This little creature, a native of Zurich, was supposed to remain in that city awaiting my return. However, he resourcefully managed to wangle passage to Spain where he laid low in a shoebox on top of the fridge, emerging days later en route to England.
Enjoy the adventures of this rapscallion as he takes you on wild rides and gentle ambles through the countrysides, the cities and the ‘burbs of Europe.
Note, posts in order with oldest at the bottom. Comments can be made here or by accessing Porridge’s category from the home page. (He’d be thrilled to hear from you.)
Mr Chief Justice Porridge pauses before his entrance to the Whitehouse.
He was not allowed to reveal much about his trip on Air Force One but he did note that the President and First Lady kindly did not serve breakfast.
Larry Miller from Seattle, you have made a certain packet of porridge very happy.
Larry, took a moment out of his hours-long wait for the Rolling Thunder ride on Memorial Weekend in Washington to hoist Senator Porridge into the saddle. Larry, a Vietnam veteran, rode in from Virginia that morning in a cavalcade of 3000 bikers plus police escort. Each year, bikers from around the nation rumble through the capital to draw attention to the abandoned servicemen and women of the Vietnam and subsequent wars. Our favourite politician was humbled to be included in such an event.
Although he has something of a wild streak and has had many thrills in his time, the senator couldn’t help but let out a rustle of excitement at being on board The Hog with a serious biking person.
For all of you wanting to try this at the local bikers’ club, please note that Senator Porridge would not go off on his own unless, as his parents taught him, he was strong enough to lift the bike should it fall over (obviously this is the case – check those biceps) nor would he ride without a helmet. Wild, yes, but safety first.
Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Five
After his fall yesterday evening in Norseman, Sir Porridge, AK, was lured this morning by other, more stable, conveyances.
Being of a scientific bent, he also wanted to check the claim that the roads were indeed large enough to accommodate the turning of a camel train. A couple of men sitting in cars in the middle of the road were the only witnesses that it is indeed so. (The camels seemed pleased about the change of scenery.)
The cultural and fashion heart of Norseman:
There are a number of things to do in and around the town but there is pleasure in simply looking.
In Norseman the houses sit upon the ground. That is all. They do not claim the ground as buildings usually do. They finish at their outside walls. No gardens pull the houses and their humanness into the landscape. The red dirt, with its scant grey bushes and tufts of scraggly grass, courses, sinewy and strong, around and under the houses and rickety fences. It shrugs at them as impermanences, parasites to be tolerated; they are not even a slight distraction from the real business of being Country. The road, in contrast, is firm and snug. The red lies underneath, subdued.
One of the houses is so frayed and splintered, its roof so rusty and saggy, with planks of old wood piled against one side, that I hope no one lives there. But I am not sure that it is uninhabited.
Coolgardie is another town sprawling and full of character.
The hotel looks like a movie prop.
Yes, we can see you, Emu, but top effort.
Sir P chose not to squeeze past this one. For size comparison, that’s a petrol tanker (a pretty big chunk of vehicle) to the side.
Sir Porridge sauntered over for a chat with the relatives. Talk about extended family.
It was a long climb to the top but, as befits the demands of ancient knighthoodedness (or is that ‘knighhoodery’?), Sir P is nothing if not fit and game.
The temperature rose then the rain came in widely separated splats and washed off eleven degrees in half that number of minutes. It regained five degrees in five minutes.
Perth danced on the horizon and Sir P danced on the dashboard.
And so, Sir Porridge, AK, completed his journey across the country that has given him so much (including a knighthood). From Pacific to Indian, east to west, green to brown, sunrise to sunset, past animals real and rendered, on transport aged and advanced, sidestepping danger at every turn but allowing time for relaxation and recreation.
Despite the honours bestowed upon him around the world he, like one prime minister “…can’t think of a nobler description of anybody than to be called an average Australian bloke.”
Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Four
Still full of vim after his days of hard travel, Sir Porridge, AK, was up early for a bracing sit and portrait on the Ceduna jetty.
The windmills at Penong serve art rather than function.
Australian snails buck the shade-seeking wisdom of millennia at the local cemetery.
The true hazards of Sir P’s journey became apparent as he left Penong.
Never a heavy consumer though, Sir P was unrattled when leaving behind his last opportunity to spend wildly.
