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Posts Tagged ‘birding’

Part of our garden, rocks, shrubs, herbs and olive trees not to mention the pines – some of which grow mistletoe or have squirrels drays in them.  It is in this environment that my wife insisted she had a garden of sorts. Lack of water decreed that it should be mostly bulbs and drought loving plants so here’s how we go along.

Lots of weeds, an angle of the forest  and a couple of sculptures..

As most of you who follow me know we live on a small olive in the middle of a forest with wild boar, wild goats and other animals. This is not a great problem for me but for my wife and her small flower beds it’s a bit like painting the Fourth Bridge you get to one end and have to start again at the other.

The garden is only one part of life up here the olive trees and the odd almond tree not only keep me busy but tending the olive trees is a full-time job.  I have plenty scattered through my bit of forest but around 30 on fairly flat terraced land which I can easily reach and look after.  Being in my 70’s plus not having agricultural water I have no intention of farming on a grand scale – it does not pay – but I look after enough trees to produce our own olive oil for the table for about 6/8 months of the coming year.  So I thought I’d talk about them properly from our perspective no quoting statistics or things like that, just observations on my own trees plus a bit of history. Thus forgetting about the commercial growing of olives this is how we grow and make our own Olive Oil.

On my little tractor to collect wood

The trees on the finca are very old, some are around 1,000 years old with bases that have, over the years and with encouraging new growth, been in the ground for centuries. It is well documented that the romans grew olives in this part of the country the fact that terraces were built along the side of the now long departed river that once used to sprout from the side of the masa and run down to the river Ebro. It also shows the ingenuity of their engineers and that they had slave labour as the terrace walls are not only still standing centuries later  but are deep and well-built.  Every now and then the boar will disturb one trying to reach grubs and the result is a collapse that offers an insight into history.

It was the same with the trees. Olive trees are an interesting subject, before we owned the farm I did not realise that they flowered. Every year the trees turn from a deep green to a creamy green as the flowers open.  There is no perfume but the bees are very busy, as the flowers die off you begin to see the olives forming.

Before trimming and Sam’s garden built round it this tree in all its glory

Today they have machines which can grasp the trunk of the tree and shake it collecting the olives in a large bag which then passes them into a truck a bit like you see the combine harvester doing.  Our trees however are to wide and solid for this plus the terraces are only big enough for a man and donkey.  The other point is years ago to get more olives from each tree and make picking easier they would do several things. First they would split the trunk into three so eventually they ended up with three trees instead of one.  Secondly they kept the middle of the tree open so light could get in there.  Thirdly the trees were kept to a certain height for ease of picking.  As time went on people let the trees grow a bit taller and made A-shaped ladders to reach the olives on the upright branches.

 

You can see here how large and tall they can grow if not farmed.  When we arrived here this tree was like a huge Oak tall with growth around the base so much so that we didn’t realise there were actually three trunks.  So I set to and lopped them halfway up then let the branches sprout leaving a few branches to produce olives.  I have to say that it still needs to be pruned again climbing a ladder to cut the branches so we can get at the olives is a risky business at our ages.

But olive trees are a hardy bunch, they have to be up here.  They put down long roots to find water  80 mts down is an underground river and I know that some trees put roots down a lot further than that.  So they have over the centuries found the water,  but they also have to fight the bugs that live in the ground some of which attack a tree from the middle eating it away they then turn into large black beetles which lays eggs in the ground near a tree and so it goes.  The result is that the olive tree will repair itself even when the centre is hollow and this can be a little daunting when hit by lightning, however  the roots may be burnt but the tree still goes on.

And this is just the start, so here

the introduction.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc  –  Author

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Remember me? I’m still here – just!!!

Its been a long time since I wrote and this picture just about sums things up.  For a start I shall be pleased when this year is over we do not need another one like it.  Around three months ago we were broken into and robbed, that was bad enough but the wanton damage they did was evil.  So we have spent the past months securing the house and making as sure as we can that its safe.  The Cameras that we used for wildlife are now employed in other parts and a security system linked to somewhere safe is installed (cost a lot but peace of mind at our ages is important).  So the scumbags who did this actually did us a favour.  14 years we have been hidden away up here and nothing like this has ever happened, if we were going away we told certain people and the hunters kept an eye on here.  So here I am with the security people who fitted doors to the house and little house (here when the civil war went past) plus windows and other stuff.  At our ages it humans we are afraid of not the animals whom we share this forest with.

