Sunday, November 19, 2017

Just because it's a cliche

It's a family tradition that I buy Daughter, and now GrandDaughter1, a personalised Thorntons chocolate heart for their birthdays.

This year, inspired by all the life mottoes that people insist on sharing on FaceBook, I thought perhaps I should choose something different, a slogan for GrandDaughter1's life. So I had a ponder.

First thought: You can be whatever you want to be

Trouble is, that's not true, is it? For example she can't be Queen. Not unless an awful lot of people were to die suddenly. I do have royal blood somewhere in my genealogy but they're mostly Welsh kings - and they don't include the one that counts i.e. Henry Tudor. Of course she might have royal genes on her paternal side but it would still take a disaster on a world scale to bring her to the throne and then people probably wouldn't want a Queen anyway.

So scrap that one. 

What about: Every moment matters?

No, no, it doesn't. Not on the grand scale of things.

Much later
I got distracted looking at sayings on google so I think I'll settle for Happy Birthday, and just show you these:
mottoes to live by

Making a butterfly

GrandDaughter1 is growing up. She will be eight on Thursday but that's not exactly what I mean. She was explaining something to me the other day and I suddenly realised she wasn't using little girl language but something that is more akin to teenage speech. She is growing and developing and making friendships that will help shape her in many ways. But I am pleased to say that she is not easily swayed or led into things. She knows her own mind and isn't showing any signs yet of having a 'going with the crowd' mentality.

I am so enjoying being a granny. For loads of different reasons but partly because of the slight distance that allows me to watch and observe the changes that occur. I think when I was rearing my own children I was so concerned with the moment, so busy, so wrapped up in timetables and development charts and who's taking them to cubs this evening and who is coming to tea, that I missed the subtle changes. They were babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, students without my noticing the cocoon stages.

Somewhere along the line the butterflies emerged and new generations began. I'm grateful for the second chance.

A little under the weather

At times of illness Husband favours the 'do nothing' approach, as in sitting down playing Civilisation on the computer. He says scientific research has proven that rest is the best cure.

Not that I'm ill. My tummy has recovered and apart from a tender nose - well, something that big takes a while to heal - I am not suffering following my sickness debacle earlier in the week. But I do have the snuffles, a dry mouth and throat, and a niggling headache.

I am inclined to take Husband's advice and I would like to take it. But when I do all that happens is that I sit around feeling sorry for myself. I'm not convinced I get better any faster. But I excel at feeling sorry for myself.

So today I went to the Green Fayre and Sainsburys with Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4. That was fine; it wasn't until I watched two episodes of Grey's Anatomy, including the horrendous one where Derrick dies, that I began to feel proper poorly again. 

So I've come on here to blog and take my mind off things. And this photo will help ...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sanctimonious bullshit

sanctimonious bullshit
I was lying in bed one night and those were the words that came to me. (It was that sort of night: I'd been lying awake for ages amongst other things composing a depressing blog post about perspective, family favourites, dead cousins, Nazis and quashing of the spirit.)

If I were asked for a dictionary definition for sanctimonious bullshit I'd be hard-pressed to come up with one but it just felt right for what I'd had to listen to. So I'm going to store the phrase behind my ear and next time it happens I'll bring it out and let it bob happily on a sea of calm until my anger passes.

P.S. According to Mr Chambers to behave in a sanctimonious way is to simulate holiness especially hypocritically. Rather like the pharisees.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I have two problems ...

when driving Alfie Porsche.

Problem Number One: he doesn't have a rear view mirror. He has one but it's in the glove compartment. Husband has tried numerous times to stick it back on - including with a professional glue - but it keeps coming off. That shouldn't be a problem as Husband says, 'Use the wing mirrors.' But they're adjusted for his driving position and you know what these German Italian European car manufacturers are like: they like to hide things. So they're really difficult to change. It's not just a case of twiddling something.

So basically if you see me driving Alfie Porsche, especially if you're behind me, give me plenty of room as I probably don't know you're there. (I don't drive Alfie very often, don't worry.)

Problem Number Two: when driving Alfie I turn into Mr. Cool. Which would be okay if I weren't a sixty-five-old slightly-less-than-cool (but only very slightly) woman. I need Aretha on my hi-tech music machine (okay, cassette deck as Alfie's quite old) thumping out, 'R E S P E C T' and I'm the man. 

