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In the land of Pooh…

In the land of Pooh…

The best of our recent trip back to the wide open spaces of Sussex…

Photo Sans Frontiers

Last week we went to see friends and family in Crowborough, East Sussex, where the dramatic vistas of Ashdown Forest provided A A Milne with the settings for hisWinnie the Poohstories.

We were lucky with the weather and took the opportunity to wander amongst the pines, heather, bracken and gorse bushes of this, the real Hundred Acre Wood, as well as taking Audrey on a tour of some the other rural playgrounds of my youth.

Becky, who I hadn’t seen for years, joined us on the more-or-less-compulsory trek to Pooh Bridge for a game of Pooh Sticks; whilst Biff, another old friend, provided entrainment for Audrey in the shape of Luigi, the loveable Staffordshire bull terrier and he also kindly organised a trip to a riding stables, where we met some of their horses (before stopping for refreshments at one or two local hostelries).

Come on, let me…

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K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge…

Time for your weekly showcase of inspired images, from K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge. This week we had K’lee’s prompt;

“Below, you’ll find five ways Friday is said around the world. Your task- should you accept it- is to choose one of the five, then with the help of the chosen country, create a post and a photo related to what people in that country equate to Friday!


Swahili – Ijummaa


Croatian – Petak


Turkish – Cuma


Hausa – Jumma’a


Indonesian – Jumat” 

Well, I don’t mind telling you that this one stumped me completely, so I’ve chosen to interpret Friday as being the end of the week for most people, whatever their country, a time they can relax with friends and family.

Fortunately I was on holiday this week, back in Sussex with Rhonda and Audrey, visiting old friends and family and taking more than one stroll on Ashdown Forest, (land of Winnie the Pooh) including a visit to Pooh Bridge where I took these five photos on, you guessed it; Friday

I’m calling this one “The hummingbird and the elephant”, for Linda G Hill’s amusement.

You can find K’lee’s photo HERE.

Update: Couldn’t resist adding this one to the mix, it has so many layers to it, I had to include it…

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To get involved with the challenge, post a photo to your blog on Monday, add a pingback to this post (or to K’lee’s) and don’t forget to tag your post #CosPhoChal.

Alternatively, add a link to your blog in the comments of either mine or K’lee’s post and we’ll come and check out your entry.
Any and all effects, editing, Photoshop, Instagram, morphing, collages or whatever other post production techniques you fancy are permitted, (in fact, they’re actively encouraged!) so get creative and turn your photos into artworks for the Cosmic Photo Challenge.

#CosPhoChal

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2016 in Blogging, Photography

 

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Return to the old stomping ground…

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This weekend’s prompt from Linda G Hill for her regular Stream of Consciousness Saturday thread manages to tie in quite nicely with the reason I didn’t post anything last Saturday.

” “-cat-”  Use the letters at the start, middle, or end of a word and make it the subject of your post – or just use the word “cat.” “

Ok then…

Back to the old stomping ground.

Ever since Rhonda and Audrey arrived from America this time last year, Audrey has been inordinately excited about the fact that she now has “new cousins” in my sister’s children.
But because my immediate family all live 250 miles away in Crowborough, East Sussex, the only chance she had to meet them in person was in March (when they all came down for our somewhat delayed wedding reception) and we’ve not had a chance to get up there and catch up with them since.

That is, until last weekend.

As the end of the school holidays coincided with Halloween, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the journey back to the place where I grew up, introduce Rhonda to some old friends, have Audrey spoiled by her newly-acquired grandparents and let her go Trick or Treating with those eagerly anticipated cousins.
So as soon as work was over on Thursday and I’d had a quick shower, we all jumped in the car and headed eastwards.

I’ve made the journey many times over the years, but never at night.
Isn’t it amazing how different everything looks (or doesn’t look) in the dark?

Road junctions for instance.

Especially when there’s an outbreak of cones, roadworks, temporary signs and closed off-ramps on a stretch of previously familiar motorway.

In short, we (ok, I) got lost somewhere around Winchester, had to backtrack a few miles before the unfamiliar became recognisable again and we finally arrived about two hours late.

After spending Friday catching up with family, listening to Audrey chattering happily with her new cousins, playing with my sister’s two cats and being treated to a meal by mum in the evening, we scheduled a trip out onto Ashdown Forest, the setting for A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories.

If you come from Crowborough, it’s pretty much compulsory to go to the world famous Pooh Bridge at least once, to play a game of “Pooh Sticks”, as played by Pooh and Christopher Robin in those enchanting books and we couldn’t go back to my old home town without taking Audrey out there.

