Newsletter No. 008

Number 8, November is just about over. We are busy getting our December letter ready. We hope to send it out super early in December so we can get on with turkey stuffing and sprout peeling and associated activities.  

This month we have more from Dougs memoirs of army life, Sylvia shows how to get a bit of style in the garden. Cold nights positively require a warm fire and hot crumpets and we show you how to get both with a great recipe and a story from way back. 

We hope you enjoy this and the previous issues but if you missed any and would like to see them either in our ARCHIVE  or email Sylvia at 
[email protected] and she will gladly send any you have missed.

Yes, folks its that time of year. Everyone is full of the Christmas spirit. And the scammers are out in force to take advantage and get their mitts on your dosh.   We have two specific warnings of scams doing the rounds at the moment and our top reminders to keep you and your pennies safe.
  • The missed delivery scam. Where you get a message (text/email/note through the door)  it gives a number to ring. This is an expensive international premium number. Ring it and get strung along and the call can cost up to  £300 !!!  So check with your supplier if you have deliveries on order (support number will be on invoice)
  • The Microsoft important update email.  Microsoft WILL NEVER email you. They don't know your email address or you from Adam.  The link in this email will download a virus that will corrupt your data. you are then told to pay a ransom.
There are different types of scam out there. Our top tips to stay safe are...
  • If you get an email with a LINK in it from ANY organisation that usually requires a password.  Do not use the link, go to the organisation's website directly.
  • If you receive an email from a stranger urging you to click on a link or a photo. DON'T.  Just delete or ignore it.
  • If you receive a phone call saying your appliance insurance is due, do not pay over the phone, check with your supplier.
If you are unsure about any email, text or note through your door, don't worry. Consult relatives or friends before acting.

Which has a good guide if you want to read more about common online scams here

Let's get Quizzical
  1.  "Anyway the wind blows" is the last line of which song?
  2. Who has lived at the address on Sutton Place, Manhattan, New York since 1945?
  3. What is the name of the seat that the speaker in the house of Lords sits on? 
  4. Which international Rugby Union side is nicknamed the "Puma's"? 
  5. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the Governor of which state of the USA?
  6. What is the meaning of the word "rubricate"
                     a) make rough   b) write in red    c)  think deeply

I Remember Part 7

Place: Dettingen barracks, Junior Leaders Battalion R.A.O.C.  Central Vehicle Depot, RAOC, Egginton, Derbyshire

