Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Rules, rules and more rules.

My morning cycle today.

Of the marvellous things about caravan sites here in France is that the number of rules are so much less than at home. Turn up at a caravan site in the UK and you are told exactly how your motorhome has to be placed on the pitch. Where the car has to be parked on the pitch. Where your awning should be. No consideration for whee the sun might rise and fall and where you might or might not get shade or sun. Then again that is not always a problem when we don't always get blistering sun like here. 

Then again the are the rules about when the toilets are closed for cleaning. Here in france most of the toilets are unisex and are never closed but are always sparkling clean.

So often there are rules for the sake of having them. I feel so much more relaxed on the sites over here. Not always worrying about breaking rules. Those who know me know how well I abide by the rules and the laws. What is that sticking out on my cheek?

This reminds me of a very true tale of the man accused of breaking the rules. I apologise it is a bit long but hope it worthy of a read.

This is an actual exchange of letters between a man named Ryan DeVries and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan.
*(This is the State's Letter)*
SUBJECT: DEQ File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec.20; Montcalm County
Dear Mr. DeVries:
It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:
Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond. A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.
The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted.
The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2005.
Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this bequest or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.
We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter.
Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.
David L. Price, District Representative
Land and Water Management Division
*** Here is the response from Mr. DeVries: ***
Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Montcalm County.*
Dear Mr. Price,
Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me to respond to. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan. A couple of beavers are in the process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.
While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials "debris." I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic. As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.
My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers, or (2) do you require all beavers throughout this state to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.
I have several concerns. My first concern is; aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation--so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names.
If you want the stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers -- but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English. In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond.
If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams). So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2005? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.
In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!)
Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.

Have a good day and remember to obey the dam rules.

Monday, 27 June 2016

The cycle of evil.

There is always an amazing atmosphere at local markets here in France. The locals turn out not always to purchase the local produce but to meet with friends and exchange banter. The  markets open early and so do the crowds. Everything is open including all the local bars but at this time the big sale is on expresso coffee and a lass of cold iced water.

I love sitting watching it all happen around me as I savour my expresso and  consume my croissant. Those markets have been the focal point of local communities for years and will no doubt continue for long after I am gone.

As I sit I imagine those markets years ago. The same bustle and noise and chatter. The dress would of course be different but no doubt there would still be those like me a watcher and listener to life.

One such story comes to mind as I think on this.

There was once a king who was so cruel and unjust that his subjects yearned for his death or dethronement. It was all they ever talked about, the time he would no longer be there.

However, one day he surprised them all by announcing that he had decided to turn over a new leaf.
“No more cruelty, no more injustice,” he promised, and he was as good as his word. He became known as the ‘Gentle Monarch’. Months after his transformation one of his ministers plucked up enough courage to ask him what had brought about his change of heart.
And the king answered, “As I was galloping through my forests I caught sight of a fox being chased by a hound. The fox escaped into his hole but not before the hound had bitten into its leg and lamed it for life. Later I rode into a village and saw the same hound there. It was barking at a man. Even as I watched, the man picked up a huge stone and flung it at the dog, breaking its leg. The man had not gone far when he was kicked by a horse. His knee was shattered and he fell to the ground, disabled for life. The horse began to run but it fell into a hole and broke its leg. Reflecting on all that had happened, I thought: ‘Evil begets evil. If I continue in my evil ways, I will surely be overtaken by evil’. So I decided to change”.
The minister went away convinced that the time was ripe to overthrow the king and seize the throne. Immersed in thought, he did not see the steps in front of him and fell, breaking his neck.
The cycle of life goes on and on but it is possible to break free from the habits that makes us less than we can be.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

A Little light in a dark corner.

I have moved to another part of France and found a site I have been to before where the wifi actually runs on electric and not gas which takes forever to upload or download. The day before I left my last site I attended a festival of the sea.

It was a celebration of sea snails. I listened to the local band play local music and it cheered me no end watching people dance to the music. I felt my heart uplifted.

It seemed that the music stirs the hearts of the people just like the bagpipes of home does mine. Or the sound of the sax playing a beautiful jazz number. Or my latest favourite piece Gabriels Oboe. Well worth a listen.

In all things there is joy.

Thomas Edison tried two thousand different materials in search of a filament for the light bulb.

