Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – A Memory and A Smile

Back in 1974, Her Majesty presented new Colours (AKA Standards or flags) to four of the battalions in my Regiment. Apart from the main event, Her Majesty would be moving to points around the grounds to see various presentations.

For some reason (being a Sargent with nothing else to do on the day), my job was to open Her Majesty’s car door at the Colours presentation parade and, towards the end of the day, at the DZ (drop zone) where the Red Devils Free Fall Team were to present Her Majesty with a baton. There were two of us for the initial event, one standing on either side of where the car would stop (I was to be on the far side of the car to escort the Lady-in-waiting), but would be on my own on the DZ.

It had been raining hard before the event and the forecast was for more rain through the day so we were equipped with an umbrella. The drill was: if raining, we would stand to attention and salute as the car arrived, open the door, turn away slightly, open the umbrella and hold it up as Her Majesty and Her Lady-in-waiting got out. We would then close the door, gently, and escort Her Majesty to her seat. In the event rain stopped, we would leave the brollies to one side and salute after opening the door. Needless to say there were numerous practice runs to ensure we had it down pat on the day.

As predicted it was raining when the car drew up for the presentation parade so, door open, turn away and up with the umbrella. As I turned back I was shocked to see the Lady-in-waiting heading to the other door – not a good start. I pushed the door too and did a (very) fast march around to the other door in time to hold the umbrella up ready to escort to the platform. At this point two officers, who apparently had not been told that we would be doing the escort, came up and took over, taking the umbrellas. Oh and when I pushed the door it hadn’t closed properly so the driver had to get out and close it: He wasn’t very happy.

Fortunately the rain stopped and the sun came out before the Red Devils jump so I didn’t need the umbrella, which is just as well as the officer had disappeared with it. Unfortunately the ground, being grass, was soaking wet, as was the carpet laid from the car stopping point to the platform.

Now anyone who has seen a military parade, or the guards at Buckingham Palace, will know that British soldiers do not smile or bat an eyelid, irrespective of what happens around them. In some circumstances the eyes are allowed to move from the straight ahead position, door opening being one of them just in case a hand is needed.

So there I was standing to attention as the car arrived. All went well with the door opening and me saluting as Her Majesty started to exit the car. Then I heard “I knew I should have brought my wellies”.

Have you ever tried to control the onset of a belly laugh? I’m sure my body was shaking with laughter but I managed to keep a straight face, despite my eyes nearly watering, as Her Majesty looked straight at me with a big grin on her face.

Rest in Peace Your Majesty; I am very proud to have served you.

PS: At a later date I also had the privilege to meet and have a drink with Prince Charles, now His Majesty King George III, but that’s a story for another time and probably best not told here Winking smile

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Another first for my taste buds

Every time I looked at a risotto I have been put off, thinking of it as savoury rice pudding. Don’t get me wrong, I love a creamy rice pudding, particularly the semi-burnt skin, but there was just something about the look of risotto that just put me off: until, that is, I saw a picture of Gino D’Acampo’s Asparagus, Broad Bean, Pea and Leek Risotto.

imageI just love Gino’s books; he makes it so easy to follow the steps, and the images show what the finished dish is supposed to look like.

The boss and I are now converts and will be trying out a few variants.

Follow the link and give it a go, even if you’ve never tried risotto before – you’ll love it.

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A British Record Broken

Back on 11th July last year I proudly announced that my grandson, Sam, had taken the British Powerlifting Record in his category, bench pressing 230kg.

Today that record has been beaten, by 32.5kg, by (you guessed it) Sam, with a new British record for the Bench Press at 262.5kg.

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As well as the British Record, he came first in his class (obviously since he broke the record) and third in the overall competition. At 20 years old, he was the youngest in the competition. Needless to say, one very proud Grandad here. Smile

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Another Day, Another Meal – and other things

My cooking skills are improving – and I’ve got the cuts and burns to prove it Winking smile A couple of pictures to make your mouth water:

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20220123_183117  Top Right: Mexican Bean Stew with cheddar and parsley mash
Middle Left: Vegetarian Lasagne
Middle Right: Vegetarian Roast; too hungry to wait so ate it
Bottom: Fish Pie

Politicians

If you read back through my earlier posts you will see I tend to knock politicians for various things – this time it’s about the ‘do what I say, not what I do’ attitude of certain people who should know better. Normally I don’t really care as it just gives the other side ammunition for their school boy (sorry ladies) antics in the commons when, it seems to me, they do nothing but have a go at the other side. These are supposed to be Professional people.