And obviously it was thus I appeared when a youth, a learner driver, pulled up outside me at the traffic lights on his 175cc motorbike. He glanced down at me, revved his engine, and I thought, 'Think you can challenge me, eh?'

No, I didn't. I mean I thought it but I didn't take him up on it. Tempting though it was. And, sadly, judging by the way he pulled in front of another car shortly afterwards I fear this young learner may not live to pass his test.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

One lovely black eye

Shoulder's much better today but I'm still taking it easy. 

Husband said, when I was in the toilet, he heard a door being slammed. I pointed out that what he heard was actually my head butting the door as I fainted. It's a good job I've got a big nose: it took the brunt of my collision with the door thus saving my fragile brain.
My 'black eye' looks much more impressive in real life ...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Loving and losing

My latest article for The Bay has now been published. It's a special Christmas/New Year bumper edition, and I think my article is rather good!

The Bay is delivered to lots of homes mostly in Swansea west I think but you can pick up a copy at some libraries or you can read it online.

The royal progress

Have made it from bed to the computer via the shower - without mishap.

batman with a broken nose
I had visualised myself in A&E having x-rays for my broken shoulder and nose but that may have been overly dramatic. Standing in the shower under the warm water doing shoulder rolls seemed to help but there are still things I can't do.

On the plus side, my snuffle and tickly throat seem a bit better.

To find myself lying in a pool of blood

When I went to bed last night the last thing I expected was to wake and find myself in a pool of blood.

Everything was fine when I went to bed and stayed fine until about four am. That's when I woke up and started vomiting.

Sitting on the floor in the smallest room hugging the toilet isn't a good place to be. I went back to bed only to scurry back to the toilet. After throwing up again I began to feel very hot and woozy. That was the last thing I remember.

Next minute - or possibly later - I opened my eyes, wondering where I was and why there was blood coming from my nose.

Today I am in bed and feeling very sorry for myself. I appear to have bruised not only my nose but my back as well. How I managed to hit both side at once is a mystery to be solved.

With my extensive forensic knowledge gleaned from years of watching Morse, Lewis and Midsomer Murders, I deduce from the blood stain on the door that I hit my nose on it - and presumably caught my back on the wall/door post. To be fair, in such a small room, there's not much else I could have done.

But I am in great pain and would appreciate much sympathy.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Another birthday present

Fresh veg, including a white carrot, from the farmers' market, in a basket made by Younger Son.
willow woven basket

Foraging for coal

From late August on I become a master forager. 

First it's blackberries, closely followed by conkers. (Remember that tray of conkers I baked? I put them Somewhere Safe and now I can't find them.) Then it's sweet chestnuts and currently it's pine cones.

The trouble I'm finding at the moment is that I don't actually know what sort of trees produce cones. Coniferous ones obviously but they're all different and not necessarily the ones I want.

Does collecting sea glass count as foraging? I had a nice little haul today.
And while I was gathering that George foraged for a lovely lump of coal that he happily chewed upon.

Mountain boarding for Darby and Joan

mountain boarding
Me before I break my hip
Yesterday morning walking in Clyne before it rained I noticed they were running a free mountain boarding session for children. I was very tempted to ask if they had one big enough for a sixty-five-year-old on her birthday but then I thought, 'I might break my hip.' And that would put a damper on my birthday celebrations.

I've never had that thought before; it was turning sixty-five that did it. Suddenly I became aware of the frailties of my body. 

Actually I'm fairly confident that my hips are in good shape. I'm flexible and exercise and I eat lots of cheese. Or did before The Diet. And as Husband said, 'You have plenty of padding.'

Although I've been getting my pension for two and a half years approximately for some reason I still think of sixty-five as real pensioner age. I don't feel old of course but does anyone ever?

Darby and Joan. My gran used to go to the Oystermouth darby and joan club. Who or what were D&J? Time to google.

It turns out that the first Darby and Joan club was opened in 1946 by the WVS (women's voluntary service) as a meeting place for older people to enjoy companionship, a cup of tea, a game of cards or sometimes a hot meal. The first one in Lincoln was followed by clubs all over the country many of which still exist today. The name, Darby and Joan, comes from an 18th century poem by Henry Woodfall about a happily married couple.

Sixty-five and all's well!

