Castle Coop News

Stop Press! Read about all sorts of sleepy village news from Barbecues and Clear-up Parties to a Police Chase down The Street!

Wimbledon 2017: An Important Decision

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 Wimbledon 2017




Today is Semi- Final day at Wimbledon 2017 – how exciting is that!!
At 13.00 GMT, Sam Querrey is to play M. Cilic & then afterwards, T. Berdych will come out on court to take on the mighty Federer.
How thrilling it would be to have a Centre Court ticket & get to watch such amazing players.
Who would you support to win the Wimbledon 2017 semi -finals?

I have to make an important decision:

 Who will I support to win and go into the Final of the Men’s Singles’ Championship?


Wimbledon 2017 semi finalists

They’re all such fab players.

If Cilic and Federer both win, it would make for a really exciting Final on Sunday.


Hmmm…hmmm..hmmm… or Querrey v Federer? Cilic v Berdych?

Wimbledon 2017 semi finalists

It’s a very difficult decision;  I don’t want any of them to lose …



A Querrey v. Berdych Final  could be thrilling too


Wimbledon 2017 semi finalists

Who do I really want to reach the Wimbledon Men’s Single Final 2017?

Whether Sunday’s Final is between

  • Querrey v Federer or
  • Berdych v Cilic, or
  • Cilic v. Federer or
  • Berdych v Querrey…


what it boils down to in the end is…

Wimbledon 2017 - Murray win
Yours having sadly put our Union Jack back in the cupboard,
Cilic won v. Querrey – really exciting match (6-7 , 6-4, 7-6, 7-5) & Federer is currently 2 sets – love up.

STOP PRESS: that’s it! A straight set Federer win – (7-6, 7-6. 7-4) – So on Sunday, he’ll be chasing no. 8!



Wimbledon 2017 – Men’s Singles Final line up – Cilic v. Federer.

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Wasps versus Mojitos – no contest!

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Wasps versus Mojitos – no contest!

Of late I have been distracted from doing all sorts of things that I shouldn’t allow myself to be distracted from doing. The summer sun has gone to my head.


Unfortunately, while I’ve been busy making the most of the blissful recent heat wave…just look at what’s been growing in our flower beds.





In my absence the garden has joyfully let rip.


Today I fully intended to spend a virtuous afternoon mowing, digging, cutting & raking

Liberty Hen gardening




and then a vicious wasp flew in out of nowhere and launched an unprovoked attack on my forehead.

Is Discretion the better part of valour?

What would you have done in the circumstances? I made an executive decision to retire gracefully.

Catching rays

making the most of the summer sun!


IMO, wasps versus mojitos – no contest!

Yours warmly recommending the combination of sun + deck chair + magazine + mojito,


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Stir Up Sunday & The Week in Focus

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Large byline photo Lady Liberty Hen, News Editor

 TAH 11/20-16

It has been another busy week here in Castle Coop…


The Awesome Hen is proud to report that Castle Coop was well represented at our local Remembrance Ceremony yesterday. Those there all agree that the sight and sound of the Chinook flying over the War Memorial and the length of the Street to mark the end of the 2 Minute Silence was very moving.

Chinook fly past


The Dickin Medal: They also served…

Lady Egality, editor portrait

Lady Egality Maran writes: On behalf of the many dearly loved pets in our  village, Castle Coop is proud to remember the many animals who have served their countries.


As of April 2016, the  Dickin medal, instituted by Maria Dickin to honour any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with British Empire armed forces or civil emergency services has been awarded 67 times.

A dog receiving a medal while surrounded by a number of men in military uniform

Rob the Collie, receiving his medal

Certificate and medal for Pigeon Royal Blue

Dickin Medal and Certificate for the pigeon Royal Blue

In recognition of all animals who have served in times of conflict, Lady Sebright, Lady Lohmann-Brown, Lady Egality Maran and Lady Liberty Hen put poppies on their dogs’ collars.


 Photograph: Martha wearing her poppy proudly ( she is not very brave & likes her home comforts & she is very aware that those who are brave & self-sacrificing should be honoured).

Source: Liberty Hen


Sir-Plym headshot round

A message from Sir Plymouth Rock:

Dear Castle Coopian, 
I am writing on behalf of our local Member of Parliament, Sir Hans Welsummer, to invite you to a Public Meeting with him on Friday 18th November at 7pm in the Village Hall. Sir Hans was elected last year to represent the Coop Constituency. He will make a short opening address at which he will talk about life in Westminster as an MP and some of the causes he particularly supports but he wishes specifically to listen to villagers about any concerns that you may have locally or indeed nationally. 
Best wishes, 
Sir Plym


Brown Owl visited several houses in Castle Coop to canvas support for the Advent Church Clean up. She wishes to tell anyone who was out when she came round, that she Will Be Calling Back.

Liberty Hen & Brown Owl


During a spell of bright autumnal sunshine, the Agent and Liberty Hen spent several hours collecting leaves in their garden.



TAH Newsletter is pleased to have been asked by our tireless New Year’s Eve Party Committee to reassure all Castle Coopians that plans for the traditional celebratory ceilidh are well underway.

Lady Sebright writes:

A few of us have met to discuss the arrangements already. Our format this year will be very similar to last year but there are slight changes to how jobs will the allocated, the menu & cost per head.
This year we’re suggesting we make a Swaddles Pie for the main course, this is a slightly spicy shepherd’s pie. This will allow us to reduce the cost per head to £6 which is plenty to cover the cost of the hall plus a couple of glasses of prosecco for everyone.

Swaddles shepherd’s pie (Serves 6-8 )

  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Sunflower oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 2in fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 900g/2 lb minced lamb
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • Fresh coriander
  • Mashed potato made with 900g/2 lb potatoes, and extra butter for the top

Preheat oven to 190C/370F/Gas 5. Peel, chop and saute¿ the onion and garlic gently until softened in a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil, sprinkling a bit of salt on. Add the chopped chilli and ginger and the spices, then add the meat and brown it. Add the tomato pureé, lemon and thyme and simmer gently for about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, throw in a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander, cover with mounds of mash, dot with butter and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. You want a bubbling, crustily browned top. Serve with cumin-spiced carrots.