We have also taken the opportunity to repair and re-new the ffz, which is nearly finished.  Having this to do has made us more determined to stay put, but I had to draw the line at my wifes suggestion of putting ABIM’s (anti bastard individual mines) down… but the machine gun nests are ok.

 

My writing

In between all this I have been busy catching up on my writing.

                      

These are three of the books under my pen name Jason D’ebre written for young people and those who love adventure, history sand ghost stories.  They are on Kindle in both e-book and paperback, and can also be found on Kobo and iTunes plus other sites.  The adult books are also on iTunes and Amazon.    If you want a book then Create a Space is there.

And others

The wild boar are still here this is their watering hole and as you can see they make good use of it.  These are the last pictures we took with that camera it was stolen because they thought it had them on it.

The Boys are fine we have them in the little casa whilst we are busy safely tucked away from nasties and they can see out and shout at the other birds. Once the ffz is finished they can come back over and fly around.

Well without getting angry and ranting that’s about all I can say.   Age changes you a little and sometimes brings the hooligan in you to the fore which is no bad thing me thinks.  Now I’m back I shall be here more often so see you all soon.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc/Jason D’ebre   author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Clotxa

This is breakfast at the Olive Fair in Mora La Nova – the Clotxa.  Every year the fair is held to celebrate the olive oil harvest, we missed it last year first time since we have been here, but I went to the Ajuntament and bought our tickets and for 3euros this is what we have.  Half a cob loaf with the centre hollowed out a large sardine, tomatoes, garlic and onion plus wine, olives and of course olive oil.  So here’s the routine:-  you que up hand over your ticket and take your breakfast and bib (oh yes you need it), then wander along and find a table to stand at and eat.

This is a community thing and standing at the tables you meet other people. Families, friends and faces you see when out and about who’s names you get to know so you can place them when you wave to each other, really nice.  As you can see from the picture it is served in a plastic bowl.  This year it came in a covered foil container. When we arrived just after 10am it was in full swing and as you can see not many breakfasts were left.

We collected our and found a table. There were a few other people at the table so it was a pleasant morning not cold like some we have been to which makes a difference because believe me it takes a while to eat this and you really do need that bib.

                               

After breakfast we headed for the hall to see the olive oil stands and who had done well in the competition and a coffee.  As we were passing the tables I took these photos:-

People were still arriving and as you can see there was not a lot left, but is that a coffee stall I spy by the door?? It was but very busy so we decided to find another one.

Inside the hall the layout had changed.  Normally it is crowded with stands and the competition section (this photo) where people make moli d oli a sort of olive oil butter very tasty and good for you.  Next to this in the centre of the hall was an olive tree with the various things you need for picking. In the first photograph you can see the ladders which were used simple but practical. in the second jars for storing the oil and in the last one you will see an old-fashioned olive chute something which would help us enormously.

                    

It was by the tree that we found the coffee stand and coffee in hand wandered round the stands. This one has won first place before, the trophies are the FIO’s on top of the stand.  You could eat your way round the hall tasting all the different oils on toasted bread. There is believe it or not a different taste to each oil just like there is with wine, took me some time to work this out but once we began pressing our own oil it became clear.

Further round on the other side of the hall I found AiBar, a little Celler I found with some very nice wines. As usual the cellers also produce olive oil which is very good.

All in all it was a lovely morning and we totally enjoyed ourselves. But the strange thing was we did not see another English person – no one we knew by sight that is – who had been there before.  It is such a sad thing when people do not join in with the local festivities they miss so much.   If you would like to know more about AiBar’s wines then follow this link. https://wp.me/pVcwA-1i3

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc & Jason D’ebre – Authors

 

 

 

 

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There are some things that you come across something surprising and creative.  Well that’s what happened last year when we went for coffee and a drive along the coast.