Great trip to Cardiff; shame about the result (something like 22-29). Still the boys looked promising. Clumsy but promising. And we sat next to a really nice Australian couple over here on holiday. And Cardiff when it's getting ready for Christmas is exciting and pretty.

We always park in roughly the same place, about a fifteen-minute walk from the stadium. Husband is always very focused and just wants to get there but yesterday we were early so I forced him to slow down so I could 'ooh' and 'aah' at all the pretty lights. And I was rather taken with the various snowdogs scattered throughout the city.
snowdogs in cardiff
I am sorry you have to turn your head to look at it. Photoshop is playing up and I can't do anything with photos at the moment.

Husband said he could understand where the grandchildren get their 'easily-distracted' trait from.

* * * * * * * * * *
Yesterday: the Great Day! Otherwise known as My Birthday!

Husband had to go shopping in the morning (for food - and a card!) so I took George out for a walk. It was lovely when we left the house but very soon began to rain. 'That's okay,' I said to George. 'It's going to be one of those nice and nasty days. It'll be nice again soon.' Sadly Nice can't have got the memo as it didn't turn up. 

We sheltered under a tree in Clyne. It didn't help. By the time we got to the beach I was soaked through (must get myself a waterproof coat) so decided I might as well continue. At least we had the place to ourselves.
Home and showered and warm afterwards for a family tea party. 

He may have been late getting a card but Husband knows me so well.

Daughter made a beautiful meringue birthday cake for me.

And GrandDaughter1 made this very special book: The Seasons of Grandsons and Granddaughters, filled with drawings of our fun times during the year.

And you may remember that a few weeks' ago I bought my own birthday present from Husband. Today they were revealed in all their sparkly glory!

A very lovely day in which I only ate six fun-size packs of Maltesers! (Back on the diet today.)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A busy week

That's not new or news but I haven't even had time for thinking about blog posts. Let's see, what have I been doing?

Picnic on the beach in the sunshine with GrandDaughter2, Nuora and GrandSon4 on Wednesday. I only have photos of the grandbabies so I can't post those but we had a lovely time.

Wednesday evening achieved my half stone award in Slimming World. It took a while but I got there.

Thursday women's bible study at Zac's. Good study about Jesus and the barbecue on the beach. 

Friday messy play with GrandSon4 and Nuora. Granny wearing a white shirt probably wasn't the best idea but, again, good fun.

Today it's been Sainsburys and will soon be off to Cardiff for the first of the autumn internationals, Wales versus Australia. Usually a highlight of my trips to the Millennium Stadium - as well as the rugby, the atmosphere, the excitement and the usually thwarted hope - is the pie I get to eat. Sadly that will not be the case today. It's my birthday tomorrow so I must save myself!

There must have been other stuff but I'm feeling slightly brain dead. A lingering feeling of failure haunts me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Elder Son, the International Speaker

This afternoon Elder Son was in Munich giving a talk on 'Agile machine learning'. (No, I don't know what that is either.) He gave the same talk a few weeks ago in London but then was helped by a colleague. This time he was on his own.

Last time his feedback was amazing: he was scored and got way above the average conference speaker score. It's strange: both sons seem to be good at speaking/teaching even though we are by nature a reserved family. But I like reading my work aloud to an audience too. 

I am very proud of all my children.
At Younger Son's wedding in Italy, 2012

Monday, November 06, 2017


Hot dogs and fireworks party on Saturday. GrandDaughter2 kept shouting, 'Gen, gen, gandad!' (again, again, granddad) and GrandSon2 kept shouting, 'More space rockets, granddad!' Meanwhile GrandSon4 was so impressed that he fell asleep halfway through the fireworks.

Some nice walks. The weather has been unusually dry though cold, meaning lots of lovely piles of leaves to rustle and jump in. The cold didn't deter the female swimmer at Langland today. No wetsuit just a dog.

Going to have lunch now. Back later as I'm sure there were more snippets I wanted to include. Oh yes, before I go: Younger Son brought some Italian sausage back from his continental holiday. 'Try it,' he said. 'This one's hazelnut.'
'Mm, that's quite nice.' (Although I'm not wild about salami type sausage.)
'Now try this one.'
'What is it?'
'See if you like it.'
I realised from his reluctance to tell me what it was that it was likely to be something I possibly wouldn't like. I gingerly took a bite. 
'Do you like it?'
'Mm, it's okay,' I said, not wanting to commit myself. 'What is it?'
'Donkey?! Really?'
I gave him back the rest of the slice. There's just something about eating a creature that says hee-haw that is unpalatable. 