When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.”
Edison replied very confidently, “Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”
Thank goodness he continued or we might all still be sitting in the dark.
Have a great day.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Ear

It is always amazing to me how you can communicate with people even when you are not able to speak the language fluently. I find this even more when talking to artists . Yesterday I visited an exhibition of art by local artists or a local art club.  I did enjoy the experience if if I was not inspired by what I saw. It was not the kind of art that I paint but was happy to see art alive and well in a little village in France.

I spoke with the two ladies in charge of the exhibition and conveyed my pleasure to them. I tried to say that some of the art was obviously inspired by the master, Van Gogh. I found myself tugging at my ear and believe it or not they got my meaning. 

I left having enjoyed seeing the work. Then I smiled as I remembered another story about a man with bandages on his ear.

The man arrived at his work with both his ears bandaged. His boss looked at him and asked, " what happened to you?

He explained he was ironing his shirt for work and the phone answered it by putting the iron to my ear.

The boss looked at him again and asked why he had two ears bandaged? 

"Well I did have to call the doctor," says the worker.

Enough said, we all do silly things especially in the name of art. 

Have a good day. Very warm here as I write this so heading off to the sea for a swim. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Taxman.

Yesterday I had a fairly active day beginning with a fairly long walk then I went for a cycle. The bottom line was that yesterday I had no time for painting. So I have added a little painting I did here in France earlier. A painting I still have hanging in Dunfermline.

It being fathers day yesterday I thought I would at some point here from both my children and I did. Sadly, for me I was caught napping in the sun . To make matters worse I was wearing a silly sun hat to protect my burnt nose, unsuccessfully I might add. So when my who it on got me on FaceTime he got a good laugh at my expense.

The old saying your sins will catch you out springs to mind.

This reminded me of the little tale I once heard from a priest friend. One day he got a rather odd call from the tax office. he was alarmed when he heard was, what had he done to deserve this. The person from the tax office was sounding very serious. "Is that father O'Malley?"  he asked. "Yes it is indeed," responded the priest.

I wonder if I can ask you Father, "Do you have a bookmaker named O'Hallearan a member of your church?"

"I do indeed," replied the priest. 

"Has he made a donation of £10,000 to your church?" asked the taxman.

"He will." replied the priest. 

Be sure your sins will find you out.

Have a good day.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Three Toys

Some time ago I told a tale about selective hearing and the deaf man. I was thinking about that yesterday when I overheard just a snatch of a conversation as I passed along the way. 

The person was saying something about a "friend". It seems that the friend had told her something and now she was retelling it but with some malice in her mind as she did. The person she was talking to seemed delighted and was all ears. She made some comment I did not listen to but it was obvious that she was putting down the person they were speaking about.

This reminded me of a lovely little tale. A student went to his master for learning on the ways of life. One day this is what occurred.

The teacher shows three toys to his student and asks the student to find out the differences. 

All the three toys seemed to be identical in their shape, size and material. After keen observation, the student observed holes in the toys. 

The 1st toy it has holes in the ears. The 2nd toy has holes in ear and mouth. The 3rd toy has only one hole in one ear.
Than with the help of needle the student puts the needle in the ear hole of 1st toy. The needle comes out through the other ear. 
In the 2nd toy, when the needle was put in the ear the needle came out of mouth. 
And in the 3rd toy, when the needle was put in, the needle did not come out.
The first toy represent those people around  who give an impression that they are listening to you, all the things you care about and the people who care for you. But they just pretend to do so. After listening, as the needle comes out from the next ear, the things you say to them and the trust you put in them is meaningless and forgotten the minute they leave you. So be careful while you are speaking to this type of person, they do not really care for you.  
Second toy represent those people who listens to you all the things you say and share and give an impression that they care for you. But as in the toy, the needle comes out from mouth. These people will use your trust and the words you tell them and you them against you by telling it to others and using your trust  for their own purpose.
Third toy, the needle does not come out from it. These are the  kind of people who will keep the trust you have in them. They are the ones who you can count on.

But more importantly we must strive to be the kind of people who does not listen and pass things on as hurtful gossip, such actions can only ever bring pain.

Have a good day

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Peacock

It is very simple to see things around you that you would like to own, or people you would like to be like. As you get older  you might long to be young again. If you were an athlete or runner maybe you long to run once more or to regain the fitness of youth. I know when I am out walking and see a runner in front of my how I would love to be able to raise the pace and catch up or maybe even pass. Such is life. The grass always looks greener.

