Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's the alternative?

I was just listening to the news that Ken Clark wants to reduce the numbers in prisons by using alternatives.

Gerry was telling us last night about his time in rehab. 'I got through the first two stages - well the first step was just being there - but then they put us in a group and wanted us to talk. I walked out then.'

He'd been sent to rehab by a judge and he knew he'd have to go to prison if he left but he preferred that to talking things through with a load of addicts.

Rehabilitation will only work if the person being rehabilitated wants to be; it's not something that can be imposed.

It will be great if numbers in prison can be reduced - if only to relieve over-crowding - but the alternatives will need to be effective.

A changed life

Nicki came to Zac's last night. She was late arriving and, though her face looked familiar I couldn't place her. But when I was talking to her afterwards I realised that she used to come every week with her partner, Barry. I said to her, 'Wow, you're looking fantastic,' and she said she'd come off methadone before Christmas and had been clean since.

And she's done it on her own. Barry is in prison and she found the drugs project wasn't right for her. I asked her where she was living and she said in the same place. I was surprised as one of the problems prisoners face on release is going back into their old environment and being faced with the same temptation and the same friends. But Nicki said that it had been her friends who had helped and supported her and rallied around if she'd felt tempted. Now those are the right friends to have.

And she really did look great. It was brilliant to see.

Is the bible the word of God?

'And those who were appointed for eternal life believed.'

So wrote Luke at the end of chapter 13 of the book of Acts. We were continuing to look at the travels of Paul and Barnabas in Zac's last night and some good discussion arose from a question from Gerry, our homeless alcoholic. Every morning he thanks God for another day yet last night he said he didn't believe all that about resurrection and stuff. From there the discussion went on to how and why we believe what we believe. Is walking on water more believable than coming back from the dead? In some ways it is as there are examples even these days of people who have come back to life after apparently dying.

But to my mind both are more believable than an omnipresent omniscient omni-everything God who exists before and through time and space. And as for eternity and infinity, well, they're as far beyond my understanding as Doctor Who is.

At some point we have to make a choice to believe or not. And, if we believe, to put some things aside as incomprehensible. Not that we don't or can't question but that the answers will not be clear to us while we're alive on earth. And maybe never. Maybe we won't care when we get to heaven. I don't know.

But anyway, with that long discussion the quote that I started with was largely overlooked as we were running out of time and Gerry doesn't like Sean to 'keep going on, mun.'

But I spoke about it afterwards with Sean and Martin. Luke seems to be suggesting that those who will believe are marked out ahead of time. As if God lines everyone up at birth and says, 'yes, you can believe and be saved,' or, 'no, I don't like your face.'

I don't believe that. It contradicts most of what I read about Jesus.

There are lots of contradictory statements in the bible. Some people point these out as flaws and reasons for not believing but while I believe that the bible is inspired by God I also know that it is written by man, and man is fallible.

You only have to look at the four gospels to see the individual styles of the writers coming through. The substance remains basically the same but the way the story is told, the emphases, the language is different.

So when I read something that jars with what I understand of God I have to consider it in light of what else I know of him. I believe that the message and offer of Jesus is for everyone. Jesus makes that so clear in his dealings with women, prostitutes, criminals, aliens, the outcasts and the ordinary. So when Luke talks of appointed it could be one of several things:
a) God knows who will believe and be saved;
b) a challenge to the Jews who would have wanted to be thought of as the appointed;
c) a mistranslation?!

I don't know but I do know that God's love is for everyone.

Watch out for the big white ball!

If Charles and Camilla had visited Portmeirion last week instead of yesterday they'd have had the pleasure of meeting us. Their loss. Although they probably wouldn't have waited until after 3.30 in order to get in for half price anyway.

