Sea-Vixen pilot performs perfect Belly-Landing

 

One does occasionally see interesting events living next to the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton (RNAS Yeovilton). One such recent occasion was when the hydraulic landing gear system o the only flying Sea-Vixen apparently failed when it was returning to the base. As the video shows, the pilot, Cdr Simon Hardgreaves performed a perfect wheels-up landing.

The Sea-Vixen which is based at RNAS Yeovilton as part of their historic flight was due to perform at Yeovilton’s renowned forthcoming International Air Day. But the question on everyone’s lips at the moment is how badly was the aircraft damaged and will it ever fly again? I do hope so as this was such a iconic aircraft that once represented a significant partof the UK’s military air power.

The aircraft remained on the runway where it landed directly opposite my home until recovery teams were in a position to move it. That did give me the opportunity to taken a number of pictures of the recovery exercise.

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General Election Fever

Election BinWhether we like it or not, for the next month the media will be filled with General Election news from the hustings as to which political party has promised this or that, which ones have dropped a gaffe, (and there has been a few already), and their grandiose visions for the future of Britain.

It does seem to me that one thing that is certain, lessor political parties can promise the world knowing that as they unlikely to achieve sufficient votes to form a government, their promises will never come to anything.

Because the current snap General Election caught all political parties by surprise, most have feverishly been cobbling together their election manifestoes over the last two weeks and dependent on how active or moribund those parties are in your local area, those manifestoes will soon be dropping through our letter boxes. As can be see from my cover picture, I am well prepared for them.

Already on a number of occasions when asked in news interviews about salient political points, the response has been that it will be covered in the parties manifesto. That rather begs the questions why they do not know now and what have they been doing for the last couple of years if important issues are only now being rapidly discussed simply because a snap election is forthcoming?

The one thing I am always wary about any politician at election time is those that use the words ‘pledge, promise or commitment’. Such words are already being bandied about in terms of the ‘triple-lock’ on pensions and I cannot help but recall the Lib/Dems pledge on no increases in university tuition fees, which must be on record as one of the most short lived pledges ever. Tax the rich to pay for various election promises is another old idea also doing the rounds at the moment. However that always sounds like the accumulation of wealth is a crime to be heavily penalised apart from it being a disincentive for accumulating wealth in the first place. I always wonder when politicians decide to slice up the financial cake how they end up with more slices that actually exist than the totality of the cake itself. Well that’s politics for you.

Every political party will have the question of housing in their manifestoes usually in the form of promises of how many homes they will build if they come to power. All this always ignores the fact that housing is a issue that can never be solved as the population is growing faster than houses can be built. There is also a limit to how much land is available or desirable to build on in such a small island.

Brexit which is a relatively new thing in elections will form a large part of election speeches, ranging from those politicians determined the will of the people will be upheld, to those who will be trying to save the British public from themselves as they claim they did not know what they were voting for. Perhaps those same politicians will want a re-run of the General Election if they lose for the same reason.

There does come a point where many people will simply become desensitised to all the political rhetoric that is bound to come and will treat it like background traffic noise. That is to say it is something that is always there but nothing can really be done to stop it. However after a period of time, no one hears it anymore. For anyone suffering from insomnia, perhaps listening to politicians pledges, commitments and promises might be a good cure.

Snap General Election 2017

Teresa MayWell it would appear that the Prime Minister has well and truly set the cat amongst the pigeons with her decision to call a snap General Election over Brexit. It is a move that has sent something of a shockwave through all political parties.

I cannot help but think that this election which will be held on June 8th will not only decisively settle the issue of Brexit in Parliament but will also ultimately turn out to be something of a game-changer for the face of British politics for years to come.

With all political parties caught off guard, their leaders had little choice but to express their individual optimism of how well they all think this election will turn out for their own parties but I do suspect without the usual hype that normally proceeds known General Elections, there is something of a background panic at suddenly having to muster their unprepared troops for this unexpected contest for the future of the nation.

I can only make possible predictions based on my own personal reading and feelings of the state of play in British politics, and public opinion, but I have little doubt that after the votes are cast and counted Teresa May will be returned as Prime Minister with a vastly increased majority. If that eventually proves to be true, then it begs the question of which political parties will lose-out?

