Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Follow the winding road from the Tebay service station and you find yourself in a ring of heaven; a naturalistic, pure wool, home made soap and natural stone, wood and water paradise of subdued grey and sage browns.

The Westmorland hotel....

Tebay service station became famous.
Service stations are not meant to be lovely.

My connection with this place goes back by two decades.
A stopping place between Samye Ling and agony.

There was a period of time, between early September and late October when I could not accept that the father of my then unborn son, understood the consequences of chosing to do the 3 year, 3 month retreat.

I drove him and his belongings to Samye Ling. I'd booked us a stop over at Gretna Green. He didn't pick up the hint (Gretna famous for eloping couples and hasty marriage), he was as happy as larry and preferred to watch The Bill, rather than talk.

I think I visited Samye Ling just two times after....because really...he couldn't have understood what he was saying...

And each time
I'd stop just after the border between Scotland and England, buy coffee and petrol and sit alone at Tebay.

It's good for me to be back here
Not alone.

4 degrees further...

290 miles north of home.
4 degrees of latitude.

We set out at 4 am and the motorway was dark. Street lights switched off. And patches of fog before the sun rose like an orange cherry, stuck in cream clouds.

Glasgow presents itself with a host of useless advice panel stretched over the road.

Don't drink and drive...
They say.

Check your tire depth.

Have you the right child seat....

All too late by the time one is one way on the M74.

Glasgow itself like Birmingham but more spacious. Out does Birmingham with a curly-road of doom, a fly-over that was left incomplete...Birmingham can't compete with that.

Old buildings, more carved faces and gargoyles.
We trawled through Aldi for humus and beer, bread, bananas, chocolate and cashew nuts.

Sat among the dead under the shadow of John Knox, in the Necropolis.
The sun hot and high.

Someone took a photo of us: James, Corinne, myself and Gavin as we ate bananas....

More people arrived, until John Knox could be seen from the cathedral, presiding over a multicultural hoard of happy tourists.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

To London...

Up and out of the house to wait the bus to town.
An Advanced Booking return journey entails the wrangling of many tickets...

2 per seat out- 2 of us, so that's 4.
2 say that I've bought the tickets.
2 per seat in- another 4
An all day travel across London ticket -so that's 2 more.

The booked seat was one of the worst I've encountered.
Travelling backwards
With half a window behind me.
But a Virgin Pendolino is better than a Midland train, and Euston isn't so far away.

Met son Tom and off to Fishies..was that what it was called? a jolly fish and chip place in a London street that looked like Digbeth.

A massive fish
Size of the plate.
Chips and minted peas.

Very jolly.

Then to British museum because it is free and we could sit down!


Then to cafe at Welcome trust to meet my daughter Claire.

Lights on ceiling of the Welcome cafe.

Swapped glasses.

There I bought:
Infinitas Gracias- Mexican Miricle Paintings.

These are images painted by local artists commissioned by the one to whom the terrible thing has happened. The image offers thanks to the saint who saved the sufferer from the ordeal.

In the year 1851 Jose de Jesus Termascal became ill with infected sores which resulted from exposure to damp. His leg started to rot and became infested with maggots in the month of December of the year 1855. He spent 15 days with these grubs. After 6 years of suffering he pleaded with all his heart to Our Lord Antonio de la Casa Colorada who restored his health. In gratitude for this wondrous miracle he leaves this retablo in his sanctuary on 6th April of 1856.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


After half an hour of staring at myself in the mirror, I reached for the scissors.

All my dreadlocks in  the bin now...
Wondering what to do next.

I was tempted to reach for the clippers and to use no:6.

The question was:
Cersei Lannister
Madeline 'Ma-Ma' Madrigal.
The neatness of a number 6 didn't fit either profile.

Then spent some time thinking about a cube...

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Image is our business...


Last Kindle post.

In the end I got it....
Yeah, yeah 'it is just simple html'...


A kindle book is a species of zip file (this is my guess by the way).
It contains a file structure that is invisible, though it can only be opened by a program that allows editing.

Sigil is the best program I've found to create epub files.
The updated Calibre may be better.
I don't know because I haven't updated..

The Sigil epub has to be turned into a mobi for Kindle.
If you want it to be a book that is.
An epub is a thousand times better than a pdf on a Kindle.

The program that transforms epub to mobi is the Kindle Gen.

And it mangles the Sigil code just a little. Or Sigil fails to do as good a job as it promises. Or Sigil fails to add code that I need to place within?

Within what?
head, body, meta?
It's like no one speaks English in this world.
Ultimately most people trying to fathom the kindle creation world, end up using superstitious work arounds!

Forget that

In the end
I felt as if I'd hit a brick wall.

What I realised is...you need to have an account with Amazon to publish an e.book. You upload your shoddy code and Amazon have the right tools to spit out something that works. I imagine a team of post grads on zero hour contracts knee deep in broken #tags.

To be a part of this bright new Amazon e.pub world you need to have a tax code.

I don't .

Partially it is psychological.
I know it is all a long time ago, but the awfulness of my first marriage and the total derailing of my life as a consequence didn't do me any good.

Friedrich Nietzsche was an eternal optimist (even as his brain melted with Syphilis?) and bravely stated
"That which does not kill us makes us stronger"
I have to tell you, in my experience, that which does not kill us leaves us with at best a nervous twitch, and secondly...the tendency to want to run away and hide...

