Thursday, 11 April 2019


It's the first week of the Easter holiday so traffic is much heavier than usual and Cornwall's beaches and beauty spots can be very busy.
I craved somewhere quiet and peaceful where I could wander, quieten my mind and hopefully calm my thoughts.  This pretty lane, very close to home, felt like it would lead to just the right place.

And sure enough . . . . 

Pentiddy is privately owned, but the woodland is open to the public. It has an air of calm, enhanced by the birdsong, trees and wildflowers.

I love this gateway to the burial ground.

I didn't go in there today, though of course it is also open to the public; a grave was being quietly prepared and I felt it more respectful to walk through the woodland.
It's a 'natural' burial ground, so coffins are made of biodegradable material, bodies are not embalmed or cremated so that everything is returned to the earth in as natural a way as possible. There are no memorials or markers of any kind so that the whole site becomes a memorial. 

Halfway round, a handy place to rest awhile and enjoy the sunshine. 

 or to go exploring, with one eye on me!

Lovely blossoms - I think maybe this is a cherry tree? 

Apart from one man and his dog who were just leaving as I arrived, I saw no-one else in the hour or so that I spent in these lovely surroundings.
Mission accomplished!
Let's go home, Benji.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Battered and bruised!

Not quite sure how I managed it but I fell up the concrete steps leading to my kitchen door today.  In the process, I head-butted a heavy stone lion statue, knocking it down the steps and smashing a large pot containing tulips, bashed my shoulder into the door frame, grazed both knees and somehow gained a deep'ish cut on the bottom of my foot, underneath my big toe. (I was wearing sandals.)
All in all, quite a nasty event.  Then as I sat there, wondering on the best way to get back on my feet, there was a sudden icy shower of hailstones.  Benji, faithful dog, immediately scrambled underneath my legs to gain some shelter! By the time I had checked for blood and broken bones I was soaked and flippin' freezing, but by turning to get my feet on the lowest step and hanging on to the wooden banister, I eventually managed to pull myself upright and hobbled indoors.
Gave Benji a thorough towelling to dry his curly coat, cleaned my foot with kitchen towel and warm water, slapped some Savlon on and attached a plaster, then made a reviving cup of tea and sat down with it to recover my senses.
I think a couple of Paracetamol will be useful tonight at bedtime, so that I can be comfortable and get some sleep.
Tomorrow, I will lift the lion back on to his step and check that no damage was done. And I will re-pot the tulips. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

The rare Lesser-Spotted Bichon.

Again - two posts on one day (I've edited to add this information because no-one has noticed the Skylarks - below!)

It's a good job that Benji isn't a show dog!  Recently he started to lick at an area of fur for no particular reason and gradually that area turned brown because his saliva had stained it.  (This happens regularly when he cleans his paws after a walk, or salivates while eating food). So now my little white Bichon Frise has a very noticeable brown spot on his side. 

Even after several shampoos and two haircuts the mark is still visible.  
Oh, the questions I get asked.

Skylarks in the sunshine

Benji and I had a lovely walk in sunshine up on Bodmin Moor this afternoon.  So lovely to hear Skylarks singing above us and it reminded me that we are so lucky to have them when many parts of the country don't hear them any more.  Numbers are declining, sadly, so long may they live up on the Moor.  They are very difficult to spot as they fly so high and even more difficult to photograph!
                                                                      .. unless they land!!!!                                                                                    

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

A Sunny Afternoon in March

This is where I've been this afternoon, enjoying the sunshine, flat calm sea and a great day for strolling along the beach with a dog.  Quite a few people had the same idea but it was by no means crowded. Benji and I were on Seaton Beach in Cornwall, about half an hour's drive from my home.
I was ready for a cup of tea afterwards but the Beach Cafe car park was full, with 3 cars waiting for spaces (shock, horror) so I drove to Hannafore, near Looe.  However, the Island View Cafe, where I worked a season many moons ago when I first came to Cornwall, was closed, as was The Kiosk.  Ah well, it saved my money, I turned around and came home.  And made my own tea! 

Not the most thrilling photos, I'm afraid, as the tide was low but I loved the deep blue sky.
The line of heavy rocks was brought by sea to be dumped there in an effort to save the properties above; their gardens are being regularly eroded by the sea.

 Benji sat patiently waiting for another dog to come along and play, but they were few and far between. Eventually, a Springer came bounding up to him, but he was wet through.  "Ugh!" said Benji. "I don't like water - get away from me." And he came and hid behind my legs for a while. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2019


St. Piran is the patron Saint of Cornwall and Tin Miners - St Piran's Day is on March 5th every year.  This year, it coincides with Shrove Tuesday, so dinner tonight will be a Cornish Pasty followed by Pancakes with lemon juice and sugar - Yum!
And to enhance the experience  - a lovely bunch of beautiful Cornish Daffodils.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Life in Syria - a post from David

As Mum mentioned in her previous post, I am now based in Syria and she has been harassing me to write a blog post about my experiences.  Apologies if this is a bit 'off the reservation' from normal; please feel free to disregard and ignore.

I am based in North East Syria and my job requires me to have oversight over this region, plus the Eastern region of Iraq (Nineveh, Mosul, etc.).  North East Syria was the capital of the ISIS Caliphate until it was liberated and though there remain pockets of fighters, it is relatively peaceful compared to two years ago. 
There has been a lot of destruction in the last year or so, partly as a result of the occupation by ISIS and partly from the aerial campaign waged by coalition forces to evict them.  The shelling and bombing has rendered much of the urban areas in Raqqa, Tabqa and Deir ez Zoor extremely dangerous with destroyed buildings and infrastructure and for the most part there are few schools or medical facilities, etc. and often the roads are impassable.  In addition there is a lot of UXO (unexploded ordinance) remaining in the form of landmines that were laid and booby-trapped by ISIS as they fled.  The photos are not of the best quality but it is still a volatile place and pictures are often very challenging to take! 


One of the major challenges is actually getting to North East Syria.  It is a 'no  fly' zone so air travel after Iraq is not an option.  The border north with Turkey is closed and hostile, so no joy there.  To the south is Assad-controlled regime territory, actively at war with North East Syria so no chance of getting in from that side and to the West is Aleppo, so badly shelled it is now impassable.  The only option is to cross the Tigris from Iraq: sadly there was no bridge so that was job number one - build a bridge to cross the Tigris river!

My team, putting the finishing touches to the bridge, built with US Army 'building blocks' to create a floating pontoon - we completed this in July and since then, approximately 1.8 million people have crossed, with around 400,000 trucks bringing in humanitarian supplies.

It's not all doom and gloom though. There is a lot of beauty and hope here too, despite the ravages of the war.

A view from North East Syria across to the mountains of Turkey and Iraq at sunset.

People are traumatised but resilient and occasionally things go well and you can see a real difference in the lives of the population. To date we have successfully rebuilt over 400kms of roads, rebuilt three hospitals, opened over 100 new schools and established safe places and centres for women and children traumatised by the war.  In addition, today we reached our 12 month target of 2 million tonnes of food aid distributed - after just 7 months, which is great.
We also established 8 camps for displaced families with heating, sanitation and food as well as classes and training centres.

Kids in school - Hassakeh February 2019

Learning to play again - Deir ez Zoor (Displaced orphaned children) Feb.2019

And finally - Ahmed with a smile to warm your heart, proud to show his wonderful drawing.