Portmeirion gained fame in the late sixties when it was used as the setting for the television series, The Prisoner. It's a tiny village/tourist attraction, designed and built by Sir Clough William-Ellis in the first half of the twentieth century. He wanted to show there was an alternative to the usual way of building a town. Often described as Italianate architecture, on the official website it says the first stage was built in the Arts and Crafts style, with the second stage being more classical or Palladian. I don't know what that means but it's a very pretty little place.
With many strange and definitely unusual features.
The village is built on a hillside.
Overlooking the estuary.
The village of Portmeirion is pretty and interesting but the views across the estuary and out to sea are the real stars for me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

George pays homage to Gelert

I've probably told the story of Gelert before but here it is again.

Llywelyn, prince of north Wales, lived in the thirteenth century. One day he went out hunting and when he returned, his faithful Irish wolfhound, Gelert, covered in blood, was waiting to greet him. Puzzled, the prince ran to the cot of his baby son and found it empty but also blood-stained. In his grief, believing Gelert had killed his heir, the prince stabbed his sword into the dog's side. As the dog's dying cries rang out the prince heard another cry, this time of a baby. Looking around, he found his son unharmed lying next to the body of the wolf that Gelert had killed.

It's said the prince never smiled again.

You can see Gelert's grave in Beddgelert (meaning 'grave of Gelert'), a small village at the foot of Snowdon.

We took Elder Son and Daughter-in-law to visit Beddgelert. Elder Son needed to lay to rest the trauma he said he suffered as a result of me telling him the story of Gelert when he was just a small child.

I thought it was a good story; I didn't know he'd be traumatised by it!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I was thinking about my funeral ...

and wondering who would go to it and what they'd say.

My thoughts turned to this as I was stapling together a song book for a memorial service tomorrow. Then I thought about what Paul McCartney had said on Saturday. (Did I mention that I went to his concert?!!) It was about John and was basically what people always say: I wish I'd said this when he were alive.

I guess we're all guilty of not appreciating others, or, at least, not telling them how valued they are. But that's too serious so I'll go back to my original point: who would attend my funeral? And would they say nice things? Or would they say, 'She was a right plonker. Harmless but a bit thick.' No, no-one ever says things like that at funerals; it would be nice.

So I hope when I die - which I hope won't be for a very long time - I know about it about a week in advance - nothing too long and lingering - so I can tell everyone and get them to come and say nice things about me to me. Would that be good etiquette?

Would I care? About the etiquette? No. I just want to die happy. I wonder if you could have your funeral before you died.

Husband is going to tell me what a depressing post this is because he hates any conversations or talk about death, but I think it's important that people know that I want them to come and say nice things. even if they aren't true.

Macca at the Millennium

video

Did I mention that I was going to see Paul McCartney last Saturday?

He was in the Millennium Stadium at one of four gigs in the UK. He was supported by the Manic Street Preachers (I understand they're famous but didn't know any of their songs) and another band (but we missed them).

Paul came on stage at 7.30 and left at 10.30. Not bad for an old man! And we didn't see him take a single drink during that time. Janet and I were swigging back our water and we were still hoarse at the end with all the singing we were doing.

He was brill. Looking a little older about the jowls but he's lost none of his charisma. Playing a mix of Beatles', Wings' and later songs, he had the audience on its feet joining in with the oldies.

It's the third time I've seen Paul McCartney.

The first was in the Hay Festival when he read from his then newly-published book of poetry. It wasn't the best poetry but he deserved the standing ovation for all the pleasure his music has brought to so many thousands of us. Daughter and I went along to the Festival not having tickets and we hovered around the box office in the desperate hope that some would be returned at the last minute. And they were! Poor man handing them over must have wondered who these manic women were, leaping on him and showering him with kisses of gratitude.

The next time was in Earl's Court for a concert, and then there was last Saturday.

My cousin went to see the Beatles play but I was considered too young (although I was only 6 months younger than her!) so the closest I've ever got to hearing them is Paul with his band. The next best thing.

Oh and when I was in university I missed Wings.