Oversize but not too wide to obstruct the knight. Westward!
The joys of the open road.
Nullabor literally means null arbour – no trees.
No problem for Sir P; the humpy little bushes provide enough shade for his diminutive form.
The Bunda Cliffs, 40 – 80 metres high, comprise three different layers of limestone and stretch west for 800km.
“So come and take possession of the old bullock dray.” This strange collection of words from a song I learnt in my childhood and which I wager no drover ever uttered to another, sprang to mind when Sir Porridge leapt aboard said dray at the Nullabor Hotel/Motel. Positioned securely in the upright metal loop (which surely has a proper purpose-based name), he imagined memories of droving cattle and delivering goods across the outback.
Out the back, something entirely different was going on: hole five of Nullabor Links, the longest golf course in the world. This 18-hole golf course spans 1,365 kilometres along the Eyre Highway, from Ceduna in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Sir Porridge, who is something of a sportsman, couldn’t resist the call of the club despite leaving his plus fours at home.
The prancing camels were in hiding too.
But the big kangaroo came good with a cordial invitation. Not as comfortable as the traditional fur, her concrete pouch was nevertheless cool and spacious.
Wedge-tailed eagles enfolded great scoops of air as they rose slowly and gracefully. (Sir P. felt a stirring in his flakes at the thought of unassisted flight.)
The knight rode into Norseman on the steed that gave the town its name. A gust of wind blew, and lacking stabilising appendages, Sir P took a tumble. He gamely remounted (one must, you know) and cantered off into the scrub – a true horseman…The horseman of Norseman, if you will.
Day Four Coming Soon
Do not fear for Sir Porridge’s safety or comfort. He is healthy and content. He endures this enforced lull in his adventures with his usual equanimity. It is, perhaps, a useful time to gather reserves as day four promises to be a biggie with yet another large animal, unexpected conveyances and a town with an unusual collection.
Behind the scenes, I am facing the torrent of moving house activities. We will both be back when I come up for breath again.
In the meantime, I would be delighted to have you browse past posts. My apologies for not keeping up with other people’s writings and photography. I look forward to catching up after this current mayhem.
Thank you very much for visiting. I appreciate your readership.
Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Three
It was a day of large birds.
To we humans (I do not make that assumption lightly, dear reader), this:
is nothing more than a small rectangular representation of South Australia, but to Sir Porridge, AK, it is a landscape teeming with danger. That nonchalant pile of feathers (beneath the tree at left) is, to his trained eye, a blaring signal. Wedgetail eagles, that most glorious and terrible of predators, are about. A gloss of bronze, a snap of leathery claw, and it’s curtains to you (if you’re meaty enough). Arguably, Sir P is not, but who’s to say whether he might not be the ideal eyrie-upholstery?
Trepidation makes Sir P’s eyes keen, allowing him to zoom beyond human sight.
The faint stalks of wind turbines on a distant ridge gladdened the knight. They make sense in a country bearing more than the average brunt of global warming.
Visiting the (remnants of) relatives:
Further on, the inky black of grazing cattle punctuated round, pale-yellow hills.
The tiny mining town, Iron Knob, looks like it’s been dropped into the scrub from a great height. The scattered buildings, with churches just about outnumbering houses, appear held together with bits of wire and four by two.
With little call to apprehend jay-walking emus, the police station is given over to other pursuits.
As the pink and grey galah in Kimba casts its beady, greedy eye over the landscape, Sir Porridge huddles ironically between its cereal-grabbing claws although one must, in all honesty, acknowledge that those claws have a certain inertia which pretty much guarantees his safety.
It’s been long and slow, and our intrepid traveller has kindly created work for road repair teams across a number of shires, but he has purportedly (check the sign in the photo above) made it halfway across.
It should be noted that halfway is actually still to come on the knight’s route since he travelled more directly from Sydney to east of Adelaide.
Ceduna, home of 4000 people and the October oyster festival, welcomed Sir Porridge (as one would expect). By the time he left, there were rumours of plans for an oatmeal festival.
Although this spot beneath the jetty was a pleasing place from which to observe the sunset, he moved to higher ground for the night due to obvious conflicts with the tide.
Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Two
The signs were unambiguous.
The fines escalated as the distance to the New South Wales – Victoria border decreased.