I have little doubt the majority of the loss will be felt by the Labour Party which seems to be in a constant state of disarray and turmoil between its grass-root members and current Members of Parliament. There was a good chance that some of these MP’s would have been deselected by their own parties in the normal course of events, but the calling of a snap election now means there is no time to go through the normal selection process and existing Labour MP’s will stand again as candidates. It is however well possible that in some constituencies, many local members may feel disinclined to campaign for them. Although the undisputed leader of the Labour Party, I have always felt that Jeremy Corbyn has lacked the dynamic charisma necessary to lead a party. Although well meaning in his views, most of them tend to boil down to a mixture of either tax the rich or introduce even more taxes to pay for his aspirations. For a already heavily taxed country, it is a message unlikely to be well received. If Labour do lose heavily then either Jeremy Corbyn will resign and opportunist MP’s, not to the liking of many  Labour members, who have been waiting in the wings will once again attempt to seize control  of the Labour Party. Either that or if Jeremy Corby stays,some of them might attempt to form their own political party.

Whatever way it plays out, there are just so many of Labour’s traditional electorate who feel Labour have long ago lost their way in recognising who it is supposed to represent, and why, that Labour is becoming almost meaningless in their traditional supporters eyes. One thing is for certain, a political party which is at war with itself does not win votes.

The Liberal Democratic Party will obviously pin its hopes on making something of a recovery, but I cannot help but feel that even if they do win a few more seats from their already decimated position, they are still destined for years in the wilderness. The public has long memories and former university students who are now married with families and mortgages, and with hefty debts accrued while at university as a direct result of their then leader reneging on his pledge not to introduce university fees. With that and their failure to accept the democratic majority vote in the Brexit referendum, they curry little favour in many of the publics eye.

For the Scottish National Party (SNP) who command a sizable position within Parliament, I think this election could well prove the beginning of their decline.I accept they are still likely to be the biggest winning party in Scotland after the election, but I also think it possible they may lose a number of seats. If the SNP do lose a few seats, it is likely to be as a result of their incessant demand for yet another Independence Referendum even though there was one such ‘once in a lifetime’ referendum only a few years ago. It does seem the majority of Scottish voters are not in favour of having another referendum forced on them and this is likely to cause some resent apart from that often felt towards most governing parties. Losing a few seats might not seem the end of the world but it would show the SNP’s position in Scotland is not impregnable and would be the start of the slippery slope to eventual defeat..

As for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), now that the vote for Brexit has been achieved, I am not sure they have too much of a future. Support for UKIP swelled enormously when there was a lot of pressure for a Brexit Referendum on which UKIP’s stance was clear. Now that has passed and with a Tory Party now implementing the same thing, apart from ensuring Brexit stays on course, many voters including myself do not understand what other policies they stand for. I am certain they do have policies but for some reason their message never seems to come across. UKIP did manage to succeed in getting one Member of Parliament elected but he has since defected. I think they are still likely to do reasonably well in this election particularly from disaffected Labour Voters but due to the current Parliamentary system, this is likely to result in few, if any seats in Parliament.

I would not be at all surprised if future historians will look back at this General Elections as being a defining moment and something of a sea-change for British politics.

Knee-Replacement Surgery

Knee Replacement

 

Later this week I shall be following a path already trod by hundreds of thousands of people, but for each individual the path is something of a unique experience and also a blessed relief. I am referring to knee-replacement surgery but for others it will be their hips instead.

As a young man through to middle age I have been fortunate to enjoy good health. I still do enjoy good health but over the past decade, my mobility has got slower and slower as arthritis began to effect both my knees. It is the sort of thing that one does not notice too much at first and it is the sort of thing one tends to consider ageing pains. However there comes a point when walking becomes not only a slow crawl, but painful as well. I already have a broken cruciate ligament in one knee which makes ascending or descending stairs or slopes difficult if not impossible on occasions..The sudden deterioration of my other knee also due to arthritis caused something of a dilemma, as I unconsciously tended to use it as a prop when walking to support what was at the time the weaker knee.

It was then that I paid one of my rare visits to see my doctor. Normally I only see my doctor once a year for a anti-influenza jab.For me visiting my doctor with an actual medical complaint was a strange experience and I did not quite know what to expect. After an examination I was referred off for X-rays and I must say that proved a pleasant experience to what I expected and did not require making a appointment. It was possible to walk into a local hospital at a time of my choosing and get my X-rays done immediately.Until then my only experience of hospital appointments were historical third-hand stories of dozens of people all being told to turn up at the same time.

