The returned

It’s over two years since I last posted to this blog, I think that counts as a big FAIL in terms of writing something every day!

I’m certainly not short of things to write about – I probably have too many hobbies and interests and despite taking voluntary redundancy a couple of years ago and not having made much of an effort to find a new job I seem to be busy all the time.

The following is a list of some of my interests and hobbies:

Family history

I started with several aims – to be able to name and have details of birth, marriage and death of all my ancestors back to my great-great grandparents (including the names of their parents), to follow the family name as far back as I could, to follow the female line back as far as possible, to confirm whether I was descended from Rob Roy MacGregor (I am), to research my Grandmother’s maiden name (Begbie), to check the ‘Hyde’ connection in my family tree (not done) and to general keep a record of all my relatives.

Local history

This started from a desire to know more about my house, and turned into learning more about the village where I live.

Doctor Who

Jon Pertwee was ‘my’ Doctor, the earliest Doctor I remember from my childhood. I have knitted my own 4th Doctor scarf. I like the very early Doctor Who episodes – An Unearthly Child and those first Dalek episodes are brilliant. However, I can’t pick a favourite Doctor, they are all good, and in any case, there only is one Doctor, just many incarnations. Similarly, there have been many brilliant (and one ‘ace’) assistants. I wish to build my own Police Box, based on the Mackenzie Trench design, although made of wood.


My wife is interested in all things Anglo-Saxon I have been drawn into this hobby – including attempting to make my own Anglo-Saxon costume. We Anglo-Saxons defeated the Vikings in a battle at Stamford Bridge in 1066.

Natural History

I’ve been interested in Natural History since I was at school, and more particularly in Ornithology. Although I have a degree in Zoology I’m certainly no expert, but I like being able to observe the huge variety of nature there is around us. I am a member of the RSPB and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and am trying to encourage wild flowers to grow in my back garden, which in tern attracts all kinds of butterflies and other creatures.


My first computer was a Dragon 32, bought in 1982 and on which I learned to program in BASIC and 6809 assembly/machine code. By the 1990s I was using a dial-up modem to connect to bulletin boards and the first browser I used was Mosaic in the early 1990s. I learned HTML. I currently have a laptop with Windows 10 recently installed, but have also played around with various versions of Linux, Slackware being the first version I used and still my favourite.

Graphic design and typography

I particularly like those sans-serif typefaces like Johnston, and Gill Sans, and to learn about the history of different typefaces. I am also interested in calligraphy and lettering. My interest in graphic design links my interests in art and drawing with my interest using computers.


My parents met at art college so I suppose it is not surprising that I’m interested in art, mostly drawing and painting. My own children are more accomplished artists than I am.

Model making

I include with this model railways. I aim one day to build myself a garden railway, possibly based on a mid-1960s period and in gauge 1 (1/32nd scale).


Another creative activity, which also ties in with other interests, for example photographing wildlife.


I particularly like sci-fi/fantasy and thrillers/detective novels. However if I start reading a book I am unlikely to get anything else done for a while.

Physical activity

I enjoy walking, which of course is something that I can combine with my interest in natural history. I did take up running and would like to have a go at running a marathon one day, but haven’t been running for quite a while. Similarly I enjoy swimming but haven’t done so for some time.

Board games

Actually, not just board games, all kinds of games. Back in the 1980s I used to play AD&D.


I like doing cryptic crosswords, Sudoku puzzles etc.

Watching televison

I probably watch too much TV. Sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, whodunnits, comedy, quiz programmes …


I just enjoy pottering around in the garden – I suppose it is another creative activity. This year I’ve turned a front bed into a cottage garden and half the back garden is being developed as a wild-flower meadow. Only half because otherwise it would look like I just wasn’t cutting the grass.

