Sunday, October 31, 2010


We seem to have had a very short summer. It was slow in coming and today, October 30th we woke to a sprinkling of snow. Can the thermals be far behind?

For the first five or six years of living in the mountains, Mother Nature was pretty kind to us with nothing much in the way of extremes, but the last two years have seen serious falls of snow – the last one actually broke the garage roof. So much for global warming! We normally get a little snow to fall just before Thanksgiving which encourages visitors for an early ski, but for it to fall in October, even late October, is outside the norm. Big Bear has a guarantee of 300 days of sunshine a year, but we do get cold at nights, even though it’s Southern California.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Once again we have reached that very unpleasant time of the year - Halloween.  I must confess that so far I have managed to avoid the entire thing quite successfully.  Naturally I am aware of people getting excited at the wearing of costumes, but as they - like the wretched ghouls and gobblies they hope to emulate - only come out late, I don't have to mix with them.

I believe it has become something of a celebration in the UK as well, although up until 1982, when we left the country, it was nothing more than a minor date in the church calendar - All Hallows Eve, to be followed by All Saints Day.

I imagine the world is divided into two types of people - those who like to dress up in costumes, and those who do not.  Guess which group I fit into!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


It was interesting that just before I went out to do a piece on our local shooting range, I received an email on the 2nd amendment.  Now I was always told that the two subjects one should never raise in conversation at the table were politics and religion.  I think we also should add the subject of guns to the list.

Nothing seems to excite people as much as gun control.  And yet recent estimates suggest there are at least 64 million guns in the U.S.A.  Somehow, I can't see these being voluntarily handed in if the government made them illegal.  As with all "difficult" subjects true statistics are hard to come by for the supposed increase in gun crime since both the UK and Australia "voluntarily" handed their weapons over.

Shooter Les Grant about to fire his VERY LOUD .223 Vanguard

Some years ago I had a discussion with a gun control advocate.  She professed to hating guns and wanted them banned.  Eventually I managed to reach a compromise with her that as soon as we'd managed to confiscate all the weapons from the criminals in society, we could then get the law abiding to hand theirs over.

For those of you who have not seen it, here is a wonderful one minute advocacy by William Shatner on the use of guns.  Enjoy -

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A friend sent this to me today  He asked if anyone could explain what the heck it was about.  I have no idea, but I do like the goggles!


I've just finished reading "Even Silence Has an End" by Ingrid Betancourt.  She was the Columbian politician captured by FARC rebels and held in the jungles of S. America for six years.  It's almost impossible to imagine her existence in the dreadful conditions of capture, cruelty and the uncertainty of her fate.  Nonetheless in true political fashion there are other books stating that she was selfish, uncaring, and not as compliant as she states.

Last night I watched a film called "Alive" which is an account of the Uruguayan rugby team, who crashed into the Andes range on Friday, October 13th, 1972.  The 14 survivors of the crash survived by eating the dead bodies of their colleagues.  Two men managed to walk 40 miles over incredible terrain to reach help and get the others out.  I remember the scandal that erupted when their "canabilism" came out.  But today all of the survivors are still living and have no regrets.  The Catholic Church also gave them their blessing.  Coupled with the recent miners escape from the mine in Chile, it is testament to how people can endure the most horrendous circumstances.  It is quite a coincidence that these three situations all occured in S. America.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


We're lucky to have a really good bowling alley in Big Bear.  It seems to do quite good business too.  I first tried bowling about 1961, and you had to keep the score on little forms.  I found the math, as usual, a bit of a challenge.  But today it's all done for you on a screen above the lane.

Yvonne likes to bowl a bit more than me, and she regularly goes with Evan when he's up here.  But recently I've taken to going with her for a few games in the early afternoon.  It's so nice not to have to work for a living - thanks to all of you out there pumping money into the still existing social security fund!

Anyway, yesterday, I actually bowled a 192, which seems to me to be pretty good.  My best so far has only been 136. 

The Bowling Barn is the subject of the Big Picture this week - you can't miss it, it's RED!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday's Column - Metro

Sunday's column for The Sun was on my recent ride on the Blue Line Metro, which we covered here a few weeks back.  No need to get into it again.  However I have one request to make from the railway companies of the world: Could we please standardize on the use of ticket machines?

