Thursday, 6 August 2015

Property of J S Hepple

It was printed sometime after what it calls ‘The Great War’. Maybe the 1920s. Not much of the stamp album is left now. Over the years, since my Dad got it me second hand as a kid, I’ve moved most of the stamps out. Once the pages were full. Many stamps glued in. Some with massive stamp hinges.

Here’s a page though. Look at the names of the countries. Lost and gone now: Danish West Indies, Danzig, Slesvig.  Danzig was a semi-autonomous state from 1920 onwards, so that helps date the album. Some of the stamps are later. One on this page is dated 1944.

At the back it says ‘Property of J S Hepple’. I wonder who he was? When he lived? Pretty obviously collecting through the Second World War. I guess he’s maybe no longer alive? And possibly this is all that’s left of his life?

Just for a while I share that life. And so do you as you read this. J S Hepple never knew us. I trust he lived well.

What will we leave for future generations? More than a stamp album?

We build on others foundations. And lay the foundations for others. Build well.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Sometimes the Mountains are Real

I started this blog nearly 10 years ago. Having reached the age of 50 then (60 now!), and having seen my first child married, I wanted to put into words the ‘meaning of life’ as I saw it, woven from stories, pictures, faith and news items. And that’s what I’ve done.
Once in a while, a mountain climbing clothes store or a mountain climbing club comes along and asks if they can advertise on my site. I’m flattered that anyone would want to advertise on my blog, but clearly all they have done is read the headlines!
But now and again, the philosophical meets the literal. I’m just back from a delightful week in Wales with friends. Fitter than me, they liked the idea of climbing mountains, so there I was one day, at the top of Cadair Idris, Wales’ second highest mountain.
Literal or metaphorical, physical or philosophical, may I continue to encourage my readers to reach the heights!

Monday, 1 June 2015

What Do You Want From Life?

This is a letter sent to the Daily Telegraph, recorded in The Week Magazine:

Dear Sirs

I was assisting my 16-year-old daughter with her homework when she received a text from Mum, which read "What do you want from life?"

This was an unexpected and profound question for an exam-sitting teenager. We debated various answers - wealth, fulfilment, love, all three.

Five minutes later, she received a second message, blaming predictive text for correcting the word "Lidl".

Friday, 8 May 2015

REPOST: How to Fail as a Political Party: 26/09/10

This is my post at the time Ed beat David. It gives me no great pleasure to note I was right. Sad day for Labour.

1. Ignore what the public want: look to keep the peace in your own party at the cost of becoming unelectable
2. Make sure the election process is long enough for the unions to form around a candidate that is weak enough not to take them on
3. Make sure the Unions have a vote that outweighs their true influence in the country
4. Elect someone that is young and untried
5. Ignore the older brother who has a welcome reformist approach and is obviously the more able communicator
6. Go back to the old party ways, following the policies of the last failed Prime Minister rather than the new approach from the earlier successful and long lasting Prime Minister
7. Look forward to a number of years of debating failed left wing election proposals
8. Look forward to a long time as an opposition party.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


When you drive to the polling station on Thursday, your way will not be blocked. Your children will not be kidnapped whilst you are out. There will be no indiscriminate gunfire as you queue. No one will take you into the booth and force you to put a cross by a certain name.

We live in a free democracy. But we need to keep it that way. Don’t assume for a moment that your vote doesn’t matter. No vote is wasted. It’s a statement that we’re free. Free to vote. Free to choose.

Far beyond our own political views, beyond the choice of a candidate or the success of a candidate, is the fact that we are free to vote in the first place. A privilege many in the world today do not have.

Don’t squander the chance. Don’t throw away your right to vote. Don’t stay home. Go to the polling station. Put your cross on the ballot paper.

Vote on Thursday.

Monday, 6 April 2015

REPOST: Starting to Climb

As I approach my 60th birthday this week, I was thinking back to the reason I started writing a blog, in my early 50's. Here's the very first entry on this blog all that time ago.

The daughter I make note of is happily married with our first two granddaughters.

Well, time flies, as they say.....

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
― Mother Teresa

Well this is it. I've got there. Started a blog that is. It's taken a while but I got there in the end.

It's not really about mountain climbing. It's more to do with continuing to climb in life after the age of 50. I'm 51. I feel like i'm 31! How did I get this old?! But there is so much more to do. Many more mountains to climb in this life.

I'm not sure whether anyone will ever read this stuff. Not sure at this moment it will be worth reading! But i'll give it a go. I've kept a daily diary for over 30 years so it shouldn't be too hard to keep this up.

The first of my children got married this weekend. That's a bit of a watershed in itself. Managed that mountain ok. The speech went well enough, the weather was good, and she looked beautiful. Onwards and upwards....

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Living in a 'Both/And' Country

There was a bit of a scary documentary on TV the other night. Robert Peston was looking at what might happen to France after their next election. There is a real possibility of the far right getting in. 

This is reflected in many other nations, including the UK with the rise of UKIP. Not as far right as the Front National in France, but a definite leaning in that direction.

It’s clear that there is a concern amongst ‘locals’ with regard to ‘newcomers’. But if we go back into history, pretty much all of Europe can be classed as ‘newcomers’. Most of us have relations who have travelled beyond old borders and taken up residence in another country.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French Front National, sets out the issue as countries needing to decide if they are ‘globalists’ or ‘nationals’. It sounds almost convincing. Until you consider the fact that she is demanding a choice. Either you support your country, or you are a ‘globalist’ and want to do away with borders.

But it’s not either/or. It can be both/and. I’m rightly proud of the country I’m born in. And if people move to my country, I want them to be proud of it too.

But I also love the variety and colour of the nations. I love it that the city I live in is 50% ‘other than British white’. I love the different viewpoints on life. I love the different foods. The different costumes. It adds to my nation. New colour and variety on top of the colour and variety already brought to my nation by previous generations.

So, yes, I’m nationalist in the sense of being proud of my country. But I can be a globalist too.

The choice we are being faced with by extremist right wing parties is a false choice. I want to live in a both/and country.