Thursday, September 30, 2010

'How Madame Fifi changed my life' or 'I could have been a Carry On Starlet'

To give due credit it's Trinny and Suzannah I have to thank for the initiation of the process that changed me from mild-mannered church administrator into sexy, strutting-my-stuff seductress. (Okay, allow me a little dramatic licence.)

It was, after all, their insistence on the importance of underpinning that led to me Madame Fifi in the first place. The 50 years it took me to take that first tentative step inside the door in the dark alleyway are best ignored, wiped from the memory as wasted years.

But crossing that threshold was in its way as significant a moment as man's first step on the moon. A small step for woman, a huge step for me.

Inside the blonde bouffanted woman - not Madame Fifi herself; she only comes out of retirement for the great and the good - took one look at me and pointed her finger, authoritatively, 'Go in there and call me when you're ready.'

Another busty blonde had positioned herself between me and the door so I had no option but to obey. In those days I wouldn't have dreamt of arguing anyway; my transformation had not yet begun.

Inside I hesitated. How much did I have to remove? My outer coat obviously and, I assumed, my jumper. 'I'm ready,' I whispered tremulously but she was outside the cubicle waiting and she appeared immediately.

She sighed. 'I can't measure you through your blouse.'
'Oh.' I took it off nervously. 'My bra, it's, um, a little old,' I said.
She sniffed. 'What size are you wearing?'
'Um, I don't know really. The label's washed off. About 36B maybe?'
She sniffed again. And shook her head. 'I see women like you every day. Wearing the wrong size bra. These are your most precious assets. You have to take care of them.'

It was all over in a flash. Then she said, 'Stay here.' As if I could get away.

She returned with two lacy contraptions with more metal bits than the Severn bridge. 'Let's try these first.'

I waited for her to leave but when it became obvious that she wasn't going to I swallowed hard and my pride and undid my bra, leaving two blotchy dangly breasts. I kept telling myself: she does this for a living; she must have seen worse.

She gave me the first one. I turned it back to front, upside-down and inside-out and wound it around my waist. 'What are you doing?' she practically screamed at me.
I quickly undid it and gave it back to her. 'I'm sorry I thought I was supposed to put it on.'
'That's not the way to put on a bra!'
She sighed again. 'Lean forward and let your breasts flop in.'

I did as bid: flopping breasts I can do no problem. She held the bra in font of me, did it up and yanked me into a standing position. 'There, how's that?'
'It's a bit tight,' I squeaked.
'No, it's not; it's perfect. You're just used to no support. Here.' At this she stuck her hand inside the left cup and fiddled vigorously with my boob. 'You have to get them in the right position.' She repeated the action with my right boob.

By now I had passed being surprised and was in a state of shock.

'There, how does that feel?' Without giving me a chance to reply she continued, 'see how it lifts' - she ran her finger from my ribcage to my nipple - 'and separates?' - and from nipple to nipple. 'Now put your jumper on top and see the difference.'

I was beyond arguing; I did as I was told. I put on my jumper and looked at myself in the mirror. 'Wowzers!'
She stood back modestly, used to the makeover reaction.
I turned from side to side, full frontal and back again. 'Wowzers!'

And that, dear readers, is how I became a UN ambassador for Proper Bra-Fitting for Women. If I'd been converted 30 years earlier I could have been Barbara Windsor.

P.S. Husband would like me to point out that he paid less for his dinner suit than I do for a bra but I think that says more about his suit than my bra.




Not such an ugly duckling

We took a stroll along the Grand Western Canal at Tiverton yesterday afternoon.
In 1961 a Canberra bomber crashed into the canal. When the canal was being dredged in 2003 bits of the plane were discovered leading to a memorial and information board being erected on the canal bank.
The Canberra was seen by local people to turn away from Tiverton before the crash so, by not abandoning the plane, the pilot saved many lives though he and the navigator were both killed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Creation according to Stillers

'In the beginning there was bugger all.'

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My babies

Tomorrow we're going to Devon to see our little baby. GrandDaughter is teething, grouchy and in need of being made to laugh by her Granddad. Then, some time in the early hours of Thursday, our big baby arrives home. Younger Son and Girlfriend are returning after 4 months in Ibiza and a week in Italy. It will be lovely to see them and have 'children' in the house again.

So it's going to be a good couple of days.


Do I look that old?

Our kitchen isn't small; some would say it's quite big. So how is it that, when I'm cooking, I not only cover every work surface but I run out of space as well?

At least I had an excuse today as I was making sponge cake, nut roast and brownies all at the same time. I'm just hoping I didn't put curry paste in the brownies. I'll have to taste one later to check.

