Monthly Archives: July 2018

Chip Off The Old Block

Last week’s Probus talk was a cracker! For those members who missed it, the subject was marquetry – not ‘The Common Marquet’, but applying wood veneer in decorative patterns to classical furniture.

Jack Metcalfe’s post retirement ‘hobby’ turned into a high intensity ‘obsession’ to replicate some of the wonderful work of local cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale, whose largest commission was to fit out Harewood House with his wonderful classic furniture.

Jack gave us a spectacular presentation and talk of ‘Marquetry 101’, and his journey to understand and master the techniques of using the different hardwoods, fretsaws, glues and stains.
His slides showed the original Chippendale pieces and his replicas, beautifully detailed and colourful – as they were when new in the 1700s. Jack committed years of work to complete each superb piece.
I’m looking forward to visiting Newby Hall and Harewood House before the end of September when exhibitions of both originals and Jack’s replicas are celebrating the 300th anniversary of his birth.
One ‘takeaway’ from this excellent talk actually came from a Probus member, heard after the talk ruefully commenting that he felt that he’d wasted his own retirement when compared with Jack’s!
Me too, but I know that my DIY would always be a good deal more primitive than either Thomas’s or Jack’s works of art!

Busy Bees!

Summer’s a busy time of year, don’t you think?

Just when you feel like sitting down with a G&T in the sunshine (or the shade if you prefer) you realise that there’s ‘work’ to be done:

  • The allotment needs weeding (desperately), and watering (from a rain butt!), plus the peas need picking before they grow old and are unacceptable to eat
  • I need to pick the soft fruit from the blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes – before the birds get them!
  • I have been neglecting my fly fishing – on the grounds that the river level’s so low that the trout can see me rather too clearly – but the season ends in September!
  •  The vacuum cleaner needs repairing/replacing –  and many other household chores that were put-off during Spring and the previous winter because of my ‘manyana’ policy.

However, don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!

The long period of light days, especially the evenings, provides more time to do some of these tasks. So I’m working through my ‘To do’ list – slowly – favouring the more interesting/least energetic jobs.

That means the household chores lose out a bit, but I have managed to go fishing with my Probus friend Bill – a delightful evening lake fishing near Jervaux.

I was right – the trout could see me, but I enjoyed the anticipation, the trout I just missed catching (It must have been HUGE!), and the post-fishing beer at The White Bear in Masham.


What’s better than an English summer, especially when England are winning at cricket!


The TV and the newspapers are emphasising the dangers of our recent lack of rain. The various fires on northern and western moors are continuing, even if they have largely dropped out of the news.
It certainly hasn’t rained for a while – I appreciate that because my often boggy garden’s as dry as anything (lawn going brown, cracks in the earth in the flower beds starting to widen, the pond’s a bit low with the evaporation from our lovely sunshine ..)

Some people going on holiday are experiencing higher temperatures when they get back to the UK than they experienced while they were away! It’s just so unlike the country we live in ( this  includes our progress in the World Cup!). Something odd’s happening!

A representative of the water companies was trying to explain how this situation had arisen.
• My thought was we didn’t have enough reservoirs to catch and store all the rain we had over winter and in spring, to avoid it all running out to sea.
• She explained that we were using the water faster than they could treat the water to make it potable, and that the diameter of the water pipes in our street was limited (too small), and they couldn’t provide any more water because it wouldn’t fit into the pipe!

I guess that we need to sip slower and glug more sparingly! Stand under trees!

It does look like we might be getting some rain soon – we’ll probably just get the wrong sort of rain! We’ll then be getting flood alerts rather than hosepipe bans!

For a species that can venture into space, we still seem to be unable to control our conditions back here on earth.

Still, that’s enough on Brexit!

Footie Mad!

The World Cup is dominating (pleasantly) my life.

A football fan, with a long term affiliation and support for Arsenal, I haven’t been to a ‘real’ live match in years. Actually I have been to a couple of matches to see our local Harrogate football team play, but I found that I missed the ‘remote’ enabling me to freeze and replay the most exciting bits, and to see incidents from all angles!

You can’t beat the real thing for atmosphere – or can you?

Plenty of atmosphere last night, when England played Colombia! Fascinating to see the different styles of football on show.
• England were light on their feet but rigorous, considered and planned – and found it difficult to actually score against a good defence.
• Colombia were sparky, excitable and very physical, grabbing our key strikers in entangling embraces as soon as they looked likely to shoot – actions that in some countries would result in forced marriage by the family! In this match only the occasional yellow card resulted!

The crowd seemed to be full of Colombians (or their supporters) – only an occasional phrase of our national anthem could be heard before being drowned out by a sea of boos whenever we touched the ball! No respect for those who invented the game (we claim)!
I felt sorry for the referee, who was besieged in a tumultuous crowd of yellow shirts protesting against an apparent injustice for long periods of the game. I couldn’t have been as calm and tolerant as he was.

After a penalty goal for us (England), awarded for some very excessive grappling by the opposition, we looked unlikely to score again, while controlling most of the game – UNTIL an excellent goal by Colombia right at the end of normal time!
Why is it that most of the goals scored are at in the last few minutes of a game? Arsenal were well known for this – it was just the preceding 85 minutes that were disappointing last season!

After another half hour of extra time this competition requires a penalty shoot-out to decide who proceeds in the competition – a brutal and somewhat arbitrary rule that does create highs of hysteria and despair.

England has a notable track record in this aspect of the game – our current manager having lost us a World Cup match in the past by missing his penalty! Supporting England is an emotional experience, full of highs and even fuller of lows. On this occasion the ‘law of averages’ finally asserted itself and we won the shoot-out and the game!

Next game is against Sweden at the weekend. I can’t wait – just got to get the champagne and the antidepressants handy, thus covering both possible outcomes!