Thursday, 1 December 2016

Advent bin-men

It's the season of Advent once again and here, in our Advent calendar, come the bin-men...


What did you find behind the little door today?!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Clangers for Kindness

They're lovely, aren't they?

And the series is narrated by the man, by common consent, declared the nicest in the world. What's not to love?

No wonder The Clangers are leading a campaign for kindness.

And you can get involved too. The campaign is trying to encouraging everyone - kids, parents, all of us - to spread a little kindness every day (just like the Clangers on their little blue planet). From giving a hug, to helping a friend in need, there are so many ways to spread some kindness. And goodness only knows, we need it!

And if incentive were needed, here it is. A bundle of Clangers goodies will be delivered as our own small act of kindness to the person who tells the tale of kindness that Charlie chooses.

So, let's get cracking. All you have to do to enter is choose one of the Rafflecopter options below. It really is that easy.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 21 November 2016

Christmas at Thursford

The Thursford Collection is one of the largest collections of old steam engines anywhere in the world. It's amazing. But I'm not going to talk about that today. Oh no.

I want to tell you about this...

The truly spectacular Thursford Christmas extravaganza is 40 years old this year. From its rather small beginnings as little more than a local carol concert, the show has grown into a three-hour entertainment extravaganza featuring more than 130 performers (dancers, singers, instrumentalists) It attracts over 50 coach parties daily from all over the country and costs more than £3 million a year to stage. It's a winter wonderland of a show worthy of the West End (many of the performers are West End pros!).

It's got everything. And there's something for everyone - from high-kicking, feather-clad dancing girls who might have stepped straight out of a Moulin Rouge floor show to a chorus of singers worthy of the Opera House. And there's more: a magnificent mighty Wurlitzer organ played by none other than the legendary Blackpool Tower Ballroom organist himself, Phil Kelsall.

No wonder the show attracts over 180,000 visitors each year (that's more than the 135,000 that attend Glastonbury!) and continues to grow. The fortieth anniversary performance runs from now until Wednesday December 23rd with two shows each day (2pm and 7pm) and tickets prices range from £28.50-£40.

Find out more on the official Thursford Website

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

What FIFA needs to remember

In case you haven't heard, Football's world governing body has banned the England and Scotland football teams from wearing poppy armbands when they meet at Wembley in a World Cup qualifier next Friday... the 11th of November.

Their objection is that the poppy could be seen as a political symbol. Such things are banned, along with any 'commercial or religious' endorsement on official clothing.

It's not the first time that the poppy has come in for a hammering. Indeed, Christian Army chaplains once insisted it was dug up from British and Commonwealth war cemeteries as a 'heathen weed'. In the 1930s the Peace Pledge Union began distributing an alternative white poppy in protest at the tradition image's association with 'military power' and the 'justification of war'.

All of which misses the point. The poppy is our symbol of remembrance for two very simple reasons, which really conflate to one.

  • the prevalence of the flower across the battlefields of France and Flanders, and
  • the ubiquitous poem by John McCrae

There's little else to say, really. It neither glorifies war, celebrates military might or takes a political stance. It's a flower - a blood red flower - growing in abundance on the soil on which so many shed their own blood in a futile conflict.

They should remember that.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


I drove to work yesterday morning, a journey of some fifteen miles, unremarkable except perhaps for the fog - quite thick in places. For part of the journey I was queueing in stationary traffic.

Whilst aware of what was happening in front of me I could also see quite clearly what was happening in the cabs/behind the windscreens of the vehicles passing me in the opposite direction. I counted half a dozen pairs of eyes looking anywhere but the road ahead. (I suppose that makes seven, if you count mine. But I wasn't going anywhere at the time.)

Some were texting. One driver was opening a sandwich. Another looked as though he was opening a map.

This man - Tomasz Kroker - was changing the music on his mobile phone when he ploughed into the back of a stationery car on the A34 in Berkshire, earlier this year killing all the occupants - a mother and three children, returning from a camping trip to Devon.

Thames Valley Police has worked with the bereaved relatives to produce a video in an attempt to highlight the huge dangers of even a moment's distraction. These stills are taken from the video. I'm not going to show the video or even link to it, partly because it is horrific, partly because of the highly inappropriate and offensive ad for Disneyworld - of all places - that preceded it when I clicked on YouTube.

Kroker was yesterday given a ten year jail term. The judge said he might as well have had his eyes closed. Ten years doesn't seem much for four lives. Especially when you compare it to sentences handed down to those who commit serious crimes which nevertheless don't involve death and serious injury.

As I drove home from work the fog had lifted. The sun was shining. The news on the radio told of the tragedy so obvious in these stills. And yet there remained drivers passing by on the A17 studying their phones, reading maps, holding clipboards and otherwise paying no attention to the road ahead of them. I suppose I was one of them, horrified, like a rabbit caught in the headlights, unable to move, unable to believe what I was seeing.

What more needs to be said?

What more can be done?

It's heartbreaking.
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