Friday, 23 June 2017

You Can Do It

There is something wonderful about being on holiday as so many of my friends are just now. New places, new things to see and above all new faces to see and possibly new people to meet. 

I love being in new places and to stop and watch the world go past  wondering what people are about, where are they going? What is going on in their minds and thoughts?

As I see my friends on Facebook enjoying life because they are on holiday I often ask myself why can we not be such happy carefree people more often?

More than once during the past weeks I have set out for what I thought would be just another walk or cycle only to find myself in exciting places. Challenging me to do what I had not thought I would. Climbing, pot-holing and other such things.

But none as dangerous as The Great Zumbrati.

Zumbrati was a famous tightrope walker. He was challenged by a friend to walk on a tightrope strung across the Niagara Falls.

The day he was due to make his attempt a great number of people had gathered to watch. The day had turned foul with high winds and heavy rain. Common sense told him to call off but he looked at all those gathered and decided to make the attempt. He accomplished the feat in spite of the weather.

He was feeling both relieved and happy when he stepped of the rope to great applause.

Then as so often in life there appears somebody who want you to do even more. On this occasion one of his supporters urged him to make the return trip this time pushing a wheelbarrow.

Zumbrati was of course very reluctant given the terrible conditions. How could he get out of this.

"You can do it," said the supporter, "go on you know you can."

"You really do believe I can do this?" asked Zunbrati.

"Yes definitely you can do it."

"Ok," said Zumbrati, "get in the wheelbarrow.'

Beware what you challenge others to do it just may come back and bite you.

Have a wonderful day and if you are on holiday go find todays challenge.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Knitter.

Back to one of my favourite topics for painting. have painted a few poppies this summer and I am sure this is not my best attempt but I do enjoy trying to capture their delicate beauty.

I am sharing some of the time on this holiday with two very good friends. The lady of this couple has been known from time to time for giving me a hard time. Usually fast and witty comments that put me in my place. My family are amazed that I take it with a smile.  I do so because she is a friend and friends are to be cherished.

When we have been out walking she gets her chores for the day out of the way and settles down to knit for a bit. She usually has a project on the go and a great deal of her knitting is later sold for charity, and for the families who have been bereaved by the death of a newborn child. So a friend with a heart. 

As I watched her knit the other day I remembered the takeoff another lady that had spent a bit of time knitting.

Let me share it.

There was once a man and woman who had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. 

They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside. 

She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted doilies and a stack of money totalling £6000 . 

He asked her about the contents. 

"When we were to be married," she said, "My grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doily." 

The little old man was so moved, he had to fight back tears. Only two precious doilies were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness. 

"Honey," he said, "that explains the doilies, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?" 

"Oh," she said, "that's the money I made from selling the doilies."

I hope I never find a box with doilies and money it might be a salutary lesson. Thank goodness I have not seen my friend knitting doilies. 

I am sure my wife is not hiding a box of doilies I would have found it because it would be a very big box.

Have a wonderful day, no arguments. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

An outstanding Man

This is a painting of the mountain I climbed a few days ago. Thee were no clouds and the little branches of tree at the side were not there either.

No doubt there will be some experts who will tell me I should have left things as nature had them but I had reasons for adding them and rightly or wrongly they are there.

We live in an age of experts often ready to offer advice. I feel lucky that I get good advice from the many friends who offer it. Unlike the farmer in my tale for today.

A shepherd was tending his flock in a field, when a new sports car screeched to a stop on the road nearby in a cloud of dust. The driver, a young man in expensive designer clothes and sunglasses, leans out of the window and shouts over to the shepherd, "If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have here, can I take one?"
The shepherd looks up slowly up at the young man, then looks at his peaceful flock, and calmly answers, "Sure, why not?"
The young man steps out of his car holding a state-of-the-art palmtop pda, with which he proceeds to connects to a series of websites, first calling up satellite navigation system to pinpoint his location, then keying in the location to generate an ultra-high resolution picture of the field. After emailing the photo to an image processing facility, the processed data is returned, which he then feeds into an online database, and enters the parameters for a report. Within another few seconds a miniature printer in the car produces a full colour report containing several pages of analysis and results. The young man studies the data for a few more seconds and returns to the shepherd.
"You have exactly one-thousand five-hundred and eighty-six sheep, including three rams, and seven-hundred and twenty-two lambs."
"That's right," says the shepherd, mildly impressed. "Well, I guess that means you get to take one of my sheep."

The young man makes his choice and loads the animal onto the back seat of his car, at which the shepherd says, almost as an afterthought, "Hey there, if I can tell you what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?"
The young man, feeling confident, agrees.
"You're a consultant," says the shepherd.
"Wow, that's right," says the young man, taken aback, "How did you guess that?"
"No guessing required," answers the shepherd, "You showed up here even though nobody called you. You took a fee for giving me an answer that already know, to a question I never asked, and you know nothing about my business. Now give me back my dog."
With the help of the internet we are surrounded by experts but often non as knowledgable as the Farmer out Standing in his own field.
Have a marvellous day.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Getting things sorted.