Saturday, November 04, 2017

America, how could you?

Kevin Spacey is quite rightly condemned for his predatory actions in a country where a man who boasted about groping women is elected president.

I worked in DVLC with a man whose favourite saying was, 'I despair.'

Last night on Have I Got News For You? they showed an interview clip where Trump declares that he invented the word fake.

I despair.

America, how could you?

Friday, November 03, 2017

I have two things in this world: my balls and my word and I don't break them for no-one, you understand?*

I have a guest post today written by Elder Son linking in with Movember. The Movember Foundation's mission is to change the face of men’s health, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues. As Husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was in his forties it's of particular interest and relevance to us as a family.

This was the greeting that welcomed me on one visit to my local GP. I'd been called to the doctor’s room, and having let myself in and closed the door I began to explain the purpose of my visit (the doctor not having looked up from his computer at this point).

“I wanted you to check if I had a lump on my..”

“Penis!” blurted the doctor, interrupting, now finally standing and looking at me grinning.
Somewhat surprised by his outburst, I responded “Umm, you're in the right ball park**. But not quite. I wanted you to check my testicles”. Seemingly unaware of the oddity of shouting the word “penis” at a patient while trying to guess the body part I am going to complain about, he simply nodded and directed me to the other side of the room.

And so set the tone for what was not, for me, an unusual occurrence: going to see a doctor to get my balls checked out. The doctor was a smallish man, probably in his 60s. He asked me to pop up on to the bed, slide down my pants and lie on some paper tissue. He then put on some rubber gloves and came and had a rummage.

It didn't take long, it never does. Within a minute he was turning away and taking off his gloves. At this point, I am struggling to remember if he has said anything to me other than “penis”. Smiling and shaking his head he walks over to the sink to quickly wash his hands and says “It’s fine. Nothing to worry about”. Relieved, I sit up on the bed and start to put my trousers back on. Casually, the doctor strolls back, drying his hands “By the time you are 60, they will be a bag of worms”. 
“By the time you are 60, they will be a bag of worms”
To me, this is not a sentence that should follow the words “it's fine”.
Especially when talking about my balls. 

Thankfully, after more confused mumbling and umm-ing and ahh-ing, and attempting to tactfully ask how said worms are going to get into my balls, he calmly re-assured me that as you get older, it's just what happens to the body sometimes. Like varicose veins. And to be clear, there are no worms involved.

OK. Phew. I left. 
Well, more or less. He actually went on to explain that this was perfectly normal, and that he would have no problem letting me leave, and that he would sleep easy with that decision, but suggested that just to be super cautious we arrange an appointment at the ultra-sound unit for a scan.
The appointment only took a few weeks to come through, and was at a local hospital that my paramedic friend told me they referred to as “death-mid”. Great. 

Anyway, I rock up to the hospital, say hello at reception and sit down in the waiting room to wait for my call. 

Now this hadn’t crossed my mind at the time, but as this was a run-of-the-mill ultrasound ward, most of the patients were expectant mothers. As a result, the other two patients waiting with me were both young women, sitting with (I assume) their mothers — smiling at each other and fondly stroking their stomachs like only expectant parents can. 

And to be honest, it felt a little wrong. Sitting on my own, in my work clothes in a waiting room that is predominantly populated with soon-to-be mums. Knowing that at least one of the excited patients were going to be having their little bundle of joys seen for the first time in the very place I was about to be sitting, pants down having my balls scanned. But hey, it’s a hospital, its probably best not to think about what might have happened there before you.

Anyhow, soon enough I was being called to the room at the end of the corridor. 
The nurse, a male, probably only a few years older than me, was sitting in almost complete darkness. He ushered me on to the bed and with a few terse instructions of “hold this” and “move that way” he quickly explained that this would likely be cold as he applied a clear blue gel to the scanning device and started scanning. Noting that the technician seemed fairly grumpy, possibly understandably given the task he was undertaking, I thought I should make some small talk to brighten the mood. So, having recently been in an ultrasound room for my wife’s pregnancy scan, I jovially asked whether I would be getting a photo of the scan in a presentation card to share with my family and friends. Unfortunately, even my witty banter wasn’t enough to lighten the mood, as seemingly taking my request seriously he grumbled about the NHS and how they wouldn’t pay for that, and with that, I was on my way out.
That encounter was not my first (nor last) getting checked out by a GP, but was the first ultrasound for the little fellas.