And I must stop working in ounces. When I'm shopping and my recipe says I need 8oz nuts I have no idea how many grams that is, so I guess and allow extra just in case, and I always end up with far too much of everything.

I still work in gas too. So when I check a recipe for an oven temperature I read the gas mark and convert it to electric. Even when it's given in electric.

I was talking to an old man while waiting in the queue at the co-op this morning. I commented on the chocolate Father Christmases they had on display and he started talking about the old days and 'do you remember when kids were satisfied with something their father had made and a tangerine?'
'Um, no. I have come straight from exercise class so might look your age but I'm not that old.'
(I didn't say that; I just nodded.)

Big and bouncy

Our talk in slimming class this morning was about exercise bras. Now I wear one (M&S) and it's rubbish. I was watching my boobs in the reflection in the window in circuits last night and they were flying around as if on a secret mission of their own.

It turns out that boobs not only move up and down but side to side and in figure of eights as well. (Husband pointed out that he's seen strippers do that and suggested slimming class should wear tassels and make a video.) When an average woman walks a metric mile her boobs travel 138m independently. Which led me to the conclusion that they must be using calories to do that so the bigger and bouncier the boobs the more calories used. (And thus more chocolate you can eat?)

However if you don't wear proper support, your Cooper's tendons get stretched and then you're headed for permanent boob droop. Too late for some of us I fear.

P.S. Is a metric mile different from a non-metric mile? Is there, in fact, such a thing as a metric mile? Surely it's a ... whatchamacallit?

Pillock!

I've not had a good week eating wise so I wasn't looking forward to today's weigh-in but I'd lost a pound and a half. It seems to happen like that: when I think I've done badly I lose weight and when I think I've done well I don't. I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere, probably involving eating more chocolate.

So I set off to drive to Mumbles feeling full of myself. 'Hey, I'm slim girl!' So when a white van pulled out in front of me I yelled, 'You pillock!' Then I was so amazed at myself for shouting that I burst out laughing.

But it set my style for the morning.

Next it was, 'I'm not going to slow down any more for you stupid seagulls, so move!
Closely followed by, 'People, do you have to walk in front of just as I'm manoeuvring out of a tight parking spot?'
And rounded off with, 'Little old lady, I wouldn't have let you pull out in front of me if I'd known you were going to drive so slowly.'

(Of course, obviously, I didn't actually shout these things; I muttered them under my breath - except for the pillock.)

So don't mess with me today cos I'm on fire!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

unplugged

I went along to an acoustic gig at Red Cafe tonight. It happens monthly with a variety of local musicians and raises money for charity as well as providing a relaxed evening out. At a break in proceedings I commented to the organisers that they should include some poets; they asked if I was volunteering.

So on October 31st I'm reading at unplugged.

I really should learn to think before I open my mouth.

That's Beth Bullock in the photo, by the way, the singer-songwriter headlining tonight.

Things not to say to your wife No. 723

I did one of those Facebook quizzes to find out my Native American name and discovered it was something long and complicated that meant 'flower plucking chicken soaring hawk' or something like that. I was telling Husband about this as we set off on our walk this afternoon. His first comment was, 'Chickens don't soar; they cluck and waddle.'

A few moments passed before Husband, who was walking behind me, continued saying, 'They got that bit right then.'

It wasn't until we were nearly home, an hour or so later, that it struck me: chickens don't waddle; that's ducks.


Feeling good

When I got to church this morning I was greeted by a young lad, brother of the one leading worship, with, 'Morning, Beautiful. You're looking great as always.'

I mean, how can you not feel good after that?

And then we had the dedication of one of the babies and they showed a Powerpoint presentation - photos of baby and her brother and parents - and I sat there with a great big grin on my face throughout. There's nothing like baby photos to make a granny smile (even if it's not her baby).

And the sun's shining. O happy day!

Postscript
It came to me this morning in a flash or possibly a hot flush: the reason Dan said, 'Morning, beautiful' was because I had grumbled that he'd said it to someone else and not to me.


Work in progress

We sang a song this morning. 'He called me to his banqueting table, etc tra le la la le,' and there's a line in it 'You do all things well, just at our lives,' that I can never sing. I'm doing fine until it comes to that line when I just stop singing. It sounds to me as if I'm saying, 'Look at my life, how good I am,' when I know about all the rubbish and badness that's in my life. Well, it seems that I'm not the only person who struggles.

After we'd sung it, the lad who was leading worship, who's a lovely lad, said, 'I struggle with that line.' Then when the speaker came up to the microphone he said, 'Before I begin I want to say that I also used to struggle with that line.' And I'm thinking, 'Good grief, is there anyone who can sing it?' But then John, the speaker, went on (and I'm précising this), 'I used to look at the list of things that are wrong in my life but then I started to look at things that are different in my life, that are better, because of God.'