A return visit to my doctor confirmed the X-rays showed the knee cartilage in both knees had dramatically worn away and my knees were something of a bone grinding on bone scenario. Within a few weeks I was having pre-op tests at a treatment centre and a consultation with the surgeon. It was clear that both knees require replacing but with something like a six month interval in-between to allow one leg to recover from the operation before proceeding with the next. Even the pre-operation tests at the Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre proved to be something of a pleasant surprise. There were no long waiting periods and within minutes of my arrival I was having my consultation with the surgery, with staff waiting to immediately conduct me to the next department for various blood tests. Once again following these tests I was immediately conducted to a physiotherapist who assessed my personal needs and was able to give further helpful advice about what to expect during my stay and subsequent recovery at home. For someone whose only prior experience of hospitals was for a peritonitis operation as a small boy, or if anyone recalls the old TV series ‘Emergency Ward 10’, both of which sported military style matrons and a regiment of medical staff doing their daily rounds. My experience at the Shepton Mallet Centre quickly dispelled these old fashioned concepts I had grown up with and retained, mainly thankfully due to my lack of personal experience in the intervening years of anything hospital-like related. Instead I found my ill-founded concepts have been replaced by a much more relaxed and personal experience where the patient is reassuringly kept well informed at every stage of the procedure, and all by efficient well-trained staff who actually take a interest in the individual. No hanging around at all. Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre certainly scored top marks in my books for that alone

One does occasionally hear stories of people waiting long periods of time, possibly more than a year for surgery but that has certainly not been my experience in Somerset where I live. The complete time scale has only been about eight weeks and the treatment centre I have chosen is a small one in Shepton Mallet that is also used by the NHS and known as the Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre. Amongst a wide variety of conditions, the treatment centre specialises in hip and knee surgery and only has two person rooms instead of the large wards of some hospitals.

As the hospital also has free Wi-Fi, I thought I would try an experiment by bringing a small tablet computer with me and try to relate my daily  experiences while I am there for about 2-3 days. I rarely use my tablet computer so I will apologise in advance for my lack of skills in using a touch-screen keyboard. By the  next time I write, hopefully I will have had my operation and will be recovering from the aesthetic. . The one thing I am really looking forward too in the not too distant future is being able to enjoy meaningful walks in the countryside again.

24th March 2017

Not a particularly inspiring selfie of my legs and feet but at the moment it is all I can do as the lower half of my body is numb and immobile from the effects of a spinal anaesthetic injection. I have however already be told by the surgeon that the operation went well. Tomorrow I will be started on a course of physiotherapy  exercises that are designed to tone and strengthen the legs muscles following the operation as well as ensuring the skin around the knee retains its elasticity which is necessary to ensure the full range of movement from the new knee is achieved . This will include the all-important walking exercises. The goal is to achieve walking for five minutes twice a day for the first four days, followed by ten minutes walking twice a day for the next four days. After that periods of walking duration rapidly increase.

Once again I found everything done at the Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre extremely efficient from the moment I arrived, The experience of the lower-half of one’s body being completely numb but still being fully conscious and aware of everything happening around me was quite strange. With so many tubes coming from various parts of my body along with accompanying wires that were to  be connected to various pieces of equipment inside the operating theatre, I did rather feel like a turkey all trussed up waiting to be placed in the oven.

Being conscious during the operation was also a strange experience. Although I could  not see what was happening due to a screen placed between my head and the surgeon, I was fully aware what the surgeon was doing at any particular moment. While on the operating table my field of vision was more-or-less confined to the ceiling above. One thing I could see set in the ceiling directly above me was a large gauge or meter marked with graduations and a indicator needle. Unfortunately as I was not wearing spectacles at the time, I was unable to focus on the gauge to ascertain its purposes. I will have to ask on a return visit to Shepton Mallet as my curiosity has been aroused.

Immediate post-op care has also been thorough and intense. As yet I have not experienced any pain but I was still placed in a recovery-room for one hour for all my vital body systems to be electronically monitored and then returned to my two-person hospital room, (although I am the only one here at the moment), where again I am being regularly monitored and tested as the effects of the anaesthetic gradually wear off. Since I started writing this update, the physioperapist has visited me to allow me to stand on both feet with the temporary aid of a Zimmer frame while doing some static marching steps. So far all is well with no pain and I look forward to tomorrows  challenges.