We had stopped off at the little restaurant we like for coffee, and sat watching the rain falling and being blown around by the wind.  It was nice to be in the warm, so we ordered cheesecake and relaxed whilst keeping an eye on the weather.  By the time we had finished the rain had stopped so we decided to take a walk along the beach – to walk off the cheesecake…. On our way back to the car we passed these sand sculptures and could not resist taking a look.

Well this year they had some more on display these were a mix of sheep and ‘modern’ sculptures which to me looked more machine than animal or human.

But the effect was the same the little area was full of people looking and taking photographs.  So when we went for a drive and passed the sculptures we just had to stop and take a look.  It took some time to find a parking spot but finally we found a place further along the beach parked and walked back to take a look.  By this time it was getting dusk so the flood lights were on and people were almost queuing to get a look. So here are the sculptures:

These are a find we now look for something to brighten a dull, windy day in winter.  Hope you have a good 2018 of course you could try this yourselves.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  – Author

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Wishing all my fellow writers, followers and friends a Merry Christmas and  Happy and Peaceful New year.  May it be filled with cheer and good writing.

Well the first part of Christmas here has passed, now comes New Year then the Three Kings. All of which means the Christmas decorations are still up and the festivities continue.  So I thought you might like to see the lights in town.

The Lights in Town

The effect is a very pretty display, but as always there was a sting in the tail. When I arrived to take the photos it was late at night which was what I wanted as I thought there would be less traffic.  Wrong!! the moment I got the camera out the world and its mother turned up headlights blazing so these are the best ones I hope you enjoy.

The Car Light ones….

                                                         

And here comes the rest:-

These are the lights that wander round our local town. All over there are villages and towns decked out and they stay like this until the 8th of January, then as if by magic, they are gone, not to be seen until next Christmas.  Catalunia may be having problems but the spirit of Christmas is kept going strong.

BON NADAL i FELIC NOU ANY     Soc Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

 

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Where Have The Years Gone

                          

The Prolog
These photographs say a lot. When we first put the FFZ (fly free zone) up we planted a walnut tree, I do like walnuts, along with a vine our friends gave us.  Now as we cannot have a permanent construction with out planning permission we built as you can see 4 pillars then I added some support beams (cut when making a fire break) added a wooden roof then covered the whole thing with very large olive nest.  I then constructed a metal door and frame attached these to the house and covered like the rest of the ffz,  making the complete ffz you can see here.
As you can see it did not take long for either to grow but there were consequences.  The vine grew like billio and the tree just tore away upwards.  So I had to curtail that and keep it at a reasonable height.  But it was the vine that went mad.  It clambered up and over the roof and around the netting (second pic) but in doing so it became heavy and began to destroy the netting (we realised this when we found a snake in the ffz).  So what to do? well I simply trimmed and moved the vine to in front of the little house so it can climb over the frame of the gazebo.  Then I looked at the roof and decided that it was necessary to replace it which I did with corrugated effect roofing, that was a laugh putting that up believe me a broom comes in very handy at those times.  Then I bought some new netting which my wife duly put up and also sealed any gaps she found whilst doing so.  I then sealed the edges where the roof butted up against the walls and using the old roofing covered the entrance in front of the door now we could sit out without being bitten and in the shade whilst enjoying the heat.  Then we got the boys……
The Gardens – Sam’s Garden
                   
 Now my wife loves her flowers and when she decided that the olive tree by the house stayed she decided to make a garden out of it well I should have known.  After filling in the centre and planting bulbs, She then built  a semicircle garden in front of it.  Into this went more bulbs (about the only thing that can survive the hot summers remembering we have very little water up here) the result being that I laid a small patio down so we could sit out and enjoy this garden. As you can see when in flower it’s rather attractive, the bulbs have multiplied over the years and every now and then my wife digs them up and plants the young bulbs in other parts of the garden. After the pigs attack on her saffron I think it’s a good idea.
Meet Bobbin Robbin and his  main man Boris Blackbird
 
