Sausage to Lycra and back

Thursday had been a busy day – cooking.

I started by making several batches of shepherd’s pie mixture with my special ingredient that is the leftover meat and sauce from a Kleftiko (Slow cooked lamb that originated during the time of the Turkish occupation of Greece. Absolutely delicious and so simple to do). There are many differing recipes for Kleftiko but I make it with lamb shanks.

Next I made a big potful of red lentil soup that had lots of ingredients, one of which happened to be the lentils.

Finally I was getting all of the ingredients out for a Jalfrezi curry together for the evening meal. Everything was set out on the kitchen worktop when I got the call.

“ Do you fancy Sausage & Mash at the Toucan tonight? They have had a cancellation and they have asked if we wanted to plug the gap”.

”Okay” I replied. “We can have the curry tomorrow night”.

So off we trotted to the Toucan, to choose which sausages out of a choice of about 5 different flavours, accompanied by mash (4 sorts), gravy (3 to choose from), and vegetables if you want to top up your five a day.

All this stress of picking what to have was reduced with help of an Exmoor Gold.

The S&M was demolished, being washed down with some Pinot Grigio and it was followed down with a dessert – well there was crumble and custard on the menu.

A some point of the evening the conversation got around to lycra- don’t ask me how.

Anyway the question was asked “Have you seen the cyclists on a Saturday?”

I hadn’t.

Evidently the Toucan is now a regular haunt for a bunch (?) of cyclists who venture out in a group on a Saturday morning and they all pile into the Toucan for refreshments.

Some of the old dears that frequent the establishment are apparently giving their Specsaver specials an extra polish on Saturday mornings before they venture in for a cuppa (and a front seat) in the Toucan.

One lady was overheard saying, as she peered at the groin of a Lycra clad cyclist “They put it on a plate for you, don’t they?”

I thought no more about until I went to downtown Bampton on Saturday morning and was confronted with this




A shed load (Bike shed?) of cycles on the pavement leaning against the Toucan.

It reminded me about sausage night!

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2013 End of Year Report

WordPress send out some statistics for the blog at the end of the year and although my entries since we closed the Post Office have been few and far between, a few stats are worth sharing.

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

In 2013, there were 102 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 405 posts. There were 348 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 159 MB. That’s about 7 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was March 13th with 122 views. The most popular post that day was Tuesday 12th March.

Where in the world did my viewers come from?    55 countries in all!
Most visitors came from The United Kingdom. The United States & Turkey were not far behind.

Happy New Year to everyone and maybe I will kick-start my blogging in 2014.

How about you starting a blog?



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BAMPTON FAIR DAY – An unforgettable day (and the day after)

When we ran the Post Office (our sub branch not the company) we looked forward to Bampton Fair Day with trepidation.  On the one hand we would have a day off and close the shop as it saved a lot of hassle.

I never did ask head office if we could shut up shop, as they may have said no so we just got on and did it. I dreaded the thought of hoards of people tramping through the shop a wet day and the amount of mess I would have to tidy up afterwards. On the other hand we had to find somewhere to move our car out of Brook Street to accommodate the stalls and then we had to put up with stalls clanking away as they were assembled early in the morning. For the first couple of years we did make some money out of the stallholders as they paid us to plug into our electricity but over the years the types of stall outside our house changed and some brought their own generators. Also in the first few years the day luckily coincided with Taunton Races so that was great to escape to but somehow the fixtures got rearranged and it hasn’t happened since.

On fair day when I wandered out of the front door this is what I was greeted by.


 This year, from our temporary home, this was the first view out of the morning.



However this year was the opposite as it was a WORKING day. My other half was running a stall in the Riverside Hall and I was on call for fetching and carrying, security (watching out for light fingers), standing in when natured called and refreshments needed.

One little girl took a shine to a cuddly cat on the stall and after a few visits to the stall plucked up courage to ask how much it was.  The price was about £12 but we thought she could have it for £10 as she was keen. She went back to see Grandma who was enjoying a cup of tea at the far end of the hall. After sweet-talking her older relative the little girl came back to buy the cat with 10 pence in her hand!!  We had to let her down gently.  After a few further trips to the stall and several failures to convince Grandma to get her purse out she eventually broke her down and bought a smaller cat for £4.