They were doing an impromptu concert tour of universities and other venues, turning up on the day and playing. When the announcement came over the tannoy that Wings were appearing that evening, I'd already left for the afternoon and didn't have a phone so couldn't be contacted. That was one of the biggest regrets of my life.

(As you can see my life must have been pretty good if that's my biggest regret!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

On our hols


Gogogoch

Aka the church of Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the church of Tysilio by the red cave.

In which George is attacked by a sheep

George and Holly were very well-behaved and largely ignored the sheep that roam the mountain. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the sheep.

Admittedly George was doing his sheep impersonation at the time and munching on grass. One of the sheep must have seen him as a threat and a challenger for her title of Boss of the Sheep; she put down her head and charged him. We're all screaming, 'GEORGE! George! Run!' and he's ignoring us. At last he glances around, sees the charging sheep ... and carries on nibbling. The sheep, put out by this, turns its fury on us. Daughter-in-law and I positively leap over dry streams to get away from the rampant beast.

It's very disconcerting being charged by a sheep. And, somehow you know, it could only happen to George.

On a clear day

We've had a fabulous holiday! Beautiful weather in gorgeous countryside with most of my wonderful family. Holidays don't get any better.

Last year, if you recall, we walked up Snowdon but by the time we reached the top the mist had come down and we could barely see yards in front of us. This year, when the summit of the highest mountain in Wales appeared bright and clear I said, 'Come on, we're doing it again.'
We took a different route from last time: slightly longer but with fewer very steep bits. And it was closer to where we were staying. According to the information board at in the car park, the walk is 8 miles (there and back) and the ascent is 936 metres. This is a very rough approximation of our route as you can't see the bits round the bends.
George and Holly accompanied us (Husband, Son-in-law, Elder Son and Daughter-in-law) and we were amazed to find that the majority of the mountain streams were dry. We only came across a couple that had a bit of muddy water, which the dogs sank into gratefully.
We didn't take the train! Although I was tempted to take it back down ... but I didn't.
Yay! At the top!
It took us 2 and a half hours to walk up and 2 to walk back down. To keep me going I ate a Wispa chocolate bar halfway up, followed by a cream slice at the top, rounded off with a flapjack on the journey back. I needed the instant calories you see.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Packing for North Wales

Right, I've packed a fleece, boots, socks and woolly jumpers; I've also packed shorts, t-shirts, sandals and swimming costume. I think I've covered all eventualities.

I am going to put Wales' horrific defeat by the All Blacks behind me and forget all about it. Instead I'll look forward to a week with GrandDaughter plus a Paul McCartney concert next Saturday. Mm, yes, that'll do nicely.

Hope you all have a great week!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Off on hols again

We're off to North Wales tomorrow with Daughter, Son-in-law, Elder Son, Daughter-in-law, George, Holly Dog - oh, and GrandDaughter!

We're renting a converted barn for a week and let's hope the weather is good. But even if it isn't we'll have GrandDaughter to keep us entertained.

The only one of the family missing is Younger Son who's in Ibiza. He made a point of going to visit his niece before he set off for the summer and I was really pleased about that.

I do love my children.

I just hope they can cope with me for 7 whole days!

See you when we get back!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Waaaaaaaaahhhhhh!

I've got a commission!!!!!!!

Waaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!! ......

Sorry, I had to run around the garden screaming.

I've been commissioned to write an article for The Bark, an American doggy magazine. Cent per word for more money than I've ever been paid for writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, got to go and scream again!!!!!!!!

I'm quite pleased; can you tell?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why her?

It was remarkably quiet in Zac's last night. The most peaceful study we've had for ages. It was partly because Gerry wasn't there and also possibly because football on the television kept others away. We continued with the book of Acts and Peter's miraculous escape from prison. Doing this study I'm appreciating all sorts of things I hadn't noticed before and I'm realising that different people find different things important.