Reminds me of the story of the jealous crow.

A crow lived in the forest and was absolutely satisfied in life. But one day he saw a swan. “This swan is so white,” he thought, “and I am so black. This swan must be the happiest bird in the world.”
He expressed his thoughts to the swan. “Actually,” the swan replied, “I was feeling that I was the happiest bird around until I saw a parrot, which has two colors. I now think the parrot is the happiest bird in creation.” The crow then approached the parrot. The parrot explained, “I lived a very happy life until I saw a peacock. I have only two colors, but the peacock has multiple colors.”
The crow then visited a peacock in the zoo and saw that hundreds of people had gathered to see him. After the people had left, the crow approached the peacock. “Dear peacock,” the crow said, “you are so beautiful. Every day thousands of people come to see you. When people see me, they immediately shoo me away. I think you are the happiest bird on the planet.”
The peacock replied, “I always thought that I was the most beautiful and happy bird on the planet. But because of my beauty, I am entrapped in this zoo. I have examined the zoo very carefully, and I have realized that the crow is the only bird not kept in a cage. So for past few days I have been thinking that if I were a crow, I could happily roam everywhere.”

This can so easily be us. We make unhealthy comparisons with others and become jealous.This in turn leads to unhappiness. Instead of looking at others and seeing what we do not have we should look at ourselves and see what we have. The happiest person is the one who is making the most and best of what we have.

Have a good day.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Smart People


It is amazing how often you meat people who are fonts of knowledge. I met a man here in France yesterday who was just one such person. He was standing on the walkway beside a bar where a number of people had gathered to watch the football match that was being televised. I leaned over to see if I could catch the score. He asked why I was interested in the score of that particular game. I told him I was not more interested in it than any other but as I had been following the tournament I wondered how the two teams were doing.

When he heard my accent he began to share his wisdom and insight into the world of sport. He wondered why my team Scotland was represented at the tournament. I told him what I knew he wanted to hear, that we were not good enough to qualify at. I told him we excelled at other sports like curling and swimming and tennis. He immediately returned to the football. Funny he said that Wales has a team in, that Ireland has a team in, Northern Ireland has a team in and of course Britain has a team in. I looked at hime. he of course meant England, I rest my case about his knowledge. He chuckled because he saw he had made a flawed argument. We parted smiling.

There is an interesting story.

A doctor, a lawyer, a little boy and a minister were out for a Sunday afternoon flight on a small private plane. Suddenly, the plane developed engine trouble. In spite of the best efforts of the pilot, the plane started to go down. Finally, the pilot grabbed a parachute and yelled to the passengers that they better jump, and he himself bailed out.
Unfortunately, there were only three parachutes remaining.
The doctor grabbed one and said “I’m a doctor, I save lives, so I must live,” and jumped out.
The lawyer then said, “I’m a lawyer and lawyers are the smartest people in the world. I deserve to live.” He also grabbed a parachute and jumped.
The minister looked at the little boy and said, “My son, I’ve lived a long and full life. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Take the last parachute and live in peace.”
The little boy handed the parachute back to the minister and said, “Not to worry reverend. The smartest man in the world just took off with my back pack.”

It is not the job that defines what or who you are but the actions and the words of your life.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Pundit

I remember visiting a church while on holiday. At the end of the service while leaving the church with my son not a single person spoke to us or even asked who we were. There was coffee being served at the rear of the church after the service and friends all gathered and conversed. Nobody invited my son or I to join. So we left and returned to our caravan. 

Back at the caravan I had my suit and ministerial dog collar. I changed from my holiday attire and changed into my suit and dog collar. I returned to the church for the later service. This time I was spoken to by many and invited for coffee. They seemed shocked when I told them of my earlier visit. I had a suspicion that this was because of the dog collar.

There is an ancient tale.