Monday, April 07, 2014

Epub mobi pass me another 'app'. Knot weed syndrome.

First theory- I can write xhtml.


Second theory- it is good that that bit of software from Amazon that was so difficult to install can change html into a mobi file...and it is good that my Kindle displays my code as a document.

that's no good!

Why hasn't my book got a cover?
Oh I need to add some html 5 tags.

Can't be bothered.

What is Calibre?

Calibre kind of works.
But the file structure is bothering me.
I still want to do it myself, but knowing html 5 wont help because I don't see where opx files are linked.

Something doesn't add up here.

Third theory

Sigil looks good.
Plain, simple and clear.
Let's me add code.

Has a logical layout.

Definitely the best of my four e.book formatters.

Meanwhile, at our last visit of in-laws, father-in-law showed us his collection of clippings from The Daily Mail. I tried to forget that..

But I was reminded

When I read about the Japanese knot weed murder.

"I believe I was not an evil man, until the balance of my mind was disturbed by the fact there is a patch of Japanese Knotweed which has been growing over our boundary fence on the Rowley Regis Golf Course...The worry of it migrating on to our garden and subsequently undermining the structure over the next few years, with consequent legal battles which we won’t win, has led to my growing madness...But the despair has got so bad that today I have killed her, as I did not want her to be alone without an income when I killed myself."

Kenneth McRae, battered his wife Jane, with a bottle of perfume. He then took his own life by cutting his wrists and throat....

Well there you go, so strange that murder made more sense to him than just using a flame thrower...

.....laughing manically as the fence goes up!
followed by the car

Or just going out and pulling the plant up by hand for goodness sake.

A perfume bottle....?
Bludgeoning someone to death with a perfume bottle!

Anyway, father-in-law's clippings from the newspaper were all about how they will take all your money off you if you have to go into a home.

Paranoia overdrive.
such fun.

I think, yeah fair enough, you are not ill just disabled by your inability to spend money on anything that can make your lives better. You wouldn't move to a bungalow, you complain that the dentist is too expensive so go on, tell me about having to get rid of thousands of pounds so that they don't take it off you.

I sure can see how terrible it would be if they got it.
How different your lives would be..

Knot weed syndrome...

Another excellent (even better) playlist here.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Wild boar...

I was looking in the freezer cabinet at Aldi, or Lidl
And there was frozen boar leg
From America
Packed in Germany.

Well perhaps I was in a Game of Throne's mood.
Remembering boar burgers at Tewkesbury festival.

I bought the leg
Meat.. in a box about 7 inch by 5.
not a leg.

Cooking now.
Since 12.
A stew with beans, leeks, carrots and swede.

Threw in a sprig of rosemary..

" Wild hogs in Florida are known to have 45 different parasitic and infectious diseases. These include 37 parasites (12 protozoans, 17 nematodes, 1 acanthocephalan, 1 sucking louse, 4 ticks and 2 mites), 7 bacteria, and 1 virus. Eight of these parasitic and infectious diseases can infect man. These include brucellosis, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, balantidiasis, trichinosis, trichostrongylosis, and sarcoptic mange."

Seven bacteria!
1 virus...

But hogs are made of cloud...

Thursday, April 03, 2014


King Henry...
Died of dysentery at Newark
And was buried at Worcester...

Exhumed some 200 or so years latter:

Accordingly upon Monday, the 17th of July, 1797, they proceeded to open the tomb, first removing the effigy, and stone slab on which it rested ; when by this means the interior of the monument was laid open they observed two brick partition walls, raised to assist in supporting the superincumbent covering and figure of the king. 
The spaces between these walls and the ends of the tomb are filled with rubbish. Upon removing the end and one of the pannels at each side, when they had removed the rubbish, they discovered two strong elm boards, originally joined by a batten nailed to each end, but which dropping off had left the boards loose. Under these boards was found a stone coffin, containing the royal corpse, which was observed to be placed in the coffin exactly as the figure upon the top of the tomb represented.
The skull, instead of being placed as usual, had the foramen magnum turned upwards ; the  interior part of the os frontis was much decayed; the ossa inasillaria superiors were wholly detached from the other bones of the face, and found near the elbow of the right arm, they contained four teeth in sound condition ; the lower jaw bones were also separated, but con-
tained no teeth ; some grey hairs were observed near the upper part of the cranium, in the vicinity of the sagittal suture ; the ulna of the left arm, which had been folded across the body, was found lying on the breast; the ulna of the right arm was nearly in its proper position ; but neither of the radii nor any of the bones of the hand could be found : the ossa femorum, tibiae, fibulae, and other bones of the inferior extremities were very perfect, and upon some of the bones of the toes belonging to the right foot were even found vestiges of the nails. Some large pieces of mortar were found on and below the abdomen... 

So, who was John?
John, born 1167, was nicknamed ‘Lackland’ by his father Henry II, though he gained large estates through gifts and marriage to Isabella of Gloucester. Capable, clever, scheming and untrustworthy, John conspired against both his father and brother, trying to seize the throne in 1193 during Richard’s absence. On becoming king in 1199, he struggled to prevent Henry’s empire from fragmenting, but died in 1216 in the shadow of failure, his name forever linked to Magna Carta - called the ‘greatest constitutional document of all times’ - signed by the Thames at Runnymede. 

King Henry?