He also said that we become more aware of what's wrong in our lives when we're close to God - and thus how much we need forgiveness and God - but by looking at the changes God has already wrought he is able to sing that line. And that his life, my life, is a work in progress. So I guess that's the way I'll have to look at it next time we come to sing that song.

Bramble or nettle? You choose

If you had to be attacked would you rather it be a bramble or a nettle?

It's a question I've been facing a lot recently as I'm refusing to change to long trousers until I absolutely have to, and dog-walking paths are at the beginning-to-be-overgrown stage. And there's no question in my mind: it has to be brambles every time.

Brambles are very up-front and aggressive. 'Don't mess with me, baby!' They reach out, grab and scram you viciously, making you scream, 'Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!' Nettles on the other hand lull you into a false sense of security as they waft daintily in the breeze before brushing casually against your leg. 'Oh, ah, ee, oh, oh, ah, ee, ee, ee.' The stinging is underhand and the effect gradually works its way throughout your body, shiver-inducingly. For ages you'll be walking along moaning softly to yourself.

And they don't leave any trace that's how sneaky nettles are. Brambles at least leave a good manly scar that you can take pride in. You definitely know you've been brambled. But nettles, huh.

Did the earth move for you?

There were loads of signs up saying the Mumbles Road was going to be closed from 12 noon for the Swansea Bay 10k so I rushed home from church in case I got stuck there forever - or until 3 pm anyway. However I suspect they just put up the signs to frighten people and stop them using the road as it looks as though one lane is going to stay open.

Worship was very clappy this morning - not happy clappy but clap along O Happy Day type stuff. Clappy and jiggy. Then I noticed the floor was moving beneath my feet: I was standing just on the join of the baptistry lid, the join that needs replacing because it's giving way ...

I wondered why nobody else was sitting near me; I thought they just didn't like me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My granny chair


We decided we'd change our box room (Elder Son's former bedroom) into a nursery/grandchild room. Daughter suggested that a nursery needed a chair for nursing mothers so when I came across this granny-rocker in a second-hand shop I had to buy it.

The only problem now is going to be getting Husband out of it.

* * * * * * * *

Driving to work the other day I was overtaken by a lorry and on the side was written 'White Glove Home Delivery Service'. White glove deliveries? Who needs that many white gloves? I couldn't think of any reason why someone would need white gloves but then I worked it out.

Anyone meeting the Queen must have to be wearing white gloves so there is a special lorry that goes around delivering said gloves to anyone about to be knighted or ladied. My uncle has a medal; I'll have to ask him if he had to wear white gloves.

* * * * * * * * *
By 28th October GrandDaughter will be 11 months old. Is that old enough, do you think, to be taken to the theatre to see the musical adaptation of The Mole who knew it was none of his business?

When we were walking through Crawley Woods last week George and I were galloping (okay, George was running and I was galloping) through the trees and the sand dunes. Husband pretended he wasn't with us but he did say that GrandDaughter was going to love coming out with us.
And now it's 10:15 pm and I've just realised I haven't washed today ...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Eve of Destruction

McGuin and McGuire just a getting higher


Tuesday at Zac's was different because instead of bible study we had a gig with Barry McGuire. He of
Eve of Destruction fame. Other fame as well but that is where I know him from.

He's 75 and he'd travelled 4 hours to get to the gig - and he was still jet-lagged from his flight over from Los Angeles - and yet he played and talked for over an hour and a half. As well as his Christian story he talked about the old days hanging out with The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas, and so on. The title of this post comes from the chorus of Creeque Alley(I have no idea how you spell that), a Mamas and Papas song that basically tells their story.

It was a great evening with a good crowd, many of whom had travelled a long way to see the man. And I did a roaring trade in cds. It was a bit unintentional but I happened to be standing there next to the stall of cds and people started giving me money. So what could I do?

My rainbow baby


On the way back from our afternoon walk we spotted this rainbow. I pointed it out to GrandDaughter but I'm not sure she entirely understood the concept. I told her that I'd seen a rainbow when I'd been driving down to Devon just as she was thinking about making her entrance into the world. And I wrote her a prayer. (Which you can read here.)

What we did yesterday

Daughter phoned on Wednesday. GrandDaughter is teething and not eating or sleeping well, so Husband and I decided what she needed was a visit from us. So that's what we did yesterday.

And GrandDaughter was a little angel, laughing at us and eating lots of lunch. She also shared some of Granddad's date flapjack.
'It takes a bit of concentration and effort to pick up flapjack bits so don't disturb me!'
P.S. Her wet t-shirt is the result of granny's attempt to give her some juice.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

George is in the doghouse

He went walkabout this afternoon.

