The joy of grammar

When I went to Oxford University, I remember a professor handing back an essay with a mark B+. He added the comment – “Very good, but it would have been an A – if you had given even the briefest attention to correct grammar and spelling”. I remember being very happy to get a B+ from Oxford. That was good enough for me!

Since, almost by accident, I have become a ‘professional blogger’ / ‘professional writer’, I am endeavouring to improve this aspect of writing, and over the years have learnt to enjoy this aspect of writing more. (1)

I did intend to write an article here, but it made more sense to share at my Cycling Blog, for my long-suffering cycling readers.

This is the article from Cycling Uphill.

Proof-reading blogs

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Good news does exist

Last year (2016), I spent a lot of time reading the news.  I also felt I was wasting my time – just getting frustrated with things out of my control. In Greece, I took a break from news, and surprised myself that I kicked the habit almost completely. In summary, the news embargo gave a feeling of great joy and freedom – and perhaps it was a little easier to meditate too. I wrote an article at Write Spirit about spending less time online.

Back in Britain, I have somewhat slipped from the purity of this ‘ignorance is bliss‘ motto, and always seem to come across the days headlines. Although I have a general knowledge of what’s going on, I do tend to stay well clear of online news, with its capacity to suck you in. Occasionally, I have taken a weekly print newspaper which gives a summary of last week’s news. One thing I noticed about taking a break from the news – is that afterwards – you feel you have less appetite for it. When staying with my parents, I just couldn’t eat a meal and have the six ‘o clock news on at the same time – it gives me ingestion. To be fair, after an unorthodox life of meditation, vegetarianism, intense cycling and alcohol abstention – they took my ‘dislike of news whilst eating’ in their stride. Continue Reading →

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Trees in winter photographs

lone tree

A lone tree opposite Ilkley Moor.

I like the way the stone wall blends into the surroundings of the environment. At a glance, the tree could almost be growing out of the stone wall. In the sun, they reflect a similar hue.

tree-shadow-green-bw

The previous day was cloudy. These photos are almost black & white. Continue Reading →

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Views from a cold January afternoon

I often cycle in the afternoon from 1pm to 4.30pm. It means around this time of the year I’m cycling back into Oxford around sunset. Sunset can be a magical time; it also is a time for birds to congregate and look for the best roosting spots for the night.

The photos above were taken on a flat road from Eynsham to Oxford. I have been on it many times, but today took a little detour up a dead end farm track and looked back across the flat plains. I was attracted by the quantity of birds flying around – sitting on electricity pylons and the trees.

There is something about trees in winter which I find more fascinating than in summer. Continue Reading →

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Birds of Prey in the Chilterns

When cycling in the Chilterns I am often accompanied by Birds of Prey soaring majestically overhead. It is fascinating to see them effortlessly gliding in circles, eyes glued to the ground below for prey. Sometimes they fly quite low, just above head height. Very occasionally you hear of Birds of Prey attacking cyclists, but only when a helmet is mistook for a predator.

The numbers of Red Kite have increased quite significantly since they were reintroduced back into the Chilterns, in the 1990s. Sometimes you are making great effort on the bike, and the Red Kite’s above is gliding twice as fast with seemingly no effort.

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A visit to the Palace of Westminster

parliament-across-thames

Every once a year or so I take a train trip to London. I’m not a great tourist, but I like visiting London – even if only to make me glad I don’t actually live there. Sometimes I end up walking aimlessly around, so this year I targeted a few things to do.

First up was Watkins – an esoteric bookshop on Cecil Road. But, after making the trip, I didn’t feel like spending much time there. I was mostly glad to see some new titles by Sri Chinmoy in the downstairs section, and that was about it. Then I went to the London Eye to get a nice view of London in the sun, but, unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance. The walk by the Thames did compensate quite a bit though.

After ticking off my list of two items to do (one partial success, one failure) I wondered into Parliament Square. I once went to the House of Lords for a function relating to the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. But, I’ve never been in the House of Commons so thought it would be good to go in. Since I’ve given up politics for my New Years Resolution, I thought I could make an exception to see politicians in the flesh. But, the gallery was full, and I didn’t feel like waiting.

I never really knew, but Westminster Abbey is just across the road. Rich in English and World History, I thought I ought to go at least once in this lifetime, and so I overcame my Yorkshire heritage, and spent £20 to enter. Continue Reading →

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New Year Meditation

The perfect meditation is perhaps in the silent, snow-capped Himalayan peaks.

sun-sky-860-tormalet
But, over Christmas, we were in a popular holiday resort, Greece. For New Year’s Eve, we lost our peaceful function hall to a New Year’s party. Our meditation group squeezed into an upper story room with the party down below.

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Throughout the New Year evening we had meditations and plays – a mixture of the humorous and soulful – hopeful of a bright future after the tumultuous year of 2016. The final meditation was 11.30pm to midnight. Almost on cue, the party below got into full swing, with the volume raised to full celebration mood. Rather than the ethereal silence of the midnight calm, stale cigarette smoke seeped into the room.

With a 20 minute break before the final meditation, I calculate a better meditation may be had in my isolated hotel room – away from the party noise and smoke. I weigh up the dilemma with some friends, but they don’t share my careful calculations, seemingly enjoying the challenge. Continue Reading →

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Rainbows at Christmas and New Year

rainbow

I took this photo on Christmas Day. I was out on my bike, but suffering from a little bit of stomach upset. As a consequence I was cycling slowly and not enjoying the ride, but because of the stomach ache I stopped to have a look behind.

I was rewarded with this view of a rainbow arching over the tree. It was the highlight of the ride and an auspicious sign for Christmas Day. Sri Chinmoy has said rainbows are a sign of inner progress, so I always take it as a sign of encouragement.

rainbow-Kalamata

On the last day in Kalamata, Greece, there was this wonderful rainbow over the hotel. The light in Greece has a magic touch, especially around sunset. It certainly lifts the spirits after the relatively dark days of northern England. The rainbow colours were vivid and bright – more intense than the Yorkshire winter – though both rainbows had their own beauty. Continue Reading →

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