Home On The Range

April 17, 2019 1:00am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 17 Comments

Belvoir Castle on the hill

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

Behold the country

Where wild beasts in pastures roam

And freedom still breathes

In support of National Haiku Day and today’s blog post, which incidentally, is right on time. 

The English countryside is beautiful. I love getting out and about in the thick of it all. Especially in spring. Such a wonderful, delicate season where hope hangs within reach. Renewal, naivety, fragility, and softness. This season reminds me of a woman getting dressed for a wonderful day. Here she is, fresh and new. Slowly revealing her grace. Lingerie lacing patterns across her body; her scent only just evident. Unsullied by extravagance. 

In a nutshell, a bit like a bird before she gets her blooming summer frock on to go proper out-out!

Further Afield

The other day I decided to go out and about into the Vale of Belvoir which is just down the road from me. Apparently, it has been voted the best place to live in the UK and has usurped the Cotswolds. Even though my mother lives there and the Duchess of Belvoir, who is said to be a bit of a lush nightmare, this somehow didn’t cast a murky shadow on the result. Belvoir is the new dog’s bollocks. 

I sometimes see evidence of what I like about Texas in the English countryside but obviously on a much smaller scale: lots of land, curious little buildings, rusting farm machinery, horses, and sometimes, even the distant sound of a shotgun being fired. 

The only real difference is that Texas has raging heat, poisonous critters, and buffalo ranches.

Err, but, hold on a minute…

Bearded Beasts in Belvoir

Bisons in the vale of BelvoirOh yes. There is bison in the Vale of Belvoir. 

 Buffalo? Bison? what’s the difference? As far as I can tell, those with bearded wisdom live here.

The BouverieWelcome to ‘The Bouverie’. This is French for cowshed. Bouverie sounds better than cowshed just like Belvoir sounds better than beautiful view. There’s a lot of pomposity in areas voted up by The Sunday Times. 

I didn’t know if Ruth was the chief bison or the owner, so I put my Vale of Behaviour in place and entered the classy cowshed.

Deal of the day for under a tenner! And with a proper fire going. You can’t knock that for an A -list area.  They could have doubled that since being in Blighty’s best tabloid. Total respect.

Still maintaining rustic charm, the porcelain was outside in a decorated shipping container. With a piano.  As my mother sat on the throne tinkling, I tinkled “God Save The Queen” on the old ivories. There aren’t many places you can do that.  But you can in the Vale of Belvoir.

Before It Gets Too Cheesy

What do you need on your bison burger? Cheese. A few miles down the road and there we were at the Long Clawson Dairy, the home of specialty Stilton. Inside they had endless cheeses in waxed coats at half the price of Sainsbury’s.  I think I bought one for every day of the week.

And to go with the famous pork pie from Melton Mowbray, in the very heart of the Vale of Belvoir.

And, if you want to live in the Vale of Belvoir, where bison run free and there’s cheese aplenty, you can reside in this rather lovely Georgian house. Don’t mind if I do.

Then, after a day full of wonder, it was time to tootle back to the village.

Where on the roadside, outside another rather spectacular house, stood a little trolley full of homegrown plants. Each with a colorfully printed out description sheet.

“How do you pay for these?’ I asked my mother, what with it being her village and all. “Do I go and knock them up?”

“Goodness, no! There’s an honesty box!

That’d last about 3.2 minutes in a town. On a good day.

“Oh, that’s nice. Do you always do that here?’

“Yes. Except I owe the last place I took plants from about £7.50… for the tulips, that I had a year and a half ago.”


There’s trash in the Vale. I’m calling the Sunday Times.



Genghis Khan And So Can I

April 12, 2019 8:52am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 17 Comments

“Time Waits For No One”

It all started with Mongolia. And I don’t mean Genghis Khan.  

After watching “The Grand Tour”, which is one of my favourite programmes, the finalé had the trio building their own car and driving across the Gobi desert. I was awestruck by the stunning scenery in Mongolia: vast open skies, rugged beauty, more wild horses than people, and when there were people, they were living a simple life and seemingly unaffected by the modern world and all its vices. 

The itch was frantic.

I’ve sat still and not been anywhere for 6 whole months.  No wonder I’m fretting about losing my feet!  The answer to all my problems is to travel. I just can’t be in the same place for this long without insanity setting in. Mongolia cured my madness.

Unfortunately, holidays to Mongolia are fairly expensive and if you’re going to go there then you have to pull in China and then maybe a bit of a rest in Thailand before heading home. This makes it a lot more expensive. This is a trip that needs attention, time, and a bit of a lot of saving up. 

But you can’t have an idea like that and not sate it with something else. That’s just not fair. 

Fortuitously, Ryanair sent me an email about reduced plane prices and I took this as a sign to make a bold move out of Blighty and into unknown territory!  Time to conquer!

I sat myself down and decided I would not move until I had found some little place that had yet to make my acquaintance!

And here’s what happened:

Scandinavian Scandal

In May I am going to Copenhagen, Denmark. #CopenMAYgen

All great storytellers go here and maybe I will come back with renewed imagination and be able to reel off my own version of a Hans Christian Anderson fable.  Inspired by a Smørrebrød (basically a Ploughmans lunch) washed down with the local Carlsberg, how can I possibly fail?  They say it’s the happiest place on earth, which is a little bit presumptuous because they haven’t met me yet. 

Spaghetti Western

In June I am going to Genoa – Liguria, Italy. #Juneoa

The birthplace of the great explorer and colonist, Christopher Columbus. Inspired by this traveller I will be able to navigate the wonders of my future whilst nibbling on the famous focaccia and pesto, washed down with a glass of Cinque Terre whilst watching a sunset resting on the harbour waters. Ligurious!