Me, I'm not in the least interested in whether they were temple guards or Roman guards but I can see that for some of a more historical bent it could be important. But the big question that was raised last night was the 'why him' type question. Why was Peter helped out of prison by angels when, in the same chapter, James, another one of the original 12 disciples, was beheaded for his faith? Why Peter? Why not James?

It's a question many of us will have asked in various contexts over the years. In my case, specifically, I'd say, why did God allow Anne who had four children under 10, to die of cancer? What was the point of that? What did it achieve? I've known plenty of people who've died too young, including my own mother, but this death, Anne's, was the most cruel.

There are plenty of pat Christian answers and I hate them. 'It's all part of God's plan.' 'It was her divine destiny.' 'You can't see the bigger picture.' Pah!

I don't think there is an answer. We don't know why. Only God knows.

And I suppose at some point in our Christian life we'll all be faced with a question for which there is no answer. And then we have to decide: do we accept it or do we throw in the towel? Or to put it another way: do we have faith in a loving God whom we don't understand but whom we trust? Or do we say, it's all rubbish and I'm not going to believe this nonsense any more?

I made my decision about 24 years ago. Since then I've pleaded with God, I've screamed at him, I've questioned him, I've argued with him, but I haven't regretted my decision.

The bane of George's life

If it could be said that there is a bane of George's life then I think he'd rate these gates as it. You know the ones? Sort of zig zaggy, you have to go around the gate itself. There's plenty of room for George to get around the gate and he's bendy enough to do it. But he just hates them. If he possibly can he will squeeze underneath the fence instead. Which is what he's doing in this photo. That's his rear end you can just see sticking out this side of the fence. (It looks a bit strange as it's wet and sandy.)We walked from Brandy Cove around to Pwll Du late this afternoon. It was still very warm but the beach was almost deserted. It was very low tide and our only regret was that we didn't have our swimming things with us. Husband did suggest skinny dipping and I think if we could have found a path down to the empty cove we might just have done. (Although I would have kept my knickers on.)
I built a tower of stones.
And then Husband built an even taller one!

The ideal gift for Father's Day?

In the sidebar on my Facebook page they keep advertising gifts for Father's Day and today's offering really caught my attention as being the perfect gift for Husband.

It's an eye roll-on for men.

Yes, I knew you'd agree: it's what every father wants. What every man wants surely?

Last year I bought the female equivalent. It was advertised on tv as the most popular best-selling eye stuff in the universe. Every second of the day 73 women were buying it. So, being the gullible soul I am, and having bags under my eyes that have to be weighed before they let me on a plane, I bought it.

Sadly it didn't appear to make any difference whatsoever. But it did make me feel sick.

There was something about running the ball along that bit just under my eyes that turned my stomach.

So, for sale, one slightly used eye roll-on. Would make an ideal present for Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

George and a pioneering spirit

Today George and I took a path we'd walked many times before - but we went in the opposite direction.

Now George has many admirable qualities but a pioneering spirit? No. he walked behind me.

I said, 'You should be leading the way, forging a trail.'
'It's okay; I'm happy following you.'
'What if there are injuns up ahead and they attack me with their bows and arrows?'
'Then I need to be behind you so I can go and get help.'
'Do you know your way out of the woods?'
George paused and had a little think. 'Alternatively, I'll sit by your bleeding body and howl.'
'That's kind of you.'
'I thought so. Does it deserve a treat?' He looked at me, his head on a tilt, his eyes big and brown.
'No!'

Zumba



Now imagine a bunch of middle-aged women doing this ...

Slightly irate rose in our garden

I have a confession.

A number of years ago I made Husband take a spade on a walk, dig up a wild rose from the tip and plant it in our garden. Well, be sure your sins will find you out.

The rose we dug up was like the one in the photo a few posts below with that perfect wild rose perfume; the rose that has grown in our garden has become domesticated, multi-petalled and with less scent.

What I want to know is: how did it know it was in a garden and not the wild?