Grandson Evan studying the rules for ticket purchase
Now there must be enough international information on the use of these gadgets to make it easier for the casual traveler, rather than what we have at the moment.  Currently no doubt there are very clever engineers sitting hunched over drawing boards worrying over the design of Spanish, French, Japanese, and for all I know Mongolian ticket dispensing boxes.  The result is that it is a true horror for anyone approaching them for the first time.  It also makes the regulars lining up behind one very cross as you have to read all the instructions.  This one above gave us back gold-colored coins for change that were not even legal tender.
You can read the full story on


It's impossible to put off Beethoven any longer.  But what to choose?  It's hard to find any poor stuff that the great master wrote.  But perhaps for a short track this: which is the third movement of the Pathetique Sonata.  I checked out several versions, and decided on this recording by Horowitz.  Glenn Gould was much too fast for my taste.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan Williams

I have just read that National Public Radio have fired Juan Williams for stating on the O'Reilly Factor that he is uncomfortable flying with people wearing Muslim garb.  Now I rarely agree philosophically with Mr. Williams, but how bad is it that a perfectly decent man can be fired from an institution accepting taxpayer dollars for expressing his opinion?  This surely smacks of the Thought Police Regime straight out of George Orwell's "1984."

Incidentally, it's about time we had another go at making a decent movie of "1984."  The one starring John Hurt and Richard Burton never really quite captured the true horror of the first showing on BBC TV back in the mid fifties.  That was truly a chilling experience in my youth.  I have never forgotten it, and that is why I have a visceral hatred of the type of groupthink behavior that fired the good Mr. Williams.  Shame on you NPR! Apropos, the silence from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson has been deafening!

Banana Museum

For those of you not living in California, it may come as a surprise that deep in the heart of the high desert we have a museum devoted entirely to the banana.  Yes, the entire thing is the dream and center of one man's existence.  Ken Bannister on the left latched on to some sticky little banana paper patches before going to a conference and found they set him aside. 

Naturally, being an entrepreneurial sort of fellow, he carried on the use of these and having moved to Hesperia in the high desert he realized he had enough banana things to open up a museum.

It's quite small, which is something of a relief, as how much time do you really want to spend on this?
But if you ever want to investigate the history, societal uses, and varieties of this fruit, this is the place for you.  Also if you send in 100 banana items to him he will grant you a degree - naturally a Bachelor in Bananerology!  Only in California! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A friend in England wrote to me the other day suggesting that the current recession began quite a long time ago.  I gave it some thought and realized that like WWII, it's really hard to pin point exactly when it started.  Some historians put up a pretty convincing case that it was the signing of the punishing Treaty of Versailles that laid down the path to the invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939.

I don't like to put forward nonsensical ideas, particularly to people outside the country, so I gave the matter a lot of thought.  After all it was the Reagan administration that allowed large deficits to build up; I well remember the squawks of disapproval at the time.

If I had to say what caused the blight, I would say it was the the housing bubble of lending money to those who could not pay it back. Bush knew about it but could not turn the Dems that ran Congress away from their dream. The left wants everyone to have a house even if they can't afford it, and the right wants to lend them the money if they can turn a profit, and pass the risk on elsewhere - Hey, everybody wins! Don't they?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


After I'd been living in the US for about ten years I went back to England for a trip.  Naturally I found myself in a pub one day and noticed on the wall a little plaque.  On it was the definition of Heaven and Hell.

Heaven is where all the police are British,
All the cooks are French,
All the Mechanics are German,
All the lovers are Italian,
And the whole thing is run by the Swiss.

Hell is where all the police are German,
All the cooks are British,
All the mechanics are French,
All the lovers are Swiss,
And the whole thing is run by the Italians.

My immediate thought was "that's going to upset some people."  But of course, in Europe, societies are used to their well known stereotypes and don't mind the labels, as they quite enjoy them

Monday, October 18, 2010


In view of the road men laying down a new surface opposite, I made a huge decision to spoil She Who Must Be Obeyed (S.W.M.B.O.)  We have a concrete drive up to our garage and being the usual cement color, it reflects the sunlight and therefore the heat in the winter.

This means that snow and ice are hard to clear, and I hate to see S.W.M.B.O. out there struggling with shovels and ice chippers to clear a pathway for me.  I often see her from my office window as I try and enjoy a warming drink.

