John Owen Smith’s log for 2018

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What will 2019 bring? Will we all fall over the self-inflicted Brexit cliff? Follow me boldly into the New Year!

31st December 2018

We spent Christmas day in Corsham, with Steve, Leeks and Tallulah. Back home on Boxing Day for open house.
Now, all hands to the pump to get Toad of Toad Hall up and running by 11th Jan!

24th December 2018

Yesterday we managed to get both of my daughters and their families together in one place – see below outside the Half Moon, Warninglid.
The previous week we'd been at Lytes Cary in Somerset for the annual 'December House' – see part of the group below on top of Cadbury Castle.
While there I visited the Haynes Motor Museum and saw an Austin 10 just like my grampa used to have – brought back memories of the 'little trips' when he took us to Littlehampton.

Family group at the Half Moon, Warninglid.

Some of the 'December House' group
on Cadbury Castle

View from our badroom window
at Lytes Cary

An Austin 10 like my grampa had,
remembering drives to Littlehampton

10th December 2018

Another event ticked off successfully – the Christmas Concert ("Yuletime in Headley") went very well, and the village hall was packed.
However, I chickened out on playing a saxophone break in The Christmas Song as I couldn't stop my notes squeaking in rehearsal – much more practice needed!

3rd December 2018

A quiet week – which gave me time to watch and listen to the Brexit debates, which are rising to fever pitch. I went to listen to our MP on Saturday who I think is struggling with his conscience as a 'Remainer' who feels he has to tread the government line. It's all getting very silly.

26th November 2018

It was the weekend of the Christmas Fair, which I organise each year in the Village Hall. Although the weather was a bit moist, we had a reasonable number of customers and all the stall-holders seemed happy with the result – and I sold nine books.

19th November 2018

It's the time of year when we start making lists of lists of what to do next. First it's the Christmas Fair (this Saturday coming), then the Christmas Concert, then away to the December House, then who's visiting who over the Christmas period, then New Year – and during all this time there are the rehearsals for the annual January 'pantomime', though this year it's Toad of Toad Hall rather than a traditional panto. Without wishing to wish your life away, in a way you're rather glad when February arrives!

5th November 2018

Back from a few days on the Isle of Wight. The weather was very kind to us considering the time of year. See the pics below.

The week before, we had organised a Board Games Supper Evening in the Village Hall, for Hall funds. A new venture for us and it went very well, though not as many people turned up as we would have liked – but we made a profit.

We stayed in 'The Mission' hut
at Chale.

The bedrooms overlooked the lounge
and kitchen areas below!

There was a sunken bath
where the font had been!!

But we had to behave!!!

We visited Carisbrooke Castle…

…with its donkeys.

Not all the ruins on the island
were ancient!

An over-large garlic
at the Garlic Farm.

Hurst Castle from Tennyson's Down
(see 8th October)

The boardwalk to the old quay
at Newtown.

The National Trust windmill
at Bembridge

The ferry arrives at Fishbourne,
and it's back to the mainland.

22nd October 2018

I was rung at short notice to give a talk over towards Horsham, so took advantage and went on to see daughter Sarah afterwards – with my saxophone for her to look at. I'd been having problems getting some notes to play, but she says it's down to me and not the machine – so, basically, I need to practice more!

We have now cast Toad of Toad Hall, our January production, and I find myself playing the part of the Usher – so, quiet please. Rehearsals start this week.

15th October 2018

I had another day at school (see 24th Sept). This time an annual visit up the road to Grayshott to field questions from Year 5 on Hindhead and highwaymen, or so I thought – but we also spent some time discussing poetry. Keeps you on your toes!

8th October 2018

We spent a couple of nights in yurt in Dorset. We were lucky with the weather, but could have done without a lakeful of noisy Canada geese as neighbours. Pictures below!
Then we came home to oversee Jobsworth – two successful nights.
The next day I spent a wet hour looking at a Roman dig which was happening an hour or so away from home.

This was our yurt.

This was the inside of our yurt.

This was the site – cooking outside to the left,
loo block off-pic to the right

And these were our noisy neighbours!

We visited Hurst Castle,
by ferry from Keyhaven …

… where there are lots of
ladders going spare!

Dil enters the gate.

Surprised to find a railway,
but no trains.

There were big guns …

… and big lamps!

The top of Henry VIII's bit.

…but mind your head as you go down!

View west from the top.

View east.

And a view of The Needles.

We visited Conan Doyle's final resting place
at Minstead – complete with Holmes's pipe!

We also visited the Rufus Stone – here are
all 3 sides of the iron memorial which covers it.

And since we're from Headley, we were fascinated to see in the garden of
the Red House Museum, Christchurch that there is a Rosa headleyensis.