My main reason for this part is that the rules should apply to everyone. When I hear of idiots risking themselves and others by partying, meeting or whatever else you want to call it, during a lockdown and getting fined for it, I don’t have any sympathy for them. If you do the deed then you should take responsibility and pay the price – but no one, except the Monarch, is exempt from the law and it should be applied without favour.

Computers

Again, if you read the About page or some of my previous entries, you will know I write computer programs and have done since the 1980’s. I’m currently working on a fairly large project developing an App for SharePoint, using the JavaScript programming language. Last week I built and published a version to the test server and things started going wrong.

The App consists of a number of main list, supported by other lists containing lookup data such as Country.

For some unknown reason, with this build, some of these lookups stopped working; to complicate things, just three out of the ten main lists that use them could not link to the lookups. These lookups, and the lists that use them, are part of the original design and coding and have been working throughout.

Now computers are funny things to program – they always expect the people building them and the users to be logical Winking smile It’s something I thought I was, but I could not find what had gone wrong; even by switching off the various new parts one at a time.

Fortunately I always clone the development after doing a published build. This allowed me do go back a version and take a copy, with the idea that I would add each of the changes made in the new version in turn, testing until I found the piece that broke. Sounds simple doesn’t it. Six ‘add and test’ cycles later I had added all of the changes without finding anything wrong – the code worked as it should and the lookups were working across the board.

Strangely enough, once I got past telling the system what I think of it in no uncertain terms, I remembered that this is why I started playing with computers in the first place. I have a brother, Glenn, who is 21 years younger than me. He was studying Computer Science for his GCSE’s. Back then the computer he used was a BBC Micro Model B which had a 32 kilobyte memory and a cassette recorder to save programs to. I still have mine in its original box. The language programs were written in was BBC Basic, and basic is the correct term compared with todays computer languages.

Anyway we went to visit the family one weekend and Glenn was up in his room where I found him working on a computer program. I asked him what he was doing and he explained, telling me he was having a problem with a piece of code not working. I looked over his shoulder as he was explaining the code and pointing out where the issue was. For some reason two of the lines didn’t look in the logical order and I told him that I thought they should be reversed. He made the change and it worked. That evening, after he went out, I went to his room and wrote my first program – a simple program to put ‘Hallo World’ on the screen – I haven’t looked back since and it’s been fun.

Stay Safe folks

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It’s That Time of the Year

The time between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day is a bit strange in our household, particularly this year with the potential of another lockdown. Irrespective of the dithering’s of our Government, we made the decision to stay as safe as we can do whilst the number of daily recorded positives soured in to the 100k + region. Having said that, we did enjoy a fantastic Christmas dinner with our No2 Daughter, her husband and our youngest Granddaughter.

Just to get back to the pandemic for a while: In my last post, back in September, I wrote the line “As of today (27/09/2021) 7,664,230 confirmed cases and 136,168 attributed deaths and still rising at ~30,000 a day”. Well that has been blown away over the last three months. Todays (29/12/2021) figures are 12,338,676 confirmed cases and 148,021 attributed deaths; still in 4th place in the number of infections table. At the current daily rate we will break through 13,000,000 by the New Year. I like to put things in perspective so here goes: The total population of the UK is 62,348,447 (taken from CORVID-19 statistics page) which means that 19.79% of the population have tested positive. This does not take account of those who didn’t develop any symptoms and, therefore, probably not tested. For comparison the three countries above us in that table are :- USA: 53,168,862 (15.93%), India: 34,808,886 (2.49%) and Brazil: 22,250,218 (10.36%); I haven’t looked at the countries below us in the table but it does make you wonder what the hell we are doing wrong in the UK.

Enough Doom and GloomBack to the season to be jolly

WP_20190211_14_11_37_RichTaken at the Christmas Shop in Clearwater, Florida on our last trip before the lockdowns started.

It raises the cheer level a bit.

christmasOops SorryWhoops! Sorry

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas (or whatever other occasion you celebrate at this time of year) May we all get through this pandemic and enjoy a peaceful 2022.