I jumped up and down a lot this morning ...

and that was before I got to slimming class.

I was trying to make the extra cup of tea I'd drunk speed its way to my bladder so I could get rid of it before being weighed. It didn't work: I only lost half a pound this week.

But that's 9 lb in all and I'm feeling and looking better so that's okay.

Meanwhile in class we did A to Z - aerobics to zumba. It was the class's and my first attempt at zumba and I have to say that some - quite a few - people managed better than I. I was all right at some bits except when it came to doing things with my arms and my legs at the same time. Husband has always said that I have the co-ordination of a blind wombat and his point was, once again, proved. Flushing the toilet with jelly legs was just beyond me.

Superdad

Elder Son phoned on Saturday; he wanted advice from his dad. They didn't have any hot water as the pressure had dropped and they couldn't increase it. He'd called a plumber out but the plumber said there was nothing he could do.
'What sort of useless plumber did you call out?'
'The sort who's available at the last minute at weekends.'
Well, you can see why he'd be available.

So Husband is off to London today with his hacksaw and ... other plumbing sort of stuff. He anticipates a messy and frustrating day. I told Elder Son to get some cotton wool.
'What for?'
'Your ears. You'll need it: plumbing always makes your father swear.'

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wild rose on the tip

Big sigh

I've just submitted my entry for the Munch the Cow story competition. And now I'm depressed.

I keep a diary of articles/stories etc I've submitted and:
a) the last submission was over six months ago;
b) many are unacknowledged;
b) the few that I've received a reply from have all been 'No'.

Can you hear me sighing?

Loving Miss Pettigrew

I've mentioned Persephone books before. They're a small publishing company specialising in lost and forgotten masterpieces, largely but not solely by female authors.

Daughter introduced me to what I think was the first Persephone book I read, which was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Most reviews call it a fairy tale romance but it's really a lot more than that. (Okay, a bit more.)

I was given the DVD of it for my birthday or Christmas last year and because Husband is always around - and it's definitely a girly film - I hadn't got round to watching it. But yesterday afternoon, after we'd walked George I decided I'd settle down, put my feet up and watch it. I felt I deserved a treat after the food preparation and hostessing at the barbecue the day before.

And it's absolutely delightful! A total joy. Again reviews have said that it isn't true to the book; it's been a while since I read it and I can't remember the details so that didn't make any difference to me. All I can say is, girls, if you're looking for a fuzzy feeling and a film where good and love triumph, then this is the one for you. (It's currently on Amazon at about £3.) If you'd prefer to read the book, or find out more about the story, go to Persephone Books

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm backing the beard

Apparently there's a thing called Backing the beard, which I'm told entails not shaving until England get knocked out of the world cup. I'm not entirely sure what good this does but I fear my chin has decided to join in with the action. Let's hope England get knocked out early.

(No, I don't mean that; I am trying very hard to support England. But it's difficult. It was quite disturbing when I visited our local co-op yesterday to find England flags draping the walls. I mean, we're not in England.)

George thought all his birthdays and Christmases had come at once

We had a barbecue yesterday for friends from Zac's. It was gloriously sunny and everything went off well.A couple of the children must have been in the pool for 4 hours virtually non-stop. One of Blossum's daughters came out to get food but got back in and stood by the side eating it. Meanwhile Blossum himself was worried about having a sunburned head. (I was disappointed he didn't wear the Speedos he'd promised though ...)
And George followed after anyone who would feed him crisps, peanuts, onion rings, cheesy puffs, sausage, ice cream or marshmallows. and with lots of children there - not to mention those adults unable to resist his big dark eyes - he made a killing.

We fully expected him to be sick in the night but he's tougher than that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dying in Latin

Gareth wants a new tattoo and he wants it in Latin. He was asking me if I knew anything about sentence construction etc because it must be right.

He wants: Today is a good day to die.