I don't believe in excessive spoiling but I decided to splurge on a present for her and have asphalt put down.  It will greatly assist in the melting process.  I'm sure she'll thank me when the snows come!  As has often been said: "I know how to show a girl a good time!"

Mission Inn

It took me quite a while to become familiar with Riverside - it's outside the Sun's area and generally believed to belong to the "competition!"  So I always keep a sharp look out in case of some sort of kidnap attempt by the Press Enterprise.  We columnists are valuable assets!

But Riverside has a long history - it was once considered to be the richest city in the US.  It was also founded by those against strong drink - a temperance town.  Both extremes are however now long gone.

The center is dominated by The Mission Inn, which has been there for over 125 years.  It's a fine place and it's restaurants and bars attract a diverse and interesting crowd.  It was the subject of Sunday's column.

When you enter the cool dark interior, there is a feeling of "europeaness" about the place.  The driving force behind the business was one, Frank Miller.  He died in the 1930's, and the hotel did go into a period of decline when the family sold it in 1956.  Today however it is back, and a great place to relax and people watch.  To read the entire story go to


It was only a question of time before Sinatra had to come up in this spot.  An interesting, if not always pleasant person, he set out to become the best singer in the world.  Nothing was too much trouble to attain his goal - he even took ballet lessons to help him with hand movements!  This recoding from 1955 is one of the best he did at the height of his talent.  I'm sure the words are still relevant to today's tortured teens.  I don't envy them.

For a more hilarious, and it is, track try these fellows singing Bad Romance

Sunday, October 17, 2010


A friend told me the other day that she didn't realize that she could access my blog every day.  Well, you can.  I send out a reminder every Monday just to give a heads up on the pieces that have been set up over the former seven days.  I also put out an announcement on Facebook.  Then I try and post every day for the next four or five.  The Tirades piece is usually altered over each weekend, as is the large picture and Local Tracks.

This means that if you should want to see what's been posted very recently just click on and then bookmark it for easier and quicker access.  I hope this clears up any misunderstanding.

October 17th

Current Ride

It was 18 years ago today that I became a member of the motorcycling community.  It was quite a traumatic moment in my life.  S.W.M.B.O. was not amused by the entire business.  I had been corrupted by my eldest son, Michael, who had gleaned correctly that it was something that I would really enjoy.

Now, older Brits like me have a bit of a problem with motorbikes, seeing them as they do as low class transportation.  On top of that they are of course, dangerous.  But I went several times to the local Harley dealership and built up some information about their machines.  Eventually my activities were detected by the distaff side of the household.  A firm discussion then followed, but she bowed to my foolish desires and sought solace in my joining the CHP M/C course.

After a couple of hours riding a Honda 150cc machine in a parking lot, the time came to take delivery of my Harley Davidson FXRS - SP; all 1340 cc's of it.  Squeaking around in my new boots, stiff gloves and odd looking leather jacket, I mounted the beast and drove away.  I was terrified.

In the garage under wraps waiting til I'm too frail to lift the Harley!
 My first hazard was out into one of LA's busiest cross streets at Washington and Lincoln - just to add to the fun, they were making a film that day and several motorcycle cops were lounging around directing traffic.  I didn't drop the damned thing but I shall never forget the moment.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Normally, I hate the excessive coverage by the news broadcasters on any event of supposed interest.  However I have to say that like most people I have been glued to the TV set while the miners in Chile have been brought to the surface.

To have managed to pull these 33 men up through 2000 feet of rock has been a marvel of engineering and strong will.  It was wonderful to see that the Chilean president was there throughout the entire operation - I wonder how many other heads of state would have made the commitment in time.

Currently, we are in the middle of yet another vicious political season and it was marvellous to see an uplifting story where humans triumphed over adversity.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Road Works

It's been rather exciting in our area recently.  They've been building a road right opposite the house.  It used to be just dirt, and in the winter the snow and rain would cause all kinds of problems for the few people that live there.  I always felt sorry for absentee owners who came up late on a Friday night only to find they had a huge wall of snow and ice to climb over to gain access.  Now they will be able to drive their cars up.

The more observant of you will notice that there is a temporary toilet on the right.  This is a clear signal that these boys are serious.  Once the toilet is installed then work begins and the resultant trucks begin revving up.  It drove the Poodles mad for a day or two but they settled down.