The first time I asked a GP to check my balls was whilst I was in there for another reason (I know, I know, it’s not cool to go to the GP and ask lots of things at once, but it just kinda happened), having had history of testicular cancer in the family, I had always been aware of the importance of checking myself, but also had this nagging doubt of “how do I know this is what they are supposed to feel like?”, so thought whilst I was there I would get the doc to check, just to get a baseline of what is normal.

He seemed quite surprised when I requested it, to be honest, which is not entirely surprising given I was there for an unrelated reason and then just casually dropped in “whilst I’m here, can you check my testicles”. Unfortunately, this surprise also meant un-prepared, because whilst he was very happy to check (and encouraging that it was a smart thing to do), he was clearly blindsided by the request, as whilst I stood there with my pants down being checked, I looked around to realise for the first time that we were in fact on the ground floor of the surgery, with the window overlooking the visitor car park. 
Fortunately, no one seemed to look in, and again it was over in a flash.

On the last occasion that I was in having a GP check my balls, the GP asked if I wanted to request a chaperone to be present in the room during the check, and whilst I lay there, part of me thought maybe she had seen my records of how often I had been checked and was asking more for herself.

Anyways, the point of these anecdotes is that it's good to check these things, and if you have access to available/free healthcare (the NHS, for example) then just go and ask a doctor to check for you if you have any concerns. There’s loads of information on the internet and in real life on how to check, so in the ever relevant words of rapper Ice Cube “check yo self before you wreck yo self”

* From Scarface
** I didn’t actually use that phrase. I wish I had been that quick. Even “close but no cigar” would have been halfway witty. But I think in the end I just umm’ed and ahh’ed and finally mumbled something about my balls.


Thursday, November 02, 2017

Too many cakes and not enough eaters

Today was our first community coffee morning and bible study in Zac's. Our women's group has been struggling with low numbers so we thought we'd change from lunchtime to mornings to see if that works better for people. And we decided to make the first half just a coffee morning open to the whole community. The problem with that of course is getting the community to come in.

We're going to drop leaflets around all the houses in the surrounding streets but Zac's is based in a very diverse ethnic housing area. We have a mosque immediately opposite and a large Muslim population. But the coffee morning is intended to be just that: an opportunity to sit down, have coffee (or tea in my case) and cake (or not in my case), and get to know the neighbours. 

We follow it with a bible study but we're not planning on preaching at anyone who drops in so I hope we get some visitors. Today two people were passing as I put the poster on the front door and they came in because she was desperate for coffee. But they were used to coming into Zac's for breakfast so it wasn't as scary as it may be for others.

But there wasn't the take-up I was obviously anticipating when I cooked cakes the night before! There would have had to have been quite a big crowd to eat all the coconut macaroons, choc chip fairy cakes and sultana bread I made ...

I love Thursday evenings

Because it's Friday the next day. And  I don't have any regular commitments on Fridays so there's nothing I have to be worrying about or preparing for or stressing over. I can just relax.

Bra off, 'lounge pants' (pyjama bottoms to me)  on and beans on baked potato on a tray in front of the television I think. Ah bliss.

I am easily pleased.

* * * * * * * * 
It's November now too and that means NaNoWriMo. I haven't taken part for the last few years - November really isn't the best month to devote to writing a novel - but I think I may be able to use it this year as an incentive to get on with ghost-writing Christy's autobiography. But maybe not tonight.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I am a bad Christian

bible cartoonI could give you lots of reasons why but I'll just focus on two.

1) I can't cope with over-enthusiastic Christians. The sort who view everything - and I mean everything - as a blessing. Sure they may be blessings but do they really warrant numerous repeated squeals, a hallelujah, a 'praise the lord'?

2) I don't view the bible as a sacred book. The words in it are precious and important but the book is just a book. It deserves respect as any book does but sacred? Sorry, no. 

Invisible without the aid of a cloak

I was in the shower this morning and I'd just got nice and wet when I thought, 'Oh. Bother. That's not why I came upstairs. I didn't mean to shower.'