Time: October  1960  - December 1961
So a brief reprise, as I arrived at my latest posting. I was a Lance Corporal, a new father and married for just 9 months, having had to leave my family back in "blighty". Also, whilst reviewing the overall situation in light of the previous world crisis in October (Cuban missile crisis), the irony of my present location was not lost on me as I was now just 40 miles from the East German border. 
Doug and Tina's wedding in April 1960
But on with the story: My latest unit was yet another small but mobile unit, in that if the "balloon" went up we could deploy the whole unit plus all necessary stores in a host of vehicles in under 6 hours. This was practised frequently via brigade exercises at least 6 or 7 times a year. Also, just to note we were part of 7th armoured brigade, the legendary "Desert Rats" which was our shoulder insignia. 
I was soon at home in this small unit (only 80 to 100 in the unit, officers and men). As is the case with me I soon made several friends and was directed by the Sergeant Major to make myself available for the football squad. So I found myself being included in several activities outside of our military duties, such as a trip to Hamburg and a stroll down the Reeperbahn (look it up on Google). A group of us, another jolly for a weekend, hired the unit minibus and went skiing in the nearby Hartz mountains (never been skiing before).  
Around August time '63 I was put forward by the C.O. in an exchange programme and was duly dispatched to the 1st Fort Gary Horse, Royal Canadian Army, based in Minden, Germany. I suppose it was a compliment really but I was annoyed as I was hoping to apply for leave for Christmas or my daughters first birthday. 
But I duly arrived at the "Garries" as I found it to be known as, suffice to say they were the nicest, friendliest bunch I ever met. I allotted a minder; Dave "Rocky" MacDonald. Had a great 4 months with them. Most of the time we spent in situation but we did have a couple of exercises. Someone at HQ had allotted the camp where the "Garries" were,  to another Canadian unit, the Royal 22nd Regiment (the Vandoos) the only French Canadian regiment. As the Garries were originally English and Scots, there was great rivalry between the two. This was emphasised when there was a dance organised in the joint NAAFI bar. I was present at one of these dances, most of the females were locals (German). As the night came to a close, one of the Vandoos said something (in French) and the guys from the Garries took it as an insult. This resulted in fists being thrown and mayhem commenced, it looked like a scene from a western movie. Myself and two guys who were with the REME (both French Canadian but with the Garries as guests) were considered excused. As the silliness continued one of the combatants took a swing at me before I could retaliate the regimental police of both units stepped in quickly to shut it down. I was offered a drink by a Sergeant from the Garries as an apology for the attempted punch. The next morning as I reporting in at HQ the chap who had thrown the punch came up and apologised, as Dave my minder said that it was an extreme break of rules applying to guests. I found the whole stay with them a great experience.
I got back to my unit at the end of Oct 63 only to find that I had missed out on Christmas leave, this was compounded by the assassination in late November of President Kennedy which stopped all leave and this lasted for a week. I was then told by the CO that I was to get 2 weeks leave plus an extra week but after Christmas. So I finally arrived home in Feb 64; I'd been away for a year. Tina and I had been married for nearly 2 years but we had spent around 6 weeks together (on reflection it was hard on my wife). 
In all too short a time I was off again; back to Germany. Around April 64 I was informed that my wife was once again pregnant. On informing my officer I remember his remark "Buckle if you are going to get your wife  with child every leave, you'll have your own bloody platoon" 
However, I was given his assurances that I would be given priority for leave when word came through of the birth. 
The rest of the year passed by slowly, but I got some visits in. Myself and a couple of others went to Belsen Concentration Camp (a humbling experience) and Munich (Oktoberfest). Then it happened, word came that I was a father again and on 9 Nov 64 my son Robert arrived. I spent 2 weeks at home, then off again, another Christmas away. It was hard leaving again, but there was not a lot I could do about it. To leave the army would have cost me £800 to buy my contract this was out of the question and I didn't want to do it. All the time I was trying to save to eventually buy a house in the future. So we both agreed on this for now, which was just as well for the new year; 1965, brought news in March that I was going back to blighty for 2 weeks, then reporting to the regimental depot in Blackdown. There to await in holding platoon my deployment to 52 Airdrop company (attached) Ord Depot Aden ( MELF), and I was also promoted to Corporal (2 stripes). 
When I told Tina this news she was glad but very upset that I hadn't got a "home" posting. But keeping my own council I was glad to travel - it's what I joined the army for. I was sad not be with my wife and kids more, but you go where you are sent as far as the service goes. 
After my leave, I reported to holding platoon Blackdown . It was going to be at least 3 weeks before a flight was gathered. Each morning we would report for instructions but most days there was nothing on so we did what we wanted. One day a few of us went to Sandown Races (not far away). On another one of the training sergeants who I knew asked if I could help him take a squad of recruits on the rifle range, to introduce them to small arms (sub-machine gun and pistols). They all seemed to understand the safety instructions; when on the range, if your weapon jams or stops firing, put the safety catch on, place the weapon on the ground and step back and raise your hand while calling out "weapon ceased firing". Later on the range, one the rookies gun jammed as he was firing. He turned around with the gun pointed at me and the Sergeant; the rookie carried on and tried to cock the gun to fire again. I shouted out " hit the deck" which everybody did as the Sergeant managed to take the weapon from him. Whereby, I took the squad back to camp while he dealt with the problem; close call but they happen.
Then the day came and we were sent on our way, flying via Rome and Cairo to Aden, where I duly arrived at 8 o'clock at night, the temperature was 29 degrees, light wind and around 68% humidity. In rough terms damned hot. 
So here I was in a hot, dusty and sweaty land, 22 years old, married, 2 children, what had I landed in now. We will find out...

Sylvia's Gardening Tips
If you want to give your garden a bit of colour in the spring its time to start now.  
Curb appeal

Get a nice pot, make sure it’s frost proof and has a drain hole in bottom. Put a few ‘crocks’ (stones or old clay pots broken up) in the bottom and cover with a layer of compost and a sprinkling of granular multi-purpose food. Put a layer of dwarf tulip bulbs on top of the compost and cover with a few inches of compost. Now plant a layer of dwarf daffodils (I always use tete a tete variety) add more compost and a sprinkle of granular food. Next step is to plant some miniature cyclamen plants at the top of the pot.

So, in theory, you should have flowers right through to next April. The cyclamen flowering now and if deadheaded regularly will continue flowering until next February/March. Then the daffodils will flower and last of all the tulips.
Et voila!     A bulb burger!

Recipe of the Month
This recipe is a No-Knead recipe, well when you taste one believe me you will need another! They are fun to make as well. The instructions call for 10cm/4" crumpet rings, I used non stick egg rings that are slightly smaller but the crumpets tasted great.

