Children's Books & Writing Stories Once upon a time...  Children's Books & Writing Stories Once upon a time...

MAY 2017

WEDNESDAY  31st MAY 2017


TUESDAY 30th MAY 2017

Everything's gonna be alright

MONDAY 29th MAY 2017

Happiness is not a destination it's a way of life

SUNDAY 28th May 2017

Don't worry, be happy


300 Words



SATURDAY 27th MAY 2017


It is only May but my Christmas present is sorted.


Roy Orbison's family and London's Royal Philharmonic teamed for a new album that pairs the singer's classic vocal takes with new orchestral arrangements. A Love So Beautiful: Roy Orbison With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra arrives November 3rd 2017 via Roy's Boys and Legacy Recordings.


The album will be available digitally, as well as on CD and vinyl. The track list includes reinterpretations of "Oh, Pretty Woman," "Crying," "Only the Lonely," "Dream Baby" and more. Along with the Royal Philharmonic, A Love So Beautiful will feature contributions from Orbison's sons Wesley and Roy Jr. on guitar and Alex on drums. Even Orbison's ten-month-old grandson, Roy III, will provide tambourine and guitar.


The Orbison sons recorded their parts at Black River Studios – which their father used to own – in Nashville, Tennessee, while the Royal Philharmonic recorded at Abbey Road. Prior partnering with the Orbisons, the Philharmonic produced two records featuring Elvis Presley's old vocal takes, 2015's If I Can Dream and 2016's The Wonder of You.


Along with A Love So Beautiful, the Orbison estate is prepping its first sanctioned book about the musician, The Authorized Roy Orbison. The Orbison sons wrote the book with musician/journalist Jeff Slate. The family is also reportedly co-producing an Orbison biopic, The Big O: Roy Orbison.


A Love So Beautiful Track List:


1. "In Dreams"

2. "Crying"

3. "I'm Hurtin'"

4. "Oh, Pretty Woman" (feat. Alex, Wesley, Roy Jr., Roy III)

5. "It's Over"

6. "Dream Baby" (feat. Alex, Roy Jr.)

7. "Blue Angel"

8. "Love Hurts"

9. "Uptown" (feat. Alex Orbison)

10. "Mean Woman Blues" (feat. Alex, Roy Jr.)

11. "Only the Lonely"

12. "Running Scared"

13. "I Drove All Night" (feat. Alex Orbison)

14. "You Got It"

15. "A Love So Beautiful" (feat. Alex Orbison)




I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer. ~Jim Carrey




Happiness is…listening to a RoyOrbison album

Happiness is…a Roy Orbison Concert






400 Words


FRIDAY 26th MAY 2017


Throughout my life Chelsea Flower Show has always interested me. I’ve always waited for the TV coverage with excited anticipation. But, for some reason, not this year.


I think one thing maybe the over analysing of the garden designs. This happens on all art genres when so called intellects start analysing what it means. At the end of the day it’s just a daisy in potting compost.


I hate art snobs and such analysis leaves me cold. You get it so much in literature. One time I went to see Kazuo Ishiguro, at Hay Festival - he won the Man Brooker prize in 1989 with Remains of the Day. Some bright spark asked him this convoluted question about a sentence in Remains of the Day and went on forever saying when you wrote this you were obviously saying … and spent ages with a complicated interpretation. When the man had finished Kazuo Ishiguro sat in deafening silence for awhile and then said, “Sorry, no, it just meant what it says.” The audience acknowledge with amazing enthusiastic applause, thankfully.

And whilst chuntering about gardens, I just need to bring up peonies.


Peonies are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. Scientists differ on the number of species that can be distinguished ranging from 25 to 40, the current consensus is 33 known species.


They have large, often fragrant flowers, in colours ranging from purple red to white or yellow, in late spring and early summer. Peonies are among the most popular garden plants in temperate regions. Herbaceous peonies are also sold as cut flower on a large scale.


The flowers are beautiful. We had deep red ones in the garden when I was a child, my grandma had some too and I have them in my garden.


The problem with them is their flowers are so beautiful but they do not last long. They tend to flower late May early June and seem to have an inbuilt sensor that keeps them in bud until you go a way on holiday, flower and drop their petals so they are over by the time you get back, and you have missed their glory.


In addition they usually come out in full bloom and then there is a storm that drenches the petals and destroys the flowers.


One final great thing about Chelsea, lupins appear to be back.




Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: "I am with you kid. Let's go." ~Maya Angelou




Happiness is…growing a plant or tree







THURSDAY 25th MAY 2017



A few days ago I read the following:


“I wouldn’t change my children for the world, but I do wish I could change the world for my children.”


I often thought that way but never put it into such concise words. After Manchester it has even more relevance .


I despair at the world my children and grandchildren are inheriting from my generation. I should have done more. I do not know how or what but I should have done more to create a better world.


The quote comes from the site “”.  I am not a mum but a grandad, I’m married to a mum and I’m the father to two mums. I offer this information to prove my qualifications to view this excellent site run by journalist and researcher mums.


Among their many interesting items is one entitled “How to talk to your kids about terrorism”.  We shouldn’t have to, but sadly in today’s world it is very necessary.