1st October 2018

We went up to London to see the last performance of The King & I at the Palladium. Good show, and an interesting use of moving pillars for scenery – but I do wish they had more leg room; I lost concentration towards the end of the first Act, just wishing it would end so I could stretch my legs!

24th September 2018

I survived both talking to a couple of classes in the local Primary School and having my annual 'flu jab!

17th September 2018

Headley Village Fete was blessed with good weather this year. Here are some snaps …

Our new red gazebo added colour to the day.

The ladies of HTC singing the Pankhurst Anthem.

Me looking proprietorial
at my book stall.

The folk groupies in the beer tent.
I couldn't be there as I had a stall to mind!

10th September 2018

Just back from a tour of North Wales. Here are some memories …

We started in Montgomery, and were told about this Tardis of an ironmongers.
Sadly it was just closing for the day
when we arrived.

This is the Town Hall.
Our hotel was hiding behind it.

Next stop Harlech Castle.
Here's Dil entering the portals.

We climbed (by mistake!) to the tippy top of a tall tower. It was a misty day and the view could have been better.

Final destination was the NT property at Plas-yn-Rhiw, at the end of the Llyn peninsular.
Here's a map of the gardens.

This is the house in the gardens,with our cottage tucked away on the left.

The gardens were
fascinatingly intricate …

… the chimney of our cottage
is on the left.

We were in farming country.
All traffic stopped when 15 head of beef was unloaded into a field!

Welsh was spoken everywhere.
Know what this means?

English-speakers have to look
on the other side of the board!

This is 'Hell's Mouth' bay
viewed from near our property …

… and this is us having a picnic
in the dunes at the far end it.

We visited Portmeirion, as you do…

… and found a cosy nook to have a quiet coffee overlooking the beach.

But we weren't entirely sure
about all the symbolism.

We travelled on past Snowdon,
seen here from Rhyd-Ddu station.

We crossed over to Anglesey
on this bridge …

… just to see this! Whoops, I missed the end bit of the translation!!

… and came back over this bridge.

We were heading for this hotel in Llandudno. See the open window at the top? That was our room!…

… and this was the sort of view we got.
Just about worth the climb
to the fourth floor with no lift!

We were also close to the pier.

Naturally we took a tram ride up Great Orme. Just missed this one!

It's a 2-stage ride. Here's the tram on the upper section, with the cable cars above.

Here's a side view of a tram at the top.

After Llandudno our next stop was Chester. Here's the 'second most photographed clock in Britain'.

I took a tour round the city walls

On the north side the Shropshire Union Canal keeps close company …

… and I visited the scene of a 'crime' committed many years ago when I didn't get the operation of the locks right and caused a great flood!

At the race course they were busy
moving the rails. I wonder why?

So finally to friends in Mansfield Woodhouse on our way home.
With them we visited Pleasley Pit again (see 30th April).
Here is one of the drill heads used in coal mining.

Here is the winding wheel for one of the two pit lifts, now operating on electric power for demonstration.
It used to be powered by a steam engine.

… and to add to the day, and end our holiday,
we had a fly-past by a Lancaster bomber.

27th August 2018

Forget about Fawlty Towers! - John Cleese has decided to pull the rights – so we're doing 3 episodes of my Jobsworth radio sketches instead.

13th August 2018

The heat wave ended on 8th August – it had lasted, on and off, since midsummer's day. Back to wearing jeans now.
I had a bit of a tooth problem at the start of the month, but 3 days on penicillin seemed to cure it.
Had the annual pacemaker check on Friday, and was told all is fine.
We're in rehearsal for two episodes of Fawlty Towers which goes up at the end of September. I'm playing a con man!

23rd July 2018

The heat-wave goes on … with no rain forecast in the next week. Getting quite attached to wearing shorts and sandals all the time!

16th July 2018

The summer show went successfully, but not withour incident. On Friday afternoon, just as we were setting up in the Village Hall, the heavens opened in a half-hour deluge and water poured in through the fire door by the village green. All hands to the mops wasn't sufficient, but luckily Janet had a carpet cleaner at home which sucks up liquid and that did the job – but heaven knows what would have happened if we hadn't been there, or if it had happened in the middle of the show!

England got knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia in the semis – France went on to win. But as we were having a magnificentTheatre Club barbecue in our garden in wonderful weather at the time of the final, who cared!!

9th July 2018

We're into the last week of rehearsals before this year's summer show, 'Over the Top', a last reflection on WW1. To the right is the line-up for the Blackadder sketch we're doing as part of it. I'm the one on the left, trying to be 'George'. The weather has been hot and dry recently, and to be dressed in khaki in temperatures of 30°C was not much fun! Better than being in the trenches though.

