Welcome
to the world of John Robinson the Umpteenth of Upminster

see copyright notice. Page created 2-Jul-2015 updated 29-Apr-2022. Use the button groups above to navigate quickly around the site.

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[Original photo by Valerie Goldstein]

Much as I loved my parents, I do wish they'd given me a more distinctive name! During my (comparatively) rebellious teenage years, when we were identified at school only by our family names (or sometimes an irritating short-form, such as "Robbie"), I adopted the fictitious middle name "DeQuincy". But I soon realised that there were better ways to stand out from the crowd.

For the sake of disambiguation: I'm the one who was schooled at Engayne, Brentwood and Cambridge; worked at the BBC, Goldsmiths' and King's Colleges; walks everywhere, takes lots of pictures, and collects big old computers. You can read more about me on the 3 pages of this CV. To complete the profile (and just so that everyone knows): I'm British, male, single, heterosexual and omnivorous (and determined never to be denied the pleasure of eating well-reared and skilfully-cooked meat). I respect all religions, but personally hold sacred only the balance of nature - howsoever it came about - which I believe to be catastrophically threatened by burgeoning human numbers. Best stop there, before the profile morphs into a mission statement! Oh, and another thing - I can't be bothered with "political correctness".

This website first appeared in 2000 (as www.genre.fsnet.co.uk). Most of the popular pages are still here, with a smattering of new stuff and lots more in the pipeline. If you're looking for specific content, the site map will locate it faster than the navigation buttons! The latter are handy for jumping around the tree of pages; a white name shows where you are at each level, red ones in the same group link across to alternatives. Throughout the site, images with red borders are links which will open in a new tab or window. I welcome all constructive comments and enquiries via the contact page.

Quick links

Site mapPhotos of mammalsChristmas cards 2013-2019Homebrew bitter recipeSloe Gin recipeTV receiversShoppers' Glossary

Recent changes (latest first)

New! 11-Mar-2022 Upminster in 1982 & 2022 - photos compared
Updated! 11-Mar-2022 Upminster photos - windmill re-assembly added
Updated! 07-Mar-2022 Virtual Paper Tape Reader - virtual punch added
Updated! 15-Dec-2021 Christmas cards 2020... - 2021 design added
Updated! 23-Oct-2021 Photos of Mammals - a new foxy face
New! 12-Sep-2021 Calling Mr Plod - two contrasting stories
Updated! 19-Aug-2021 Odd Pictures batch 6 - more unfortunate signs
New! 19-Aug-2021 Steak & Chips - some notes and a poem!

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Asparagusto

[Wild asparagus shoot]

29-Apr-2022: I don't usually notice the wild asparagus growing by the side of my house, until it's reached its full height and thrown out a mass of feathery fronds. But this year I cleared that part of the garden, and have been able to watch three spears shooting up at a phenomenal rate. I'm sure they'd make a delicious snack, but it seems sacrilegious to deprive them of their full life-cycle.

The same plant was the subject of my 2017 Christmas card, the one with a word-play theme. Further to which, I've just realised (as you do) that asparagus in reverse is sugarapsa. Not sure what an apsa might be, but sugar seems appropriate, given all that growing energy!

Goldfilcher

[Goldfinch on lemon balm]

7-Mar-2022: A decision needs to be made each year about the Lemon Balm plants. The leaves smell wonderful (and make a refreshing herbal infusion) but it spreads like topsy, so I usually cut the clumps down before they set seed. Last year, for a change, I left them alone to complete their life cycle, and now enjoy the spectacle of flocks (also known, quite appropriately, as charms) of goldfinches feasting on the seeds. Hopefully leaving fewer to turn into new plants.

That's the thing about gardening to encourage wildlife - the less you interfere, the more benefits you see. A row of shrubs in my garden used to be attacked every year by swarms of aphids, and like an idiot I tried to "control" them with chemicals. When I learned the error of my ways and stopped spraying, a flourishing colony of small birds such as blue tits established itself, and presto - no more aphid problems.

Pigeon stuffing

[Woodpigeon on ivy bush]

10-Dec-2021: This autumn, unusually, there have been more red admiral than peacock butterflies visiting the ivy flowers. There must already be some berries on the far side of the bush, too! These attract both blackbirds and woodpigeons.

Your average blackbird stands on the lawn, eying up individual berries before daintily flying up to pick each one. This pigeon, on the other hand, having crash-landed on top of the bush with all the grace of a bag of pie-filling, flounders about pecking at whatever it can find. We often try to outstare each other while enjoying our respective breakfasts.

View earlier Low-down items

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