A misunderstanding between Husband and me meant I let George out in the garden when the back gates were wide open. By the time we'd noticed he was far gone.

Husband went one way and I went the other, clutching in my hot little hand the last piece of banana I was saving to lure him to me.

First sighting was a lady who said she'd seen a big white dog lying in the middle of the road holding up all the traffic. 'Didn't you notice the jams?'

The direction she said she'd seen him go in was the way to the tip, his usual walking ground so Husband got on his bike and pedalled over it. I headed back to call on our friend whom he's been to visit on occasion. She'd just returned from retrieving her dog after getting a phone call from a man down the road and hadn't seen George.

Back to the main road where a car pulled in opposite me. The elderly lady driving said, 'Are you looking for a big white dog?'
'Yes.'
'He's down the road. Get in and we'll take you to find him.'

Her three grandchildren had spotted George and after they'd passed him they'd got worried. They were just on their way back to see if he had a name tag on (which reminds me: he needs a new one after biting his last one off) and 'We saw you, wandering along talking to yourself, and thought you must be looking for a dog.'

It's a good job people are so kind. As I told George all the way back home.




The oven was calling me

You know I said I wasn't going to make cake today ...? Well, I had two pineapples (BOGOF in Sainsburys) that were ripe and needed using. And I just had the need to cook.
But I didn't have quite right ingredients so my pineapple shortbread is not quite the same as usual. But good though.

How does your garden grow?

I don't know what these flowers are but I planted them about 2 or 3 years ago - probably 3 I think - and they've really come into their own this year. They've bloomed for months, withstanding all the July and August rain. They're definitely the most successful flower in my garden.* * * * * * * * *
In slimming class the teacher said I could eat a little bit more so I dragged Husband off to Verdi's ice cream parlour. Normally on a Tuesday I make cake for Zac's and some of that is my after weigh-in treat but tonight it's special at Zac's (more in a minute) and I'm not making cake so I had to have ice cream. Didn't I?

We walked George around the cliffs first and all the time I was getting my mouth in shape ready for dollops of apple crumble and praline pecan ice creams. We got to Verdi's and ... they'd run of apple crumble ice cream! Horror of horrors! I was dicombobulated. I had to make a quick decision and had toffee instead. It was nice but I should have settled for double helpings of praline pecan.

AND it was my second shock of the day.

On the way back from taking Younger Son's car to the garage for its MOT we passed the butcher's. Or rather we passed what used to be the butcher's but is now closed down -for retirement! For heaven's sake, nobody told me! There were no signs up saying he was retiring. He's just upped and gone. He told me he was going on a cruise; I wonder if he decided he preferred that life to chopping up bloody carcasses every day. I can't think why.

And it's really hard to find a good butcher. Or to find any sort of butcher that isn't part of a supermarket. I'm going to have to drive much further now. Some people are just so inconsiderate ...

* * * * * * *
Tonight at Zac's we have Barry Mcguire, he of Eve of Destruction fame. A legend in his own lifetime for some of us left-over hippies. I'm hoping we'll be able to film some of it and put it up here so watch this space!

Monday, September 20, 2010

George at 3

And he chose his birthday - when he knew he wouldn't get shouted at - to start eating his new bed!

Travel safe, little cake!

After a packaging operation that would have been the envy of the Royal Engineers I took Hulla and Bobo's wedding cake to the Post Office to begin its journey to Edinburgh. The lady behind the counter said, 'You're brave. It'll be wedding crumbs by tomorrow.'

That is so not what I needed to hear.

Postscript
Tuesday
It arrived safely and, Hulla assured me, in one piece. Well done, Royal Mail.

Happy birthday, George!

George is 3 today!!!

I was going to take a special birthday portrait of him but ... yes, my battery-charger hasn't arrived yet. I think we might be able to take photos with the video camera but I'll have to ask Husband as that is a technological step beyond me.

Three years (or two and three-quarters since we had him). It's gone so quickly and he's been such a rascal and a delight.

George has very different characteristics from Harvey. For a start he isn't so loving: when we get home we're lucky if George bothers to wag his tail whereas Harvey would rush to greet us, usually with a pair of knickers or a t-towel in his mouth. But on the plus side, George doesn't stick his nose in anyone's crotch.

He's friendly, gentle, sensitive, entertaining, amusing, and a vital part of the family.

So enjoy your birthday, George!

Mm, yes

I have said that I will have coffee (or tea in my case) with three different people, all going through difficult times. How has this happened? This is not me. I am not a counsellor; there are people far better qualified than I, people who can say something more useful than, 'oh dear, oh dear.'