Happy New Year and stay safe folks.


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The Beauties of the UK

As you know, last year, and a fair bit of this year, was cancelled as far as holidays are concerned. Like many people we tend to holiday abroad these days, but we are not comfortable with the situation to do that just yet. Whilst all the restrictions on our life are being removed, the pandemic is still with us and the UK is back in forth place in the Corvid numbers chart. As of today (27/09/2021) 7,664,230 confirmed cases and 136,168 attributed deaths and still rising at ~30,000 a day.

Because of this, and the need to get out of the house for a while, we decided to hire a Motorhome and get out to visit Scotland, the one part of the UK we haven’t been except in passing. The good thing about an RV/Motorhome is that you are isolated in the most part.

I would advise anyone who hasn’t been and who loves the countryside to go to Scotland. the scenery is absolutely stunning.

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There is, however one road to be weary of; All of the RV sites from John O’Groats to Thurso were full whilst we were there, so we overnighted some 40 miles south in Dunbeath and did a circuit A9, A99, A836 then back south on the A897.

When you see a road has an ‘A’ classification you can be forgiven for believing that all is well and you will have no trouble taking a motorhome down it – Not the A897. This is a 38 mile long, very narrow road with just about enough room to fit the vehicle on; there are lots of passing places because, as the sign tells you, this is a road used by logging lorries. There are also a number of potholes strategically placed to rattle the crockery and your teeth.

To make maters worse, the last 10 miles or so head East and  my navigation system decided that, as our destination was to the South West, it would be quicker to take a ‘road’ that went directly South. I should have known better! I followed Tom’s (Tom Tom) instructions and turned right on to an unnamed  road about the same size as the A897 only this one didn’t have any passing places and about 500yds in started getting narrower; and bumpier; and, whilst still paved, had grass growing out of the middle. Unfortunately by this time I had traversed a couple of bends and there was nowhere to turn around and I really didn’t fancy reversing back along the track.

It couldn’t get any worse so I said “let’s call it an adventure” and carried on. It got worse when we were going up hill and in to the clouds; I couldn’t see more than 10 yards ahead. If there had been a sheep in the road I would still be eating mutton stew till Christmas. Once again I said “it’s an adventure” and carried on. By the time we re-joined the A9 the boss was threatening to clout me around the head if I mentioned ‘adventure’ again.

I must be a bit of a masochist; I replied “Oh come on; it was an adventure”; no wonder I’m bald on the top of my head Winking smile

All in all – Scotland is a really great place to visit.

Stay safe folks

Posted in Amusing, Holidays, Post Lock Down | Leave a comment

Cute Filet Ends Vegetarian Week

My cooking skills are getting better; and I have the cuts and burns to prove it Smile

The post title refers to the filet mignon we had last night, along with fondant potatoes and asparagus with a Diane source. The word ‘mignon’ is French for ‘cute’.

We have been on a vegetarian kick this week which, strangely enough, I enjoyed. Although I did cheat mid week with a bacon butty for lunch.

The star of the week, according to the boss who marked it 10/10, was an aubergine and courgette hot pot. Layers of thinly sliced aubergine and courgette brushed with olive oil and interspersed with cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, crushed garlic and rosemary, baked in the oven with the lid on for 50 minutes. Then covered in a tomato sauce which I made last week, a mash potato layer, a layer of cheddar and a layer of parmesan substitute. Back in the oven for 15 minutes until the top was a nice golden brown.

Stay safe out there folks – the pandemic isn’t over yet.

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A British Record

Number 1 Grandson, Sam, just got the British record in his age group (under 23), bench pressing 230kg

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He is through to the European Powerlifting Championship in August.

So proud of him

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Proud Grandfather here

Just found out that Number 1 Grandson, Sam, has been invited to train with the England Power Lifting Team – Well done Sam; Very proud of you.

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Going Greek

Yesterday we went Greek curtesy of Rick Stein with his Soutzoukakia. (Meatballs in tomato sauce with cinnamon and cumin)

I’m scoring this one 10/10 as the boss, noted for her lack of enthusiasm for meat, cleared the plate.

I only changed two things:

  • The tomato sauce called for a cinnamon stick – didn’t have any so I just added 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon;
  • We didn’t fancy rice so we had it with tagliatelle.

Stay safe folks

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