  • 320g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 225ml milk, warm
  • 225ml water, warm
  • vegetable oil for greasing the rings
  1. In a large bowl, add the flour, yeast, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the yeast and salt on separate sides of the bowl then you can whisk together (salt directly on yeast can kill it).
  2.  In a separate jug, combine the warmed milk and water. 
  3.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids. Whisk from the centre outwards until the consistency of a thin batter and there are no lumps.
  4. Cover with cling wrap and a tea towel and set aside for a minimum of 1 hour, until bubbles form on the surface The volume will expand so make sure the bowl is large  (store in fridge now if you wish to cook the crumpets later).
  5.  To cook the crumpets, grease 4 10cm metal rings with vegetable oil. Wipe a little oil around a large nonstick frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Arrange the rings in the frying pan. Once hot, spoon the batter into each ring until 1/2 way full.
  6.  Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until little bubbles appear on the surface. Once the bubbles have burst and the crumpets are dry on top, use tongs or a spatula to carefully lift off the rings and flip over the crumpets. Cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side.
  7.  Re-grease and reheat the rings and pan before cooking the next batch. Repeat the process until all of the batter has been used and you've made roughly 10 crumpets.
  8.  Serve the crumpets warm with butter.
  9.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.
The Christmas Tree crumpet was a bit of a failure, it stuck in the cookie-cutter despite it being greased.  Still tasted great though.

Tea Toast and Entertainment Centre
Slamming the back door I took off my coat and boots. I walked into the living room and went straight to the fire and warmed my hands. Today's centrally heated child would probably walk in, glance, and move away to power up a games console but on those cold winter evenings, the fireplace had no competition to speak of, providing not just heat but entertainment, food, and drink.
Central heating was for the rich. Insulation and double glazing were unheard of and you were considered a bit posh if you had that sticky-backed foam rubber tape stuck around your front door to keep the draughts out. So until Gran sent me to bed with a stone hot water bottle and extra socks I would eat and play in front of the fire. Sitting on the spark burned and threadbare rug, the warmth highlighted the feeling of chill on the parts not exposed to the heat. This encouraged me to even out the cold spots by running through a series of position changes, each change warming one part while the recently toasted areas chilled back to relative numbness.

On really cold days when the thin glassed windows had ice on both sides and the cold draughts invaded my space on the rug, I changed positions more often in a frantic bid to avert cold spots. This attracted comments ranging from the quiet "sit still itchy pants" to a warning "what is that boy doing?" I never knew who Gran was asking but once I realized that when she asked a question of this phantom third party I had come to the limit of her patience and should stop or move well away. Gran could outreach Henry Cooper and strike faster than lightning and she always chose the coldest and goosepimpliest spot to smack.
One of my jobs was lighting the fire. I don't know how old I was when I learned but I still remember how. Back then coal fires didn't start life with the strike of a match: they started life as a pile of black flecked grey ash on a cold morning. I had to shovel the ash into a bucket with the old steel shovel. The Fire Set hanging next to the fireplace had a lovely brass shovel that was just right for my small hands but it was for looking at only. (The only time I got to touch it was every other Thursday when Gran and I polished all the brass.) I then had to take the ash outside and tip it into the ash bin. I learned that wind speed and direction played their part in this after getting coated in ash a couple of times. On the way back in I collected sticks and coal from the old air-raid shelter we used as a coal store.

 To set the fire, I screwed up sheets of newspaper from the pile next to the fireplace. 'Not too many or you'll set the chimney on fire' then placed sticks on and stacked around the pile. Then the match. If it went out I would throw it into the fire to burn the evidence of a wasted match. The paper when lit burned yellow and smokey, the flames rushing around the sticks of wood blackening them first then the edges began to glow as the fire caught them. Once the sticks acquired flames of their own the fire would roar and crackle as the paper crumbled to ash and the sticks settled. Then the critical part, one by one I would place the coals onto the burning wood. Too fast and the fire was smothered, too slow and the wood burned away before the coal was alight. I soon learnt the right size of coal and how to place the pieces so the flames drew between them. I used tongs to place the coal at first but gran’s impatience would push me to one side as she picked the coal and placed it in the fire with her hands. Was my Gran fireproof? No, just quick. I tried it my self. The flames licked my fingers and I dropped the coal at first. “Don't throw it on you idiot.” The fear of a smack overcame the fear of the flames and soon I was placing the coal in the fire quickly and by the standards of the day, safely. Thinking back, I know my Gran loved me but in today's world, she would probably be arrested for slavery and cruelty!
On dark winter evenings, the fire was my entertainment. Lying on my back the shadow of the mantelpiece underlined the view of the ceiling with the glass lampshade bowl hanging by its three chains. Its shadow could turn into a parachute drifting through a moonlit night delivering an agent behind enemy lines into the valley between lines of hills created by the shadows of pleats and folds in the curtains. Turned away from the fire my flickering silhouette could sprout any number of Cowboys, Indians, Martians or English or German soldiers, any number up to ten that is, or five commanders and one panzer tank or one Churchill tank and five stormtroopers. The crackling coals provided a background of distant gunfire to add to my scenes. I could play out these shadow dramas on the skirting board or sideboard to vary the terrain and a handful of explorers would never know when a giant spider would strike.
The fireplace also provided food and drink. A shiny brass toasting fork hung unused in the gleaming fire set near the fireplace but the ‘working’ set of tools, kept in an old brass artillery shell case (also polished fortnightly by me) included a bent and blackened iron fork. This was used to toast bread, teacakes and crumpets all buttered from the dish placed earlier by the fire so the butter was soft (and often speckled with ash from the fire) If anything fell from the fork during toasting was usually speared back on, given a quick blow to remove most of the ash and coal dust and eaten with the rest. Whenever possible the fire was used to boil the kettle, this was placed on a trivet so the side of the kettle was against the fire. We had another kettle, that lived on the cooker in the kitchen but ‘the kettle’ was kept by the fireplace. It had an old cork floating inside to take away the taste of smoke. When not boiling up for tea it would be kept on the trivet but back from the fire so Gran only need push it closer with her foot when a brew was required. The teapot, that's ‘the’ teapot because we had another one in the kitchen, was warmed next the to kettle. When the tea was brewed both blackened vessels were lifted of the trivet and kept handy in the grate.

