Archives for category: Cheese Rolling

A look out the window at 8am and it was immediately obvious that unless there was going to be some major change in the weather, we wouldn’t be trudging up Cooper’s Hill to witness the Cheee Rolling.

Some of you will be aware that it wasn’t actually supposed to be happening anyway. Officially it had been cancelled for various admistrative reasons most of which are clouded and confused by rumour and conjecture to such a point that no-one really knows what’s going on at all. In all honesty, that’s probably for the best. (I mean that no-one knows what’s going on, not that it’s cancelled – that’s a travesty)

It’s an example of an event that is a victim of it’s own success and it’s own geography. 8 or 9 years ago it might have attracted 2000 visitors to the hill and all was well with that. A local tradition for local people. The year before last there were an estimated 15,000 that invaded the place and it was utter chaos as well as downright dangerous. The space that is Cooper’s Hill just simply isn’t large enough to cope with those numbers.  Worse still are the numbers of people that show up in cars looking for a car park, which there simply is not.

All in all, given the weather conditions and the hoo-ha, we decided to give it a miss. It was that nasty out there that you’d have to be really hardcore to stick with it…  more of a Parmesan roll, than a Double Gloucester. No doubt, when we have a really warm year, it’ll be a Brie. However, in the mean time here’s a few photos from recent years of the chaos which might help you understand some of the problem.

And just to round things off nicely – a couple of video’s so you can see the pain inflicted on others that you’ve missed.

Cheese_Rolling_2008_02.AVI Watch on Posterous

Cheese_Rolling_2009.AVI Watch on Posterous

It saddens me greatly, not to have been there, as I am a real fan of the event and the traditionalism of it, but I guess this will make it all the more enjoyable next year.  There is a report and some decent photos of the 2011 version which you can read here: anorak.co.uk  Congratulations again to the living legend that is Chris Anderson. Incidentally, his sister works in the same office as Mrs G. Small world.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

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Most of the time I really can’t agree with Scott’s sentiment in today’s Dilbert. Occasionally he’s bang on.

Dilbert.com

Yesterday, involved a trip to the local-ish Starfleet base for Badman and myself to sharpen up our sticks and make a plan for the next couple of months worth of playtime. When I put it like that, it seems like an age. “A couple of months” is forever… except we both know that in this case it’s about 30 seconds. Simply far too short an amount of time given the amount of work to be done. Still, we have a good team and many hands make like work. Christopher Robin’s direction is helpful and ultimately we all have the same goal in mind so I’m sure “it’ll be alright” – as I keep telling myself. As the song goes, “there may be trouble ahead”… so now it’s time to face the music and dance.

Aside from the worky bits, Badman’s chickens are providing an outstanding crop of eggs at the rock bottom price of a few cups of coffee. Awesome.

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Mrs G has the whole week off. This all started because we’d half planned to have a week in Spain with A,B & B. As it turned out, it wasn’t to be and so instead we found ourselves at a funeral in Wiltshire on Monday.

Sadly, L’s father passed on and naturally we wanted to be there to support her. It was a fine military send off, which was both dignified and respectful and even included the theme tune from the Dambusters in a very RAF way. L’s brother M read the ever popular (can something be popular as part of a funeral? – seem like the wrong choice of words) “All is well” by Henry Scott Holland . It’s a very moving piece and I’ve included it here for those of you that haven’t heard it, or don’t recall it.

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

They also included John Gillespie Magee Jr’s “High Flight”, also known as the Pilot’s Poem, written during WWII. All very fitting words and sentiments.

After the sadness of the day came the celebration of life and it did involve rather a lot of imbibing. By Tuesday lunchtime, everything was back to normal, and our work there was done. Mrs G and I trundled back up country and I shuffled back to work only to find that not very much had changed at all.

Everything remains exactly as it was…. All is well.

And here we are at Thursday morning. Thursday!?!? Already!!?? Hell’s teeth, we’re running out of time fast and worse still, Monday is a bank holiday. It’s actually a very special bank holiday as it’s the one that usually contains the Cheese Rolling. Officially, once again it’s not to be. Of course, to a local (and while I’ve only been here for 10 years – I do feel like a local) it’s abhorrent to think that such a long standing tradition is ever likely to disappear.  You can read about the fight here: http://www.cheese-rolling.co.uk/2011.htm A very sad state of affairs.