25th March 2017

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Last night being my first in hospital following my knee replacement operation and was not particularly comfortable. There were multiple tubes connected to my body including a oxygen feed to my nose, a catheter as well as feeds to anti-thrombosis compression pads on both legs which operated automatically about every 30 seconds. Severe aching in my operated knee caused most trouble as layers of thick padding and bandages had deliberately placed around it to prevent movement. The inability to bend my knee contributed to the ache but this is a deliberate trade-off to protect damage to the operation wound. Thankfully all the knee padding was removed first thing this morning to allow limited if still somewhat sore movement to my knee. I think it would be fair to add that many patients with newly operated knee replacements experience this initial discomfort on their first night, so there was nothing exceptional about what I experienced. It would also be fair to say that prior to my operation I was already experiencing a great deal of slightly lesser but similar discomfort from my worn out knee.

An early visit from the physiotherapist took me through my first tentative steps on a Zimmer frame and I was also fitted for a pair of surgical crutches which will needed for support for about the next six weeks, until I repay a return progress assessment visit to the hospital. It is at that time I will hopefully be allowed to drive again. Another positive word from the physiotherapist is that as my walking and exercises were being completed in a text book fashion, I would probably be able to leave the hospital tomorrow.

I was also issued with a few other medical aids. One was a medium sized softly-inflated ball which will be needed in knee exercises. A strap device known as a leg lifter with loops at either end which can be placed under the foot to assist raising it in initial stages until muscles strengthen, and a long shoe horn to assist putting on shoes.

I was also started on a exercise regime. These are exercise that have to be done five times a day. The exercises although simple enough to complete with a healthy knee are surprising difficult on a newly operated knee. As muscles tone up and strengthen with the exercises, they are replaced by even more difficult ones.

I was also taken in a wheelchair for X-rays on my knee to see the operation had been successful internally. I did see the X-rays and they looked fine to the untrained eye but it will require expert medical opinion to determine that. I found riding in a wheelchair a unique experience as I have never had the occasion to use one before in my life. Now it is a case of resuming  my exercises at two hourly periods throughout the rest of the day, and hopefully followed by a more restful night tonight. In the morning hopefully I will receive the good news I can go home.

I suspect when I return home with my ‘goodies’, the medical aids I have been issued with, I will feel like the child returning from the fairground proudly holding a balloon, except in my case it will be a ball. One thing is certain, I will have to hide that ball from my Labrador dog, as she instantly claims any ball she sees as her own property.

26th March 2017

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Well I received good news this morning from the treatment centre consultant doing his rounds. As my progress has been more than satisfactory he has decided I can go home today. Earlier in the morning the physiotherapist had taken me to a room equipped with various walking obstacles that new knee replacement patients are likely to encounter. One example of this was a short flight of stairs which are easy enough for a able bodied person, but a major challenge to a new knee-replacement patients who temporarily have no pushing power in their knees or legs muscles. I found this  stair challenge quite simple as the knee which I had replaced previously had a broken cruciate ligament which posed similar problems on stairs and slopes. There is a small easily remembered small saying which physiotherapists teach known as ‘Heaven and Hell’. When climbing up steps, always lead with the good leg as the good go to heaven which is up. When descending a step, always lead with the bad leg as the bad go to hell which is down.

I have also been issued with a pair of surgical crutches which I will require for support for about the next six weeks while my leg muscles strengthen sufficiently enough to allow the crutches to be eventually dispensed with.

Another aspect that has to learned after knee-replacement surgery is correction of ones walking stance. As knee joint deterioration tends to gradually occur over a period of years, ones walking stance gradually alters to compensate for the ever-increasing disability. The change is often so gradual that the individual is often unaware that a change to walking stance is occurring. Once a knee-replacement operation has taken place, an instant correction to body stance occurs and the mind has to learn to rapidly re-adjust to the change.

The one thing I am truly thankful for is the UK has a National Health Service (NHS) that was introduced in 1948. It is paid for by wage earners paying a not expensive contribution from their earnings to a National Insurance fund, which in turn provides free medical care irrespective of cost to all UK nationals. Most UK nationals are horrified at the stories we hear about the prohibitive cost of medical care in other countries and cannot understand why other governments do not run similar schemes. Some countries do but the majority do not.

l looked up the cost of the operation I have just had in the US and find the average cost is $49,500 upwards. That is more than the average UK annual wage. I know people in the US pay into various medical insurance schemes which is fine for those that can afford it. However those that are financially disadvantaged can find themselves without any medical cover at all.