Now, many years later, I pride myself on being able to light the barbecue in one go thanks to Gran’s fireplace, her penny pinching over the matches and the occasional smack round the ear. Gran liked tea and toast being made on the fire, it was easier and warmer than going to and from a cold kitchen. I look back and remember, I was the one who went to the kitchen to fill the kettle, empty the teapot, get the bread, butter, jam, milk and sugar. I didn't think it was easier and the kitchen was bloody cold. But I’d love a piece of toast and a cup of tea in front of a real fire right now.

We aim to be...

an inclusive group so if you have an idea for an article that you think would be of interest then get in touch with us.
You don't have to be a journalist, and if you find trouble getting your idea onto paper or email we'll give you a helping hand.

Answers to the Quiz
  1.  Bohemian Rhapsody.     
  2. General Secretary of the UN 
  3. The Woolsack
  4. Argentina 
  5. California 
  6. b  (write in red)

We have a community facebook page, here is the link please like and share:

And Finally...
Lots of talk at the cafe last week about a speech app called Bla Bla Bla so the boss said have a shufti so...

Bla Bla Bla is an app that reacts to sounds. It displays 16 faces that react to sound, for example by opening their eyes and mouth wider, varying their reaction to correspond to the volume of the sound: The louder the sound, the greater the reaction from the faces. The length of the reaction also corresponds to the sound: The longer the sound, the longer the face is held in reaction mode. This app is free and it works on iPhone, iPad and iPod-touch. This works just as well on a small device (iPod or iPhone) and does not require the iPad to be useful. 

Bla Bla Bla is not a measure of clarity or intelligibility, it’s a visual feedback tool to show the user how loud their speech or part of their speech is, or how long they hold a vowel, or how much stress they put on one syllable as compared to another. 

Speech Therapists can set goals to target Intelligibility, dysarthria, stress/intonation, volume, voice, pho-nation, to name a few.  It could be useful in  Parkinson's cases with mild dysarthria.

The app is FREE but to be helpful it really needs a speech therapist to set goals that target your specific area of difficulty. It is not available on Android devices

The Parkinson’s UK website holds a list of APPS and DEVICES for Parkinson’s   Bla Bla Bla is not on the list but two others look like they could be useful.

Voice Analyst:  This allows you to measure the volume and pitch of your voice. Strangely this costs $9.99 on Apple and £9.99 on Android which is about £2.30 different.

Beats Medical:  This has three main functions: Mobility, Speech and Dexterity.  You can use any function separately.  For speech you have three further options: sentences, single words and saying ‘ahh.’  Beats Medical is FREE so looks like a good option to ‘test the waters’ if you think you can set 10mins aside daily.  

The Parkinson’s UK website also lists apps that help with sleep, panic attacks and Swallow prompting (I suppose this could also be used for blinking too)      Parkinson’s UK apps and devices page
  • Do you use any apps to manage or ease Parkinson’s symptoms? Please let us know.
  • I contacted Voice Analysts developers and they told me the price bands are set by Apple and Android so it's their generalisation that causes the dollar and pound prices to be set unfairly.
  • Gary at Speechtools (Voice Analyst) has offered some promo codes to allow free testing of Voice Analyst. If anyone wants to try it please contact  Angela.  

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