Yes his name is spelt like that he told me so after introducing Boris. Now a robin talking to me? I should have known (this will be my theme statement). We were sat having coffee one morning when this little chappy turned up. Not content with getting up close and personal with the wife he had demands.  He hopped under the table and pecked her foot then said you’ve got a drink what about us?  and there you have it I was sent off to find an old dish whilst they sat discussing (yes she can and does talk to the birds and they tweet back) how to set up what was to become known as ‘The Water Bar’ (you can find it on https://asoldierswind.wordpress.com). The fact that my wife could understand what he and the others say makes me wonder…….
So there it is life on the finca past part 1.  Nothing really changes, the redstarts are still with us, but its been a long long dry summer and the garden has taken a bashing. So there really is a lot of work to do, where we start depends on my wife but I have a feeling the beds will be first followed by the pots and tubs then the rest of the garden and something done about that Saffron bed and the birds are returning they sit in the now  – of course I could be wrong……..
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – author

 

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Example of Computer Hooked

                                                                         Computer Hooked – Me??

I know when I have had enough of the computer because I say so, usually after I have been trying to find some information. My immortal words are “sod it that’s enough dam computers.” It’s around this stage the call of the sea gets me so after a good old winge and a cuppa I have a re-think kiss my wife grab the keys and we drive to the beach.

Some of our best ideas have come from these drives. Got a problem we cant get the answer to, we get in the car and head for the coast. Usually by the time we arrive ideas are flowing and often a solution has been found, and I can have a relaxing swim quite possible I’ll get one today thanks to Kindle….

Writing Frustration

But its the times when I’m struggling with my writing and get frustrated that I utter those immortal words.  Times when I can’t get the story to flow or find the information I need, then realise that it wasn’t there in the first place. I think  this all stems from the days we used to drive back and forth to visit my dr. Twice a year we would drive through France on the way to a port, talk about anything and everything. Problems both real and imagined, health, life and my writing and generally put the world to rights, and we still do although admittedly the longest journey we now make is to Barcelona airport.

Computer Hooked?

So why, I wonder, do we seem more able to talk in the car, or walking or having a coffee etc.,  the answer is simple NO BLOODY COMPUTERS!!!  Being a writer I spend a lot of time on one, most of the day in fact.  During the summer when it’s too hot to do anything (like today) if I am not writing I have the cricket on-line and sit in front of my computer either working or reading the reports that come in (and yes I am listening to it).  If my wife is not pottering around the house she is also on her computer talking to her gardening or FB friends whilst doing research or trying to put the wine book together.

It’s not that we don’t talk we do, but with these distractions it’s a bit disjointed.  So come the evening – like tonight – we look forward to petanca.  My wife goes to play bingo with her Catalan friends two nights a week and I go to petanca then we meet up and either go to the club Nautique for a drink by the river and see friends or Reiner’s if we are hungry.

In the early hours of the morning (well they are to us) when it gets light -6am here  5am UK time – and its cool we can now be found in the garden tidying up or watering.  We don’t water at night because the cubes have warmed up and hot water is not good for plants so they have around 3 hours before the sun get up here to enjoy a cool drink.

So with everything considered I suppose I have answered my own question. For some reason the sea is in me and a trip to the seaside is always sitting there at the back of my mind plus there are no computers ANYWHERE.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc (author)

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In The Beginning

 

This is what we fell in love with all those years ago (I installed the water header tank).

Well I think by now most people who follow my blogs know that one of my favourite topic is rain (or the lack of to be precise), but that’s what you get when looking for your perfect location to live and write then find it in the middle of nowhere in a forest halfway up a small valley in the mountains, fall in love with it and buy it…

                  

       

These are photos of the track to give you an idea of how steep it is where it looks flat it’s not your still climbing.

These photos of the farm looking back towards the masa show how close the forest is and we own most of what you can see.

Now when you think of a forest you probably think of leafy glades, flat forest floor and pathways or tracks that are level and when it rains get a little muddy, no?? well that’s what my wife thought of when I brought her here, didn’t last long though.  On the drive up here she was very silent and holding onto the handle of the car door.  We had a 4×4 then and it looked wider than the track, however, once she saw our ‘home’ she was smitten but even quieter on the drive to the hotel.  If you don’t like it we can go somewhere else I said,  No I love it came the reply but I really need to know we can get a small lorry up there for building materials or we have a problem, but we found we could and the rest as they say is history.  Once the bungalow was built and I had – with the help of my (wife) builders mate – sorted out the water, electrics (solar), gas (bottled) and sewage (tank) we were all set. So now to the water – or lack there of.

