Like many country folk, Ratty the
Jack Russell is a creature of habit.

Twice a week he would trot out alone through
the farm gates, jump on a number ten
bus and head for his local,
the Black Bull.

The five-year-old dog would stay all day at the
pub in York, where he had his own water
dish and was fed his favourite sausages.
He would even get a lift home at closing
time from a friendly barmaid.

But suddenly his social life was left in ruins
after the Black Bull was taken over, the
barmaid left - and animals were banned.
"Dogs are not allowed in the pub,"
declared duty manager Carl Sage.

Ratty's owners feel it can be only a matter of time,
however, before he finds a new watering hole.
'"Everyone loves him," said farmer Gary Kay, 41,
from Dunnington, a few miles outside York.
Mr Kay said he believed Ratty's first visit to
the pub was probably an accident.

"The bus stop is just along the road and he
must have just happened to come across a bus.
He ended up getting on and then getting off
when everybody else did - which was when it hit
York - and just walked straight into a pub."

"The people there ended up fussing over him
so much that he ended up making a habit of it.
On the first occasion somebody spotted he
was my dog and telephoned me to come and
get him. But a girl behind the bar lived in
the next village to me so when it continued
she would bring him back in her car with her."

"It was funny because I would get a call every
now and again to come and get him - I suppose
that must have been when the barmaid wasn't
on - and I would just pull up outside the pub
and he would run out and jump in. I must
have had to go and get him about 20 times."

Since his ban Ratty has been seen riding the
school bus. Mr Kay added: "I've had kids
phoning me to say Ratty was on the bus with
them. I've no idea how he gets home
- he drives me mad."

Peter Edwards, commercial director for the
bus company First, said: "I've heard of dogs
waiting for people to get off buses but nothing
like this. We don't charge for dogs so there's
no reason why he can't get on."


There are hundreds of funny
name places in the world.

Happy Bottom is in
Dorset, England.

My personal favourite is

in Kent, England.

I also love Fluffy Landing in Florida
and Monkey's Eyebrow in Kentucky.

Here's some other crazy ones:

Dog Town
Red Devil
Bumble Bee

Monkey Run

Hooker Point
Turkey Foot
What Cheer
Burning Fork
Cut Off
Hot Coffee
Square Butt

Idiot Creek
Frog Jump
Sweet Lips
Paw Paw


I have just started
to read this book

and it's so funny I
can't put it down.

Well obviously I have put
it down now because

I'm writing this but...well you
know what I mean!

Apart from writing regular
columns for The Times and The Sun
and presenting various other TV
Clarkson is one the presenters of
on BBC2 and he alone makes it worth watching.

The other guys, James May and Richard Hammond
are quick-witted as well. I'm not crazy on
cars or anything but these 3 guys make this show
so hilarious it's a Sunday night must.

The TopGear boys (from the top)
Jeremy, Richard and James.



Police officers have been forced to learn Dutch -
because three dogs they have recruited
do not respond to English.

Police officers in Bristol have had to learn to
speak it after police dogs called The Professor,
Amigo and Dutch imported from Holland
failed to understand English commands.

Three Avon and Somerset officers travelled
over there to select the dogs, after
struggling to find good quality

animals in the UK.

But there was a communication problem so
dog handlers at the force's dog section in
Bower Ashton,
Bristol have had to adapt.
The handlers which look after the Dutch dogs -
two German Shepherds and a Malinoi -
are now able to fluently speak the Dutch
The canines had already
been trained as police
in their homeland.

The dog unit at Bristol consists of 44 general
purpose dogs, six drug detection dogs, eight
seeking dogs and one drug screening dog.
General purpose dogs, mainly German Shepherds,
have 13 weeks initial training and 16 days
continuation training throughout the year.

Drug dogs, mainly Springer Spaniels, have six
initial training. The drug screening dog
is a Weimeraner.
The explosive dogs,
Springer Spaniels or
order Collies, have eight
weeks initial training.
These specialist search
dogs all have 20 days
training throughout the year.

Puppies are eight weeks old when they start
their training. The force uses males
because of their larger stature.

The working life of a general purpose dog is
about eight years, while search dogs
an work for up to twelve years. They are
then retired, usually going to live

with their handler's family, but if this is not
possible they will go to a suitable new owner
used to keeping working animals,
such as a gamekeeper.


It's amazing how some anagrams actually
retain the original "meaning" of the word!