Source: Tamsin Day Lewis at The Telegraph


TAH Newsletter is also delighted to report that the Public Meeting in which villagers discussed important issues of the day with Sir Hans Welsummer (MP) & aired their concerns in a lively Q&A session, was extremely well attended. All agreed that it was a most interesting opportunity to meet our constituency representative in Parliament & the evening was a great success. TAH has been asked to thank Sir Plym formally on everyone’s behalf for all the hard work he undertook to arrange the event as it is very much appreciated by us all.


Lost Cat:  A lost cat has taken up residence in the Ox and Moose. It is black with a white underside. It is being well looked after but if anyone knows where it lives please let the O&M know.

Stir Up Sunday:

Stop Press: A big thank you to our readership from TAH editorial team for all the detective work; the cat has been reunited with its owners & is now safely back home.



Trev-the-Rev headshot

Rev. T Rosecombe sig

Trev the Rev delivered the traditional Stir-Up Sunday Sermon from the pulpit in St. Mary’s Church with his usual vim & vigour.


Having taken note of the date, Liberty Hen has been tackling her Christmas pudding

cooking-the-christmas-puddingand is keeping her fingers crossed that, although cooking is not a Liberty Hen strong point, the pudding will turn out to be both edible & festive. The Agent was pleased that quite a bit of brandy was added to help it along.

Christmas Pudding



Yours on behalf of our crack Editorial Team here at The Awesome Hen,

LLH signature

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In Remembrance, 24/7

The War Memorial in front of the Village Hall in Castle Coop is one year old today.

This morning, at 11.00 a.m, with its new Poppy Wreath and little memorial crosses, our Memorial Stone looked like this:




As the daylight fails, the light comes on:



& our Memorial Stone shines in Remembrance all through the night, every night of the year:




Yours thinking it’s beautiful,

Liberty Hen signature


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Stop the World: I want to get off!

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reaction to 2016 presidential-elections



Yours knowing this time, smelling salts won’t be enough…

Liberty Hen signature

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Election Anxiety

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Yours feeling anxious in Castle Coop

Liberty Hen signature

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How to Achieve Your Goals in 6 Easy Steps.

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A small brown hen who loves London, cycling, & kindly dogs.

 TAH 03/16

It’s been another busy week here in Castle Coop…


The Village Hall boiler has given up the ghost. There is no heating for the pilates classes and worse, no hot water for the washing up after our post-pilates coffee & brownies.

 Our loyal readers will be delighted to hear that The Graf and Lady Egality Maran lost no time in resolutely stepping  up to the mark to resolve the Village Hall boiler crisis. They have been working their heads off co-authoring yet another excellent guide in The Awesome Hen’s popular ‘6 Easy Steps’ Series! We are very proud to preview the abridged edition here in this newsletter for you. All monies raised by the sale of the guide will be donated to the Village Hall New Boiler Fund. As with the previous guides published by the Castle Coop duo, copies with a foreword written & signed by Lord Eftie Nudge, may be ordered in advance from Castle Coop Castle.




We Love Lord Eftie!



Alternatively, unsigned copies may be bought from villagers taking part in Castle Coop’s Open Gardens during the last weekend of July. 


The Awesome Hen’s Guide to achieving all  your goals in 6 easy steps. (copyright: The Graf & Lady Egality 2016)


Introduction: How many of us muddle along aimlessly through life? In this little guide, we have endeavoured to help you fill your life with purpose. Learn about forethought and planning,  sign up for our Life map reading course, . read our guide for goal setting and attainment.  Take our 6 easy steps & start checking off those goals!

The Method:

  1. Decide on your goals & write them down.
  2. Keep on the list only those goals which are both realistic & achievable; ruthlessly cull the rest.
  3. Set out the tasks needed to make these goals a reality in an orderly list.
  4. Assemble all equipment required to perform each task on your list in advance. Doing so will ensure you give yourself the best chance of success. If by nature you incline to a more haphazard approach, please bear in mind that neither Valerie Singleton nor Konnie Huq ever embarrassed themselves by having to interrupt the Blue Peter show to nip out  to the shops because they’d run out of fairy liquid bottles & sticky-back plastic.
  5. With list and equipment assembled,  get cracking on those targets.  Go to it!  Pull out all the stops! Work your head off to make your dream happen!
  6. Remember (for what it’s worth..)
  • Ad astra per ardua!
  • Fortune favours the brave!
  • There’s many a slip ‘twixt cup & lip!
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day!
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!


  • In conclusion: We hope that reading this guide will transform your life. We should like to thank all those without whose hard work, this guide would never have be written. All rights reserved.


Tried and Tested? Castle Coop Villagers commissioned!

In the interests of integrity,  The Awesome Hen’s  latest addition to the ‘6 Easy Steps’ series of guidebooks was of course, thoroughly tested on your behalf before publication.

Trev the Rev, Brown Owl and Liberty Hen all undertook to follow the guide’s instructions meticulously and agreed to report back saying whether or not they’d achieved their goals successfully.

This month’s Prize Competition!

Below are the lists of personal goals which Trev the Rev, Brown Owl and Liberty Hen all drew up in an effort to achieve them by following TAH’s latest ‘6 Easy Steps’ guide. The first reader to match each list to its correct author will win a virtual bottle of fizz. Please send all competition entries to: The Editor, TAH, Castle Coop.

Disclaimer: no Castle Coop villager is allowed to submit more than one entry (see reg. 1034)

Which villager wrote which list?

who wrote which list 2

N.B All entries to this month’s Prize Competition should be received by 30/08/16 

‘Choosing the possible?’