I never have wise advice; my only attribute is that I am a good listener. Oh and possibly that I'm available unlike people who go out to work full-time. Yes, that's probably it. 'She's not a lot of use but she's there.'

I can live with that. And, by the way, I'm not being self-pitying or putting myself down; I'm just being realistic. I know my limits.

(Dash, I just dropped a bit of Ryvita on the floor. That might not sound like much of a tragedy to you but when it's a precious part of your calorie-controlled diet it is, I can assure you.)

Talking about being a good listener, I was talking/listening to someone yesterday who's one of those very intense people. Looks you in the eye and won't let go until you've responded, and won't accept my normal, 'mm, yes,' when she says, 'Do you understand what I mean?' but wants a more certain reply and, when I have to say, 'no, not really,' explains again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

He wears a dustman's hat

Husband wanted me to mention that when he was singing to GrandDaughter he was running through his repertoire of Lonnie Donegan songs. Like 'My ole man's a dustman,' 'Does your chewing-gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?' etc.

Could have been worse; could have been rugby songs.

It was nice ...

but could have been better.

That was Husband's comment on our roast chicken dinner tonight. 'The parsnips aren't as good as usual. And the green beans are ... green beans.'

Well, I enjoyed it.

And now I'm flopping in my jim-jams. I would take a photo of them except our camera battery is dead and we discovered we must have left the charger in Ibiza. I've ordered a new one but, while waiting for it to be delivered, I feel as if I'm missing a part of me. So many times I've thought: I must take a photo of that. And most recently, obviously, of my jim-jams. I've only just discovered the delight of relaxing in soft loose flannelette trews. Daughter, Elder Son and Daughter-in-law are old hands at it and now I know why.

Although I do, necessarily, have to put up with Husband asking if I'm going to play golf. (But they don't look at all like those hideous trousers that some golfers wear as you'll see when I finally manage to take a photo.)

Husband says, 'It's a good job you love me.'
I am non-committal.

Get writing!

As usual when I read my writing magazine I felt motivated to write. In particular to enter a competition to get your novel published by Mills & Boon. It's one of those upload the first chapter and see if it gets voted for type of things. As my first novel has been rejected by more agents than Harry Potter I decided to give it a re-vamp and a go.

Then last night I was lying in bed thinking, 'Do I really want my novel published by Mills & Boon?' (You notice I'd skipped the comments and voting bit and went straight to assuming I'd win?) It's not that I'm a literary snob - far from it: I'd be happy to be published by anyone - but M&B are the magazine versions of novels; there is a fast turn-over of publications. I want my novel to be a bit longer-lasting and more cherished than that.

So I'm also going to submit to a publisher, also mentioned in the magazine, that is accepting unagented manuscripts.

That's after I've re-vamped it of course. It was written originally in diary format - a sort of grown-up Bridget Jones - but several people said that was old hat now, so I'm converting it to third person narrative.

Which is what I'm supposed to be doing now. Not blogging about doing it. But I have to empty my brain first.

Incidentally my Munch the Cow story didn't win either. And, by way of nothing, I've suggested that I should write an article about herbal sexual therapies for a website. The research should be interesting if nothing else.

And I need to try and make progress with Novel Number 2.

But I have to make a phone call first.

And I must remember that the Mills & Boon comp closes on 22nd September. The website, if you're interested in submitting a chapter is www.romanceisnotdead.com

In the miry pit

There was a sombre mood in prison this morning. Yesterday an inmate hanged himself on his 22nd birthday. And he was only serving 4 weeks. What a cruel waste of a life.

The chaplain spoke about the lost sheep and the lost son, and our God who is inclusive in his love.

Nothing else to say really.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

What do you know about the sea?

Younger Son is doing a survey as part of his degree dissertation and he - and I - would be really pleased if you'd take a few minutes to complete it. It's about public awareness of the marine environment. He needs to have a fair number completed to be able to draw any conclusions so, if you have a moment or two to spare, please click on the link.


Thank you!

Dynamic, that's me

For today anyhow.

Last night I made a list of what I wanted to achieve today and I've pretty well done it. Well, not quite because obviously I had too much on my list. But I have made a rhubarb crumble instead of doing the ironing.

And I've been gardening. Pruning in fact. Is pruning a good idea? Yes, unless you do it at the wrong time of year and you don't know what you're doing. But the way I saw it was like this: I'm a bit of a killer when it comes to gardening so I'm unlikely to cause any more harm pruning than I do on a good day in the garden.

