The Terracotta Army marches into Liverpool



These ancient and beautiful artefacts can’t fail to amaze as they make a rare outing from their home in Xi’an in the People’s Republic of China.

As well as the life-size terracotta figures themselves, which are very impressive on their own, they are accompanied by a wide range of well displayed artefacts, all of which add to the story-telling perfectly.

Telling the history of the China’s first Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, and the subsequent dynasty’s, the scale and drama of an emerging history is explained and displayed beautifully, including the spectacular excesses as well as some of the more day-to-day lives of those involved in what was often a most brutal command.

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History, geography, human interest, horror, and poignancy are all displayed in an atmospheric setting with a well-planned visitor experience that leaves room to view and absorb the exhibits in this popular collection.

It can’t compete with the full Xi’an experience and the home of the warriors,
but the flavour delivered in Liverpool’s World Museum, was well worth the visit.

Read my poem on the subject HERE


A Christmas Wish


To everyone and all
May you enjoy the season’s call
With much hope and best wishes
For a world that so misses
The peace and fraternity
Lost in hate and modernity
Take a minute and think
Between the glasses that clink
Of what’s best for us all
After you have decked all you halls
Be generous of spirit
But make sure people hear it
Share the love that’s within us
Don’t leave it to someone else

Marry Christmas and a Happy New Year
To everyone!

A Royal Garden Party.

I was very honoured to be asked to accompany my sister, Sue, to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in London, on the 16th May 2017. She had been invited for her considerable services to the village community where she lives.

The day was well planned but stumbled because of the traffic issues after the discovery of an unexploded WW11 bomb the day before, along the route to the train station. Traffic chaos ensued but, with quick thinking, a cycle ride, albeit in my new suite, and then driving to an alternative station to catch the scheduled train further down the track, we were eventually able to relax for the picturesque journey to the metropolis.

Perfect weather had been forecast, a window of clear skies and sunshine from days of rain and cloud seemed to be too good to be true, but it happened.

My sister was not a seasoned WP_20170516_13_52_14_Protraveller in London and the underground would have been a challenge on her own she admitted, but one change of line and only three stops later, we walked up and out into the bright sunshine of Green Park, within sight of the walls of the Palace.

We had planned to eat lunch in Hyde Park, it is adjacent to Green Park. The gentle walk there, took in many memorials, statues and landmarks and bought us easily to the next wide-open space. Used well by residents, workers, and visitors WP_20170516_13_52_53_Proalike it was literally a breath of fresh air to entre. The restaurant I had chosen is on the Serpentine lake, a more elegant setting was hard to find. PIC

Italian Pizza, made by Italian chefs and a healthy house salad filled a growing space perfectly.

With time built into the schedule for a little sightseeing, we strolled along the lake taking in the wonderful setting of mature trees of so many kinds and both formal and natural planting bought the countryside to the city perfectly. WP_20170516_14_20_57_Pro

Being spring, there were many new little lives negotiating we humans, but we all managed OK.

Our target was the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Garden. A granite water feature which attracts many visitors who oftWP_20170516_14_07_33_Proen to just sit, and take in the different sounds from the water bubbling or crashing through the various sculptured features on its way around the circular feature. A peaceful space to remember the many aspects of a short but influential life.WP_20170516_14_10_04_Pro


Time to head back to the formal part of the day.

Security at the entrance we chose, at the lower side of the grounds, was high as expected, but efficiency moved the guests through the cordon of machine gun armed police, to the more welcoming military uniforms of the Palace staff. Quicker than we expected, we were into the grounds and wow, what a place to find yourself in.

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Despite having seen the gardens on the television and in photographs, my first impression was of it being far more natural in its layout than I might have imagined. At 40 acres, it’s a big space. The age of wp_20170516_15_11_38_pro.jpgmany of the trees and the huge diversity of planting from hundreds of years of royal patronage makes it a forest, then a shady glade, then a lakeside stroll with rocky outcrops and finally rolling lawns; a microcosm of English countryside re-created in walled privacy.