We breathed a collective sigh of relief upon seeing that Sir Porridge, AK, was safely off the hit list.
It is not always so:
He hunkered down on a bin doing his bit for this great nation.
But there was more to his steadfast chomping than uncomplicated love of country. How easy it would have been to toss those grapes in the bin but Sir P is a cereal of honour and compassion. He munched in order to give that fruit the career satisfaction of being consumed by an appreciative gourmand. (This is a matter close to the knight’s heart as he has selflessly forgone this pleasure himself in order to be ambassador, troubadour, traveller, explorer, pioneer, public figure…)
Further on, birds alternately rose then dropped like a filmy evening frock being shaken. They skimmed along the crop then finally fell into it, leaving the air above the bands of green and gold, empty.
There may be a rational explanation for this but Sir Porridge is the type who enjoys the creative confusion such an oddity creates.
Perched up front, he gave a decided rustle as he crossed into South Australia – his third state in a day.
Join him next time as he continues his westward surge.
Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day One
His journey began on the eastern seaboard.
Mid-morning at Coogee Beach, Sydney.
Not a swimmer himself, owing to certain properties he attains in water, he nevertheless enjoys observing the pleasure derived by others near and in this medium.
Sir Porridge, AK, goes back a long way. Many’s the time he has sung around a campfire beneath the stars. Bush songs such as those about Gundagai and the dog which sat (or perhaps a rhyming word) in or on the tucker box nearby, are favourites.
As the Murrumbidgee River and Cootamundra, those song lore/landmarks, rolled by, Sir P, AK, kept himself busy (and his companions entertained) by rendering all relevant songs in rich baritone, husky alto and soaring soprano.
Such is Sir P’s, AK, love of this wide brown land, he risked thorns in his nether regions for a good view of it.
Here, he has passed through the green bit close to Sydney and reached the brown.
Those thorns will rip a plastic derriere apart as soon as look at it.
Two Australian icons meet at last.
Wagga Wagga was once touted as a possible national capital. Halfway between squabbling cities (see introduction), it is ideally situated to bring peace to them. Alas, no. It does however sport a splendid flour mill.
Gazing upon it, one thought ran through Sir P’s, AK, oatmealy mind, “Those were the days when we were flattened in style. Look at that brickwork; that lettering.”
Stay tuned as Sir P, AK, continues his trek across ‘this wide brown land’ in the days to come.
Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey Across the Multi-coloured Lumpy Bit and Instep of Australia
Much is made of the red heart of Australia but beneath it, lying against the wild and reckless Southern Ocean, is what Sir Porridge, AK (Knight of the Order of Australia – no longer conferred), refers to as the brown and sometimes grey instep. East of that is a big lumpy bit that contains a lot of Very Important Cities which spend considerable energy vying for ‘head-importantness’. Notwithstanding the fact that Canberra is the capital, Sydney and Melbourne are historically the leaders in this competition. Perth, a large country town by comparison, is marooned on the west coast – alone and almost forgotten.
These things do not concern Sir Porridge, AK.
Soon he leaves for parts greener (England) and sought a journey to shore up images and immerse himself in the land he loves.
This is his story from east to west against impossible odds.
The resemblance is nothing if not uncanny.
Porridge: The Secret of Renewal
Many seek the counsel of such a one as Büäzer Porridge. (The word ‘sage’ is often heard whispered by them in reverent tones.) In this, his duty is also his deep pleasure.
But what is the secret to such wisdom coupled with an almost child-like appreciation and joy of life and its complexities?
Sought by all in his regular life, from notables (privacy diligently guarded; sorry, no name-dropping here) to Jane and Joe Citizen, once on retreat, Herr Porridge lives sparsely, surrounded by nature. Mentally sustained by his rich inner life, he returns to the world tingling in every (soluble) fibre of his being.
Readers, we had a lucky escape.
On the top of Piz Trovat stands this:
As you can tell, it is a potential hermitage, the perfect size for our beloved Herr Porridge. He is, as you know, something of a cosmopolitan but he does not eschew solitude. He loves the mountains and this view across the snow may have been enough to lure him from us.
Fortunately, he was unable to make the climb this day.
He was preparing his talk for the Summer School in Computational Modelling of Cognition in Bergun. Perhaps the elegance of his equations kept him happy. They have certainly saved us from an unhappy fate.