Living in a comparatively confined space means a great deal of coming and going give and take. In the morning I like to get up sharp and get shaved and dressed. Irene likes to get up and get the bed sorted and made. Now both of those events at the same time is just really not feasible. We just get in each others way. 

So I get myself organised and then Irene takes over. I have been jokingly saying that I have a tick box that I have to follow and complete before she can start. SO I go through the motions of ticking off the items on my imaginary spreadsheet.

Iam smiling just thinking about this daily performance. But it reminded me of the team that might have learned a lesson from me. 

The boards of the two fiercely competitive companies decided to organize a rowing match to challenge each other's organisational and sporting abilities. 
The first company was strongly "THEORY X": ruthless, autocratic, zero staff empowerment, etc. 
The second company was more "THEORY Y": a culture of developing people, devolved responsibility and decision-making.
Race day arrived. The Y company's boat appeared from the boat-house first, with its crew: eight rowers and a helmsman (the cox). 
Next followed the X company boat and its crew - eight helmsmen and a single rower.
Not surprisingly the Y company's boat won an easy victory.
The next day the X company board of directors held an inquest with the crew, to review what had been learned from the embarrassing defeat, which might be of benefit to the organization as a whole, and any future re-match.
After a long and wearing meeting the X company board finally came came to their decision.
 They concluded that the rower should be replaced immediately because clearly he had not listened well enough to the instructions he'd been given.
My fellow traveller on this trip and I have a little joke. If we want to get things right then we will only if we do what we are told.

So be both await further instructions. Not worked out yet what teams the instructors are in yet. 
Go on have a laugh and a wonderful day.

Monday, 19 June 2017

A missed opportunity.

I am moving tomorrow and not sure when I will be online again. It is Sunday when I am writing this little blog. The painting above I did as a drawing some time ago but getting better and better with my pencil I thought I would try again in colour this time, after a few changes suggested by the dogs owner I think we have it, I dug in my heels (there is a wee pun there but I will leave it.) about the highlight on the eye we disagreed on that. I think it gives it life.

Sunday, after all those years away from being a minister without ever thinking , when Sunday comes along I find myself whistling or humming hymn tunes. Such a creature of habit. As I write the bells are ringing calling me to church. beside me sits my Buddha mug and a croissant, I suspect the coffee and pastry will win again.

This got me thinking about life and heavy matters, and the old couple.

They had been married for sixty years, and decided to take a rare vacation. 
They were not well-off but were in good health, perhaps because the wife had insisted on a strict diet of healthy foods, no alcohol, no smoking, and lots of gym exercise for most of their lives. 
Sadly their plane crashed, and duly they both entered heaven, where St Peter escorted them through the Pearly Gates. Travelling through beautiful countryside they arrived at a beautiful mansion and were shown inside. 
It was furnished in gold and fine silks, with a splendid kitchen and a sumptuous lounge stocked with wonderful food and drink - there was even a waterfall in the master bathroom hanging beautiful designer clothes in the walk-in wardrobes. They gasped in astonishment when St Peter said, "Welcome to heaven. This will be your home now."
The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "Nothing," Peter replied, "this is your heavenly reward."
The old man looked out of the window and saw a magnificent championship golf course.
"What are the green fees?" he asked suspiciously.
"This is heaven," St Peter replied, "You can play for free whenever you wish."
Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them.
Anticipating the old man's next question, St Peter said, "Don't ask, this is heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy."
The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. "Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods, and the decaffeinated tea?" he asked.
"This is heaven. You can eat and drink as much as you like, and you will never get fat or sick."
"I don't need to go to the gym?" the old man pressed.
"Not unless you want to," St Peter replied.
"No testing my sugar or blood pressure or..."
"Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself."
The old man glared at his wife, "You and your bloody bran muffins. We could have been here ten years ago!"
It is all about priorities I guess. I often wonder about what it is I want, a long life or a quality life, they are not always the same. 
Have a wonderful day or two until I manage to get back online.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Life is a learning process. (Every day is a school day)