But we were not alone. Around eight thousand people attend each of the four garden parties hosted by the Queen each year. The space was soon awash with suites and uniforms of almost every cultural, rWP_20170516_14_46_26_Proeligious and military background. Then of course, the best of frocks adjourned by a sea of hats and fascinators in every style and colour you could ever imagine. Here are just a couple of them, yes, it’s me and my sister.WP_20170516_14_46_58_Pro

There was plenty of time to walk and watch and then sit a while and just absorb the wonder that this event is. Obviously well planned and rehearsed for many decade, everything was just perfect.



The more formal part of the afternoon was signalled by the arrival of the Yoman Warders. Normally found awp_20170516_15_57_59_pro.jpgt the Tower of London, they made space in front of the palace steps for the arrival of the Royal party. With diplomatic and other guests, having been entertained inside the palace slowly moving through the two channels of we ordinary guests, the familiar but slight form of the Queen appeared on the terrace. She was dressed in pale apricot pink. Other members of the Royal family followed closely, but not too closely, to stand with the queen at the top of the steps for the National Anthem to be played by one of the two military bands on duty. Having managed to get close to the front of the crowd, we had as good a view as we had hoped.wp_20170516_15_58_54_pro.jpg

The Queen and The Prince Phillip made their way down one of the corridors of guests to a long line of individuals selected to be presented to her Majesty. Other members of the family made small talk and greeted many other guests as they made their way round towards the Royal Tea Tent. Both were very measured but relaxed encounters which took more than 45 minutes. It was what many of the guests came there to be part of. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Prince Willian and Kate, were obviously a crowd favourite, although the more mature members of the wider family were equally welcomed for their interest in all the guests they met.

And then came the famous Afternoon Tea. Organisation and execution ‘par excellance’.



Having known of one other couple from my sister’s village being there, we didn’t manage to find them, but did stumble into another lady that we didn’t know about. Low and behold, another couple overhearing the mention of Birmingham also joined us in conversation while we ate and drank and soaked in the marvellous atmosphere, sights and sounds.

The royal party eventually finished their own refreshments and, after more formalities for the royal guests to thank the Queen, the Royal party made their way back towards the Palace but took time once more to meet and greet more guests on their way.

WP_20170516_17_33_27_RichThat was the formal day done. A last glimpse of members of the royal family saying their own farewells before leaving in various vehicles, allowed us then to leave the grounds. Our choice was the Grand WP_20170516_17_46_38_ProEntrance, the world-famous frontage of the Palace. With the usual tourist lined railings, many wondering what the event might have been we had a final photograph. The feeling to be on the inside is very special.





With time in our schedule, we headed for yet another royal park, St James’s, at the side of the Mall. Finding the café, I had used many times in the past, a relaxing tea and welcome sit down was welcome.  Here we watched both people and wildlife while reflecting on the marvellous privilege we had just been part of.

Still too early for the train, a short walk past Horse Guards Parade to Trafalgar square, a wave to Nelson on his column and we headed back into the underground. A crowded five stops back to Marylebone station left us to wait for the train back north. There was so much to ponder from the sights and sounds of the afternoon, the time went quickly and we were soon seated in our transport.

The only annoyance in the perfect day was the continued aftermath of the traffic problems in Birmingham. Having booked to go from, and return to, the city centre, but then having left the car at a different station, we were amused to find that the train didn’t stop at the one we needed, at that time of night. Quick thinking and patience had us alighting at yet another station on rout and then a taxi to the carpark found us soon home and safe, still basking in the days wonders.


Do You Ever Feel Like You’re Writing the Same Thing Over and Over?

Interesting thoughts?? Worth a read.

A Writer's Path


by Meg Dowell

We are in a weird era of online publishing right now. The internet is a mix of personal essays meant to be empowering, listicles meant to be funny and news stories meant to be accurate. The more of these genres of content get tossed around, though, the less appeal they have. I’m pretty sure if I see another article about body positivity – as much as I support the movement and appreciate the idea behind it – I’m going to lose it.

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The Dragon is released into the world

This wonderful book of superb poetry is written by a very talented friend of mine and is well worth a look and please buy a copy if you can.