Perhaps we’ll take a walk around the Cooper’s Hill Nature reserve anyway…..  just for the walk 🙂


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Off to town again and a wonderful education on the way.

I have a table seat and am joined by two “ladies” as I later discover they’re referred to by our local council. They’re actually two very driven new mum’s. To call them mums-net types would seem to me to be mislabelling them, doing them a disservice and being patronising all at the same time. They are formidable mothers who quite simply are on a mission to get something done. A very specific something. To build and operate a school for their community.

Perhaps I should go back to the beginning and explain….

Mrs G and I used to live in Brockworth. It’s a village in Gloucestershire that has three reasonably well known claims to fame. 1) The home of Cheese-Rolling on Cooper’s Hill. 2) The playground (in his youth) of the now world famous actor/writer and nerd, Simon Pegg and finally ..3) The invention of the Jet engine took place here under the guidance of the genius that was Frank Whittle.

Of the three, the most pertinent to our tale is the third, for long after the second world war and Mr Whittle’s jet engine genius-ness, the airfield that he used during the development of his now common-place device fell into dis-repair. Time passed, weeds grew and generally not an awful lot happened to the large strip of concrete fenced off from the main road opposite the grotty pub (sorry, but it is grotty) The Victoria.

Somewhen in the last 10 or 15 years, while the housing market was on the up, bits of the land became very interesting to the type of company that like to develop small trading estates and out of town industrial parks that aren’t excessively industrial but do allow for massive warehouses. Wincanton distribution have been out there for quite a while (I’m sure you’ve seen their trucks on the Motorway) and then a large part of the Gloucester sorting office moved out there. There’s an insurance company, a technology company, part of the NHS and a wine distributor. All well and good. It’s also nicely situated for Motorway access and there has been a road bridge over the M5 for a very long time, but until recently the bridge came to an abrupt halt in the middle of the old airfield with no connection into the village itself.

And then about 5 or 6 years ago, the developers finally got a green light and a decent size housing estate began appearing on top of the airfield which is now never to be seen again.

A very substantial Tesco’s arrived and then a Gym, a TravelLodge (well you have to, apparently) and a new pub (The Whittle) in memory of Frank. All of this to service the huge numbers of houses in an area now known as “Cooper’s Edge”. Great stuff. All well and good. Everybody’s happy.

Ah…. Wait a minute….. Hundreds of houses means hundreds of family’s means hundreds of kids means a school is required. Oh… Hmmmm…. And a housing market slump, and no plan of any great consequence and a small group of mums with no school for their kids.

You see where this is going?

These two mums have spent the last three years making it happen, and they seem to me to be pretty much unstoppable. There isn’t anything they haven’t yet overcome. They’ve successfully mobilised their community and now have plans which have been approved and a builder all set to go.

Best of all it’s absolutely nothing to do with the coalition government’s “Big Society”. One of the recently appointed local MPs did try very briefly to suggest that his party’s policies might have helped enable their superbly executed work, but a local resident who knew the truth soon put him right via the local paper. “Get back in yer box” seems to sum it up nicely.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some elements of TBS are almost a good idea, but to take these “Ladies” hard work and pass it off as something you’ve “enabled” is as low as a… Well, its as low as a politician. Ah. Yes. Good point. Well quite.

Anyway, their race is far from over, but they seem not to worry and are all guns blazing for the next challenge that the project presents, whatever that may be.

Right now they’re working on a community centre (well a temporary one), the fixtures, fittings and colour schemes for the school, library systems, ICT, staff rooms and classrooms, nurturing their own children, holding down full time jobs AND maintaing husbands. And we all know how demanding that lot is.

I’m seriously impressed and won’t be at all surprised when women like these, up and down the country are putting the world to rights and shaming the rest of us into fixing the country properly with far less interference from local government, council and central government who quite frankly wouldn’t know what to do with a mother and baby in their boardroom and that’s before they realise that the mothers are explaining to them how to do their jobs.

