John Owen Smith Home Page Log for 2006 Log for 2007 Log for 2008 Log for 2009 Log for 2010 Log for 2011 Log for 2012 Log for 2013 Log for 2014 Log for 2016 Current Log Page Contact me
On Boxing Day our computer failed that is, it wouldn't boot up and asked us to load the original set-up disk and press 'P' to sort things out. Since we don't have the original set-up disk, this was difficult. We went to bed thinking dark thoughts about how to pursue our various activities without the computer, and more particularly without the data and programs that were on it. In the morning it fired up again without any problem, but it set us thinking and we have now bought a new computer with the latest operating system which we intend to change to, just as soon as we can find the time! At the moment it's still in its box.
Back from a weekend in Corsham. Weather unseasonably mild. We watched the youngsters skating on melting ice in Bath. Dil lost her mobile phone on a bus. And when we got home we found a large hamper had been delivered to us, but with no sender's name so 'thank you' to whoever sent it to us, and we hope we can thank you for it properly some time! [It was my sister thank you, Di]
It's been a hectic weekend: freshly back from the Isle of Wight, we organised entertainment for the Headley Society's Yuletide Feast on Friday; and we organised the Yuletide Concert for the village on Saturday (see photos) and today I had a tooth pulled out, the one that I broke eating a French muffin in Paris earlier in the year. I'm sitting with a wadge of cotton wool in my mouth as I type!
It's the week of our 'December House' when we and a group of friends go away to spend a few days in a big house. This year it was at Mottistone on the Isle of Wight. The weather was generally kind to us, though it was blowing a gale on the day we went fossil-hunting on the beach at Sandown. See below
In the run-up to Christmas my eyes glaze over at the number of different events which appear in the diary. Then, one by one, we tick them off to give a clearer view of the future. This weekend it was the annual Christmas Fair in the village hall, which went well despite a new stall-holder not appearing until after we had reallocated his table I managed to find him a space in the foyer. The weather was kind: sunny and wind-free, so no excuse for the punters to stay away, other than the usual plethora of other events happening on the same day. Some stall-holders did better than usual, and some did less well I sold 8 books, which is more than I normal do on this local occasion; most people here have usually already got my books.
So, the big social event of the year has been and come and gone successfully, by which I mean of course Deb's 40th. We packed the village hall and the Little White Blue band got everyone on the floor (dancing, that is) with my Sarah on reeds. The following morning our house was bursting full for breakfast before guests finally dispersed to the four corners of the globe. I'm sure there will be many photos of various qualities on Facebook but sadly I don't have any to show here yet.
Today we had a nuisance call from BT asking us if we'd like them to stop nuisance calls!
Since it costs nothing to do, I decided to pull my three 'MacHamlet' plays together into a single book (The MacHamlet Trilogy) and publish it on CreateSpace (CS). Later I did the same for The Broomsquire. These are the first books that I've published not using a UK printer. Sad days really, but the CS option is so much more flexible. Come on, Antony Rowe Ltd, get your act together!
Season of mists and flu jabs!
A quiet week. The panto is cast and rehearsals have begun. The car went in for its annual MoT with no problems. The clocks have gone back, and we are starting to have log fires in the evening. Oh, and as a Wet Ham fan, it's nice to see them sitting near the top of the table for once!
The second weekend of Noises Off went even better than the first, and all concerned are congratulating themselves on a job well done. On Sunday came to job of dismantling the set and finding space to store everything. Nick and I made some executive decisions and did two runs to the Bordon tip!
Tonight it's the auditions for the Pantomime (oh yes it is!) so no peace for the wicked. This year it's my Robin Hood script again (for its third outing) this time being directed by Rod. I'm in the role or Producer, and also down to play bass in the 3-piece band. Keep tuned to this channel for progress reports.
12th October 2015
The play is on! Although neither Dil nor I are strictly speaking involved in Noises Off, we have been aware of its birth pains and so it's good to report that the first weekend went brilliantly well!