A personal journey towards either success or failure… (by Liberty Hen)

Following the ‘6 Easy Steps’ guide’s advice as to how to achieve my goals, I ruthlessly culled all the impossible ones & admired the orderly appearance of the two words left on my list in a nice, neat, straight line. Fired by enthusiasm and hope I embraced the idea of hard work, tenacity and grit; in a jiffy I was fearlessly tackling the ‘Assemble all equipment required to perform each task on your list in advance’ step. . Hurrah!

First piece of essential equipment: An exciting Met Office report.

Hello sunshine

Second piece of essential equipment: An essential recipe.

scrumptiousness in a glass!

I had to ask The Agent to go rooting about in the attic for the deck chair (third piece of essential equipment). Unfortunately several encounters with cobwebs made him rather grumpy for a short while but harmonious relations were re-established quickly.


Result:  Success! A win for The Graf and Lady Egality! I am delighted to attest that having meticulously taken the advice set out in their really excellent new guide, I am now able to be happy in the sunshine. Yay!

-How to be happy


Why not try their methods out for yourself & transform your life in 6 easy steps?

Yours on behalf of our crack Editorial Team here at The Awesome Hen,

LLH signature

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Only a Qualified Success

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When I accepted a commission from The Awesome Hen to write an unbiased review of my  new vacuum cleaner, I expected to be pressing the 5 star button right away.This little machine certainly looks the part. It is black picked out with little orange contrasting parts. I can’t fault its cleaning performance either. However, with regret, I must describe my first trial session with it as being only a qualified success.

So … where’s the down side?  Well,  IMO – reached after a thorough testing, this vacuum cleaner should carry a ‘social ostracism – high risk’ warning tag.


Initially, I decided to conduct a simple performance check by hoovering up some dust & rating the results :


In a trice, there was a beautiful stripe on the floor which I followed up by making several more. It was almost as satisfying as mowing & I am delighted to report that the vacuum’s dust-busting capability is very high.

Growing more ambitious, I then tackled  some crumbs on the table but unfortunately failed to take into account that the Agent’s newspaper was also there. The vacuum’s suction capability is really remarkable.

vacuuming the Sunday Papers

Next, I scored a partial success by cleaning weeks & weeks’ worth of mud from the dog.

vacuuming the dog

She had been sleeping soundly but woke up suddenly in a bad mood, wholly unimpressed by the vacuum’s efficient promotion of health & hygiene within the home .


An experiment with the Agent’s suit failed when he walked off, also in a bad mood, before he was quite dusted

vacuuming the Agent

and I subsequently had a misunderstanding with the cat.

vacuuming the cat

It took me simply ages to persuade her to come down from the top of the door and now I’ve just seen that some of the paint-work has bad claw scratches in it.

Weighing up the one pro of the new vacuum cleaner (a cleaner house) against the severe cons (neither the Agent, the dog nor the cat are fond of me at the moment & I have to re-paint the door), I’ve decided to give it a curate’s egg rating for The Awesome Hen’s product column.


Yours having quietly put the vacuum at the far back of the cupboard,

LLH signature

Disclaimer: unfortunately, no disclaimer is necessary as Liberty Hen, despite asking for loads of dosh, will receive no financial remuneration from either the vacuum cleaner company or The Awesome Hen for writing this review.

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Coffee & Cards

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Tonight, Lady E is coming round so we can have a lovely time putting the world – or Castle Coop at any rate – to rights while we drink coffee and play cards.

Doesn’t that sound a nice friendly evening to look forward to?







Yours while trying to find a pack of cards with 4 full suits,

LLH signature

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Castle Coop’s Clubs & Societies Recruiting Now!

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Large byline photo Lady Liberty Hen, News Editor

 TAH 02/16



It’s been another busy week here in Castle Coop…


Liberty Hen is dismayed to discover she erroneously published a rogue issue of  The Awesome Hen.  She has assured her editorial colleagues that it is she, rather than gremlins or global hackers, who is wholly responsible for this mishap and apologises wholeheartedly to all subscribers for any inconvenience suffered.


Castle Coop’s Clubs & Societies


As January gets underway, chairmen and committee members for our Village Clubs and Societies have been drawing up their agendas for the forthcoming year. Please read this issue carefully for details of new club & society recruitment activities.



Recruitment poster




Sir Burford Brown (Church Warden) writes:

Please note that as Rev. Rosecombe is holidaying in Devon, St Christopher’s in Upper Coop has kindly invited worshippers from Castle Coop to join its regular congregation during his absence. Extra seating is already available.

I am delighted to report that we on the St. Mary’s Refurbishment Committee are hopeful that the newly installed central heating system, wholly funded by the proceeds of last summer’s fete, will come through this recent cold snap with flying colours. Anxieties have been expressed by some parishioners re the damaged plaster work. Please note that our hard-working vergers are on the case.

Church notice

Help beautify our Church – sign up now & become a St. Mary’s Refurbisher

You may wish to help us make our church as beautiful as (we hope) it is now warm. There are 2 ways to volunteer to become a St. Mary’s Refurbisher: either 1) enclose a donation – as sizeable as possible please (!) in an envelope addressed to The Chairman (me) St. Mary’s Refurbishment Committee or 2) sign up your skills and join our team! We particularly welcome volunteers with practical skills!

why not volunteer




Writing on behalf of all of Castle Coop, The Awesome Hen is delighted to welcome Lady Egality and Sir Plym  back from their holidays in Kenya and South Africa; we are relieved to have them safely home again. The Editorial team cordially invite Sir Plym (Sporting Editor) to publish an authoritative account of his first hand impressions of the Cricket Test Match ( England v. South Africa).

Lady Egality returns from holiday


Interest has been expressed in the formation of a Sports Club for sporting enthusiasts who would like to attend matches and sporting events under the umbrella of a Castle Coop Sporting Society – to be called (pro tem), I Hengari. If any villager would care to stand for election (Chair, Treasurer, Sec, committee member positions available), please put your name forward to The Awesome Hen in time for next week’s issue.


