Wagons Ho!

Crumble Towers

Crumble Towers

And sadly the Crumble Crew have, with heavy hearts, bid a fond farewell to Crumble Towers and moved the family lock, stock and barrel + 3 Labradors down to Compton, about 15 miles south of Haslemere. This of course will provide a new and rich seam of blog material but my, the South Downs; who would have thought one could enjoy a Big Sky so close to Haslemere - I feel like its Montana. Truth be told, it's 15 miles and about fifty years; what is there not to like about a pub with dog biscuits on the bar or another that does take away fish & chips of a Friday.

Big Sky

Big Sky

Mrs Flashbang and I were, for once, in agreement that change was required after nearly twenty years in the Haslemere area and are enjoying the move despite some emotional resistance from the Crumble Kids; which is rich given they've all but permanently left home less the youngest who anyway is off to the Arctic tomorrow for a month. The dogs meanwhile put up sterner resistance. Well, Gunner at least did. In fact he was the only one to mount a display of defiance, lying down on the path resolutely defending his home as the removers wisely stepped around him. Gurkha meanwhile treated them with bored indifference while Diesel thought a bunch of new playmates had come to play.

The movers by the way, were a local firm called Colwin Removals and a better bunch of lads you won't find. They worked like Chinese Coolies, were very considerate of home and goods, were good humoured and importantly, priced themselves very competitively. I couldn't recommend them enough and incidentally, ours was a pretty big move out of a quirky ancient listed house into........ well another quirky remote house!

Wednesday thunder storm......angry sky

Wednesday thunder storm......angry sky

and my, we do get some interesting weather!

Much Missed

Much missed

Attempting to figure out the short term ebb and flow of stock markets is, at the moment, every bit as challenging as trying to figure out what my tormentors at South West Trains are going to spring on me next. Arriving at Waterloo last night somewhat later than usual I was taken aback to discover that my journey home was to terminate at Guildford, some 22 miles short of my destination but the offer of rolling through the Surrey countryside at midnight in a double decker bus was obviously an experience I just couldn’t live without. Just to pile pain on misery I arrived at the station at ten to six this morning to find that the little station paper seller on the platform, which has been there as long as the station has, has abruptly had its lease terminated by South West Trains at a few days notice in favour of “redevelopment,” and that’s permanently buggered up my morning routine on a go forward basis. They are an absolute shower the lot of them and I look forward with unrestrained enthusiasm to the day that I can terminate them. 

Shocking Ommission

The Downton Abbey scriptwriter hard at it

Another unpublished letter to the Telegraph, 

Dear Sir,

My usual morning equilibrium was rocked today as I travelled on the 06:00hrs from Haslemere, when I discovered whilst passing through Woking that excepting a fleeting reference relating to a photograph on page 8, the usual fawning and sycophantic daily piece about Downton Abbey was absent from the paper. This shocking omission left me with nothing to complain about on arrival at Waterloo but has left me feeling oddly uplifted and optimistic about the rest of my day.

Yours faithfully,
— Mental Crumble

All Men Dream


Last week, one of the Crumble boys returned home from the Arctic Circle on Svalbard after the BSES expedition, on which he was a member, was cut short following the tragic death of Horatio Chapple.

Putting aside for a moment the events leading up to Horatio's death, which are under investigation, I'm struck by the stark difference between the actions that day of one group of youngsters and others back in the UK who chose to riot, steal, attack and vandalise. 

The two group leaders of the sub group involved in the polar bear incident, (my boy was not part of that group), acted with great courage to protect their team and eventually kill the animal. Having suffered grievous injury their lives were then saved by the others in the group who gave life-saving first aid for an hour and called in help from base camp. Without the actions of all, the casualty list would have been much worse.

Some commentators have criticised the young explorers for being over privileged kids on a jaunt. Typically that's wide of the mark by a country mile, the truth is that the vast majority of the expedition members spent more than a year raising funds to pay their way, as they are encouraged to do by the BSES. Most, if not all, are accomplished outdoorsmen for their age and have a spirited love and respect of the countryside and wilderness. They are the future guardians of the outdoors.