I've spoken to a couple of the workmen, and they seem decent chaps.  Soon they will lay down six inches of asphalt on top of the six inches of hard packed reclaimed road surface - no doubt from a previous job.  It will be a huge improvement in the area and I'm sure the owners will enjoy their new road when they visit.  The road ends at the top of the picture.  In the process 60 trucks of earth have been removed.  It's been interesting to observe the process, which is just outside my office window, but I shall not miss the toilet!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Additional Music Track

This came up on my Facebook page and I thought it was just too good not to post on the blog.

I know many of you are terrified that I might post a Lady Ga Ga track, and this might be a little lead in as it's really just hilarious.  The blokes are pretty good too.

Yes I'm not afraid to admit it; I do like the Lady!


I try and keep away from politics in this blog, not wishing to alienate half my audience, but I'm really having a hard time with the TV ads this season.  (Thank Heavens for the mute button!)  It seems to me we have been given very bad choices for the Governor's race.  And frankly I doubt whether either Whitman or Brown can stop the nonsense that is California at the moment.

I really don't care if Whitman hired an illegal alien, or Brown was banging Linda Ronstadt like a screen door in a gale, how on earth are either of them going to stop the rot.  Poor old Arnold had a go early in his term by offering several ballot measures to halt the explosion of benefits.  Sadly, if you give people free stuff they are unlikely to vote for restraint - other people's free stuff OK; but not mine!

It's always easy to play the "soak the rich" card, but the way we're going out here, there won't be any rich people left to soak - they'll all have moved to Nevada, and the White Supremacists will have gone to Idaho.

I am always surprised however at the way people imagine that the same politicians, whom they have elected for the last few decades can be expected to change the things for which they alone have been responsible.   And could they please stop fighting for me, and leave me the hell alone!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Strawberry Peak

Sunday's column was about the fire lookout at Strawberry Peak.  It's located high above the small town of Rim Forest.  It's a devil to get to if you don't know the way, as the final signpost has vanished.  But tenacity got me there.  Having committed myself to doing this piece I was damned if I was going home empty handed.
Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout
Once you make the journey, and climb the iron steps the view is amazing.  It overlooks all of San Bernardino and out into the valleys on both sides.  The lookout along with its sisters, Keller Peak and Butler Peak, were built in the 1930's.  They are manned by a group of volunteers who scan the mountains for fires breaking out.  If fire is spotted they call in to a central command, and helicopters are dispatched to get an early start on any blaze.  We're in the peak of the fire season at the moment but we've been lucky with cool weather and some drizzle so far.  You can read the entire column at 

MUSIC TRACK - Pink Floyd

This week's music track is from Pink Floyd.  I was never a big fan of theirs but I saw this track on a recent Facebook posting and I have to say it is quite an interesting piece of music - about 10 minutes long.  See what you think.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


The large picture at the bottom of the blog is from the Edward-Dean Museum in Cherry Valley.  The scene is of the Pine Room.  I did a video of this place a couple of years ago - you can watch it at or from my Web site.

The museum is a very elegant place to visit and was the country home of these two men who were Hollywood collectors and antique dealers in the 50's.

I have a personal link with the Pine Room as the paneling came from Cassiobury House in Watford.  The house had been leveled by the time I was born, but the park, which was part of the Earl of Clarendon's estate since the time of Henry VIII, was a place I knew well growing up as a boy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I wonder if we are slowly losing our imaginations.  Together with S.W.M.B.O., I went to the movies yesterday and as usual we saw a number of trailers for upcoming films.  Many of them were extremely gory and unpleasant.  In fact none of them appealed to the two of us at all.  It made me wonder, not for the first time, if people, and especially young people, are losing their ability to conjure up ideas and thoughts.

If everything is so graphically displayed then there is little need to imagine anything.  It so happened that later on that evening one of my most favorite films came on TV.  The Third Man with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton.  There was a scene where a well matured man entered a hotel with a much younger woman.  Later on the same couple were portrayed coming down the main stairs.  The situation was pretty obvious, but I wonder if the youth of today would have caught the inference without explicit bedroom scenes.  As the man was played by Wilfred Hyde White, I think we should be grateful for the omission.

Perhaps that is why so many films need over two hours to get their points across - The Third Man took just 104 minutes and will always remain a gem.  It was in black and white too


It's time I took the turnoff to Green Valley Lake.  It's just up the road from Running Springs and a lovely location for some quiet reflection and perhaps a bit of fishing if that's your interest.