Brown Owl was snapped for our Newsletter, leading the Church Cleaning Army last Saturday, by Sir Burford Brown (Church Warden). All in Castle Coop (apart from the unlucky ecclesiastical spiders which were efficiently dusted away by Brown Owl),  will enjoy the results of the Church Cleaning Army’s labours.

Brown Owl Cleaning St. Mary's Church

Let’s all show a bit of gumption, ladies.

Brown-Owl headshot roundBrown Owl (Chairman of the Church Cleaning Army) writes: As churches do not clean themselves, I shall be coming round the village during the forthcoming week to sign up recruits for the Church Cleaning Army. Ladies, if you are out when I call, I shall leave a card with a form for you to fill out letting me know for which dates during 2016 you would like me to put you down for the rota.

Brown Owl rail-roading Liberty Hen

I’m going to put you down for mopping the Church porch as usual.



2 New Societies!

Lady L-B headshot round

Lady Lohmann Brown – our gardening correspondent – is already planning ahead for the Spring Fair and would like to recruit volunteers to help stock the Green Fingers table. A Spring Gardening Society (unrestricted numbers)  will meet every WEDNESDAY  2 – 4 p.m. in her greenhouse. Please wear gumboots or goloshes  and bring gardening gloves, a notebook and pencils.

The green table - village Spring Fair



Lady Sebright would like to ask for volunteers to help stock the Cake Stall for the Spring Fair.  After having received repeated requests to lead a cookery club,  Lady Sebright – aka the Mary Berry of Castle Coop – has agreed to organise the Castle Coop Cookery Club which will be known informally  as The Hot Cross Buns. Details to be published in The Awesome Hen at a later date.


village hall plant sale.jpg


The Chairman of the Village Hall would like to alert all medically minded  Castle Coop villagers that they may attend a series of (4) First Aid lectures to be given by a representative from  St. John’s Ambulance. These will be  held in the Village Hall on Thursday evenings 6.30 – 8.00 p.m. starting the first Thursday in February).

Please note that a cash bar will be open after each lecture.


The #FridayFitness classes resume next Friday at the Village Hall after the seasonal break – at 10.30 a.m – 11.15 a.m.

Castle Coop fitness classes


If you would like to join in please contact Liberty Hen (acting secretary) – gentlemen as well as ladies welcome. Per ardua ad astra .

As a taster, for anyone thinking of signing up, please see Liberty Hen’s illustrated record of a #FridayFitness class in which The Lunge was the exercise of the week.



Note from our TV and Film correspondent:


The Graf headshot round

New Club!

The latest 6 – episode version of ‘War and Peace’ (shown by the BBC at 9.00 p.m. on Sunday nights) is being watched (& either enjoyed or slept through) in a great many households in the village. The amount of comment and interest engendered by the series so far have encouraged me to consider reviving our much lamented Friday Night Foyle’s War Club ; I for one have missed our regular meetings & it has been suggested that a new club formed to watch Downton Abbey or  the 1972 version of War and Peace starring Anthony Hopkins (20 episodes) might provide some convivial and entertaining evenings.

If you would care to join a new club  – virtual drinks and refreshments provided – either as an actual or a virtual member, I and my colleagues – Lady Egality (Treasurer) and Lady Liberty (Sec) on our  committee  will be delighted to welcome you .

Please let me (The Graf,  Chairman, Friday Night Foyle’s War Club (defunct), c/o The Awesome Hen ) know asap if you vote for:

Choice A : The Friday Night Downton Abbey Club or

Choice B: The Friday Night War and Peace (1972  version) Club

Best wishes,

Signature The Graf grey



N. B. For those who wish to purchase a virtual Friday Night Foyle’s War Club Tie as modelled below by Liberty Hen,

The Friday Night Foyle's War Club Tie

The Friday Night Foyle’s War Club Tie


a few are still available at an attractively discounted rate. Please contact The Graf,  Chairman, Friday Night Foyle’s War Club (defunct), c/o The Awesome Hen for details


Widget Kitchener

Yours on behalf of our crack Editorial Team here at The Awesome Hen,

LLH signature

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A Vigorous Sermon & a Problem with Scales

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Large byline photo Lady Liberty Hen, News Editor

 TAH 01/16

It’s been another busy week here in Castle Coop…


The Rev. Rosecombe delivered a vigorous & timely address today on ‘Tackling Resolutions with Resolution!” which was well-received by the congregation.  This was Trev the Rev.’s last sermon in St. Mary’s pulpit before a temporary break as he sets off tomorrow for a most well-deserved short vacation. He will be away for a fortnight and we all join in wishing him a happy holiday in Devon where he will be visiting family. For information about Church service times, please contact Brown Owl.


Castle Coop was sorry to hear that Liberty Hen was nearly pole-axed by a nasty shock when she stepped on her bathroom scales:

The Awesome Hen: Edition 01/16. Liberty Hen standing on the bathroom scales

Luckily she rallied enough to stay calm, regroup and  think about the problem logically:

The Awesome Hen: Edition 01/16: the scales are wrong

And then succeed in dealing with it rationally:

The Awesome Hen: Edition 01/16: the bathroom scales which don't work

once and for all.

Castle Coop's Weekly Newsletter: Edition 01/16: wheelie bin


Colonel Pyncheon has been busy trying to decide what to plant in his vegetable patch . He has drawn up some plans on the back of an A4 envelope for Lady Lohmann Brown  to take a look at as she has offered to advise.

vegetable bed ideas


Liberty Hen has reported a Room 101 (01) on the Home Front

Castle Coop's Weekly Newsletter: Edition 01/16: Trying to keep supper under control

When applied to for advice, Lady Egality suggested using a slow cooker instead of trying to cook everything at the last minute: this advice seems eminently sensible and well worth trying & the editorial team is delighted to publish this advice in The Awesome Hen in case it helps any other tentative cooks.