Dormitory" - Dirty Room

"Evangelist" - Evil's Agent

"Desperation" - A Rope Ends It

"The Morse Code" - Here Come Dots

"Slot Machines" - Cash Lost In 'Em

"Animosity" - Is No Amity

"Mother-in-law" - Woman Hitler

"Snooze Alarms" - Alas! No More Z's

"Alec Guinness" - Genuine Class

"Semolina" - Is No Meal

"The Public Art Galleries" - Large Picture Halls, I Bet

"A Decimal Point" - I'm a Dot in Place

"The Earthquakes" - That Queer Shake

"Eleven Plus Two" - Twelve plus one

"Contradiction" - Accord Not In It

"George Bush" - He Bugs Gore

AND while on the subject: the world's
longest single word palindrome is a
which means a person who sells soap!


Time has come for the last
Top Of The Pops.

My favourite Toyah got to
perform in TOTP 7 times
with her biggest hits
“It’s A Mystery” (3 times),
“I Want To Be Free”,
“Thunder In The Mountains”,
“Good Morning Universe” and
“Be Proud, Be Loud (Be Heard)”

(Thanks to Davie for the wonderful
video montage picture)
Davie's Toyah Site


It seems even the Bondmeister can’t escape
from a fire: a large blaze broke out Sunday
morning (30.7) at Pinewood studios, where
the 21st instalment in the Bond saga,
Casino Royale
, starring Daniel Craig
(below), was filmed.

"Filming was not taking place- the production
was completed and its film sets were in the
process of being removed", a studio spokesman said.

Pinewood has a long association with the Bond
films, starting with the first movie
Dr No in 1962.

"It's a large one," a Fire Brigade spokesperson
said of the blaze at the studios in Buckinghamshire.
"We've got about 40 to 50 fire fighters and
8 fire engines on the scene.” Local eyewitnesses
said the smoke can be seen from miles away.
The roof covering the stage has caved in due
to fire damage and firefighters used
special equipment to reach it.

The set on fire was originally built for
The Spy Who Loved Me
in the 60's and
was a replica of Venice in the new film.
Ironically in the last few years they’ve filmed
a lot of stuff on location to reduce
costs but this time decided to
build a full scale set. The film's budjet is a £39m.

Incidentally this is not the first time the Bond
set at Pinewood has been destroyed by a fire.
In 1984 just before filming A View To A Kill
was due to start, a disastrous fire swept through
the sound stage fed by exploding gas cylinders
that had been used to fuel some campfires on a
large forest set for Ridley Scott`s “Legend”.

The blaze levelled the structure and
the repercussions for A View to a
Kill were enormous as it took over a year to
rebuild the studios. Pinewood was hit again
in 1997, when a fire broke out in the roof of a
sound building where The Avengers was being filmed.



Miniature piglets Pinky and Perky may be
getting roasted in the heatwave,
but they know a crackling good
way of keeping cool.

The Devon pigs are the latest animals to be
served a huge lolly packed with their
favourite things during the
summer heatwave.

At Paignton Zoo in Devon the
elephants' lollies come in the flavour
of their favourite fruit, it was revealed
this week. Pinky and Perky, of
Pennywell Farm, also in Devon,
get carrot lollies. Assistant manager
Catherine Tozer said: "The recent
heatwave has been exhausting
for everyone and animals
are no exception."

"All the animals have been struggling
with the heat so we have just tried to do
everything we can to make them
more comfortable. After the initial
shock anda bit of investigation,
the ice lollies went down a real treat."



The River Thames will turn yellow on Sunday
for the UK's first ever London Duck Race -
possibly the brightest charity event this summer!

Race organisers hope 30,000 plastic squeaky
ducks, 2.5 inches high and wearing sunglasses,
will take to the water to be cheered on by
thousands of supporters and celebrity guests.

It all kicks off on at 2pm, when the individually
numbered ducks will be launched from a
barge crane in Battersea Park.

Once the race starts the ducks are on their
own, the organisers will only help by dislodging
any that may come stuck along the way.
They will then float along a roped-off channel
before being rounded up at the finish line near
Albert Bridge. The first ducks to cross
win their sponsors prizes.

Duck racing originated in the US where events
such as the Rubber Ducky Derby have already
raised millions of pounds for worthy causes.
Now it has migrated to the UK, where eccentric
sports always find a spiritual home.