Which leads me on to “what can I do?”. Their spot isn’t even in my community anymore. I don’t have kids of school attending age and even though the senior Balls are involved in schooling, I’m not.

However, there might be an angle. Starfleet might have something in the form of corporate citizenship and doing smart and clever things for the community. For now, investigations are afoot. I’ve made no promises, but if comes to it, I’ll willingly pick up a paint brush at the very least – should that be required to get the job done.

My hat is off to them. You can find out more about the sterling work that the two J’s (“we’re joined at the hip” or so they told me) have done and continue to do here: www.coopersedgeschool.co.uk


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

What a truly excellent Friday that felt like a Saturday. It’s always nice when you feel like you’re getting an extra day and yesterday was no exception.
As planned – although not on schedule as events involving so many kids never are – we trundled off to Cooper’s Hill (made famous by the rolling of the Cheese) for an energetic hike through the woods to Cranham.
http://maps.google.co.uk/?ie=UTF8&ll=51.82257,-2.152033&spn=0.028064,0.084114&t=h&output=embed
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The push to the top of Cooper’s Hill is one of those climbs that leaves you feeling like you don’t do enough exercise no matter how much exercise you actually do do. (Did you just write do do ?? Ed). However, on days like this it also leaves you in no doubt that it’s absolutely worth the lung busting burning agony.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

At this time of year the tree colours are incredible. To see the luscious greens slowly turning to reds and oranges before disappearing altogether is a sight that anyone would be heartbroken to lose, and just reminds me that I don’t want to live on the Mediterranean or the west coast of the US really, even if I think I do.
From here we head south easterly along a short stretch of the cotswold way through the woods. A left turn and down hill past the woodsmans cottage and the across the road and back into the woods to drop down into Cranham itself.

It’s a beautiful little village trapped in a valley and feels like it’s cut off from the world. Near the top of one of the tiny roads is an equally tiny pub “The Black Horse”. With a proper open fire and proper beer and a proper home cooked (not too fancy but huge portions) menu, it was just what was required.

Of course the ordering and delivery of food and beverages is made over complicated by the shear numbers of people involved and the fact that everyone wants something slightly different but the Barman did an excellent job of keeping us all organised and the food and superb beer were quaffed and enjoyed greatly.
The return journey involves a lot of up hill work and on this occasion took the same route as before. As the kids explained this is a particularly dangerous strategy, because by going back the way you came the Indians are sure to know where you’ve been and are likely to ambush you. All too late had I realized we’d forgotten to cover our tracks on the way in to the village. A schoolboy error (apparently). This gem of very useful information was made all the more pertinent when the kids also revealed this logic to have been proven by their cousins who never retrace their steps and instead strive to find an alternate route. The system must work, as the cousins, as yet have never been ambushed by said Indians, in these or any other parts. Fun times.
The beauty of conversations with 7 year olds is the way their logic produces all sorts of hitherto unknown facts. For example, I hadn’t realised that I’m now logically a grandparent. It turns out that once you’re kids are no longer kids and are grown up, you’re no longer a parent, but automatically a grand parent. Well thanks for that nephew of mine. I shall remember it for future use and try my best to embarrass you with it at a later date. Probably during your university application.
By this time we’d also had the sad news that daughter was required to help out at work in the evening and so our little party of scattered family was to come to a close. We traipsed back to the bottom of the Cheesey hill and from there back home. For those wishing to try it out, we made it last almost 3 and half hours, but two of those were spent sat in the pub eating, so a 45 minute walk each way. Longer if you’re covering your tracks.