Before I say another word let me tell you  that the only cat I have ever painted before was a tiger. I thought it was time to have a try. As you can see I have a long long way to go before I will ever be happy with my paintings of cats.
But not to worry life is a learning process.
As one who is travelling a lot at present I meet many people who have much learn about being on a site with many other people, many who are seasoned travellers. 
There are those who come on to site and act as though they are the only ones on the site. They make a noise and generally act as though they own the place.
Then there are those who come on site and are friendly warm and thoughtful. Instantly you take a liking to them and just know that they will be good neighbours as I hope I am to them.
There are those who have much to learn, as I have about painting cats.
This reminded me of the tale of the two travellers.
One day a traveller was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another. As he walked he noticed a monk tending the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said "Good day" to the traveller, and the traveller nodded to the monk. The traveller then turned to the monk and said "Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?".
"Not at all," replied the monk.
"I am travelling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?"
"Tell me," said the monk, "What was your experience of the village in the mountains?"
"Dreadful," replied the traveller, "to be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves, they don't take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?"
"I am sorry to tell you," said the monk, "but I think your experience will be much the same there".
The traveller hung his head despondently and walked on.
A while later another traveller was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the monk.
"I'm going to the village in the valley," said the second traveller, "Do you know what it is like?"
"I do," replied the monk "But first tell me - where have you come from?"
"I've come from the village in the mountains."
"And how was that?"
"It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to travelling on. I felt as though I was a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me and people were generally kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?" he asked again.
"I think you will find it much the same" replied the monk, "Good day to you".
"Good day and thank you," the traveller replied, smiled, and journeyed on.
Life is a learning process and if you learn life will treat you well, if not you only get what you deserve. 

Have a wonderful day

Saturday, 17 June 2017

All in a days work.


Can I begin today by telling you about this little dog. It is a painting of the dog of an artist friend of mine. This lovely little dog dies a few years ago and is still sadly missed. She will assure you it is not photograph but indeed a painting as she watched me making changes suggested by her. This dog meant much to her and I hope my artwork does also.

Ask he what kind of dog it is sadly I have forgotten even though I feel close to the dogs I paint. have never yet painted a ct other than a tiger.

Now back to my thoughts about my day. There are so many varieties of dogs and equally , sadly, so many varieties of biscuits. 

I was in the store looking at them all and wondering what ones were the most tempting. This in turn reminded me of two tales both are very true let me assure you, I know the people involved.

The first is of the lady who worked on a production line in a factory making biscuits. She was being interviewed by television reporters about her work.

She told them she had worked there for 15 years packing biscuits into boxes. She was asked if she did the same Jonb all the time and reply that she had. When asked if she enjoyed it she said she loved the people she met and shared work with.

"Do you not find it boring?" she was asked. "No," she said, "Sometimes they change the biscuits.

We really should never judge others by our own mental judgements.

The other tale is equally true.

A member of my congregation taught in a school in a very deprived area. 

Every morning one of her pupils brought her a rather famous wafer biscuit. The teacher knew they were not cheap and also knew the child did not come from a wealthy background.

She thanked the young boy but one day took him aside and told him to tell his mother that it was so kind but not to go to such expense.

The next day the boy appeared again with the biscuit. The teacher asked him if he had told his mother what she had said. He told her he had but his mother had said not to worry because she worked in the factory that made the biscuits and she brought them out in her knickers.

So you see never jump to judgement. 

Have a great day and enjoy dunking your biscuit.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Just a little difference.

Not long after I took up painting I painted my dog, Damon, a German Shepherd. He was a lovely good natured dog and a great running companion for me. He was always there when I had a really bad time with my voice being unable to speak for months.

I looked again at that painting and although I could still see my dog as he was I was sure I could have made a better job of it. I went back to it and the first thing I noticed was that the eyes could be improved. I did that and then went on to make other changes. The great thing about working on my iPad is that I can make changes and still look back to the original. 

Having been painting for a fair length of time and tried many ways of doing art I thought it was time to try again. This time on the iPad. I still wanted to use a pastel effect. Above is my latest attempt. Am I happy with it? Yes. it is my dog. The years have made a difference I think I am getting better.

More about my dog and companion.

I used to joke that he knew what I was saying without saying it and he never argued back. Now that is not like me and those I love. We often have differences of opinion, sadly they are not always the same as mine and this can lead to friction.

The one thing that I have learned is that differences of opinion are just what they are differences. They should never come between friends or loved ones. 

I was brought up to believe that fallouts and differences of opinion should always be sorted out at the earliest possible opportunity. never sleep on an argument, both my Gran and my father said to me.

This is so different from the the husband and wife who had argued all day and as bedtime approached they were still not speaking.

The husband had a very important meeting the next day and to get there had to awaken at the latest  4-30am. Being a heavy sleeper he relied on his wife to awaken him, he could sleep through an alarm clock no bother.

Cleverly, he thought, while his wife was in the bathroom, he wrote on a slip of paper. "I have a plane to catch for an important meeting please wake me at 4-30am. he put the note on his wife pillow and went to sleep.

He awoke the next morning and looked at the clock. It was 8am. Enraged that he had missed his flight he was about to go in search of his wife to give her a piece of his mind, then he spotted a hand-written note beside his bedside cabinet.