I was supposed to be getting dressed for exercise class hence no shower first.

So, anyway, during my second shower today I was thinking about being invisible.

At one point over the weekend I began to wonder if I had ceased to exist. Now it wasn't like the time I woke up and thought I was dead. I knew I wasn't dead as I had only recently spoken to someone and I think they would have noticed. 

This time I was in a room with a man and another woman. We all knew each other very slightly but the thing that made me doubt my ongoing existence was the fact that man only spoke to the other woman. 

You know if there are three of you the speaker usually looks from one to the other of his listeners (to make sure they're still awake?) Well, this man didn't look at me at all. Even when I tried to join in the conversation and said something.

Being ignored cartoon
At least I think I said something. Maybe I'd been temporarily absent from my body or my body was temporarily absent from my brain. That's not something that happens to me frequently incidentally, in spite of what Husband says about me never listening.

If that were the case I wish I'd known: I could have gone somewhere interesting, somewhere I'd have been appreciated.

Halloween? Bah, humbug!

I am whatever the appropriate term is for a Halloween Scrooge.

I do not like the celebration of the dark arts and I don't think children should be led to believe that threatening others is acceptable on this one night of the year. 

Am I taking it too seriously? Possibly but I still don't like it. Fortunately when my children were young this American import of trick or treat was in its infancy in this country. Nowadays it's a different story. 

When the children were young I was a fairly new Christian and the church I belonged to sometimes held an alternative Light party. I think on at least one occasion I dragged my children along but they weren't very successful. Who wants to to go a church event when they could be getting free sweets or enjoying a halloween disco? 

These days Husband and I do our best to ignore and avoid it. There aren't many children in our road and the path to our house is quite dark - especially if we don't put the outside light on which we don't. One year next door's children did knock and I think the best I had to offer them was a slimming world chocolate bar. They didn't come back after that although for the next few years I did buy in a (large) tin of sweets just in case. And, what do you know? I had to eat them all myself.

This year, with Halloween on a Tuesday, I shall be at Zac's leaving Husband to fend off any daring trick or treaters. Good luck to them for that.

Interesting P.S.
I asked Nuora about the celebration of Halloween in Italy. She said it doesn't really happen there. What does happen is that November 1st is celebrated as All Saints' Day and is a national holiday and a day when Catholics are supposed to go to mass. The next day, 2nd, is All Souls' Day when deceased members of the family are remembered but I think,as far as I recall, Nuora said that her parents will combine it with All Saints' Day and visit family graves after mass. That's the tradition in her part of the country, Piemonte.

The love of books

Hunting of the snark book
A few weeks ago I took GrandDaughter1 and GrandSon2 to the theatre to see The Hunting of the Snark. They both enjoyed it so I ordered a hardback copy of the book for them - well, mostly for GrandDaughter at this point in time.

I gave it to her on Sunday and she was delighted, not only with the present but with the book.
'It's so beautiful. Look it has shiny page edges. And the author's name is shiny too. And I love the illustrations. Did you choose it specially? Were there others?'
'Yes, but I liked these illustrations best.'
'He is my favourite illustrator. And it has a ribbon bookmark.'
'Yes, books sometimes have those.'
'Not very often.' She cuddled it to her.

I am so pleased she has inherited my love of books as items as well as for reading. I still remember the first time I saw Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diary. I was working in the bookshop at the time and I experienced the same awe at the beauty of it. A pleasure to hold, flick through, read and maybe even try a recipe.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Husband is a genius!

He has mended the washing machine!

In his usual pessimistic way he says, 'Who knows how long it will work,' but I'm happy just to get my pile of washing (knickers) done.

Meanwhile I must have working too hard because I broke the sweeping brush.
Which took its revenge on me.
I soon forgot about it though when I went for a walk with Nuora and GrandSon4 in Brynmill Park.
Brynmill lake in autumnal colours
I forgot to show you this or rather these oyster shells. Four of them welded together to make, depending on which way you look at it, a bird's head, a puppy's head or a roundhead helmet.

Not that I'm envious

I mean, think of the cleaning!

Building work has been going on just on the side of the main road to Mumbles. When we drive out that way Husband and I have been watching it with interest. Or we're nosey, take your pick.