The following email has been sent out  to the Ladies of the Church Cleaning Rota by Brown Owl:

Copy of email about cleaning the Church


Having been struck by the horrid thought that possibly her set of bathroom scales weren’t broken after all, Liberty Hen has embarked on a new reducing regime:

The Awesome Hen: Edition 01/16: Back on the green juice wagon


Lady Egality and Sir Plym, corresponding from overseas in Cape Town, have emailed Liberty Hen to report that the weather is hot in South Africa and they are thoroughly enjoying watching the  Test Cricket Match between England and South Africa. Castle Coop greatly looks forward to welcoming back to the village when they fly in next Wednesday.

Yours on behalf of our crack Editorial Team here at The Awesome Hen,

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Stars in a Winter Sky

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The stars in tonight’s clear winter sky are so beautiful, they make me catch my breath…

Stargazing in the winter sky



Yours dreamily,

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New Year Parties, a Wardrobe Problem and Unruly Decorations

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Large byline photo Lady Liberty Hen, News Editor

 TAH 00/15-16

It has been another busy week here in Castle Coop…


Trev-the-Rev headshot

Rev. T Rosecombe sig

Despite being worn out after all the services he has given to celebrate Christmas, Trev the Rev most hospitably invited all the congregation to attend an ‘Open House’ party to celebrate the year’s end.. His parishioners in Castle Coop were absolutely delighted to attend and  a marvellous time was had by all.

Trev the Rev's Christmas Party

Castle Coop parishioners enjoying themselves at Trev the Rev’s impromptu ‘Open House’ party.


Liberty Hen was annoyed to report that she’s been having problems with her wardrobe.

post Christmas reality check 1

Apparently she initially tried taking a determined approach to the problem …

post Christmas trouser trauma

but was finally forced to accept defeat … & to reach for the Post-Christmas Horrors:

The dreaded trousers with the elasticated waist

The dreaded Trousers With The Elasticated Waistband.


Lady Egality, editor portrait

lady E's sig2.png

Sir Plym -Sporting correspondent

Sir Plymouth Rock Signature

Postcards landed on the doormats of several houses in Castle Coop sent by Lady Egality and Sir Plym, corresponding from overseas in Kenya. Kindly remembering  their many friends and neighbours in Castle Coop, they report that the weather is beautifully hot in Kenya and they are greatly enjoying life on the beach.


Brown Owl, having led the Brownies on a Litter-Clearance expedition after lunch, has sent off for several Brownie ‘Good Citizen’ badges which she plans to award in early 2016.


 New Year’s Eve

The Village Hall Committee hosted a Party to welcome in the New Year:

New Year's Eve Party

New Year's Eve Party

& speaking on behalf of the Village Hall Committee, Sir Burford Brown was delighted to confirm that the evening was a great success. After a delicious fish pie cooked by Lady Sebright and Lady Lohmann Brown, Auld Lang Syne was sung with great gusto as was a version of ‘500 miles’ by The Proclaimers. Several villagers danced until the small hours.


New Year’s Day:

Castle Coopians unanimously agreed to keep a low profile on the morning of New Year’s Day. It is suspected that the energetic and joyful celebrations on New Year’s Eve, were responsible for the deserted street scene.

A sore head in the morning after the night before

After spending a quiet morning, many villagers elected to spend a quiet afternoon which they followed up by an early night.

Watching The Sound of Music lying on the sofa

The Editorial Team at The Awesome Hen would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!


The Awesome Hen was sorry to hear that Liberty Hen needed several cups of calming tea after a misadventure which occurred when she decided to take down the Christmas decorations which she and The Agent had been enjoying during the festive season:

Taking down the Christmas Decorations 1

christmas hall2christmas hall2

Apparently, Lady Liberty was so pleased that she’d actually managed to steel herself to do the dreaded deed…

Taking down the Christmas Decorations

she made a fundamental error,

oh no!

by failing to realise that she’d need a periscope.


until it was too late.

Calling the AA

Next time Liberty Hen will rope herself to the door.

Yours on behalf of our crack Editorial Team here at The Awesome Hen,

LLH signature


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Back to Every-day Life…*sigh*

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I hope you will be glad to hear that even though 2016 has only just started, already virtuous industry has been reigning supreme in our little house in Castle Coop.


Today I’ve washed the sheets after the last of the Christmas hordes returned to London this morning

chasing a pillowcase inside the duvet cover


&  the Agent has  cleaned some silver (what???? ) on the Business section of the Sunday paper.

silver cleaning

Unfortunately this unusual burst of housewifely hustle & bustle has nothing to do with New Year Resolutions; it’s merely a displacement activity. We set out in cold blood to avoid taking down the Christmas decorations as we both want to look at them for just a bit longer,


Yours having taken an executive decision that ironing the sheets would be taking the pursuit of virtuous industry way too far,

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Choosing a New Year’s Resolution

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I’ve been trying to decide all day on what I should choose as my New Year’s Resolution.

There is an awful lot of scope so I’ve a dilemma.

Should I choose to resolve to…

Resolution 2

or to


or to

or maybe simply try to …


Making New Year’s Resolutions is such an exciting opportunity for self- improvement; I can’t wait to start being my new self! At this rate, by 2017, I shall be an all-round much better person.


How do you go about choosing a New Year’s Resolution? As one only gets this particular chance for personal development once a year, I like to lay out my options in visual displays so I can hopefully make the best possible choice.

ResolutionCollage framed 3


Resolutions indecision problems

Oh no!



I can’t possibly narrow this huge selection of choices down – there are just so many possibilities out there.



In fact, I’m feeling a little shocked now I can see the number of areas I need to work on to achieve any personality improvement at all; I’ll probably need months of professional help, guidance & counselling to make any significant progress. Clearly, it’s way too big a job for me to tackle on my own and therefore none of these options are any good as New Year’s Resolution. Bother, bother, bother.