The note read, "It is 4-30 am - get up"

As I say never go to sleep on an argument.

Have a good day.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Politicians !!!

One f the most beautiful things about nature is how often it surprises you. Out cycling yesterday and another tortoise wandered over the road just in front of my wheels. So much bigger than the other one I lifted over the road a few days ago. Once again I lifted it from the road and put it into the grass area where he plodded off much faster than I thought they could move. 

Then I came across these flowers just at the edge of the woodland.

What a pleasant break from hearing about the working and machinations of politicians. Now I make sure that this blog never strays into judgemental comments about people but sometimes I feel like giving myself a free haircut and pulling my hair out.

There are those who will say anything, spin anything, and say they are doing it for the good of others and the country. One comment, believe it if you like!

During my ministry I met many politicians of all persuasions. I remember though an event where a local priest was about to be promoted and leaving his parish. I was leaving mine also for pastures new.

He was having a farewell and I was invited along as a guest speaker as was the local member of parliament.

The time arrived for the speeches. The MP was supposed to be first but he was late, I make no comment. I was invited to speak and gamey speech, still no sign of the politician. So the priest himself decided to say a few words.

He began, "I remember my first days here in the parish, I was really worried, where had I arrived what sort of place was this?  My first confession only made this worse. it was the worst confession I had ever heard. 

The chap confessed he had stolen a television from his neighbour and lied to the police blaming one of his so called friends. He had stolen money from his employer. He had had affairs with the wives of many of his friends, he had taken and sold drugs. he even admitted to having relationships with his sister.

I was in a state of sheer shock and worry, 

As the days went on I realised that this chap was an exception to the rule. The people of the parish were wonderful and there were many caring people who made me feel at home welcomed and loved.

Decent and kind people."

At that point the politician arrived. Oh how busy he was so very sorry for his late coming. So much to do. 

He was invited to make his speech.

He bagan, I remember when Father O' Shaunessey  first came to this parish. In fact I am one hundred percent certain that I was the first person in the parish that he heard confession."

Now that is what you call putting your foot well in it. Or was it  a last confession and coming clean before the departure of the priest?

Have a wonderful day and may nature smile upon you.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017


From time to time I have little dark spots in life, as we all do. I have had those moments all of my life sometimes they take me deep into the dark night of the soul. On other occasions meditation and the sight of something unexpected does the job of lifting me higher.

Yesterday I walked a path I walked two years ago and it was even after all this time a familiar route. But I had forgotten this the little roadside shrine. I saw it as I turned a bend and it all came back to me. It sat at the entrance to a field where an old man lived in his caravan surrounded by things that obviously brought him joy.

His little shrine brought joy to my heart. I could not resist this quick sketch. It was a very quick one, planting grasses with my pencil to remove his car and caravan. Peace on the roadside. 

One thing that never ever brings me such peace is a visit to the hairdresser, but it works for my wife. She made such a visit the other day and came back with her hair even shorter than mine. But she did enjoy having it done and it did look good. 

This brought to mind the tale of the dear old lady who was losing her hair with age.

One morning she looked in the mirror. She noticed she only had three hairs left on her head, and being positive she said, "I think I will braid my hair today." So she did and she had a marvellous day with her three hairs in a braid.

One morning a week or so later, she looked in the mirror to see she now only had two hairs left. She said, "I think today I will have a centre parting." She did just that parted them one each way, and she had a marvellous day.

The next morning she looked in the mirror to see only one remaining hair. "One hair eh, " she thought, "I will have a ponytail today." She did had she had a happy wonderful day.

The next time she looked in the mirror and she was completely bald. "Ah !" she sighed, "So at last I am bald, not a hair left."

"How wonderful! I will not to waste time thinking about my hairstyle anymore."

The art of positive thinking and not letting the dark moments take a grip. 

Have a wonderful day, do you need a comb or a brush?

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Men will be Men.

Today I watched on two occasions events that had me thinking that maybe I was not seeing what I thought I was seeing.

Families had arrived on site and were setting up on one pitch their caravan on another their tent. What amazed me on both occasions was that it was the females who were doing all the work while the male on one pitch rigged up his hammock and proceeded to rest it.

On the other again the families did all the work while the male headed off to collect the pizzas. I really believed we lived in an enlighten and equal age.

This reminded me of the tale about the creation of man that I heard while studying  Theology at University. It goes like this.

Eve speaks to God.

"God I have been thinking."

"What is on your mind Eve?" asks God

"Well, I know that you created me and this beautiful garden and all those wonderful creatures, but lately I have been feeling maybe there is more to life."

"Go on ,"says God.

"Sometimes I get a bit bored and fancy a bit of fun. I get a bit fed up with all the heaving and lifting and the carrying and warding off the mammoths and sabre tooth tigers, not to mention that snake. This garden can be a dangerous place."

