Arrrr! How I Fought Off Cap’n Microbeard and His Bloodthirsty Band of Pirates

Anyone using Microsoft Windows be aware…

Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

Cap'n Microbeard Photo of CEO Cap’n Satya “Microbeard” Nadella (the blackguard) courtesy of Microsoft. Though ’twere embellished a wee bit.

Look sharp, mateys!  If yer ship be flying the flag of Windows 7 or 8, batten down the hatches and prepare to repel boarders.  Cap’n Microbeard and his bloodthirsty band of pirates be sailin’ the interwebz’ stormy seas.

A co-worker turned on her computer last Monday morning and was hailed with a message congratulating her on upgrading to Windows 10.  Shiver me timbers! We be sailin’ with Windows 7 on all the computers in our office and I don’t aim to change me allegiance – not now, anyways.  Maybe later when all of me programs are compatible, but maybe never. That’s fer me, the captain, to decide.  Leastways, it should be.

Microsoft thinks differently.

Their Windows 10 upgrade icon is stuck faster ‘n a barnacle to every ship in our armada, and…

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The Hushed Portal #writephoto


The Hushed Portal

In response to Sue Vincent’s

Thursday photo prompt – Still water… #writephoto


The dark wall at which you have been staring opens


You breathe for calm and hold its presence


That something truly new is happening


As your skin happens, now tingling as a child’s might

Your child,

Not as given birth, but as born anew, from within


As, matched into the moment, you rise, seeing


As thought and memory drop away, leaving only Being


Which maps itself, and guides your trusting feet


Walking through the portal to the impossible beach

Walking from beach to the spit of dark land


Narrowing your walk as your stride ends the land


Feeling the new waters lap your toes, ankles, thighs


Laughing as dying fear is washed away in endless, depthless joy


Smiling with the joy of sunrise

Smiling with the joy

Smiling with

Smiling alone

Never alone again


©Stephen Tanham 2016


Stuart France


When Pieman was very young,

and living at the beginnings of time,

he often slept with the Cave Bear Clan during stormy weather.


Over the course of many such nights,

Big Brown Bear who was also very old,

taught Pieman the nature of his belly-roar.


To this day,

Pieman makes use of his roar in dreams,

but only to pacify strangers and to quiet the rowdy,

and those of us who have difficulty understanding the Ancient Tales.

HM15 609

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When one door closes…

Sue’s moving words…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

garden flowers birds 172

I go, but do not mourn for me

Or grieve that I will never see

The springtime blossom on the tree

Bear autumn gold.


The journey calls, the way is clear,

No longer will you find me here,

The door will close without a tear,

The hearth is cold.


Perhaps these walls will soon forget

The memories they hold, and yet

I leave them gladly, no regret

The bell has tolled.


I’m following a new-born star.

I go, but I do not go far,

(It takes two minutes in the car

Or so I’m told.)


I’m moving house; within new walls

I’ll wait until adventure calls

(While fetching endless tennis balls

From where they’ve rolled.)


But just for now, it’s madness here

And Moving Day draws all too near

As one by one the rooms I clear

And pack and fold.


The dog’s escaped…

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Beyond belief

A deep observation of nature from Sue…

The Silent Eye


I have fairies at the bottom of my garden.

No, I haven’t lost the plot. Yes, they do look rather like bees, bugs and butterflies. Outwardly at least. But actually, in the reality I have chosen for them, they are fairies. They are creatures of earthly impossibility. Creations, it seems, designed almost to prove that the impossible is possible… and its unlikely realisation a truly magical and beautiful thing.


I wrote about butterflies once, how their journey through life, from mobile stomach to beauty incarnate, speaks to me of our own journey and the transformations we undergo as we travel through the changing landscape of the years. You could be forgiven, musing on a summer day, enveloped by the warm-honey fragrance of a buddleia covered in their painted delicacy, for wondering if their mere existence serves a higher purpose… that of simply Being There, to make us think and…

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Fork in the road

Beautiful and courageous words from an empowered Ali.

Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!


I have come to a fork in the road. It is dark, unknown, frightening. But adrenaline does not discriminate, does it? It is triggered by fear and excitement equally – and the bodily sensations are identical.

So, this fork releases floods of chemicals into my system. I look at the trees – tall, tightly-packed, apparently impenetrable – and the ghosts of childhood monsters howl and screech all around me. I peer at the uneven surface and am assailed by the fear of falling, of catching an ankle, of being wounded and vulnerable. I hear twitterings and strange animal noises in the thick undergrowth and my hair stands on end at the thought of huge predators waiting to add me to their evening meal. The uncertainty, the lack of maps and signposts, brings on a crisis of terror almost existential in its reach: What if I am lost and can…

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History and Mystery on Caldey Island – Part Three, Ancient Suns


History and Mystery on Caldey Island – Part Three, Ancient Suns

I had to crouch down to get the shot of the ancient sun, above. These wonders of ancient history occupy a very quiet and almost hidden place on Caldey Island, one I had stumbled across eight years ago, when we paid our first visit here. Then, the twenty or so plaster (reproduction) engravings were simply white and dusty and looked very neglected. Since then, someone has lovingly decorated them in red and gold.