Meanwhile Husband has been chopping down leylandii as if they've offended him personally. Which I suppose they have by causing a bit of our garage to fall off. We now have a garden full of chopped-down trees and a very weary little shredder.

video

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Eric Morecambe School of Romance

When stroking your loved one's leg do not opt for the boring and unoriginal. Instead say, 'Wow, what hairy legs!' while simultaneously tweeking one of said hairs.

This will guarantee you pass your course with flying colours.

But what's your motivation?

Before bible study started on Tuesday in Zac's I asked Sean if, at the end, I could pray for someone. I told him the situation and he said he was happy for me to pray but he wondered what my motivation was.

My first thought was ... bummer. I didn't want to think about my motivation.

So for the second time in three days I sat through a talk/discussion without really listening. I pondered hard. I had good reasons for wanting to pray: the person I was - and am - concerned about needed support. But I also wanted to make a point. And that point was aimed at one particular person who was in the room.

I looked across at that person and suddenly saw a sad, lonely, confused and probably frightened individual to whom my heart went out. I think this person is in the wrong and behaving badly but it's not to me to apply judgement. (Although I can't help thinking judgementally because of my concern and closeness to the other individual.)

We're all covered by the amazing grace given freely by God. I've been forgiven - and am constantly in need of being forgiven - for all sorts of things. What that person needs isn't unsubtle digs carefully composed as prayers but support while struggling through a mire.

I'm so glad Sean had the wisdom to query my motives.

(And in case you think I'm being terribly Christian in this, I should also admit that I'm a little bit scared of the person too!)

Pretty in pink

Down to Devon yesterday. And we went for a lovely long ramble through Ashclyst Forest. GrandDaughter was looking pretty in pink.Granddad sang her to sleep as she began to get bored of seeing tree after tree.
Well, almost asleep!
I don't want you to think I'm boring with all these photos of GrandDaughter so here's a little country cottage we came across in the middle of the woods. Undoubtedly occupied by three bears.
But just one more ... Do you like the fetching soup ring around her neck? (This was after Daddy had washed her ready for bed!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ferdinand

Another precious book rescued from the attic: The Story of Ferdinand, the bull who liked to sit under trees and smell the flowers.

this'n'that

1) I've lost 2 pounds making it a stone and a half in total. I was disappointed that I didn't get a certificate ... Now I'm only 2lbs heavier than Before Children.

2) I fell on my bottom doing power step-ups last night in circuit training. It was a tad embarrassing.

3) We bought a roll of wallpaper for the downstairs toilet ages ago. At the weekend Husband realised that it wouldn't be enough. We went back to B&Q but they'd stopped selling it. Husband has had to be very calculating and creative in sticking it up. But our toilet is going to be the blingiest ever! Eat your heart out, Liberace! (Is he dead?)

4) I love The In-Betweeners even though it is very rude.

5) Putting the folder of photos of GrandDaughter as my screen saver may not have been such a good idea. Now I sit and stare at the screen for hours. But it makes me very happy.




Monday, September 13, 2010

Tour of Britain

Today was Stage 3 of the Tour of Britain 2010. Beginning in mid-Wales it ended about 150 km later in Swansea with a gentle climb up Constitution Hill, one of the steepest residential roads in Britain, according to the official tour website.The hill from the main road.
Complete with cobbled stones.

Looking down from our viewpoint about one third of the way up.

On Wednesday we're going to Devon to see GrandDaughter and the cyclists will be going through their village so we'll see them again. Son-in-law is a keen cyclist - you may recall that a couple of years ago he competed in the amateur stage of the Tour de France - but he's unable to get time off work to cheer on the cyclists so we're doing it for him.

In the video below, at about a minute and a half, there's a cyclist in green and you can feel his pain!

Cycling up Constitution Hill

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wedding cake update

The cake is suitably matured and nicely laced with brandy so it was time to marzipan it.Now I'll leave it for a few days to dry out before applying the icing.
Then comes the really difficult bit: working out how to get it to Scotland safely.

What we could have had for dinner

George hunted down this plump bird - or to be more accurate, he stumbled upon it while he was sniffing in the bushes. I'm not sure who was more surprised.

I could have dined like a Queen on pheasant a la Clyne. Or possibly grouse. My knowledge of game birds is based on the Famous Grouse whisky adverts that are shown on television at Christmas.


Forget what I said before about husbands

It's not just dieting they know nothing about; it's the female psyche.

We had a phone call last night saying Mother-in-law was in hospital again with chest pains. They were waiting for the doctor to do his rounds when we phoned this morning so Husband decided he'd better travel up to Derby.

Before I left for church he was putting some things in a bag in case he needed to stay and I said, 'Take the apple and blackberry crumble with you.'
'All of it? Do you want me to leave you some?'
'No, take it all.'