Musical Mayhem

In July I am going to Vienna, Austria. #TheLastWaltz

Apparently, the Austrians are very precious about their sausages. But surprisingly, I’m after their cake and coffee.  It’s also the worlds number one city to live in and steeped in class and culture.  This will be the rounding off I need; the finishing school of trips before I return to the Motherland, renewed, refreshed and raring to go!

But now I’ve talked the talk, can I…

Walk The Walk

I went out for a celebration with a few of my friends t’other night and told them that I felt the need to book all these trips in case my feet dropped off. One of the posse is a GP and there’s no point having a doctor as a friend without abusing the situation.  After checking my bare feet at the dinner table (total class) he informed me that my pulse is exceptionally strong and I might just be OK. 

Time to get the ole bewwwts on! 


Food For Thought

April 4, 2019 2:27pm Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 16 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday On A Thursday!

They say it takes three weeks to form or break a habit so I thought I’d better get back on here before I got lost in the ether and ruined your lives forever.

Thing is, I’ve had very little to tell you as adventures have been put on the back shelf whilst I get on with pressing responsibilities. Yawn.

Recalcitrant Reptile

Uromastyx after bath

As usual, I could keep you abreast of Kevin, a fallback for all great bloggers, but unfortunately, he’s having a meltdown. After a couple of incidents with him becoming impacted, I decided heat may be a factor. I spent a fortune on a new vivarium that housed a better lamp. Then there was the task of moving him downstairs because, being the excellent Mother of Dragon that I am, I bought a bigger unit. This also meant I had to find a suitable place with room, remove a beautiful, antique Victorian writing desk, not to mention getting involved in a road-rage incident where I nearly broke my toe, and visit every single furniture shop to find the appropriately sized table to put it on.

And what does Kevin do? He goes insane. 

He spent a week on hunger strike and refused to use his house, preferring instead to bury himself like an ostrich in a corner. The lizard will not grace me with his presence and darts away every time I come within 6 feet of his viv. How dramatic.

The last year and a half of my efforts – hand feeding, singing to him, bathing him and teaching him how to be cool are all ruined.  Kevin hates me.

Yet again, I had to spend more time reading up on the contrary Uromastyx only to find out that they don’t like change and you must wait it out. 

Personally, I think Kevin is spoilt and ungrateful.

I’ve considered changing this blog to one concentrating on lizard husbandry since this is now my life. I could easily become the go-to person on the Moroccan Uro, probably get paid handsomely for this information, and get a job managing a reptile centre instead of taking pictures of farm animals, travelling to countries, or writing about flim-flam.  

Don’t Be A Sheep

Lambs in pasture in England

Had I been a prolific blogger, I could have delighted you with the recent pictures I took of lambs, because evidently, I have become one of those gushy people who put cute and fluffy animals on their social media accounts. Lambs are so delightful that I can’t even eat them. I’m not a massive fan of the meat to be fair, which helps, but give the thing a minute to live before you get it on the menu! I’ve got to stop looking at baby farm animals or I’m going to starve.

 As you can see in the photo we have here a lamb sprayed with number 68. One of my friends asked where number 69 was. Naturally. I went back to have a look and couldn’t find it anywhere because clearly it was a sitting duck for the village deviant and had been snaffled away for nefarious purposes. Another reason not to eat lamb. 

On Sunday I watched the TV show, Countryfile and they’ve gone and put me right off chicken because of the shite they eat and the toxins in their feed. That’s KFC up the spout. I’m on the verge of becoming a vegetarian, except I only like peas. 

Sugar Coated Lies

Last night I watched the first episode of a series about what we eat and how we are all killing ourselves. My God, it was terrifying. There’s so much sugar in our food it’s obscene and basically, the supermarkets are deliberately trying to kill us.  

Let’s take cereals. You may as well take the sugar caddy and tip it into your gob.  Stressed by this, I paused the show and went to analyse my Bran Flakes. Yes, Bran Flakes. The breakfast dish that has recently become a healthy option in place of my much-loved bacon bagel. 

Bran Flakes. There can’t be any sugar in those because it’s like eating cardboard. I know that there’s no sugar in them because I have to sprinkle a teaspoon on top in order to get through the ordeal without crying.  

I read the packet. FOURTEEN grams of sugar per serving.  You vicious, evil, lying, nasty, heart-attack inducing little cereal.

There are only eleven grams of sugar in a bloody margarita and I closed that avenue of pleasure off. It’s no wonder my personality has been sucked dry.

Based on the fact we should only have 30 grams of sugar a day, this inedible, falsifying flake takes up nearly half of my quota.  I then decided to weigh a teaspoon of sugar to see what that was. SEVEN grams. I nearly had a sugar-induced stroke.

TWENTY-ONE  grams of sugar consumed in the most unappetising breakfast bowl ever, and I believed eating it would make me look banging in my skinny jeans. Total lie. 

Ten thirty at night, atrociously upset and ready to sue Bran Flakes, I went late night shopping to buy new cereal. The only one I could find with a trace of sugar was Shredded Wheat. Ian Botham was right all along.

I went to bed slightly comforted by the fact that the Bran Flakes were sweating in my pantry and I could feed them to the birds in the morning. But, I couldn’t get to sleep. Hours I lay in my bed worrying about the damage I’d done to myself over the years and what life would be like if I had to have my feet chopped off.  

Ice cream or nice shoes?  It’s a real dilemma. 

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