Oats and Notes
Feeling a tad Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary-ish, The Right Honourable Porridge casts a commanding flake over the valley from the pinnacle of his hike from Bergun, Switzerland.
It’s hard to believe that in those miniature houses and meadows below, his relatives live brief lives of servitude providing succour to those more intestinally endowed than they, while he scampers to heights they cannot even comprehend.
Aware of his responsibilities to those whose aspirations may be ignited by his example, he signed the visitors’ book, kindly including his fellow journeyers.
Flap Follows Famous Finger
With no regard for his own safety, and ever the unassuming hero, Burgomaster Porridge places his flap in a dike in Holland.
(Actually, he’s not bizarre. I just like the letter Z.)
The royal carpenters were no doubt aware of Tzar Porridge’s reputation and made a throne to fit their expectations.
The royal seat is (arguably) physically too large for the tzar but, as we all know, his charisma fills any space.
Babushka gazes adoringly at Tzar Porridge. (We’ve all been there).
When the Saints Go Marching In
Word is that St Basil was the only person to whom Ivan the Terrible would listen. St Porridge is familiar with that situation. After a heavy schedule of talks at the Kremlin, he spent some time communing with the earthly representation of his departed friend on the Red Square.
Porridge Reaches New Heights
Poised on a precipice at the Joch Pass, Switzerland, Abbot Porridge is as unphased as ever.
But, for one of the abbot’s stature and lack of appendages, this is a mighty endeavour and worthy of a few quiet words with another who made it to the peak.
Ride ‘Em, Porridge
Mayor Porridge finds the docile bovine as appealing as the next cereal but, sometimes, one needs a little thrill.
However, it was a safe bet that this representative of the species (her camouflage not put to best use here) would not be disturbed by a rider perched on her left ear in the manner of an eartag.
And what a view our chum had up there – in front of him a closeup of the petrol station and behind: sweeping panoramas of the highway. For rural meets urban, thrill combined with safety, it doesn’t get much better than that.
In Which The Baron von P. Makes a Chum
Since the Baron von Porridge’s parting with Ms Rekorderlig, Swedish sweetie, on English soil, he has been without a companion. But things changed on the glistening expanses of the Jungfraujoch. He made (quite literally) another friend.
Sharing a sense of fun as well as a general method of mobility, they frolicked in the snow for minutes, thoughts of the inevitable departure pushed to the backs of their minds. Sadly, Herr Snow’s health suffers gravely at lower altitudes so he could not accompany the B.v. back to the lowlands. He will be remembered as (another) cold friend with a warm heart.
Porridge: O(rganic) A(rtistic) T(alented) S(kier)
It was the Baron von Porridge’s maiden voyage on skis and look at him! It is fair to say his performance was stellar. He was the epitome of balance, poise and verve. No quaking here.
He rode the slopes as though born to ski, glorying in the freedom of unfettered descent.
Wearing his waterproof suit, he felt nigh on invincible but rescue workers were stationed at intervals – the baron has more at stake than most in the event of a spill.
The Swiss sun was doing what we all long to do: shining mightily and affectionately upon our little friend, Baron von Porridge. Here he is conveyed in the family carriage up to the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland.
To help maintain the impression of composure, he chose one of the uphill seats which reclines more than the downhill one to which it is attached. Beneath his calm exterior, the Baron von P was fearfully excited at what lay ahead for him – his first encounter with snow. (Stay tuned).
The vice-chancellor places his stocking expectantly under the tree.
But what can Santa bring for one so richly endowed with admirable qualities and with no need for earthly goods?
A Gentleman of the King’s Bedchamber, wistfully gazes at the York skyline and the waterfront.
He’d love to sit on the bank and dangle his non-existent legs over the edge but a tumble in is a one way canal for someone of his water-soaking propensity.
Besides, there are duties to attend to.
Professor Porridge’s keynote talk at ICOM (International Conference on Memory) in York was very well-received. Using the newly developed software, Porridge Point, he discussed his model, Process Oriented Relative Recall Individual Differences Goal Evaluator.
He devoted another talk during the conference to describing the integration of the OATS (Ordinal Association of Time and Space) and PORRIDGE models.
Always thought-provoking, the Professor’s latest work is truly ground-breaking.
