mardi 22 mars 2011


Last Sunday night we returned from a fab weekend in Munich. A truly beautiful City with breweries galore. If I were a betting man I would wager on Munich winning the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. But sadly, these things aren't always meritocratic.

The accommodation was excellent and I pigged out on the 12€ buffet breakfast, which was enough to last the whole day. We felt uncomfortable drinking a beer in the snooty Ratskeller as the trade was mostly for meals, and we'd only ordered a small basket of 5 pretzels ( a rip-off at 6€). But we should have headed underneath the tower to the right of the Rathaus where there was a beer garden with an atmosphere more convivial than that of the upmarket, here-to-be-seen Ratskeller.

Strange that I brewed a beer called Festlich - a rich porter brewed with pale and chocolate malts and spiced with root liquorice - in November 1998 and Colin, the then landlord of the Bennett Arms in Tisbury, tried some and declared,

'You should be proud of that because I'd sell that in my pub anyday!'

Alas, I only had a 5-gallon brew length!

Anyway, what I meant to say was that Festlich in German = convivial so if you're ever in Munich and ask for a litre of Festlich, they'll think you've lost the plot. .. .Just like that nasty little Austrian corporal who thought he could, and nearly did, change the world forever...How true the quote, 'evil happens when good men do nothing'.

Watching the fairytale rotating figures beneath the Rathaus clock just after 5pm later that day was definitely a highlight and brought to mind the age of innocence before the two World Wars.

On the way back to the airport, we passed the site of the 1923 Beer Hall putsch and I wondered how so much evil could have taken root in such a wonderful place.

We arrived with four hours to spare at Munich airport, the first in the world to have acres of solar panels on its roofing, so once I'd purchased my malt whisky in Duty Free, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the teas, coffees, hot chocolate from the vending machines were all free!

Bliss for a coffee/tea-aholic like me!

When we arrived home after the 1 hour flight to Geneva, I was pleased to see the Chelsea v. Man City result.

So a return trip to Bavaria is now definitely on the cards!

jeudi 17 mars 2011


I'm sitting here infront of my computer screen hoping for inspiration.

With so much around us to admire in God's wonderful creation, perhaps writter's block is just a figment of the imagination. I often find that if I close my eyes and ask God for inspiration then the words and ideas flow freely. After all, God is unchanging and longs to hear our prayers.

The programme last night on BBC2 about the Amish community was much better than having to endure Chelsea's lacklustre performance against the under-performing Danish club. Surely every shot at goal should succeed when football is now such big business.

If John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors or Bjorn Borg continually served double faults/ hit volleys out of court, their earnings would have soon nosedived. But with team games, and indeed teamworking, there only needs to be one shining example of brilliance for the whole team to triumph/flourish.

Back in 1990/1991 as an Undergraduate, I was thotoughly bored by the nonsense and pyschology of Belbin and teamworking, which had something to do with Henley Management College (HMC).

Later in 2003, as Editor at The Leprosy Mission TLM), I was even more amazed when the new boss on the blockt decided that hiring a management consultant from HMC could boost income. Sadly, and inevitably, to no avail. The powers that be in their infinite wisdom had failed to recognise that TLM was a pastoral medical Mission for which God had provided the funding, and professional staff, for over 125 years. We live and learn!

And now my writer's block has disappeared, I will sign off.....

mercredi 16 mars 2011


Is it really twelve years since Man Utd won the treble! An amazing match, but I only saw the end of the second half and extra time as I'd been sailing that evening in Poole Harbour, which was an hour's drive from where I was then living in Tisbury, S. Wilts.

Thankfully, I didn't fall in the drink that night. But it was nice to test the efficiency of the buoyancy aid one night when I was tacking and my grip slipped on the side of the dinghy. I fell head first into the sea and was instantly flipped onto my back. I admired the amazing azure skies as I floated like a whale in the luke-warm water!!

The trouble with having stiff legs, though I have to laugh about it, is that you never know where you're going to end up. Even when the only imbibing you've done is of tea. The longer you sit down, the stiffer the legs become so the secret is to keep moving but as a journalist/writer/editor who often gets lost in the text on which I'm working for hours on end, this is easier said than done.

But I can't complain at life. As my paternal Grandfather used to say, 'there's always somebody worse off than you!'

Almost a month after Utd won the Treble, Richard, my best friend from Undergraduate days, was killed in a car crash on the Dublin to Belfast road on 15 June 1999. He was only 31 when he died and his computer company was just on the brink of taking off. I still think of him, and the shananagans we got up to as Undergraduates in the Welsh Valleys from 1987 to 1991, often.

We never know what lies around the corner on this earth. The best thing about Rich was that he lived life to the full. Once when riding his motorbike back to Carrick Fergus, after lunch at his mothers', he stopped to lie down in the middle of the road so that his girlfriend Jane, who was following in the car, would think he'd had an accident. Unfortunately, Jane knew that he was mucking about and drove on by. Richard didn't realise this and when another driver stopped, got out of his car and rang for an ambulance, a shouting match ensued! Another time he took a chainsaw to the potting shed. Well, it was all extra fire-lighter!

In early August 1996 we all went up to Fermanagh for a camping weekend . When we were packing the tent away on the Sunday afternoon, Jane misplaced the bracelet that Richard had given her when they'd first started dating in 1990. Poor girl was distraught and Richard was not too pleased either!