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So on Saturday morning we drove over to pick up my old friend Biff and his dog, Luigi, before visiting the official Pooh shop and taking a very pleasant stroll through the forest in the autumn sunshine, culminating in a few races on the river (making certain we gathered plenty of sticks on the way, as the area around the bridge is a barren, stick-free zone) and allowing Audrey to fall in deep boggy puddle, filling her boots with mud and requiring us to make a quick diversion on the way back to change clothes.

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Then it was time to meet up with a few mates at my old local, The Wheatsheaf, a real pub with low ceilings, open fires and plenty of dark wood paneling, a place that never seems to alter, despite the passing of time and changing clientele.
We had a few drinks, caught up with the local gossip and arranged to meet up with anybody we missed later on that evening.

Trick or Treating was obviously the highlight of Audrey’s weekend, getting to dress up and terrorize the locals with my sister’s kids, who were wonderful with her, keeping her entertained the whole time and making our stay a real pleasure.

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It was so good to see Rhonda enjoying the company of my old friends that evening, listening to us reminiscing about our misspent youth and fielding questions about her life in America.
I’m always grateful to have a group of people who are just as pleased to see me as I am to see them, even after all these years away.
I hear about so many people who lose track of those people they grew up with and that really would be a shame because, as Rhonda says, I really do have the most wonderful collection of friends.

Leaving with a promise to return before too long, to spend longer in the land of Pooh next time, we weaved our way back to my sister’s for the final time on this flying visit.

We made sure we left in daylight on Sunday morning, to avoid any more navigational mishaps, arriving home after only a small diversion and just the one deer jumping out of the fog in front of the car.
I rang my sister to let her know we’d made it home safely and she asked whether we had an uninvited cat in our luggage, as one of hers had gone missing. We had no stowaway on board as far as I could tell, but the next day there was a rather worried appeal on Facebook for anyone who spotted an escaped cat to please return it.

Fortunately there is a happy ending to the story, as the errant feline turned up with a minor back injury, slightly disheveled and dehydrated the next day behind a neighbour’s garage, requiring only a quick once-over by the vet and a drip to facilitate a full recovery.

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All-in-all a fabulous weekend, with great people that I’m so lucky to know and a family who have been nothing but supportive in the emotional and financial maelstrom that has made up the last year or so of my life.

Thank you all, we couldn’t have done it without you.
See you all again soon.

#SoCS

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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Two years, Pooh sticks and park life…

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY said the WordPress notification I received last week, surprising me with the realisation that Diary of an Internet Nobody has now been ranting and musing its way across the blogosphere for two whole years.

My initial reaction however – one of surprise that I’d been writing for so long, (since I only think of myself as a beginner, still getting to grips with the discipline, so to speak) – faded, as it occurred to me that writing stuff down feels so natural now, that I can’t really conceive of not always having done it.
Although you only have to read that last sentence; well look at it, hyphens, italics, parentheses, mangled tenses, commas all over the place, to see that I still have some work to do in the rambling tangent department.

Only the other day I was reading a post on Being Ron about how many bloggers change the look and feel of their blogs on a more or less regular basis, and that Ron liked to give his blog a makeover occasionally to keep it fresh.
This is something that I’d never considered before, having settled on the desk diary-themed look (because, well, it was obvious) after stumbling upon it when looking for something to replace the very dark, red-on-black theme I began with, and now I can’t bring myself to abandon it.

Do these things really matter to you, my lovely, intelligent, extremely talented and good looking readers?
Do any of you actually click on that e-mail notification, thinking; “Oh dear god, if I have to read another witty and erudite article, surrounded by that faux-leather and digital stitching, I’m going to leave a pithy comment” ?
Your feedback is, as ever welcomed and appreciated…

During my recent brief sabbatical from the blog, I visited family and friends in Sussex, where I managed to fit in; my first visit to my mum’s new house; a pleasant stay with my sister, (I was there when she received her presentation copy of Ho’s “Spacehopper incident” cartoon that he kindly sent her by post, which she will apparently frame and proudly display); a few days in the company of my old friend Trevor, and a trip to Brighton to see Ho himself.

Arriving in Crowborough on the Tuesday evening to the faultless hospitality of my sister – meal on the go, cider in the fridge – I briefly saw my niece and nephew the following morning before they were whisked off to school and then made my way out into Winnie the Pooh country, Ashdown Forest, to where Trev was staying in Hartfield.
Unfortunately this normally simple journey didn’t go quite according to plan, featuring as it did, me crashing into the back of someone’s car as they braked in the wet at a narrow bridge I’d completely forgotten existed, having not been out that way for nearly twenty years.

The gentleman whose car I damaged was very good about the accident, saying only that he “wished you’d done it a couple of months ago when I had my old car, I could have made a killing on the insurance” and when it also turned out that he worked for the company in whose building I’d shared a flat whilst living in Crowborough, well, we parted on amiable terms.