They were the reason I had come back to Caldey. I remembered the chill of delight that ran down my spine as I first bent down with my camera, brushing dust and cobwebs off the old stone. Now I was back – and someone else had been back, too; someone official; with an intent to preserve…

But let’s take this one step at a time; and return to where we left off: the eastward side of the main Abbey buildings.

The Caldey Monks photo

St David’s church stands outside the main Abbey enclosure. The Cistercian monks carry out their devotions in their own building, known as the Abbey Church. This was built by the earlier Benedictine monks in 1910. The Abbey Church is the eastern edge of the monastery cloister and was the first part of the Italianate-styled complex. The exterior has changed little, but the interior is far removed from its grand initial design, which burned down during a catastrophic fire in 1940. Today it is a very plain place, but no less sacred for that…

Visitors to the island may sit, quietly, in the viewing gallery, above the main church, to watch any one of the services which are strictly observed, beginning with Vigils at 03:30; then Lauds at 06:00; Concelebrated Mass at 06:45; Terce at 08:50; Sext at 12:15; Vespers at 17:30 and finally, Compline at 19:35.

Between these devotions, the monks work, rest, study and, occasionally, eat. They are vegetarian.

The Abby Church from the visitor’s gallery


The museum’s photograph, above, shows a service in progress.

Descending from the Abbey buildings, back to the common below, the path intersects a track that crosses over the raised spine of the island.

The steep, central road, with Tenby in the distance.

The climb takes you into what feels like a much less cultivated part of Caldey, ending on the headland at the place of the Caldey Lighthouse, beyond which there is only the ocean and… Devon.

Caldey Lighthouse… and beyond, on the horizon, Devon

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But, about half way up the steep track, on the Western side, there is something remarkable…


A bank of once-tended gardens, with two of their own small lakes, marks the edge of a former area of cultivation.

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An old stone circle – presumably a copy, but who knows? – lies, overgrown at the edge of a set of what look like grandly facaded farm buildings… and they are; but once, they were something else, something very different…

Not just an old farm…
The spire gives it away…

The spire gives it away – as a former church. But this complex of stone buildings, which for centuries has been used as a farm and, latterly, as the island’s perfume ‘factory’, is the site of the original 6th century Celtic Monastery which once went by the name of Our Lady Mary’s, and is now known, in honour of the saint who sponsored the original Celtic Christian presence on Caldey, as St Illtud’s Church.

St Illtud’s Church

Entering this very special place, you can feel the necessary division between the life of the Abbey, and its focus on the Cistercian Rule; and the more ancient worship of the Celtic Christian world.

The Caldey Stone with its Ogham Script edge

St. Illtud’s Church is built on the ruins of the 6th century, original Celtic church and its monastery. Many believe that elements of the original buildings were incorporated into what survives. The most famous artefact, mounted on the wall for all to see and, delightfully, touch, is the Caldey Stone, which contains the ancient Druidic Ogham script (above).


There is also a mysterious stained-glass window (more next time on this) that links the once-Celtic church to the Arthurian legends; and finally, there is that remarkable set of plaster reproduction designs that someone has so wonderfully kept alive to remind us of the most ancient of Christian thoughts and symbols from an age which remembered the teachings of two thousand years ago…

(to be continued) 

Previous parts of this series:

Part One, Part Two,


The Silent Eye

                                                 Expansion, sculpture by Paige Bradley

“Empty your mind… empty yourself…you are nothing and nowhere… just floating in the embrace of the universe…” It is a nice idea and one I have heard at the start of many a meditation… and in meditation, such a vision has a place. As a way of living, it is not particularly practical though. Someone has to walk the dog, take out the trash and clean the bathroom… and a person wafting through life being ‘nothing and nowhere’ is unlikely to be getting down and dirty with a scrubbing brush or chasing a recalcitrant hound across a muddy field.

It is such concepts that, for some, consign the whole idea of spirituality to the odd corners of life. It becomes a pastime, something to ‘do’ in spare moments or with a group. It isn’t reality, is it?

For many others though, it is…

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Finding a stone circle…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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It had rained overnight… heavily too. The sky still looked ominous, but held the promise of a clearer day to come. I looked at the bag of boots in the car and shook my head… “No, it’ll be fine…” There was no excuse for leaving the sensible footwear in the car and setting off over the moors unsuitably clad. No excuse at all…just my apparent stupidity and habitual instistance on being inappropriately shod…except that there always seems to be an inadvertent price for a finding and muddy feet would be a small one to pay. We had been looking for this particular stone circle for a long time.

barbrook III (1)

With the meeting not until lunch, we had left early to see if the newly-found directions in a book that had been gathering dust on the shelf all the while would lead us to the stones. We had tried on several occasions……

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