Due to inevitable backlash of the Manchester incident there has never been a more appropriate time for children of all ages to learn about different religions and particularly about how the Muslim Islamic religion is a peaceful religion.




“How terribly sad it is that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.” ― Jostein Gaarder, The Solitaire Mystery




Happiness is…watching our children play happily and contented.








On Sunday, 7th May 2017, as in every year, I rushed out to buy a copy of  The Sunday Times when they publish their Rich List, excitedly looking to see if I’d made it. And as usual I hadn’t.

The Sunday Times Rich List is a list of the 1,000 wealthiest people or families in the United Kingdom.

The editors estimate subjects' wealth from a range of public information, based on values in January each year. They typically explain their actions by stating: "We measure identifiable wealth, whether land, property, racehorses, art or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. We exclude bank accounts—to which we have no access. We try to give due consideration to liabilities."

A list of writers were extracted from the list have been extracted as shown below, but with some added, as to get in the 1,000 wealthiest people list you needed an estimated wealth of £103m or more.

1              JK Rowling                                                            £600m

2              Jamie Oliver                                                          £160m

3              Barbara Tatlor Bradford                                   £149m

4              Lord Archer                                                          £142m

5              Tony & Maureen Wheeler (Lonely Planet)    £112m

6=           Wilbur Smith                                                        £80m

6=           E L James                                                             £80m

8              Ken Follett                                                            £67m

9              Jack Higgins                                                         £60m

10           Delia Smith & Michael Wynn-Jones                £55m

11           Paul McKenna                                                     £50m

12           Richard Parsons   (Revision Books)                 £42m

13=         Lee Child                                                               £40m

13=         Bernard Cornwell                                                £40m

13=         Dame Jaqueline Wilson                                      £40m

16           Adam Hargreaves  (Mr Men)                            £32m

17=         Julia Donaldson                                                   £30m

17=         John Le Carre                                                       £30m

19           Martine  Cole                                                       £28m

From that list the following are children’s book writers:

13           Dame Jaqueline Wilson

17           Julia Donaldson

16           Adam Hargreaves

I would also class No.1 JK Rowling as a children’s writer too, although she was not described as that on the children’s writer’s list.

The list is almost as interesting as the books they write.




Discover your passion in life. What sets you on fire? Go out there to discover what you love to do. And do it!!!




Happiness is…getting on The Sunday Times Rich List – I imagine.






TUESDAY 23rd MAY 2017


The tram is full of interesting characters and incidents. When travelling on the tram one Sunday a man joined it at Basford. A little girl, aged 6 or 7 years old carrying a guitar was with him. The man carried a used, huge 60” flat screen TV.

What was his story? I pondered.

1.             Had he finally given up on his relationship and left the woman he had lived with this far in life, and was moving out with his only prize possessions?

2.             Had he bought them on Ebay and was collecting them from the seller?

3.             Had he sold them on Ebay and was delivering them to the buyer?

4.             Was he short of cash and taking them to sell at the Cash for Anything Shop on Hyson Green? Although He’d not get much for them. I know, at times I’ve been that desperate.

5.             Was he a modern day Fagin burglar on his way home with his night’s stash? Was his method to send the little girl down the chimney to open up the front door for him?

6.             Did he and the little girl’s mother live apart? Was it his turn to have her Saturday and Saturday night? Was he now returning her home with a TV he had got them on the cheap because they didn’t have one.

7.             Was he a successful busker who attracted large crowds so big that he needed a screen so that those at the back could see?

8.             He lived with his large family and didn’t trust them so he never left his TV or guitar with them unattended.

9.             He could have been going to his mum’s house for his weekly visit. She would have been very old. There was an important Sunday morning sports programme on TV he couldn’t bear to miss and his mum doesn’t have a TV and he doesn’t have a recorder or facilities to get caqtch-up. He always took his guitar because his mum, having no telly, was cheered up with a bit of a sing-song. Ok, unlikely but possible.

As you can see the tram is not only a vehicle to get you from A to B or even C but a good stimulant for your imagination. But it should be a sociable tool too and I should have just asked the guy where he was going and got the full story.




Do the things you love because life is too precious to be doing anything else. If you don't enjoy something, then don't do it. Spend your time and energy on things that bring you fulfillment and happiness.





Happiness is…people watching on a laid back tram ride






MONDAY 22nd MAY 2017


Twice I have become really excited about a city due to a song about it and then have been totally disappointed with the city when I finally got to visit it.


The first was San Francisco. “San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)” was a 1967 massive No.1 for Scott McKenzie. I loved it from the first day I heard it. The record was No.1 the day the Pirate Radio stations went off the air, killed off by the government. For always it has been in my All-tome Top Ten.


But I should have been suspicious about San Francisco, then, as it only managed No.4 in the USA.


The song conjured up a picture of an exciting happening place as far West as you could go in the USA, where life was beautiful all the time.


The vision was added to by Eric Burden of the Animals fame who made a tremendous track titled “San Franciscan Nights”.


With stories and pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, I was so elated when I was finally going to visit the city.

But when I got there it was nothing like my vision. The city was not the beautiful happening city of my minds eye. The songs were far more beautiful than the city.