My stay with Trevor was a predictably laid back affair, involving a few visits to country pubs, tooling around the countryside in his open topped sports car and making a special nostalgic trip out onto the forest to visit A.A. Milne’s hundred acre wood, where the actual Pooh Bridge stands.
A game of Pooh sticks took place of course, in which I claimed victory, although it was a close run thing.

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Boys will be boys.

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Into Hundred Acre Wood.

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Eeyore’s house, possibly.

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Pooh Bridge.

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There was also a box of old photos to root through, yielding this gem from the turn of the millennium, when the pair of us were somewhat more hirsute.

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I took my leave of Trevor on Friday morning, suitably refreshed and relaxed, returning to Crowborough to do the familial rounds once more.
I dropped back in to see mum, then to Kerry’s for one final chat with her and Oly, (a truly top man who has the irrepressible enthusiasm of a teenager, the enviable upper body shape of a weightlifter and both legs missing below the knee. In some people I imagine this would put a bit of a crimp in their style, but to Oly it seems nothing more than an excuse for jokes about not having to worry about smelly feet and numerous amusing anecdotes concerning uncooperative prosthetics falling off at inopportune moments) before taking to the road again for the journey down to Brighton and a Friday night out with Ho.

Ho is very switched on when it comes to local events, working as he does for an entertainment promotions company, so he had already got us tickets to a gig at The Haunt, a converted cinema screening room, on the seafront near the famous Brighton Pier.

There were three bands playing, but three weeks have passed and I’m ashamed to say I’ve forgotten the name of one of the support acts, although I do remember Milk and Biscuits and you can sample their material HERE.

The headline act certainly were memorable though, there’s no doubt about that.
Fujiya & Miyagi put on a great show. With stuttering, glitching visuals projected behind them they provided a pounding, mesmerizing set of precision-tooled, clinical synths, enigmatic vocals (some improvised from audience suggestions) and a great live drummer.
To give you a feel for the show here are the obligatory fuzzy gig photos and a link to a particular favourite of mine, the video for Flaws.

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CLICK THE LINK TO PLAY Fujiya & Miyagi – Flaws.

So it was that, after breakfasting with Ho and saying my goodbyes, I left sunny Brighton on Saturday morning and made my way back west to Devon, arriving with only ten minutes to spare to pick up the keys to my new lodgings.
I am now located on the edge of a large park, one of my favourite parts of the town and, due to the smoking ban in the house, I have taken to strolling over the road in my slippers with a mug of coffee, to enjoy a smoke in the evening sunshine amongst the trees.
The park also provides me with free parking and the walk to the car in the early morning is equally pleasant.

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The first few weeks in my new home haven’t been without the odd minor incident however.
Earlier this week, one of my fellow housemates was “entertaining” downstairs in his room when some candles apparently set off the ear-splitting fire alarms that are fitted throughout the shared house, deafening the other residents until someone worked out how to turn it off.
Fortunately I was in my newly adopted garden across the road at the time, so I missed the aural assault, returning merely to an ominously red-lit and beeping alarm panel in the lobby and a houseful of people with headaches.

Someone not so fortunate was the bloke who was driving his brand new mini along the road, just round the corner from where I was coming out of our front door on Wednesday evening.
I heard the most horrendous CRASH, followed by the sound of constant car horns and ran round the corner to see the aforementioned mini, no driver visible, airbags deployed, stopped dead in its tracks by the small hatchback embedded in the side of it.
Now, given that this happened on a straight stretch of road in daylight, and that the driver I saw being helped out of the hatchback by the staff of a nearby hotel was a lady considerably advanced in years, I can only assume that she had failed to see the mini entirely and turned into the hotel car park as it drew level with her.

Whatever the cause of the accident, it looked quite serious and I called up to fellow resident Rebecca, who had come to her window to investigate, to call the police.
They evidently asked her to give a first hand account of proceedings, as she appeared on the street and approached the scene, staying on the phone until the first of many emergency vehicles arrived to take control of the situation.
Both drivers seemed to have escaped injury and, although a fire crew turned up to mop up the petrol on the road and untangle the ruined cars, that was the end to the evening’s excitement.

As a bonus, Rebecca managed to snap a rather dramatic-looking photo of the emergency services in action, so the credit for this one goes to her.

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That about catches me up to the present, but before I go, here are two great songs to play us out:

ONE YOU PROBABLY EXPECT…

…AND ONE YOU MAY NOT.

And I’ll leave you with this gorgeous sunset photo, taken in the park earlier this week.

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A Pooh-fect storm….