Gledwood offered some suggestions and, after consulting and researching, I've come up with: Hodiernus dies bona diem morior.

Any advice (especially directed at Dr Stu, whom I shall email as well.)

I think he'll have to have it across his bum as it's quite long.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The world cup

Back in March one of our church leaders went to South Africa for the Street Child World Cup. Street children from eight countries played football, received coaching, and were helped by artists to create artwork that told their stories. As well as lots of fun things they discussed the difficulties they encountered and talked about practical solutions.

As the world cup is about to kick off in South Africa, it's timely to remember the plight of the street kids. It was formerly policy, in an attempt to clean up the streets and give the football-supporting public a good image of S. Africa, to gather the street kids up and bus them off to somewhere miles away. After a 6 week cessation of these round-ups there was another incident of it in May. It's been denied that the no-round-up policy has been abandoned and we must hope that is true.

For more information about the street kids world cup, visit the website.

Paranoid about a spider? Me?

Have I told you about Spid? Who lives just down the plughole in our bedroom sink?

Spid, as his name suggests, is a jolly little - well, largish really - spider and every morning and evening he used to come out of the plughole and we'd have friendly chats. Admittedly I did most of the talking but I think he appreciated it.

Well, when we went on holiday I told Younger Son to pop in now and again to say hello and I don't know if he did but when we got back there was no sign of Spid. I waited anxiously for a few days, calling him and making coochy coochy come here noises, but I had to resign myself to the fact that he'd died.

I felt guilty. Had he starved to death? Had I mistaken his pleas for food for idle chit chat?

I consulted Gareth, our Zac's spider expert. He told me not to worry: spiders often fast for 6 months or more. (Seriously? I mean, what is the point of living if you can't eat?) He suggested that Spid could have been Spidee as females often die after giving birth. 'There could be a spider egg in your drainpipe even now, containing up to a thousand babies,' he reassured (?) me.

But then yesterday morning, looking for signs of a nursery, pink paint and fluffy teddies, I spotted two familiar legs. 'Spid! Is it you?' I cried.
Spid didn't answer. 'Are you hungry?' I continued.
I rushed to the bathroom where I knew there was a dead fly - yes, the bathroom was in desperate need of cleaning - gathered it up and dropped it just next to the plughole. Quick as a flash, out leapt Spid!

Yay!

But he must have realised that he'd looked too needy because we when we got home last night the fly had been rejected and was on the far side of the sink. And Spid's gone back to sulking because we didn't take him on holiday with us.

Saint or sinner?

I was listening to Bowie and Tina Turner today when cleaning - yes, I did so much cleaning that I needed several cds! Bowie was good, wasn't he? I forget these things.

Anyway, I was belting along with Tina, 'You don't need another hero,' as I polished - those are the words I was singing; I don't know about her - and I was pondering about heroes.

Any creative writing handbook or course will tell you you have to create believable characters for your stories. That means the hero can't be totally perfect and the baddie shouldn't be completely evil. Jane Austen knew this. Elizabeth Bennett, for all her admirable qualities, was prejudiced against Mr Darcy. Coming up to date, almost, Morse was a grumpy old sod yet we loved him.

Compare Morse with Barnaby from Midsomer Murders, for example. Barnaby is just another television policeman; Morse will live forever. (Barnaby is, in fact, a stupid policeman as he hasn't yet worked out that anything group or activity his wife gets involved with, will soon have a murder. Or maybe he just doesn't want to acknowledge the nasty truth that his wife is a serial killer.)

I was going to say that popular fiction ignores the 'be real' maxim but I've just disproved that by talking about Morse. However it is true for many of today's novels. Not the great ones but the ones that get promoted and sold in huge numbers.

One of the characters in the book I'm currently reading is a practically perfect nanny. Mary Poppins with sex appeal. Another is an actress who loves food and doesn't want to be famous. Yet another is a size zero zero actress who dotes on her pug and will do anything for fame. Yet another is the unbelievably handsome make actor who is sleeping his way to the top. They're stereotypes of stereotypes. (I don't think that sentence means anything.)