Writers Without Borders

We are so pleased to announce the publication of the exquisitely talented
Ricky ‘Wandaring’ Dragon’s new book of poetry

Tales of the Dragon Front CoverPROMO

Available on Amazon, click on the Dragons to fly you there !

Draagon PROMO Click on the Dragon to order your copy of the book

E_Dragon to print 01 Order your eBook Kindle version here

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I’m Ready

Writing Creatively With Spirit

DSC_0095What a lovely surprise to find that one of our local Birmingham radio stations – Genesis – has been playing one of my poems three times each Tuesday to Friday mornings. Chicken George presents the morning show between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on these mornings. He usually plays the poem not long after the news which appears on the hour. The poem’s called I’m Ready. He thinks its a great get-up-and-get-going call.

I’m Ready

I’m ready to soar
To fly high in the sky
To unclip my wings
To spread them wide
I’m ready to glide on the currents of love
To swirl and twirl
to feel the air in my feathers
I’m ready to sing, to twerp and tweet
I’m ready to feel the highest branches
beneath my feet
I’m ready to hover
by the beating of my own wings
I’m ready to stretch life
until it pings

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Sing a song to step on the ladder of fame

We all have to start somewhere I’m sure you will agree and although this is not the subject I normally share with you, it is for a friend Adam Parker, who is trying to get into the creative world of singing and recording music.

The link below takes you to his self-recording of a classic which I think he has made a good job of personally. We hope that you will feel you can ‘like’ or even ‘share’ it and so offer encouragement and the chance for many others to hear him.

Ring of Fire – cover version by Adam Parker

Adam works in support of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital and other worthy organisations and we thank you.


What ever happened to Parental and Social Responsibility?

This morning, here in the UK, I heard a so called debate on the television about some proposed new scheme for warning the youth of today, including from 4 year olds and up about the dangers and warning signs of sexual abuse. To be funded by the government of course, I acknowledge that it is a very serious subject but it was the straw that just about broke this camel’s back. You might like to make a cup of tea first for this.

I won’t discuss that particular issue in detail as it is still only a proposal and hopefully common-sense will reign and it will be tackled more sensitively given its importance. My thoughts here are on parental and social responsibility in more general terms.

Firstly, to address the Nay Sayers of this world who will no doubt be the first to respond (if anyone does). I fully understand that there are always cases and circumstances where any generalisation that I may appear to address will-not and cannot apply. Although this small but important minority often makes the headlines, the bigger picture is just as important. To get the resources, backup and support that these genuine case deserve, society needs to stand up and take responsibility for themselves so that those precious and always limited recourses can be better directed.

There are so many areas where the principals I discuss can be applied but I will stick with the more obvious, hopefully for it to become evident for the rest.

Case One: The number of Children that are born in a family.
FamlyI have no problem what-so-ever with large families. My mother was one of nine, but, given the high street availability of contraception both general and advanced, why is it that many of these families are reliant on state benefits and all manner of other social aid? The more cynical side of me hears ‘keep having them luv and rack up the benefits’ but in many cases it is so true. The more reasonable side of me thinks that, if you can afford the family you want then have as many as you want! At least in recent years, all be it lip-service to the problem, child benefit is being limited a little; too little too late? I could repeat that phrase many time but will refrain from it if I can.

Case Two: Obesity, especially in children.
ObeseFamilyCartoonHow, in all that is sensible, is it the responsibility of government for the type of food that is shoved into the mouths of ourselves and our children. I say ‘our’ children as I have had two and so am not very far above the situation while standing on this, my little soap box. The type of food, but mostly the volume of food is a growing problem. It is a proven fact that it costs as much at eat a balanced and healthy diet as it does to eat the absurd volumes of processed and nutritionally irrelevant food that so often fills the freezers and cupboards of the western world. I am almost driven to tears when I listen to proposals for a Sugar Tax to deter the sales of sweets and sugar laden baked beans and the like. When ever did a hike in price ever stop people doing or having things, they just go without something sensible or even worse options. Why are we, the public, funding gastric bands for teenagers? Why are school children having to go to a breakfast club? Why are schools being undermined over promoting healthy school dinners? We have all hear of Jamie Oliver’s school dinner campaigns, those parents who were bringing McDonalds (many other fast foods are also available to deride) to the school fence to placate their nutritionally uneducated children’s palettes should surely face criminal proceedings!

