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“Our special guest today is a Roman general and statesman, so a warm salutation and ‘Salve’ to Julius Gaius Caesar. So Julius Gaius, if I can make so bold, welcome home from your latest campaign in Asia Minor and please tell us all about it. Where did you go, what did you see and what did you get up to over those long months away?”

“Veni, vidi, vici.”

“Haha, very ‘ad rem’, to the point. Seriously Julius, there must be a little more to your campaign. I’m sure your audience is dying to know.”

“Well, no, that’s about it really. One campaign is much like another. ‘Audere est facere’, to dare is to do as we say in the military. You set off with the lads from Legio Decem; a few forced marches; a little sightseeing, getting to know the lie of the land; mingle with the natives; negotiate with their rulers, which on this occasion  culminated in a bit of slash and bash and a battle at Zela. Then we split a few amphora of wine, had an impromptu bacchanalia before a triumphant return home to the adulation of the plebs.”

“Oh ‘mea culpa’, such modesty, Jules. There must have been one or two hairy moments, a few escapades and incidents you can share with us. You know, anecdotes from the edge of the world. You must have kept a diary or despatched the odd wax tablet or papyrus to Rome you can let us in on? Just between us, ‘bona fide’, it’ll go no further.”

“No. As I’ve already said. ‘Ceteris paribus’, all things being equal, it was all in a day’s campaigning. ”

“Oh. Well you must have been showered with tributes, looted and taken treasures from conquered tribes, brought back captured chieftains in chains and cart loads of slaves for the glory of Rome?”

“Err, ‘ars gratia artis’, art for art’s sake, the usual trinkets, some gold for my own coffers, a couple of good horses. That’s about it. The lads in the Legion laid waste the odd settlement or two, got smashed and raised merry hell, as I said earlier, and generally subdued the populace leaving our ‘Roma invicta’ stamp on society. Like I said earlier, all in a day’s campaigning.”

“So, no new discoveries then. No exotic creatures, wild animals, foods and spices, drinks, customs, wonders of the world?”

“No, ‘nihil novi’, nothing new.”

“Oh. So what’s next for our glorious commander in chief? A Gallic charm offensive, silencing the Germanic hoards, ‘Pax Brittanica’, or something closer to home?  Anything you’d like to tell your audience today, Jules?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“So back to work then, Roman nose to the grindstone haha. No time in your schedule for a few weeks off; perhaps a well earned trip south to the Bay of Naples, a spot of R and R, chillaxing in Pompeii or Baia?”

“Well if you must know. I’m looking to further my political ambitions. ‘Lacta est alea’, the die is cast, as you might say, I’m crossing the Rubicon. As for you; you are the stench of a low-life latrine with the brains of a sleeping two year old. ‘Vade retro me, Satana’, get behind me Satan. No, sod it, here, you deserve this; suck my gladius. ‘Valete’.”

 

Words and photographs Copyright © 2018 by Antony J Waller

 

Written for ThirskWriteNow, a group of talented local writers meeting every two weeks at The Golden Fleece Hotel, Thirsk. (If you would like further details please contact me.)

 

 

 

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The day of the race and we’ve put the flags out! My village in pictures:-

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And then the race came through. A few photographs from the hairpin bend on the ‘Cote de Sutton Bank’ :-

 

Photographs Copyright © 2018 by Antony J Waller

#TourdeYorkshire

Everyone likes a carnival and Funchal’s annual spring time Flower Festival makes a glorious spectacle as a procession of decorated floats and dancers make their way along the waterfront. A veritable feast of music and dance, a riot of colour and dazzling costumes, hundreds of happy smiling faces and an abundance of flowers and blooms. Here are just a few photographs from this year’s festival:-

 

 

 

 

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2018 by Antony J Waller

 

 

 

The 12th July 1911 and it was day nine of ‘The Prince Henry Tour’, an automobile race and one of the first international car rallies (though I suspect more of an endurance test for the 65 cars and their crews) starting in Homburg, Germany and finishing in London. The day’s stage was 129 miles setting off from Harrogate and ending in Newcastle upon Tyne motoring via Ripon – Thirsk – Helmsley – Easingwold – Thirsk – Northallerton – Darlington – Nevilles Cross and Chester le Street.

The route that day included a ‘loop’ from Thirsk to Helmsley to Easingwold before returning through Thirsk and onwards to Northallerton; presumably designed to take in the hairpin bend and severe gradients of Sutton Bank.

Sir Arthur described it thus: “My own little car did very well and only dropped marks at Sutton Bank in Yorkshire, that terrible hill, one in three at one point, with a hair-pin bend. When we finally panted out our strength I put my light-weight chauffeur to the wheel, ran round, and fairly boosted her up from behind, but we were fined so many marks for my leaving the driving wheel. Not to get up would have meant three times the forfeit, so my tactics were well justified.”