"I see ,"says God pausing for thought.

"Eve I have a cunning plan," says God, "I will create Man for you."

"Mam?" asks Eve, "what is Man?"

"Man," says God "Is a flawed creature, he will have many weaknesses and disgusting habits. Man will lie and cheat and behave like an idiot. In fact mostly he will be a complete pain in the backside. On the plus side he will be strong and big and be able to protect you. He will hunt and kill things for you which might be handy at times.He will lose control of mind and body when aroused but with a bit of training can reach acceptable standards in the bedroom department, if you know what I mean."

"Hmm," says Eve, "Seems like this man idea might be worth a try, but tell me this God, is there anything else I need to know?"

"Just this," says God "Man comes on one condition. In keeping this arrogant deluded, self important, character, man will naturally believe that he was created first, and frankly we all have better things to do than argue, so you must keep all this secret between us, if that is ok with you. You know, woman to woman.

Now think about that for a moment. Then smile, and have a good day.

Monday, 12 June 2017

The Art Thief.

When I arrived here today there was an even taking place just outside the site. I wandered up and there in front of me was this lovely old couple. They were dressed in traditional French outfits. They were a lovely old couple. Now what caught my eye was the way they were enjoying their ice cream cones. They were like two very young lovers sharing a special moment.

Not wanting to intrude on this shared moment I have captured them behind I hope you can see the cone in the ladies hand.

Love does not die it merely matures.

I cannot claim to be a famous artist or even a good one but I felt a bit like some of the old masters as I captured the scene.

I was reminded of the story of the art thief.

An art thief spent ages planing in fine detail the theft of art from the Louvre in Paris. Having managed to get into the Louvre and get the paints from the wall and into his van all was looking well.

Then the wheels fell off his plan, the van ran out of petrol and stopped. He was taken into custody  and bought to trial. At trial he was given bail to appear in four weeks.

As he left the court he was asked by a press reporter how he had managed such meticulous planning but ran out of petrol/

"Simple, " he said, "I had no Monet for Degas to make the Van Gogh"

My apologies my mind is never at its best when I have been travelling, hope you like the wee painting though.

Have a wonderful day.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Make your choice.

We all have to make choices in life day by day.  Most of us make those choices with some measure of thought, thinking of the consequences of the choices we have to make.

Sadly there are those people in life who will always make the exact same choices no matter what the  event . Those are the people who have made up their minds not on rational thought but on what they have been brought up to believe.

Sadly this often leads to us making decisions on the basis of prejudice  or bigotry.

I fell very sad that it seems that the politics of the UK at present will be to a great extent dictated by such thinking.

In the midst of my sadness about what is happening and where we seem to be going reminded me of the tale of the visit to a hospital made by some representatives who were hoping to invest in mental care.

A number of representatives were being shown around the hospital where some patients who were suffering and being helped with severe mental depression.

One of the visitors being thoughtless asked if all the patients were  suffering the same kind of idiocy. He was seen by all of the others as the crass person he was.

The visit continued and the representatives were taken into the hospitality room. There they were being offered wine and cheese and nibbles.

during this a question and answer session was opened up.

The rude and crude representative rises his hand to ask a question again asking the same crass question. "Are all the patients in here idiots?"

One of the security men gently lead him out of the room and said he would show hime how this question was answered.

The representative was taken to a bathroom. The security man filled the bath with water. he then got a bucket  a tumbler and an egg cup. He told the representative that this was the test on how they decided who was in or not.

He said we show the patients this and ask them what would be the best way to empty to empty bath.
The representative said it was obvious the bucket would be the implement of choice.

The security guard said," Not sir, the obvious choice is to simply pull the plug. When will we we get you bed ready?

How easy it is  to end up looking the fool when the intention is the opposite and the aim is to make yourself look good and others bad.

Moving today to another part of France. have a wonderful day.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Little Help

As I walked last evening I passed under what almost seemed like a guard of honour, trees bending over to form an arch. The other way to look at it was that the prevailing wind had done its very best to blow two trees over but the helping hand of another had offered support.

There is a lovely story of the blind man who was standing at the corner of a street where he was unfamiliar with the sounds and feeling or the place. Being a bit afraid he asked a passer if he would help him across the street and point him in the direction he needed to walk. The passerby took his arm and did just as requested. On the other side of the road he pointed him where he had to go and took his farewell.

He now had to get back across the busy street so he waved his white stick to let the passing traffic know that he was blind.

Another tale came to my mind as I walked on with those thoughts.

The stories of an event that happened over 200 years ago. A man in civilian clothes was riding past a group of battle weary soldiers who were busy working at digging an important defensive trench. The section leader was shouting his orders willing the men on threatening punishment if the work was not completed in another hour.

