Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Moving the boundary - an international incident

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

Earlier this year, a farmer driving his tractor noticed a large stone in his path, and moved it out of the way. Such an event would not normally cause headlines, but it did on this occasion, for the stone had been there for two hundred years, marking the border between Belgium and France. Thus, ‘on the ground’, the farmer was increasing the size of Belgium by about 7.5 feet, and reducing France by the same amount! It appears that he did not know the significance of his action, but it was serious nonetheless; for the boundary had been established by a treaty in 1820, and no-one had the right to move it.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Letter from America

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

I remember listening as a teenager to my old transistor radio and being entranced by Alistair Cooke’s  “Letter from America “. It was a weekly 15-minute radio series broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and its predecessor, the Home Service and also to the whole world through the BBC World Service.  

Throughout its history, it was presented by Alistair Cooke, who would speak on a topical issue in the USA, tying together different strands of observation and anecdote and often ending on a poignant note. The series ran from 24 March 1946 to 20 February 2004, making it the longest-running speech radio programme hosted by one individual in history.

It got me thinking about the possible contents of a “Letter from Heaven”. Of course, we already have one written in the 66 books of the Bible, making it the longest-running letter put together by God from the beginning of time. It too, ties together different strands of observation and anecdote and often ends on a poignant note!    But what would an abridged letter contain?

Monday, June 20, 2022

Harry Ferguson Tractors

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

Often innovators and visionaries are derided and mocked in their lifetime and it can take years before people see them in a different and more positive light. There is a commemorative stone on the promenade in the town of Newcastle in County Down, Northern Ireland dedicated to the memory of a creative and determined character by the name of Harry Ferguson. The name ‘Ferguson’ is for many agricultural workers and farmers associated with tractors and Harry Ferguson was the inventor of the “Little Grey Fergie” tractor.  Yet the engraved stone on the sea front at Newcastle says nothing about his tractors.

It was in 1909 that Harry Ferguson became the first person in Ireland to fly a plane.  It had never been done in that country before and he was to achieve fame for paving the way for others.  In Belfast he had spent time designing a monoplane and then devoted his energy and creative ability to building the plane and making sure that all parts worked.  Eventually when it was all assembled to his satisfaction it was towed to the estate of Lord Downshire in Hillsborough Park during December 1909.


Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Scout Motto - Be Prepared

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

The Scout Motto of the Scout movement, in various languages, has been used by millions of Scouts around the world since 1907. Most of the member organizations of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) share this same motto.

In English, the Scout Motto is most commonly Be Prepared. In the first part of Scouting for Boys, Robert Baden-Powell explains the meaning of the phrase:

The scouts' motto is founded on my initials; it is:


which means you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your DUTY;

Be Prepared in Mind by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment and are willing to do it.

Be Prepared in Body by making yourself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and do it.

— Lieut. Gen. Baden Powell C.B., Scouting for Boys (1908), "Camp Fire Yarn.—No. 4. Scout Law." (Part I, p. 48)


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Can we trust our leaders?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

We all know that politics can be a messy business and that far more goes on behind the scenes than we realise. Thankfully, in a representative democracy, the elected representatives (i.e., the MPs) are held accountable for their actions and decisions. Whether through investigative journalism, various select committees or a public inquiry, the aim is to hold the government accountable and give the general population confidence to trust them.


Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Sought and Found


In February 2013, an 18-year-old British backpacker went missing in the Australian outback for three days. He was young, healthy and very fit, since he was a keen long-distance runner. He had been working on a cattle station in Queensland and decided to go for a jog. In the heat of some 40oC he became disorientated and instead of running back to the cattle station and safety, he was going in the opposite direction. Thankfully, there were folks searching for him and he was found during a helicopter search of the region. It must have been a dreadful ordeal for this man and his family; almost unimaginable.
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