Which leads me neatly onto the next case.

Case Three: Self-inflicted medical issues.
DrunkYou can find on late night television almost every night, ‘entertainment’ programmes about our hard presses police, fire and ambulance services tackling the stupidity of drunken irresponsibility and worse on our streets. Disappointingly I am realistic enough to know that you will never get certain layers of society to accept responsibility for themselves, that unfortunately has always been a lost cause. Let me illustrate a point of responsibility; some years ago, I was unfortunate to have a collision on my car, (there are no such things as accidents remember), an unsuspecting road worker stepped backwards in-front of me where there was no time or room to avoid a coming together. The young chap was fortunately unhurt and no damage to the car, not that that mattered. After the embarrassment for the guy when his foreman made him strip almost to his underwear to check for physical damage, there being none we exchanged details and all went on with our day. Two weeks later, I had a letter that was a bill for the ambulance that the foreman had decided he needed to call, just in case. I had no problem with the bill but it illustrates how we seem to be going backwards in our thinking on such things; you won’t get a bill now where I think you still should. Why do sensible members of what is supposed to be a civilised society have to foot the bill for drunk people causing a public nuisance, drug addicts who refuse help to get off their addiction, clinically obese people who refuse to address their diets, people requiring operations but refuse to give up smoking or drinking or many other situations that you can easily identify.

I will reiterate my earlier submission that there will always be genuine cases that are out of an individual’s control and I am fully supportive of those, it is these that should be getting the resources that are, in my opinion, being wasted on those who self-inflict.

Case Four: Being polite.
Thank youIt is easy to push this subject away with the old potato of it being a ‘generational thing’ but how rotten that potato is going to be in the very foreseeable future; if not already. When and where did that basic civilised concept of Respect disappear? I’m not talking about the Emily Bronte type lords and ladies contrived and protracted protocols but it is something of a rarity now to hear a simple Please or Thank You. Personally I press the point whenever I can and will often make a show of an individual if only for my own satisfaction. From such little acorns, civility might grow rather than the slide towards the lowest common denominator, as are so many things and I stand by an old but timeless adage that I was bought up with, “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” How much easier it is not do something rather than actively offend, abuse, swear and disrupt. This ties into the next case; and the last for now anyway.

Case Five: Discipline.
disciplineWhat happened to the concept of being punished and accepting it, for doing something wrong? I have to say for the cynical reader, I have done plenty of things that I shouldn’t have, but you will never have heard me complain about any justifiable punishment. My further comments come from observing five generations in my lifetime; my grandparents, my own parents, me and my siblings and now own children plus their youngsters. What a terrible and escalating downward step change there has been over that time in the attitude towards other people in general. This now so often falls to ‘passing the buck’ where it’s social services fault, the government for not providing facilities, the television stations for showing violent films, video games that make mass murder a thing of fun; everybody but those that it is. Keeping up with the neighbours or school mates for the latest tech often foregoing everyday living basics. Worse of all, mistakenly thinking that so many things in this life are a right, when really they are a privilege; I could write a blog on that one alone (perhaps I will). Just one example, taking children out of school in term time to go on holiday. If you have children in school are you really happy to deny them a block of their education for a few hours of sun? Some will pay the fine as it’s often still cheaper than the inflated prices of holiday weeks but think nothing of the effect on those that they should be responsible for. Fines mean nothing to most whereas two weeks in the sun or two weeks at her Majesty’s pleasure? You might guess which I would advocate,;but still have them pay the fine and upkeep while behind bars if I could get away with it; (another blog brewing there I think).

If you have read this far, congratulations; not many will have I’m sure.