Water!!

   

This is how we had our house water delivered when we only had the small cisterna (water tank) Manell is a friend and our ‘go to’ person when we need something done.  He gives advice and help, and is always smiling. Every so often we would buy 5,000 ltrs  of potable (drinking) water to keep us going if it didn’t rain. I soon realised that although the original cisterna was just big enough for the house, in times of drought it was not enough. So we built, with the help of Manell and his digger, a new cisterna which would ensure that we had enough house water and, please god we never have to use it like this, water to fight a fire because if a forest fire came through here we would have to climb inside one of them to survive that’s how far we are into the forest.

As for the garden well I bought some cubes placed one by the bathroom wall and the other at the side of the Fly Free Zone (FFZ) these work very well taking the run off from the roof as long as we get some rain.

This is how we used to collect river water for the cubes before getting things sorted.

So back to the garden water.  The two cubes are sufficient as the garden is either set out with bulbs, cacti, drought loving plants (lavenders etc.,) or tubs.  Watering them every two days helps, and the very few plants we have that are normal are planted in places where I know there is moisture in the ground most of the year (ie., near the concrete of the patios).  So when it does rain we get all excited like Christmas, but a thunderstorm during the daytime is a little bit scary I watch the skies for smoke but I can tell you from experience that you hear the fire before you see it. This time of year has Carol making a plastic bag for ‘important’ things which she can quickly fill.

But that apart we are content. I knew what we were getting into when I bought the farm and neither of us would change it.  We have adventurous spirits like the challenge of solving things and love nature.  The things we have seen since we have been here and the adventures we have had are what we love about our home.  We were here before they made it a Park Natural because of the Golden Eagles, and often see them flying over the masa. The birds, animals and others make this a perfect place to write, live and relax.  Waking to the song of Boris blackbird, listening to the thrushes, lark and others during the early morning or late evening, all of this is our life.  Yes the piggy wigs are naughty sometimes and make my wife cry when they dig her bulbs up but we would not have it any other way.  As I write we have another mysterious creature up here.  We think it’s a bird wife says an owl me am not sure but we have been woken by what sounded like a female voice in the early morning twice now but neither seen nor heard anything human.  Nothing on the cameras (cards back in) so we don’t know, but will keep you posted.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  (author)

 

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Well Me For Starters!

Oi!  and little me don’t forget me!!!!

Ok Thing how could I forget you, I will start again.  Well there’s me and Thing (that ok Thing?) Yes, but I need a hug….  No way, your spikes are dangerous you hug those two.   WHAT!!!! hug those two demolition monsters no way. Look at what they have/are doing to this fly free zone, I mean just look at the floor.  No wonder the boss gets cross with them, plus its a wonder they didn’t eat your dinner yesterday, I saw them eyeing up the plate. You are too soft with them its a good job you placed those two long pieces of wood hard up against these planks or they would have been out and off…..don’t suppose you could???no, stupid of me to suggest.  But they are, oh look there goes another wedge.  Look I’ll do a deal. I wont moan about them anymore IF you replace the wedges so that the rain water runs on me (when it rains) my beard gets just a little dry.  Ok Thing it’s a deal.

Back where they belong haha

Suppose I had better explain to the peeps about things.   I built a temporary anti bugly structure, to provide both shade – which we lack up here – and keep the nasty biting insects and wasps away. The area outside the front door is double planked overlaid plus everything is double netted and sealed. However, I placed two boards right up against the wood basically closing off that section so nothing can get between the planks, (for wife’s peace of mind) then to keep the inside ends up level with the roof I placed wedges between the wooden beam and planks. Then I let the ‘boys’ out!!!!  oh boy, well I suppose Thing has a point. They run up and down the channels between planks and roof, play hide and seek, shout at the other birds, run along the beams sit on top of the pillars and generally enjoy themselves.  However, as you can see from these photos they can move things that are well tapped in and as big if not bigger than they are. So rule No: 1  if all is quiet out there THEY ARE UP TO SOMETHING!! but they are great fun and keep me on my toes.