Ok, it had been a few years since they were written and our hotel was a little out of town and not the best. But we were taken on a tour of the city by motor coach and visited Alcatraz, which I found more uplifting than San Francisco itself.


The second city is Amsterdam which for some reason I have only just got around to visiting. Jacques Brel, a French singer/songwriter wrote many songs including “Amsterdam”. I first heard Rod McKuen sing it, but my most favourite version (there are many) is by David Bowie, the B side to his 1973 chart hit “Sorrow”.


The song is very haunting and dark but beautiful. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But to me it gave off an atmosphere of dark, damp, canal side buildings with a café and coffee shop culture in rooms cloudy with smoke and aromas. I saw boats in the port with sailors filling quaint ancient bars that lined cobbled streets and canals. And in the middle of it all like a shining gem, Anne Frank’s house.


But it’s not a bit like that.


Delft where we stayed in the Netherlands was more in keeping with my imagination. Amsterdam was just a typical European city with all the usual retail shops…boring!


But it doesn’t take away from the song. That fantasy Amsterdam created in my mind by those words will never go away.



Life will never give you what you want. You have to get it yourself.


Happiness is…


Happiness is...visiting a city through a song






SUNDAY 21st MAY 2017



This item shows if you are persistent and patient you get there.


Radio Caroline, launched in 1964 and widely recognised as the first pirate radio station, will soon be back on the airwaves - broadcasting to Suffolk and north Essex.


Much-loved pirate station Radio Caroline is to broadcast directly to Suffolk and north Essex again – after being awarded an AM waveband licence.


The station, which began broadcasting from its vessel moored near the Cork Anchorage off the coast of Felixstowe in 1964, was desperate to be on the air this year as it is 50 years since the 1967 Marine Broadcasting Offences Act that was intended to scupper the pirate broadcasters.


Peter Moore, who runs Radio Caroline, said he was delighted that the bid for a full-time terrestrial transmission licence from Ofcom, which was begun in 2010, had been successful.


He said his ambition was to broadcast from Radio Caroline’s ship the MV Ross Revenge on the River Blackwater in Essex.


He said: “It’s our intention to broadcast to the same people we used to when we had the ships off the Essex coast.


The Caroline ship today stands in the Blackwater Estuary.


“It will be the same sort of service they would have heard in the past delivered in the same way and presented in many cases by the same people as before.


“It’s like a living time capsule.”


Ofcom was told that Radio Caroline will broadcast a wide range of album music from the 1960s to the present day aimed at people aged 45 and over in Suffolk and northern parts of Essex.


The station, immortalised in the Richard Curtis film The Boat That Rocked, was founded to play pop music all day at a time when broadcasting was dominated by the BBC and pop was played for an hour a week.


After the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act was passed in 1967, Radio Caroline continued to broadcast until the Ross Revenge was shipwrecked off the Kent coast in 1991.


Radio Caroline had been operating as an internet and digital radio station in recent years. A memorial to the station is to be unveiled on Felixstowe’s cliffs in September.


Ofcom announced the award of five new community radio licences for medium wave AM services.


Community radio services are provided on a not-for-profit basis and focus on delivering specific social benefits to a particular local area or community of interest.




A bore is a man who, when you ask how he is tells you -Bert Leston Taylor




Happiness is…being a Pirate Radio DJ





SATURDAY 20th MAY 2017



The Adventures of Tintin (French: Les Aventures de Tintin) is a series of 24 comic albums created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé. The series was one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century. By 2007, a century after Hergé's birth in 1907, Tintin had been published in more than 70 languages with sales of more than 200 million copies.


The series first appeared in French on 10 January 1929 in Le Petit Vingtième (The Little Twentieth), a youth supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century). The success of the series saw the serialised strips published in Belgium's leading newspaper Le Soir (The Evening) and spun into a successful Tintin magazine. In 1950, Hergé created Studios Hergé, which produced the canonical versions of ten Tintin albums. The Adventures of Tintin have been adapted for radio, television, theatre, and film.


Tintin first appeared in English in the weekly British children's comic Eagle in 1951 with the story King Ottokar's Sceptre. It was translated in conjunction with Casterman, Tintin's publishers, and starts by describing Tintin as "a French boy". Snowy was called by his French name "Milou".


The process of translating Tintin into British English was then commissioned in 1958 by Methuen, Hergé's British publishers. When it came time to translate The Black Island, which is set in Great Britain, the opportunity was taken to make the scenes more true-to-life; such as ensuring that the British police were unarmed.


The Adventures of Tintin 1929–83 24 volumes of books, one unfinished.


102 five minute animated B&W episodes broadcast on BBC 1 1962-1964 7 seasons


The motion picture “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” is a 2011 3D motion capture computer-animated mystery action-adventure film based on The Adventures of Tintin. Directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson, and written by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, the film is based on three of Hergé's albums: The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), and Red Rackham's Treasure (1944)          .



Release date         23 October 2011 (Brussels/Paris premiere)


Running time        107 minutes


Budget:                  $135 million


Box office:           $374 million


The film was nominated for Best Original Score at the 84th Academy Awards. It was the first non-Pixar film to win a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film.           