Green Valley Lake, CA

Recently a fire came through and scorched several of the buildings, but by now the damage will have diminished.

The lake is "owned" by all the residents and visitors have to pay a small fee to fish, or put in a boat.  No engines are allowed on the lake, and you can rent canoes and other small craft from the office.  It is always worth the short 3 miles detour up to this pleasant spot, which overlooks Lake Arrowhead a few miles to the west.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Don't forget to check the very bottom of the blogs for the weekly TIRADE. It's below the Local Tracks section and the big photo.

Since I have begun these, S.W.M.B.O. has noticed a reduction in my usual rants at the TV set as instead I'm busy thinking how it would work on the blog. So it's doing the two of us some good at least!


Recently there have been TV adverts encouraging us to be more accepting of mental ill health.  Now, I totally understand that one should not be unkind to people suffering with this type of problem, but there comes a point where such altruism is a hard pill to swallow.  I feel it's instinctive to shy away from extremes in social behavior - perhaps even a defensive mechanism over which we have little control.

The other day, while traveling on a train, a fairly well dressed woman came into the compartment talking in a loud voice.  There was no one with her and I assumed that she must be having a conversation with her secret and invisible friend.  In other words a wacko.  I naturally tried to ignore the behavior, although the volume of her conversation made it quite hard.  This invisible and secret friend seemed to be a man with whom she was very annoyed.  Well, you know how difficult men can be, even the invisible ones!

As she turned around to take her seat I noticed some sort of device screwed into her ear - Ah, she was on the phone.  Now is it just me or does this sort of thing drive you crazy?  Instead of trying to make us more tolerant of wacko behavior, can't we devote our energies to inventing a flashing light to let people know that the wearer is on the phone and not a sufferer of Tourette's syndrome.  I think we'd all feel so much better.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Perhaps because I began my working life with daily train commutes up to London, I've always enjoyed this form of transit.  It's not easy in S.California to spend much time on trains as they don't seem to go anywhere you want.  But the other day in pursuit of an assignment, I took the Blue Line from Long Beach to downtown  L.A.  I've done it once before and it's quite an easy run.

Blue Line train at Wardlow Station
We were going along quite merrily and everyone was settled in, when horror of horrors an anouncement was made (in both English and Spanish) that we were to vacate the train and journey on in buses - there was construction on the line.  Now I have to admit that I hate buses.  They go in weird directions and keep turning away from where I want to end up.  I confess that in 28 years out here, I have never once traveled on one.  But there was little choice on this occasion as the train had stopped in an "undesirable" area of the city, and I wasn't going to walk!

It was a thoroughly nasty business.  There was a complete trainload crammed into a bus - even though it was one of those odd contraptions that had a back compartment with a bellows connecting the two parts.  An experience I shall not want to repeat - at least for another 28 years.  That would make me... Oh, never mind!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Sunday's column was a different type.  In fact it was rather self-indulgent.  It was the tenth anniversary of Trevor's Travels, although the name of the column has changed from the original "Day Trip."  This first piece was about Butlers Peak, the fire lookout over Big Bear lake.  I found it a few months ago in my records.
Summons with the first piece published
Having spent 40 years in sales, I never imagined that when I retired, I would begin a new "career" and one which was to span an additional ten years.

The start of the selling process is often the worst.  Namely finding someone to talk to; then you have to ask a lot of questions, and lead them gently to the obvious conclusion.  This new job of mine still allows the questioning part and the writing up of the business, but boy, is the first part easier!  I rarely have to contact anyone twice to set up an appointment.  Funny that!  You can read the column and also hear the three-minute podcast at


This week's Music Track was sent to me by a friend.  It's a really old favorite - one of Sam Cook's, I think.  But the recording takes place all over the world - it's a marvel of sound engineering.  The email that accompanied it said "Bet you can't listen to it only once!"  I agree.

Friday, October 1, 2010


For any of you who might be a little confused, I have settled on a design policy for the blog. allows users to change the design, colors and layout of the blog as often as one wants.

After a number of really lengthy meetings (!!!!!!) I have decided to change the colors and general layout just once a month.  It should keep you awake and me motivated.  If you don't like a particular element or have any suggestions please let me know in the comment box or at

Keep reading!