(With thanks to Simon from Bristol University).
It’s All Relative
Can you imagine the Right Honourable’s excitement? A relative, and a ‘celebrated’ one at that, tucked away in England, hailing from down Tadcaster way.
To call this trip a social whirl is an understatement, with new friends from the corners of the earth, royalty, babies and now family! When he first sneaked into that suitcase bound for Spain and England he had no idea what was in store for him.
Even in the idyllic village of Hutton-le-Hole ravening beasts are abroad. Beware of Troll Porridge.
(Click on image to expand.)
Rear Admiral Porridge relives his salty sea-dog days at Robin Hood’s Bay.
After regaling passers-by with stories of his high days at the helm, the Rear Admiral poses for a photo, keeping a wary eye on the gulls swooping and soaring.
Below: Reminiscing with fellow mariners about tide charts, donkey engines, gross tonnage and the best way to cook mussels.
Lapping Up Queen Victoria’s Feet
Those of you following this little rascal will know that he’s taken a liking to Queen Victoria. (Don’t ask me why, perhaps he sees something of himself in her.)
Guess who we found in Royal Leamington Spa? Guess who put the ‘Royal’ into Leamington Spa in 1838?
He wanted me to set up an elaborate pulley system whereby I could haul him up to sit at her feet but since that would have meant lassoing HRH I decided against it and balanced him on the lower ledges of her plinth. (Actually, he did take a tumble into the flower bed before this photo was taken – the breeze caught him – but he was as stoic as his idol and gamely took his place again.)
I will now dedicate my time to finding an accessible foot-sitting statue for him.
In the meantime Sir Porridge, Baronet, will have to content himself with other representatives of HRH such as the ‘post office’ (see Postal Porridge) and the nearby Queen Victoria pub which performs another kind of service for her subjects.
Sir Porridge, being an oat of the world, prides himself on his categorisation skills and was surprised indeed to learn that this bright, metal cylinder calls itself – in gold lettering, no less – a post office.
He was disappointed to hear that Queen Victoria, the ruling monarch at the time of its installation has long since moved to the great throne in the sky. I think he may have been hoping to meet the great lady.
Hedging Your Oats
Feeling a bit puffed on the hike around Hambleden, England, Viscount Porridge reclined in a hedgerow, hoping for an encounter with a mole or shrew but wishing to avoid the more dangerous hedgehog (prickles) and dormouse (consumer of grain).
It was a searing 19 degrees in Bristol – summer for the British. Singlets were donned, outdoor pubs brimmed with customers, our friends fired up the barbecue.
They’re a hardy lot, the British. As ours gallivanted around the sausages, scantily-clad, Mr Porridge Esq. began to shiver. The baby, being raised as hardy as his parents, was toughing it out and had no need for artificial warmth. His giraffe blanket was set to Mr Porridge Esq’s aid.
And so did Mr Porridge Esq cope with the British summer.
The Reverend Porridge contemplates the joys and responibilities of structural integrity outside the Roman Baths in Bath.
Bussing Through Bath
How’s Bath? And how’s the Reverend P.?
The World is My Cuttlefish:
Still awaiting train. On correct platform. The Very Reverend P is appropriately excited without being excessive – as befits his station.
The Rev P and I r on tour of Bath on open top bus. I just hope I can prevent him from diving into a bath. He’s so headstrong.
Mr Porridge, Rager
A night out for Mr Porridge and the fair Swedish Pear:
They eased into the scene with a cosy chat at the window, admiring the bipedalism of the passers-by.
A scamper to the barstool proved a little disappointing as it was hard to gain the attention of the bartender.
The dizzying, glitzy heights of the polished bar went straight to Mr P’s dapper head and they danced the light fandango to the applause of Ms Swede’s fellows in the stands.
Here they pose a little stiffly before Mr P hits his stride.
A fun night was had by all.
Baguettes, Bento Boxes and Bristol
Here he is, in the Toulouse airport , hobnobbing with a cappuccino and a camembert baguette.
Porridge survived the encounter. Alas, the baguette was not so fortunate.
It was something of a multi-cultural day for Porridge. In Bristol, England, he spent some time catching up with a bento box and a hot little sake number in ceramic before repairing to Brown’s pub where he struck up with a sweet (but not cloying), fulsome, Swedish pear cider.