"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." - Steve Jobs





Happiness is…Saturday





See every day at:  3. 100+ WORDS A DAY





FRIDAY 19th MAY 2017



The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (RBBB) will host its final show on Sunday, 21st May, 2017 ending an incredible 146 year run. The show will be live-streamed on the Ringling Brothers Facebook page.


“The Greatest Show on Earth” will perform for the last time at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island in New York, ending an American tradition that dates back generations. Animal rights and advocacy groups are celebrating the demise of the circus as a major victory.


Phineas Taylor Barnum purchased a museum in New York in 1841 and started travelling in 1871. Barnum partnered with James. A. Bailey and James. L. Hutchinson while the Ringling Brothers started performing a five man vaudeville-style show in Wisconsin in 1882. The groups merged in 1919 to become the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.


The Ringling Bros. became an integral part of Americana, entertaining countless attendees at performances across the country. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs led to its ultimate demise.


RBBB operated two separate travelling circuses. One group has already performed its final show in Providence, Rhode Island.




A 1952 movie blockbuster about the circus won best picture at the Academy Awards. The film “The Greatest Show on Earth” is an American drama film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, shot in Technicolor, and released by Paramount Pictures. Set in the RBBB Circus, the film stars Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde as trapeze artists competing for the centre ring, and Charlton Heston as the circus manager running the show. James Stewart also stars in a supporting role as a mysterious clown who never removes his make-up, even between shows, while Dorothy Lamour and Gloria Grahame also play supporting roles.


In addition to the film actors, the real RBBB's Circus' 1951 troupe appears in the film, with its complement of 1400 people, hundreds of animals, and 60 carloads of equipment and tents. The actors learned their respective circus roles and participated in the acts. The film's storyline is supported by lavish production values, actual circus acts, and documentary, behind-the-rings looks at the massive logistics effort which made big top circuses possible.


The film won two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Story, and was nominated for Best Costume Design, Best Director, and Best Film Editing. It also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture – Drama.


Release date         January 10, 1952

Running time        152 minutes

Budget                   $4 million

Box office             $36 million


The train that takes RBBB show to each city has a total of 61 cars and is more than a mile long.


How big is one ring?  a. 42 feet in diameter


On average, how many performers does it take to put on a RBBB performance?  a. There are 107 in RBBC, this includes the 9 person band


How fast does Gemma fly out of her cannon?  a. About 66 mph over 100 feet  b. She experiences a G-Force of 7, about half the G-force an astronaut uses when launching into space and the same force a pilot feels when flying an F16 fighter jet!


How many unique different pieces of music are used in the RBBB production?  a. About 120


How many hours does it take to set up a RBBB show? a. 16 hours


How many hours does it take to tear down a RBBB show?  a. 6-8 hours


What is the length of one RBBB train car?  a. 86’ for coach, 95’ for flat car


How many miles does the RBBB train travel in a year? a.  About 18,285 miles.




"Keep your face to the sunshine and you can never see the shadow." - Helen Keller




Happiness is…the greatest gift we all possess




See every day at:  3. 100+ WORDS A DAY





THURSDAY 18th MAY 2017



A few years ago I did a Children’s Writing Course. As one of my submitted stories I wrote a variation of The Big Billy Blue Bus Windy Day story. The crux of the story was the same. There were so many helium filled party balloons on the top of the bus that the wind was able to carry the balloons, bus and passengers away.

The tutor pulled it to pieces saying it was just not possible and kids see through it.


I noticed a magazine article on Eurostar that told about a man who was carried across the English Channel using 54 helium filled coloured balloons. His name is Jonathan Trappe and here is his story:

On 28 May 2010 adventurer Jonathan Trappe crossed the English Channel in a chair tied to dozens of helium-filled balloons.


The 36-year-old dangled beneath 54 various coloured balloons for more than four hours to complete the 22-mile journey, taking off from Ashford in Kent and landing near Dunkirk in northern France. He was forced to crash land in a cabbage patch after the wind blew him off course, to the bemusement of French gendarmes.

Mr Trappe spent about an hour and three quarters sailing silently over the Channel.


The US adventurer was held at the mercy of the prevailing winds beneath his colourful collection of gigantic inflatables. He set off from Kent Gliding Club in Challock, near Ashford, shortly after 5am, taking about an hour to travel the 10 miles to the coast. Mr Trappe spent about an hour and three quarters sailing silently over the Channel before reaching Dunkirk. As he soared high over the French countryside he continued heading towards the Belgium border. But after cutting away balloons to aid his descent, Mr Trappe made a textbook landing in a French cabbage field shortly after 9am.


He avoided a power line and bounced a short distance before coming to a halt.


"It was just an exceptional, quiet, peaceful experience," he told Sky News.


Asked why he wanted to take on the challenge, he said: "Didn't you have this dream - grabbing on to a bunch of toy balloons and floating off? I think it's something that's shared across cultures and across borders.

"Just this wonderful fantasy of grabbing on to toy balloons and floating into open space."


He described sailing over the white cliffs of Dover in complete silence as "tremendously peaceful, tremendously beautiful". And there was even time for a "civil" chat with a man on the ground.


The trained pilot added: "There are risks and we work to methodically reduce the risk so we can have a safe and fun flight.


"Because really it's only about dreams and enjoying an adventure and that's only enjoyable when it is safe."


