2013:farewells:hobbits:biddles:pics: poem

January 1st 2013.
A good New Year to you all. I looked for a thirteen digit word to match the new year and came up with ( opportunities.  ) That seemed a useful, positive start.

Well the Major got his precipitation; but it was of the watery kind, not the predicted white stuff for Christmas day: so the bookies kept the money in their satchels  and went away for a winter break to somewhere warm and dry.  Oh dear!

We are now in a cycle of extreme weather and  even the most fervent climate-change denier,  who sees this as merely a phase we are going through, must acknowledge we are in this scenario for the long-haul.

Two  weather statistics, which show the oddity of our climate are:

 ( 1 ) April and June 2012,[ averaged over England and Wales] were the wettest such months in a record stretching back to 1766- the ONLY instance of two record-breaking months in a single year.

 ( 2 )  An extended warm spell in late March (remember that ? ) brought record-breaking temperatures in Aberdeenshire of 23.6C.* ( source 'The Guardian 31/12/'12 )

 2012  is the wettest on record for England and they dared to ask early in the year for a hose-pipe ban!


On January 5th of the new year, " The Famous " will close in Cheltenham. It is an independent Menswear shop, which has been a High-Street landmark for 147 years. Used by my late father and my family, for coats, hats, jackets and school uniforms, it will be sadly missed. Its exemplary customer care, brought about  from training, knowledge of material and  long employee service, will not be easily seen again.
The Famous.

Farewell also to the BBC's horse racing broadcasts: which have given us such great memories down the years, including Red Rum at the Grand National, Ascot fashions and  Dawn Run winning the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham NH Festival.
Sir Peter Sullivan ( known as the BBC's voice of racing, peerless in his commentaries, ) when asked about this development, replied that he didn't think the Monarchy would be amused. Enough said.


January 2nd 2013

The above picture is a front cover of an old edition of " The Hobbit " by J.R.R. Tolkein, priced at 3/6d or 17.5p.
Last month I went to the cinema to see Peter Jackson's new film " The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. " It is beautifully shot in 3D at 24 frames/second and 3D at 48 frames/ second and also in 2D.

Should you wish to see the 48 version, you will need to check with your multiplex cinema, to  ascertain which, if any screens are showing it at this speed. I saw it at the normal 24 and was blown away with the clarity and detail displayed. The hobbit-hole at Bag End has never looked better. Look out  for those wild flowers growing outside the home.

Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins was a revelation. His mobile face, combined with a flat delivery, perfectly conveyed his sense of shock and bewilderment at  to what was happening to him as he was persuaded to join the dwarves on their adventure.

The only real criticism I have is the length of the film, which at 169 minutes is a long sit down.
a twenty minute or more cut, bringing the duration closer  to two hours, would, in my opinion create a tighter, more effective film. But hey ho; form your own opinion- go see.


As you probably guessed, horse racing has been a big part of my sporting life. That being the case, I thought over the next few months I would write about the influences  certain jockeys have had on my racing journey.

1 Terry Biddlecombe 

When I worked in Gloucester  in the late 60's, in the accounts/ works office of  a firm of hydraulic engineers, we had, in addition to our fortnight annual holiday, three 'floating days ' , which we could take, with management  approval, 
 when we liked.
   In '67 I was given a tip in the factory for " Woodland Venture " running in that years' Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

I had never been to a racecourse before this time. but after a spot of dithering I made up my mind and went to Prestbury Park and had my pound on the horse at 14/1 and the rest, as they say is history.
Watch again:

Woodland was ridden by Terry Biddlecombe and he instantly became my hero. He always seemed to be one of the lads, whom you could have drink with in places like Tewkesbury.

He rode with a cavalier style, up with the pace, and possessed a great will to win.
In my mind's eye I can see him  now driving up the Cheltenham hill on a grey called "Sea Tale."

I understand Terry has recently suffered a minor stroke, which he is recovering from under the care of his lady Hen Knight. I wish him well. for the future.


A couple of pictures taken at Stratford Park, Stroud, which D. and I visited recently.

January 3rd 2013

Went for a walk on the sunny Malvern Hills today with D. Followed the path from North Quarry in West Malvern.

Notice the clarity of the view from the side of the hill.


Come and                                                 

 Ordain us with your                                 
 Now that    

 Waves beckon 

And desire a solar charge to

 Leave our redemptive spirits          

Lusting for the essence of life.

Acrostic Ck
Photo  KB.


Hope the first week of the New Year treats you all kindly.


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