This is Sam he was her gardening companion

They also tease my wife (the boss) by either bouncing on the branches of her Bottlebrush tree or sitting on the edge of the flower pots and flicking the compost all over the floor.  But like me she loves them, I can tell by the way she greets them ‘little sods what are you up to now?’ just like she talked to the little Redstart Sam.

Anyway they are playing hide and seek again whilst I am working and keeping an eye on them.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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Looks peaceful doesn’t it, bulls grazing their way across a clearing, sun lighting the clearing casting shadows here and there, the idyllic forest scene.  Ummm well think again!  Every scene they say tells a story, this is about three children in the middle ages full of adventure and history. With magic, battles between good and evil giants and English history it goes along at a good pace.  However,  the one I am about to tell you is of crafty, naughty, greedy piggy wigs who could well end up as saffron flavoured bacon.

Once upon a time in a forest lived a writer and his wife.  Now when they retired they bought this little olive farm in the mountains because it was quiet and just right for the author to write.  Here he could sit at his desk and look out of the window watching and listening to the birds singing whilst he wrote away.   His wife a poetess also had a desk but it was in the kitchen so she could scribble away whilst pottering around without disturbing her husband.  She liked her gardening and built various flower beds to define where the house area and the farm/forest divided.  Over the years she planted various plants but only the drought hardy ones could survive the hot summers, so she decided that bulbs were the answer.

 Tulips, daffs, iris, and such were duly planted out in beds and over the years the little saffron bed she had created flourished lots of flowers providing lots of saffron.  Then one morning………disaster!

They were going into town and as the author went to get the car out he noticed the saffron bed had been dug up. Not only that but the bulbs his wife had planted down the side of the steps leading up onto the cacti garden were gone as well.  Now he knew this would upset his wife so he got the car out then went to tell her.  Boy was she mad…….so shopping that day consisted of more bulbs, but there was more to come.  As they drove out of the drive they noticed the corner of a terrace wall was completely destroyed.  This was not good, as two days later after sneaking off to inspect the finca in between writing the author did his back in.  Berated by his wife he had to own up to trying to rebuild the wall but the stones were so large and heavy he had lifted too much.  So the wall would have to stay down till later on.

Now one evening when they were driving home they surprised a warthog – yes I know warthogs don’t live in Spain, – but this one did and his name was Wally Warthog.  They could not believe their own eyes and as soon as they arrived home looked him up on Google.  Sure enough it said that warthogs were root and insect eaters and unlike the wild boar who would turn and fight  they would run away, just like Wally did.  Wally had obviously been abandoned so now they had another neighbour and felt sure they knew who was responsible for all the damage. Ummm no they didn’t they were wrong as events will prove.

Things went on a little bit quieter, she was able to tidy and repair the garden walls whilst he helped tidy up here and there, then the garden was dug up again. So it was time to reposition one of the night cameras as they really wanted to have a photo of Wally being very naughty. So a few night came and went with nothing happening and with Easter upon them they forgot all about it.  So it was quite a shock to the authors wife when she found her one and only tyre planter almost destroyed.  Years ago they had been given an old lorry tyre to make a planter with.  It was duly positioned at the top of the drive painted yellow and green and planted with Iris, Black Tulips and Snowdrops, and over the years it had filled out but this morning the bulbs were dug up and the tulip bulbs were gone. The wife  looked at her planter then sat on the edge and cried.  Then she went indoors and told the author who immediately jumped up and fetched the memory card from the camera, loaded it on to his laptop and said ” I think we owe poor Wally an apology look….” and this is what they saw:-

No Wally but these naught not so little piggy wigs rooting for bulbs and such.  So a lesson was learnt, do not blame someone for something unless you are very very certain they did it or you have proof.  SORRY WALLY ALL IS FORGIVEN…….

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc –  Author

 

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