The Great London Duck Race will be the first
large-scale race of its type in the UK; anyone
can take part by adopting a duck
(or a whole family of them) at £10 each.
Organisers hope to raise thousands of pounds
for Nightingale House, a care home for elderly.

Update 30.7: Things did not go quite to plan
as the strong tide swept almost half the
toys out of the roped-off channel they
were supposed to float along.

Winning duck, number 335, took half
an hour to cross the finishing line.

Some of the escaped ducks
were scooped up in nets.



The streets of London are not paved
with gold but rather unpleasant
sticky stuff: chewing gum.

Personally I loathe the stuff, in my mouth but
even more so under my shoes! It is amazing
how much of the stuff is actually around-
when you look on any pavement
it is literally coated with it!

Our council has come up with a rather clever
solution to the problem: following a succesfull
trial in Wimbledon where people were
engouraged to stick their old gum on boards
attached to lampposts rather than on the
pavement, further boards are to be introduced
in neighbouring Morden, Mitcham
and Raynes Park within the next month.

The poster sized boards are coated with a
peelable plastic which is replaced six days a week.
The iniative follows trials in Kingston and Preston,
which have resulted in the collection of
1600 pieces of gum each week.


A flotilla of plastic ducks lost at sea 14
years ago has provided unprecedented
insight into ocean currents and winds,
according to U.S. oceanographers who have
been tracking down the toys' amazing journey.

At the moment the ducks are nearing the
British Isles, one of them has already been
found on a Scottish beach but a whole
flotilla is expected in Cornwall.

The epic journey began in January 1992, when
a ship carrying 29,000 bath toys — yellow ducks,
red beavers, green frogs and blue turtles —
wrecked a little less than 2 miles off the Alaskan
coast on its way from Hong Kong to the United States.

Curtis Ebbesmeyer (below), an oceanographer in
Seattle and Jim Ingraham of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) grasped the nettle, using the ducks to
study how currents and winds
push flotsam around the globe.

"At first, the toys drifted close together, then
the currents swirled them hundreds of miles apart.
After floating two thousand miles, they first
reached North America at Sitka, Alaska, where
beachcombers reported thousands of
the floatees," Ebbesmeyer explains.

But the ducks' journey was far from over.
In fact Ebbesmeyer now estimates they could
go on for a whole century! Pushed by winds
and currents, thousands streaked along
Alaska to Japan and then back again across
the North Pacific. After three years, having
drifted 15,000 miles, they reached
the state of Washington.

Other ducks escaped the North Pacific Ocean.
Many floated north into the Arctic Ocean and
emerged in the North Atlantic in 2001. Some
others escaped to the south, out of the
Pacific and into the Indian Ocean.

"These travel 15 times faster than the toys
trapped on the slow-moving ice. After crossing
the Indian Ocean, some rounded Africa,
then headed north through the Atlantic
Ocean also arriving in England about the
same time as the cold ducks that went through
the Arctic Ocean," Ebbesmeyer says.

The toy ducks gave Ebbesmeyer and Ingraham
a unique test of their computer model of winds
and currents. It emerged that the computer
can predict the trajectories of surface drifters
for periods as long as three years.

"The amazing thing about the ducks'
odyssey is that it shows just how interconnected
the oceans are. In many ways I'm less surprised
by the ducks ability to make it through the
Arctic than across the Indian Ocean," said
oceanographer Anand Gnanadesikan,
of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab in Princeton, N.J.

"This is exciting to us because the ducks
are tracing out part of the upper branch of
what we refer to as the 'conveyor' belt circulation,
a circulation that has a huge influence on
the climate of the earth. The fact that the ducks
are able to make the trip so fast is striking,
given the huge volume of the world oceans,"
Gnanadesikan told Discovery News.



I've already been moaned at about by Top Ten Men
of the year- that there wasn't anything
for blokes to look at...soooo:

Here are my Top Ten Women Of The Year
(and yes I know some, well most of the photos
are old but I just really like these
images of these particular ladies)

Top row from left: Toyah Willcox, Lisa Dalbello,
Kate Bush, Sheena Easton and Joan Jett

Bottom row from left: Debbie Harry, Kim Wilde,
Nina Hagen, Stevie Nicks and Cher.



Get your laughing gear round this one...
consider yourself a true Londoner?

Even a true Cockney?

Model yourself on
Frank Butcher (below)
from EastEnders ?