All was not completely lost though, as Mrs G and I were able to join them all again in the evening for a well deserved curry, frivolity, a number of “was-lovely-to-see-yous” and couple of “we’ll-be-up-to-visit-you-all-soons” before they were due to head back north to bonnie Scotland.
One tiny bit of tech note…  Daughter’s new camera was the test bed for these photo’s (A Samsung PL150 – £130 – other cameras are available) which she’ll be taking on her forthcoming Thailand trip. It’s done a good job. Might be a little small for my clunky hands, but it takes a damn good picture as I’m sure you’ll agree.
And then there’s a beutiful little app for the iPad called “TiltShiftGen” Which enabled me to take this shot of Tesco’s…

….and turn it into this beautiful model village…

Best of all, it’s now only just Saturday morning. The weekend awaits and I hear there’s a beer festival at The New Inn in Gloucester. Ahhh, to sip, perchance to drink.. Who knows, but gotta keep an eye out for the Injuns, especially at my age.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

So bank holiday Monday came and went and included Cheese Rolling by the rebellion. First one we’ve missed in 5 years I think, but we’ll be there next year I’m sure. For most, today means back to work. Ha ha! Not me though – no-sir-ee. I very sensibly booked two days holiday. I have a little trip on Wednesday to collect daughter from the airport on her return from Egypt unless her friends have sold her for a camel (customs will be a nightmare if that’s the case) and it seemed daft to go back to the ship just for one day. So here I sit on the holodeck.

Monday morning did indeed include mowing and netting installation so the garden’s looking pretty good. Next job is the hot tub. Details coming up.

But first – Door Stops & Triffids. Mrs G and I have been looking for a doorstop for the master bedroom door for some time. It’s not that it’s difficult, but that there are so many to choose from. On Sunday when we failed yet again to find a suitable one I came to my senses an explained to Mrs G that we didn’t need a door stop. What we actually needed was something of weight to prop the door open with. This means it could be any heavy object and all of a sudden our options are wide open.

Gloucester has a couple of great antiques centers and this, dear reader, is where we stumbled upon the perfect objet d’art for the purpose. An old stone hot water bottle (now half filled with sand) is just perfect for the job and works a treat. Bingo.

An afternoon of movie watching led to Triffids. The Day of the Triffids is a 1951 story written by John Wyndham. Its been the subject of many Radio Plays & TV Movies, and Sci-Fi enthusiasts the world over, know the story well. For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, it says here:

“The protagonist is Bill Masen, an Englishman who has made his living working with “Triffids”, plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behaviour: they are able to move about on their three “legs”, appear to communicate with each other and possess a deadly whip-like poisonous sting that enables them to kill and feed on the rotting carcasses of their victims. The book implies they were bioengineered in the Soviet Union and then accidentally released into the wild when a plane carrying their seeds was shot down. Triffids begin sprouting all over the world, and their extracts prove to be superior to existing vegetable oils. The result is worldwide cultivation of Triffids.”

Last Christmas the BBC made yet another dramatisation of it and it’s a cracking job. Sort of Doctor Who/Torchwood on steroids. A proper movie (almost). I recorded it on Sky plus and it’s languished there, taking up valuable disk space and waiting for the moment when I had an appropriate slot in my schedule to watch it.


Eddie Izzard plays bad guy ‘Torrence’, Dougray Scott plays the role of Bill Masen and Brian Cox plays Bill’s father. Eddie has become a great all rounder and one of those people you can’t help but admire for his drive, ambition and monumental sense of humour. I’ve long been a fan of his stand-up, so I wasn’t convinced about his acting future – but he’s more than pulled it off. In fact he is officially a Hollywood Heavyweight. Good for him. He doesn’t let the side down here either.

Mr Cox has had a long run of bad guy roles (what with him being the original Hannibal Lecter) but here he plays a good guy reminding us just what a great character actor he is as well. There’s also appearances from Vanessa Redgrave & Jason Priestly.

My only real critisism of the piece would be the triffids themsleves. I’m afraid I failed to be convinced that a plant could catch someone – which us a real problem for a story about killer plants especially when the plant looks a bit like rubber on a stick (which it probably was). Regardless, it’s a good looking, well made enjoyable romp.

Follow that with the second part of “Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal” (8 out of 10 which is exceptionally high scoring, bearing in mind I’ve only ever given one 10) and a take away curry with Mrs G and my weekend was made…..

So to the tub. We haven’t used it for about a month and it’s been switched off, so it needs a full drain, scrub down, refill, new chemicals and ph balance and a warm up again. That’s going to be a large part of the day and the weather doesn’t appear to be on my side. But then at least I’m not at work….