England are having a good run in the World Cup, with a semi-final against Croatia coming up on Wednesday. Allez les blancs! (except they seem to be wearing red rather than white in most matches)

25th June 2018

Last Tuesday's walk was down by the river at Alresford; lovely weather and a lovely clear river, the walk spoiled only by some rather noisy building work happening on both sides of the path later on.

On Thursday, I talked to a WI group in the Physic Gardens in Petersfield – a quiet haven which, despite many shopping visits to the town, I'd never really discovered before.

Over the weekend we travelled to Kent, and from there had a day in Rye including an impressive climb inside the church tower – but I forgot to take my camera! We also visited the memorial in Rye Harbour churchyard to the 1928 Mary Stanford lifeboat disaster.

During the weekend England won their World Cup game against Panama 6-1!

The old Fulling Mill which extends
across the river at Alresford

18th June 2018

We've decided to try doing a decent walk on Tuesdays, at least when Dil's not working, and for starters parked the car at Treyford and rambled across the South Downs to the Royal Oak at Hooksway and back. Lovely weather and lunch in the pub garden.

Over the weekend we travelled into darkest Wiltshire to see Tallulah tread the boards again in a dance show. She was good, but we thought the show as a whole left a lot to be desired – it was far too long for a start, and a bit repititious.

The 'Royal Oak' at Hooksway

11th June 2018

Back to the routine: Pilates on Wednesdays; rehearsals Tuesdays and Thursdays; bass with Martin when I can on Thursdays; and sax practice at six each day when I remember.

30th May 2018

We drove up to my aunt's funeral in Northumberland over the weekend, and on our way back today the exhaust pipe of the car came unstrapped and started to drag along the ground – but fortunately not until we were nearly home. I was able to tie it up with the cord of a phone charger(!) and nurse the car to our local garage for repair. Both incidents with the car (see below) have mercifully happened near to home – I really wouldn't have wanted either to occur at 70mph on the M1. Now we're just hoping that problems don't always come in threes.

23rd May 2018

Just back from 10 days in France. Nearly didn't get there, as our car broke down on the day we were supposed to go! Fortunately we were able to swap to use our travelling companions' car, and it turned out to be a good holiday with lots of fine weather. We stayed at a camp site in southern Brittany (Raguénes) for the first week, then had the last two days with friends in Auderville near to Cherbourg. Some pictures below.

Now you see it …

… now you don't. The sea covers the causeway to the island at Raguénes.

This as an 'Aven' by the sea shore,
to hang lanterns on in days of yore.
See Louis standing by it (right pic)
for an idea of its size.

Its front is convex, its back concave.

A wall made of standing stones,
a feature of this part of Brittany.

Hooray! We're still welcome in the EU, as far as Concarneau is concerned.

This boat is part of the Fishing Museum there – but we never got to visit it.

But we did get to visit a nuclear submarine in Cherbourg – this is its ballistic missile chamber No.16.

Music in the market at Quimperlé.
Compare with me below!

There we ate lunch
on a footbridge
over the river!

We wanted to find where…

… the pic on the cover of the local map
was taken, and here it is, at Kerdruc.

… complete with egrets.

Across the river someone was
about to float their boat!

And there was a tide mill nearby,
currently under repair.

The loo above the river in Pont-Aven,

… and the loo in the market hall
at Quimperlé!

Me, drink? Never!
Disguised in Dil's hat.

The cider comes in bowls.

On your bike, monsieur!

The lighthouse at the 'end of the world' near to Auderville.

The 'smallest port in France'
Port Racine

And where better to end than emerging from a WW2 German tunnel in Normandy.





7th May 2018

Heard that my auntie Peggy who was to be 102 years old next month had died – but peacefully, with all her faculties and without fuss in her own house as she would have wanted. May we all be so lucky.
Had the car serviced ready for holidays, and met a couple (brother & sister) for lunch in the Crown who were from the States, born in Headley and emigrated there in 1952.
Wonderfully hot weather over this Bank Holiday weekend. Did the annual 'bluebell walk' on Sunday – they were still out but past their best (rather like some of the walkers!)

30th April 2018

We ran another Green Room on Friday, at which I once again assailed the ears of my audience with my saxophone – this time 'My Funny Valentine' to a backing track. I'm told it wasn't too bad!

Then up to the Mansfield area for the weekend – see the inside of the Pleasley Pit winding station (where there was a beer festival going on!), and Robin Hood at Edwinstowe.

23rd April 2018

For England, Harry and St George! And Wyrd Sisters finished its second weekend successfully - see photos

16th April 2018

The first weekend of Wyrd Sisters went well - see photos from the dress rehearsals.