Well here's your chance to test your
rhyming slang knowledge

Cockney Rhyming Slang

The traditional definition is that in order to
be a Cockney, one must have been born within
earshot of the Bow Bells. However, the church of
St Mary le Bow (below) was destroyed in the
Great Fire of London and rebuilt by
Sir Christopher Wren.

After the bells were destroyed again
in 1941 in the Blitz of World War II,
and before they were replaced in 1961,
there was a period when
some said that no 'Bow-bell'
Cockneys could be born.

The use of such a literal definition produces
problems, for traffic noise and the current
lack of a hospital with a maternity ward in
earshot of the church would also severely limit
the number of 'true' cockneys that could be born.

Naturally, modern Cockneys scoff at
that limitation, saying that, "The qualification
is, that you are born within the area that the
bells would be audible in, if they were ringing.
They did not have to be ringing at the time
(of birth), but if you would have been able
to hear them if they were, then you qualify
for the honour (of calling yourself a Cockney)."


My friend Heidi moved to Lower Upnor in Kent
last year
and the first thing the people asked her
in the local pub
The Ship Inn was:
So - how’s the ghost?”

Apparently the house she bought has a resident
entity which
the previous owners
forgot to mention!

I just spoke with her and the ghost has been
up its tricks again. So far it’s pushed her to
her ground resulting in a broken arm
(seriously!), swapped her and her boyfriends
car’s resident permits (which are inside
the car windscreen) around
and made phone calls.

One day Heidi was driving to work and the ghost
kept changing the radio channels in the car
and turning the volume up and down. It only
stopped after shed asked him
to "cut it out, please".

Not to mention various little bits and pieces and
noises round their house house. They’ve
got a dog, Hurli, and she goes mental
sometimes for no reason at all…
so something is obviously there.

Heidi called me last week and left a message which
I erased from the machine, yet it appeared
there again yesterday! The machine isn’t
broken and always erases the messages.

She visited us a while back so I reckon
the ghost came with her!

Her boyfriend got a call from her on his
mobile when sitting next to her and
she was driving the car!

And today her friend Tarja phoned her and said
“Sorry about being cut off earlier” and Heidi
said “What are you talking about- I haven’t
spoken with you today”. Tarja phoned Heidi’s
mobile but there is no record of the call and
Heidi really has not spoken with Tarja today
yet she had a conversation, in Finnish, with
somebody who sounded excatly like Heidi!


Ghost hunter Hurli


No, I’m not talking about some new
Japansese 4 x 4 but these little fellas:

I couldn’t get to sleep last night so around
3 o’clock I got up to gaze out of the window
and saw the funniest thing in ages: two fox
cubs play fighting right outside our house.

They tumbled around like a couple of maniacs
but really quietly, all you could hear was a sort
of soft thumping sound when they fell to the
ground and against our car. They went at it for
about five minutes, had enough and ran away
along the alleyway opposite the house.

There are loads of foxes round here as there are
quite a few parks and woodland areas nearby.
Foxes have adapted well to life in towns over the
last 50 years so they are found
in all urban areas in the UK.

They have become so successful that some
estimates put the population in London
at as many as 10,000! Experts reckon
there are now 16 foxes for every
square mile (2.6 square kilometers).

They prosper because they find plentiful
food and shelter in gardens, yards and
other open spaces. Their diet is varied including
insects and grubs, slugs, worms, small rodents,
and indeed anything that they can raid from
our rubbish. Our refuse collection day is Wednesday
so we normally put the bins out Tuesday night.
By the morning the stuff is all over the place!

Foxes have even sneaked into the Houses of Parliament,
where one was found asleep on a filing cabinet.
Another broke into the grounds of Buckingham
Palace, reportedly killing some of
Queen Elizabeth II's prized pink flamingos.



The heat hasn't let up all week and the
scorching weather is set to continue through
the weekend and into next week. It's getting
too much for humans but spare a
thought to our furry friends.

We've got two black cats and two massive
dogs, a Great Dane and an Irish Woldhound.
The cats spend their days crashed out under
a bush in the garden: the earth must be cool
down there.
Every morning and at least twice
in the afternoon I douse Archie the wolfhound
with a couple of watering cans of cold
water and he really likes it.