PS: I cocked up my coffee selection by running for the bus on Saturday (to enjoy the abusive public) instead of wandering around Whittards – had to pick up some Lavazza in Tesco. However, if the weather continues to be blughehhggh (technical term) today, then a trip to Chelter’s could resolve the situation and Italian Expresso, Monsoon Malabar or Cafe Francais will be the selection.

The journey home was via Whitehall Garden Center near Lacock (Pronounced Lay-Cock. You boy!, stop sniggering at the back!), where I happen to be of very close terms with their annual Father Christmas. Needed some netting to protect the veggie patch.

Finally arrived back by 5 and cooked a fantastic spaghetti bol for dinner (we know how to live you know).

6pm was perfect timing for the first portion of Going Postal or as the film version is titled “Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal”. I know he’s got Alzheimer’s disease but I don’t think he has a gun – so the title is a tad harsh. It transpires that the production team “The Mob” have upped thier game even further than on “The Colour if Magic”. This time much of the filming took place in Budapest but you’d be forgiven for thinking they actually went to discworld (if such a place existed in the same plane of reality as we do) given the detail applied to the sets and location scenery.

Once again it’s very faithful to the book not least because the screenplay was “mucked about by” Mr Pratchett himself. A few masterful strokes of casting help seal the deal. Great to see that newsreaders brother David Suchet is capable of so much more than Hercule Poirot (a role he was clearly born to play). Here he makes for a deliciously wicked bad guy and so far is faultless. Star of the show is Richard Coyle as Moist von Lipwig but he’s got some heafty competition in the firm of Charles Dance, Steve Pemberton (The League of Gentlemen), Andrew Sachs (Fawlty Towers) and Timothy West to name but four.

Can’t wait for part two tonight.

Today would gave been Cheese Rolling. Roll on next year (very poor pun intended). Here’s the official notice http://www.cheese-rolling.co.uk/event_cancelled.htm which makes for interesting reading. You have been warned. Two minutes silence for the passing of a
Great British tradition please:

While the sun shines and the Cheese doesn’t roll, I have lawn to mow (I know how much Scobi likes to keep track of my grass cutting schedule) and of course netting to install. That will be part of the morning filled. No idea what the rest of the day has in store fir us, but with any luck it’ll be feet up with nothing at all!!! Bliss….

Well here we are then. It’s the morning after the night before.

Having physically recovered from yesterdays abusive bus passenger, if not mentally, we regrouped back at the ranch in preparation for our journey back to the shire. I’m sure I’ve pointed out before how the county signs that border eachother are worded. “Wiltshire Welcomes You” while you’re “Welcome to Gloucestershire” and very true that is. Wiltshire does Welcome you (especially if your a prodigal son like what I is) but don’t expect to be staying. ‘Get orf moy laand’ is the correct expresion. You are Welcome to Gloucestershire, in fact, please, keep it, take it away with you… Not entirely fair, but entertaining none the less.

So by 5pm we were to the manor born and all set to party the night away. The roadster did a great job of getting us here and all is well with the world.

The marquee was all decked out with balloons, banners and DJ gear and the Hog Roast arrived on the back of a trailer. Beer and wine were plentiful including a barrel of Waddy’s IPA and a barrel of the evil that is Black Rat. What could possibly go wrong?? Well for one thing, the weather. 5.15 glorious sunshine, 5.45 a spit of rain, 6.15 a light shower, 6.45 no rain just some bracing breeze. Party started at 7 so predictably enough 7.15 the heavens opened and it gushed down for about 20 minutes. This did have a positive effect though as with all 60 guests gathered in the marquee, everyone got to know everyone without having any loners wanering about some lost corner of the grounds.

From here on in everything went swimingly. The breeze persisted making it all a bit chilly but patio heaters and the marquee provided sufficient shelter and the tunes were loud and proud.

By 3am it all flowed to a comfortable halt, which Mrs G and I only found out about this morning over coffee and bacon, as we were sparko by a piddling 1am. Unlimited amounts of IPA & Vino Collapso will have that effect.

Next mission is the journey home. I’m struggling to believe it’s Sunday already, but at least there’s a bank holiday (sadly without Cheese Rolling) and for some of us a couple more days without the grindstone. More sunshine please!!!