"Why do you not give them a help?" the civilian asked.

"I am in charge I give the orders. The men do as I tell them," said the section leader. "help them yourself if you feel so strongly about it."

To his surprise the civilian did just that. He dismounted his horse and rolled up his sleeves and gave his helming until the task was completed.

Before leaving the civilian congratulated the men on the work they had done then turned to the section leader.

"You should notify top command next time your rank prevents you from supporting your men. When you do I will provide a more permanent solution," said the stranger.

It was only now that they were standing close together that the section leader realised he was talking to General Washington. He was also aware of the lesson taught that there is never a time when we cannot offer a help to those in need.

A little helping hand to another costs nothing but can make such a great difference to the lives of others.

Have a marvellous day.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Precious Moments.

They happen from time to time, those moments I call treasured moments. You meet somebody and it leads to something  more. Or it is a moment shared with a friend that gives a moment of sheer joy and laughter.

I had such moments yesterday before the day had hardly even got started.

One was when a friend noticed an ancient tree and remembered I had been drawing and painting such trees and creating abstracts inspired by the barks to those trees, sent me a photograph of the tree and I immediately felt the colours and the inspiration of the above abstract. And this is one I really am happy I produced.

Out on my early walk with my friend we said good morning to a local gentleman. He returned the greeting and began to converse with us. Turns out he was a German who owned a house here in France where he lies five months a year. Depending on the results of the election and the expected outcome it sounds like an attractive option. No more politics.

He invited us into his garden and home and  took us out the back to his balcony with a view to die for. he told us a joke I will not repeat but we all laughed together. The Scotsman the Englishman and the German indeed.

It started my day off in a most surprising and happy way.

We walked past a house most morning and up into the woodland. Over the past few days we have heard a bird in the vicinity  and we tried, as we always do to identify it. After much debate we came to the conclusion, with some doubt in out minds it was a Jay. There are many jays in the woodlands around us.

Can you imagine the humour when we discovered that the house had a large cage in the back garden and in it was a large  Parrot. One for nature.

I could not resist telling my friend the tale of the parrot.

This parrot had been left when an old man had died. The minister who had known the old man for many years and had conducted his funeral decided to give the parrot a home.

The trouble was that the parrot had a foul mouth. it could speak very well but it did so with the inclusion of many swear words.

The minister warned the parrot to stop that bad language or he would do something about it. The parrot paid not head and another string of swear words came out.

The minister opened the cage grabbed the parrot and threw it in the freezer. he left it there for a good ten minutes and then released it from its agony.

Sitting in its cage warming up the parrot very politely spoke to the minister. Not a swear word was heard. it seemed the lesson had been learned.

Then the parrot spoke again. Again very politely it said, " Please minister can you tell me one thing?" "Of course, you are being very well behaved , go ahead." "Can I please ask what did the turkey do?"

Have a wonderful day.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Half A Glass

Can you remember when you first heard the saying about the glass being half empty or half full? I remember it to almost the very day.

I had said something negative and my old gran who I was staying with at the time told me to stop seeing the world and life in such a negative way. I asked her what she meant.

She went over to the kitchen sink and took down her drinking glass and half filled it with water. "Now tell me," she said. "Is this glass half full or half empty?" Being the little smart >>>> that I was I said it was both. "It is one or the other ," she said. So I fell into the trap and said half empty. Then I was told that I always looked at things in a pessimistic way and I should learn to be more positive about life..

There was a famous shoe factory in England. It was doing very well and the managing director was looking to increase productivity. One way of doing this was to seek out new markets abroad.

He called in two sales representatives and said he was going to pay  for them to go out to Africa and assess the possibility of a sales marketing drive in the two places.

Both men duly set off and flew to Africa and each went their separate ways.

After a few days the wrote up their reports and sent them back to the managing director.

The first one wrote, " There is not prospect here at all for the increase in sales they all have bare feet." The second one sent an almost identical report back. he wrote, " The potential here is amazing, nobody has any shoes they all walk about in their bare feet."

So one saw a negative response the other a positive both to identical situations.

Yesterday we had a beautiful sunny day here but in the afternoon there were strong winds. We were all either putting our awnings away or putting up the storm guys. When I walked out of the site and up the hill to my viewpoint I could see the sea covered in brightly  coloured sails of the many people taking full advantage of the wind to sailboard.

It is indeed an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

Have a positive filled day with joyful challenges. For those in the uk it will be Election Day full of positives and negatives but the opportunity to show ones feelings.

Being out here in France my vote is already cast . That puts me alongside Andy Murray who is also here and postal voting.

Have a great day hope you do not have too far to go to make that vote.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A close shave.

