Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Checking passports again.

On 8th October I was requested by the Worshipful Company of World Traders to assist them in their attempt to break the Guinness World Record of the greatest number of different nationalities all singing the same song at the same time.
Had they heard of my beautiful singing voice? Was it my mellifluous syllables that had enchanted them? No, they needed me to check the passports of the participants in order to compile the list of nationalities.

It was a fun evening at Goodenough College in London and although I was obliged to refuse recognition of several participants' claimed nationalities I did not feel that it was in the spirit of the evening to have them deported.

Did they break the record? Click here to find out.

Monday, 29 October 2018

The cat by Betty's Tea Shop


Whilst enjoying tea and scones at Betty's Tea Shop in York the other day, I happened to look out of the window at the facade of the building opposite and noticed this cat. I wondered if its intended function had been to deter the pigeons. Judging by the amount of droppings on its back, I would say that it failed.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Shop signs in Ross on Wye

When I delivered a talk recently in Ross on Wye I noticed that there remained many independent shops in business and apparently flourishing. 
Some are more extrovert than others.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Why is there no plughole in my washbasin?


Staying at the Hotel La Marbrerie recently in Caunes Minervois, southern France, I was nonplussed in the bathroom to discover that the washbasin had no apparent or obvious means of discharging its load of water.

 Taps there were, to provide ingress for the water, but means of egress I could not discover.



Then I noticed that there was a hand hold fashioned in the porcelain bowl.

Taking my courage in one hand and the bowl in the other, I lifted.








And Hey Presto!

The washbowl swung on metal pivots to reveal a second basin and drain hole beneath.

One lives and learns.



Thursday, 6 September 2018

Sleeping in two countries at once.

On my recent trip to the Continent, collecting material for a forthcoming book on frontiers, I spent a night in the Hotel Arbez at La Cure. The hotel was hurriedly built across the proposed new Franco-Swiss border in the delay between the signing of the treaty between Switzerland and France in 1862 and its ratification. With one door in Switzerland and the other in France, it fulfilled its owner's intended purpose of providing him with a route for his smuggling.

The customs agreements today have removed that advantage but not moved the frontier. This is the bed that I slept in. One side is in France, the other in Switzerland. On a restless night one could make several border crossings without awakening.



Wednesday, 8 August 2018

A wall covered by Ladybirds in Canterbury.

Have you ever seen a wall covered with Ladybird books? 
Pop along to Canterbury Museum at the Beaney Institute and visit their exhibition highlighting the artists who made the Ladybird Books so distinctive. 
Click here for the link.
You have until 29 September.

Thursday, 2 August 2018