I've forgotten where I was going with this ...

Oh yes: we're not like that. Not in real life. We're neither saint nor demon. We're a mix of both. In my case I am only too aware that my bad qualities win over my good far too often. And I don't know anyone who would qualify for the title of saint as it's used in modern vocabulary. (In his letters, Paul the apostle, addresses followers of Jesus as saints, but that's not quite the way we think of the meaning today.)

I think you can't call anyone a saint unless you know them really well and if you know them really well then you'd know they weren't saints.

Now I could go into a Christian rant about sinners being saved by the blood of the lamb, but I have a much more serious dilemma.

Bearing in mind what I said about great literature needing believable characters, how can I make Munch the Cow more convincing? She's far too nice.

(Did I tell you I'm writing a story about Munch the Cow for a competition? In 600-800 words.)

Splash!

We got to Devon in time for me to join GrandDaughter in her swimming class!

Splash, splash, kick, kick. 'And pop them under!' Um, yes, okay. Daughter did and GrandDaughter came up looking surprised but unperturbed. Just another one of the strange things she's coming to expect of these big people who seem to find it funny.

GrandDaughter spends most of her time looking around. An unkind granny would call her nosey; a good granny would say that she's learning about her world. She takes it all in and appears to be thinking seriously about life. She often looks steadily at me as if she's trying to work me out.

We don't see her often enough to be able to make her laugh easily. It's a struggle but a great triumph when she bestows one of her 'eat me, I'm too gorgeous for words' smiles on us.

And, believe me, I don't need any encouragement to eat her.

Poshbird

Jonathan has accused me of being posh.

I suppose in Swansea terms, the facts that I come from Mumbles, live in Derwen Fawr and say ears instead of years for the things you hear with, makes me posher than some. But to the English I'm a common Welsh girl.

It's all a matter of what you're used to. When I was growing up in Mumbles I thought people who lived in Derwen Fawr were really posh. Now I know they're not.

Anyway, as I said to Jonathan, 'Would I mix with people like you if I were posh?'!!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Yes, definitely worth it

Friendliest? Moi?

Yesterday it was Rhossili's turn; today it's my city's.

Dylan's 'ugly lovely town', Swansea has been named the Friendliest City in Wales and 2nd Friendliest in the UK. (York came top.)

A bit of a change from previous titles when it's been Fattest, Dirtiest, etc etc.

So now you know you must come and visit me!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

We thought about going to Devon this week

We haven't seen GrandDaughter for over two weeks so we thought about a flying visit. Then I had an argument with myself: that's silly because you'll be seeing her in two weeks when you go on holiday together. And you have lots to do. And it's not sensible to spend a day driving there and back just for a few hours with her.

Be sensible or see GrandDaughter?

So we're going to Devon tomorrow for the day ...

Celebrated by walking along the cliff path

To Langland.
And back to Limeslade and Fortes ice cream. Only one of those cones I'm holding is mine, by the way.

Amazing!

In spite of a week of holiday eating I've lost three and a half pounds, making it eight and a half in total I've lost in one month. Considering that included said holiday, that's pretty good methinks.

Britain's Best Beach


Rhossili Bay in Gower topped the latest poll to find Britain's Best Beach. And with an amazing 47% of the vote, more than double its closest rivals.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The ever open mouths

Sand martins - or their Kefalonian equivalent - were everywhere on the island. In the hotel every doorway or covered walkway had nests built over the lights. In some places someone, presumably a staff member, had put cardboard underneath the nest, but whether it was to help the birds or stop guests being pooped on is anyone's guess.

I spent a lot of time ooh-ing and aah-ing over the babies.
In the restaurant, at the wedding reception, the baby birds being fed were arousing more interest than the speeches! This clip is only a few seconds long but it makes you feel sorry for the poor parents who were on constant food delivery service.
video

Exciting news

Daughter phoned at 9.30 this morning. She phoned the first time at 9 but everyone was still in bed and didn't reply.