On the right is the cast photo sent to the Press before the show. See here for other photos of the production.
5th October 2015
Another year older! On Saturday we picked up our American friends Ruth & Skip from the Rowbarge Inn at Woolhampton where they had been brought by Gillian & David Lindsay making it a meeting of Flora Thompson researchers (see photo).
Back home, we invited the world round that evening for my birthday party!
The trouble with going on holiday is the backlog of work awaiting when you get back. A week later and I've just about caught up!
21st September 2015
Just back from a fortnight's touring in Scotland.
Here we have selected a picture from each day.
Back home, the cats were glad to see us!
31st August 2015
We held a very successful Here's Headley event on Saturday, and the weather was kind to us. Over 40 local organisations set their stalls up in and around the Village Hall and Green for people to see what goes on in the locality, and the feedback was very positive. It had been nine years since we held a similar event, but there is now pressure to make it a more regular occurrence.
We managed to hold a supper party on Saturday with hors d'ouvres in the garden, but good weather has generally been in short supply this month, and the forecast for this coming week is for more rain. At least there won't be a hosepipe ban!
17th August 2015
Attended the annual 'Meet the Authors' fest at Selsey along with some of the authors I help to publish. This is our stall, where I seem to be directing traffic!
Went for a pacemaker check later in the week and got the 'all-clear' for a year. No 'events' recorded this time, despite the cliff-walking last week, so they seem to have got the settings right for my lifestyle now.
Back from a short visit to friends in Normandy both the weather and the company were good.
I'm doing quite a bit of typesetting for various local authors at the moment rather like London buses, I get none for ages and then three turn up together! I'm trying not to confuse their books in my mind.
Had an indoor stall at the local open-air museum yesterday the rain kept the crowds away rather, and I sold just 2 books, but I made a number of useful contacts for possible future publishing ventures.
We're thinking about the holiday we've planned for September, touring Scotland, and hoping the weather will improve by then. Very much that it won't be like this picture which Google Map captured in June 2011, of someone waiting for a bus on Skye!
Hectic days! We've just finished putting the Summer Show on, and it was judged a success but it seemed to be hanging on by its finger tips at one time. See photos here when we get them.
On Sunday we went with Deb to a jazz festival in Hampton Hill a good antidote!
Happy birthday pacemaker! Yes, it was a year ago that I was in the Royal Surrey Hospital having a pacemaker fitted. This weekend (in celebration?) I did two 6-mile walks. Only my calves are complaining.
Over the weekend we went half a mile up to road to the newly-opened 'natural burial' site for a jazz concert! The music was good, but attendance was poor. Perhaps we're not ready for such events in such places yet or maybe it was just badly advertised.
Back at the house, the gardening continued and as a result I've got more insect bites about my person that I can ever remember. Perhaps I should wear some sort of biosuit next time!
We seem to have done about 5-years worth of gardening in a week! We've completely overhauled the pond system (constructed in 1999), and with Nick's help have constructed a wood-store out of pallets.
Our two rescue cats, Smartie and Mars, are making themselves at home and entertaining the neighbours as they go around together.
As I write, we have summer weather. Long may it last!
Four days on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal:
Pictures of our 4-day visit to Paris:
Look up Michel
May 4th, 2015
Star Wars day, and a Bank Holiday too!
We went for a walk along the Thames at Kingston in lovely Spring weather, and on the way back through Hampton Court's Home Park we spotted this swan on its nest, oblivious to all. Unlike the Canada Geese who were raucous in making sure we all knew that Spring was in the air!
We performed MacHamlet Goes West! to more than 100 paying customers over the weekend.
The show went well and was enjoyed by all (or so I'm led to believe), and Headley Theatre Club made a good profit too.
Here is the cast pictured outside Headley Village Hall at a Dress Rehearsal.
Can anyone explain Twitter to me?