At first we thought it may be a hotel or exclusive retirement apartments. It turns out it's a house. One house. One gi-nor-mous house.

And recently they cut down some trees in front of it so the home-owners will have a better view. That's the charitable opinion. I think it's so passers-by have a better view and more opportunity to be amazed at the splendour and wealth. (And it's worked with me obviously.)

Anyway here it is at the moment.
Of course the rumour mill is working overtime. Last I heard the owners plan to keep sharks in the basement. (Piranhas are so James Bond, you know.)

I just hope they reward our curiosity with an Open Day before they move in. It's the least we peasants deserve.

P.S. It's even bigger than their near neighbour, Bonnie Tyler's house.

I have excelled myself

In four days I managed to upset three people.

On the plus side, they always say things go in threes so there shouldn't be any more. On the other hand, maybe I should just hibernate. I'm inclined to that view at the moment.

Husband's answers were : a) you mix with too many sensitive women; and b) you should be like me and not bother with anyone.

sensitive woman cartoon

Friday, October 27, 2017

Grannies are great ...

Shell face in the sand
Because they have all the time in the world for walking on walls, inspecting squashed slugs, throwing stones in puddles, paddling in pools, making shell pictures in the sand, studying sticks, reading stories, rescuing ants, and having cuddles.

Don't use the ty bach!

So Husband came home, I told him the problem and he bombarded me with questions. Beginning with, 'Where's the manual?'
'Where's the manual?! Are you feeling well, dearest? You never consult a manual!'

But he did - after I'd found it - only to discover their advice was to do exactly what I'd done. Except the turning it off before sticking fingers in rotating wotsits bit.

I went out leaving him to it. 

I came home to find an un-repaired washing-machine.

And the proper repair man can't come until a week Monday and then it'll cost £250.

Husband is looking at replacements instead. We've not had any problems with it before and it is eleven years old so fair play, it's done well by today's standards.

In the meantime who'd like to do my washing for me, please?

ty bach water closetP.S. While Husband was failing to repair my washing-machine I was enjoying myself at Gower Heritage Centre with Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4. While there I visited - but definitely didn't use - the Ty Bach. It's a listed Ancient Monument, possibly the smallest in the country. Cosy though with accommodation for two.

I need a man!

It grieves me to say this but, 'Where is Husband when I need him?'

I went to get the clothes out of the washing machine and opened the door to find it making a most peculiar noise. A light was flashing, a light I hadn't seen before. I tried to read what it said. Then I went indoors to find my glasses so I could read what it said. (Old flipping age!)

Check Drain.

Oh, okay. Um. Come on, you can do this. Do I look under this little flappy thing? How do I open this little flappy thing? Gets scissors and with careful use of brute force prise it open. 

There's a thing to turn inside it. I turn it and water rushes out. Whoops. Turn it back the other way and find a receptacle. Try again. Gently.

Along with water what I thought at first glance was a piece of glass and a mini motorcycle fell out.
found in the washing machine
On closer observation it turned out to be a piece of glass, a coin and ... something else.

Then I stick my fingers in to see if there's anything else there. Word of Warning: do not stick fingers in a spinning thing. (I am very well up on the correct terminology for bits of machines.) In my defence I didn't realise it was still spinning. Although I could have worked it out by the sound. But don't panic: my fingers are intact. It just gave me a fright.

So, after turning off the machine and thus stopping the spinning I probed again. Probe - that's a good word. Go on, say it slowly and clearly. Probe. 

Couldn't find anything else obvious so switched the machine on again. It's not telling me to check drain but isn't working either. 

I am rather disappointed that I couldn't fix it but I fear there may be a ball of George's hair stuck somewhere inside. Hurry home, Husband! There's a woman here who needs you.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The radio and the atom bomb

old wireless radio
I love listening to the radio.

I don't do it often enough. I listen in the kitchen when I'm preparing food and I listen in the car. Mostly I tune in to Radio 4 Extra, which plays old comedies and quiz shows, but every now and then I cross over to Radio 4. 

It's amazing the programmes they have on there and the subjects with which they deal. If I saw or heard an advert for programme entitled African Hair, for example, I'd skip it. 'That sounds boring.'
But now and again I will switch on in the middle of a programme about something obscure and end up being sorry I missed the rest of it. (Admittedly these days I could 'catch up' on iplayer but I rarely bother.)