Although most UK residents including myself do not fully understand the intricacies of Obahmacare or the US medical insurance market, we are bemused about all the fuss we hear about effectively demolishing health care for the financially disadvantaged. The treatment I have just received at  the  Shepton Mallet Treatment Centre is NHS funded and is certainly not second rate . It would match tip-top health care anywhere else in the world. I personally find it reassuring to know if I have a medical problem, it will be effectively and efficiently dealt with for free regardless of cost.

On my return home, I think it would only be right and proper for me to write to the managers of Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre congratulating on both their efficiency and the well organised care they have provided. It is sometimes difficult for organisations to actually know they are doing exceptionally good and more than meeting their targets unless people tell them so.

21st April 2017

Nearly four weeks have now elapsed since my original operation and life is gradually beginning to normalise. As one can imagine the operation wound was sore for a time but this started to gradually ease after about two weeks. I still do have a residual ache in my leg but I am assured this is normal and will ease.The daily exercise routine is an essential requirement to regain full use of ones knee and they are also designed to maintain the elasticity of skin around the wound area. None of the exercises are hard for anyone with a healthy knee but are initially somewhat challenging for a leg with a replacement knee. As with all exercises, they progressively get easier as muscle tone and strength recover. Care UK in conjunction with the NHS have produced a useful booklet with these exercises that is provided to patients. They have also reproduced the booklet with the exercises and plenty of useful advise as a ‘app’ which can be download to tablet computers and mobile phones. The ‘app’  can be found at http://www.careukhealthcare.com/pocketphysio

It is not necessary to do all the exercises at once as them are designed to be gradually introduced as knee flexibility and muscle strength improve. The one thing I have enjoyed is being able to walk again. Walking is also part off the exercise regime and the time one is allowed to walk progresses about every 4-5 days. I can now comfortably walk about one half a mile daily which may not seem much to a normal fit person but again is initially something of a challenge to someone with a newly replace knee. I will soon be able to increase the time I spend walking daily with the key advice of never over-doing things and always remaining within ones comfort zone. I do enjoy however the pleasure of once more walking without knee pain and meeting people in my village on my little sorties. Although the walking exercises are not about speed, I have also found I am now naturally covering the same distance faster than before my knee operation which just shows how effective knee replacement surgery is.

I also paid a return visit to the treatment centre a few days ago for them to access how my recovery is progressing. Everything seemed to be to text book standard. The amount one can bend ones knees  was measured using a protractor with arms. After being introduced to various new exercise my knee was measured again and it and the protractor showed an increase in the amount my knee cold bend. It just goes to show the effectiveness of the exercises. I was also advised that my knee stability and muscle strength  had improved to the point where I now only needed to use one crutch.

I did try my first  walk yesterday only using one crutch but I did carry my other one with me more as a safety blanket to reassure my mind that I could manage. What I did notice is that my leg muscles became tired more quickly than before as this showed just how much support the additional crutch had been providing.

My next visit to the treatment centre will be i about two weeks time where the surgeon who carried out my operation will assess me. Hopefully he will also agree that I can drive again during that consultation.

One thing I am already certain of is that when the time comes for my second knee replacement operation, I will definitely choose Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre again. It is something I will be discussing with the surgeon on my forthcoming visit with him.

January 2017

Happy NY 2017

This is the time of year I try to forecast likely events in the year ahead and based on previous years my ‘crystal-ball’ gazing has been reasonably accurate.

Politics.

The Brexit process will clearly continue to play a major role during 2017. Whether or not the Government’s stated timetable of formally moving Article 50 of the European Treaty by the end of March is achieved, largely depends on a Supreme Court ruling during the coming month. Whichever way the ruling goes, I would still predict Article 50 will be activated during the year although fresh legal challenges are likely.

It does seem to me these legal challenges over Brexit are causing something of a constitutional crisis, in that they bring into question whether it is a democratically elected government that runs the UK, or the courts. For any government irrespective of their political persuasion, it would be a untenable position for every decision they may make to be open to legal challenge, and I foresee possible legislative moves to curb the power of the judiciary in determining what a government may or may not do.