Maybe it is the fact that I am having a beautiful relaxing time in a place where I can see beauty all around me that makes me think of some of the true stories that remind me of how fortunate I am.
I am surrounded by people relaxing and also on holiday and enjoying their time. Yes some are thoughtless of others making a noise and playing loud music and some just being total pests. But then that is the mix of life.
A man and a young teenage boy checked in to a hotel and were shown to their room. 
The two receptionists noted the quiet manner of the guests, and the pale appearance of the boy. Later the man and boy ate dinner in the hotel restaurant. The staff again noticed that the two guests were very quiet, and that the boy seemed disinterested in his food. 
After eating, the boy went to his room and the man went to reception and asked to see the manager. The receptionist initially asked if there was a problem with the service or the room, and offered to fix things, but the man said that there was no problem of that sort, and repeated his request. 
The manager was called and duly appeared. The man asked to speak privately and was taken into the manager's office.
The man explained that he was spending the night in the hotel with his fourteen-year-old son, who was seriously ill, probably terminally so. The boy was very soon to undergo therapy, which would cause him to lose his hair. 
They had come to the hotel to have a break together, and also because the boy planned to shave his head, that night, rather than feel that the illness was beating him. 
The father said that he would be shaving his own head too, in support of his son. He asked that staff be respectful when the two of them came to breakfast with their shaved heads. The manager assured the father that he would inform all staff and that they would behave appropriately.
The following morning the father and son entered the restaurant for breakfast.
There they saw the four male restaurant staff attending to their duties, perfectly normally, all with shaved heads. 
There is always some people in life who will go the extra mile for others. I hope like me your are blessed to be surrounded by such people.
Have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

It is not always what you see!

Things are not always what they seem to be. I think this little abstract is maybe just a bit too obvious to be anything other than what it is in reality. I was sitting beside the tree I painted yesterday just relaxing and enjoying the moment.  My eye honed in on the tree and I saw its bark in fine detail. I had already painted and abstract of bark in detail, not yet sure about it, but this time I thought I would allow my mind to go free. 

I am aware there are not many pink trees around but I saw a little hint and just exaggerated it.

So I made little changes to what was there.

This reminded me of a true event that touched me deeply. 

A bling man was sitting on the corner of Castle Street and Princess Street in Edinburgh. He had a cap on the ground in front of him and a badly written cardboard notice. The notice read, "I am blind please help."

It seemed all the passers by were also blind and the cap lay empty. 

An advertising agent was passing and stopped to read the caption. he dropped some money into the cap. He then took out of his pocket a large marker pen. he turned the notice over and wrote on the card.

He replaced it and almost at once money started dropping into the cap. The blind man was moved to tears and asked what was now written on the board.

It now read, "It is a beautiful day the sun is shining. You can see this I cannot."

Sometimes we just need a little prompt to see things as others do, or in this case did not see.

It is simple to pass by or ignore and not all beggars are users and liars. I got to know the blind man and he was trying his very best to manage but now and again just needed a little lift. he taught me much about life things I still remember today.

Before Jim makes a comment let me say it, "Sometimes we cannot see the wood for the trees."

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Smart Answers.

I am surrounded by trees and woodland so many that I cannot stop drawing and painting them. This one is right at the back of my motorhome. A seat for a giant or a little elf? I have considered more than once jumping up there and sitting in its boughs. Sensible seems the better choice here. The bark is sharp and I am sure I would end up with a skinned knew.

The clever answer is, "Do not think about it."

Life is full of clever answers and clever choices.

A professor one day lifted his chair and sat it on his desk. He then went to the chalkboard ( got that right) and wrote on it. "Prove that this chair does not exist !"

His students set to work writing furiously composing long and complex answers. One student wrote for about half a minute and submitted his paper and left. The others looked on in amazement sure he had failed.

Next week the papers were given back and he had the top score.

He had written, "What Chair?"  he then wrote, "The  chair is actually a word on the board. The chair that exists is the one on the table."

How I wish I could make clever answers and choices like this.

Bishop invited a young priest to dinner. During the dinner it became obvious to him that the Bishop and his housekeeper had a little more than a spark of attraction for one another.

As the meal came to a close and he prepared to depart the Bishop whispered to him, "I can guess what you are thinking but the relationship is very proper.'

The priest left.

Three days later the housekeeper told the Bishop that a silver antique soup ladle had gone missing at the time of the priest visit. The Bishop did not think for one minute he had stolen it but agreed to write to him and ask.

He wrote, "Dear father , I am not saying that you did take a solid silver ladle from my home, and I am not saying you did not take it, but the fact is it has been missing since your visit."

The priest duly answered, "Your Excellency, Im not saying that "you do" sleep with your housekeeper , and I am not saying that you do not sleep with your housekeeper, but the fact is that if you were sleeping in your own bed, you would by now have found the silver ladle."

have a wonderful day reflecting on the things you see and hear. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Bank of Life.