In the meantime…


New Year Resolution for 2016



Yours, resolving to finish off all the remaining Christmas chocolate now as a preventative measure against falling off the wagon & eating it in the New Year,

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Our 10 Great Christmas Traditions:

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Our 10 Great Christmas Traditions:

Christmases in Castle Coop are extremely traditional. Every year the Agent & I celebrate Christmas in exactly the same way.


Our traditional Christmas always involves:

#1. Hunting out the Christmas Decorations by torch-light from the new ‘safe’ place in the attic I find in January and then forget all about during the ensuing year. In the circumstances, the Agent’s sighs are understandable.

#2. Hanging up the baubles while listening to ‘Winter Wonderland‘. (The Agent always puts on ‘Once in Royal David’s City‘ but I fast-forward the ipod as soon as he’s out of the room & put WW on a loop as I like dancing about while I decorate.)

The Christmas drawing room

#3. Decorating the Agent’s tree which he chooses with great care, from the Christmas Tree farm nearby:

Decorating the Christmas tree in a Christmas hat!



#4. Wrapping up the presents by a fire which the Agent lights for me in the drawing-room, after he’s spent all day on the telephone trying to contact British Gas because the boiler has broken down:

wrapping up presents by the fire



#5.  Untangling the exterior lights for the front of the house (Dutch courage is often required for this task) & then draping the string of bulbs over the wisteria with artistic abandon (an inevitable side effect of all the Dutch courage tots imbibed by both the Agent & me):

Exterior Christmas lights


#6. Helping to clean & decorate St. Mary’s under the leadership of Trev the Rev & Brown Owl so that it looks simply beautiful for the Carol Service on Christmas Eve:

Cleaning away Christmas cobwebs

Declaring war on the cobwebs in St. Mary’s.


Christmas tree in St. Mary's



Christmas Carol Service


#7. Over-Eating & Over-Drinking with our dear friends & neighbours to ensure Christmas is properly celebrated by all Castle- Coopians:

Christmas Party at the Ox and Moose

keep calm & eat mincepies
christmas mincepies


#8. Suffering the traditional medical emergency brought on by being totally spoilt (again) by the Agent:

Christmas faint


#9. Being felled anew, immediately after coming round,  by seeing all the gorgeous Christmas parcels containing candles, scarves, placemats, lavendery lotions & potions, munchies, a coat, a puzzle and a book, given to me by my lovely, kind nearest & dearest!

faint #2


& finally… Christmas Tradition number 10: Making time to catch up with important global affairs while curled up in front of the fire:


The traditional Christmas snooze


Yours hoping you’ve had a thoroughly festive time full of  your own Great Christmas Traditions,

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It’s a Wrap!

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wrapping up presents by the fire


Yours, with cheeks made rather pink by the fire,

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Hamlet: The Dane in a Hoodie!

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Hamlet: The Dane in a Hoodie!

Hamlet: The Dane in a Hoodie!


Last night I left Castle Coop to go out and about – guess what I did!


No idea? Here is a clue: “To be, or not to be: that is the question “.

Yay – you’ve got it! I went to the cinema to see Hamlet, (the Dane in a hoodie), streamed live from the Royal Court with 2 dear friends from when we used to live in Upper Coop who sat either side of me.  This version of Hamlet is simply fabulously, wowingly spectacular!

The Proof:

Try as I might, normally, when I go to the theatre, within 5 minutes I’ve lost the plot & am fast asleep.

at the theatre


It is depressingly predictable even if I am way high on caffeine & it’s absolutely mortifying.

However last night, I morphed into a new, greatly improved version of myself for I stayed wide awake for every second – what a result! This most welcome development was entirely due to the sparkling brilliance of Lyndsey Turner’s version of Hamlet. It was completely riveting;  Benedict Cumberbatch is electricity on legs! Take a look at the pictures below if you need some hard evidence proving just how good this production is.


“Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry”. (Act I, Sc. III).

1a cinema


“The play ‘s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”.  (Act II, Scene II).

2a cinema


“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.  (Act III, Sc. II)

4 cinema


“I will speak daggers to her, but use none”. (Act III, Sc. II).

1 cinema


“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions”.  (Act IV, Scene V).

Watching the fight scene in Hamlet



See what I mean? If you get a chance to see a live streamed performance of Hamlet at a cinema near you, definitely, definitely GO!

 ‘To be (a Cumberbitch) or not to be, that is the question’…

Yours knowing that actually, there’s no question about it –  I’m signing up immediately!

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Good Job, Alexander Graham Bell!

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Good Job, Alexander Graham Bell!

Good Job, Alexander Graham Bell!


When we returned from walking the dog yesterday, Chick minimus & I found The Agent behaving like a cat on a hot tin roof. He was talking to Chick major who was calling home from South Africa to let us know that he & Mrs. Chick ma have just got engaged!

We put the flags out immediately & thought very fondly of Alexander Graham Bell.

Congratulations to you engagement !!!!


It’s all so thrilling.

HURRAH for wonderful telephone calls!

Yours applauding The Agent who is rushing to find some bubbles so we can celebrate like mad,

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A Scenic Walk in the Countryside

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A Scenic Walk in the Countryside

A Scenic Walk in the Countryside

I have just taken Martha the dog out for her walk. It is very pretty countryside around here – a lot of visitors come to the village especially to enjoy the scenery as several guidebooks recommend the area for walking.

One guidebook describes a suggested route thus:

This walk is one of three in the attractive chalklands south of the M3  the furthest extension west of the South Downs.

The walk :
It starts in the village of Castle Coop, which lies on the west bank of the River and has an unusual and charming character all of its own, recognised by the designation of much of the village as a conservation area. Castle Coop contains many buildings of special interest, which include the thirteenth century church of St Mary with its Norman chancel and north door, the Malt House with its oversailing upper storey supported on curved brackets and the Mill, an old flour mill reputed to have been working until circa 1935.

The walk, in a figure-of-eight, takes you out of the village around the nature reserve, along the canal towpath, back into Castle Coop, then over the Canal Tunnel and across fields to Upper Coop, to a second church.  For those walkers with an interest in architecture, over a dozen of the houses and farms in Castle Coop alone feature in Hampshire Treasures; see Additional Info’….