It sounds quite frightening! His car was a sixteen horse power, green Dietrich-Lorraine called ‘Billy’ which he drove himself accompanied by his second wife, Jean, and the observer Count Carmer, Rittmeister of Breslau Cuirassiers, and Alfred Stiller, ‘the chauffeur in the back’. (The Tour was organised by Prince Henry of Prussia as a gesture of sporting goodwill between Great Britain and Germany, in honour of King George V’s coronation. Thirty seven cars from the Kaiserlichter Automobil-Klub and twenty eight from the Royal Automobile Club, each car carrying an observer, an army or navy officer from the other team.)

The race, a total of 1516 miles, finished on 19th July in London at the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall with the British the victors and the two teams joining in a toast to the Kaiser.

The photograph show Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s vehicle No 52 parked on the cobbles in Thirsk Market Place in front of the Golden Fleece Hotel which hosted a grand lunch for the race’s many rich, powerful and well connected competitors.

Words Copyright © 2018 by Antony J Waller

Photograph courtesy of The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

It was a cold, crisp Tuesday morning in Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe and the locals were going about their business. Nimrod, a local for more years than many could actually remember was waiting for his pal Walter, also an inhabitant with more years tucked under his belt than most. Sitting cross legged on the communal seat, set a few yards back from the main road and footpath on a grass verge beneath a line of old yew trees which overhung the high stone boundary wall of Sweet-Feckle Hall, he was enjoying the warming rays of the sun and clutching a thermos flask of coffee and two slices of thickly cut ginger parkin wrapped in grease proof paper. It wasn’t like Walter to be tardy for morning coffee, he thought, and if his lifetime pal didn’t buck his ideas up there would soon be just the one slice of parkin and only half a noggin of coffee to share out between them.

A scuffling sound and a string of curses caught his attention and Nimrod turned to see his best mate stumbling along towards him resplendent in flip-flops worn over bright orange socks.

“Thy’s late, Walter.”

“Bloody miracle I’m ‘ere at all,” came the tetchy reply.

“And what’s with t’outfit and clartin’ about like a worm in quicksand?”

“Hutch up and let us sit down and I’ll tell thee. Come on, Nimrod, move over.”

Nimrod duly shuffled along, grumbling as he went as he’d just warmed that bit of bench up. “Anyways what’s wrong with thee?”

“I’ve bruised me toes, soles of me feet are tender and I can’t get me boots on.”

“But Walter. Socks with flip-flops?”

“Mary would give us hell if I wore me slippers and I’m not a barefoot hipster.”

“Thy’s got a point,” said Nimrod. “Coffee and parkin?”

He unscrewed the thermos, poured out two cupfuls and carefully unwrapped the sticky ginger treacle and oatmeal loaf which he had made himself.

“You’ll have to have it without cheese. I’ve not been to that new supermarket yet.”

“Well my advice is don’t,” said Walter. “Or if you do mind where you put yer size tens. I tripped and went arse over tip on the kerb by the disabled bay in the car park.”

“Eck,” replied Nimrod, munching on a mouthful of cake whilst taking a slurp of coffee.

They sat chewing and cogitating in silence for a while watching as Mrs Perks approached, walking  her pet Poodle, Ollie.

“Clever dog that,” said Walter. “Watch when it reaches the dog pooh bin. Always cocks its leg, never misses.”

“Humph,” said Nimrod. “And it also never misses crapping down the lane too. And when you’re shod in flip-flops then that’s definitely somat you ought to be missing.”

“Oriflamme Ongar Olivier the Third.”

“Eh. What’s thy wittering about now, Walter?”

“Ollie, the dog’s proper name is Oriflamme Ongar Olivier the Third. He’s got pedigree. Mrs Perks told me he was shortlisted for Crufts ‘Best of Breeds’ the other year.”

They raised their mugs in salute and chomped on as Mrs Perks and Ollie drew level.

After another brief respite Nimrod cleared his throat, “Are you up for a pint today then Walter. Do you think you can ‘obble as far as the pub for opening time?”

“Too reet I can, Nimrod, even if it means teking me socks off.”

 

Words and photographs Copyright © 2017 by Antony J Waller

As many readers will know I belong to a local group of writers, ‘Thirsk Write Now’, and at every meeting we come up with a theme on which to write a short story to be read out when we next meet. This week the only stipulation being the tale must contain the following words:- Worm. Shortlisted. Tender. Oriflamme. Missing. Flip-flop. Orange. Car park. Quicksand. Usually stories run to between 500/1000 words. On this occasion I went for brevity!

James suspected his new novel, ‘Tender smells the Oriflamme’, written after he went missing in a car park might flip-flop.

Instead the poignant tale of a worm in quicksand was shortlisted for the prestigious Orange award.

 

Words and photographs Copyright 2017 by Antony J Waller

 

 

 

 

The delightful historic coastal town of Whitby nestling beneath the ruins of a thirteenth century abbey, famous for Captain James Cook RN, Bram Stoker and ‘fish n chips’ always makes for a good photo-fest. Here are just a few images and some of the characters from a recent visit:-

 

 

Words and photographs Copyright 2017 by Antony J Waller

 

 

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