Mr Trappe has already made a number of trips using his balloon cluster.


In April 2010 he claimed a new world record for the longest free-floating balloon flight, flying 109 miles across North Carolina.


He described the English Channel as an ''iconic ribbon of water that is calling'', and in March visited both England and France to meet with aviation authorities.


His feat was reminiscent of the hero of the recent hit animated film “Up”. That saw grumpy pensioner Carl Fredricksen, voiced by actor Edward Asner, attach hundreds of coloured balloons to his house and fly off to South America.


In September 12, 2013 Trappe tried  to cross the Atlantic suspended from 370 helium-filled balloons but he had to abandon his effort, just 12 hours and about 350 miles into the trip.


He landed in a remote part of Newfoundland, Canada, after putting a message on his Facebook page reading: "Hmm this doesn't look like France."


He was foiled by what his team have described as a technical issue after his capsule lifted off in heavy fog in Caribou, Maine, in the US and made its way over the Canadian border and across the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

He then reported a "quiet sky … travelling at over 50mph in my little yellow rowboat". But after joking about not having arrived at one of his possible European destinations, he later reported that he had landed safely, and said: "I put the exposure canopy up on the boat. Will stay here for the night."


Trappe, at that time 39, a seasoned cluster balloonist who is the first person to have crossed both the Alps and the Channel by this method, had hoped to make the crossing of up to 2,500 miles in three to six days. The IT project manager from Raleigh, North Carolina, had suggested before embarking on the flight that he could land anywhere between Iceland and Morocco depending on the weather. He had been planning to "catch those transatlantic winds and ride them across like a conveyor belt".




"Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about." - Unknown




Happiness is…a big red bouncy helium filled balloon.








Dick Bruna was a Dutch author, artist, illustrator and graphic designer.


Bruna was best known for his children's books which he authored and illustrated, numbering over 200. His most notable creation was Miffy (Nijntje in the original Dutch), a small rabbit drawn with heavy graphic lines, simple shapes and primary colors. Bruna also created stories for characters such as Lottie, Farmer John, and Hettie Hedgehog.


Aside from his prolific catalog of children's books, Bruna also illustrated and designed book covers, posters and promotional materials for his father's publishing company A.W. Bruna and Zoon. His most popular designs graced the covers of the Zwarte Beertjes (nl) series of books. Well known among his designs are those for Simenon's Maigret books, typified by graphic silhouettes of a pipe on various backgrounds.


Dick Bruna first drew sketches of a little bunny to entertain his young son whilst on a rainy seaside holiday in Holland. Each night he made up stories about the bunny and Miffy was born.


Originally published in the UK in the '60s, the books were transposed from Bruna's native Dutch into English rhyme - no easy task! Plus the language, as happens over time, becomes a little out-dated so the poems have been refreshed to appeal to today's toddlers and pre-schoolers.


Miffy, is set to attract a new generation of fans! The rhyming text in each of the books, originally created by Dick Bruna, has been updated for a modern audience by award winning poet Tony Mitton. But the illustrations remain the same - simple, bold and as lovable as ever


Tony Mitton has clearly loved the challenge and says “Throughout my career as a writer of poetry and verse for children I’ve sought to combine the language of natural speech with precise rhymes, aural texture, good scansion and metre. So to tackle such internationally known works as the Miffy books - with a brief of staying as faithful as possible to the Dutch originals - struck me as a challenge well worth taking up. I was flattered and honoured to be asked.....My own children loved Dick Bruna’s books; I hope my new texts help today’s young children to enjoy them too.”


Over 85 million copies of the iconic Miffy books have been sold worldwide!


Bruna  was born in Utrecht, Netherlands on 23 August 1927 and also died at Utrecht, Netherlands on 16 February 2017 aged 89 years old.




"A year from now you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb




Happiness is…reflecting on the best and exciting bits of the holiday







TUESDAY 9th MAY 2017

Mother Nature is amazingly creative. Every year, every season and every month is that much different to any other throughout time and yet follows a similar pattern.

This Spring has been particularly beautiful with less rain than usual which has allowed beautiful flowers and blossoms in abundance.


This has continued into May and the clean, shiny, green hedgerows of April have now turned white as snow everywhere with May blossoms. I have never seen such a brilliant display. As you drive through the countryside the whiteness underlines how much hawthorn hedging there is in Britain.


Hawthorn has been known by many names, including May Flower, May Tree, White May and simply The May, all referencing the beauty, symbolism and medicine of its blossom at this time of year. In fact the Hawthorn provides medicine most of the year round, in its leaves and berries too.


Hawthorn has been common in Britain for millennia, pollen counts showing its presence here before 6,000 BC, and of all our native trees, it is perhaps the most enshrined in myth and legend. From Celtic ceremony, to Arthurian myth, to Christian legend, the Hawthorn has its place in all the stories that shape our land and our hearts.


Another major colour in our countryside at this time of year is yellow as the oil rape seed comes into full bloom. This year even more fields are filled with this popular crop.


The yellow fields of oil rape add to the patchwork of green and brown fields hemmed with white hawthorn hedges. But equally it will lead to an overload of boring yellow landscape photographs which a few years ago looked stunning but now are so run of the mill and unimaginative.