I’ve probably missed out some interests. I cook every day, but that is more a necessity than a hobby, not that I don’t enjoy cooking including the occasional baking. I am also a Quaker, but that is a way of life, not a hobby. I am chairman of the parish council, that definitely isn’t a hobby but does take up some of my time. I do DIY around the house, enjoy a glass of red wine at weekends and a single chocolate each day.

So with all these other interests, although I have plenty to write about I somehow haven’t found the time to keep my blog up-to-date. I simply must try harder 🙂

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Internet access

I may not have internet access for the next five days. This will cause me a little difficulty in keeping up with my New Year’s resolution to post an update every day this year.

My solution – I’ll write the updates as usual each day on my computer, and post them all up in one go next weekend.

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Nightmare in Silver

If you don’t recognise the title of this posting, then you’re probably not Doctor Who fan. The epidsode which was first aired today on BBC1 was written by the imaginative Neil Gaiman.

So before I see anyone else’s views or reviews of this episode, here are my own opinions.

After a slightly shaky start in which suddenly the children whom Clara nannies are being given a day trip in the Tardis (when was that decided? Did I miss an episode?) we very quickly meet a chess playing cyberman actually controlled by Warwick Davies.

The best part comes in this episode when the silver cybermidges (is that what the mini cybermats were called?) try and take over The Doctors brain, and Matt Smith gives a brilliant performance in which the part of the mind still controlled by The Doctor battles the part controlled by ‘Mr Clever’ the cyberman. Meanwhile Clara shows she’s a woman who can take control of a situation, assuming responsibility for a small army unit and being very clear about who is in charge.

With elements of Golem from the Lord of the Ring films (and indeed many other TV programmes, films and books including the classic Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde) and maybe references to playing chess with devil for a man’s soul plus a leading lady who decides there’s more to life than marrying the emperor and becoming queen of the universe I thought this was an excellent nd well written episode, probably one of the best so far this season.

So that’s my opinion, what did other people think?

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Although the flowers of the hawthorn are called mayflowers, I really think it ought to be the bluebell, A week or two into May and they start to flower in British woodlands.

I have some bluebells growing in the garden, some planted under the trees at the far end in the supposedly ‘wild’ area, alongside the cowslips. The cowslips are cross breeding with other primula and seem to be spreading so well that I suspect that they may may be a rather more hardy variety than a native cowslip. The bluebells were given to me by my father, the bulbs dug up from his garden, I’m going to have to identify what variety they are, although I suspect they are either Spanish bluebells or a hybrid rather than the native variety,

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I find I’m using my reference books a lot less than I used to. With information so easy to find and access on the web, with the added advantage that the information on the web is more likely to be up-to-date than in a book, those books that I’d normally only use to look up facts are becoming a bit superfluous.

However sometimes that is information that is too specialised of localised to be found on the web, and at other times I find the time it takes to switch on and boot up a computer and wait for the browser to load it’s as quick or quicker to use a book.

So, books still have a place in our house (usually on a homemade bookshelf).

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Another door

There’s no door in our bedroom doorway at the moment, the reason being that I’ve taken the door off in order to strip all the paint off and repaint it, as well as putting new hinges on before rehanging it.

Since there is just my wife and I at home at the moment it doesn’t really matter that we don’t have a door for the bedroom.

On the subject of doorways, I believe there was a study or theory regarding doorways and memory that suggested that when you walk through a doorway that represents a change of context which can make you forget what you were thinking about, hence the reason people can walk into a room and then forget what they went there for. Also, the quickest way to remember is to go back to where you were, ie to the context in which you had the initial thought. It was something like that anyway – I’ll have to have a search for it on the internet – if I remember.

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I’ve been watching the new season of The Apprentice on BBC, and the first candigate to go was a phonetics teacher, which made me think of the word ghoti.

A ghoti is an animal that swims in the sea. This isn’t the usual spelling, but based on certain phonemes, for example ‘gh’ as in ‘tough’, ‘o’ as pronounced in ‘women’ and ‘ti’ as in ‘motion’ – gh-o-ti, pronounced ‘fish’


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