Also worth noting is that the BSES take a number of under priviliged teenagers on expeditions. In fact, there is one traversing some mountains in Norway at the moment which is due to sail back by tall ship. The BSES is only limited in it's outreach by it's relative small size and available funds but it most definately is not a closed shop.

For the Chapple family, there are no words that can lessen the wretched and anguished pain of loss. Locally, we remember Olivia and David, (from when they lived in Haslemere), as being warm, happy and hospitable people. On the very few occasions that I met the young Horatio, (and he was very young at that time), I recall him being a feisty wee thing, bless him. 

I offer these words then, from Lawrence, for Horatio and all lovers of the outdoors.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."

It's Open!


At last, the Hindhead Tunnel is open. It genuinely will make a positive difference locally and it has to be said, against all expectations, the tunnel guys have delivered a great project with minimal disruption given it's size. 

I'm told it wouldn't have happened were it not for the Olympics........... every cloud then.. and the 10-15% uplift in property prices south of Hindhead won't harm us either.


When is it our turn?


'For decades, some have argued that stability required highly controlling regimes, and that reform and openness would put that stability at risk,' David Cameron said speaking in Kuwait.

He went on to say, ""As recent events have confirmed, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability, rather the reverse."

I have just one question for Mr Cameron, his cabinet and the shower of 650 MP's who once elected largely pursue any path other than the one voters would wish,

Where's our referendum on Europe? When is it our turn to vote? 

We don't care about a referendum on Alternative Voting which is just a distraction to quieten down the tofu munchers. We want a say in the kind of country we will leave to our children. We want a vote on Europe.

Right, I'll get my placard and get down to the High Street, throw my shoes in the air and start twittering, (isn't that how the revolution thing works these days?).   

Haslemere High Street

Unrest in Libya and Haslemere

Yvonne Fletcher.... murdered

With Gaddafi and his despotic regime on their last legs I shed no tears; but keep a thought for PC Yvonne Fletcher, murdered by his henchmen in St James Square and the many, many soldiers and civilians murdered by the provisionals and INLA with training and weapons supplied by Gaddafi. The brutal murder of 270 innocents on PanAm Flight 103 should have been grounds enough to remove this lunatic almost thirty years ago. Indeed, my old company was dispatched to clear up and the impact of PTSD on those men is still very much a live issue today. I hope the bastard swings.

Tony Blair

Well, it's good to see that appointing Tony Blair as a Middle East peace envoy is going as swimmingly as those of us in this country who know him so well could only expect. So far, we have most of North Africa ablaze, with growing protests as far East as China, (small and known as the Jasmine protests), as far South as Zim, as far West as Wisconsin and as far North as Haslemere when yesterday, as bad luck would have it, Mrs Flashbang went binky bonk Cloud 9 when the washing machine died. Trying to be helpful, I pointed out that "we used to handwash things all the time in the Army," which almost resulted in me going the same way as the LG direct drive washing machine. 
USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits through the Suez Canal
In response to the turbulence, (in the Middle East; they haven't yet offered assistance to middle aged men in Haslemere under domestic duress), the Americans have sent what appears to be a very large bit of US Navy and parked it close enough for the Iranians to notice, lest the Iranians harbour intentions to exploit the unrest. The Royal Navy, (who's very role in life used to be to send gunboats at the first sign of uppityness), meanwhile has a somewhat smaller presence which probably won't be growing very much given there's not an awful lot of it left, as with yet more inspired planning, we've sold most of our ships to scrap metal dealers in Turkey and to Third World dictators........................ oh dear...
Actually, we don't have much of anything left in the cupboard. If the rumoured new cuts go through, by 2015 the Army will be exactly half the size it was when I joined. Still, we can always enlist the thousands of kids on YOP schemes who work for Tesco's on minimum wages which appears to account for an aspirational career these days,
from Think Defence


I'd Vote For You Phil!

No not Woolas...... Davison. I can't help thinking that Haslemere and other sleepy environs would be altogether more interesting places with local councillors like this laddie.............. I'd vote for you Phil! (unfortunately, no one else did, he lost......... the residents of Stark County can spot a loony when they see one).