My other half was talking an opportunity to display the products that she sells on her website and the best seller on the day was the Dorset Vertical Chicken & Game Roaster as it is a great product to explain how it is used.


As I was assisting on the stall I did resist calling into the pubs during the day. Another reason for not going in the pub was that during the morning I had a problem with my eye. 

As I’m a man, my other half had to persuade (tell) me to go to the doctors to get it checked out. Bampton Fair Day is a good day to get an appointment at the surgery as the majority of patients cannot get into the town due to the road closures and hassle with parking.  I booked an appointment for 3:30 and by 5:00 I was in Musgrove Hospital in Taunton!  The doctors at the Bampton Surgery suggested I go to Icasualty straightaway thinking at first it was a new product from Apple but unfortunately not and they meant Eye Casualty.

Steve, of Bampton Blog fame kindly volunteered to take me to Taunton, just as I was about to jump in my car and take myself.  Good job really I was later unable to drive home after eye drops.

The surgery suggested I got to the hospital before 5pm and I arrived at 4:58 however the Eye Casualty in Taunton is not a walk-in service as Exeter is.  It was fine as they explained I would have to wait for a doctor who was currently performing surgery.  The Bampton doctor did suggest I took a book with me as it could a bit of a wait so I took my kindle, however not very long after arrival I was given drops in both of my eyes which made reading the kindle a bit blurry so I didn’t bother. After a while I was despatched from casualty to a ward escorted by a nurse who asked, “Are you staying overnight?” I said that I wasn’t planning to!

The doctor appeared and gave me a thorough examination and found I had a small tear on my retina, and not knowing how squeamish I am, said I had go back the next day for laser treatment. Bugger!

My other half had arrived by this time and took me back home where we just had time to visit some friends who had invited us up for food and drinks. I did get the expected comments “ We can’t find a parrot for you” “ Do you need a patch”…

By the time we arrived everyone else had gone past the drinking stage and were on the coffee so they had to watch us catch up.  I needed something to help me sleep.

I did miraculously sleep and was dropped off at the hospital at noon to wait my turn for the operation. I was told it could be a while as I had been tagged onto the end of days list.

The surgeon came to see me and re-examined me then explained the procedure. A local anaesthetic by an injection in the eye …….yuk…then the laser. As only a small tear I thought maybe only a couple of seconds but no, about 10 to 15 minutes. Gordon Bennett.

I walked into the theatre and was laid out and made comfortable. The injection was well explained again to me by the anaesthetist who then did the deed – in fact is wasn’t anywhere near as bad as you would imagine. I was a brave soldier. The lasering after that was a piece of cake. In fact the worst bit was when the surgeon quickly removed the plaster he put on my other eye to protect it from the laser.

I did receive some bad news from the surgeon after the operation in that I should not go to watch my football team play at Cheltenham on the Saturday!

Let’s hope it has sorted me out and I’m due back for a check up in 10 days time, which is a slight problem as I had promised to work in a Post Office, Barnstaple way, as they were desperate for a relief PO worker so I need to resolve the problem early next week.

If you want to catch up with some photographs of what happened on Bampton Fair Day them take a look at Humphrey’s collection 

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Bampton Heritage & Visitor Centre

The brand new Bampton Heritage & Visitor Centre opens on 14thSeptember, inside the back of Bampton’s St Michael & All Angels church.

Opening hours

Wednesday-Saturday 11am to 3pm

Sunday 1pm to 3pm

At times these published hours may be altered due to church services such as weddings and funerals.

Displays include local history boards, artefacts, photographs and an 8ft model of old railway before the station closed.

 There is also have a small retail area selling local cards, gifts and books and a Tourist Information Service.

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Good Samaritans

On Sunday I had a pleasant day at the cricket watching Somerset defeat local rivals Gloucestershire and even though my other half was picking me up I only succumbed to one pint of beer all day

My other half picked me up in East Reach, away from the crowds and traffic and we set off home via Wiveliscombe on a pleasant summers evening discussing what we may have to eat when we got home.

Having passed the Rock at Waterrow, passed not stopped at, I said, we tootled on our way to Bampton. All of a sudden the car came to a grinding halt.