There was Pundit in the village. He was well-versed in all Scriptures. He knew everything, but, he was poor. He did not have a house. He used to get his meals also with great difficulty. His clothes were very much worn out.
So, the Pundit used to beg for his meals. He went from House-to-House begging. “Please give me alms”. On seeing his old clothes many people were thinking that he is mad. So,  they tell him “Go Away” and they shut the door. For many days he did not eat at all.
One day somehow he obtained new clothes. A rich man gave those clothes to the Pundit. Wearing those new clothes he went to beg as before. To the very first house he went, the householder said, “Sir, please come in. Please have your food in our house”. Saying thus, with great respect, he took the Pundit inside for food.
The Pundit sat down to eat. Varieties of soups, Sweet meals, Vedas, and Sweet foods were served for eating.
Having prayed first, the Pundit took a sweetmeat with his hand and began to feed his new clothes saying, “Eat, eat!”
On seeing that all the householders were surprised and were not able to understand. So, they asked thus, “The clothes do not eat right? The why O, Great Pundit, do you offer food to the clothes?”
Then that Pundit answered thus, “Indeed because of this new clothes you offered me food today. Yesterday itself in this very house you asked me to go away. Since I obtained food due to these clothes, I am grateful to them. This is why I am feeding them.” The householders were a little ashamed.

Never judge a person by the way they appear at first glance.

Have a great day.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Jumping to conclusions.

A Little Street.

On my daily walks I so often see things the break my heart. Birds that have obviously been shot by air pellets and just left lying. Another thing is while walking along a lovely country path you come across fly tipping. A great big pile of eyesore in the beauty of nature.

This morning as I walked down just such a path I saw a man with a trailer half full of rubbish. My immediate thought was that he was one of those such tippers of rubbish. How bad I felt when i saw that in fact rather than dumping he was clearing up somebody else rubbish. As I passed he shook his head and made some comment of obvious displeasure at the actions of others.

This reminded me of the story of the doctor.

A doctor entered the hospital in hurry after being called in for an urgent surgery. He answered the call asap, changed his clothes and went directly to the surgery block.  He found the boy’s father pacing in the hall waiting for the doctor.
On seeing him, the father yelled, “Why did you take all this time to come? Don’t you know that my son’s life is in danger? Don’t you have any sense of responsibility?”
The doctor smiled and said, “I am sorry, I wasn’t in the hospital and I came as fast as I could after receiving the call and now, I wish you’d calm down so that I can do my work”.
“Calm down?! What if your son was in this room right now, would you calm down? If your own son dies while waiting for doctor than what will you do??” said the father angrily.  The doctor smiled again and replied, “We will do our best by God’s grace and you should also pray for your son’s healthy life”.
“Giving advises when we’re not concerned is so easy” Murmured the father.
The surgery took some hours after which the doctor went out happy, “Thank goodness! your son is saved!” And without waiting for the father’s reply he carried on his way running by saying, “If you have any questions, ask the nurse”.
“Why is he so arrogant? He couldn’t wait some minutes so that I ask about my son’s state” Commented the father when seeing the nurse minutes after the doctor left.  The nurse answered, tears coming down her face, “His son died yesterday in a road accident, he was at the burial when we called him for your son’s surgery.  And now that he saved your son’s life, he left running to finish his son’s burial.”

How easily it is to judge another and how easy to make a false judgement based on ignorance. It is wise to keep our judgements to ourself until we know all the facts.

Have a good day.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Can I cut your grass?

A French Roundabout.

Yesterday as I walked past this roundabout there was a great amount of activity as the vines were trimmed and the flower beds tidied up. The finished result is that the roundabout looks just like a little bit of the French countryside. I have to say I have never before been inspired to paint a roundabout.

Thinking about this and the work I had watched reminded me of a story of a young lad and a part time job. 

A young boy went into a shop where there was a public telephone. The shopkeeper watched as the lad dialled a number and the shop be quiet he overheard the conversation that took place. It went like this

Boy: "Mrs Brown, Can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?
Mrs Brown: (at the other end of the phone line): "I already have someone to cut my lawn."
Boy: "Mrs Brown, I will cut your lawn for half the price of the person who cuts your lawn now."
Mrs Brown, " I’m very satisfied with the person who is presently cutting my lawn."
Boy: (with more perseverance) "Mrs Brown,  I’ll even sweep your path and weed the beds , so on Sunday you will have the prettiest lawn in all of The country.’
Mrs Brown, "No, thank you."
With a smile on his face, the young lad replaced the receiver. The shopkeeper, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy.
Shopkeeper, "Son… I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job."
Boy: ‘No thanks.’
Shopkeeper,  "But you were really pleading for one."
Boy: "No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the Job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady I was talking to!"
There is nothing wrong with a bit of honest self appraisal. No good complaining if others get ahead of you in life if you do not take time to make sure you are at all times giving of your best.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Selective hearing.