'That cost me a month's wages. I bought you that shortly after we first met!' he'd chided.

After thirty minutes of frantic searching for the errant item of jewellry, Richard produced it from under a rug and started howling with laughter...

We'd been Technical Students at CERN together in 1989/1990 and lived in what can best be describes as a 'dug-out' in the basement of a house in Prevessin. We often talked about life and death issues and one night I asked him whether he believed in Christ's Ressurrection from the dead.

'He did it!' I remember him saying.

It's the only truth we can hold onto in life's storms. But the secret to a fulfilled life is to focus on the Lord Jesus in the good times as well as the bad. If we shine Christ's light to others and live our lives for them then one day when our lives are ended here we will meet the Lord and He will say to us, 'Well done good and fiaithful servant!'

Just looking into the eyes of the Son of God will be amazing.

mardi 15 mars 2011


The season has definitely changed from winter to spring, but we shall see whether a final cold snap awaits. Certainly not as good watching Ice Road Truckers with outside night temperatures of 9 C.

Can Chelsea finish of Copenhagen tomorrow night? Moan Utd tonight so I won't be watching.
England RFU performance v. Scotland last Saturday was decidedly dull and the Scots were a trifle unlucky. Ireland in Dublin won't be a push-over either , unless England raise their game substantially. World Cup Finalists in November? The doubts are now creeping in?

But we have the whole summer to look forward to before we're freezing by the fireside again. The smell of freshly cur grass... oh lummy, the hay fever season fast approaches!

But considering the current tragic happenings in Tokyo, if you have spare change in your pocket, a meal to eat at night and a bed to sleep in then you are truly blessed.

vendredi 4 mars 2011


Finished the editing work, which I do on a freelance basis for an international NGO based in Paris. All about coal-fired power stations. Wouldn't set the world alight, but quite interesting.

After dropping Lexi, my wife, off at the bus this morning a lorry almost hit me on a bend on the hill back up. Road hog was right over the white line and I had to brake suddenly to avoid him hitting me and my careering into a concrete wall. When in France..............generally the standard of driving here is very poor as they drive too fast and don't anticipate.....
Anyway, back to my creative writing next week!
Then Chelsea v. Blackpool on Monday evening. My heart wept when the two teams met in the September clash as the youngest of the three sons of a soldier who'd recently been killed in Afghanistan was Blackpool's mascot; his Dad was a keen supporter. I wished Blackpool would have won that day and wondered whether Chelsea would have let them. But life's not like that, sadly.

Nothing, most of all the Premiership, really matters in such circumstances. Bringing comfort to those whose lives have been shattered by tragedy and helping them to move on is much more important!

jeudi 3 mars 2011


Today, 03 March 2011, is World Book Day. Eight years ago, I was sitting in a ward in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, waiting for a bed to become vacant.
The 7-hour operation the next day on my lower spine saved my life as the excruciating sciatic pain was becoming unbearable and draining me of all energy. A cocktail of drugs to numb the pain had no effect whatsoever other than send me to outer space.

What I remember most about the op was the theatre nurse whamming a catheter into my dubree just before play started. Waoh, it did hurt and when I came around, I had one hell of a back ache. When I returned to the ward the next day - I spent the first night in intensive care - my beautiufl new pyjamas and unopened bottle of Ribena had gone walkabout and been exchanged for an old pair of oversized white cotton pants - hardly Noel's Swap Shop? Alas, I never examined them, for fear odf finding something nasty inside, and preferred to send them to the sluice room!

Two days later when I sat up and got out of bed, I was able to walk upright and on my heels again - an absolute miracle, after 38 years of a stooped gait, due to a severe head injury suffered as a child.

Anyway, back to World Book Day. As a writer and journalist, I love reading as it gives me ideas for future work. But by far the best book in the world, and the one that is alive and can speak to us all, is the Holy Bible.

If you've never read it, look at St John's Gospel in the New Testament - it's just brilliant and you'll also kick yourself that you'd never read it before!

mercredi 2 mars 2011


I'm repentant this morning of my lack of faith in Chelsea. Totally brilliant game with Chelsea pushing ahead against Moan U for most of the second half. End to end Roy of the Rovers type stuff! All downhill now for the reds, I'm afraid... but can the Blues sustain it?

If so, a second or third place finish is assured !

Certainly if Torres finally finds his feet - his disallowed goal last night was superb! ! Christian brother Mike from St Andrews Baptist Church, Shepperton, will be vindicated as he told me, in the bleak midwinter, that Chelsea would finish third this year.

All eyes on the Champions' League now!!!

mardi 1 mars 2011


Yes, for my sins - and there are many - I'm a Chelsea FC fan, since the age of 7 when Chelsea played Leeds in the FA Cup Final and I momentarily fell out with a best friend over the impending match!

But English football, and the yobs who play it, is ridiculous beyond belief now.

Two-thirds of the world' s population starves whilst idiots on England's Premiership turf are paid a weekly sum equivalent to an amount that would feed a whole community in Africa for a lifetime!

Think Ashley Cole should go to Bisley if he's taking up the airgun: it could be somebody's eye next time.

Nothing like skiiving and mucking around on the job...

Moan Utd tonight - we'll be lucky with a draw!!

I don't belieevvve it!!