She had some exciting news and couldn't wait to tell us: GrandDaughter's first tooth has come through!

And then there were two

Younger Son left at lunchtime today for 4 months in Ibiza, working for a dive school. Elder Son has just left to go home to Surrey. Our temporary lodger moved out just before we went on holiday.

So now it's just Husband and me. And George.

But we will be seeing Elder Son again in two weeks when we all - us, ES, Daughter-in-law, Daughter, Son-in-law, GrandDaughter, George and Holly Dog - go to North Wales for a week.

But it'll be quiet at home ...

P.S. Younger Son has taken less luggage for 4 months in Ibiza than I took for a week in Kefalonia. And more than half of his luggage allowance is used on diving equipment.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

GrandDaughter learns to enjoy yoghurt

One thing Wales is good at

Our rugby team might not always win but we do great adverts for the sport.



We went to Wales' last game in this year's Six Nations series against Italy at the Millennium Stadium and they were advertising today's game on the big screen. After Wales' fairly mediocre performance in the championship, it was hopeful to say the least.

Elder Son is paying us a flying visit this weekend for the purpose of going to the match. I've told him to give Wales a cheer from me. I'll be at home watching it on the television. (According to Husband, 'We can't afford to go to rugby matches now I've retired!')

Friday, June 04, 2010

You can take the girl out of Wales ...

but you can't take the mam out of the girl.

Younger Son leaves on Sunday for Ibiza. He's spending the summer there again, working for a dive school. So I came back from holiday to face not only our washing but all of his too. And all to be done and dried before Sunday.

I really should have shown him how to wash his clothes at least. Ironing would be too much to hope for. Although he spent 18 months in Portsmouth so he must have washed some clothes then. Possibly.

But why do it yourself when you've got a sucker to do it?

I didn't have octopus ...

but Janet did.We were pleasantly surprised by the standard of the food everywhere we ate. Our previous experiences of Greek eating out have been disappointing but most of the dishes we sampled - kleftiko, stifado, moussaka, etc - were very good. Kefalonian meat pie, a local speciality, was tasty but was ... just a meat pie. A bit like a pasty really.

So the food was good, the weather was good, the wedding went well, and the island was a typical pretty Greek island. There wasn't any night life in the place in which we stayed so the other tourists were mostly people of our age and it was very relaxing. There wasn't that much to see so if you don't like lying in the sun it's probably not worth a visit. We've seen it now and probably wouldn't go back again. (Unlike Corsica. Husband has promised we can go there again next year.)

The only thing that spoiled the holiday was something that happened late on. It was nothing horrendous but was enough to leave a nasty taste and mar my memories. But I'll get over it.

Now I'm going to put together a film of some birds. Come back later!

Our Kefalonian holiday

Me in front of Antisamos Bay, one of the prettiest we saw. In spite of the graffiti.
Not the white sand that you may have expected from the first photo though but small pebbles. Most of the bays we visited were the same.
Much of the film of Captain Corelli's Mandolin was shot in Sami. This boat was in the little marina there. But probably not in the film. Although it might have been.
Looking down on Mirtos Bay, one of the most photographed locations in the Greek islands, partly for its beauty - now spoiled slightly by rows of sun loungers - and partly because of the film again.
Many of the island's buildings were destroyed by a large earthquake in 1953. As a result there are very few genuinely old houses on the island and those that do exist look like these in the little village of Assos.
We did find one beach, Katelios, that had sand and I was able to make my now traditional sand mermaid.
We went to Kefalonia for a wedding. Here the bride and groom feed each other honey, an old tradition, symbolising a sweet life ahead.
The owners of this house had a strange taste in exterior design. Yes, those are tin cans and empty crisp packets stuck in the fencing.