Another Little Back Street.

I am saving this picture to produce a large painting from on my easel on my return home. So much atmosphere in this little street.

As I sit here this morning I am surrounded by birdsong and the sounds of people going about their life and the chores associated with caravan and motorhome living. It is wonderful almost a symphony of sound.

My hearing is very good and I am thankful for that, in fact all of my senses are good and that is something to rejoice in. I am though often accused of selective hearing by friends. "Yes you heard what I said you chose not to listen."

This reminds me of another tale.

A man feared his wife wasn’t hearing as well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family Doctor to discuss the problem. The Doctor told him there is a simple informal test the husband could perform to give the Doctor a better idea about her hearing loss.
Here’s what you do,” said the Doctor, “stand about 40 feet away from her, and in a normal conversational speaking tone see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and s o on until you get a response.”
That evening, the wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and he was in the living room. 
He says to himself, “I’m about 40 feet away, let’s see what happens.” Then in a normal tone he asks, ‘Honey, what’s for dinner?” No response.
So the husband moves to closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his wife and repeats, “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Still no response.
Next he moves into the dining room where he is about 20 feet from his wife and asks, Honey, what’s for dinner?”
Again he gets no response so, He walks up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away. “Honey, what’s for dinner?” Again there is no response.
So he walks right up behind her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
“James, for the FIFTH time I’ve said, CHICKEN!”

Sometimes in life the problems we face do not lie at the door of another they are caused by our own faults failings and weaknesses. 

Have a good day.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Why do I have a hump?


Water Fountains.

I wished I had your talent. How often have you heard that said to you? The trouble is that the people who say it probably do, they have just never got round to finding out. In fact the bottom line is that most of them will have even more talent lying hidden waiting to be put into action.

There really is nothing worse than having a talent and not putting it to use. I am guilty of this, it is years since I lifted a saxophone or clarinet and played music. It is ages since I last wrote a song with music.  My excuse is that it is all about time and place. But the real truth is it is more about prevarication. Putting off and finding other things to do.

A mother and a baby camel were lying around, and suddenly the baby camel asked, “Mother, may I ask you some questions? 

Mother said, “Sure! Why son, is there something bothering you? 

Baby said, “Why do camels have humps?” 

Mother said “Well son, we are desert animals, we need the humps to store water and we are known to survive without water”. 

Baby said, “Okay, then why are our legs long and our feet rounded?” 

Mother said, “Son, obviously they are meant for walking in the desert. You know with these legs I can move around the desert better than anyone does!” 

Baby said, “Okay, then why are our eyelashes long? Sometimes it bothers my sight”. 

Mother with pride said, “My son, those long thick eyelashes are your protective cover. They help to protect your eyes from the desert sand and wind”.
Baby after thinking said, “I see. So the hump is to store water when we are in the desert, the legs are for walking through the desert and these eye lashes protect my eyes from the desert. 
Then what in god’s name are we doing here in Edinburgh Zoo!?”
What is the use of having abilities and talents if you never put them to use?

Have a good day.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

I have all my marbles.

My apologies that this is as yet still a photograph which I hope to paint at some point. My painting time yesterday was spent working on a pastel painting of a dog and I am a long way from finished it. Pastel painting and living in a motorhome I have found is not always easy. Where do you store the work in progress?

Just one of the very serious difficulties of life such momentous questions to be answered. to be really honest it is just not fair that I have all these days to sit and paint with and iPad or Pastels while others have to go out and told and do a days work. 

The one saving grace I suppose is that I am aware of just how fortunate I am. I get up go for a walk, have a swim, paint  and head off to the beach. Made me realise just how good life is treating me and that it must not be wasted. This reminded me of the story of the thousand marbles.

I heard this on a world broadcast programme some time ago. I would like to share it with you. 

 The person being interviewed  was talking about "a thousand marbles" to someone named "Tom". I was intrigued as I  listened to what he had to say. 

"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young person should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital. " He continued, "Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities." And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."

"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years." "Now then, I multiplied 75
times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.

"Now stick with me Tom, I'm getting to the important part. "It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. "I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. "So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. "I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in my workshop next to the radio. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.