It sounds quite good, doesn’t it? I couldn’t wait to try this particular figure of eight out and this morning Martha & I lost no time in setting out for  ‘a scenic walk in the countryside’.

The photographic evidence:

Hoping you’d be interested (especially those of you with an interest in architecture) I was careful to take several photos of all the sights recommended in the above guidebook, so that I could share everything here in The Awesome Hen. Now, even if you live the other side of the world from us, you can see for yourselves Castle Coop’s ‘unusual and charming character’.


Up-to-date views of  the recommended sights on the guidebook’s recommended scenic walk in the countryside:

1. Selfie taken of Martha & me walking past the thirteenth century church of St Mary:

Wet walk 1


2. Photo taken while we were strolling along the canal towpath:

Wet walk 2


3. In this photo, Martha & I were striding over the Canal Tunnel and across fields to Upper Coop

wet walk 3


4. & finally, here you can see Martha & I posing for this last photo while pausing to admire the 12 or so Historic Hampshire Treasures on our return to Castle Coop.

wet walk 4


Which Historic Treasure do you think is the most impressive?

Yours, back at home feeling a little damp but so happy to have been able to share the beautiful Hampshire countryside with you all,

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Our Anniversary!

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Our Anniversary!


Our Anniversary!


Today The Agent & I have been married for 32 years!

Sir Burford Brown came by and seeing our Anniversary cards, kindly wished us a happy celebration. Then he asked if we’d realised that these days, you get less time for murder & roared with laughter.


Happy Anniversary faint

We were married at 2.30 in the afternoon and The Agent was late as he went to the wrong church first by mistake. Without realising he was at St. Francis’ church instead of St. Michael’s, he walked all the way up the aisle with his Best Man, only to find another Groom in morning dress already seated in the front pew glowering at him.


10 reasons why I’m glad the Agent realised his mistake & didn’t marry the other bride

(who apparently was extremely pretty) instead of me :

  1. I like remembering him singing ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer’ at our wedding.
  2. I don’t think my life would be much fun without either him or the Chicks major, minor and minimus in it.
  3. He always brings me a cup of tea in bed on Saturday & Sunday mornings.
  4. He doesn’t get cross when I wake him up in the night to tell him something I’ve just thought of.
  5. He doesn’t mind when I burn the supper. I hope that he doesn’t anyway.
  6. He makes me laugh.
  7. He showed me how to use the gears on my bike and then showed me again.
  8. He gives me flowers.
  9. He didn’t get cross with me when I pranged his car.
  10. He shows me where the constellations are in the night sky and tells me what the stars are called.


1 reason why the Agent might be glad he married me:

  1. There are many, many skills which alas, I don’t possess but I do happen to be an excellent remover of spiders. As it turned out, this has come in very handy during our marriage for while the Agent turns pale if he spots anything moving with more than 4 legs, I remain calm. Isn’t that lucky?  And…perhaps the other bride might have hesitated at the altar if asked to sign up to 32 years’ worth of arachnid disposal.




Yours hoping that he really didn’t mind too much when I dented the car,

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The Castle Coop Week in Focus

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The Castle Coop Week in Focus

The Castle Coop Week in Focus:



It’s Saturday night and while the Agent is in the Ox and Moose, I am busy noting down the highs and lows of this past week for us all.

The Agent:

The-Agent portrait


The Highs: The Agent had a good time on holiday boating on the Norfolk Broads with his brother, staying on the dearest little boat


& spending a lot of time walking along the beach. The weather was good enough to give him a suntan.

The Lows: Unfortunately he was bitten 3 times by a horrid & angry horsefly . On returning to the marital nest, he was depressed to notice I’d let weeds get into the vegetable patch.


Lady Egality:

Lady Egality, editor portrait

The Highs: Lady Egality  has been busy harvesting a good crop of broad beans and many courgettes with which she is pleased.

The Lows: Roger Federer ( of whom Lady is an extremely dedicater supporter) lost the Wimbledon’s Men’s Final.


Sir Plym:

Sir-Plym headshot round

The Highs: Sir Plym spent an enjoyable day at Lords watching  the Test Match with his brother .

The Lows: England played badly, getting hammered by Australia (although they won the earlier Test Match at Cardiff).


Brown Owl:

Brown-Owl headshot round


The Highs: Brown Owl has been extremely busy organising the Brownie Revels which will take place during the last weekend in July. The badges due to be presented to the Brownies during the Revels Presentation Ceremony, have arrived in good time from the Guiding Headquarters so she doesn’t have to worry about them getting lost in the post.

The Lows: The mobile library which was due to come to Castle Coop yesterday, was cancelled as John the driver, has flu.


Lady Nudge:

Lady Nudge ed portrait


The Highs: Lady Nudge is cruising in the Med with Lord Eftie. Right now, they’re just off Monte Carlo.

The Lows: apparently it is terribly hot.

Trev the Rev:

Trev-the-Rev headshot

The Highs: Trev the Rev preached a well – received sermon last Sunday about the Gay Marriage vote, saying he was sure the decision would receive majority support both in the USA & the UK & that among the younger generation it will be overwhelmingly popular.

The Lows: there weren’t any really apparently, except the thunderstorm on Thursday night frightened his dog.

Liberty Hen:

LLH headshot round



The Highs: Lady Egality has loyally bought most of the cards from my shop. I’m loving it being Pimms season again. Mown grass & bunches of sweet peas are making the air smell summery.



wishing the Agent was here



The Lows: I missed The Agent while he was away & the dishwasher has packed up.



Yours worrying how quickly a week passes by these days,

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Liberty Hen opens a shop!

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Liberty Hen opens a shop!




Liberty Hen opens a shop!

It’s true! I am now officially a shopkeeper!

The Agent & I have opened a little shop in Castle Coop!


