Saturday, 30 June 2012


The Emergency Phone Number, 999 is 75 years old today!

9 was thought to be an easy number to remember.
0 was considered first, but as soon as the 0 was requested, the caller
was put through to the operator.     So that idea was abandoned.

I wonder how many lives have been saved because of that simple number 9.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

"Shop in a Front Room"

Years ago, when times were hard and unemployment rife, many people attempted to make a living by converting the front room of their home into a shop. No Health and Safety rules in those days!

One such shop was in Pollards Terrace, part of Etherley Lane, Bishop Auckland and was owned by a certain Mrs Chisholm.
The shop was dark and musty but it sold everything the neighbours could possibly require. As it was close to a Junior school it was well frequented by the children at the end of each day.

This is an alphabet I wrote about the contents of Mrs Chisholm's shop.

Mrs Chisholm’s Shop-in-a-Front-Room.

A is for acid drops, tangy and sweet.
B is for butter, rancid in heat.
C is for clothes pegs and a cat you can’t trust.
D is for darning wool, dolls’ eyes and dust.
E is for everything packed in so tight.
F is for fly-papers, to hang from the light.
G is for gollies on marmalade and jam.
H is for handkerchiefs, hat-pins and ham.
I is for ink to use on schooldays.
J is for jelly that wobbles on trays.
K is the kettle you boil on the fire.
L is for lump-sugar for tea with the squire.
M is for milk with cream on the top.
N is for nails to fix the old shop
O is for oil, for chests when its damp.
P is for paraffin to use in the lamp.
Q is the Q in the middle of squash.
R is for Reckitt’s to go in the wash.
S is for salt that comes in a block.
T is for tea to brew in the pot.
U is for umbrella - open or shut.
V is for vinegar - bring your own jug.
W is for wood in bundles of sticks.
X is for Xmas cards and envelopes to lick.
Y is for yarn, to knit up so fine.
Z is for Zebro to make the grate shine.

Babar the Elephant

Babar the Elephant will celebrate his 80th birthday in July.  

He has been entertaining children for all those years and is still doing so.
Seven Stories Bookshop in Newcastle will release his latest book on July 21st and 22nd;
"Babar and the Celesteville Games."  A free event.

Happy Birthday, Babar.

Monday, 25 June 2012


What's in a name?

Everything!  Preferably a life-time of satisfaction, but at least not misery from a name that always needs spelling or causes the world to mock.

The recent Jubilee fever produced a flurry of Elizabeths - rather sedate but quite acceptable.
And one Union Jack!!!! (as published in the Press.)  I think not.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Slippers are Slippers....

A few days ago I heard that Boots, the Chemist will soon be celebrating 100 years of trading in Bishop Auckland. A wonderful achievement!
This reminded me of a tale my mother used to tell. When she was about 11 or 12 years old, a new shop was about to open in Newgate Street.  There was great speculation as to what kind of shop it would be and when a conundrum appeared in the window asking:-
                     "If slippers are slippers and shoes are shoes, what are boots?"
the excitement became even more heightened.
                        Of course the answer was "Dispensing Chemists."

Monday, 18 June 2012

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A June Day

Wallington Hall in Northumberland is one of the most beautiful estates to visit, approached by tree-covered lanes and green meadows. Twisting footpaths lead to the well-signposted Walled Garden.  According to the picture postcard on sale in the National Trust shop this is what we should have seen.

Wallington borders
However with relentless rain beating down, foliage contributing extra dampness and a path that resembled a stream, we accepted defeat and turned our attention to the Hall itself. Impressive yet compact, it was owned by generations of the Blackett and Trevelyan families and is centred round the remarkable Central Hall where huge pre-Raphaelite paintings cover the walls and depict the history of Northumberland.

The main rooms are south-facing and elegant with decorated ceilings and deep window seats, and in one there is a special collection known as Lady Wilson’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Yet it is a friendly, family home and has a room filled with dolls’ houses and a huge number of tin soldiers ready for battle. There’s a Nursery where the walls are decorated with tapestries and appliqu├ęd illustrations of nursery rhymes.
Throughout the house many of the wallpapers are pale and flowery and date back at least a hundred years.
Black and white photographs line the walls of the corridor outside the kitchen. They show smiling servants, obviously happy and appreciated by their forward thinking employers at Wallington Hall.



Saturday, 2 June 2012

Kindle Again.

It’s becoming very interesting to look at the books that are available on Kindle now and discover ones written by people we know.

I see a list of them by local author, Wendy Robertson. She has two teenage books; “Lizza” and “Cruelty Games” as well as adult novels, including “Paulie’s Web,” and “Gabriel Painting,”
 ‘If you liked the Pitmen Painters, you’ll enjoy this novel.’

Also "The Romancer - On Being a Writer," and several more.

I hope to put my own novels on to Kindle very soon, but at the moment I have a collection of short stories there – “Red Shoes and Other Stories,” priced at only 80p.