But Mother Nature is so experienced, she’ll realise reinvent herself and overcome the problem.



"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra." - Jimmy Johnson



Happiness is…a sunny May day walk in the countryside to see lambs, may blossom and yellow fields.





MONDAY 8th MAY 2017


The all time great magazine, Rolling Stone has published the current Top 50 comedians.

The Magazine states: “As Steve Martin used to warn, comedy is not pretty. And in these fractious times, the power of laughter matters more than ever  - we are in a new golden age of comedy.”

I agree whole heartedly with that statement.

Their list featured the Best American comedians. Here is my list, of Best UK Comedians.


1.Peter Kay

2.Billy Connolly

3.Russel Howard

4.Jon Richardson

5.Lee Mack

6.Diane Morgan ( Cant on… and Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe and many more)

7.Jimmy Carr

8.Aisling Bea

9.Henning Wehn,

10.John Bishop

11.Harry Hill

12.Michael McIntyre

13.Dara O'Brien

14.David Mitchell

15.Sean Lock

16.Jack Whitehall

17.Milton Jones

18.Charlie Brooker

19.Noel Feilding

20.Greg Davies

21.Frank Skinner

22.Catherine Tate

23.David Walliams

24.Steve Coogan

25.Johnny Vegas

26.Rob Brydon

27.Ricky Gervaise

28.Tim Vine

29.Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders

30.Sian Gibson (Car Share)

31.Miriam Margolyes,

32.Jason Manford

33.Bill Bailey

34.Kevin Bridges

35.Rowan Atkinson

36.Stephen Fry

37.Mickey Flanaghan

38.Rhod Gilbert

39.Jack Dee

40.Al Murray

41.Tim Vine

42.Jo Brand

43.James Acaster

44.Andy Parsons

45.Sue Perkins & Mel Giedroyc

46.Sally Phillips

47.Michelle Gomez

48.Mr Tumble (Namely Justin Fletcher)

49.Kate Robbins

50.Paul Merton


                Best Reserve:

                Eddie Izzard

                Matt Lucas

                Ant & Dec




"Make each day your masterpiece." - John Wooden




Happiness is…enjoying an hilarious comedy show





SUNDAY 7th MAY 2017


The ending of the latest Peter Kay series of Car Share left everyone saying it was wide open for another series.


But Peter Kay says not.


He has issued an apology to fans over his decision to end the hit show.


The comic devastated followers earlier this week, when he announced there were no plans for another series or even a Christmas special.


He made the revelation just as the last episode of the current series aired on BBC One, with many fans upset with the way it ended, especially knowing it would be the final ever episode.


There will be no more of ‘Peter Kay’s Car Share’


Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Peter insisted he “didn’t mean to upset anybody” by ending the show.


“I think people thought it was some kind of publicity stunt,” he said.


“I never intended to talk about ‘Car Share’. You asked me about series three and I said I didn’t think there was going to be another, which there isn’t going to be, or a Christmas special. But I think people thought it was some kind of publicity plan.


“I am sorry I have upset people,” he continued. “Sian [Gibson] put her phone on and had about 50 messages. She said, ‘What have you said, my phone’s gone mental?’


“I just mentioned that we weren’t doing another one. That’s just the truth. I didn’t mean to upset anybody. I didn’t think there would be petitions.”


The series ended with Sian Gibson’s character Kayleigh confessing her love to Peter’s character John, only for him not to act on his feelings, prompting her to storm out of the car and get in a taxi.


In a dream sequence, John was then seen getting out of his car to chase Kayleigh before passionately kissing her in the back of the taxi, but in reality, John was seen on the phone to his nan claiming he was “done”.


Speaking about the response to the ending, Peter said: “There were a lot of funny things in that episode. People are forgetting things like us hanging out of a front room window. They are just concentrating on the ending.”


He added: “I get a bit teary as well… it was hard to film. We did three takes and we only used the first one. It was quite sad when she got out, a bit strange.”


I can understand him finishing. Series 2 was brilliant but panned by some critics. The subject matter is difficult to keep fresh and new and introduce original situations. The sheer beauty and comedy of it is the simpleness picking up close observations of everyday life.


Much as I would love it to continue I believe Peter Kay is probably right letting  the 10 episodes go down in history as one of the comedy greats, like Fawlty Towers. People love the series all the more when they are left longing for more. Unlike Last of the Summer Wine that went on and on and on.




"The purpose of our lives is to be happy." - Dalai Lama




Happiness is…bubble wrap





Saturday 6th MAY 2017


In the UK believe it or not but we are getting happier. Yes it is official.


The 2017 World Happiness Report is a measure of happiness published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Here is the list of Happiest Countries giben by the United Nations in April.


1 Norway

2 Denmark

3 Iceland

4 Switzerland

5 Finland

6 Netherlands

7 Canada

8 New Zealand

9 Australia 

10 Sweden

11 Israel

12 Costa Rica

13 Austria

14  United States (No.13  2016)

15 Ireland (Up From No.19 2016)

16 Germany

17 Belgium

18 Luxembourg

19 United Kingdom  (Up from No.23 in 2016)

20 Chile

21 United Arab Emirates

22 Brazil (Down from No.17 in 2016)


In July 2011, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use this to help guide their public policies. On April 2, 2012, this was followed by the first UN High Level Meeting on "Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm," which was chaired by Prime Minister Jigme Thinley of Bhutan, the first and so far only country to have officially adopted gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product as their main development indicator.