Today for instance a young woman was talking about her problems in finding a hairdresser who is willing to deal with 'Black hair' with its different problems. Outside of the M25 and in Europe she said it's almost impossible to find a hairdresser and it's not that easy in London. She was also talking about how young white model fashion their hair African style and it's lauded while black women have been mocked for having the natural look. It's taken her years to learn to celebrate her hair and her own culture. To be proud of who she is. A new European. 

And the other day there was an item about the new Prime Minister of Japan. I just looked it up and he's actually the old PM but he held a snap election to get a mandate for his policies, one of which is the rethinking of Japan's post-war pacifist constitution.

I didn't know they had a pacifist constitution but apparently it's something the Japanese people feel strongly about. It's interesting, I think, that the country that has lived through Hiroshima and Nagasaki is pacifist. They have experienced the horror of the alternative.

I hope we don't all have to experience it for ourselves before we too see the nonsense of nuclear deterrents. 

P.S. The Japanese ruling party isn't popular but there isn't a viable alternative. A 'Support No Party' party won 125,000 votes in the election

A new purpose or rather a rediscovered purpose

library book shelves
Sometimes I go to the library and find nothing I want to read. No, actually, that's not true: I always find something. But sometimes I find too many books that are all begging to be read. Like today.

I ended up borrowing four including one new book that's on one week loan so I have to read that first and quickly. But there were lots of others I could have picked as well. At least with four if I don't like one it doesn't matter; I have others.

I visited the library after women's bible study. I was leading it and after an initial, um, frank exchange of views it went well. After Jesus rose he went to see the disciples and he gave them three gifts: peace, power and purpose. And I've come away with a clearer view of my own purpose.

The purpose of the church is to make sure people know about Jesus so they have the option to follow him or not but I believe there's a more individual purpose that we each have in addition. God gives us different abilities and talents and he wants us to use those. My gift is writing and I realised this afternoon that I really want to get on with the new autobiography I'm ghost-writing and to do that I need to make time. It's no good making excuses; time is what I need. 

I have time if I use it wisely. I didn't go to the study or prepare for it expecting anything myself so this clarification and new enthusiasm is a bonus.

Which is why I'm sitting here blogging instead of writing ...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The trouble with Facebook.

Well, that was easy. For some reason Facebook will not upload this photo for me. I've tried all sorts: uploading from the camera again, putting it in a different file, giving it a different name, anything to try to fool Facebook but it won't be fooled!

It's meant to be my day 3 entry for the Daily Nature Challenge. I've tried uploading other photos too and Facebook just won't let me. Why does it hate me today?!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I'd better not stand still for too long

As a young man Husband invested in high spec top of the range music equipment.
Akai reel to reel tape recorder
It's been in the attic for many years now, Husband occasionally toying with the idea of disposing of it and then thinking better.

Finally in our latest declutter splurge he decided to bite the bullet so to speak, but what to do with it? The easy option was to take it to the tip. No bother, no time wasting, no going back. But surely it deserved better than that?

The conclusion: Husband would sell it on ebay.

Today the auction ended and it sold for ... £56! Which is roughly what Husband paid it for it initially.

My only concern is that Husband will now get the bug and look around for more things to sell. I could be next ...

The best ratatouille in the world

A lovely weekend visiting Elder Son and family in Surrey. Important things first: Elder Son cooked a version of his almost prize-winning chilli on Saturday and it was delicious - full of flavour and warmth but not the harsh burn - and on Sunday he made the best ratatouille I have ever tasted - probably due to the incredibly large amount of olive oil he used. 

Apart from that I had a lovely time playing with the grandchildren and Toby, their puppy, who took a liking to my vivofit and kept trying to chew it on my arm.

Saturday afternoon it was a quick walk and play by the river Thames. Both grandsons wanted to take photos. Over the weekend we took 293 photos between us, some of better quality than others! I think these were all taken by GrandSon1.
The river Thames at Egham

Sunday we went to BirdWorld.

Snowy owl

Not long-eared owl but Striped owl
Then yesterday morning before leaving we went for a walk in Windsor Great Park - and it really is. It would be so easy to get lost there.

A Halloween themed toadstool
Home now and trying to get back to normal - and the diet. But no food in the house hence it was left-over tuna, beetroot and over-ripe pear for lunch. And, no, it didn't taste better than it sounds.