Now you all know what I meant by that, don't you? 'I want to appear generous and diet-concerned but really I want you to leave me a bowlful for later.'

I have searched everywhere and have come to the conclusion that he did, indeed, take all the crumble with him.

Incidentally before he would have arrived in Derby I had a phone call from his mum, 'Just to let you know I'm home.'

I hope they all flipping enjoy my crumble ...


Simply divine

Red Cafe is primarily a youth project run by Linden Church and we do a lot of stuff in the cafe and in schools promoting fairtrade goodies. We were recently nominated for Divine Retailer of the Month. (Divine is a brand of fairtrade chocolate.)

We didn't win but as runner-up prize they sent us 50 boxes of bags of golden coins (chocolate). With 20 bags in each box each one retailing at £3, someone worked out this meant we had £3,000 worth of chocolate.

Then the flaw was spotted: they had a best-before date of the end of September.

Even with a greatly-reduced price there was no hope of us selling that many that quickly so, this morning in church, it was suggested that taking a box and selling to workmates for whatever we could get - maybe 50p a bag? - would be better than nothing.

What a great idea, I thought. Then I remembered I work alone in the office ...

Then I had an even better idea: I'll take a box to my slimming class! After all it is a bargain and it's in a good cause and what do you mean you think it wouldn't go down very well?

I think they'd go down exceptionally well.

The unfortunate incident of the sweetie in the sermon

In church this morning the speaker had just begun when Jared offered me a sweetie. It looked like a blackcurrant suckie sweet and my throat was a bit dry so I took it. I unwrapped it as quietly as I could and popped it in my mouth.
'Urrrggghhhhhh!!!!!!!'

I don't know what it was but it certainly wasn't blackcurrant. It was awful. Possibly licorice or aniseed.

I looked at the clock. I figured the speaker would go on for twenty minutes . That meant I had twenty minutes to suffer the sweet. I couldn't crunch it - too noisy; I couldn't swallow it - too big; I couldn't spit it out - could I?

I took out my hankie and made a big show of blowing my nose but just as I did so my neighbour turned to look at me. I quickly put my hankie away again without disgorging the sweet.

There was nothing for it: I had to sit and wait.

Twenty minutes passed and the speaker showed no sign of stopping.
Twenty-five minutes.
Thirty. Thirty-five. How long could one man talk for?
'Let's pray.'
Phew, nearly there.
Five minutes later he sat down; I leapt up and dashed to the kitchen. By this time I'm convinced that not only have I rotted my teeth by prolonged exposure to sugar but they're probably black as well.

I spat the sweet into a piece of paper and threw it in the bin. Heinke wanted to speak to me but I rudely said, 'No wait! Let me get a drink of water.'

And as for what subject the speaker was talking about, I don't have a clue.

It rounded off the morning nicely. Chris had been telling everyone about the community cafe we'd run during the summer and how I must have scared people off as I didn't get any customers on my days. He finished up by saying, 'No, I shouldn't make fun of her. She, um, well, Liz tries.'

He might as well have added, 'Bless.'

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A basic lack of knowledge

At lunchtime I was working out how many calories I'd eaten and I decided I could have a banana even though it took me slightly over my lunch allowance because I hadn't had my mid-morning power snack.
'I beg to differ,' said Husband. 'I think you did.'
'No I didn't.'
'What about the three large chunks of cheese you had at Sainsburys?'
'For goodness sake! Everyone knows that free samples don't have any calories!'

Husbands just don't know anything about dieting.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What about George?

I hear you ask. What happened to George when you were off sunning yourselves?
Well, George went to his regular holiday home on the north coast of Gower.

Was he pleased to see you when you picked him up?
It was hard to tell as he was too busy chasing the kennel-owner's cats to pay us any attention.

Did he have a good time?
The girl said he might have had several breakfasts on occasion so he would count that as good.

So he didn't get into any mischief?
The morning before we were due home the girls opened up the kennels to find him sitting proudly next to his bed - which he'd destroyed. The bits filled two carrier bags that they kept for us in case we didn't believe them. They needn't have bothered: we'd have believed it of George.



Thursday, September 09, 2010

Doing my tourist pose at Santa Eulalia

I'm not burning the Qu'ran

Okay, I've been on holiday so forgive me if I'm a bit behind the times but I've only just heard about this plan by a group of Christians in Florida to burn the Qu'ran on September 11th. They claim to be doing it on behalf of Christians: I'd like to make it clear that they're not doing it on my behalf.

Burning books is indefensible - unless you're really really really cold and there's nothing else.

