April 18

Freedom of Information release: South Downs National Park’s Share The Path initiative

My article about how the South Downs National Park Authority has just spend £35,000 of taxpayers’ money telling people to be friendly to other park users was published in The Mail On Sunday yesterday.

It has since been followed up here:

Daily Telegraph

Daily Echo

The Times

Here is the original Freedom of Information response which sets out full details of the SDPNA initiative.



Response to request for clarification:

March 31

Ronnie Corbett – brilliant comedy actor and lovely man

Incredibly sad news about Ronnie Corbett. Anyone who, like me, grew up in the UK in the seventies and eighties would have almost certainly spent many happy hours watching The Two Ronnies with their families.

It was a British institution and Ronnie C and Ronnie B were very funny men. I must admit that it could all be a bit baffling as a child…. The Phantom Raspberry Blower scared me to death and Ronnie C’s monologue in the chair, which amused my Dad so much, just confused me (later, once I was older, I got the jokes and, as an adult, Ronnie’s brilliant comic timing made it my favourite part of the show).

As a child I liked watching him in Sorry, perhaps not a comedy classic, but gentle, sweet – sad even – and with fine performances all round.

Ronnie had one of those warm, seemingly always smiling faces that made you smile whenever you saw him. His comic timing was superb. I was lucky enough to witness it first hand when he brought his one-man show to a local theatre, the Fernham Hall in Fareham, Hampshire in the late eighties.

I covered entertainment for a local paper so got to interview Ronnie in advance of the show to promote it. “Make sure you come for a drink after the show,” he said. So I did. His show was superb and his comic timing flawless as ever.

Afterwards – a little nervously (he was after all, a comedy legend) I went to find him for that drink. Friendly, charming and warm, he introduced me to his wife Anne and their daughters Emma and Sophie – and he poured me a gin and tonic, which was the first time I’d ever tried it. It’s been downhill ever since…

He always had time for journalists and I interviewed him a couple of times over the years that followed. He was always courteous and helpful. His contribution to British comedy was huge and his loss is a great one, most of all, of course, to his family, who I am thinking off tonight.

Goodnight Ronnie. And thank you.



Here are a couple of my favourite Ronnie moments: 


March 29

From sleepy village street to Ladybird cover picture

The Little Red HenI’ve always loved the old series of Ladybird books and now my son likes to read my old battered copies (many of them themselves second-hand)…

Of course, some of the non-fiction ones are rather out of date, and some of the older ones are hilariously twee. The ones that have stood the test of time best are the traditional stories like The Enormous Turnip and The Elves and The Shoemaker.

The illustrations in the books captured my imagination as a child and recently a friend told me that at least one of the pictures in The Little Red Hen was of a scene in a village not far from where I live, Hambledon in Hampshire (which is also famous as the ‘cradle of cricket).

Last week I finally got a minute to go to Hambledon and take a picture of the High Street which, except for a few cars, has changed very little since illustrator Robert Lumley painted it in 1966.

More on the work of Robert Lumley here.