I just could not resist this early this morning. The moment lasted a short time as I awaited my walking companions. The sun was just rising at my back. and the shadows of two trees behind me captured me in the moment.

It had an almost alien feeling about it. Was this some sinister being coming to carry me away? Was it the grim reaper coming to cash in his account of me?

As I walked those thoughts flashed through my brain, yes I do still have a bit of brain still functioning.

Of course this wandering mind of mine does not ever stop at those flashing moments.

Cashing in my account was the start of an interesting thread of thought.

Imagine you had a bank account that every morning deposited £86,400 into your account each morning. This account carries over no balance from day to day, allows you the bank account holder to keep no balance, every evening it cancels everything of the amount you failed to use during that day.

What would you do? Draw out every pound each day?

In truth we all have just such a bank. It is called, "The Bank of Time."

Every morning it credits us with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off as lost , whatever time you have failed to use or have killed, using it unwisely.

It carries no balance from the day before or from day to day. It allows no overdraft so you cannot borrow against yourself or use more than you have.

Each day the account starts fresh. Each night unused time is destroyed. If you fail to use the days deposits its your loss and you cannot appeal.

There is never any borrowing time. You cannot take out a loan and you cannot borrow from another account. The time you have is the time you have and that is it.

Time management is how you decide to use it or to spend it.

It is never the case of us never having enough it is always just a case of how we choose to use it.

What are our priorities?

Hae a good day I hope I have not wasted any of your precious time reading this.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

The Old Olive Tree.

On the site I am just now there stands this old olive tree. It has stood there for many years, probably through wars and all sorts of difficult times. In latter years it has been a part of this campsite probably hardly noticed by the many who pass it on bike or in car or like me walking. 

It will have been surrounded by the sounds of laughter and sadness. Maybe in the past lovers sat in the shade beneath its branches.

Now it is old some of its branches are beginning to decay and drop to the ground. But in its ancient state it still contains a beauty that I have tried to capture on my iPad . I used Procreate and the pencil tool to make I hope a pencil drawing. It looks a bit sharper for real as is always the case when transferred to here and Facebook.

I became very well acquainted with this tree over the hours I have sat drawing it. it will forever be my friend and a thing of beauty.

There is the tale I used once from my pulpit. Forgive I am not preaching.

I showed my congregation, around 900 people a twenty pound note. Not easy on the salary I was earning at the time. I invited them to raise their hands if they would like to own this note. I am sure every hand in the church was raised.

I then crushed it in the palm of my hand screwing it into a ball. Now who still wants it. Again every hand went up.

I then came out of the pulpit and threw it on the ground and pounded under my shoe the dirt from my sole transferring to it.

'Who wants it now?" I asked. Still every hand went up.

I then spilt some water on it. Still every hand was raised.

The bottom line was no matter what I did to this note it did not decrease in value. It was still £20.

Life can crumple us and grind us down. We make wrong and right decisions. We sometimes feel low and unloved and unwanted. We sometimes feel lost and cannot see any brightness in tomorrow.

We grow old and wrinkly and grey. No matter what has happened or what will happen, we never lose our value.

Each person reading this is special and still has worth and your value has not decreased. 

Never forget that.

Have a great day.

Friday, 2 June 2017

The war of the wolves.

I was out walking yesterday and saw this bloom that was similar to the old favourite Of lupins. My father used to grow and cross fertilise lupins creating a wide variety of poker like blooms. This bloom seems like a cross between them and a foxglove. 

As I stared at it I began not see only the bloom but it in the context of the greens and the wall behind it.  It became very much an abstract of life. Sadly as usual it does not show to its best.  I could not resist painting this almost as an abstract.

It fed my inner being and made me feel happy and it stuck with me all the way back to my van. I can still see it now making me smile.

It obviously fed the good part of my inner being.

Let me explain further.

An old Cherokee Indian was out walking with his grandson trying his best to respond to the many questions he was being bombarded with.

At that point they saw two wolves. The old man said these two wolves remind us of the inner battle that takes place within us all.

Let us call it the battle of the two wolves.

One walk is diligent, courageous, humble, benevolent and full of the joy of the beauty of the world around us and strives to protect this and be at one with it.

The other wolf is slothful, cowardly, vain, arrogant and full of self interest, anger, sorrow and envy.

They walked on and the grandson thought on his words. he then said, "Grandad if there is an inner war within us the war of the two wolves. Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee replied, " The one you feed."

I wonder which wolf was on top when President Trump said there was no need to care about the environment because climate change is a myth?

Sorry I am not trying to be political or argumentative I am just sad it seems that the beauty around us seems less important.

have a marvellous day. I wonder what beauty will hit me today. I have been passing an old ancient olive tree and trying to capture it in a drawing wondering what and who has passed it before me.