We went for a walk on Saturday (11th April) to check out a footpath which someone had told us was blocked on a route in one of my books (turns out it wasn't blocked, just had warning notices about very pregnant sheep!). Dil said she couldn't remember doing the walk when we were researching the book, so when we got home I looked it up. Turns out it had been on 11th April 2007; eight years ago to the very day!
PS. Can someone tell the manufacturers of plastic milk bottles that they are impossible to open when the caps are made of the less rigid plastic they now use?
It was Easter weekend, and the weather was fine if not quite balmy.
31st March 2015
The way we were! Out of the blue, I received from Jenny a batch of photos from a show that I was in at Crawley in 1975. It was at a social evening for the Concordia choral group there.
The pic on the right will do to give a flavour of it all. Some sort of spoof on Cinderella, I think.
We've just spend a week in a windmill. It was 6½ storeys high, so if you forgot to bring something downstairs, it was a long haul back to find it! But best of all, it was at Braunston, which as all canal buffs know is the crossroads of the English canal system. The weather was kind, if a little chilly at times.
16th March 2015
I was rooting around on the internet the other day and unexpectedly came across a photo on my old primary shcool's website which had me in it! It must have been taken around 1952/3. I'm second from left on the bottom row.
I wonder what's happened to the others? Jimmy Mills, Donald Thompson, Denis Clack, Martyn ('Buster') Hurst - where are you now? We all went to different secondary schools and lost touch.
9th March 2015
Having been without cats for a few years now, we decided to give a home to two from the local Cat's Protection two jet-black 2-year-old brothers. Of course, as soon as we got them home they decided to find the most obscure places to hide. Have you tried locating a jet-black cat in one of the many dark corners that exist in a house? Eventually we found them in the washing machine! Reminded us of the joke mug we had in the cupboard. Now we make sure to shut the washing machine door after use.
2nd March 2015
Spent part of the weekend helping to construct a Wendy house to celebrate a 3-year-old's birthday.
I think she liked it!
Not content with having a play in rehearsal for April, we're also researching for the Summer Show in July, which is to be a compilation of popular TV and Radio snippets and sketches. Much time has been spent already looking through Youtube output, and no doubt more hours will be thus spent in the future.
On Friday I went to my first beer festival no, really, my first! Disconcertingly, it was held in the College where my daughters used to go. And I found a good use for the collapsable plastic pint beer mug which Louis had given me for Christmas. It really works!
We've cast the next play, so straight into rehearsals for MacHamlet Goes West!
We've just been for a week on a canal boat and got stuck in the ice
near Market Harborough. Dil put in a request to Classic FM and they played us
a sea shanty!
The photos below tell some of the story.
What's happening to amateur pantomime these days? Having boasted of good audience figures last week, it was disappointing to find that for the very first time figures for the second weekend of a pantomime were lower than those for the first. It wasn't the quality of the show, which was very good, and we can't blame the weather.
While we are getting full houses for our other shows during the year, the last time we had a full house for a pantomime was in 2009. But we will keep on with them, I'm sure, because they are a good training ground for our young and less experienced members, and we enjoy doing them and they still make a profit.
See pictures of the show.
The pantomime Ali Baba got off to a good start this weekend we
had three enthusiastic houses, and the audience numbers were the best since
Let's hope for more next weekend.
I've decided to put all my books for sale on CreateSpace, an Amazon company. Not only do they let you put your files up on their site (and amend them at any time) for free, but also print books more cheaply than my current source in the UK, and provide a free link to marketing them on Amazon worldwide, and a link to selling electronic versions of them for Kindle if appropriate. The only down-side I've found so far, is that they refuse to put a title on spines of books with fewer than 100 pages: this affects 4 titles out of my entire backlist.
Sadly, it may mean the end of my relationship with my current UK printer, Antony Rowe, and they charge me to put titles on their system, and charge again annually to keep them there also they don't have the link with Amazon for marketing. I've used them happily for nearly 20 years and I'll be sorry to part company, but I've just been sent a bill of £360 simply to keep my titles with them for the next year, and it's too much.
5th January 2015
Nothing like being made an ass of at the start of the year!