"I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight. "Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been blessed me with a little extra time to be with my loved ones...... "It was nice to talk to you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your loved ones, and I hope to meet you again someday. Have a good morning!"

I like to believe that I have all my marbles, in that I am still able to do and think. Nevertheless as I slip nearer and nearer to the 75 year mark maybe I should go out and buy some marbles.

Whatever you are doing today, enjoy before you throw away another marble.


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Getting Lost

The sunken garden.

How easy it can be to get lost when walking in a strange land, fortunately having been a runner for years I have picked up a good sense of my direction. I have also learned to pay very close attention to the things I see around me, the things that others might not notice. The piece of driftwood with the eyes of a snake. Sadly so often the things I see are discarded rubbish thrown from cars. Yes that happens here also in such beautiful surroundings.

This morning I met another walker who had very obviously got herself lost on her chosen route. She asked if I could help and try as hard as I could there were too many things mitigating against my being any help. The first being that I was not sure i knew where I was only how I could make my way back to my motorhome, not much help to her. The other of course our language difference.

This reminded me of two little stories. The first of these two has to do with signs again but this time nothing wrong with the sign just the interpretation of the reader. 

A man was spotted fly tipping, dumping rubbish where it was never meant to be dumped.

Just as he was dumping it a police car pulled up. "Why are you dumping rubbish here?" asked the police, "do you not see that sign over there?"

"Yes ," said the dumper, "that why I am dumping it here, the notice says, Fine for dumping rubbish here"

The other story involves getting lost.

 A local hunting guide got himself into fix. 

His party became hopelessly lost in the mountains and they blamed him for leading them astray.

"You told us you were the best guide in Colorado!" they asserted.
"I am," he said, "but I think we're in Wyoming now."

How easily one can get lost not just on the path or route put on the path of life. We need to keep alert for the dangers on the way and read the signs to keep us right.

Have a good day.

Monday, 6 June 2016


The Jazz Player.

Holidays are a marvellous time to meet new people and maybe even establish new friendships. I know that I am fortunate enough to have made some very good and dear friends while caravanning. Friendship is  something to be cherished and never taken fro granted and I hope I do not do so.

There are of course various levels and types of "friends" as we who are on FB know. But even there I have had the pleasure of making some really good friends.

I was giving thought to this as I walked this morning I feel honoured to have so many good friends please believe me I treasure your friendship.

This reminded me of two stories about the worth of a true friend and made me smile maybe even laugh.

A group of  friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day.

That night, one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of a dead deer.

"Where's Henry?" the others asked.

"Henry had a stroke of some kind. He's a couple of miles back up the trail," the successful hunter replied.

"You left Henry laying out there and carried the deer back?" they inquired.

"A tough call," nodded the hunter. "But I figured no one's going steal Henry!"

Another little story.

The young man from  came running into the shop and shouted  to his friend, "John, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking bay!"
John replied, "Did you see who it was?"
The young man answered, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number." 

Friendship who could live without it?

Sunday, 5 June 2016

A sign of the times

A little alley in Perpignan 

Wonderful day spent in Perpignan yesterday. Street jazz band beautiful weather good company what more can you ask for? Sill the signs keep appearing and making me smile as I make an effort to fully understand them.

I had a few great comments the other day about signs so thought i would share one or to others. 

Do not get confused just smile and have a good day.

Spotted in a safari park:
Seen at a conference:
Notice in a farmer's field:
Message on a leaflet:
Sign at a car lot:
And one last one that sounds really worrying:
Outside a secondhand shop:

Have a good day and beware of bargains.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Carrots Eggs and Coffee.

Just out of the site.

It is amazing how being on holiday usually puts people into a very positive frame of mind. The air is so often filled with the laughter of happy people.

It is sadly though not always the case. There are still some people who are just never ever happy. The grass is too long or the grass is too short. The water in the pool is far too cold or far too warm. The sun is too hot to do anything other than sit about. And the very worst are those who complain about what they can purchase in the supermarkets. Those shops are full of nothing but foreign food!

Meanwhile people with real problems, difficulty walking and in wheelchairs meet you with a smile.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

 Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

 In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

 Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see. "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

 Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

 The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"  Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water. Each reacted differently.

  The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

 The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became

 The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

 "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

 Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

 Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial
 hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

 Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water,  the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it  releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things  are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

 When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

 May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

 The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. 

The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.