Bugger, we were stuck on a quiet country road.

Luckily we had a phone signal so we rang the RAC who said, “It might be three hours”. “But we are stuck on minor road and it will be dark soon” we replied.  “I will put that on the details for you” the chap at the other end said.

I wandered back up the road for a hundred yards and put out my warning triangle just in case it did get dark and hopefully drivers might just see that before they piled into the back of us!

I have had several triangles in the back of my car for years and luckily this was the first time one had been called into action.

While we sat in the car, thinking about food three Samaritans did stop and asked if they could help.

A couple from Bampton, who had also been to the cricket stopped and asked if they could help but I said we were just having to wait for the RAC truck. A second car pulled alongside, rolled down their window and asked if we needed help and then the owners of a B&B didn’t turn into their farm but continued down the road to see if we were okay. They said we could go to the farm for some tea and biscuits if we needed something.

Thankfullt the RAC man turned up after about an hour and after trying a few things asked where the manual was for our car! I knew where that was even if I didn’t recognise the bits of the car under the bonnet.

After a while he decided it was a faulty petrol pump, no not the things you find on the garage forecourt but a bit somewhere in the car that sends the petrol through to drive the engine thingy.

“Shall I tow you home to Bampton or to your garage in Wellington?” the RAC man asked.

Bampton might have been the easiest answer as it would mean food quicker but then I would have a conked out car to get to Wellington so we plumped for a tow to Wellington. The RAC man hitched up the car to the back of his truck, we clambered aboard and he set off for Wellington but not via Bampton (where one of us could have been dropped off) as he turned around and proceeded to Milverton.

Thankfully my daughter came to rescue us from Wellington, arriving with a sandwich and some bags of crisps.

The car took a couple of days to fix, as the replacement part did not arrive on Monday.

I collected the repaired car late today wishing the garage a “Merry Christmas” as I’m hoping not to see them again until the service is due in March.

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Tom Jones to James Bond, an eBay story

Following up my blog about me putting my toe in the water of the eBay ocean I have a little interesting story about one of the items I managed to sell.


As I mentioned, my mother was sorting out her stuff from years gone by and if I had not rescued this photograph it would have ended up in the back of the refuge lorry.



I titled the photograph ‘Tom Jones photograph, with manager Gordon Mills and composer John Barry’ thinking that it was more likely to be sold on the name of Tom Jones.


The information on the photograph stated


‘Tom Jones pictured at a West End recording studio during the recording of the theme tune of the film Thunderball. On the left is Tom’s manager Gordon Mills and on the right is John Barry who composed nearly all the Bond film theme tunes. The film was due to be released in December 1965.


Photograph dated 11th October 1965’




There was a little interest in the first few days, however, on the last day the bid moved into double figures (pounds!) and the winning bid was quite a lot more than the 99p I expected!


I had received an email from one of the bidders who lived in the USA asking whether it was okay for him to bid as long as he provided an address in the UK to post the photograph to if he was successful in the bidding.


I said that was fine and indeed he did win the bid and he sent me a message to me


Many thanks for this rare photo!”


I was intrigued why the gentleman concerned was so keen to get hold of the photograph.


He replied


“My name is Jon Burlingame and I wrote the book “The Music of James Bond,” which was published last year by Oxford. What you have is a very rare UPI photograph taken in October 1965 at the THUNDERBALL recording sessions. I am thinking of using it in the paperback edition, which will come out next year with new material.


(Thank you for saving this piece of history! Incidentally, that’s not Jones’ manager, it’s the song’s lyricist, Don Black, on the right.)”


I thought this was very interesting so I googled the book and found this review so maybe I will buy the paperback in the future to see if the photograph makes it into the updated edition.


I did reply to the author, saying that coincidently my parents and I were born in York, as was John Barry, my mother being born in the same year. In addition my father and I had something else in common with John Barry in that we all Freeman of York.


It’s a small world….


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Muffin the Mule

I was showing my daughter a photo of me at a very early age.




Evidently it was taken in Lewis’s in Leeds – 195?.


However, she didn’t know who Muffin the Mule was!


So, I just had to show her.


If you can’t remember, need a reminder or even find out for the first time what Muffin did, then take a look.






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