As I have mentioned before, I used to live in Crowborough, East Sussex, and twenty five years ago to the day that I’m writing this, it was a bit windy there, and in many other places too.
Because October 16th 1987 was the day of the Great Storm.

Now, I’m sure you will have seen and heard many nostalgic media reports about that day already, but I thought I’d give you my own personal recollections of the aftermath of that night.

7am on the 17th October, and I got up for work as usual, opened the curtains, and stopped…

Clearly, I had slept through some slightly unusual weather.
The fence in the back garden had collapsed into the fir tree hedge behind, and there were flower tubs and  bits of garden furniture everywhere.
A bit windy last night then. Ok.

Having had breakfast, I left for the twenty minute walk to work, turned out of our front path and stopped…

Opposite the top of our steeply sloping road were a pair of tall Victorian houses, dormer windows on the front pitch of the slated roof evidence of rooms in the loft space.
Lying on top of the left hand house was an eighty foot high pine tree that had, up until the day before, stood in corner of the garden.

Making my way up the road, I could see fences, trees, and  other vegetation in varying states of disrepair, although it was nothing compared to the rest of my journey to work.
My usual walk was curtailed almost immediately as, five minutes later, I was confronted with the main road.
There were trees down everywhere, they rendered the road impassable, and I had to turn back.

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I eventually got down to the industrial estate were I worked by  a different route. It wasn’t much better there.
The estate was almost deserted, most businesses having informed their staff that they’d be closed for the day. However, our boss was not one to miss an opportunity to make money, and had insisted that we get in if it was possible.

So, there I am, about three quarters of an hour late, strolling through an empty industrial park, when I see what appears to be a large yellow mound in the car park of one of the bigger factories.
As I get closer, I can just about make out the shape of a car, under what I assume is a yellow tarpaulin.
Now, at the time, a new branch of now-defunct Do-it-yourself superstore, Payless DIY was being built on this estate and they had got to the stage of cladding the shell of the structure with bright yellow, corrugated steel sheets.
Sure enough, during the night, the hundred mph winds had stripped sheets of this cladding off the building and flung them across the car park.
So powerful were the gusts, the corrugated panels had been moulded round the car so tightly that you could see the outline of the wheels.

Just as I got close enough to recognise the now armour-plated car for what it was, I became aware of a strange rumbling, scraping noise behind me.
Turning round, I was only just in time to see another one of the steel panels, being blown by the still-heavily gusting wind along the ground.
The two drooping edges were barely in contact with the pavement, causing the eerie droning noise that I’d heard.
The rest of the panel was approximately 4-5 inches from the tarmac, and it was not going to stop. It looked very much like a Cylon fighter from Battlestar Galactica on a strafing run.

I did the only thing open to me, if I wanted to keep my feet that is, and jumped straight up in the air.
The screeching metal horror shot underneath me with literally centimetres to spare, careering off into a roadsign, which had already collected several others in the course of the storm.

After that, work was a bit tame.

Crowborough sits on the beautiful Ashdown forest, which is famous, not only as the home of Sherlock Holmes’ author Arthur Conan Doyle, but also for being the setting for A.A. Milne’s classic Winnie the Pooh stories.

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Christopher Robin Milne (yes, he was real, my girlfriend met him when he was in his eighties) on the original Pooh Bridge in 1979

On that fateful night in 1987, not even Tigger and Piglet would have recognised the Hundred Acre Wood, where we too used to play as children. Even Pooh bridge didn’t escape the carnage, being badly damaged by a falling branch that went right through it.

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The newly rebuilt Pooh bridge, as it looks today.

(By the way Pooh fans, I have played Poohsticks on the original Pooh bridge.)

For those of you unfamiliar with these classic tales, here is the strangely prescient Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.

Other, larger areas of the forest were almost totally destroyed that night, resulting in many people losing forested land that had been in their families for generations. At least one person that I know of took their own life as a result of the despair they felt at the destruction they witnessed happening on their property.

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This was an all-too-common sight in the aftermath of the storm.

In the Kentish town of Sevenoaks, about twenty miles away, six of the mighty trees it was named after were uprooted like matchsticks.
Hundreds of thousands of trees were destroyed in that night of freak weather, changing the landscape of my childhood irreparably. The hundred acre wood of Milne’s imagination badly damaged, but still alive in the minds of millions of children.

It was an event that changed the countryside of the South-East of England overnight.
If you look at it now, you wouldn’t know anything was amiss, but those of us who woke up to it that October morning, 25 years ago today, there will always be places we will look at and think sadly, “I remember when it wasn’t all fields round here”

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Someone else who had trouble with travel that morning was Zippy, and you can find his story, told in his usual, inimitable style here.

My thanks to James Hoath for his invaluable Pooh facts and corrections

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Personal anecdote

 

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