Shop Logo Header F


Instead of watching the tennis, we have been very busy clearing out the spiders from the corners & mopping up rain from the floor. Paint-colours have been chosen and the shelves filled up with cards made with pencil shavings by Ruth Jackson to buy. I like them so much – how I wish I’d made them myself!

Mopping the new shop's floor

Please come to our Grand Opening Party


TAH Shop Grand Opening Party


Lord and Lady Nudge have agreed to cut the ribbon!  They’re going to arrive in the Bentley which will make our Grand Opening Party incredibly stylish.

Lord & Lady Nudge



I’m thrilled to bits!

Do come and join us amongst the greeting cards by pressing this link.

Sir Plym & Lady Egality are handing around glasses of Pimms and Lady Sebright has made some scrumptious- smelling brownies which she’s hidden from Colonel Pyncheon. As I type this, the Agent is getting the barbecue ready with his wing-man, the Chairman of the Village Hall. We are all having to manoeuvre around Brown Owl who has sat down right in the middle of all the to-ing and fro-ing with an instruction booklet – apparently she is trying to master the till.


Shop Header F TY


Yours, feeling like a fully signed-up member of the ” nation of shopkeepers “,

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Royal Ascot Hats!

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Royal Ascot Hats!





Royal Ascot Hats!





Hats Off to Lady Eftie Nudge’s Royal Ascot Hats!

Lord and Lady Eftie Nudge have been racing all week. They flew the Castle Coop flag for us all at Royal Ascot.

Lady Nudge cipher

I am delighted to feature ‘A Stylish Selection of Ascot Hats’ below so we can all enjoy seeing the remarkable headgear Lady Nudge wore throughout the Royal Ascot week.



The Queen Anne Stakes



The Prince of Wales's Stakes

Ladies’ Day:

Ladies' Day


King Edward V11 Stakes



The Chesham Stakes

Picture source: Lady Eftie Nudge



If you look hard enough at the pictures of Ascot race-goers in this link below


perhaps you’ll see Lady Nudge waving from a box near the Queen’s one in the Royal Enclosure.



Yours wondering if I should take up hat-wearing (although my social events mostly take place chatting by the supermarket check-out).

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Books and Cornflake Packets…

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Books and Cornflake Packets…








Books and Cornflake Packets…

Good Heavens!

The outgoing Eton Headmaster, Tony Little has drawn up a list of books which he believes every bright 16-year-old should read.

Unfortunately, just looking at his list makes my brain feel as if it’s overheating.

Eton book list

Hurrah! There might be c. 400,000 Wunderkinder in the UK alone…

Those born in 1999 (c. 400,000 in the UK alone),  for most of whom this list has been specifically dreamed up, must be wunderkinder !

Or maybe … one or two bright 16 year olds will read his recommendations and feel dizzy too. What do you think? Take a look at Tony Little’s recommended titles…

Mr. Little’s  List:


Gulliver’s Travels– Jonathan Swift

David Copperfield– Charles Dickens

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

Atonement – Ian McEwan

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe

Literature in Translation:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Tschick – Wolfgang Herrndorf

The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

The Path to the Nest of Spiders – Italo Calvino

The Sin/Crime of Father Amaro – José  Maria de Eça de Queirós

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami

Wolf Totem – Jiang Rong

Beirut 39 – Samuel Shimon and Hanan Al-Shaykh


Bad Science – Ben Goldacre

The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny and Globalisation’s  Rough Landscape – Matt Ridley

Six Easy Pieces – Richard Feynman


Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder


Rethinking Life and Death – Peter Singer


The Case for Religion – Keith Ward

The Sea of Faith – Don Cupitt

History of Art:

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling – Ross King

The Story of Art – Ernst Gombrich


Blimey! – From Bohemia to BritPop – Matthew Collings

The Horse’s Mouth – Joyce Cary


The First Crusade: The Call from the East – Peter Frankopan

The Realities Behind Diplomacy – Paul Dennedy


Almost Everyone’s Guide to Economics – J K Galbraith

The Affluent Society – J K Galbraith


In Defence of Politics – Bernard Crick


The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny and Globalisation’s  Rough Landscape – Harm de Blij

On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks – Simon Garfield


The Iliad – Homer trans. Martin Hammond

Confronting the Classics – Traditions, Adventures and Innovations – Mary Beard


To Infinity and Beyond: A Cultural History of the Infinite – Eli Maor

Algorithmics: The Spirit of Computing – David Harel and Yishai Feldman


A Very Short Introduction – Nicholas Cook


The Language of Things – Deyan Sudjic

& as a Breakfast time Bonus:

 Cereal Packets –    ‘Children should be encouraged to read from their cereal boxes at breakfast time, the headmaster of Britain’s most prestigious private school has claimed. ‘  Source: The Daily Mail

My wasted youth

 Just think of today’s lucky 16 year olds who get to hide all these riverting reads under their desks during latin lessons. 

If only  ‘The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny and Globalisation’s  Rough Landscape ‘  had been published when I was young, I’m quite sure I should now have an improved mind.  Alas, books such as ‘The Catcher in the Rye’  and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘ made up my 16 year old reading diet; I can see now that they simply do not cut the mustard.  

 I could kick myself – why oh why did I not think to read ‘The Realities Behind Diplomacy’  instead of wasting my time with ‘Anna Karenina‘?  To think I never even had the nouce to take up cereal packet reading to build up my reading stamina muscles..!

 Mr. Little’s booklist is to be found in a tome he has written called, ‘ An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education ’, which is currently being serialised in The Times. Unfortunately, I can’t even understand the title.

Please could somebody enlighten me – does the ‘intelligent person ‘ in the title refer to the author (Tony Little ) or the reader?

Much as I’d like to think it’s the latter, since this reading list has outed me as a total thicko, I’m assuming it’s the former.

Yours, wondering – since this list has been drawn up with ‘bright’ 16 year olds in mind – which books should the precociously intellectual teenager be asking for at the library?

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