Thinking Mans Crumpet & England v France

It's a sad and weary reflection on the merry band of readers of my little blog that hits go through the roof when I put up a "Friday Fun," post. "More birds jumping out of planes," is what I most commonly hear. 

I'm not one to pander to the lowest common denomiator but our aims in life occasionally coincide. In my unerring pusuit of knowledge and enlightenment in the search for perfect TMC, (Thinking Man's Crumpet), I occasionally come accross a fine women who deserves a wider audience.

Here's my first contender, Imogen Poots


Why TMC? Well, she's fought Zombies you know, (28 Weeks), and if I were fighting Zombies I certainly like her by my side.

But is she, on a Six Nations weekend, enough I hear you cry? Well, I wouldn't be complaining but I can see that some of you might so here we really are going to kill two birds with the one stone. 

Now, we have some direct and meaningful advice for England delivered in a way that has resonance for all blokes of a certain age in Haslemere.............. pick the bloody ball up and run with it...

We may well have to return to debate this subject in greater detail in future Fridays.......


Falklands & Fatties

Obesity is, apparently, a growing crisis. Too many fizzy drinks and chocolate bars and not enough exercise. A good war helps to keep the lard off. I recall a Welsh Guards instructor proudly announcing to the course that, "The Guards had more than their body weight in Mars Bars with them on the ships to the Falklands." I enquired if that meant Guardsmen, "were worth their weight in Mars Bars," but he oddly didn't share my sense of humour. Anyway, I largely blame the relentless spread of supermarkets for the expanding girth of the population which brings me to one of my favourite topics, Sainsburys and Tesco's in Haslemere.

Our supermarkets are refreshingly sociable places. It's difficult not to bump into someone you know there and indeed, that's just what happened to me the other day. Now, we don't appear to have too many really large shoppers in Haslemere of the type I've come across elsewhere. The odd one of course but not too many. You know the type I mean, the ones who waddle along in herds until they get in close proximity to the iced bun shelves and start to perspire when they get a whiff of freshly baked bread. Ordinary shoppers and small children rush to the safety of the whole grain bread section as the tubbies develop a speed wobble, thundering toward the iced buns. You can see the manager twitching nervously as the man-made fibres they're wearing begin to smoke and he lifts his radio ready to shout on the tannoy, "heavy lifting gear to aisle 13," if they spin out of control. Mercifully, most of the time they make it and graze peacefully on eclairs, jaffa cakes and of course, the iced buns on discount.

Anyway, there I was the other day and bumped into a friend. I glanced at her trolley, (as you do), and saw it was piled up with chocolate. She then did a very Haslemere thing.

"It's not for me," she said. "It's for the boys. We're going skiing and you know how expensive chocolate is in France. The boys don't really like their chocolate anyway."

Right you are love............. your little secrets safe with me.....

UDI for Haslemere!


Enquiring minds will have identified that it's getting colder. With the possibility of a dusting of snow from Wednesday onwards we can only stare with open eyed wonderment into the far distance and speculate if our local councils will be joining the Wide Awake Club and dealing with any problems with a greater, or in fact any, sense of urgency than we saw two weeks ago.

Many councils were unprepared but the three that service the Haslemere and Liphook area showed all the spark, initiative and application of a dried out cow pat. Five days to clear the roads won't do. Is it because we are located at the end of the counties, is it because they are incompetent or just that they don't care?

I care. So do most of my fellow rate-payers. For three grand a year we should expect clear roads and bins emptied more than once in five weeks, snow or no snow. Last time I looked we're in Surrey, West Sussex or Hampshire; not the arse end of Nova Scotia.

The more we pay the less, year by year, we get. Yet councils are quick off the mark to justify themselves by intruding and interfering in our lives where they are least welcome. Of course they're no where to be seen when they are needed.

Mostly, they need to wake up and get their priorities straightened out. They can prepare for "event risk," like weather, get the bloody bins emptied and make sure the emergency services can get to us when a bad thing happens.

The clear alternative is to tell them to bugger off and declare UDI for Haslemere and surrounding villages and do it ourselves. They need us and we absolutely don't need them.

Tip for local councils; buy one of these and start looking out of the bloody window, the white fluffy stuff that comes from the sky....... that's snow.