9th April 2018

We had the first Dress Rehearsal of Wyrd Sisters yesterday. I didn't go badly at all.
On the right is me doing one of the four characters that I play.
I'm supposed to be a peasant, but I think I look more like an artist here!

2nd April 2018

Spent part of the long Easter weekend doing work in the village hall preparing for Wyrd Sisters, helping rig lights and curtains.
Led a 6-7 mile walk on Sunday during the best spell of weather in an otherwise unsettled few days.

26th March 2018

This week the medical profession checked me variously and said: eyes OK, blood pressure OK, colestoral OK – so I guess that's me OK for a while!

19th March 2018

The mini 'beast from the east' caught us again, and unfortunately Eve's 90th in Winchester on Sunday was cancelled due to snow and ice. Dil had made her a special cushion, and we posted it to her with a card.

Ironically, I'd managed to got to Winchester and back just the day before, for an archives meeting at the Hampshire Record Office, which went well. We also made it to Guildford this morning for my regular eye check-up, so it was just Sunday that was affected by the weather.

12th March 2018

Up to London on Saturday to the O2 (for the first time for me) where Country to Country was on. We drifted around the periphery and listened to what was going on outside, then listened the the main event on the radio on our way home!

On Sunday, I went to see Flora's Garden (see right) opened at the Heatherley Wood natural burial site just up the road from here, named in honour of Flora Thompson and her association with Grayshott.

5th March 2018

Snowfall on Thursday and everything cancelled:— Thursday rehearsal; Friday 'Green Room'; Saturday Wine Tasting. By Sunday it had gone, and my monthly walk took place in spring-like weather.

26th February 2018

We went to Windsor for a couple of nights this last weekend. It's decades since we'd visited the castle, so thought we'd give it a go.

Parking was by the Riverside railway
station, with a view up to the castle.

There is another station in the Town
where this old girl is parked.

The castle wall dominates
this part of the Town.

Inside the walls, it was a lovely
sunny day, but bitterly cold.

The Guards were in their winter
uniforms, and needed to be!

No comment!

The gardens around
the Round Tower.

View over Eton from the castle.
Pity about Slough in the background!

and Eton has its own
sense of humour!

19th February 2018

One of those weeks in which some more ordinary things happened, and a few treats came along.

12th February 2018

On Saturday we gave Dil a surprise 70th birthday party in the Village Hall. She thought she was going to an Albanian evening (which henceforth will be a metaphor for a surprise party.) Folks came from hin and yon for it, and Dil had no idea as she walked through the door. Despite the many months of planning that had gone into it and the many people who knew about it, not a single cat had been let out of the bag. Success!

5th February 2018

On Tuesday, being nice and sunny and with nothing else in the diary, we decided to retrace Jo's grampa's 'little run out' and go to Littlehampton. From there we went along the coast to Worthing for lunch at Harry Ramsden's despite living in this area for many years, neither of us had 'done' Worthing before, and we were quite impressed. Good shopping.

On Thursday, Jo set out chairs in the village hall to see how many we could fit in as audience when we run Wyrd Sisters in April the answer appears to be 80.

On Saturday we had folks round for a 'soup and pudding' evening, proving that you don't need a main course to have a filling meal.

29th January 2018

Once again Dil and I were on stage in the Village Hall to help run the Twinning Association's Burns Night. It was a full house again, and went well – and we were given a bottle each for our assistance.

Wyrd Sisters is cast, and rehearsals begin next week. I have three small parts; Dil is on costumes.

22nd January 2018

The panto's over, it's time to call it a day! It went very well, and audience numbers picked up on the second weekend. This week we audition for Wyrd Sisters. And so it goes on.

15th January 2018

The first weekend of this year's pantomime has come and gone. The show went well, and in particular we've seen some excellent performances by some of our younger cast members see photos but on the other hand we've had the lowest audience numbers since I started keeping records. Why? Was it the title? Humpty Dumpty isn't one of the 'standard' pantos but when we did it before we got good numbers in. Was it illness keeping people away? There's a lot of bugs about at the moment. I guess we'll never know. But when all's said and done, we do it as much for the experience it gives to our cast members as for the audience – and in that we've succeeded. Roll on next weekend!

4th January 2018

Back from a few days away in Somerset with members of both our families, to celebrate Dil's 70th on New Year's Eve. A good time was had by all, and there was plenty of music and celebration.

Now we have to knuckle down to getting the pantomime on the stage. It's Humpty Dumpty this year, a script of mine last performed in 1995! And Dil is playing 'Puss' again!!

Continued …

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