The first World Happiness Report was released on April 1, 2012 as a foundational text for the meeting. It drew international attention as the world's first global happiness survey. The report outlined the state of world happiness, causes of happiness and misery, and policy implications highlighted by case studies. In September 2013 the second World Happiness Report offered the first annual follow-up and reports are now issued every year.


The report uses data from the Gallup World Poll. There are 60,000 data points that are taken into account to calculate the figures. Each annual report, from initiation in 2012 to the 2017, is available to the public on the World Happiness Report website. (


In the reports, leading experts in several fields: economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, and more, - describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations. Each report delve deeper into issues relating to happiness, including mental illness, the objective benefits of happiness, the importance of ethics, and policy implications.


Bhutan was No.97 in 2017, and averaged No.84 2013-15.


We need to analyse why the Top 5 made the Top 5 and adopt some of their policies.




Silence is golden unless you have a toddler then it is suspicious




Happiness is... a  fully stocked kitchen after the Tesco delivery

<< New text box >>



FRIDAY 5th MAY 2017


So Prince Philip is stepping down from official duties. He has done a lifetime of amazing work. I admire and applaud him. He will be 96 on June 10th. Next to the Queen he is my favourite member of the Royals. The reason I like him is that I find him brilliantly funny, up there with the top comedians. He has such a larger than life character. He is brilliant because he says what he thinks which is often so the wrong thing to say especially if you are the Queen’s husband.


He gets himself in to so much hot water with what he says off the cuff. It must be the name “Philip” because it happens to me all the time, too. I think of something to say about something or someone. I can’t wait to say it, it sounds so funny in my mind. I say it and all hell is let loose. What? What? What have I said? It had never occurred to me that it’s offensive, it’s sexist, it’s racist and it’s not PC. I didn’t mean any harm just on off the cuff quip for a bit of a laugh.


I suspect unlike me Prince Philip shrugs it off and thinks: “F*** you. It’s what I think. If you don’t like it, tough shit.”


So big sympathies from me, Prince Philip and carry on it’s what makes you a brilliant national treasure. A top character, to keep a smile on all our faces, and we need it.


My Mum never admitted to naming me after him, but Edinburgh as my middle name is a bit of a give away. (Not really my middle name, that’s a joke, if a bad one.) I think I probably was named after him though as I was born in 1949 and the Queen married Philip in 1947 so Philip was a very popular name for boy babies at that time. The name ranked No.16 in 1954 and dropped to No.304 in 2009. If I was named after him I am proud to be.


Most newspapers and magazines have a brilliant article that lists some of his gaffes. I’ll try putting some together for the blog. They are so funny. In the mean time here’s one of my favourites:


“Impatient Prince Philip to photographer: 'Just take the f***ing picture'”.


But most importantly let’s not forget why he is considered so great.


To date, the duke has achieved :


70 years as Queen's companion


785 organisations have him as patron, president or member


4 million people have taken part in Duke of Edinburgh Awards


Carried out 22,191 solo engagements

Taken part in 637 solo overseas visits

Given 5,493 speeches

Authored 14 books




“Bugger the table plan, give me my dinner” — Duke of Edinburgh at a party in 2004.




Happiness is…saying exactly what comes to mind without giving it a second thought (and not regretting what you say)








Do you remember the A Team’s phrase “I love it when a plan comes together”. I really get a special buzz when a plan comes together.


I feel that many times and often it feels it has happened if TV programmes randomly link my passions. I have such an ecliptic range of passions that it is remarkable if just two are linked in one programme. If that is achieved, truly a plan has come together.


Peter Kay’s Car Share is one of my all time comedy favourites. I enjoy simple, observational comedy taken from everyday life. The incorporation of music adds to it along with the incorporation of the NOW…That’s What I Call Music compilation discs.


I got my “I-love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together” moment when watching the last in the second series of Car Share when “Red Light Spells Danger” by Billy Ocean came on the radio and John and Kayleigh did a complete scene singing to it.


To have so many passions pulled together in one TV programme truly was “a plan coming together”.


Those passions are: 1.Comedy and Situation comedy 2.Comedy Writing 3.Peter Kay 4.Sian Gibson playing Kayleigh 5.Car Share 6.Popular Music 7.Now 8.Billy Ocean 9.Red Light Spells Danger 10.Laughter




"Never let your memories be greater than your dreams." - Doug Ivester




Happiness is…when a plan comes together








Not all news is bad.


Matthew Bryce a surfer was rescued off the Belfast coast on Monday night after spending 32 hours in the water.


Belfast Coastguard coordinated the search after the surfer set off from a beach near Campbeltown, Scotland at 11.30am Sunday and didn’t return. Scottish RNLI lifeboats and Coastguard rescue teams searched large areas of coastline from lunchtime Sunday in an effort to find the man.


 “Hope was fading of finding the surfer safe and well after such a long period in the water and with nightfall approaching we were gravely concerned” said Dawn Petrie of Belfast Coastguard.