Call me a ‘grumpy old man’ if you wish, I have broad shoulders but even those are crumbling in despair of a society that is going to have to somehow manage itself and the anarchy that is going to overwhelm us as the generations move forward.

Some thoughts on age and maturity.

Having recently read an interesting and provocative blog about the legalities of appropriate age and sexual responsibility, I was disappointed that the lengthy stream of comment that followed it immediately seized upon the recent celebrity headlines, condemnations and vilification of the older person in each case. How easy it is to judge bathed in the bright light of social morality.

Despite fully understanding that there have to be clear lines of demarcation to maintain order and discipline in what we prudishly describe as a moral society, such pronouncements have absolutely no control or bearing on this earth’s natural cycle of life and living. We human-beings are still just warm blooded beings with a range of basic imperatives however much the majority like to try and differentiate themselves from the rest of the animals on this insignificant little blue marble in the vastness of space.

Not advocating the dismissal of law and order, far from it, I would however question the often unfair branding of people for things that are not always so clear cut as society finds it easier to make them.

The matter of age is the main point in this concern. Puberty has no regard for the law, it’s state of confusion may well need guidance but the basic hormone driven imperative of sexual activity cannot be controlled by statute. Society might like to get squeamish at the thought and think that we didn’t go through it but we all did; the threat of hairy hands from masturbating didn’t deter me or any of my peers I know that much. So to the crux of the matter.

We may legislate that consenting 15 year olds are ‘raping’ each other but even one day later on from their birthdays they are not, surely the same could be said of 14 or 13 year olds; where should the line be drawn? Responsibility I hear you cry, or perhaps the lack of it. Education, the abdication of parental responsibility, I might expound on these another time; for now, a personal memory.

Aged 13 I was spotty, only just a teenager but as rampant and insatiable as the next boy in my class. The difference for me was a total lack of confidence, in myself or my understanding of the changes that were happening. I had wonderful parents but sadly suffering with not feeling the need for discussing the things of growing up. Farm life was considered the ultimate in self education as we could watch but not discuss the mating of pigs and see where those babies came from, eggs and chickens were easy whereas the sticky patches on my bedsheets most mornings were a no-go area; I had to take it upon myself to find out these things.

Knowing that you didn’t just play with yourself and attracted to boys, even at that age although out of every social circle for many reasons, it became very difficult to make any progress. I have to make clear that despite much effort, I didn’t get the results that I thought I wanted at this stage in my life; but it didn’t stop me trying.

My class mates were the obvious choice, games lessons were never for the sport, lots of showing off in the showers but definitely not an opportunity for hands on experience. The gym teachers were the next target, physical perfection, compared to my overweight inadequate form that is and of course the chance for some degree of sight of more mature manhood, if not any contact. After constantly making boyish attempts to let them see me, showers and locker rooms etc., it came down to me to engineer seeing them, bursting into the staff changing rooms regularly and even on a more relaxed school camping trip, none of it worked. Obviously.

There was an uncle, yes a real one, passed now so there is no real embarrassment, but we shared many interests, music, walking and other day to day things. As it is often said ‘it takes one to know one’ I always thought that he would be a good candidate to share certain physicality. To reiterate, this was still mostly in my head and he was definitely more ‘moral’ than me so it was a lost cause. Even when sharing a room in a hotel on a walking holiday and me lingering about aroused and naked, nothing happened; my sad lack of initiative was probably his saving.

The question is, was I wrong to want something to happen, peers, teachers, uncle, anyone and if it had, who would have been wrong? Legally, any of the older people could have been prosecuted for abuse or statutory rape. My peers, even at 14 or 15 the would have possibly been same although I’m sure that there would have been less fuss; a good talking to and in my house, extra jelly and ice cream for the trouble.

The other question would be, is it right to assume that the adult has to be in the wrong and always take the wrap? On the grounds of individuality, it can’t always be the case. Try pleading entrapment and it won’t get you far you can be sure of that. My point is that it’s not always as easy to judge these things as society makes it out to be; black and white might be more convenient but it rarely happens. Where it does I’m all for the full weight of what we have for a legal system but it’s not always that simple, is it?