the season on Friday 31st August so this is a very local Derby. But it is not Bristol RFC we are playing but "Bristol Bears" and that makes us really afraid!! 75% of Brissle supporters are unhappy with this new branding but still they have sold 21,000 tickets for this first game.

In fact over 26,000 turned up for the game which Bristol deserved to win 17-10 in the end and a great night for the game. Blackadder will be proud of his boys of course especially Priestland who missed easy place kicks, kicked when he shouldn't have and on the full while Burnsie was kept on the bench. And why he needed to pass the ball to Homer when he was already over the try line himself, then compounded by Homer holding the ball in one hand and dropping it at the last second for a knock on instead of a try?


We had a very enjoyable visit down to Mendip on the occasion of Lil Romfords 70th birthday bash in Priddy Village Hall. It was a gathering of cavers or largely ex-cavers and my main problem was recognising people I had not seen for umpteen years. Fred Davies was there who I had not seen for about 30 years and he recognised me unless he thought he was talking to someone else?
Anyway Lil insisted we had a sing song which went rather well considering how long it was since we last sang at the Hunters.

I have since made a few corrections and changes to the collection of caving songs on this web site in particular to the scores and sound files but it is still work in progress.
The Musescore software that I use has been much improved since I wrote the original files and has eased the task of exporting the score as an MP3 sound file and reproducing the score as JPG image. They have also introduced fretboard diagrams so I have put the guitar chords on The Barry Lane Song and, as I do not play the guitar, would appreciate if any guitarists out there could check if they are correct.

For those Philistines who did not follow the cricket, England won the series beating India, currently ranked the best team in the world, 3-1 with one game left to play.


Two news items recently have annoyed this grumpy old man. One was Serena Williams rant at the umpire in the US tennis open and the other was an Australian doctor's Twitter rant when a QANTAS air hostie addressed her as 'Miss' instead of 'Doctor'.

In both cases these ladies claimed their motive was to oppose sexism when in reality it was nothing of the sort.

In Ms Williams case she was pissed off losing her match and took it out on the umpire and her racket! She has lots of previous losing her rag and getting fined for it. She spoilt what should have been a day to remember for her opponent and she set a poor example of sportsmansip (or should I have said sportswomanship?).

The Australian doctor said that she didn't spend eight years at university to be called 'Miss'. I have some other words to call her, most of them rude but the cleanest would be 'snob' and 'elitist'. I assume her motivation for obtaining her qualifications was for the title and not to learn anything useful, least of all some common sense.

Time for another page.

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