But at 7.30pm Monday, as the search was to be called off for the day, the crew on the Coastguard rescue helicopter were delighted to locate Matthew still with his surf board and 13 miles off the coast.


He was hypothermic but conscious and was flown to hospital in Belfast.


It’s understood that his preparation before heading out contributed to his survival. He had all the right clothing including a thick neoprene suit which would have helped him to survive for so long at sea.


Commenting on the search and rescue operation Red Bay RNLI Coxswain Paddy McLaughlin said that the massive team effort resulted in a successful outcome, and praised the surfer for staying with his surfboard, which kept him afloat.


 “It just shows that even after 32 hours at sea people can be found and rescued. We wish the young man a full recovery after his ordeal.”


It’s advised that if you’re engaging in activities at sea to tell someone where you are going and take an appropriate means of raising the alarm in an emergency.


The surfer’s brother Paul wrote on Facebook: “Matthew’s been found! Managed to drift to Belfast the nutter! He’s just got hypothermia.”




“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shovelling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” - Phyllis Diller





Happiness is…a golden beach, the sun, the right waves and your favourite board.



See every day at:  3. 100+ WORDS A DAY



<< New text box >>



 TUESDAY 2nd MAY 2017



There are 100,000 names on the list awaiting a UK allotment garden.


Allotments featured a great deal in my childhood. Much of the valuable time I spent with my dad during those few valuable years before he upped and went away was at the allotment.


The rest of my childhood was spent with my grandad at his six (yes 6) allotments. Part of the magic was eating our lunch of sandwiches made from grandma’s home made bread and tomatoes and cucumber from the greenhouse, beetroot from the allotment and eggs from grandad’s chickens. Sometimes we even ate the chickens themselves. On cold, wet days we would eat this in the allotment shed in front of a blazing fire in the rusting pot bellied wood burning stove.


Following a peak of 1,400,000 in 1943 there was a sharp decline in allotments to around 500,000 in the 1970s.


During the late 1970s there was a dramatic upsurge in interest in self-sufficiency and home food production. However, the rate of decline failed to decrease, fuelled by a continuing rise in land and housing costs, which created an incentive to hard pressed local authorities to sell allotment land to housing developers.


 By 1996 there were around 297,000 plots available, and the rate of decline has decreased whilst at the same time there has again been increased interest in growing food crops.


This is due to concerns about genetic modification, chemical pollution and contamination and the desire for fresh home grown produce. Waiting lists have appeared for sites that once had high vacancy rates. At least 330,000 people have an allotment, with 100,000  on waiting lists.


Allan Jenkins, editor of Observer Food Monthly magazine has a new memoir book out titled “Plot 29” (Fourth Estate £14.99) which is an amazing read about therapy and life an allotment provides.




“In turbulent times, we need children’s books to provide a safe space from which to help make sense of the world.” – Tricia Adams, Chair of 2017 Medals




Happiness is…an allotment garden








The word “mugwump” is so descrptive.


It's a top online search and social media trend in the UK after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of being a "mutton-headed, old mugwump".


And social media users are speculating whether the term was an insult or a compliment by sharing all the mugwump memes and references they can think of.


Some are even capitalising on the term to garner support for Corbyn in the coming general election, by creating memes of an alien-like species called Mugwump from the 1991 film adaptation of the novel Naked Lunch.


Others made reference to Roald Dahl's books, with one user tweeting: "There's #mugwump, but there's also #mugglewump, a character from Roald Dahl who wants to turn the Twits upside down. Either could work."


While some cited a mention of the word in Dahl's sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.


“In Harry Potter #mugwump is the head of the International Confederation of Wizards. So makes sense - Jezza is pretty magical :)," one user tweeted.


Tweet by @BooktrustImage copyright Twitter/@Booktrust

Highlighting mugwump's "positive" connotation, some shared the Oxford English Dictionary definition: "A person who remains aloof or independent, especially from party politics".


Tweet by @CornwallToryImage copyright Twitter/@cornwallTory

While some tweeted less contemporary understandings of the word: "Just to say: To call Corbyn a mugwump (a liberal defecting from corrupt Republican Party in 1880s) is a great insult to mugwumps."


BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg added: "Technically, a mugwump was someone who left the Republican Party in 1884 to support the Democratic Candidate Grover Cleveland."


Though others criticised Johnson: "Mutton-headed mugwump? Who uses language like that? A posh out of touch privileged fool like Boris Johnson, that's who."


Mainly taken from BBC Magazine article




“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” – Beverly Sills




Happiness is…once in a while going back to bed for the day and catching up with all those forcibly lost hours sleep


See every day at:  3. 100+ WORDS A DAY



When I was a lad at school around 13 years old, our Maths teacher used to call me Wol. At the end of the year as we were moving up a class I plucked up courage to ask why he called me Wol. He told meit was thename of the deslexic owl in Winnie the Pooh. With my Harry Potter glasses he said I looked like the Wise Old Owl in the Winnie the Pooh stories.


Being the vain person I am I took it as a compliment

Contact us today!

If you have any queries or wish to make an appointment, please contact us:


Or use our contact form.

Print Print | Sitemap Recommend this page Recommend this page