The Dane Siouxsie isn't too sure...sometimes
she lets me do it and sometimes she just runs
away! It works though, stops the dogs from
panting within minutes.
I tried an electric
fan in the lounge for the dogs but Archie wouldn't
settle, he just kept looking at it suspiciously...
it was probably the noise he didn't understand.

Of course there are others ways to keep cool:
Duffy the dog (above) enjoys a cold towel on his head.

Karelian Blonde gave me hand a watering
the dogs this afternoon, (plus she can't resist
a photo opportunity-heehee!) and as you can
see Siouxsie was having none of it whereas
Archie was loving every minute!


He is named after the great escape artist but
this is one magic trick this Houdini could not
escape from: it took surgery to save a 12-foot
Burmese python after it swallowed an entire
queen-size electric blanket - with the electrical
cord and control box.

“The blanket must have gotten tangled up
in the snake's rabbit dinner”, owner Karl Beznoska
from Ketchum, Idaho said. He kept the blanket
in the cage to keep the 60-pound reptile warm.
"Somehow, he was able to unplug the electric cord,"
Beznoska said Wednesday. "He at least
wasn't hooked up to the power.
It might have been pretty warm there."

Veterinarian Karsten Fostvedt conducted a
two-hour operation on the python Tuesday, and
said afterward, "The prognosis is great."
Neither Fostvedt nor fellow veterinarian Barry Rathfon
had operated on a snake before. "We just basically
called a couple of specialists and they told us
where to go in," Fostvedt said.

X-rays showed the tangle of the blanket's wiring
extending through about 8 feet of the python's
digestive tract. The surgery to remove it took
an 18-inch incision.

Specialists at the University of California-Davis
School of Veterinary Medicine told them it probably
would have taken Houdini six hours to swallow
the blanket and the snake probably would have
died without the operation.

Beznoska, a retired ski instructor who now
works as a draftsman and carpenter, is from Austria
and moved to the resort area in 1965. He has had
Houdini for 16 years and takes him to local
schools for show-and-tell.



No, I’m not talking about Madonna’s
son but a very clever police dog
from Scotland.

German Shepherd Rocco penned the
six suspects like sheep into
a plastic bus shelter as he waited
for reinforcements to arrive.

A farmer near West Linton chased teenagers
off his farm - after it appeared that someone
had tried to steal his quad bike. The farmer
had reported suspicious activity to
the police at about 2.30 am on Monday
on his land beside the A701 road between
Leadburn and West Linton in the Borders.

As soon as daylight broke PC Jim McAlpine
(in the photo with his hairy helper) and
Rocco from the force's dog handling
section were dispatched from Edinburgh
to assist with their search.

En-route near the village of Auchendinny,
the officer spotted six youths
walking through a field and
let the dog off his leash. Rocco pursued
six youths across nearby fields
before penning them in a
bus shelter near Auchendinny.

The six-year-old hero sat snarling on the
pavement until back-up arrived and the youths,
aged between 15 and 18 and all from
the Edinburgh area, were taken
to Peebles Police Station. They have
been charged with a number of offences
including stealing a car, attempted theft
of a quad bike and various
road traffic offences.

A spokeswoman for Lothian and
Borders police hailed
the efforts of the dog. "It was almost
like a scene from the television
programme One Man and His Dog
except Rocco was penning in suspected
criminals and not sheep," she said.

"Rocco is a pure professional and the teenagers
concerned obviously did not fancy their
chances and decided to go quietly.”

PC Jim McAlpine and Rocco have been
working together since he was a puppy.
"It was an ideal job for him because
he loves to find things. Rocco loves to
work, a real high drive dog and hyper-active
and he certainly got a good result."

Well done Rocco!


And indeed for the gentlemen should
these fine specimens float your boat :-)

I decided that it was time to nominate my
Top Ten Men of 2006.
So here they are in all their glory.

Top left to right:
Mel Gibson, Keanu Reeves, Kiefer Sutherland,
Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp.

Bottom left to right:
Vin Diesel, Robert Downey Jr, Michael Madsen,
Hugh Jackman, Matthew Fox.

Oh yes.



Sorry, I meant to post this when it happened
but forgot so better late than never.

BBC London asked people to vote for their
most hated building in town and a tower
block couple streets from where I live won!
I voted for it too, it is absolutely horrible.

It's needs either knocking down,
which they can't do because the
Northern Line runs directly under it
or completely rebuilding.
There's been
loads of talk about new flats,
a cafe, a library etc. but
nothing ever happens....

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