Harmonica solos


Now I know that some of my friends in Poitou-Charentes and for that matter some of my Westfield college friends are aficionados of good Rhythm and Blues/Rock/Blues music.img1450110445192-168-1-139

I was flicking through the channels as you do, especially when you are home alone, because my wife is away doing the decent thing by taking her 93 year old mother to Lanzarote for a bit of sun…anyway I came across some old footage of Culture club doing Karma Chameleon, and it is good.. but what elevates it is the harmonica.

That set me thinking and for such a simple instrument it is responsible for some of the most brilliant tracks and here are a few. You can click on the links to hear them.

Led Zeppelin   Bring it on home   

Paul Butterfields Blues Band   Everything’s going to be alright

Beatles     Love me do  now this is a fairly average song, very much of its time but without the harmonic it would be quite poor and who knows without it, it might have been the end for the Beatles???

So there are just 3 well four if you include Boy George and I am sure you will have your favourites, but the point is the addition of a bit of Harp invariably improves a song.



Mellow Thursday in Poitou-Charentes; Black Friday tomorrow!


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Yesterday was grey, but today is mellow. It is a colour, like yellow but more rounded and with greys and browns mingled in.  It is sort of autumnal but I think you could get mellow in other seasons.mellow-thursday5I had a short walk around the environs of our house but it took some time as I was messing about taking photos.mellow-thursday1

You need good light for mellow, not necessarily the magic light you get when there are black clouds, but the sun is still shining in one part of the sky. However it is  that sort of light, but not so dramatic.mellow-thursday6

The old outbuildings are always good for a photo, I especially like the blend of old wood and mellow stone.mellow-thursday3

Autumn berries provide nice mellow shots, especially these spindle berries, less harsh than the bright orange rose hips, these are a more mellow pink colour.mellow-thursday8

The Oak trees are at their autumn best now and with some grey skies looked quite beautiful.mellow-thursday4

This is the dead seed head of a type of wild carrot, which is quite common along the road sides, has white flowers in summer but is grey brown now.mellow-thursday7

And finally one last shot of some more old buildings.mellow-thursday2I have about 50 more similar shots but thought 8 would be sufficient… probably too many. Also they are best viewed full size, they look nicer.

Cranes ( Grus grus )


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Several groups of Cranes have been passing over today, heading south. Me I am heading north…. who is brightest me or the cranes? Anyway this small group of 8 flew over and I took a few photos.cranes1

Then two of them peeled off and started to head back north…. odd I thought, they did not go far and then circled back round, but continued to circle. They did about three circuits and all the time making a lot of noise.cranes2

Then one lone crane appeared and it was honking very loudly.cranes3

It joined up with the other two and then all three headed off southwards again.cranes4

I presume this was a young one which had got detached from the group and Mum and Dad had slowed up to let it catch up… How nice.

Grey France

You do get days in rural France when it is grey. Not just normal grey but all pervading, blanketing, noiseless, still, depressing grey.grey-france1

One of the things I really like about this part of France is the stillness. When some years ago I was working and stress was part of my life I valued a break in France particularly for the peace and absolute quiet.grey-france4

However on a grey day that peace acts to accentuate the grey. There is no wind there is a light rain, the sky is uniform and grey.grey-france2

The camera does lie, it makes it look less grey than it actually is.grey-france3

France does grey better than anywhere else I know.grey-france5


Radio 4 Today programme



On our way back from Spain to GB so a few days in France Poitou-Charentes ( I know its not called that any more) and we have the joy??? of waking up next to John Humphries.p022vhzk

Between the crackles and buzzes caused by thunderstorms and the fridge turning itself on and off I detected stuff about Trump, Farrage, Broadband, passports for hospital treatment ( that would have been a problem for my Mum and Dad) and stuff about Russia and ballistic missiles.  However the only news, ie stuff that had actually happened was that West Brom had beaten Burnley 4-0. Oh and that there was a photo of a man in Bristol in one of the papers with water up to his waist.

How nice to be returning to normality.




Galls are really interesting….. yes they are. These ones are called ‘Spangle galls’ and are caused by a wasp called Neuroterus albipesgalls1

They are like a plant cancer, they are caused by an insect laying its egg or eggs inside part of a plant, often the leaf. Then the larva hatches out and lives inside the plant, protected by the plant. But its presence causes the cells of the plant to start multiplying and gradually a  noticeable ‘bump’ appears, this of course provides more protection for the larvae living inside and also food, because the larvae are feeding on the plant cells. The larvae will produce chemicals like plant hormones which stimulate the plant cells to start  multiplying faster than normal.

What is interesting and I think unexplained is that the ‘bump’ is not just any random shape, but develops into a recognizable shape and that different insects will cause different shapes to be formed. Sometimes the insect causing the gall produces quite small and easily overlooked formations and other insect species will produce much larger more noticeable structures. Look closely and you will see that the galls on this Oak leaf are different to the ones in the first photo. These are called Button galls and also caused by a wasp Neuroterus numismalisgalls3

Some plants seem more prone to galls than others. Oaks seem to be hosts to a vast number, but then again Oaks are the home to more species in general than any other tree. One gall that many people are familiar with is the so called pincushions which develop on Dog roses.

Many Oak galls fall off the leaves in the autumn and remain on the forest floor throughout the winter and during this time the larvae turns into a pupae and then in the spring it hatches out and a tiny fly or wasp will emerge from the gall. These adults do not normally live for very long, just long enough to meet a partner and then lay more eggs in next years leaves and so it goes on. in this photo you can see where some of the galls have already fallen off leaving a white scar.galls2

Have a look now on the undersides of Oak leaves and you may well see all sorts of galls. Not just on the leaves, gall can be found on the buds and the seeds even on roots, but probably best not to go digging up the trees.galls8




I have for some time been thinking of investing in the services of a stripper. Yesterday I took the plunge.  I decided to shell out a reasonable amount of cash, there are some advertised on the internet for quite low prices and they do promise the earth but I suspect that what they deliver might be well below expectations. At the other end of the scale you can pay out quite a lot of money but all said and done it is just a stripper, so I decided to go mid range. (Quality and performance) Continue reading

Rallye International de Charentes ; 17th September 2016


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Rallye International de Charentes: 17th September 2016.CarsAngouleme 318The route has been announced and here it is. It is in 4 parts  First of all the early morning section. ( not that early as the participants don’t like to rise too promptly!! ) Continue reading

What’s on in Poitou-Charentes; September 2016


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Well its getting to the back end of the season however for me there is one mega event and that is the weekend at Angouleme. This is a Porsche 911 which is a great car, although I was not so lucky with my second one, so it is unlikely that I will be blessed by a third one, but you never know, and I live in hopes.  230_BBA_5902

Festival Coup de Chauffe; Cognac: 4th to 6th Sept (more)

L’Imprevu Festival Montemboeuf; Montemboeuf: 11th to13th Sept (more)2014 site

Barrobjective photographic exhibition;  Barro: 19th to 27th Sept (more) excellent ….make the effort to visit this.

Remontee de la Seudre; Royan: 12th and 13th Sept ((more)

Le Grand Pavois boat show; La Rochelle: 16th to 21st Sept. (more) Biggest in Europe?

Circuit des Remparts/International Rallye: Angouleme: 18th to 20th  September……   I love it. (more)

Half Marathon; Chasseneuil: 20th Sept (more)