Thursday, 30 April 2015

A-Z Day 30: Zoo

We made it! A month's worth of bloggery. So, for our last blog, let's visit the land of hairy baboons, plodding elephants, sleeping lions and exotic birds. Yes - we're Going to the Zoo!

Talking of hairy baboons, I've come across a wonderful tribute to the late, great Windsor Safari Park, now Legoland. I'm sure many UK bloggers will have happy memories of days out spent there. Mostly of said baboons, who, when we were visiting, were certainly not as pictured, quietly reading a book. Reading? No! Boring! Why read when there are thousands of windscreen wipers there for the taking? We have the evidence - in writing, that one of the first phrases Ms GP learnt to say was "'Boons climin over Daddi's car!!" Better than tigers making a snack out of your tyres, I guess. But it was fun, and we were almost disappointed on our last visit,  to discover that the powers that be had banned cars and we were escorted through on a safari train instead. Happy days.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A-Z Day 29: Yellow

Image courtesy of "patptichaya," at

Y is for: Yo-yo,  yacht , Yolanda  and yellow. Yellow is the colour of buttercups, sunflowers, daffodils, sunshine and  pancakes. And what could be nicer than a plateful of golden pancakes with banana topping. Yes, you're in for another trip down memory lane, this time to Australia, whence originated the original Bananas in Pyjamas song that I remember singing to the Junior Greenpatches. And...oh dear....I do wish I'd not remembered these; from the 1970s, comes the stuff of nightmares (and people worry about some of today's children's programming - come back Teletubbies, all is forgiven!). Yes, it's the Banana Splits. Time to don your sunglasses. All together now....

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A-Z Day 28: Xanadu

No pictures today. You've quite enough to put up with as it is.  I gather that Coleridge wrote Kubla Khan whilst under the influence of something - and we're not referring to one too many late-night cheese on toast snacks, either.

Kubla Khan
Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment. In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
   The shadow of the dome of pleasure
   Floated midway on the waves;
   Where was heard the mingled measure
   From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
   A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

As for theme-related music....well....enough said! 

Monday, 27 April 2015

A-Z Day 27: Washing Day

Trout image courtesy of Vectorolie at

"Those who wash on Monday have all the week to dry," as the old saying goes. Or as the old folk song goes:

'Twas on a [ Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday ] morning
When I beheld my darling
She looked so neat and charming
In every high degree
She looked so neat and nimble, O
[ A-washing | A-hanging | A-starching | A-ironing | A-folding | A-airing | A-wearing ] of her linen, O
Dashing away with the smoothing iron
Dashing away with the smoothing iron
Dashing away with the smoothing iron
She stole my heart away.

How can one ever match such a model of domestic endeavour? I certainly can't.  Still, one thing that Ms Perfect didn't have was a singing washing machine. No, not sinning - singing! When our old faithful front loader conked out  recently after fifteen years faithful service, we installed a new, super-duper all singing, all dancing model in its place. You know - the kind that has enough settings and programs to put Mr Smoothing Iron's sweetheart to shame. Though it stops short of drying, folding and ironing the load.  I nearly jumped out of my skin though, at the end of the first test cycle,  when it launched into a tinny version of the motif from Schubert's Trout Quintet. Well....What can you say? And I'm not the only one, it seems. A search for  youtube Samsung, trout I've found several other people showing off their domestic laundry arrangements. Maybe we could form our own quintet. I wonder what we'd call ourselves?

Anyway,  rather than deprive you of the pleasure of looking them up for youself, I'll leave you with a link to a performance of the proper version.  

Saturday, 25 April 2015

A-Z Day 25: Venice

V is for: Vacuum cleaner, Vim, varicose veins, vigil, video, velcro, vitamins and....Venice, where we celebrated our (belated) 50th birthdays, some six years ago. Here are just a few of the wonderful memories we brought back with us.

Venetian-themed music? I've been completely at a loss as to what to choose. Until a minute ago, when by one of those happy co-incidences I stumbled across a recording of Giovanni Gabrieli's In Ecclesiis.   Cue hazy  memories of singing in  this one for a combined schools' concert more years ago than I care to think. I've also clearer  memories of food fights in the dining hall before the performance. (It being one of those occasions when combined our musical resources with those of a nearby boy's public school). Isn't it strange how you can go from the sublime to the ridiculous in just a few lines? From Venice to flying mashed potato and squashed peas. The mind is a strange beast indeed.

Friday, 24 April 2015

A-Z Day 24: Ukulele

image courtesy of koratmember at

Well - I did warn you that I'd be blogging a right pot-pourri, didn't I?  Never more so than when we're talking ukuleles. Don't worry, I'll not be waxing lyrical about George Formby. No, no blog on ukes could ever be complete without a mention of that intrepid octet - the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. They've been on the go for over 30 years. We've seen them live a couple of times; their concerts are usually sold out almost as soon as the tickets go on sale. How to describe them? Professional musicians? Comedians? Philosophers?  May it's best to let them tell you:

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a group of all-singing, all-strumming Ukulele players, using instruments bought with loose change, which believes that all genres of music are available for reinterpretation, as long as they are played on the Ukulele.

And what reinterpretation!  Anything and everything: from Kate Bush to Handel, David Bowie to George Formby (Cossack style!), Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg to the Shadows and much, much more. Here they are in full flood  in a miscellany of hits called  Fly Me Off the Handel.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A-Z Day 23: Travel

Heading towards the border: Spring 2011

Today's blog is somewhat  of a cheat, being an extension of Tuesday's Railway theme. I was pondering the meaning of the  saying To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.  Did you realise that its origin is from Robert Louis Stevenson's essay El Dorado? No, neither did I, at least, not until about 20 minutes ago. The wonders of the internet, eh? What does it mean then? "Anticipation of an event is better than the actual experience?" "The journey is more important than the destination?" When we embarked on our epic Durham to Oban trip four years ago, I seem to remember we veered between the two viewpoints. To spend all our travel time longing for it to end would have meant us  missing  out on so many wonderful experiences along the way. Although there were some (East shore of Loch Lomond, anybody?) that I would not want to repeat!  

For the music spot, I'm recycling another old set of  Greenpatch travelogues.  I love the old 1980s Intercity advert.  Just one thing though. Have a close look at the clip and see if you can spot one significant difference between the behaviour of our happy commuters  then and now. Go on....