January 20th also sees the US President elect Donald Trump taking office. Although US politics are a matter for the US, the fallout of any policy change is likely to effect the rest of the world. Judging by statements being made by Donald Trump, it is clear that whatever new policies he actually proposes, his administration will be like that of chalk and cheese when compared with the current policies of the outgoing Obama administration. The ripples of these changes will most definitely reverberate around the world and will be felt by many including the UK.

European Elections

Numbers of European countries are due to hold elections during 2017 including France and Germany. Both of these countries have been heavily effected by large immigrant influxes over the past  two years, which may well have a considerable bearing on how electors in those countries vote. The present incumbent President Hollande has announced he will not be seeking re-election and it is possible a new president of a different political persuasion and outlook could be elected.

Although the current German President Angela Merkel is likely to retain power, a current wave of unpopularity in Germany may well see her support and therefore her influence much less than at present.

UK Elections

In the UK, as to which way the wind is blowing in terms of support for any given political party remains unclear. Many traditional Labour supporters feel they are between a rock and a hard place at the moment, with many unhappy at f the stance Labour took on the Brexit referendum and many are equally unhappy at either the leadership or the stance their MP’s took at supporting or rather, not supporting the Labour leader. One things always rings true in politics, a divided party which Labour appears to be at the moment do not win votes.I still sense a feeling of public unease with the Lib/Dems and although UKIP are still likely to attract disaffected voters for the time being, I do not sense any great public appetite for this party.

Apart for any by-elections that may occur, the next litmus test of public political opinion will be the local County Council elections in May. Issues like proposed three weekly refuse collections are likely to weigh heavily, but often public support on national issues have a way of deciding support for the composition of local councils. Incumbent governments usually lose some support in the form of protest votes in local elections. However with a new Prime Minister in the Form of Teresa May who still seems to enjoy a good measure of public support, I would predict the Tory Party will probably retain the councils they currently hold and may well increase that number.

Merry Christmas Folks! – 2016

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A Merry Christmas and a

Happy and Healthy New Year

to all my readers.

 

Snowman Waving

Well Folks, It is that time of year when many will be looking forward to a well earned seasonal break and hopefully in the company of ones family.

It is also a time of year when many also like to hear Christmas carols which often help set the tone to the Christmas period. One particular carol that I like is  based on a poem originally  written in 1872 by the poetess Christina Rossetti  and later set to music in 1906 by the composer Gustav Holst.

The carol is know as “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” and I think is one of the most beautiful carols I have heard. So beautiful it is well worth sharing with all those that would like to hear it. The video below is of the carol being sung by the renowned King’s College Choir of Cambridge.

 

There will never be, a poem lovely as a tree

IMGP3780A sure sign that Autumn has both come and is now fading into winter, is the last few days I have spent  in my gardens with a leaf blower and collector. The Autumn has lingered on this year providing spectacular views in the surrounding countryside of a honey golden landscape. Now a cold north wind has set in causing the trees to rapidly give up their leaves that have nourished them throughout the summer in the process known as photosynthesis. Gardens and roadways are now littered with the fallout from this seasonal display but I do not mind, for without it the trees could not provide us with the soothing eye-fest that they do.

On the last day of October, my wife and I visited Stourhead in Wiltshire with its large landscaped grounds, to view and enjoy this seasonal wonder. Fortunately Stourhead which is owned by the National Trust is only a easy 30 minute drive from out home. Choosing the right time is critical as too soon and many of the leaves will not have yet changed colour. Too late and the leaves will have started to fall leaving the trees denuded and stark looking. We chose wisely as the following day the weather suddenly changed from a remarkably late autumnal warmth to a more chilly clime more associated with the onset of winter.

Not only did we choose wisely, but so did thousands of other visitors who also decided the best day to visit was the same as ours. Fortunately the grounds of Stourhead are so large, it simply swallows up the crowds making all vistas appear as if only a few people are there.

As is my want as I laboured away in the garden, it gives time for ones thoughts to roam free and the poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer crossed my mind.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest,
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear,
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

It is a delightful poem that has been put to music and sung by many people, but to me the best and most idyllic version I have ever heard was by the great singer with the deep rich voice, Paul Robeson. I have added a copy of this below. I have also added a few of the pictures I took at Stourhead.

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