Banksy has a wonderful quote on his Facebook page. It's from Richard Rohr speaking at Greenbelt and it goes like this: 'The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.'

Amen to that.

A 4-book holiday

So it must have been good.

Book 1: The Final Reckoning by Sam Bourne.
Of the Dan Brown school of novel-writing but entertaining nevertheless. Very easy to read. But forgettable as I'm discovering now I'm trying to recall what it was about. Oh, yes, the hunt for Nazis.

The unfortunate thing was that the hotel we were staying in was very popular with Germans. I don't normally have anything against Germans but having just read a book describing some of the hideous practices against Jews made me screw up my eyes and bestow evil looks every time I heard a fatherland accent.

Which set me thinking that many of the people in the resort would have been our age or older and their parents would almost certainly have fought during the war, and I wondered how so many people could so easily be taken in by the evil that was Hitler, and whether I would have been, and what the next generation thought about the Nazi party and the war.

Which was far too heavy going for a holiday so ...

Book 2: Class by Jane Beaton.
Now this was more like it. In the author's blurb, she says that growing up on a council estate, she loved the tales of boarding schools so decided to write one for grown-ups. It's only just for grown-ups, dealing with the lives of both the girls and the staff. All jolly hockey sticks and the fat girl gets to win in the end. Great stuff and I shall look for the next one in the series.

Book 3: The Gospel According to Luke by Emily Maguire.
An Australian love story with a difference. On one side of the street you have the sexual health clinic run by Aggie Grey, atheist daughter of a famous lesbian mother; on the opposite side you have the Christian youth centre, led by pastor Luke, who's a handsome orphaned fundamentalist. They clash, fall in love, cause and face all sorts of problems. Oh, and in between you have Honey, a pregnant sixteen-year-old. There are no easy answers in this but the story does end with a sense of hope. Just.

Book 4: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby.
I've enjoyed Nick Hornby's books in the past but this one, though described as witty, funny and vintage Hornby, didn't really please me overly. There were some good bits and interesting characters but the bit I think was meant to be funny, I just found incredibly irritating.

Now it's time to go back to the library.

Ibiza part 4

Younger Son demonstrated his teaching skills on Husband taking him out in the bay of Cala Llonga for his first scuba dive. Any lingering thoughts I had about joining them skedaddled speedily when YS was going through the Dos and Donts of breathing underwater. When I was snorkelling I kept lifting my mask to breathe so goodness knows what I would have done 4 metres down.
Husband enjoyed it but I suffered with his on-off water-induced deafness for the rest of the holiday. Although it wasn't always the water to blame. He thought he'd gone deaf while listening to his MP3 player but when he moved his head I pointed out that his earpiece had come out.

Ibiza part 3

Sunday was a day off for Younger Son and Girlfriend and they - mainly Girlfriend - prepared a lovely lunch for us.
Followed by a drive around the island to Portinatx where we went swimming in this beautiful rocky little cove. And I went snorkelling! (Without a snorkel: I panic if I can't breathe properly.) So with a mask I saw loads of fishes and and it was clear and it was brilliant! Just like a revelation.

Briefly I considered giving up eating fish after seeing them swimming about my legs. But that resolve disappeared at dinner time.But before dinner we hurried to Cap de Negret to watch the famous Ibizan sunset. It's the second summer YS has spent in Ibiza and it's the first time he's managed to get there in time to see a sunset.
And to round off our evening these street entertainers danced the tango while we ate our tapas under the stars.



Ibiza part 2

This is our reason for visiting Ibiza.
Younger Son has spent the summer working in a dive school there. This is him in 'the office'. and this is us in the works van ready for a night out in Es Canar.
Husband, Younger Son and Girlfriend, who also works in the dive school, chilling - in spite of Husband's protests that 'those sofas over there look very comfy ...'

Ibiza part 1

I'm in a very restless mood today and can't settle to the multitude of tasks I am supposed to be doing ... so I might as well blog. That's my logic anyway.

We stayed in a lovely hotel situated on a small headland on the west of the island.
The only option when we booked was to go half-board, which we'd never done before. The food was pretty good on the whole and there was SO much of it! Two of these huge counters filled with cold goodies plus the hot range.

These were a few of the sweets on offer. As they were there - and so nicely presented - I had to try some but only the first helping counted as part of my daily calorie allowance. I didn't count the second and third helpings as they were only little profiteroles ... and coconut cakes ... and crème caramels.
And anyway we walked each day to this little cove, Playa Niu Bleu, about ten minutes around the coast, where we swam in the very warm sea. And stretched out in the very hot sun. But I remembered to fidget and wriggle my toes a lot to ensure I kept my metabolic rate high and to use up lots of calories.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010